Aircraft of World War Two
Beech AT-11Kansan used for training
Bell P-39 Airacobra, a
radical design to decrease weight in an attempt to increase
speed. With its rear engine and nose wheel it was unique among
Bell P-59 Airacomet, America's first jet. The XP-59 designation
was originally assigned to a propeller driven experimental
fighter with twin booms. The project was cancelled early and the
same designation was given to the top secret experimental jet
fighter project to aid in secrecy.
Bell P-63 KingCobra. The
KingCobra was a total make over of the P-39 design. It was used
primarily by the Soviet Union. It utilized a laminar flow wing
and taller tail. The KingCobra was an excellent ground attack
aircraft, and tank buster.
Bell XP-77. This lightweight fighter was
of all wood construction. It first flew on April Fool's Day,
which seems appropriate.
Boeing P-26 squadrons were mostly upgraded to the newer P-40's by
the beginning of WW II. The 37th Pursuit Group, 31st Squadron
flew P-26's into 1942.
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
the plane that ended the war in the Pacific.
Boeing PT-17 Stearman
Buffalo. As the Navy's first all metal fighter it had a short
career. It was a poor match against the A6M Zero, yet in the
hands of Finnish pilots it did remarkably well in dogfighting.
Soviet fighters, due to its ruggedness and high roll rate.
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was produced in greater numbers
than any other American war plane.
Consolidated B-32 Dominator. It was
designed to compete with the Boeing B-29 as the super bomber
successor to the B-17.
Consolidated PBY Catalina
The Curtiss A-12
Shrike began life as the XA-8, an advanced (for 1931) attack
bomber with, all metal construction, leading edge slots, trailing
edge flaps. The replacement of the inline liquid cooled engine
with a Wright radial led to the redesignation of A-12. The Shrike
had .30 calibre machine guns located in the front of the enclosed
landing gear. Nine A-12's were in active service at Pearl Harbor
when it was attacked.
Curtiss C-46 Commando, an excellent
transport and cargo plane, saw action in the Pacific in WW II,
Korea, and Vietnam.
Hawk. This plane was the forerunner of the P-40 Warhawk. It had a
radial engine. The fuselage was modified to accept the Allison
in-line engine in the P-40.
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. The same cockpit, tail, and wings are
obviously shared with the P-36. The Allison engine gave the
Warhawk an added 60 mph higher top speed.
SB2C Helldiver, it was intended to replace the SBD Douglas
Dauntless, but it was never accepted by its crew. In fact, it
became known as the SB2C, Son-of-a-Bitch 2nd Class.
The Douglas A-20
Havoc, also known as the DB-7B Boston Mk III. The pilot sat high
and alone with a commanding view ahead of the propellers and over
the nose gear.
The A-26 Invader
was designed to replace the A-20 as a ground attack and
anti-shipping aircraft. In the bombing role it could carry up to
4,000 lbs. of bombs. It served in WW II, Korea, and Vietnam. It
was redesignated as the B-26 to conform to political restraints
which prevented attack aircraft from being used in Asia.
The Douglas B-18
Bolo beat out the Boeing B-17 on the first round of trials and
became America's main bomber at the outbreak of WW II. When Pearl
Harbor was bombed by the Japanese most of the 33 B-18's stationed
there were destroyed. By this time the B-17 was in production and
was scheduled to replace the B-18. The B-18 saw service with the
Royal Canadian Air Force as the Digby I.
C-47 Skytrain/Dakota,or "Gooney Bird," almost
11,000 were built.
The SBD Douglas
Dauntless, sank more Japanese tonnage than any other aircraft. It
was underpowered and had limited range, but it was a true hero at
the Battle of Midway. In fact, it was the only American aircraft
to score any hits on the Japanese fleet at Midway.
This Douglas dive bomber, the TBD, also played a role in the
Battle of Midway, but it was soon after withdrawn from combat
duty. It had semi retractable landing gear, and an internal
weapons bay for torpedoes or bombs. The wings folded at about the
This fascinating design with counter rotating
props and a rear engine was a result of Fisher Body Division of
General Motors attempting to build a better fighter using
existing parts from other fighters already in production. The
experiment intended to capitalize on the best parts of other
aircraft, but was a terrible failure.
The Grumman F3F
enjoyed a brief duty as a carrier fighter before it was replaced
by the F4F. It was then relegated to trainer duty.
The F4F Wildcat
was the Navy fighter that America started the war with. This
stubby little fighter could never hope to outperform the infamous
Japanese Zero, but it was rugged and better armoured.
The F6F Hellcat
was the successor to the Wildcat. It quickly established itself
as a deadly threat to enemy Zero pilots. The Hellcat was credited
with 75% of all Naval air combat victories.
The Grumman F8F
Bearcat was perhaps the most refined propeller fighter. It had
excellent performance, with better flying manners than the P-51
Mustang. Unfortunately, it came to late to participate in combat
in WW II.
The A-29 Hudson was the first American
built aircraft to become operational with the RAF.
Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the only allied fighter that could out
turn a Japanese Zero. This was the favorite mount of Dick Bong,
the highest scoring American Ace. With its twin booms and
counter-rotating props it was a radical design of the time. It
was called the "Twin Tailed Devil" by its enemies.
The XP-80 flew
in in January of 1944, but could have been ready much earlier.
Kelly Johnson's design had proposed a jet fighter in 1939 only to
have it ignored. Four P-80's were in Europe by VE-Day. The P-80
would not see combat until the Korean War.
Martin A-30 Baltimore
The Martin B-10.
It's hard to believe that the same company that designed the
elegant clean lines of the Martin Marauder also produced this
ungainly looking bomber. This bomber was replaced by the Douglas
B-18 and Boeing B-17.
North American B-25
Vought F4U Corsair