F-19 Stealth Fighter - $3.95
Since 1962 U.S. fighters have been designated by consecutive numbers, beginning with the F-1 Fury. After the F/A-18 Hornet, the next announced aircraft was the F-20 Tigershark. Northrop had requested the "F-20" designation. There have been a number of theories put forth to explain this omission, but none have ever been confirmed.
Lockheed F-19 Stealth Fighter Jet
All throughout the late 1980s, it was sort of an open secret that the Air Force and the Lockheed "Skunk Works" were working on a project to develop a "stealth fighter" that would be invisible to radar. It was assumed by almost everyone that this project bore the designation F-19, since that designation had apparently been skipped when F-20 was assigned to a Northrop design.
The F-19 fighter designation has been one of the recurring mysteries of the postwar era. Was F-19 never assigned to any fighter aircraft as the Air Force claims, or was it a cover for some super secret "black" project.
In July of 1986, the Tester Corporation of Rockford, Illinois released a $9.95 plastic kit model of what they called the "F-19 Stealth Fighter". Tom Clancy referred to a "F-19 Ghost rider" in his 1986 novel Red Storm Rising as part of a plot involving a future European war.
After years of gossip and rumors, on November 10, 1988, the existence of the Lockheed "stealth fighter" was finally officially revealed by the Defense Department. It turned out to be an attack aircraft rather than a fighter, since it apparently has no air-to-air capability. At the same time, it was also revealed that its designation was F-117. It seems that the F-117 designation has nothing to do with the old fighter sequence which ended at F-111, in spite of rumors that the Soviet fighters under test at Groom Lake conceal their real identity by using call-signs such as F-112, F-113, and so on.
During its development and test phase, the Lockheed "stealth fighter" was known strictly under its project name of Senior Trend, and never carried any designation at all, certainly not a designation of F-19. Although the real origin of the F-117 designation is still not known with certainty, it seems to have been derived from the strict security restrictions that were in place at Groom Lake during the flight testing --- pilots flying the Senior Trend test aircraft were not allowed to tell anyone what type of aircraft they were flying, and so whenever asked to fill out routine forms that requested identification of the aircraft type they flew they would fill in the meaningless number 117.
When the first manual for the Senior Trend aircraft appeared, it had F-117 printed on its cover. Since it would cost too much to have the manual reprinted, the designation later became official.
Specifications for the Lockheed F-19 Stealth Fighter
Length: 59 ft