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The first generation of jet fighters comprised the initial, subsonic jet fighter designs introduced late in World War II and in the early post-war period. They differed little from their piston-engined counterparts in appearance, and many employed unswept wings. Guns remained the principal armament. The need to obtain a decisive advantage in maximum speed pushed the development of turbojet-powered aircraft forward. Top speeds for fighters rose steadily throughout World War II as more powerful piston engines were developed, and was approaching transonic flight speeds where the efficiency of propellers drops off, making further speed increases nearly impossible.
It has become common in the aviation community to classify jet fighters by generations for historical purposes. There are no official definitions of these generations; rather, they represent the notion that there are stages in the development of fighter design approaches, performance capabilities, and technological evolution. Also other authors have packed the fighters into different generations. For example, Richard P. Hallion of the Secretary of the Air Forces Action Group classified the F-16 as a sixth generation jet fighter.
The timeframes associated with each generation are inexact and are only indicative of the period during which their design philosophies and technology employment enjoyed a prevailing influence on fighter design and development. These timeframes also encompass the peak period of service entry for such aircraft. (source : wikipedia)
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