97% of People Can't Tell Which Decade These Military Planes Are From. Can You?


By: Jody Mabry

7 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

When the movie "Top Gun" came out in the 1980s introducing the world to the F-14 Tomcat, a new generation of flying aces was born. Suddenly the entire country could tell the difference between an F-14, F-16 and F-18. While these jets still secure the skies, do you know which planes won World War II, or which planes scoured South East Asia during the Vietnam War? 

This quiz will test your knowledge of military planes and when those planes first entered service. While some planes will go down in infamy due to their pilots, such as the Japanese Zero and their Kamikazee attacks, others were notorious death machines such as the  Brewster F2A Buffalo, also known as the "Flying Coffin" by its own pilots who were well aware of the planes horrific casualty rate. 

But, do you know if a plane fighting in World War II entered service in the '30s or '40s? Or, maybe it was the '20s. Is the Tomcat from the '70s or '80s? Even today, verticle landings are uncommon, but the Harrier has been doing it for awhile. Do you know is the Harrier entered service in the '80s? The '90s? or in the 2000s?

Test your military plan knowledge by trying to figure out which decade these planes first entered service. Good luck pilot!

The name has been around for decades, but which decade was this jet developed?

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation stealth fighter serving in the U.S. Air Force. Although built for air superiority, it can carry out ground attack duties as well. The Raptor makes use of weapons bays with all payload kept internally until needed.


When did the Bearcat hit the skies?

Designed as a carrier-based fighter and entering service in mid-1945, the Grumman F8F Bearcat saw no action during World War II. The war came to an end before it could be deployed in any large numbers.


Which decade did this stealthy jet come to be?

The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk was the first American aircraft to utilize stealth technology. It entered service in 1983 but was only made public in 1988. The Nighthawk saw extensive action during the first Gulf War, flying over 1,300 missions. Although utilizing stealth technology, a Nighthawk was lost to a surface-to-air missile over Yugoslavia in 1999.


When did this fighter Ace enter service?

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was designed specifically to replace the F4F Wildcat, which had suffered at the hands of Japanese A6M Zeros in the Pacific theater. This rugged fighter did indeed outperform the Zero. Over 12 000 were built in just two years.


When did this Navy jet first enter service?

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a twin-engined, carrier-based fighter and an upgrade to the F-18 Hornet. It serves with the U.S. Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. It entered service in 1999, and was brought in to replace the aging Grumman F-14 Tomcat.


When did this vertical lander enter service?

The BAE Harrier II was the last model in the Harrier family which initially entered service in 1969. This upgraded model was introduced in 1989 with 143 built. The Harrier II is both capable of operating from small airfields and aircraft carriers thanks to its vertical take-off and landing capabilities. It can be used in a number of roles, including close air support.


This bomber saw service when?

The Douglas P-70 Havoc was a night fighter version of the A-20 light bomber. They served in the Pacific theater.


When did this Top Gun first take flight?

A two-seat, variable swept-wing, carried-based fighter in the U.S. Navy, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat began service in 1974 and continued in a front line role ​until 2006. F-14's have seen extensive action, both with the US Navy as well as the Iranian Air Force who received an order of Tomcats in 1976.


This jet has a bite, but since when?

The Bell P-63 Kingcobra proved to be a slight improvement on its predecessor, the P-39 Airacobra. Much like the Airacobra, the Soviets used 72% of the models built in their fight against Germany and Japan.


Which decade first saw this Ace?

The Fighting Falcon is a mainstay of the U.S. Air Force. This aircraft is mainly a fighter but capable of ground attack duties as well. It was the first U.S. fighter to make use of fly-by-wire avionics. The F-16 is in service in 26 air forces around the world.


Which decade was the Typhoon introduced?

This delta winged multirole fighter was a collaboration between a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy. It was introduced in 2003 and currently serves in eight air forces worldwide. One Typhoon costs around $96 million to produce.


When did this jet start taking off from carriers?

The Supermarine Seafire was a carrier-based version of the Spitfire, arguably one of the most famous aircraft designs in aviation history. The first few Seafires were converted Spitfires but eventually, the aircraft was modified for carrier-based operations. Of the most important of these modifications was folding wings, which allowed aircraft to be stored below decks far easier.


When did this Mirage first hit the skies?

Introduced into service in 1982, the Dassault Mirage 2000 is based on the older Mirage III. It is a multi-role aircraft that operates in a number of air forces around the world, including France, India, Greece, United Arab Emirates and Qatar.


When was this famous Japanese plane first in service?

The most famous Japanese fighter of World War II, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was carrier-based, had an incredible range, and was extremely maneuverable. It was far superior to early American aircraft in the Pacific theater, and at one stage had a kill ratio of 12 to 1. Its first flight was in 1939.


When did this Typhoon start ravaging the skies?

The Hawker Typhoon was originally intended to replace the Hawker Hurricane as a frontline fighter. It was outclassed by many German aircraft, however. It soon found its niche and became an excellent ground attack aircraft with the ability to carry rockets and bombs as part of its payload.


This Hornet's been buzzing towers since...

The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is essentially a carrier-based aircraft with air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities. It was the first aircraft to make use of carbon fiber wings as well as fly-by-wire avionics. The Hornet first saw action in the 1991 Gulf War in both ground attack and air superiority roles.


When did the interceptor start...intercepting?

Designed by Jiro Horikoshi who created the legendary A6M Zero, the J2M was designed to be a high-altitude interceptor. It saw action throughout the Pacific but was often dogged by mechanical problems. Later in the war, it was used in its intended role but performed poorly against the high-flying B29 Superfortress bombers of the U.S. Air Force.


The Brazilian Airforce introduced this plane in what decade?

Entering service in 1983, the Embraer EMB 312 Tucano is a two-seat, single-engined trainer in service with the Brazilian Air Force. It serves a variety of roles, including ground attack, anti-drug surveillance, and border protection. Besides Brazil, it also serves in the French and Argentine Air Force.


When did the Japanese introduce this jet?

Developed for the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, the Mitsubishi F-1 is a military jet capable of ground attack or anti-shipping roles. It was in service from 1978 to 2006 with 77 produced.


The French and Americans used this fighter. Do you know when?

Designed in the mid-1930s the Curtis P-36 Hawk was one of the first monoplane fighters used by the United States. Much of the combat seen by these models were in the hands of French pilots during the Battle of France. Many were captured after the fall of France and sent to Finland, where they were used against the Russian Air Force. The P-36 Hawk did claim the first Japanese aircraft shot down of the war during the raid on Pearl Harbor.


Do you know when this multi-nation aircraft came to service?

A collaboration between the United Kingdom, Italy, and West Germany, the Panavia Tornado is a true multirole aircraft. It has five variants which include close air support, air defense interceptor, reconnaissance, and maritime attack. This swept-wing aircraft is still in service despite production being stopped in 1998.


When did this Spitfire enter the RAF?

One of the most famous aircraft ever designed, the Supermarine Spitfire can easily be recognized by its elliptical wing shape. With over 20,000 Spitfires built during the war, the aircraft was constantly evolving and was able to perform a number of roles, an incredible feat considering it start out life as a fighter only.


When did this Russian fighter enter service?

The Sukhoi Su-30MKI is a two-seat air superiority fighter. It serves in the Indian Air Force where it is built under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. It is a further development of the Sukhoi Su-30. Overall design includes canards and vector thrusting, two elements that make the Su-30 MKI extremely maneuverable.


When was this Swedish fighter first in service?

The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a Swedish-designed, multirole, fourth-generation fighter. It entered into service in 1997 and serves with a number of air forces, including Sweden and South Africa. It roles include air defense, interception, and ground attack.


They were nicknamed the flying coffins, but in which decade?

The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first monoplane carrier-based fighter of the U.S. Navy. Although it was an adequate aircraft at the start of the war, it suffered significant losses during the Battle of Midway, with their pilots describing them as "flying coffins."


Do you know which decade this fighter bomber entered service?

A fighter bomber serving in both the Chinese Army and Navy. The Xian JH-7 entered service in 1992.


When did this Mitsubishi model enter the military?

Derived from the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the Mitsubishi F-2 is manufactured in a joint venture between Japan and the United States. The F-2 is a multirole fighter and serves with the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force. The F-2 is larger than the F-16 with 25% more wing area. In recent years, F-2s have been scrambled twice to intercept Russian aircraft entering Japanese airspace.


Which decade was this ace in the sky?

A carrier-based fighter in the early part of World War II, the F4F Wildcat was the mainstay of the U.S Navy fighter wings. Eventually, it was replaced by the F6F Hellcat.


NATO introduced this jet in...

The Sukhoi Su-25, codenamed 'Frogfoot' by NATO, is a close air support attack aircraft that entered service in 1981. This aircraft has seen extensive combat both in Afghanistan in the 1980's and, more recently, Chechnya. In 2013, the Su-25SM3 Grach was introduced. It is a substantial upgrade from previous versions of the 'Frogfoot.' Around 80 of them will be delivered to the Russian Air Force.


Which decade was the JUG ready to fight?

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, or "Jug" as it was affectionately known by its pilots, was a very versatile aircraft. From escorting bombers over Germany to ground attack missions, the Jug could do it all. It was a massive piece of machinery - when fully loaded with weapons and fuel, it weighed around 8 tons.


This Hawk has been around since when?

Based on the BAE Hawk advanced trainer, the Hawk 200 is a lightweight, multirole aircraft capable of air defense, anti-shipping, close air support and ground attack missions. It entered service in 1996 and serves in the air forces of Malaysia, Oman, and Indonesia.


Nicknamed the Golden Eagle, when did this jet come into service?

Developed by KAI industries, as well as Lockheed Martin, the KAI TA-50 Golden Eagle serves as a light combat aircraft and advanced trainer, predominantly in the South Korean Air Force. It is one of the few trainers in the world capable of supersonic speeds. The Golden Eagle serves in a number of other air forces including Indonesia, Iraq, Philippines, ​and Thailand.


This high-altitude fighter was flying high starting in...

Certainly not the greatest American fighter ever produced, the Republic P-43 Lancer had excellent performance at high altitude. This made it one of the only Allied planes able to intercept the Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" recon plane of the Japanese for much of the war.


When did this propeller-powered plane hit the air?

A propeller-powered aircraft, the Saab Supporter was first introduced in 1972 and is a military version of the Saab Safari. It is used for training by a number of air forces around the world, including Sweden.


Do you know when this peashooter began its career?

The Boeing P-26 Peashooter was the first American design to be constructed totally out of metal. Although it was designed as a fighter, it was out of date by the time America entered the war.


This Chinese plane entered service in which decade?

A multirole aircraft, the Chengdu J-10 is a Chinese design first introduced into service in 2006. It is capable of carrying air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles as well as a range of bombs. The J-10 is only operated by the Chinese Air Force.


This plane is a trainer and light fighter, but when did it enter service?

A product of Argentina, the FMA IA 63 Pampa operates as a two-seat trainer but can also be used as a light attack aircraft. It was designed with the help of the German company, Dornier, and first entered service in 1988.


When do you think this combat plane was ready for combat?

A U.S. fighter ordered by Sweden, the Vultee P-66 Vanguard never made it to that Scandinavian country, as at the time of the scheduled delivery in 1941, the U.S. changed their mind about exporting them, preferring to keep them as home defense and as trainers. Some Vanguards did see action in China, but without much success.


When did this Italian-Brazilian jet enter service?

A joint Italian-Brazilian collaboration, the AMX International AMX has multiple roles in both air forces. It is primarily a ground attack aircraft providing close air support but can also be used for reconnaissance. It entered service in 1989.


When did this monoplane enter service?

A Polish high-wing monoplane fighter, the PZL. P.24 was intended for export and didn't serve in the Polish Air Force. It did, however, serve with the Turkish, Greek, and Romanian Air Force.


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