Can You Figure Out The Purpose Of These Aircraft From Their Image?


Image: RaptTV/Corbis/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Poetically speaking, airplanes are birds of iron and steel that represent remarkable feats of human invention and creativity. 

Since the birth of the first aircraft, people have been exploring the skies and traveling to exotic places.  But at their essence, aircraft are at the intersection of science and human courage. These machines are able to fly by gliding through the air as though they were boats on a river. They counter the force of gravity by using static lift and the downward thrust from jet engines. 

But did you know that hot air balloons are considered aircraft? So are gliders, blimps, helicopters and so much more! 

In this quiz, we’re going to explore it all and find out how much you understand about the remarkable world of aviation. Whether you’re a professional, or just an airplane lover, you’re going to be utterly challenged. 

For instance, did you know that aircraft are classified by different criteria, such as lift type, usage, and propulsion?  We’ll start you off with an easy one: Who flies the plane?  It’s the pilot, of course!  Don’t let us down, because we’re pretty sure that you’re going to soar to all-new heights when you take this quiz!

What function does this aircraft fulfill?

The B17 Flying Fortress is one of the most famous aircraft of World War II. Designed as a bomber, it was primarily used in the West, flying daylight missions against Nazi Germany. The B17 could hold 9,600 pounds of bombs and had 11 to 13 machine guns as defensive armament.

What is this aircraft's function?

The Antonov An-225 is the biggest cargo aircraft in the world today. It can carry up to 250 tons and has a take-off weight of up to 640 tons. To get this aircraft in the air is no mean feat and requires six D-18T turbofan engines. Each is capable of producing up to 229.7kN of thrust.

What is this aircraft used for?

Incredibly, the B52 Stratofortress has been in operation with the United States Air Force for over six decades. It is capable of performing a range of missions and can fly at heights of up to 52,000 feet and up to a range of 8,000 miles before needing to refuel. It can deliver many different payloads, including nuclear bombs.

Can you name this type of aircraft?

The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the most famous aircraft ever built. It first flew in 1936 and played a major part in defending Great Britain against the Luftwaffe, Hitler's air force, during the Second World War. It was produced throughout the war with over 20,000 built. There are still around 50 flying examples found around the world.

What is this plane used for?

The Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet first entered service in 1970. This massive passenger aircraft is used by airlines around the world and can carry up to 524 people (depending on the configuration) to destinations 14,200 kilometers (8,825 miles) away at speeds of up to 570 mph.

Can you guess what this airplane does?

The A10 Thunderbolt, fondly known as the Warthog, is one of the most effective ground attack aircraft in the world today. It has excelled in a number of theatres, particularly during Operation Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, where it was noted as a tank destroyer. It has many armament variations but is known for its incredible Avenger 30mm cannon which can fire armor-piercing and uranium-depleted rounds.

What type of popular aircraft is this?

The Cessna 172 was first launched in 1956. Up until today, it is probably the most famous light civilian aircraft in the world with over 43,000 having been produced in the past 60 years. With its high wing configuration, the 172 is an excellent aircraft on which to learn to fly.

What kind of airplane is pictured here?

The North American P51 Mustang is the most famous American aircraft of the Second World War. It primarily served in the West, where it acted as a long-range escort fighter for American bomber formations attacking the Reich and other targets. The aircraft became one of the war's legendary fighters thanks to changing its original engine (the Allison V-1710) to the British Merlin engine, the same found in the Hurricane and Spitfire. This transformed its performance.

What is this aircraft for?

The Pregnant Guppy was specifically used to help transport rocket pieces for the Apollo Space Program. It was powered by four Pratt & Whitney R-4360-59 "Wasp Major" radial engines and was capable of transporting parts weighing up to 50,000 pounds.

Can you guess this aircraft's use?

The B29 Superfortress was the biggest bomber produced by America during World War II. It was primarily used in raids against Japanese targets in the Pacific and later, over Japan itself. In fact, it was a B29, the Enola Gay, that delivered the first nuclear strike on Japan when it dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima on August 7, 1945, killing 45,000 people instantly.

What type of airplane is seen here?

The Lockheed C-5 Galaxy first entered service in 1968. This is not a commercial cargo aircraft, however, and is used by the United States Air Force as a strategic air-lifter. It is powered by four General Electric TF39-GE-1C high-bypass turbofans. These help the Galaxy to carry up to 270,000 pounds of equipment. It can also be used to carry troops around the world.

How would you describe this aircraft's function?

Many well-off businessmen and women don't see the need to use airlines to travel between cities, opting instead for a business jet. And while there are many from which to choose, one of the most popular is the Gulfstream 450. With the range of around 4,300 miles and the ability to carry up to eight passengers in spacious surroundings, (along with a full galley) it is easy to see why these are a preferred mode of transport over a commercial airline.

What's the function that this plane fulfills?

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was an American fighter from the Second World War. It entered service in 1941 and quickly gained a reputation as a formidable dogfighter. It was a squadron of Lightning's that brought down the Japanese transport aircraft carrying Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Legend has it that enemy pilots called the Lightning the 'forked-tail devil.'

What does this large plane do?

The United States Air Force has a number of airlifter class of aircraft. These are used to ferry equipment, troops or personnel all over the world. One such example is the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, introduced into service in 1991. The C-17 is used to carry all the security vehicles (and the limousine of the President of the United States) when he visits foreign countries.

What do you think this one is for?

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit is a stealth bomber that entered service in the United States Air Force in 1997. It is very different than any other bomber used by the United States because it is a flying wing practically invisible to radar. It can carry both conventional and nuclear weapons with a range of 6,900 miles, without refueling, at speeds of up to 560 mph.

This aircraft is for what purpose?

The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger aircraft operating in the world today. Depending on the seat configuration used, the A380 can carry up to 853 passengers across two separate decks. Some airlines even choose their A380s to have onboard lounges and showers.

What type of prop aircraft is this?

The C-130 Hercules is used by a number of air forces around the world but most notably, that of the United States. Its primary role is airlift missions. This means it transports equipment, air force personnel and sometimes troops, although it can (and does) fulfill other roles, as well. The Hercules has been in operation since 1959.

What type of battle aircraft is this?

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat was the prime fighter of the United States Navy between 1974 and 2006. This "swing wing" aircraft had state-of-the-art systems on board, including a radar capable of tracking up to 24 targets at any one time. Of course, the Tomcat was made even more famous thanks to the movie, "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise.

What kind of military plane is this?

The Convair B-58 Hustler served with the United States Air Force for a decade between 1960 and 1970. It was noted for its large delta wing design and was the first bomber ever produced capable of flying at twice the speed of sound. Crews had ejection capsules that could be used if the aircraft was ever shot down or had any dire mechanical problems.

Can you name this type of plane?

Not necessarily the most glamorous fighter ever produced by the United States during World War II, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk certainly served a purpose. It was a capable dogfighter that was easy to build and helped to ensure that the United States Air Force was significantly armed during the early days of the war. Almost 12,000 of the P-40 were built up until 1944.

What duty does this plane fulfill?

The Boeing Dreamlifter is the largest aircraft made by the legendary American aircraft manufacturer. The Dreamlifter is used to fly Boeing aircraft parts around the world. Essentially, it is a heavily modified Boeing 747-400. There are only four Dreamlifters currently in operation around the world.

What is this sleek plane used as?

The Avro Vulcan is easily recognizable due to its unique design and large delta wing shape. The Vulcan was the main bomber in the British Air Force between 1954 and 1986. It was capable of carrying nuclear and conventional weapons and saw action during the Falklands Conflict in 1982.

What's the purpose of this legendary aircraft?

The Douglas DC3 Dakota is nothing short of a legend. It first flew in 1936 and has been used in many guises, from an airliner to cargo aircraft, and even during the Second World War as a troop transport, cargo carrier, glider tow aircraft and paratrooper transporter. The DC3 is affectionately known as the Goony Bird.

What's the major function of this one?

The Vough A-7 Corsair II is an American ground attack aircraft that saw service with the US Navy from 1967 to 1991. These aircraft were used during the Vietnam war, primarily to take out various ground-based targets, such as strategic bridges. The Corsair was capable of varying hardware configurations and could carry bombs, air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground missiles.

What type of war aircraft is this?

The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter in service in the United States Air Force since 1995. This aircraft is capable of a number of roles, but is primarily an air superiority fighter. It is capable of speeds of up to Mach 2.25 and has a range of 1,840 miles (through the use of two drop tanks.) All weapons are kept in internal weapon bays. The Raptor can carry air-to-air missiles, bombs and also has a gun as armament.

What purpose does this aircraft have?

Serving with the Japanese Air Force, the Kawasaki C-1 entered service in 1974. Its primary role is as a short-range cargo and military transport aircraft. It can take a number of vehicles or troops up to a weight of 11.9 tons. The C-1 will be slowly phased out as a newer transport aircraft, the Kawasaki C-2, takes its place.

What type of wartime aircraft is this?

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the primary fighter in service with the German Air Force at the outbreak of World War II. First introduced in 1937, the aircraft had proved itself extremely capable during the Spanish Civil War where it was flown by German pilots helping Franco. In combat over Britain, however, it met its match in the Supermarine Spitfire. One major disadvantage that the Bf 109 had, however, was that it had a very limited range and could only stay in combat over Britain for a short period.

What's the main function of this kind of large plane?

The Boeing 707 is largely credited as the aircraft that helped change air travel. This was the first jet airliner designed by the company with the aim of ferrying people on long-distance flights around the world. It would pave the way for later models, such as the 747 and 767. It first entered service 1957, and 865 were built up until 1979.

Look out below, and tell us what function this aircraft fulfills:

The Tupolev Tu-95 is one of the most extraordinary aircraft ever produced. The Russian bomber was first introduced into service in 1959 and remains in operation today. It is powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines with contra-rotating propellers. These can propel it at speeds of up to 516 mph. The Bear, its assigned NATO code name, has a range of 9,400 miles and carries an assortment of ordnance.

This is a ___________ aircraft.

At the start of the Second World War, the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was one of the most feared aircraft available to the German Air Force. This ground attack plane used dive bombing techniques to great effect. It was feared, as it also employed wind driven sirens that would wail on each attack, causing panic for both civilians and enemy soldiers. The Stuka was less effective when used against targets in Britain, and many were lost. It was withdrawn and used in combat on the Eastern Front against Russia.

What do you call this kind of airplane?

The De Havilland DH 106 Comet first flew in 1949 and entered service in 1952. This was the first jet airliner used anywhere in the world and opened a new world of possibilities to travelers. Unfortunately, the Comet had some problems, mostly with metal fatigue in airframes, which resulted in a few incidents, including the first recorded fatalities in a jet airliner crash.

What type of VIP aircraft is this model?

A medium-sized jet capable of long range journeys, (up to 3,700 miles) the Cessna Citation X has become a very popular executive jet. It is capable of speeds of up to 604 mph and cruises at around 35,000 feet. It is flown by a crew of two and can carry up to 12 passengers.

Pictured here is a ________ aircraft.

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was one of the major carrier-based fighters of the United States Navy during World War II. The Wildcat saw action throughout the Pacific, playing a pivotal role in defending the U.S. fleet from Japanese attack. Although the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero was quicker and more maneuverable, the Wildcat was extremely tough. Wildcats accounted for 1,327 enemy kills during the war.

Looking very high-tech, what is this aircraft's function?

Possibly one of the strangest looking aircraft ever produced, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk entered service in 1983, yet the American public did not know it even existed until five years later. This was the first aircraft introduced into the U.S. Air Force which made use of stealth technology. Despite its stealth capabilities, one was shot down over Yugoslavia in 1999. The Nighthawk could carry a variety of bombs and had nuclear capabilities.

What type of hauling aircraft is this one?

The design and production of the Transall C-160 came as a joint collaboration between Germany and France. This aircraft's primary job is as a military transport/cargo plane. It first entered service in 1963 and is still used around the world today. The Transall can carry up to 35,000 pounds of troops or equipment up to a range of 1,151 miles.

Seen here is a ________.

The Focke Wulf FW190 was a formidable fighter aircraft. When introduced in 1941, it was immediately superior to the Spitfire V of the British Air Force. It not only served in the West, but against Russian forces in the East as well. The FW190 was known as the Würger, and it was called the Butcher Bird by the allies.

What kind of chartered plane is seen here?

The Dassault Mystère/Falcon 10 has been used in numerous guises over the years, even serving with the French Navy. It remains a popular executive jet, capable of traveling over 2,000 miles and carrying a crew of two with four to eight passengers.

You can use this ______ during a war.

The General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark entered service in 1964, and over 500 were built until its retirement in 1998. The Aardvark could be used in a number of roles, including as a strategic nuclear bomber. It was capable of speeds of up to Mach 2.5 thanks to its swing-wing design.

You should definitely know that this is a ______.

The Boeing 737 is a short to medium-range passenger aircraft used all over the world, particularly on shorter domestic trips. It was introduced in 1968 and is still in production to this day. Depending on the configuration used, as well as the model, the 737 can carry up to 215 passengers.

When not in a war, these are used in air shows:

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon was primarily designed as an air superiority fighter although, over time, it has come to serve many roles in air forces around the world. It was first introduced in 1978. It features a side mounted control stick and a fly-by-wire system controlled by a computer that makes the aircraft far easier to fly.

If you travel, you know that this is a ________.

The Airbus A300 first entered service in 1974 and was produced until 2007. This was the first widebody airliner to feature only two engines. Depending on the configuration used, it can carry up to 266 passengers to a range of 4,600 miles.

What type of impressive aircraft is in the image?

The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a tactical fighter that has served in the United States Air Force for the past 40 years. It is powered by two Pratt & Whitney afterburning turbofans which give it a maximum speed of over Mach 2.5 and a service ceiling of 65,000 feet. Armament includes Sidewinder and AMRAAM missiles and a 20mm Gatling gun.

This spacious aircraft is a _______.

The Xi'an Y-20 is a cargo/transport aircraft in service with the Chinese Air Force. It can carry a payload of 66 tonnes (145,505 pounds) made up of either vehicles, equipment or even troops. It entered service in 2016.

These aircraft are used in conflict.

The Avro Lancaster was one of the most famous bombers of World War II. While the American B17 Flying Fortress bombed Germany by day, the Lancaster operated at night. In fact, the Lancaster carried the famous bouncing bombs used to destroy German dams in the Ruhr Valley in 1943. There are still two of these majestic aircraft flying today, one in the United Kingdom and one in Canada.

What does the aircraft in the image generally do?

The Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik was a Russian ground attack aircraft used during the Second World War. It was heavily armored and notoriously difficult to shoot down. It was the most-produced aircraft of the war, with over 42,000 made. The Sturmovik was often called the Flying Tank.

In the past, what function did this aircraft fulfill?

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was a fighter used by the United States during the Second World War. It was affectionately known as The Jug because of its massive size. It had excellent high-altitude performance and was exceptional when called upon to dive. It was the fastest Allied fighter of the war.

What war-time function did this one fulfill?

The Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant was one of the largest aircraft of the Second World War. It was used by the German Air Force as a transport aircraft capable of carrying equipment to the front. It has a wingspan of 181 feet and was powered by six Gnome-Rhône engines. Gigant means "giant" in German.

Do you know what this aircraft did in the 1940s and 1950s?

The Vought F4U Corsair saw service from the middle of the Second World War and into the Korean War, nearly a decade later. It was an exceptional carrier-based fighter noted for its gull wing design. The Corsair still operated in the El Salvadoran Air Force until 1976.

What type of specialized aircraft is this?

The Lockheed Jetstar was one of the first business jets to be produced. They were produced between 1957 and 1978 and could transport up to 10 passengers over distances of 2,900 miles.

And finally, what does this aircraft do?

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is the cutting edge of aircraft design. It is a stealth multi-role fighter capable of speeds of up to Mach 1.6. It has a number of unique systems, including a helmet-targeting system that essentially allows the pilot to see through the aircraft itself, making target acquisition far easier.

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