When does a jet become 'Classic'?

When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby CJS on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 10:04 am

This might be a silly question (but hey, that's never stopped me in the past).

We refer to old jets as 'classic' jets, for example in this country we have several Hunters, JPs, a few Meteors which are still airworthy. Similarly, XH558, the Sea Vixen etc... are or were called 'classic jets', at least by some. Then there is the Starfighter, MiG-15, Vampire pair in Europe, F-4 and various others in the US - all certainly called classic jets.

So my question is when we think an aircraft deserves this distinction. Is it when they have been taken out of service but remain flying in private hands? If someone got a Phantom flying again in the UK, it would undoubtedly be called a classic jet, yet there were operational examples at RIAT last year, and it's still flown by at least 4 air arms. I don't recall the Greek ones being referred to as classic jets last year? But the one that flies privately in the US probably is.

Probably a very small grey area as I can't actually think of any other examples of this, where one country has an example flying privately, whilst others still use them operationally, but just thought it was interesting. In fact, wasn't the US Phantom flying privately at the same time as there still being US examples in active service?

I know that some don't consider the JP to be 'classic' in some senses, but I would also think that most of us would include it on a list of 'classic jets' if we were asked. I know I would.

I'm rambling incoherently (as usual), I do realise that, but hopefully the gist of what I'm asking is obvious. :grin:
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby Skyflash on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 10:11 am

CJS wrote:This might be a silly question (but hey, that's never stopped me in the past).

We refer to old jets as 'classic' jets, for example in this country we have several Hunters, JPs, a few Meteors which are still airworthy. Similarly, XH558, the Sea Vixen etc... are or were called 'classic jets', at least by some. Then there is the Starfighter, MiG-15, Vampire pair in Europe, F-4 and various others in the US - all certainly called classic jets.

So my question is when we think an aircraft deserves this distinction. Is it when they have been taken out of service but remain flying in private hands? If someone got a Phantom flying again in the UK, it would undoubtedly be called a classic jet, yet there were operational examples at RIAT last year, and it's still flown by at least 4 air arms. I don't recall the Greek ones being referred to as classic jets last year? But the one that flies privately in the US probably is.

Probably a very small grey area as I can't actually think of any other examples of this, where one country has an example flying privately, whilst others still use them operationally, but just thought it was interesting. In fact, wasn't the US Phantom flying privately at the same time as there still being US examples in active service?

I know that some don't consider the JP to be 'classic' in some senses, but I would also think that most of us would include it on a list of 'classic jets' if we were asked. I know I would.

I'm rambling incoherently (as usual), I do realise that, but hopefully the gist of what I'm asking is obvious. :grin:


I assume you're referring to the Collings Foundation's F-4D? If so then yes, technically, as the US only retired* their few remaining QF-4s in December 2016, and the F-4D has been flying privately for some time now.

* 'retired' in this instance being a euphemism for 'blown to smithereens by more modern jets'. :sad:
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby starbuck on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 11:28 am

Going off on a tangent a little but the prefix 'classic' only applies to flying examples doesn't it. I always find it slightly odd when walking around the hangars at Duxford and seeing the F-15 and B-52 etc and then coming here and seeing the same aircraft in the modern military section.

Just a sign of the times I guess and a tribute to the original designers and the adaptability of the airframes.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby CJS on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 11:54 am

starbuck wrote:Going off on a tangent a little but the prefix 'classic' only applies to flying examples doesn't it. I always find it slightly odd when walking around the hangars at Duxford and seeing the F-15 and B-52 etc and then coming here and seeing the same aircraft in the modern military section.

Just a sign of the times I guess and a tribute to the original designers and the adaptability of the airframes.


I only ever use it for flying examples. The B-52 is a good example of an aircraft which is considerably older than most other jets that now fly only as privately owned examples, having been removed from operational service years ago. We don't refer to the B-52 as a 'classic jet', but it first flew 2 years before the JP and 6 before the F-4.

Mind you, an aircraft with an expected operational life of 100 years or more is clearly just bonkers anyway! Even allowing for updates, I think the oldest ones (B-52H??) still flying are from 1960/61.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby starbuck on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 12:00 pm

Isn't there a Harrier in private hands in the states?

And also if it has to fly to be called a classic what about the CWJ at Brunty? As in most things aviation it's never straightforward!
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby borismorris on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 12:15 pm

Is there a difference between classic and vintage jets too..

I think my perception is the likes of Vampire, Meteor etc are vintage.
(They were known as the vintage pair when displaying together).

Whilst the likes of F4, Lightning and Buccanneer maybe more classic in my mind.

Where will the Tornado fit into the equation too? This time next year it will be out of RAF service.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby CJS on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 12:21 pm

borismorris wrote:Is there a difference between classic and vintage jets too..

I think my perception is the likes of Vampire, Meteor etc are vintage.
(They were known as the vintage pair when displaying together).

Whilst the likes of F4, Lightning and Buccanneer maybe more classic in my mind.

Where will the Tornado fit into the equation too? This time next year it will be out of RAF service.


But if none of them remain flying, then what?

I wonder borismorris where your distinction comes from? Age (the aircraft, not yours!)? Personal opinion? General loudness? :shock:

starbuck wrote:Isn't there a Harrier in private hands in the states?

And also if it has to fly to be called a classic what about the CWJ at Brunty? As in most things aviation it's never straightforward!


I would say that the CWJ at Brunty definitely fall in to the 'classic jet' bracket - a fast taxy with burners going would do it for me :music:

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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby borismorris on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 12:52 pm

CJS wrote:
borismorris wrote:Is there a difference between classic and vintage jets too..

I think my perception is the likes of Vampire, Meteor etc are vintage.
(They were known as the vintage pair when displaying together).

Whilst the likes of F4, Lightning and Buccanneer maybe more classic in my mind.

Where will the Tornado fit into the equation too? This time next year it will be out of RAF service.


But if none of them remain flying, then what?

I wonder borismorris where your distinction comes from? Age (the aircraft, not yours!)? Personal opinion? General loudness? :shock:

starbuck wrote:Isn't there a Harrier in private hands in the states?

And also if it has to fly to be called a classic what about the CWJ at Brunty? As in most things aviation it's never straightforward!


I would say that the CWJ at Brunty definitely fall in to the 'classic jet' bracket - a fast taxy with burners going would do it for me :music:

The privately owned Harrier? http://artnalls.com/ it seems they have 2!



My age definitely puts me in the vintage section :biggrin:

I think it comes from the Vampire & Meteor flying together as "the vintage pair" back in the 80s. so I suppose its subconsciously stuck with me.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby AMB on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:14 pm

I regard 'classic' jets as types that have earnt fame and distinction through good long service.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby vandal on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:27 pm

Maybe when there are only a handful of that particular type left in existence?

There might be a fair few of a particular type in Private hands, museums etc but that will be nothing compared to when they were in service with Airforces the world over.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby capercaillie on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:29 pm

AMB wrote:I regard 'classic' jets as types that have earnt fame and distinction through good long service.


So would you regard an Me262 as a classic jet? :dunno:
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby TYPHOON3 on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:33 pm

I have always thought a classic jet was a non afterburning aircraft built post world war 2 ?
Last edited by TYPHOON3 on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby capercaillie on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:34 pm

TYPHOON3 wrote:I have always thought a classic jet was a non afterbuning aircraft built post world war 2 ?


Well you thought wrong. :whistle:
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby AMB on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:36 pm

capercaillie wrote:
AMB wrote:I regard 'classic' jets as types that have earnt fame and distinction through good long service.


So would you regard an Me262 as a classic jet? :dunno:


Absolutely, as the German's first jet fighter. Not long service, but certainly fame and distinction.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby CJS on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:39 pm

capercaillie wrote:
TYPHOON3 wrote:I have always thought a classic jet was a non afterbuning aircraft built post world war 2 ?


Well you thought wrong. :whistle:


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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby TYPHOON3 on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:42 pm

capercaillie wrote:
TYPHOON3 wrote:I have always thought a classic jet was a non afterbuning aircraft built post world war 2 ?


Well you thought wrong. :whistle:

Well are you going to enlighten us then or what ?
TYPHOON3

Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby CJS on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:47 pm

TYPHOON3 wrote:
capercaillie wrote:
TYPHOON3 wrote:I have always thought a classic jet was a non afterbuning aircraft built post world war 2 ?


Well you thought wrong. :whistle:

Well are you going to enlighten us then or what ?


I wouldn't wish to speak for him, but I expect Caper means that the term is a subjective one anyway - there is no official term that I know of, which I sort of expected when I asked the question. Certainly I would say though that an F-4, F-104, Lightning etc... (all afterburning - I think) would be termed classic jets.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby capercaillie on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 1:53 pm

Under TYPHOON3's criteria, how would you classify a Javelin? :smile:
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby Tommy on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 2:01 pm

TYPHOON3 wrote:I have always thought a classic jet was a non afterburning aircraft built post world war 2 ?


If we're talking about types in general, that would rule out Meteors then?

Simple answer to the OP - it's a matter of general consensus and reasonable judgement.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby starbuck on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 2:18 pm

Tommy wrote:
Simple answer to the OP - it's a matter of general consensus and reasonable judgement.


Good luck with that!
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby Flankerman on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 3:10 pm

The Ilyushin Il-62 is a 'Classic'.......... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilyushin_Il-62

Sorry..... I'll get my coat.

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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby FarnboroJohn on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 3:36 pm

My feeling is that this is entirely subjective, and I wouldn't make a distinction between flying and non-flying, or in/out of service, but my two penn'orth (non-comprehensive lists):

Classic: Me-262, Meteor, Vampire, Sabre, MiG 15, 21 and 25; Canberra, Gnat, EE Lightning, F4 Phantom II, Harrier, B-52, Vulcan, Starfighter, Mirage III, F-14 Tomcat

Not Classic: JP (sorry Chris), MiG 23, Jaguar, A6 Intruder, CF-100, Alpha Jet, Javelin, Su 22 and 25, Etendard, Valiant.

Mostly arguable either way in both lists. Great material for interminable pub discussions!
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby MicrolightDriver on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 4:28 pm

FarnboroJohn wrote:My feeling is that this is entirely subjective, and I wouldn't make a distinction between flying and non-flying..


I think that's right - for me it's just a jet aircraft that has that sense of hailing from a different era.
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby Jakesplanes on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 5:24 pm

Ones age might have something to do with it:
for a 80s kid,
F5
SHAR FRS.1
Etendard

Literally anything Swedish or Russian

All classics
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Re: When does a jet become 'Classic'?

Postby The Baron on Fri 15 Jun 2018, 5:55 pm

Any aircraft when it reaches a certain age. I'd personally define a classic jet as one being over 40 years old, regardless of whether still serving, or if it's after burning.
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