It didn't take long for the world to figure out the combat potential of airplanes. In 1911, only eight years after the Wright brothers got their creation off the ground, the U.S. military started dropping test bombs from airplanes. A few years later, World War I troops were battling it out in the sky with machine-gun-packing fighter planes.


Photo courtesy U.S. Air Force
Things moved pretty quickly from there. Only 60 years later, the early single-engine propeller planes had evolved into sleek, powerful fighter jets that could make sharp aerial turns at more than 600 miles per hour (970 kph).

In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we'll look at one of the most famous fighters, the F-15. This remarkable aircraft is getting up in years -- it has been around since the early '70s -- but it's still a crucial piece of the U.S. arsenal. According to the U.S. Air Force, it has a perfect combat record, with over 100 victories and zero defeats. As we'll see, its success is due to its phenomenal maneuverability, advanced electronic equipment and fearsome firepower.