A small number of the Liberators ordered by France were delivered to the U.S. Army as the B-24A.
The B-24C Liberator was the final development version of the aircraft, introducing a number of important developments into American production that would become standard on most of the aircraft to follow.
The B-24D was the first version of the Liberator to be mass produced and the first version of the aircraft to enter combat in large numbers with the USAAF.
The B-24 Liberator was produced in larger numbers than any other American military aircraft. This was achieved through the creation of the Liberator Production Pool which saw the aircraft produced at five factories run by three different companies, amongst them the massive Ford plant at Willow Run.
The B-24E was the designation given to B-24Ds built by Ford at their Willow Run plant.
The B-24H was the first production version of the Liberator to be built with a nose turret.
The Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer was the most radical modification of the B-24 Liberator to see service during the Second World War developed as a maritime patrol aircraft for the U.S. Navy
Today we look at the Boeing B-29, adding articles on the development of the Superfortress, the small number of variants of the B-29, the units that used the B-29 and the combat record of the Superfortress during the Second World War.
We also look at XX Bomber Command, created to operate the B-29 from India and China.
The YB-40 was an attempt to provide a long range escort aircraft to support the Eighth Air Force’s daylight bombing campaign over Europe, created by adding extra guns to a standard B-17F
Although the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was less important than the B-24 Liberator in the Mediterranean theatre, six Bombardment Groups did serve in North Africa or Italy
The B-17 Flying Fortress first saw combat in American colours in the Pacific, on the first day of the Japanese onslaught, when nearly 30 aircraft were destroyed on the ground. Despite this inauspicious start to the war, the B-17 went on to perform important duties in the Pacific in the first two years of the war.
The Boeing PB-1 was the US Navy designation for the B-17 Flying Fortress and was used to carry airborne early warning radar.
The B-17 may have first seen combat in American colours in the Pacific, but it would earn its enduring fame with the Eighth Air Force, based in England and fighting over Hitler’s Europe. The story of the B-17 would become the story of the daylight bombing offensive over Germany.
We also add a list of B-17 units of the USAAC and RAF and a B-17 picture gallery
When it first took to the air the Boeing XB-15 was the biggest aircraft in the world, but it had already been superseded by the smaller but more efficient B-17 Flying Fortress.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the most famous aircraft of the Second World War. It earned that fame with the Eighth Air Force, carrying out daylight bombing raids over Hitler’s Fortress Europe.
The B-17B was the last development version of the Flying Fortress. It was the first model of the aircraft to feature the distinctive flat-panelled Plexiglas nose that was used in early production aircraft and the first version to be produced in any numbers that used a turbo-supercharger
The B-17C was the first version of the Flying Fortress to be used in combat, as the RAF Fortress I. This experience began to suggest that the Flying Fortress was not combat ready in its current form and would lead to the development of the much more heavily armed B-17E.
The last 42 of the 80 aircraft originally ordered as B-17Cs were completed as B-17Ds. The new model featured self sealing fuel tanks, and carried two more machine guns.
The B-17E was the first version of the Flying Fortress to have the aircraft’s familiar appearance. It was designed after RAF Fortress Is had seen combat, revealing that the aircraft was badly under-armed for its role as a daylight bomber.
The B-17F was the first version of the Flying Fortress to be built in really large numbers, with a total of 3,405 aircraft being produced.
The B-17G was the final production version of the Flying Fortress and was produced in greater numbers than every other version put together.
The B-17 Flying Fortress first saw combat with the RAF, in the summer of 1941. Its initial performance as a day bomber was disappointing, but it remained in use with Coastal Command and with No.100 Group until the end of the war.
The Avro Anson was designed as a civil passenger plane, entered RAF service as a coastal reconnaissance, but saw most service as a training aircraft.
We also add list of the British and Commonwealth squadrons that used the Avro Anson Mk I
The Bristol Bombay was a combination of a transport aircraft and a bomber that was developed to serve with RAF squadrons in the Middle East. Partly because of its duel purpose and partly because of the time it took to develop, the Bombay was effectively obsolescent by the time it entered service in 1939, but it did perform some useful service in the Middle East.
The Blackburn Skua was the first monoplane aircraft to enter service with the Fleet Air Arm and the first plane to sink a major operational warship although it was already obsolescent at the start of the Second World War.
The Westland Welkin was a British high-altitude fighter developed in response to a perceived threat from very high altitude German aircraft, most notably the Junkers Ju 86P.
The Westland Whirlwind was the first twin engined fighter to enter RAF service. When it first appeared it was faster at low altitude than any single seater fighter, and its four 20mm cannon gave it the heaviest firepower of any fighter in the world, but it was let down by its engine.
The Westland Lysander was an army cooperation aircraft that failed in its original role but later found fame working with the SOE.
We also add a picture gallery devoted to the Westland Lysander
The Westland Wapiti was a general purpose aircraft that served with the RAF during the 1930s.
The Westland Wallace was an improved version of the Wapiti that served as a target tug during the Second World War.
The Fokker M.3 saw another advance in the design of Fokker aircraft, featuring the welded steel tube construction of the M.2 but without its wooden outer casing.
The Fokker D.VI was one of two Fokker aircraft to enter production after the first German fighter contest of January-February 1918.
The Fokker D.VII was the best German fighter aircraft in service at the end of the First World War.
The Fokker M.1 was the first aircraft designed by Fokker for the German Army.
The Fokker M.2, while not a success itself, did see Fokker’s first use of welded steel-tube construction.
The designation Fokker V.21 refers to two Fokker aircraft, the production D.VII and a prototype with swept wings.
A rotary engine is an internal combustion engine where the pistons rotate around the crankshaft. They were used on many First World War fighter aircraft.
The counter rotary engine was developed by Siemens under the Siemens-Halske brand in an attempt to overcome some of the main limitations with rotary engines.
The Fokker M.19 was a reasonably successful Fokker biplane that entered German service as the Fokker D.III, but was mainly used as a training aircraft.
The Fokker M.21 was a biplane fighter aircraft based on the earlier Fokker D.I but powered by the 160hp Mercedes D.III engine.
The Fokker M.22 was a Fokker biplane developed in the autumn of 1916 and accepted by the German army as a training aircraft with the designation Fokker D.V.
The Fokker D.III was the German army designation for the Fokker M.19 biplane, initially ordered in 1916 as a fighter, but soon relegated to training duties.
The Fokker D.IV was the German army designation for the M.21 biplane, a fighter aircraft that appeared at almost the exact moment that the long-running quality control problems with Fokker aircraft resulting in them being withdrawn from front line service.
The Fokker D.V was the German army designation for the Fokker M.22 biplane, ordered as a training aircraft in October 1916.
The Fokker B.II was the Austro-Hungarian designation for the Fokker M.17E biplane, used as a training aircraft by their air force from 1916 until 1918.
The Fokker B.III was the Austro-Hungarian designation for the Fokker M.18, used in Austrian service as a training aircraft to prepare front-line pilots for the introduction of the Brandenburg D.I
The Fokker D.I was the first Fokker biplane fighter to see service with the German Army during the First World War.
The Fokker D.II was the German army designation for the Fokker M.17Z biplane, ordered as a replacement for the Fokker E.II monoplane fighter aircraft in 1916
The Fokker M.16 was one of a series of biplanes designed adopted by Anthony Fokker in an attempt to find a replacement for his successful monoplanes, as was the Fokker M.17
The Fokker M.18 was a further development of the earlier M.16 biplane, and was accepted by both the Germans and Austro-Hungarians for military service.
The Fokker M.7 was the first good biplane to be produced by Anthony Fokker.
The Fokker B.I was an Austro-Hungarian designation allocated to forty Fokker M.7 and M.10 aircraft, ordered early in the First World War.
The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor was a long range passenger aircraft that became a dangerous anti-shipping weapons during the Second World War
The Arado Ar234 Blitz (Lightning) was the world's first turbojet bomber and the second jet aircraft to enter Luftwaffe service.
The Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane (CH-54 Tarhe) was an American heavy list helicopter of the 1960s
The McDonnell F-101A Voodoo was a long range fighter with limited nuclear strike ability that entered service in 1957
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was a jet powered fighter aircraft that appeared far to late to have any impact on the course of the Second World War
The Me262 Schwalbe (Swallow) was the first jet fighter to enter combat and in doing so, earned a place in history, being the most advanced aircraft of the period to fly and achieve operational status.
We add an alternative article on the Messerschmitt Me 210, 310 and 410 aircraft, designed as replacements for the Bf 110.
The Junkers Ju 290 was a long range German transport aircraft produced in small numbers as a bomber
The Heinkel He219 Uhu (Owl) was potentially one of the Luftwaffe's best and most effective night-fighters but suffered from the misjudgements of senior members of the government and the Luftwaffe
An alternative article on the Heinkel He 177 by Peter Antill.
Today we add an article on the Focke Wulf Fw 190, the best German piston engined fighter of the Second World War and an alternative article on the He 111 by Peter Antill.
We add an alternative article on the Messerschmitt Bf 109 by Peter Antill and a look at the early history of the Jet fighter in the Soviet Union.
Today we add a series of articles by Peter Antill which give a different view on the following aircraft: Dornier Do 17, Messerschmitt Bf 110, Junkers Ju 87, Junkers Ju 88 and Junkers Ju 288
We also add an article on the Dornier Do 18 four-seat coastal reconnaissance flying boat
The Junkers Ju 88 was one of the most versatile aircraft of the Second World War, serving as a bomber, night fighter and reconnaissance aircraft as well as in a minor role as a ground attack aircraft and anti tank weapon. It had just entered service at the outbreak of war in 1939 and remained in service until the end of the war.
The Junkers Ju 188 was an improved version of the Ju 88, one of the mainstays of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War
The Junkers Ju 288 was one entry in the “Bomber B” competition of 1939, designed to provide the Luftwaffe with a long range high performance medium bomber
The Junkers Ju 388 was developed as a high speed altitude bomber based on similar aircraft in the Ju 188 series.
The Junkers Ju 488 was a four engined heavy bomber based on earlier Junkers designs. It reached the prototype stage but no further
The Shenyang JJ-5 is a Chinese produced advanced fighter trainer produced from parts of the MiG-15 and MiG-17
The Avro Manchester was one of the least successful British aircraft of the Second World War. However, it was also the parent of probably the best British bomber of the war, the Avro Lancaster.
The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first monoplane fighter used by the US Navy, and has the rare distinction of being an aircraft that got worse as it was developed
The Brewster Buffalo had an undistinguished career in British (and American) service.
The Stormovik was one of the most important aircraft of World War Two, its appearance over the battlefield struck fear into German troops and helped turn the tide of the war for the Soviets.
The Shin Meiwa SS-2 (PS-1/ US-1) is one of the few flying boats to see extensive use in the 1960s and beyond.
The F & W C 3605 Schlepp target-tug began life as a fighter bomber during the Second World War and ended it as a target tug in 1987
The Morane Saulnier M.S. 406 was the most numerous fighter aircraft in French service in 1940, but was not equal to the role.
The Morane Saulnier M.S. 405 was the development version of the most numerous French fighter of the Second World War.
The Morane Saulnier M.S. 410 was an attempt to improve the firepower of the M.S. 406
The Bristol Blenheim was a light bomber, that when first designed was one of the fastest military aircraft in the world. Sadly, by the time war broke out in 1939 it had been leapfrogged by more modern aircraft, and the Blenheim would turn out to be slow and vulnerable to modern fighters.
The Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke was the Canadian version of the Blenheim
The Dornier Do 17 was one of the main German bombers in the first year of the Second World War, but was soon replaced by more modern aircraft
The Dornier Do 215 was a version of the Do 17 originally intended for the export market, but taken over by the Luftwaffe at the start of the Second World War
The Dornier Do 217 was a German bomber that saw most of its service in western Europe during the middle years of the Second World War
The Dornier Do 317 was a failed attempt to produce a long range medium bomber based on the Do 217.
The Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffon) was the only long range heavy bomber to enter Luftwaffe service during the Second World War. It arrived too late, in too small numbers and was too unreliable to have any impact on the war.
The Heinkel He 274 was a four engined high-altitude version of the He 177 that did not fly until after the end of the war.
The Heinkel He 277 was a four engined version of the He 177 that was developed too late to enter service.
Today we look at the Heinkel He 111 , one of the most important German bombers during the first half of the Second World War and a familiar sight in the skies over Britain during 1940.
Less well known are the Arado Ar 80 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 159, two fighters designed to the same specification as the Messerschmitt Bf 109.
The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was the main US Navy dive bomber during the last two years of the Second World War despite a poor reputation and prolonged development process.
Our 100th aircraft is the Curtiss A-25 Shrike, a USAAF diver bomber based on the Navy's SB2C Helldiver
The Douglas SBD Dauntless was the most important American naval dive bomber of the Second World War, responsible for the sinking of four Japanese fleet carriers at the battle of Midway.
The Douglas A-24 Banshee was a US dive bomber based on the Navy SBD Dauntless with a short front line career
The Northrop BT-1 was an early version of the Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber
The Douglas TBD Devastator was the main American torpedo bomber in 1941, but it had to be withdrawn after suffering from heavy loses at the battle of Midway
The Handley Page Heyford was the last biplane heavy bomber used by the RAF.
The Handley Page Harrow was a short lived bomber aircraft that saw service as a transport aircraft during the Second World War
We finish our look at the major American fighter aircraft of the Second World War with a series of articles on the P-40 Warhawk. This was the main Army fighter when America entered the war, and although it was never in the front rank of fighters, the P-40 was never entirely outclassed. In British service, as the Tomahawk and later Kittyhawk it played an important role in North Africa. We also look at the P-40's precursor, the XP-37, and three attempts to improve the aircraft - the XP-46, XP-53 and XP-60. Despite their best efforts, Curtiss were never able to produce an replacement worth disrupting production to bring into service.
Today we add a series of twenty one articles on the North American P-51 Mustang, one of the best fighter aircraft to see service during the Second World War.
We start June with twelve articles on the Vickers Wellington, the most important British bomber during the first half of the Second World War. Included in these articles is an account of the battle of Heligoland Bight (18 December 1939), a disaster that helped to end daylight bombing for nearly five years, and four items of equipment used on the Wellington - Browning 0.303in Mark II Machine Gun (R.A.F.), Frazer-Nash (Parnall) FN5 Bomber Gun Turret, Frazer-Nash (Parnall) FN25 Bomber Gun Turret and the Leigh Light
Today we add a series of 23 articles on the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, one of the most distinctive fighter aircraft of the Second World War.
The Short Stirling was the first of the four engined "heavies" to enter RAF service, but was also the first to be withdrawn.
The Handley Page Halifax was the second of Britain's four engined heavy bombers of the Second World War. Second to enter service after the Short Stirling, it was also second in terms of bombed dropped, after the Avro Lancaster, dropping more bombs than every other type of Bomber Command aircraft combined. Today we add a series of fourteen articles on this important aircraft.
Six American fighter aircraft today, starting with the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the most famous fighter aircraft of the Second World War.
It had four precursors, starting with the Seversky P-35, the first fighter produced by the Seversky company. The Seversky XP-41 was a project that never entered production, being replaced by the Republic P-43 Lancer, an undistinguished fighter that saw limited service in 1940 (In 1939 Seversky was renamed Republic). The Republic XP-44 Rocket was the final stepping stone on the road to the P-47 Thunderbolt. It never progressed beyond the prototype stage and was cancelled in favour of the Thunderbolt.
Finally, the Republic XP-72 was a development of the P-47 Thunderbolt that did not enter production.
The Avro Lancaster was the most famous RAF bomber of the Second World War, dominating Bomber Command's strategic bombing campaign against Germany. We add a series of nine articles on this aircraft.
For a period in the 1930s the Royal Air Force was dominated by Hawker aircraft.
The Hawker Hart was a fast light bomber that could outpace any RAF fighter when it first appeared in 1928. It was also the start of a series of seven aircraft that appeared at regular intervals during the 1930s.
The Hawker Demon was a two seat fighter produced from the Hawker Hart. The Hawker Hind was a replacement for the Hawker Hart light bomber designed to fill a gap before the arrival of more modern aircraft. The Hawker Audax was the first of a series of army co-operation aircraft based on the Hawker Hart. The Hawker Hardy was a further development of the Hawker Audax army co-operation aircraft, designed specifically for service in the Middle East. The Hawker Hector was designed to replace the Hawker Audax as an army co-operation aircraft. The Hawker Hartebeeste was a version of the Audax produced for the SAAF. The Hawker Osprey was a naval version of the Hawker Hart light bomber, converted to act as a Fleet Spotter/ Reconnaissance aircraft
The Hawker Nimrod was a naval version of the Hawker Fury single seat fighter
The Hawker Henley was designed as a light bomber closely related to the Hawker Hurricane although it only saw service as a target tug
The Hawker Tornado was a variant of the Typhoon powered by the failed Rolls Royce Vulture engine.
The Hawker Typhoon was originally designed as an interceptor. Despite failing in that role, it later became a very potent ground attack aircraft.
The Hawker Tempest was the final development of the Typhoon and was an excellent fighter aircraft capable of taking on the German jets
The Reggiane Re.2001 Falco II was a much improved development of the Re.2001 using a German engine produced under license in Italy."
The Reggiane Re.2002 Ariete (Ram) was a fighter bomber developed from the Re.2001
The Reggiane Re.2003 was a reconnaissance aircraft developed from the Re.2002. It did not enter production.
The Reggiane Re.2005 Sagittario (Archer) was the last and best of the Reggiane fighter, but appeared too late to help the Italian cause.
Five First World War aircraft today - the Fokker DR.I and Fokker E.I/E.III for Germany, the Spad VII and XIII for France and the Bristol F-2 Fighter and Sopwith Snipe for Britain.
The Reggiane Re.2000 Falco (Falcon) was one of the best Italian fighters developed before the Second World War, but was not adopted by the Italian Air Force
The MÁVAG Héja II was a more advanced version of the Reggiane Re.2000, produced under license in Hungary
Edward “Butch” O’Hare was the U.S. Navy's first fighter ace of the Second World War, and winner of the Congressional Medal of Honour.
The GAF Nomad was an Australian aircraft of the 1970s, which it was hoped would revitalise the Australian aircraft industry. Although it did not achieve that, it did see service with a number of regional air forces.
The Fairey Swordfish was the main Fleet Air Arm torpedo bomber used by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. Despite its outdated appearance it was a very effective aircraft, and remaining in front line service until 1945.
A return to the Pacific war today with a series of eleven articles on the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, probably the best American naval fighter of the Second World War, and the standard Marine Corps fighter from the middle of 1943. We also look at the Goodyear F2G "Super Corsair", which would have started to replace the Corsair if the war had continued into 1946.
Two very different Soviet aircraft to start the week. The Tupolev Tu-126 ‘Moss’ was the first AWACS aircraft to enter Soviet service, and was developed from the Tu-114 civilian airliner. As such it was a proven design, if not ideally suited to the AWACS role. In contrast the Yakavlev Yak-38 Forger was a VTOL aircraft, similar to the Harrier. It was a ground breaking design, but an unsuccessful one, and was unpopular with its pilots.
The Bristol Beaufighter was the first dedicated night fighter to enter RAF service. As well as a solid career as a night fighter, it was developed into an excellent anti-shipping weapons and even a torpedo bomber. As well as our main article, we also add an article on the main variants of the Beaufighter, and another on the squadrons that used the Beaufighter.
The Bristol Buckingham was a light bomber that had already been superceded by the time it entered production in 1944. More successful was the closely related Bristol Buckmaster trainer, the most powerful advanced trainer to enter RAF service during the Second World War. Finally, the Bristol Brigand was designed as a torpedo bomber version of the Buckingham, but eventually entered service as a light bomber and ground attack aircraft, seeing service in Malaya during the Emergency.
The Dewoitine D.520 was the best fighter aircraft available to the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) in 1940. Sadly, it was not available in sufficient numbers to pose a serious threat to the Luftwaffe. It was the first of a series of proposed fighters. The D.521, D.522, D.523 and D.524 each used a different engine, none entered production. The D.551 was a much more advanced aircraft, with a top speed of over 400mph. However, none of the prototypes were complete at the time of the French collapse. Finally, the SE.520z was a version of the fighter developed in Vichy France. It did reach the prototype stage, but only after the German occupation of Vichy, and never took to the air.
The Hawker Hurricane was the first monoplane fighter to enter RAF service, and was still the most important RAF fighter during the Battle of Britain. After that it gained another lease of life as an excellent ground attack aircraft. Today we add a major article on the combat record of the Hurricane, six articles on its major variants and look at the Hawker Fury Monoplane, an earlier project from the same company.
The Boulton Paul Defiant was a rather less successful British fighter, based around a four gun powered turret. After a spectacular debut in May 1940 its weaknesses were soon exposed, and it was quickly withdrawn as a day fighter. It had a second, more successful career as a night fighter, serving in that role until 1942.
The Bristol Beaufort was the RAF's main land based torpedo bomber from 1940 to 1943. It was also the basis for the Bristol Beaufighter, a powerful night fighter that eventually replaced the Beaufort as a torpedo bomber.
Today we add the Saab Draken, an impressive product of the Swedish aircraft industry and the Fairey Battle, a British light bomber notorious for the heavy loses it suffered in 1940.
We return after Easter with a major series of articles on the de Havilland Mosquito. The most versatile aircraft of the Second World War, the Mosquito served as a bomber, fighter bomber, night fighter and photo reconnaissance aircraft, relying on its speed to avoid enemy aircraft. Our coverage of the Mosquito runs to forty articles, including twenty nine on the major variants of the aircraft and eight on its combat record.
We finish this week with five articles on the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the most important American fighter aircraft of the Pacific War. The Hellcat was responsible for 75% of all victories claimed by US Navy and Marine Corps pilots, making it the aircraft that was most responsible for winning air supremacy over the Pacific during 1944.
Three background articles today: A brief history of war in the air from the earliest experiments with lighter than air craft, a timeline of war in the air and a glossary of common abbreviations.
Three post-war aircraft today. The EMBRAER T-25 is was a two person military trainer produced in Brazil. The Douglas A-3 Skywarrior was a carrier based strategic attack bomber that had a longer career as a in-flight refueling tanker, and was famous for the lack of ejector seats. The Sukhoi Su-15/ 21 ‘Flagon’ was the most important Soviet fighter during the 1970s.
The B-25 Mitchell was one of the most successful medium bombers of the Second World War, serving in most theatres of the war, but especially in the Pacific. The basic design was also modified to produce a powerful ground attack aircraft, ideally suited to attack Japanese jungle strongholds.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the only modern single engined fighter in Luftwaffe service at the start of the Second World War. In the first year of the war it swept aside all opposition, and it was only when the Bf 109 came up against the Spitfire that it met a true equal. The Bf 109 probably reached its peak in 1941, with the Bf 109F, but lack of a suitable replacement meant that the aircraft had to fight on against ever increasing odds to the end of the war.
We finish the second week of our air war theme with a look at the air show as propaganda. During the Cold War the air show became another field of battle in the contest between East and West, with each new aircraft used in an attempt to prove the superiority of one bloc or the other.
Three main French-built fighter aircraft faced the Luftwaffe in 1940. The Bloch MB-152 was probably the least successful of them, ordered in to production largely because of delays to more promising aircraft. The MB-152 was the third version of the aircraft, after the original MB-150 was found to be unsuited to mass production and the MB-151 underpowered. A variety of attempts were made to improve the aircraft. The MB-153 and MB-154 were designs that used more powerful engines. The MB-155 was a lighter, better armed aircraft that had entered production before the French collapse. The MB-156 was a similar aircraft using a more powerful engine. Finally, the MB-157 was designed specifically to use that engine, the Gnome & Rhone 14R radial, and was by far the fastest French fighter of its time, with a potential top speed of over 440mph. Sadly work on the MB-157 had only reached a very early stage when it was captured by the Germans.
The Handley Page Hampden was one of the trio of twin engined long range bombers available to Bomber Command at the start of the Second World War. A perfectly acceptable night bomber by the standards of 1940, the Hampden was withdrawn in favour of bigger and better aircraft. The Handley Page Hereford was a failed attempt to provide an alternative source of engines for the Hampden, using Napier Dagger which proved to be unreliable in use.
The Gloster Gauntlet was a typical example of the type of biplane fighter that was designed in the 1920s. It was the predecessor of the Gloster Gladiator, the final biplane fighter to see R.A.F. service, and an aircraft that made a valiant contribution in the early years of the Second World War.
Our first two biographies today, with two First World War aces. Robert A. Little was Australia's leading ace, scoring 47 victories before his death in 1918. L. G. Hawker, L. G., VC, DSO. was the first British ace of the First World War, winning the Victoria Cross. He was eventually killed by Baron von Richthofen in 1916.
We start another series, on the fighters of the US Navy and Marine Corp, with the Grumman F4F Wildcat. This was the most modern fighter aircraft available to the US Navy when it entered the Second World War, and remained the most important fighter for eighteen months, fighting at Midway and on Guadalcanal.
We begin a look at the aircraft of RAF Bomber Command with the Armstrong-Whitworth Whitley, the heaviest bomber available to the RAF at the start of the Second World War. We also take a look at the same company's Albemarle, originally developed as a bomber, but actually used as a glider tug.
One reason the Bf 110 had to fight on for so long was the failure of the Messerschmitt Me 210, the aircraft designed to replace it. After a brief service career this aircraft had to be withdrawn. A first attempt to salvage the project resulted in the Me 310, a proposed high altitude fighter/ bomber, but it was not until the appearance of the Me 410 in 1943 that this type entered service in any significant numbers.
Seven articles on the main variants of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 today. The Bf 110 began life as a "destroyer" or Zerstörer, a heavy fighter that was expected to sweep the skies clear of enemy fighters. It performed this role successfully in Poland, Norway and for most of the battle of France. However, once the Bf 110 encountered the Spitfire and Hurricane in numbers over Dunkirk it quickly became clear that it was outclassed by the nimble single engine fighters. Despite failing in its initial role, the Bf 110 was forced to fight on until the end of the war, becoming a reasonably successful night fighter.
Two early jets today - the De Havilland Vampire, a British jet that was conceived and first flew during the Second World War, although entered service just too late to take part in the fighting, and the Convair F-106 Delta Dart, the longest lived of the "Century" series of fighters, serving from the 1950s to the 1970s.
We begin our air war theme with a series of seventeen articles on the Supermarine Spitfire, probably the most famous aircraft of the Second World War. The Spitfire appeared just in time to play a crucial part in the Battle of Britain, and remained a top quality front line fighter for the rest of the war. Our coverage includes articles on each of the main versions, a look at the standardised wings used on the aircraft and a timeline for the Spitfire.