World War II Fighter Aircraft
Lockheed P-38 Lightning
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was first introduced in 1941 and was nicknamed "the forked tailed devil" because of its unique twin boom design. A little over 10,000 of the aircraft were built by Lockheed, at a cost of almost 100,000 dollars each. They were used considerably in the Pacific theater as dive bombers and for strafing. Its maneuverability was limited in its ability to roll quickly, so the aircraft wasn't considered the best of dog-fighters.
The P-38 was equipped with two-Allison V-1710 V12 engines and had a maximum speed of 443 mph. The P-38 had a service ceiling of over 44,000 feet and a range of 1,300 miles.
The P-38 was armed with four, Browning .50 (12.7 mm) machine guns, four, 112 mm rocket launchers, one Hispano 20 mm autocannon and /or could carry assortment of bombs or fuel tanks.
The Hellcat, or Grumman F6F was employed by the US Navy as a carrier based fighter. It was introduced in 1943. The Hellcat cost 35,000 dollars each and a total of 12,275 were produced. It weighed 9,238 lbs empty and up to 15,000 lbs loaded. The Hellcat had a maximum speed of 380 mph and a combat radius of almost 950 miles.
The Hellcat had a rate of climb of 3,500 feet per minute and a service ceiling of 37,300 feet. It had an 18 cylinder Pratt and Whitney - R-2800 radial engine with 2000 hp. The same type of engine used in the F4U Corsair.
The Hellcat was armed with six .50 Browning Machine guns (12.7 mm) or used four .50 Browning machine guns with two 20 mm autocannons.
The Hellcat carried up to 4,000 lbs of bombs and /or torpedoes and a variety of rockets, such as two-air to ground "tiny tims" or six- five inch -high velocity aircraft rockets (hvar).
The Japanese Zero
The Japanese Zero or Mitsubishi A6M, was a descendant of the A5M, fighter aircraft for the Japanese in World War II. The Zero used a Nakajima Sakai 14 cylinder radial engine with approximately 950 hp and had a maximum speed of over 330 mph. It weighed approximately 3,700 lbs unloaded.
The Zero had a service ceiling of 33,000 feet and a rate of climb of 3,100 ft per minute. The Zero's nemesis' were the Hellcat, Corsair and the Lockheed P-38.
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk
The Warhawk was an American fighter aircraft known as the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. It was produced by Curtiss-Wright Corporation from 1939 to 1944 with a total of 13,738 being made at a cost of almost 45,000 dollars each.
Called the Warhawk by US Forces there were also other types called Tomahawk and Kittyhawk. The Warhawk used the Allison V-1710 V12 liquid cooled engine. This engine, however lacked a supercharger that could make it competitive at higher altitudes. It saw action in the Pacific, China and North Africa, mostly. It was considered a match for the Messerschmitts BF109 at lower altitudes only.
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk had an empty weight of 6,350 lbs and a loaded weight of 8,280 lbs. It had a maximum speed of 360 mph, a rate of climb of 2,100 feet per minute and a service ceiling of 29,000 feet. The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk had a range of 650 miles. The P-40 Warhawk was armed with six Browning M2 .50 caliber machine guns and was capable of carrying up to 1,000 lb bombs.
Messerschmitt BF 109
The Messerschmitt BF 109 was a World War II German fighter aircraft. Introduced in 1937 with a liquid cooled V-12 engine, and retractable landing gear, made it the first fighter aircraft of its kind. Almost 34,000 of the aircraft were built. Its duties were bomber escort, fighter, ground attack and recon.
The Messerschmitts arch enemy were the British Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricanes. The Messerschmitt's maximum speed was almost 400 mph, with a rate of climb of 3,345 feet per minute and a service ceiling of over 39,000 feet. The Messerschmitt was armed with two 13 mm machine guns and a total of three 20 mm autocannons. The Messerschmitt also became armed with Werfer-Granate rockets in 1943 and could carry 550 lbs bombs.
The British Spitfire, known as the Supermarine Spitfire was a World War II fighter aircraft employed by the RAF and produced between the years of 1938 until 1948, with a total over 20,000 built. It began operation in 1938. It had a unique rounded or elliptical wing tip compared to other aircraft.
The Supermarine Spitfire was equipped with a liquid-cooled V12 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine with 1470 hp. It had a maximum speed of around 380 mph, a rate of climb of 2,665 feet per minute, and a service ceiling of 35,000 feet.
The Spitfire was armed with two 20 mm Hispano Autocannons and four .303 (7.7 mm) Browning machine guns and could carry two-250 lb bombs.
The North American P-51 Mustang was a World War II fighter aircraft that was built in United States in the early stages of the war for use by British Allies. Some have said that it was the best fighter aircraft in World War II.
The P-51 had a supercharged Packard V-1650 V12 capable of over 2,000 hp, a maximum speed of 487 mph, service ceiling of over 40,000 feet and a rate of climb of 3,300 feet per minute. The P-51 had a range of over 1,100 miles. The P-51 was armed with six .50 Browning machine guns equipped with 1,800 rounds. That's a lot of fighter to fighter firepower!
The F4U Corsair was a World War II fighter aircraft used by the American forces, primarily the Navy and Marines. It is known best for its uniquely shaped wings. Designed for carrier use, it incorporated wings that could fold up and a gull-like wing design accomplished all of the engineering requirements. However, the Corsair didn't handle as well as expected during carrier landings, so they began to be used more on land bases by the Marine Corps.
The Corsair was introduced late in 1942 with a total of 12,571 total produced for the war. The Corsair was equipped with a Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Radial engine with over 2,000 hp. It had a maximum speed of 425 mph and a range of over 1,000 miles, with a service ceiling of 36,900 feet.
The Corsair was armed with four .50 Browning machine guns (12.7 mm) and four -five inch rockets and up to 2,000 pounds of bombs. The Corsair was nicknamed "whistling death". It had a victory ratio of 12-1 against the A6M Japanese Zero.
The Focke-Wulf Fw190 was a German fighter aircraft during World War II. Very similar to the Messerschmitt BF109, the Fw 190 was used as a fighter and for ground attack. The Focke-Wulf 190 was introduced in the middle of 1941, with a total of over 20,000 Focke-Wulfs produced.
The Focke-Wulfe was said to be slightly superior to some of the early British Spitfires except in ability to turn. The Focke-Wulf was equipped with either a BMW Radial or a Junkers Jumo V12, depending on the model. They had a maximum speed of over 400 mph, a range of over 500 miles. The Focke-Wulfs were armed with two 13 mm machine guns and either two or four 20 mm autocannons. They could carry up to 1,000 lbs bombs.
Russian Yak 1
The Russian Yak was a Soviet fighter aircraft in World War II. The Yak 1 weighed 5,267 lbs empty and was driven by a Klimov liquid cooled V12 two-speed supercharger. It had a maximum speed of 368 mph, a rate of climb of a little over 3,000 feet per minute and a service ceiling near 33,000 feet.
The Yak was armed with one 20 mm autocannon, one 12.7 mm machine gun, with both utilizing high explosive amunition. The Yak 1 was precursor to the Yak 3 introduced in 1944. The Yaks main adversary was the Messerschmitt BF 109.
The Hawker Hurricane
The Hawker Hurricane was a British Fighter Aircraft in World War II that was first introduced in 1937. The Hawker Hurricane was produced between the years of 1937 until 1944 with a total of 14,533 built. Although not as well known as the British Spitfires, the Hurricane was said to have a higher victory score, in the Battle of Britain, than the Spitfires.
The Hawker Hurricane was equipped with a Rolls Royce Merlin V12 engine and had a maximum speed of 340 mph. The Hawker had a service ceiling of 36,000 feet and a range of 600 miles.
The Hawker Hurricane was armed with four Hispano 20 mm autocannons and could carry a 500 lb bomb or two 250lb bombs.
Introduced in 1942 the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the most expensive fighters produced in the War at 85,000 dollars each, with15,686 of the P-47's eventually built. It was one of the heaviest of fighters at 10,000 lbs empty and 17,500 lbs fully loaded.
The P-47's nickname was the "Jug". It was powered by a Pratt and Whitney 2800 radial engine. The P-47 was armed with eight .50 cal Browning machine guns, four in each wing, ten 130 mm rockets and could carry up to 2,500 lbs of bombs. It had a service ceiling of over 40,000 feet. In a dive the P-47 could reach speeds of 550 mph.