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Aircraft Designations and Differences

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  • Aircraft Designations and Differences

    Ok, recently I've been reading about aircraft carrier actions in the Pacific during World War II. Then I began transitioning to modern aircraft carrier missions and reading about carrier air wings. So my question is, what's the difference between a strike aircraft and an attack aircraft?


  • #2
    You may find that the two terms are largely interchangeable.

    Here are 2 articles that may help you understand the (very) complex system of US military aircraft designations.

    If you wish to search more, use the term highlighted in bold above as a starting point.
    Last edited by At ease; 16 Apr 10, 15:52.
    "It's like shooting rats in a barrel."
    "You'll be in a barrel if you don't watch out for the fighters!"

    "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease."
    Sergei(son of Igor) Sikorsky, 'AOPA Pilot' magazine February 2003.


    • #3
      Strike/Attack are capable of hitting ground targets, while fighters generally are not.

      As noted, the term is largely interchangeable these days as aircraft designers try for more usefulness - "multi-role" and more bang for those very big bucks.

      It was a lot easier in WWII, with F's, P's, A's and B's, but even there aircraft strayed across the line all the time. The "P-38, "P"-47 and "P"-51 all ended up being used in the ground attack role, while both the B-25 and B-26 ended up in the same role as well, although allegedly built and designated as "medium bombers".

      The F-111 of Viet Nam fame was supposed to be a fighter, but served primarily in the ground attack role. I'm not sure if it ever engaged an enemy fighter. Meanwhile, the OV-1 Mohawk, designated as an aerial reconnaissance platform, was originally tested as a ground attack aircraft suitable for escorting helicopter formations by the 226th Mohawk Battalion of the 11th Air Assault Division, fitted with minigun pods and bomb racks. (yep - I was there, and it didn't work - think "stall speed")
      Last edited by Mountain Man; 16 Apr 10, 18:37.


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