Jet fighters first flew in the Second World War and rapidly over took propeller driven aircraft especially with the onset of the Cold War. The Gloucester Meteor was the first operational jet fighter, though the Messerschmitt Me 262 was a superior plane. Fortunately for the Allied bomber crews the Germans built inferior planes in greater amounts than the Me 262.
Jet fighters dominated the dogfights in the Korean War, when the American F80 Shooting Star and the F86 Saber took on the Soviet MIG 15. The Saber in particular gained an almost iconic status. A plane that lays a strong claim to be the greatest jet fighter of all is the McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom. It was developed for the Korean War but did not enter service until it had finished. The US exported this plane to many of it's allies, whilst using them extensively in Vietnam. The Israelis used their Phantoms to great effect in their wars against the Arabs.
Other notable jet fighters of the 1950's included the British built Lightning and the American Starfighter. Perhaps the finest Soviet jet fighter was the MIG 25. Later notable jets include the F14 Tomcat, the Tornado, and the MIG 29.