This film celebrating the arrival of the new F-18 Hornet, and titled HORNET LAUNCH, begins with footage of the F-4 Phantom in combat operations. The requirements for a more efficient fighter craft was met with the F-18 Hornet (:45). It was the result of intensive design efforts by the Navy, Marine Corps and McDonnell Douglas company (1:05). The Hornet is an attack craft for close air support missions (1:35) and was to replace the F4 Phantom and A-7 Corsair (1:40). At the time it was the most tested and thoroughly engineered aircraft. It’s design concepts were confirmed using scale models and wind tunnels (2:01). These tests provided data to program a simulator which would be used to develop it’s weapon systems (2:12). During the design phase, test pilots analyzed the aircraft's functions and aerodynamic capabilities (2:15). The features were reviewed by teams of Navy and Marine Corps aviators (2:30). In 1977, McDonnell Douglas began cutting the metal for the Hornet's fuselage and wings (3:01). By June of 1978, the center and aft sections of the fuselage were delivered to St. Louis (3:36). In late August, the 16,000 pound thrust General Electric engines were installed (4:11). The Hornet's launch commenced on September 13, 1978 (4:39). George S. Graff, the President of McDonnell Aircraft Company, welcomed guests to the launching (4:45). The Chief of Staff for the Marine Corps, says of the plane that it will be flexible in completing air to air and air to ground missions (5:07). The featured speaker of the ceremony was the Chief of Naval Operations (5:37). The Hornet made it’s first flight from St. Louis on November 18, 1978. This flight proved the aircraft’s outstanding stability and agility as a fighter and attack plane (7:37). The Hornet would become the forerunner for other crafts of it’s kind to follow (7:59).
The Northrop YF-17 (nicknamed "Cobra") aircraft mentioned in the film was a prototype lightweight fighter aircraft designed for the United States Air Force's Lightweight Fighter (LWF) technology evaluation program. Although it lost the LWF competition to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the YF-17 was selected for the new Naval Fighter Attack Experimental (VFAX) program. In enlarged form, the F/A-18 Hornet was adopted to replace the A-7 Corsair II and F-4 Phantom II.
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation). Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter's YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations and, since 1986, by the U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.
The Hornet first saw combat action during the 1986 United States bombing of Libya and subsequently participated in the 1991 Gulf War and 2003 Iraq War. The F/A-18 Hornet provided the baseline design for the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, its larger, evolutionary redesign.
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