By Tony Holmes
The F/A-18 evolved from Northrops YF-17 in the late 1970s. Production aircraft reached the Navy in May 1980 and the Marine Corps two years later. More than 800 examples would eventually be built for US service, with a further 500 aircraft sold to seven export customers. Earning its battle spurs in April 1986 flying strike missions against Libya, the Hornet would subsequently participate in Operation Desert Storm and the various policing operations in Iraq and the Balkans that followed. The legacy Hornet is still very much in frontline use with the US Navy and Marine Corps today. Tony Holmes, author of the F-14 Tomcat Story, has once again collected the most spectacular images to complement the history of this star of carrier-based naval aviation.