Tag: World War II

Top 10 Fighter Planes of WWII

When considering the top 10 Fighter planes of WWII, a number of criteria should be considered.

  • What was the plane’s top speed?
  • How does the aircraft maneuver at low and high altitudes?
  • How durable is the plane?
  • What is the visibility out the cockpit windows?
  • How safe is the aircraft?
  • What armament does it carry?
  • What is the range of the aircraft?
  • What is its overall flying performance?

Listed below is a list that should be entertained when considering the top 10 World War II fighter aircraft.  They are listed in alphabetical order.

1)       Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair

This big and powerful fighter was feared by the Japanese more than any other aircraft.  The F4Us top speed was 415 mph.  Armament included 6 – .50 cal guns, 2 – 1,000 lb. bombs and 8 – 5 inch rockets.  The F4U-4 Corsair of WWII had a range of just over 1,500 miles.

2)       Focke-Wulf FW 190 D-9

Some state the FW 190 D-9 was superior even to the British spitfire.  This aircraft dominated WWII skies until the P51 D was introduced.  This aircraft was light and easy to control, which made it an ideal pilot’s plane.  Not only did the armor of this aircraft offer excellent protection, the plane was also heavily armed.  The FW 190 D-9 could reach a top speed of close to 600 mph, though is optimal airspeed was 441 mph.  The range was only 395 miles.

3)      Grumman F8F Bearcat

Though it wasn’t introduced until late in WWII and it was not the best dogfighter, this aircraft was still considered small, quick and deadly.  It could reach a top speed of over 440 mph.  The armament of the Grumman F8F Bearcat consisted of  4 Browning 0.50 inch  (12.7mm).  It could also carry 2 – 1,000 lb. bombs.  Total range for the F8F Bearcat was between 865 and 1,435 miles.

4)      Lockheed P-38J Lightning

This large aircraft was considered to be a great dogfighter and was greatly feared by the Germans.  The P-38J had a top speed of 414 mph.  Armament for this plane included 1 – 20 mm cannon and 4 – 50cal guns.

5)      Messerschmitt Bf 109K

The Bf 109K was an easy aircraft to fly, could reach a top speed of just over 375 mph and had a range of 450 miles.  It was a multi-role fighter armed with 2 – 13mm MG 131, one hub firing MG 151/20mm Cannon and two underwing MG 151 20mm cannons.

6)      Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Not only was this WWII aircraft fast (top speed of 358 mph), it had a total range of 1,194 miles.  Armament for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero included 2 forward firing  7.7mm Type 97 machines guns and 2 – 20mm wing-mounted Type 99 cannons.  The aircraft was a versatile fighter that was easily maneuvered.

7)      North American P-51D Mustang

The P-51D Mustang is considered by many to be the #1 fighter aircraft of WWII.  With internal tanks, the plane had a range of 950 miles.  The range increased to 2,200 miles with external tanks.  This aircraft was both fast and maneuverable.  The visibility was considered excellent.  The P-51D Mustang could reach a top speed of 437 mph.  Armament included 6 – .50cal machine guns.

8)      Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Pilots favored this solid built aircraft in part, due to the protection it provided and its ability to take punishment and still fly.  The P-47D Thunderbolt carried the highest kill to death ratio of any other WWII aircraft.  Total range for the P-47D was 1,900 miles with tanks and it had a top speed of just over 400 mph.  Armament included 8 .50cal  (12.7mm guns), 2,500 lbs of external mounted bombs, rockets and other ordnance.

9)      Soviet Yakovlev Yak-3

The Soviet Yakovlev Yak-3 was considered the best dogfighter on the Eastern front.  It had a tight turn ratio and was an easily maneuvered aircraft.  The Yak-3 could reach a top speed of over 600 mph and a range of 558 miles.  Armament for the Yakovlev Yak-3 included 2 – 7.62mm machine guns, 2 – 30mm cannons and just over 1300 lbs. of bombs or rockets.

10)  Supermarine MKs 24 Spitfire

The WWII British Spitfire was one of the ultimate fighters of the war, had tremendous fire power and could climb to a high rate of altitude at a very fast rate.  This Spitfire could reach 454 mph and had a range of up to 850 miles.  Armament on the aircraft included 4 – 20mm cannons and four .303 cal machine guns and an external bomb load of 1,000 lbs.

A complete list of top aircraft from WWII would be quite extensive.  However, in considering a top 10 list of WWII fighter planes, the above list should at least be entertained.

Top Ten Worst Aircraft of WWII

For the most part, the aircraft at the top of the WW II era are easily accessible and known by anyone who has studied, or even lived, the era.  However, it can be a little more difficult when trying to create a list about the worst aircraft of World War II.  The number of lists for the worst aircraft could feasibly be as long as there are number of people with opinions, unless the list is compiled using specific facts, such as overall performance, number manufactured, kill ratio, etc.  Below is a list in alphabetical order of some of the aircraft which could comprise a single top ten list, or at the very least, be a part of that list.  They are presented here in alphabetical order.

The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a number of WWII scale models for sale on-line and in the museum store. 

 Museum Store 

  •  Boulton-Paul Defiant MK.I – Great Britain
    •  No forward guns
    • Slow in maneuvers
    • Two squadrons annihilated in a single day
    • Briefly utilized on night missions
    • Eventually used only as part of rescue missions, gunnery training and target towing

 

WWII Brewster Buffalo

  • Brewster Buffalo – United States
    • Produced only from 1938 – 1941
    • Poor performance possibly due to light weight of the aircraft
    • First monoplane fighter for US Navy
    • First monoplane with arrestor hook
    • Only four nations other than US used this aircraft
    • Of the four, only one (Finland) found it to be effective

Great Britain’s WWII Blackburn Botha

 

 

  • Blackburn Botha – Great Britain
    • Under-powered
    • Unstable airframe
    • Extraordinary number of fatal crashes, developing the reputation as a death trap
    • Eventually withdrawn and used for training missions, coastal patrols and carrying anti-submarine bombs

WWII Blackburn Roc – Great Britain

  • Blackburn Roc – Great Britain
    • Single-engine, monoplane
    • Armament prevented gunner from firing unless aircraft was flown straight and level making it impractical in a dog fight
    • No forward firing guns
    • Difficult for gunner to bail from aircraft
    • Top speed was only 160 mph

 

 

RAFs Fairey Battle

Fairey Battle – Great Britain

  • Despite power of Rolls-Royce engine, the bombing load and three-man crew added too much weight for the light bomber
    • Armament not adequate against more modern aircraft
    • Inadequate speed
    • Despite scoring first official aerial victory of WWII for the RAF, heavy losses were eventually recorded
    • Withdrawn from battle and used in overseas training

 

  • Douglas TBD Devastator – United States

    US WWII Douglas TVD Devastator

    • Despite initial pre-war status as an advanced fighter, by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, aircraft was considered obsolete
    • Alternative World War II aircraft was still in testing phase
    • Speed made it vulnerable to fighters on patrol
    • Entire fleet was almost wiped out in Battle of Midway
  • Lavochkin Gorbunov Doudkov LaGG3 – USSR
    • Wooden airframe – essential parts protected by Bakelite lacquer
    • Proved too heavy for its own frame
    • Slow engine and poor climbing rate
    • Prone to shattering when hit and spinning if turned too quickly
    • WWII Pilots referenced it as “guaranteed varnished coffin”
  • Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet – Germany

    Germany’s WWII Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet

    • Only operational rocket-powered fighter aircraft
    • Unsuccessful as a fighter
    • Armament only allowed a minimal amount of firing time
    • Velocity of armament compromised aim
    • High fuel consumption
    • Highly explosive
    • High take-off and landing loss

 

 

Germany’s WWII Messerschmitt Me 210

  • Messerschmitt Me 210 – Germany
    • Poor flight characteristics for a WWII aircraft
    • Design flaws never really resolved
    • Unstable and prone to stalling

 

 

  • Yokosuka MXY -7 Ohka – Japan

    • Defined more accurately as a “manned missile”
    • Designed to be carried underneath “Betty” bomber (Mitsubishi G4M)
    • First operational flight – none reached target, all destroyed 16 bombers destroyed along with ½ the escorts (15) being shot down
    • Minimal success to loss ratio (including the bombers)
    • Impossible to aim at a moving target

An incredible amount of aircraft were produced throughout WWII, each attempting to improve upon its predecessor.  Both the Allies and the Axis were hard at work attempting to modernize their bombers, fighters and escorts in an effort to gain dominance in the skies.  The ten aircraft listed here are just a small example of the many failed aircrafts that attempted, but failed, which is why they are one possible list for top ten worst aircraft of World War II.

Top Ten Tanks of WWII

When reviewing all tanks manufactured during WWII, a top ten definitive list is difficult to compile.  Below, however, is a list of top ten tanks in WWII that should be considered.  These tanks played a critical role for both the Allies and Axis powers during World War II.  The list is presented in alphabetical order.

Step close and sense of the strength of the cold metal on AFHMs authentic, fully restored, fully operational battle tanks, which are prominently displayed throughout the museum.  Get a sense of the combat they endured throughout their service.  Take a moment, put yourself in the turret – feel the power, feel the fear, feel the pride. 

Iosif Stalin Tank

Also known as the IS tank, this WWII heavy tank was named after Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union.  Designed with thick armor in order to successfully counter the 88 mm guns on the German tanks, the main gun carried by the Iosif Stalin tank was successful in defeating both the WWII German Tiger and Panther Tank.  The IS Tank was the driving force of the Red Army in the final stages of the war.

M4 Sherman –

This World War II medium tank was used primarily by the U.S. with thousands more being used by the Allies.  The main gun mounted on the M4 Sherman – a 75 mm M3 L/40 – allowed the crew to fire with a fair amount of accuracy even if the tank was moving.  The advantages of this tank lead to its high demand.  As a result, more than 50,000 M4 Sherman tanks were produced during WWII.

Panther – The Panther was a medium German tank that went into service the middle of 1943.  The tank remained in service until the end of WWII in 1945.  Initially, the Panther was intended to be used as a counter to the T-34.  The Germans planned to use the Panther in place of the Panzer III and Panzer IV.  Instead, the Panther worked alongside these tanks.  The Panther was known for its firepower and also for its mobility.  Because of the protection offered by this WWII tank, its design was used as a standard by other nations later in the war as well as post-war.  The Panther, many believe, was one of the top tank designs of WWII.

Panzerkampfwagen IV – This particular tank was often referred to as the Panzer IV.  It was a medium tank Nazi Germany developed during the late 1930s.  The Panzer IV was widely used throughout the war.  The Panzer IV tank was initially designed to be an infantry-support tank.  Eventually the Panzer IV assumed the role of the Panzer III and began engaging in battle.  The Panzer IV was the most widely produced German tank during WWII.

Sherman Firefly – This WWII British tank was a variant of the US Sherman tank.  The British armed the tank with their powerful anti-tank gun – the British 17 pounder.  The Firefly was originally to be used in the interim until newer designed British tanks were ready for service.

After a few of its original flaws were corrected, the tank went into production and its value was soon recognized as it was the only British tank with the capacity to defeat both the Panther and the Tiger tanks when engaged within standard combat ranges.  As a result, the German’s instructed their tanks and their anti-tank gun crews to attack the Sherman Fireflies first.

T-34 – This medium Soviet tank was in production from 1940 thru 1958.  Though later tanks produced during this time period proved to have better armor and armament, the T-34 is often recognized as the most effective, highly influential and efficient tank design of WWII.  After World War II, the T-34 was widely exported.  This tank ended out being the highest produced tank of WWII and ranks as second highest produced tank of all times.  As recent as 1996, variants of this WWII tank were still in operational service throughout as many as 27 countries.

T-44 – This WWII tank did not go into production late in the war.  This medium Soviet Union tank was the successor to the T-34, and while a smaller number (about 2,000) were built, their design was used as a basis for an upcoming series of main battle tanks (T-54/55) which turned out to be the most-produced tank series in history.

Tiger I – The Germans commonly used Tiger I to refer to any one of a number of their heavy tanks used during WWII.  First developed in 1942, the final designation by the German’s for this tank was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E – often referred to as just “Tiger”.  The Tiger I was mounted with an 88 mm gun, which was previously shown effective against both air targets and ground targets.  The Tiger I participated in conflicts on all German battlefronts.

Tiger IITiger II – A heavy German tank of WWII, the Tiger II tank made its mark on World War II history with its heavy armor and powerful gun.  The tank proved to be superior to every other Allied or Soviet tank when engaged in head-to-head battle.  However, the underpowered engine of the Tiger II, combined with its enormous use of fuel, greatly limited the Tiger II.

World War II saw massive industrialization on all military aircraft and vehicles.  Variations within each design were produced using upgrades and modification changes due to the performance (or lack) of the variant’s predecessor.  Both the Allies and the Axis were forced to continually improve upon their own designs in order to maintain dominance in their efforts to win the war.  As a result, a countless number of military aircraft and vehicles, the tank being no exception, were produced.

Within the tank category, any one of a number of combinations could be put together – based on class, armament, production, etc – and rightfully claim their spot as the top ten tanks of WWII.

WWII M4 Sherman Tank

The M4 Sherman Tank was the true work horse of the American Forces during WWII. The origin of the Tank came from the bloody battles toward the end of WWI.  Tanks during that time were slow, had limited mobility, and were not properly used on the battlefield.  Most military experts agreed after the war that the Tank would have a future.  Much advancement in technology came about between WWI and WWII and when war came to the shores of the United States on December 7, 1941. That’s when an iconic tank emerged, the M4 Sherman Tank.

During WWII the primary battle Tank was the M4 Sherman Tank.  The M4 was named after the great Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, who drove his Army deep into the south all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.  Between the years of 1940 to 1945 the United States produced over 50,000 Sherman Tanks.  Initially they were produced by the Lima Locomotive works, but as the war progressed, nearly a dozen companies, such as Detroit Tank, Pacific Car and Foundry Company produced the many variants of the Sherman Tank. Its primary gun was the 75 mm which had a muzzle velocity of 1,850 feet per second. After 1942 more were outfitted with 76 mm gun.  It had other weapons to assist in its missions, such as Browning 50 and 30 caliber machine guns.  It had a crew of five, but in most situations the crew usually consisted of four, led by an NCO.  At the time the armor on the M4 was the thickest of any American Tank which ranged between three inches to less than two, depending on the different areas of the vehicle.

The Sherman’s maximum speed was between 24 to 26 miles per hour.  The M4’s heart truly was its powerful Continental R-975 motor, which was used by numerous armored vehicles of WWII. Originally, it was a nine cylinder engine that was air cooled with over 400 horse power. Later on it was improved to produce over 470 horse power by the classic Chrysler A 57 multibank L-Head. General George S. Patton baptized this great Tank in the battlefields of North Africa starting off with “Operation Torch” in the North African Country of Morocco.  At first, the M4 did well against Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s German Panzer IV tank, but later as the war progressed, it had more difficulty against the powerful German Panther and Tiger Tanks. This led to the rapid advancement of the primary gun being switched to the 76mm.  After the June 6, 1944 landings in Normandy, all Sherman’s that were produced had the 76mm. The upgrades, however, only made it capable of defeating a Tiger or Panther at close range.

The Great Success of this tank was mainly because of its high numbers of production and the fine training of its crews who fought with it in the European and Pacific Theaters.  The men who fought with this tank gave it its great history.  After WWII the M4 remained in service with United States well into the Korean War and shortly afterward into the late 1950s.  It was replaced by the Patton Series Tanks, who saw service during the Vietnam War and beyond. The Sherman saw service with many other military units throughout the world well into the 1970’s.  In the world of militaria, the M4 Sherman tank is one of the most sought out tanks in the world. It is truly an American Classic.