1824: Identification Chart

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Identification Chart
Be careful-it's breeding season, and some of these can be *extremely* defensive of their nests.
Title text: Be careful-it's breeding season, and some of these can be *extremely* defensive of their nests.

Explanation

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Some aircraft are named after creatures of flight, including birds of prey, other birds, and insects. This comic spoofs an "identification guide" of bird silhouettes, each with the fuselage of an aircraft and the wings of the flying animal from which the aircraft gets its name. All are birds with the exception of the hornet which is an insect. This would be absurd if it was a plane with the feathers designed, as bird wings are usually made to support the lightweight structure of a bird and supporting the parts of a plane with its human pilot would be impossible.[citation needed]

General military training often includes aircraft identification. Silhouette charts are given to ground observers for memorization and reference so that friend or foe can be determined in the field. Conversely, many bird watching books will carry pictures of avian silhouettes from below, as often key details like tail and wing shape are the easiest way to determine what a species a high soaring bird is, especially birds of prey.

The comic highlights not only the various designs of aircraft tails, but also bird wings. Some wings are highly adapted for soaring (eagle), speed (falcon), as well as rapid acceleration and short flights (blackbird).

Animal Plane Description
Osprey V-22 Osprey This tilt-rotor aircraft has been in development since the 1980s, and was introduced to the U.S. Armed Forces in 2007. (Bell Helicopter and Boeing)
Hornet F/A-18 Hornet A design stemming from the 1970s, the U.S. Navy now flies an updated and larger version, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. (McDonnell Douglas)
Falcon F-16 Falcon A smaller, more versatile fighter jet than its predecessors. It has been sold to many foreign air forces. (General Dynamics)
Harrier AV-8B Harrier The first operational STOL/VTOL fighter. They are known for their use in the Falklands War (1982), where they operated from converted cargo ships as well as aircraft carriers. (Hawker Siddeley)
Eagle F-15 Eagle Introduced in 1976, other jets like F-16 have filled its role. The U.S. Air National Guard is the largest operator as of now. (McDonnell Douglas)
Kestrel Kestrel K-350 The Kestrel is a single-engine, proof-of-concept aircraft, similar to the Pilatus PC-12. (Kestrel Aircraft)
Hawk Hawk T1 A trainer aircraft. T-45 Goshawk is the U.S. designation of a variant of this aircraft. The fuselage silhouette is of a BAe Hawk, although other aircraft have also had Hawk-related names, for example the Hawker Sea Hawk and the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. (BAE Systems)
Blackbird SR-71 Blackbird A Mach 3+ spy aircraft, known for its speed and engine design (which allowed them to work both as turbines and ramjets). (Lockheed Martin)

The title text is juxtaposing military air bases with breeding nests of the animals--both of which might earn a hostile response to approach at the wrong time, but in wildly different measure. Encroaching on breeding territory of some of the birds being referenced may result in getting dived at or chased, so the comparison invites the reader to imagine what might happen if the analogous creatures in the comic were defending their nest with aircraft ordnance.

Transcript

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Discussion

Clearly these are the flappy planes from https://www.xkcd.com/1322/

Birdwatchers have a technique for identifying birds by silhouette called Giss (pronounced Jizz) it stands for General Impression, size, and shape During WWI-II peacetime birdwatchers used the same technique to spot and call or planes. Think it could be a reference to that? 4/17/2017

Hi, I have partially added a table, can someone who is better at tables fill it in? Thanks.Dontknow (talk) 04:42, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

I was in Cambridge last week and an Osprey cruised overhead at a very low altitude. Was seriously cool to see. Randall lives nearby. Perhaps that's what inspired this comic? 162.158.75.94 06:43, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

When I saw "Hawk" I thought of a Cessna 172 Skyhawk. RChandra (talk) 10:54, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

That could also be referencing the A-4 Skyhawk (chart updated) 172.68.65.138

Corrected some spellings and made the English a bit more idiomatic. Hypersonic is usually considered Mach 5 and higher, so altered that as the SR71 was fast but not that fast. Added reference to the Hawker Sea Hawk to the Hawk discussion, but the silhouette is clearly a BAe Hawk (tailplanes different shape from A4 Skyhawk or Hawker Sea Hawk, and a jet unlike the Cessna).

[F-15]: "other jets like F-16 have filled its role. The U.S. Air National Guard is the largest operator as of now." The F-15 is a current, front-line fighter. Only older models are in the ANG.

[F-16]: "A smaller, more versatile fighter jet." Just smaller.

Falcons are most definitely more versatile if you include everything it can do in Iron Eagle (irony noted). Although the Air Force would not allow for American F-16s to be used in the movie, for obvious reasons - mainly proliferating the idea that the Air Force is so inept that a reservist Lieutenant Colonel and a high school senior can commandeer two fully loaded F-16s, fly them halfway around the world (from what looks like California to a generic Middle Eastern country), engage in an act of war by firing at another country's planes, rescue said high schooler's father, and make it back. And then the kid still somehow is able to avoid any time at Leavenworth and actually makes it into the Air Force Academy.

Could this comic be a continuation of where Randall believes we are heading? The direction of our country, and the world? It seems a warning.

Reminds me of a how Navajo code talkers used the names of birds in place of different aircraft (eg, the Navajo word for "hummingbird" was code for "fighter plane").108.162.237.178 15:00, 14 April 2017 (UTC)

Should we reference this XKCD/What-If page, which has a similar drawing: https://what-if.xkcd.com/149/

Actually, that was comparing actual birds with a plane thrown in for humour. This is different. Dontknow (talk) 23:44, 17 April 2017 (UTC)

Real images of birds (and an insect) and aircrafts

Real silhouette of an V-22 Osprey aircraft:
baselinev
--JakubNarebski (talk) 19:48, 16 April 2017 (UTC)

Politics?

There is no reason to believe this comic is political, or that it has anything to do with Trump-induced sadness. Why force politics where it doesn't belong? 172.68.154.64 07:44, 24 April 2017 (UTC)