Fighter Pedia is an encyclopedia of the notable fighter aircraft of the world, starting from 1900 and continuing to the present day. If you need a quick pocket resource for airframe recognition or are just curious about a particular fighter you may have read about, this is a handy compendium. Aviation experts or pilots, current and former, however, may find it unsatisfactory in some places.
The app's splash screen allows you to select by aircraft name or era. Eras include 1900-1920, 1920-1940, 1940-1960, 1960-1980, 1980-2000 and 2000-2020. While the listing of aircraft isn't complete, many of the notable aircraft you've heard of are included. The next step should be to fill out the inventory, for example, the P-40, P-51, F9F Panther and F-35 at least.
Another nice item on the splash screen is an option to guess the aircraft from its picture. If you guess wrong, the correct answer is supplied. Unfortunately, the list of possible answers spans the entire catalog which makes the game a bit wearisome. It would be nice if just five or sis candidate answers were supplied, all on the same page below the photo.
Guess the aircraft
There's a glossary of terms used which is excellent for those who are first starting to explore fighter terminology. I found two nits there. The first was the definition of Nautical Mile, defined as an "aeronautical measurement." It is, in fact, a naval term, and while the author gets the value right (6076 ft), the definition itself should be clarified. Second, is the glossary entry MiG Close Air Patrol. I believe the author meant Combat Air Patrol (CAP), and prefix MiG is rather too specific, a relic of the Viet Nam war. In the alphabetical "C" section, he gets it right.
One feature I loved was two pages of Wall paper -- fabulous photos of modern jet fighters than can be saved to the camera roll and then designated as wall paper for the iPhone. Hopefully, a future version will expand the number of photos further.
Wallpaper (2 pages only)
Once you've selected a fighter to explore further, there's a wealth of technical info, performance data, and interesting facts for each aircraft.
The image above doesn't show the additional entries which can be scrolled to: Armament and Avionics. Compiling this information takes a lot of time and requires some aviation experience to interpret properly, By and large, the author has done a good job. An equivalent coffee table book, found at the major bookstores, would have larger photos, but also cost ten times more. At $2.99, I think this app has good value.
Clicking on the small "i" at the top right provides a text page of interesting facts. In some cases, there's a terrific and comprehensive discussion of some of the more famous famous fighters, like the F-14 Tomcat, known for various movie roles, The Final Countdown, Top Gun and others. When applicable, some notes on an aircraft's combat history are also included. This is good stuff.
Interesting Facts (F-16) excerpt
One thing to be aware of is that, in the case of the United States Air Force, even decades after a jet fighter is retired from service, the real performance characteristics are never declassified. That means that one has to rely on publicly released information by the USAF, and that often means that comparison of two aircraft is a dubious affair.
For example, I am very familiar with the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. (Not a former pilot, just an enthusiast.) The app uses 50,000 ft as the service ceiling and references only the J-79-11 engine. But the officially released number is 58,000 ft. Even then, one has to refer to books or internet articles by F-104 pilots to get the real story. For example, with the upgraded J-79-19 engine, F-104s flew at Mach 2.3+, conducted routine U-2 intercepts (training missions) above 60,000 ft, and the level flight capability (roughly, service ceiling) was over 70,000 ft at Mach 2. Several long paragraphs like this could probably be written for every U.S. fighter listed.
So if one were tempted to make a spreadsheet of the officially released performance data on any of these aircraft, it would be useless. Only current and former pilots have the real facts and insights. As a result, Fighter Pedia's data can only be used a rough indicator of the relative capabilities of modern, U.S. jet fighters for novices and the curious. (I can't speak for foreign aircraft.) Experts could be come annoyed by the incompleteness and lack of nuance. But enough said on that.
If you're curious about some of the notable fighter aircraft of the world, since 1900, going back to the Sopwith Camel and extending to the Lockeed-Martin F-22 Raptor today, their overall characteristics, photos, engines, size and general performance, this is a fun, informative app. If you live near an Air Force base and wonder what all those very loud aircraft are overhead from time to time, you could start to memorize the basic airframe layouts and do recognition practice. It's also a handy reference for military movies.
However, as with any research project or learning process, this app isn't the ultimate end point. You'll still need to refer to aviation books and pilot stories to obtain deeper knowledge and insights. The bottom line is that most casual customers, but not aviation experts, will find their three bucks well spent.
Fighter Pedia requires iPhones OS 2.2.1 or later and is priced at US$2.99.