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Aircraft classified as first generation jet fighters are the first attempts at creation of military aircraft using jet engines. A few were developed during the closing days of World War II but saw very limited combat operations. The generation can be split into two broad groups: World War II era fighters such as the Me 262 and mature first generation fighters such as the F-86 used in the Korean War.
The “generations” of fighter aircraft are a relatively modern concept based on claims for “Fifth Generation” fighters. They are rough categories based on similar designs and do not correspond to a rigid definition.
The Germans and the British were the first to develop operational jets, the Me 262 and the Gloster Meteor, and the Americans and Soviets were not far behind.
Early jet engines had poor acceleration, and the FR fireball was a mixed-propulsion aircraft with a propeller in front and a jet engine in the back designed for use on an aircraft carrier. The Russian Sukhoi Su-5 were similar concepts but used a motorjet instead of a turbojet and were not designed for carrier use.
The first jets typically flew at 500 to 600 MPH, carried a single pilot, and frequently had straight wings. As they approached the sound barrier, they encountered the problem of compressibility, which was poorly understood at the time; later, swept-back wings and other modifications enabled jets to deal with this.
Germans were the 1st ones to design an operational 1st Gen jet
After World War II, some additional aircraft were built using refinements of the ideas used in the first attempts. Some of these included a swept wings and some could break the sound barrier in a dive, but almost all of them lacked the thrust to do so in level flight. Radar was used in dedicated interceptors and night fighters but early models required a dedicated radar operator. These aircraft are mostly associated with the Korean guns. Some Interceptors designs, such as the F-94 used rockets as their primary weapon instead of guns.
There is not a bright, clearly defined line between first- and second-generation fighters, and some early second-generation fighters, such as the F-8 crusader, still had guns as their primary armament. Infrared-guided or so-called “heat-seeking” missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder and early beam-riding missiles like the kaliningrad K5 were used on late first-generation aircraft.