World War 2 Facts

Information and Facts on the Great War

World War 2 Planes

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World War 2 saw more technological leaps in the field of military aircraft than any other conflict. Between 1939 and 1945, World War 2 planes evolved to the point the jet engine was introduced and even the first cruise missile would see its first use by the Axis powers. Significant advances were made on both sides with respect to developments in speed, maneuverability, altitude, and armament. By the end of WW2, the aircraft carrier would replace the battleship as the center of gravity for the navies of both the Axis and Allied powers.  When one compares the aircraft employed at the start of the war to the end, there were sometimes multiple generations of technology deployed by both sides in the war when compared to the outbreak of hostilities in 1939.

What was the Best Fighter in World War 2?

This is a difficult question to answer with how fast the technology developed over the course of the war. Planes that were dominant earlier in the war would not prove to be so later in the war in the same theater of operations. Some of the top airplanes going from oldest to newest during the war in include the Bf 109, the British Spitfire, the Japanese Zero, the FW 190, the U.S. P-47 and P-51 and the Me 262. Another quality of dominant World War 2 fighters was the capacity the building country had for producing the airframe in sufficient enough quality to have an impact on the battlefield.

P51 Mustang

P-51 Mustangs of the 375th Fighter Squadron, 361st Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force mid-1944. The aircraft second from the camera has the newly-introduced dorsal fin.

Early in the European Theater of war, the two standout fighters were the British Spitfire and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109 of the German Luftwaffe. Both aircraft were limited by their range but stood-out as the superior dog fighting aircraft early in the war. As the war progressed in the European Theater, the Focke-Wulf 190 started to appear in numbers by the Germans and demonstrated superiority over the Spitfire that was already having trouble with the Bf 109F fighter. The U.S. debuted the P-39 and P-40 fighters in 1942, with the P-47B seeing operation in 1943. At the end of 1943, the P-51B Mustang started seeing action in Europe by the United States and became the dominant fighter of the war.

In the Pacific Theater of war, the Japanese Zero, or Mitsubishi A6M5, was the dominant fighter early in the war. The fighter was also known as the Japanese Navy Type 0 carrier-borne fighter and could not be matched by the American fighters early in the war. The Zero was faster, more maneuverable, and could outrange all fighters in the American inventory. The P-38 Lightning would prove to be the US Army Air Corps work-horse of World War 2 shooting down more Japanese planes than any other model. It featured an incredibly long range, and the twin engines made the model suitable for long over-water flights.

Later in the war, the Americans would debut the F4U Corsair. The fighter saw action with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and featured the R-2800-2 Double Was engine that was the most powerful in the world at the time. The engine had a twin row, 18 cylinder radial engine which would produce 1,850 Horse Power in the initial version. The most distinctive feature of the aircraft was its inverted gull wing that was made to raise the nose of the airplane higher off of the ground without lengthening the undercarriage. The Corsair entered production in the fall of 1941 and first reached action in the Pacific campaign in support of the Marines on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in February of 1943. The Corsair would prove dominant over the Japanese Zero and would constantly be improved seeing production well after World War 2 to 1953.

World War 2 Fighter Pilot Video

World War 2 Aircraft

World War 2 Fighter aircraft

Japanese Zeros

Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zero” Model 21 on the flight deck of carrier Shokaku, 26 October 1942, Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands

Avia B-534 (Pre-war; Slovakia, Bulgaria)

Bell P-39 Airacobra (1941;  United States, Soviet Union)

Bell P-63 Kingcobra (1942;  United States, Soviet Union)

Bloch MB.151 (Pre-war; France, Greece)

Bloch MB.152 (1939; France, Romania)

Boeing P-12 (1930;  United States, Philippines, Thailand)

Boeing P-26 Peashooter (1933;  United States, China, Philippines, Guatemala)

Brewster Buffalo (1939;  United States, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Australia)

Bristol Beaufighter (1940;  United Kingdom, Australia

Bristol Blenheim ( France, United Kingdom )

Boulton Paul Defiant (1939; England, Canada, and Poland)

Blackburn Roc (1939; England)

Curtiss Hawk 75 (Pre-war;  United States, Finland, France, India, Thailand, United Kingdom, Netherlands)

CAC Boomerang ( Australia)

Curtiss P-40 Tomahawk/Kittyhawk/Warhawk (1939;  United States, Australia, Canada, China, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom)

Curtiss P-60 (United States)

A6M3 Zero abandoned at Munda Airfield (Central Solomon Islands), photo was taken after Allied Invasion, September 1943

A6M3 Zero abandoned at Munda Airfield (Central Solomon Islands), photo was taken after Allied Invasion, September 1943

Curtiss-Wright CW-21 (1939; United States, China, Netherlands)

de Havilland Mosquito (1941;  United Kingdom, Canada)

de Havilland Vampire (1945;  United Kingdom)

Dewoitine D.520 (1940; France, Bulgaria, Belgium)

Dornier Do 335 (1944; Germany)

Fairey Firefly (1941; United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Thailand)

Fairey Fox (Pre-war;  United Kingdom, Belgium)

Fiat CR.42 (Pre-war; Italy, Belgium, Hungary)

Im Westen, Feldflugplatz mit Me 109

Im Westen, Feldflugplatz mit Me 109

Fiat G.50 (Italy, Finland, NDH)

Fiat G.55 (1943; Italy)

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 (1941;  Germany

Fokker D.XXI (Pre-war; Netherlands, Finland)

Fokker G.I (Pre-war; Netherlands)

Gloster Gladiator (Pre-war;  United Kingdom, Finland, Norway, Belgium)

Gloster Meteor (1944;  United Kingdom)

Grumman/General Motors F4F/FM Wildcat (1940; United States, United Kingdom)

Grumman F6F Hellcat (1943;  United States, United Kingdom)

Grumman F8F Bearcat (United States, United Kingdom)

Hawker Hurricane (1937;  United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, India, New Zealand, Belgium)

Hawker Typhoon (1940;  United Kingdom)

Hawker Tempest (1944;  United Kingdom, New Zealand)

Heinkel He 112 (Pre-war;  Germany, Romania)

Heinkel He 162 (1945;  Germany)

Heinkel He 219 (1943; night fighter;  Germany)

IAR 80 (1942;  Romania Romania)

Ikarus IK 2 (1933;  Kingdom of Yugoslavia, NDH)

Junkers Ju 88 (1940 as a night fighter;  Germany)

Kawanishi N1K-J (1944; Japan)

Kawasaki Ki-45 (1942; Japan)

Kawasaki Ki-61 (1943; Japan)

Kawasaki Ki-100 (1945; Japan)

Kawasaki Ki-102 (1945; Japan)

Lavochkin LaGG-1 (Pre-war; Soviet Union)

Lavochkin LaGG-3 (1941;  Soviet Union)

Lavochkin La-5 (1941;  Soviet Union)

Lavochkin La-7 (1941;  Soviet Union)

Yak-15 (1939;  Soviet Union)

Lockheed P-38 Lightning (1941;  United States)

Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star (1945;  United States)

Macchi MC.200 (1939; Italy)

Macchi MC.202 (1941; Italy)

Macchi MC.205 (1943; Italy)

MÁVAG Héja (1941; Hungary)

Messerschmitt Bf 109 (Pre-war;  Germany, Kingdom of Yugoslavia , Bulgaria, Finland, Hungary, Romania, Italy)

Messerschmitt Bf 110 (Pre-war;  Germany)

Messerschmitt Me 163 (1943;  Germany)

Messerschmitt Me 262 (1944;  Germany)

A captured Heinkel He 219 fighter in RAF markings after the War.

A captured Heinkel He 219 fighter in RAF markings after the War.

MiG-1 (1940;  Soviet Union)

MiG-3 (1941;  Soviet Union)

Mitsubishi A6M Zero (1940; Japan)

Mitsubishi J2M (Japan)

Mitsubishi F1M (Japan)

Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 (1939; France, Finland)

Nakajima A6M2-N (1942; Japan)

Nakajima Ki-27 (Pre-war; Japan, Thailand)

Nakajima Ki-43 (1941; Japan, Thailand)

Nakajima Ki-44  Japan

Nakajima Ki-84 (1943; Japan)

North American P-51 Mustang (1942;  United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia)

North American P-64 (NA-68)  United States)

Northrop P-61 Black Widow (1944;  United States)

Polikarpov I-15 (Pre-war; Soviet Union)

Polikarpov I-16 (Pre-war; Soviet Union, China)

PZL P.7 (Pre-war;  Poland)

PZL P.11 (Pre-war; Poland, Romania)

PZL P.24 (Pre-war;Greece, Romania)

Reggiane Re.2000 (Italy, Hungary)

Reggiane Re.2001 Italy

Reggiane Re.2005 (1943; Italy)

Republic P-43 Lancer (China,  United States)

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt (1942;  United States)

Rogozarski IK-3 (Kingdom of Yugoslavia)

Ryan FR Fireball (1945;  United States)

Supermarine Seafire ( United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa)

Supermarine Spitfire (1938;  United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa)

Seversky P-35  United States)

VL Myrsky (1943; Finland)

Vought F4U Corsair  United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand)

Vought Goodyear F2G Corsair (1945;United Kingdom, New Zealand)

Vultee P-66 Vanguard  United States, China)

Yakovlev Yak-1 (1940;  Soviet Union)

Yakovlev Yak-3 (1943;  Soviet Union)

Yakovlev Yak-7 (1942;  Soviet Union)

Yakovlev Yak-9 (1942;  Soviet Union)

World War 2 Attack Aircraft

Aichi D3A (1937; Japan)

P47 Thunderbolt

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, nicknamed “Jug;” during World War II, the P-47 served in every active combat theater and with many Allied air forces.

Aichi B7A (1945; Japan)

Brewster SB2A Buccaneer (1941;  United States)

Bristol Beaufort (1940; British Commonwealth)

Blackburn Skua (1938; England)

Curtiss SB2C Helldiver (1943;  United States)

Douglas A-20 Havoc (1941;  United States)

Douglas A-26 Invader (1943;  United States)

Douglas SBD Dauntless (1940;  United States)

Douglas TBD Devastator (1935;  United States)

Fairey Albacore (1940;  United Kingdom)

Fairey Barracuda (1942;  United Kingdom)

Fairey Swordfish (1936;  United Kingdom)

Grumman TBF Avenger (1942;  United States)

Hawker Typhoon (1941;  United Kingdom, New Zealand)

Henschel Hs 129 (1938; Germany)

Ilyushin Il-2 (1941; Soviet Union)

Junkers Ju 87 (1937; Germany, Bulgaria)

Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Japan, Thailand)

Nakajima B5N (1938; Japan)

Nakajima B6N (1942; Japan)

Northrop A-17 ( 1935 ;United States)

Petlyakov Pe-2 (1941; Soviet Union)

Rogozarski R-100 (1938;  Kingdom of Yugoslavia, NDH)

Vultee A-31 Vengeance (1942;  United States)

Yokosuka D4Y (1942; Japan)

World War 2 Bomber Aircraft

Amiot 143 (1936; France, India)

B24 Liberators Flak

15th Air Force B-24s fly through flak and over the destruction created by preceding waves of bombers.

Arado Ar 234 (1944; Germany)

Armstrong Whitworth Whitley (1937;  United Kingdom)

Avro Manchester ( United Kingdom)

Avro Lancaster (1942;  United Kingdom)

Bloch MB.210 (1937; France)

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (1940;  United States)

Boeing B-29 Superfortress (1940;  United States)

Bristol Blenheim (1937;  United Kingdom, Kingdom of Yugoslavia )

CANT Z.1007 (1938; Italy)

Consolidated B-24 Liberator (1940;  United States)

Consolidated B-32 Dominator (1942;  United States)

Dornier Do 17 (1937; Germany, Kingdom of Yugoslavia)

Dornier Do 217 (1941; Germany)

Douglas A-20 Havoc (1941;  United States, United Kingdom)

Douglas A-26 Invader (1944;  United States)

Douglas B-18 Bolo (1936;  United States)

Fairey Battle (1937;  United Kingdom)

A Hawker Typhoon Mark IB (s/n EK139, "HH-N") "Dirty Dora", of No 175 Squadron, Royal Air Force, undergoing servicing in a blast-walled dispersal point at Colerne. Two dummy bombs for practice loading on to the wing racks can be seen in the foreground.

A Hawker Typhoon Mark IB (s/n EK139, “HH-N”) “Dirty Dora”, of No 175 Squadron, Royal Air Force, undergoing servicing in a blast-walled dispersal point at Colerne. Two dummy bombs for practice loading on to the wing racks can be seen in the foreground. May 1943.

Fiat BR.20 (1938; Italy)

Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor (1940; Germany)

Fokker C.X (1933; Netherlands, Finland)

Handley Page Halifax (1940;  United Kingdom)

Handley Page Hampden (1938;  United Kingdom)

Heinkel He 111 (1936; Germany)

Heinkel He 177 (1943; Germany)

Ilyushin Il-4 (1938; Soviet Union)

Ilyushin Il-6 (Soviet Union)

Junkers Ju 88 (1938; Germany)

Kawasaki Ki-48 (1940; Japan)

Keystone B-3A (1936;  United States, Philippines)

Liore et Olivier LeO 451 (1939; France)

Lockheed A-29 Hudson (1939;  United States)

Lockheed PV-1/-2/B-34/-37/R-37 Ventura (1942;  United States, British Commonwealth, United Kingdom)

Martin A-22 Maryland (1939; France, United Kingdom

Martin A-30 Baltimore  United States, United Kingdom

Martin B-26 Marauder (1941;  United States)

Martin 139 WS (Netherlands, Thailand)

Historical Documentary about the Japanese Zero


Mitsubishi G3M (1937; Japan)

Mitsubishi G4M (1941; Japan)

Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Japan, Thailand)

Nakajima Ki-49 (1938; Japan)

North American B-25 Mitchell (1941;  United States)

Pe-8 (1936; Soviet Union)

Piaggio P.108 (1942; Italy)

PZL.23 Karaś (1936; Poland)

PZL.37 Łoś (1938; Poland)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.79 (1937; Italy)

Savoia-Marchetti SM.81 (1935, Italy)

Short Stirling (1940;  United Kingdom)

Sukhoi Su-2 (1937; Soviet Union

Tupolev SB (1934; Soviet Union)

Tupolev Tu-2 (1944; Soviet Union)

Vickers Wellington (1938;  United Kingdom)

Yokosuka P1Y (1945; Japan)

World War 2 Flying Boats and Sea Planes

Consolidated PBY/OA-10 Catalina (1935;  United States, United Kingdom, Canada)

Consolidated PB2Y Coronado (1937;  United States, United Kingdom)

198 Sqn. Typhoons on airfield B10/Plumetot, France, in July 1944. MN526 TP-V has the larger Tempest tailplane and a four-bladed propeller. A heavy dust cloud has been stirred up by the taxiing aircraft.

198 Sqn. Typhoons on airfield B10/Plumetot, France, in July 1944. MN526 TP-V has the larger Tempest tailplane and a four-bladed propeller. A heavy dust cloud has been stirred up by the taxiing aircraft.

Curtiss SOC Seagull (1935;  United States)

Curtiss SO3C Seamew (1942;  United States)

Curtiss SC Seahawk (1944;  United States)

Dornier Do 24 (1937; Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden)

Dornier Do 26 (1938; Germany)

Grumman F4F-3S “Wild Catfish” (1943;  United States)

Martin PBM Mariner (1939;  United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands)

Ikarus IO (1926;  Kingdom of Yugoslavia)

Ikarus ŠM (1924;  Kingdom of Yugoslavia)

Northrop N-3PB (1940;  Norway)

Short Sunderland (1938;  United Kingdom)

Sikorsky JRS-1/OA-8 (1935;  United States)

Vought OS2U Kingfisher (1938;  United States)

H8K Emily (1943;  Japan)

World War 2 Transports

Beechcraft C-45/JRB/SNB Expeditor (1937;  United States, Philippines)

Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando (1941;  United States)

Douglas C-47 Skytrain (1935;  United States, United Kingdom)

Junkers Ju 52 (1932; Germany, Bulgaria)

Arado Ar 196 (Germany)

World War 2 Planes References

The following are some of the references used for writing this article and are provided for readers who are interested in additional information regarding aircraft used during World War 2:

American Aircraft of World War 2, DavesWarbirds.com, accessed on March 17, 2013.

Great Aircraft of History, Acepilots.com, accessed on March 17, 2013.

Listing of World War 2 Aircraft, Wikipedia, accessed on March 17, 2013.

Locations of Navy Aircraft in World War 2, Naval Historical Society, accessed on March 17, 2013.

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