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There is a fine line between bombers (here) and fighters, in that attack aircraft could reasonably be categorised as either (or as a separate category on their own). I have included attack aircraft with fighters, on the somewhat arbitrary grounds that more of them are multi-role aircraft. Inclusion here of types like the Buccaneer and Swordfish is arguable .... but anyway, here they are.

It is astounding to think that the prototype of the greatest American wartime bomber flew in July 1935, a full six years before America's entry into the war. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was a hugely capable aircraft, able to take up to 17,600lb of bombs over short ranges and smaller loads for up to 1,850 miles. Its other armament was fearsome: thirteen 0.5 inch machine guns. All told, 12,700 were produced.

Several are still airworthy including this one, photographed at Duxford on a scorching hot day in September 2004.

The North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber was used in a wide variety of bombing and attack roles in the second world war. It could carry up to 4,000lb of bombs. Its two 1,850hp Wright Cyclone engines gave it a top speed of 275mph. Its range was 1,275 miles. Over 11,000 were built.

This one is maintained in airworthy condition at North Weald, where it was pictured in December 2005.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is an extraordinary success story. It was designed as a jet replacement for the giant ten engined Convair B-36, which had itself replaced the wartime Boeing Superfortress. With eight jet engines in four pairs under the huge swept wings, the B-52 is a very powerful aircraft. An odd feature is the undercarriage, in two pairs under the fuselage, with stabilising outriggers on the wings.

It first flew in April 1952 and is still in service in 2005, 53 years later.

These two B-52Hs were at air displays at Fairford in the UK, the top one in the 1980s and the lower one in 2005.

The Rockwell B-1 Lancer is the most successful supersonic bomber the USA has produced. (actually the competition - the B-58 Hustler and the cancelled B-70 Valkyrie are the only others - is limited!). It is an extremely capable aircraft, and has succeeded the B-52 in most of its deep strike missions.

The top picture shows a B-1A at Farnborough in September 1982. The lower picture is of a B-1B at Fairford in July 2005.

The Fairey Swordfish is an odd aircraft to include as a bomber, but its record belies its benign appearance. It was the Royal Navy's first proper carrier-borne torpedo bomber. Despite first flying in April 1934, it continued in service throughout the second world war. Its most famous achievement was to cripple the ultra-modern battleship `Bismarck' in 1941, leaving it a sitting target for the Navy to finish off. Aside from its capability as a stable and accurate torpedo launcher, it was incredibly robust: they frequently arrived back full of large holes, but still happily flying. 2,400 were made.

The navy keeps two, including this one, in its historic flight: it is seen here at Duxford in 1998.

When the Bristol Blenheim first flew in June 1936, it was the fastest of its class in the world. It could deliver 1,000 lb of bombs at 265mph pver 1,460 miles. Over 3,000 were built, and saw service in every theatre of the second world war.

This one was restored to flying condition and took part in the air display at Duxford in 1996.

The Avro Lancaster was Britain's best and most versatile bomber of the second world war. It first flew in January 1941. It was unusual for a bomber in being powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, until then always thought of as a fighter engine. This gave it a top speed of 290mph, a range of 1,660 miles and a bomb load of up to 14,000lb, although some special mission aircraft were able to lift the 22,000lb Grand Slam bomb. Modified Lancasters carried the famous `bouncing bomb' which destroyed the dams which supplied water to the German Ruhr industry.

7,374 Lancasters were built including this, the last flying example, seen at Cranfield in July 1988.

The Avro Lincoln was a beefed-up successor to the Lancaster. Because it first flew in June 1944, close to the end of the war, only 500 were made. Payload was increased to a massive 38,000lb.

This Lincoln was pictured at the Argentine Air Force museum in Buenos Aires in 1999.

The De Havilland DH98 Mosquito was designed to be the smallest aircraft which would fit around two Merlin engines. Taking much learning from the DH88 Comet racer, it was built for speed: it could manage 408mph, astounding for a bomber of the period. It first flew in November 1940. Through economy of weight (it was built largely of wood), it could lift 4,000 lb of bombs. It was adapted for many roles including reconnaisance and night fighting.

This, the last airworthy example, was seen at Mildenhall in June 1984.

The English Electric Canberra first flew in May 1949, making it one of the world's first jet bombers. It was designed by W.E. Petter at the English Electric factory in Preston, Lancashire. Range is up to 3,800 miles with a cruising speed of 580 mph and a bomb load of 8,000 lb. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon turbojets. It was built in numerous versions. It served in the Royal Air Force for over 50 years, as well as many overseas customers. Altogether 982 were built in Britain, and 403 under license in America by Martin as B-57s.

Pictured (top) is a modified B(I)8, operated by the Aircraft & Armament Experimental Establishment and seen at Greenham Common in June 1981. (Below) a Canberra PR9 photographic reconnaisance version, still in service and seen at Fairford in July 2005. (Below that) a Canberra B2 landing at Marham in July 1976. (Bottom) a Canberra T17 at Finningley in 1976.

The Handley Page Victor was one of three aircraft ordered by the RAF to carry its nuclear deterrent during the cold war, and known as `V bombers'. An elegant design with a crescent wing (to keep a constant critical Mach number at high speed flight), the Victor first flew in December 1952. It had a typical bomb load of 35,000lb, top speed of Mach 0.95 and range of 6,000 miles. After a long career in the bomber role, many were converted to in-flight refuelling tankers. It was powered by four Armstrong Whitworth Sapphire turbojets. Only 60 were built, all serving with the Royal Air Force.

 The top one was seen at Greenham Common in July 1983. The lower picture was at Finningley in 1976. They continued in RAF service well into the 1990s.

The Avro Vulcan is Ivy's favourite aircraft! It was the third, and technically the best, of the V bombers. At the time, there was great scepticism over whether a delta wing was a feasible platform for a very large aircraft. The Vulcan proved that it is. It was known as the `Aluminum Overcast' by the Americans, partly because the wing was so vast that it covered a huge area of sky, and partly because they couldn't spell Aluminium. Vulcans consistently won the international `Giant Voice' bombing competitions in Nevada against some of the best competition in the world. They were incredibly powerful - and incredibly noisy! 136 were built, all for the RAF. They could carry 21 thousand pound bombs, or the huge Blue Steel air to surface missile. Maximum speed was 625mph and range was 3,000 miles.

Amazingly for this huge aircraft, Avro's test pilot, Roly Falk actually rolled one of the early production aircraft during a display at Farnborough! The Avro engineers were very anxious, and inspected the aircraft afterwards for signs of damage: there was none, and the aircraft flew happily for many year with the RAF.

The one in the top picture, belonging to 617 squadron (of Dambusters fame - note the bursting dam badge on the tail), was at Finningley in 1976. The lower picture is a Vulcan B2 flying at Hurn in August 1984, showing the vast area of the delta wing.

The Blackburn Buccaneer is one of David's five favourite aircraft! It was designed as a Naval strike attack aircraft, hence the folding wings to make room on aircraft carrier decks. Most manufacturers thought the specification was impossible, but by innovative design Blackburn managed to meet it. It had a rotating bomb bay, to keep the airflow unobstructed with the bomb bay open. The wings were made of a solid lump of aluminium, milled to shape and with systems then installed. Air was bled from the engine's compressor and blown through slots in the wing to increase boundary layer control and thus improve handling at slow speed. The bulge behind the engine was partly for `area rule' (to reduce transonic drag) and partly to house the fuel tanks. The large airbrakes at the back were a Blackburn innovation, later used on other types including the BAe 146 airliner.

Top: Buccaneer from 15 Squadron based at Laarbruch in Germany at Greenham Common in June 1979.  Bottom: Buccaneer at Finningley in September 1976.

The Heinkel He111 was one of the bombers used by the Luftwaffe to bomb Britain in the second world war. Always intended as a bomber, it had first flown as an airliner to circumvent the restrictions on German armaments after the first world war. Its handling characteristics were good, and it had a number of interestign features including a lovely emergency device for lowering the undercarriage in the event of a hydraulic failure: a large cable cutter! Bomb load was small compared to the B-17 or the Lancaster, being only 5,500lb.

Many, including this one seen at Le Bourget in June 1981, were used by the Spanish air force until well after the end of the war, and actually powered by Rolls-Royce Merlin engines in place of the original Junkers Jumo.