Match the Fighter Jet to Its Nickname!


By: Robin Tyler

7 Min Quiz

Image: Staff Sgt. Lee Corkran

About This Quiz

There is nothing quite like seeing — and hearing — a fighter jet streaking across the sky, nearing supersonic speed!  

Of course, early fighter jets were not that fast, but they were a major advancement on the piston-engined aircraft of the time. The Germans showed what a threat a jet fighter could be during World War II. They produced two separate models, one named the Swallow and the other the Komet, that saw combat and together, they proved a challenge to the bombers of the U.S. Air Force as well as any fighters they encounter.

These developments came too late in the war, however, and Germany just could not build them fast enough to have any serious effect on turning the tide of the war. 

The German aircraft designers did introduce swept-wing designs which proved pivotal in the over modern jet fighter design. Soon everyone was copying this design — the British, Americans and the Russians.

The first fighter-jet-on-fighter-jet action occurred during the Korean War. Here, two of the most modern aircraft of the time came up against each other, the MiG-15 and the North American F-86. It remained a shootout, though, as there were no air-to-air missiles yet. When those were introduced, the game changed and today, aircraft can destroy each other without ever making visual contact.

But let's get back to the quiz at hand. Here, we will test your knowledge of jet aircraft nicknames, which sometimes are as inventive as the aircraft themselves. Let's see how many you get!

Good luck!

The Grumman F-14 featured in the Hollywood blockbuster "Top Gun." Do you know its nickname?

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat first entered service in 1974. Primarily a carrier-based variable swing-wing fighter, the Tomcat saw service until 2006. This much-loved plane was the star of the Hollywood blockbuster "Top Gun." When equipped with air-to-ground ordnance, it's also referred to as "Bombcat"; with reconnaissance equipment, it's a "Peeping Tom."


A fifth-generation fighter, the Lockheed Martin F-22 is known as the _____?

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation tactical fighter with stealth capabilities. While the plan was for the U.S. Air Force to buy 750 of the aircraft, the program was scaled back to 187 because of high costs and a lack of clear mission roles. The focus went to the cheaper and more versatile F-35 Lightning II, which will form the backbone of U.S. Air Force fighter forces in the decades to come. The F-22 first entered service in 2005 and the last plane was delivered in 2012.


Can you tell us the nickname that the McDonnell Douglas F-4, a fighter from the 1960s, is known by?

With its distinctive bent wings, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II first entered service in 1960. Originally designed as an interceptor, it also went on to be a successful ground attack aircraft. The Phantom II saw extensive service during the Vietnam War.


One of the most recognized military planes in the world, do you know the nickname of the Lockheed SR-71?

Perhaps one of the most famous aircraft of the Cold War era, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird entered service in 1966. A reconnaissance aircraft, the Blackbird is capable of an estimated speed of Mach 3.3 and can fly at an altitude of more than 85,000 ft. An armed variant was once in development but the project was canceled. Of the 32 Blackbirds that were built, 12 were lost to accidents, but none to enemy action.


The backbone of U.S. Air Force fighter squadrons since 1976, what is the nickname of the McDonnell Douglas F-15?

The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is an all-weather air superiority fighter tasked with taking on counterparts in enemy air forces. Even with fifth-generation fighters coming online in the U.S. Air Force, the Eagle will remain in production until 2022. A strike derivative of the F-15, the F-15E, is known as the Strike Eagle.


The General Dynamics F-16 serves in the United States Air Force. Do you know its nickname?

This multirole aircraft first entered service with the U.S. Air Force in 1978. The Fighting Falcon remains in service today with more than 4,600 built. It was designed with a number of unique features including a control stick to the side of the pilot and fly-by-wire capabilities. Other nicknames for the F-16 include Lawn Dart, Icepick, Viper and Electric Jet.


A fast, high-performance fighter and recon aircraft, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 is known to NATO as the _________?

NATO codename Foxbat, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 was used as both a fighter and reconnaissance aircraft by the U.S.S.R. It entered service in 1970 and is one of the fastest combat aircraft ever to see service. Retired in 1984, the MiG-25 remains in limited service for export customers.


A legend of the Korean war, the North American F-86 is known as the _______?

The main U.S. fighter to serve in the Korean War, the North American F-86 Sabre (also known as the Saberjet) was superior to the MiG-15 at the time. Nearly 10,000 of the swept-wing fighters were built during its operational history, the most of any jet belonging to NATO air forces.


The shape of the Convair F-102's wings lends itself to its nickname. What is it?

An interceptor, the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger first entered service in 1956 and served with the United States Air Force until 1976. This was the first delta-wing aircraft (the wings form a triangle) in the U.S. Air Force capable of supersonic flight.


Introduced in 1967, what nickname is the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 known as?

Known as the Flogger, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 first entered Soviet service in 1970. It featured a swept-wing design and more than 5,000 were built serving as both fighter and fighter-bombers.


A small, ugly fighter, the McDonnell XF-85 has a nickname that suits it perfectly. What is it?

Only two prototypes of the McDonnell XF-85 Goblin fighter were ever produced. The idea of this small aircraft was a parasite fighter, meaning that it was to be carried in the bomb bay of large bombers and released when they were intercepted by enemy fighters. The Goblin would then dock with the bomber on return. The project, however, was canceled, because the Goblin was difficult to dock and its performance wasn't as good as the fighters it would be facing.


Used by both the British and American armed forces, the BAe/MDD AV-8C can take off and land vertically. What is it called?

The first-ever vertical take-off and landing fighter, the BAE Harrier (AV-8A) was a carrier-based fighter that served with the British Navy, British Air Force and the American Marine Corps. Thanks to its movable jet engine, it was particularly maneuverable and saw action during the Falklands War. AV-8As were upgraded by the USMC to the AV-8C to extend service life and were retired in 1987 for the AV-8B Harrier II.


This Russian fighter is in service today and flies combat missions over Syria. Do you know its nickname?

This swept-wing all-weather attack aircraft first entered Soviet service in 1974 and remains in service to this day. The Sukhoi Su-24 (NATO designation: Fencer) has seen action all over the world including Afghanistan, in Libya and most recently in Syria.


An incredible aircraft that has wowed airshow goers around the world, what is the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 known as in the West?

Entering service in 1982, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 (NATO designation: Fulcrum) is a fourth-generation fighter jet. Over the years, it has assumed a number of multirole capabilities. It is one of only a handful of aircraft in the world capable of performing the Pugachev Cobra maneuver, where the aircraft "stands" on its engines in a vertical position (or beyond) and then drops back into normal flight.


A carrier-based fighter mainly, what is the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 known as?

A carrier-based multirole fighter, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet first entered service in 1984 and currently serves in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. It has a top speed of Mach 1.8 and has served in combat theatres around the world.


The Douglas A-4 played an important role in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps air fleet during the Vietnam War. It was often called the _________?

First introduced in 1956, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was a carrier-based attack aircraft. It remained in operations with U.S. forces for close to 50 years, seeing extensive action in Vietnam. The aircraft is still in service with the Argentine Air Force.


The Shenyang J-31 is China's latest contribution to fifth-generation fighter technology. Do you know its nickname?

First seen in 2012, the Chinese Shenyang J-31 Falcon Hawk (also called the FC-31 or the Snowy Owl) is expected to enter service in 2019. Currently, only two prototypes of the fifth-generation fighter are known to exist and they are involved in flight testing.


Can you tell us the nickname of the North American F-100?

The first American jet fighter capable of breaking the sound barrier while in level flight, the North American F-100 Super Sabre served with the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1971 and with the Air National Guard until 1979.


A rocket-propelled German jet fighter from World War II, the Messerschmitt Me 163 was known as the _______?

One of the world's first jet fighters, with the Me 262, to see combat, the rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was introduced into the Luftwaffe in 1944. The Komet had nine confirmed kills against the Allies but that came at a cost of 14 Me 163s lost. Its introduction came too late to aid Germany.


This is the Panavia GR4. What is it known as?

The Panavia Tornado entered service with a host of European air forces in 1979. This swept-wing jet is a multirole aircraft and services as a fighter-bomber, interceptor and reconnaissance platform.


The Sukhoi Su-25 has a peculiar nickname given to it by NATO. Do you know what it is?

The Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO designation: Frogfoot) first entered service in 1981 and primarily acts as a close support aircraft for Russian ground forces. It has seen action in numerous conflicts and most recently has been used in action in Syria.


The first Allied jet fighter of World War II, by which nickname does the Gloster F4 go by?

The first Allied jet fighter of World War II and the only one to see combat, the Gloster Meteor entered service in 1944. Although it served in Europe during the Allies push into Germany, it was mainly used for ground attack purposes and shooting down V-1 rockets; it never met up with any jet fighters from Germany.


Do you know the nickname of the Eurofighter?

One of the most modern fighters in service with a host of European air forces including the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe, the Eurofighter Typhoon was a joint development between a number of countries. This delta-wing multirole fighter first entered service in 2003.


America's first true jet fighter, the Lockheed P-80 is more commonly known as the _____________?

Introduced in 1945, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the United States Military's first entry into the jet age. It served at the beginning of the Korean War but was quickly outclassed by its opposition, the MiG-15, and was replaced by the F-86 Sabre. A variant, the T-33 Shooting Star, was used as a training aircraft and remained in production until 1959 — some are still flying today.


The nickname of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 is _________?

A replacement for the MiG-25 Foxbat, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 (NATO designation: Foxhound) was a very similar-looking aircraft and it, too, had two very powerful engines which gave it incredible performance. It came into service with the Soviet Air Force in 1981 and is expected to remain in service with the Russian Air Force until 2030.


What is the nickname of the McDonnell F2H, a carrier-based fighter first introduced in 1948?

A carrier-based fighter, the McDonnell F2H Banshee (sometimes referred to as the "Banjo") served with both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps from 1948 up until 1962. Banshees saw extensive action during the Korean War.


Do you have any idea what the nickname of the Sukhoi Su-47 could be?

The Sukhoi Su-47 (NATO designation:Firkin) was an experimental jet fighter designed in the 1990s. It is noted for its wings which seem to be on backward! This design made it very agile at low speeds. While the collapse of the Soviet Union led to the project being canceled, technology and ideas from the Su-47 were used in later generations of Russian aircraft.


Do you know the nickname of the McDonnell F-101?

The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo, introduced into service in the United States Air Force in 1957, was intended to be a long-range escort fighter. As with many modern designs, however, it eventually had a number of roles with the USAF, The U.S. Air National Guard and the Canadian Air Force.


The Lockheed Martin F-35, the very latest fighter technology that forms part of the U.S. Air Force, is known as ________?

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II first entered service in 2015. It is a multirole fighter, primarily, with stealth capability and can be used in ground attack missions. Deliveries of this aircraft are scheduled until 2037 and it is expected to have a service life lasting until 2070.


This high-subsonic fighter, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17, is known by what nickname in the West?

Following the MiG-15, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 (NATO designation: Fresco) was introduced into service in 1952. It was a similar design to that of the MiG-15 and while the MiG-17 could not reach supersonic speeds at level flight, it proved to be a match against more modern supersonic adversaries. It saw action during the Vietnam war and was built under license in both China and Poland.


A Soviet fighter, the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 was called by a certain nickname in the West. What was it?

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19 (NATO designation: Farmer) was a second-generation fighter introduced into service by the U.S.S.R. in 1955. Also heavily involved with the North Vietnamese Air Force during the Vietnam War, the MiG-19 was the first Soviet aircraft capable of supersonic speeds in level flight.


A German jet-powered fighter from the end of World War II, the Messerschmitt Me 262 was known as ________?

The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) proved to be a fierce opponent for the Allies when introduced in 1944 although it had been in development since 1942. A dearth of experienced pilots, engine problems and a lack of fuel made it far less effective than it could have been.


What is the nickname of the Convair F-106?

In military service from 1960 until 1988, the Convair F-106 Delta Dart was an interceptor with the primary role of attacking enemy bombers. The Delta Dart was, in fact, the last true interceptor to serve the United States. NASA used the aircraft for research and testing until 1998.


The Sukhoi Su-57 is the latest fifth-generation fighter from Russia. Do you know its nickname?

Russia's latest fifth-generation fighter, the Sukhoi Su-57 (NATO designation: Frazor) remains in final testing and has not yet entered service. The Su-57 was designed to be the first Russian aircraft to make use of stealth design. As of 2019, it is believed the Su-57 will not go into mass production because of budget issues


Can you tell us what the De Havilland DH.115 was known as?

With its unique twin-tailed design, the De Havilland DH.115 Vampire entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1946, the second jet fighter to do so. More than 3,200 were produced with the last serving till 1979 with the Rhodesian Air Force.


Can you tell us the nickname of the Sukhoi Su-34?

Although it first flew in 1990, the Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO designation: Fullback) has entered service with the Russian Air Force in 2014. It is primarily used in a ground attack/strike role but can be used in a fighter role as well. The Su-34 can reach just over Mach 1.8.


What is the nickname of this English Electric F3?

The English Electric Lightning first entered service with the Royal Air Force in 1954 and served for almost 30 years. An interceptor, the Lightning was tasked with quickly reaching any aircraft threatening British airspace. It was a high-performance aircraft, capable of speeds of Mach 2.0 — to date the only U.K. designed and built fighter that can do so.


What is the nickname of the Sukhoi Su-15, a Soviet fighter developed in the 1960s?

The Sukhoi Su-15 (NATO designation: Flagon) is a twin-engined jet interceptor that served in the Soviet Union from 1965 until 1996. Its primary task was intercepting both NATO and United States bombers should the need arise.


What is the nickname of this aircraft built by Supermarine?

The Supermarine Swift, a fighter in service with the Royal Air Force, first flew in 1948 and entered service in 1954. With its swept-wing design, a Swift F.4 became the fastest aircraft in the world in 1953 when it reached 737.7 mph.


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