5 New US Fighter Models During World War II

5 New US Fighter Models During World War II

During World War II US military aviation was divided into two categories — army and naval. That is, radically different types of aircraft were developed and produced for the army and for the navy. Well, on the one hand, this is correct — you didn’t have to distort the same aircraft model, adapting it for a variety of tasks.

The Japanese went the same way, but other warring countries did not make such a division . And in the UK, and in Germany, and in the USSR, and in other states, the same aircraft were used both over land and over the sea.

The backbone of any air force of any country is fighters, and this publication will consider the main models of aircraft of this type, which were used by the Americans in land theaters of operations. The US naval aviation should be considered separately from the army, land..

The US entered the Second World Army at the end of 1941, mainly with obsolete types of fighters, but there were also new ones that were prepared for this war in advance, but they didn’t have time to fight because they didn’t meet the requirements, for example, the Vultee P-66 “Vanguard”. Thus, the US Army entered the war with only one type of fighter, and the rest, more advanced, had to be “pulled up” already during the hostilities.

Curtiss P-40 5 New US Fighter Models During World War II

This the fighter, which entered service in 1939, was in service not only with the American army, but was also exported to many other countries, including the USSR. It was not created from scratch, but was a deep modification of the pre-war export American P-36 Hawk fighter, in particular, the air-cooled engine was replaced with an in-line (water) one.

The aircraft was produced in many modifications, and different versions had different names — «Warhawk», «Tomahawk», «Kittyhawk». Until 1944, 13,738 copies were made, which fought on almost all fronts of the Second World War. It was the real «workhorse» of the American and other armies, and the best modifications could compete with the best models of enemy fighters.

The service of the aircraft ended only in 1958, when the last P-40s were excluded from the Brazilian Air Force.

Lockheed P-38 «Lightning»

This twin-engine fighter, which entered service in 1940, had all qualities of single-engine fighters, and in no way inferior to the best models of enemy aircraft until the very end of the war. 10037 copies were built, and the service life of the aircraft ended only in 1965 (Honduran Air Force).

The P-38 also served on all fronts of the war, and served in many other roles such as bomber and reconnaissance. This aircraft, like some others, can be considered the «workhorse» of the US Air Force. In the USSR, P-38s were not delivered under Lend-Lease, the reason is unknown, although there is an opinion that the aircraft did not meet the requirements for fuel economy: after all, two engines are not one, but Soviet single-engine Yak-9 or La-5, for example, neither in which Lockheed was not inferior, if not superior.

North American P-51 Mustang 5 New US Fighter Models During World War II

The most massive and most famous US Army Air Force fighter, a total of 16974 copies were produced from 1941 to 1951, and they also fought on all fronts. True, in the first year of the war, this fighter was more often used as an attack aircraft and a dive bomber, because due to a weak engine it could not compete with the main enemy fighters.

But starting in 1943, with the replacement of the engine and thanks to a deep modification, the Mustang turned into a truly full-fledged fighter, and starting from 1944, it became almost the best fighter of the Second World War. It was not delivered to the USSR, although it was tested, but it did not receive approval from Soviet pilots.

Republic P-47 «Thunderbolt»

A kind of analogue of the Mustang, it entered service in 1942, and until the end of the war it was produced 15660 copies. It was the second largest American fighter, and this indicates how much it was in demand, even despite the presence of a similar type of aircraft — the Mustang.

The P-47 proved to be an excellent fighter at high altitudes, but in the USSR, like the Mustang, it did not receive recognition due to its low maneuverability at medium and low altitudes. It was operated in the armies of «third» countries until the mid-60s.

Bell P-39 «Airacobra» 5 New US Fighter Models During World War II

A very promising American fighter at the beginning of the war, but it turned out that World War II did not go according to the plan in which the Airacobra was included. Until 1942, until this aircraft began to be delivered under Lend-Lease to the USSR, it was mainly used by the Americans and their allies as an attack aircraft, as it lost its combat qualities at altitudes above average.

However, conditions were very different on the Eastern Front, and the P-39 proved to be the most sought-after Lend-Lease fighter very quickly. In total, more than half of the 9584 copies built before 1944 were delivered to the USSR in different ways, and many Soviet aces fought on the Airacobra.

It should also be noted that the further development of the Airacobra — Bell P-63 » Kingcobra», but this fighter almost did not take part in the hostilities. Of the 3303 copies built from 1943 to 1945, two-thirds were sent to the USSR, they managed to carry out several local operations during the defeat of Japan, but by the end of the 40s they all began to be replaced by jet fighters.

The Kingcobras fully fought only in the French Air Force in the French-Vietnamese War (First Indochina War, 1946-1954). The French received about 300 aircraft, they were in no way inferior to other types of fighters, but were quickly written off due to the lack of spare parts as a result of the cessation of production of the aircraft in the USA.

US naval fighter aircraft in World War II also did not indulge in too much a variety of basic types, although it was represented by very interesting aircraft. But American naval aviation should be considered separately from the army.