This was a war where aircraft proved essential. For the first time, bombers were used to great effect on variable military targets such as naval ships, munitions factories and airfields. In addition to this, bombers needed fighter planes in support to gain air superiority. As such, planes used in the conflict were of some variety; but some of the great aircraft of World War 2 can be considered here.
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
The P-40 Warhawk was one of America's most potent fighter planes. It was a successor to the P-36, and was a heavy but fast fighter plane that out-gunned Japanese aircraft. With appropriate crew, the P-40 was a lethal plane that remained in combat up until 1944.
The F6F emerged in 1943. The Allies introduced it to match the Japanese Zero planes that had been the best aircraft in the Pacific. A carrier-based fighter, it had greater speed than the Zero planes and great versatility. Overall, it was deployed for a variety of missions from dogfights to ground support and long-range searches.
The SBD Dauntless was an American dive-bomber. Used during the Battle of Midway, it sank four Japanese carriers. Although not the most exciting aircraft, it was effective and flew in further missions in the Pacific up into 1943.
The P - 51
The Mustang P - 51 was an escort plane for bombing escort missions. The plane was one of the more famous combat of aircraft of the 1940s which entered service in ’43. After its introduction the aircraft was unmatched by alternative piston engine aircraft.
During 1943 the Allies began to bomb German industrial targets with an increasing number of aircraft. German armament production had increased notably from 1942, and this increase in German armament production could potentially extend the duration of the war. Given this, Allied bombing campaigns of German industry became a key part of Allied strategy from 1943 onward.
However, to begin with the campaigns did not have such a great impact. The Allies were losing too many aircraft to Luftwaffe Messerschmitt in the air, and this also reduced the number of bombs that they could drop on German industry. This was largely because their escorts lacked the range to provide a full escort, and so the bombers were left without escorts as they moved closer to their targets.
The P-51 was an aircraft that took to the skies in ’43, and it soon became clear that it could provide the longer range escorts that the Allies needed for the bomber aircraft. This Anglo-American aircraft forged an American airframe with a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, and the best P-51Bs had a greater range of about 1,300 miles; although its maximum range was more than 2,000 miles. As such, as Allied aircraft losses increased, it would soon be delivered to Allied airbases in England.
Allied bombing missions became increasingly effective hereafter. Allied losses in the air began to drop, and German aircraft losses increased as the Mustang took out thousands of Luftwaffe aircraft. As they had potential speeds of 440 mph this gave them a notable advantage against the best of the Luftwaffe. This ensured that more bombers reached their targets along with their bombs. German armament production was gradually halted.
The P-51 Mustang was also provided for various other air forces. Postwar Mustangs were in foreign service for the Australia, Sweden, China and South Africa. As such, the Mustang was in action in the Korean War during the early 1950s. The P-51 remained an active escort combat plane for decades after 1945.
The P-51 is one of the more cherished military planes in USAAF history. This plane is a legend of the skies in much the same way as the RAF Spitfire, and one of the Allied aircraft that helped to ensure Allied air superiority
Japanese A6M Zero
The A6M Zero was one of the most potent fighter planes in the Pacific. It was first used at Pearl Harbor to support Japanese B5N bombers. Then later, in further battles it downed a number of Allied aircraft such as at Midway. Overall, it was a superb light, fast and agile aircraft. It was not until 1943 that the Zero began to meet its match, as the Allies introduced enhanced aircraft such as the F6F into combat.
This long-range bomber was America's favorite bomber aircraft. It bombed German industrial factories in Europe and other targets in the Pacific. Famous planes such as the Memphis Belle and Yankee Doodle were B-17 bombers used in European combat.
The Spitfire, along with the Hurricane, was the key aircraft used in the Battle of Britain. Most probably the RAF's best aircraft, it downed a number of German bombers. Overall, the Spitfire was aerodynamically superior to most planes of the time, was fast, and had great manoeuvrability.
The Hawker Hurricane was one of the most widely produced Allied aircraft of the 1940s. An estimated 14,000 Hawker Hurricane aircraft were produced for service, not just for the RAF but for other air forces as well. The aircraft first took to the skies in the 1930s. With its Rolls Royce engine the Hawker Hurricane was one of the first RAF monoplane aircrafts that could exceed 300 mph.
The Hawker Hurricane had a maximum speed of about 328 mph. The plane could cover a range of some 480 miles. It came equipped with M1919 Browning .30 caliber medium machine gun, eight rocket projectile, and 250 Ib or 500 Ib bombs.
During wartime the Hawker Hurricane would be the primary RAF plane used in the Battle of Britain. Here it downed hundreds of Luftwaffe aircraft. As such, it was one of the most influential aircraft used in aerial combat. Although the aircraft was slower than the Spitfire, it was a very durable aircraft with great armor.
The Hawker Hurricane was not just a fighter aircraft. In actual fact, it was also assigned various bombing missions when the Hurribomber was fitted with 500Ib bombs under its wings, and the MK IID had two 40 mm cannons for tank busting along with additional machine guns and rocket projectiles for further ground attacks.
During the ‘40s the Hurricane was available on various fronts. Firstly, in North Africa it bombed the Afrika Korps and other ground targets. It was also used in the Pacific War campaigns such as the Burma Campaign. Thousands of Hawker Hurricanes were also supplied to the USSR, so were involved on the Eastern Front. In 1941, the Hurricanes were actively involved in Murmansk.
In later years, the RAF equipped further Hurricane models with rockets. Although these rockets limited the Hurricanes max speed and made it more susceptible to German anti-aircraft fire. Despite this, the plane was still used for ground attack missions in Europe.
The final variation of the Hurricane was the Sea Hurricane developed for aircraft carriers and carrier operations. These Hurricats were used for convoy escort missions.
The Hawker Hurricane was one of the RAF’s most reliable aircraft. Having served on various fronts, the aircraft flew in many battles in Europe and beyond. It was one of the most versatile single seat military aircraft of its time. It revolutionized future fighter plane designs.
They were a few of the great aircraft of World War 2 . Such planes as Boeing B-17 bomber, Spitfire, F6F and A6M Zero proved to be most effective in combat. However, Allied planes such as the Spitfire, B-17, and F6F had the upper hand overall.