Propellored fighters

Described as World War 1, The First War, The Great War and The War to End All Wars, the years 1914 to 1918 witnessed a global military conflict on a scale unthinkable just thirty years earlier. The action took place primarily in Europe but conflict soon broke out in the Middle East, Africa and the Asia Pacific Rim. World War 1 also saw conflict in the air for the time. World War 1 Fighters features five beautifully recreated aircraft from this era for you to choose from.

Made famous by the theatrical exploits of Manfred Von Richtoften, more popularly known as the ‘The Red Baron’, the Fokker triplane entered service in September 1917 piloted by the fighter ace. Evangelising its high manoeuvrability and rate of climb, the Fokker Dr. 1 was delivered to front line squadrons in October 1917. Of the 320 aircraft which entered service, sadly none today exist.

One of the few aeroplanes to have massive international appeal during this period, the Nieuport Nie 17 was exported from France to eighteen countries as far apart as Thailand, Russia and the United States. Having captured a number themselves, the Germans then transported the aircraft to their own aviation companies who then made almost identical copies for the German Air Force.

Designed by Alliot Vernon Roe in 1913, the Avro 504 entered service at the outbreak of the Great War on both combat and reconnaissance missions. A single seat version introduced in 1915 which sported a much larger fuel capacity enabled it to enter into longer reconnaissance missions of up to four and a half hours’ duration. In 1915 four Avro 504’s staged a spectacularly daring raid on the Zeppelin factory at Germany’s Lake Constance destroying the hydrogen plant and heavily affecting the country’s ability to produce more of these hovering menaces.

Torpedo Bomber14123_fairey-swordfish.jpg

The Fairey Swordfish is a single-engine two- or three-seat torpedo bomber biplane aircraft produced by the British manufacturer Fairey Aviation Company Limited.
Crew 2 / 3

Propulsion 1 Radial Engine
Engine Model Bristol Pegasus XXX
Engine Power 560 kW 750 hp

Speed 222 km/h 120 kts
138 mph
Service Ceiling 3.261 m 10.700 ft
Range 1.658 km 895 NM
1.030 mi.

Empty Weight 2.132 kg 4.700 lbs
max. Takeoff Weight 3.402 kg 7.500 lbs

Wing Span 13,92 m 45,7 ft
Wing Area 56,4 m² 607 ft²
Length 11,22 m 36,8 ft
Height 3,76 m 12,3 ft

First Flight 17.04.1934
Production Status out of production
Total Production 2396

Data for (Version) Fairey Swordfish Mk.II (Landplane/Landflugzeug)
Variants Fairey Swordfish Mk.I, Mk.II, Mk.III, Mk.IV
The Fairey Swordfish was produced as landplane with wheel landing gear and as a floatplane.
Built by the Sopwith Aviation Company for use by the Royal Flying Corp and the Royal Navy, the euphemistically named Sopworth Pup was in reality badged the Sopwith Scout. Revered for its ease of flying, agility and manoeuvrability, this aircraft found fame in 1917 when it became the first aircraft to land on a moving ship. Soon afterwards, a number of Pups were deployed to a wide variety of ships, cruisers and battleships hastily modified to support their operations.

Lastly, the cigar shaped Zeppelin is unique in military aviation history and was well regarded by the German High Command who recognised them for the long range, high payload bombers they were. In 1915 two Zeppelins dropped twenty-four 50kg high explosive bombs over the eastern coast of the UK. This was the first time civilians on the UK mainland had been bombed from the air, a trend of course which continues in modern warfare to this day. Featured in World War 1 Fighters is the Zeppelin LZ62, the first of the ‘Super Zeppelin’ class, a veteran of ten bombing raids over England no less
When I started this project, three methods of approaching the subject came immediately to mind. I could examine the aircraft by year (i.e.: 1939 = Bf 109, 1940 = Spitfire, 1941 = Zero, 1942 = FW 190, 1943 = P 47, 1944 = P 51, 1945 = Me 262), by country of origin (UK, U.S., Ger., Jap., Italy, U.S.S.R.), or by theater (European and Pacific). I chose the latter approach, further subdivided by "early" and "later" periods (Due to the rapid advance of technology, the best fighter early in the war was never the best fighter late in the war).

Some other criteria had to be imposed. To qualify as one of the very best, an airplane had to make a significant impact as an air superiority fighter. For example, the Me 262 jet fighter was arguably the best fighter plane of WW II, particularly deadly against American heavy bombers, but only small numbers ever saw combat and it became operational so late in the war that it had only a minimal impact. So I have chosen to leave it out.

The British Mosquito was built in numbers and had a significant impact on the war, but was most famous as a ground attack and reconnaissance aircraft, rather than as an air superiority fighter; ditto the Typhoon. Neither of those fine planes will be dealt with here.

So the fighters I am going to pick as "best" for their period and theater of war must have: (1) been built in significant numbers and (2) been dominant in the air superiority role. Here are my choices.

European Theater, Early Period

In the European Theater of Operations, early years, there were two absolute standout fighter planes. Both were severely limited in range, but in a dogfight they reigned supreme in the ETO. Of course, I am talking about the British Supermarine Spitfire and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109.

The former was designed by R. J. Mitchell and the latter by Willie Messerschmitt. They were the standout air superiority fighters of the early years of the war in Europe and the leading members of the cast that fought the most famous air battle of them all, the Battle of Britain (not to slight the Hawker Hurricane, designed by Sidney Camm, which actually out numbered the Spitfire on the British side of the famous battle and scored more victories over German airplanes.

Messerschmitt Bf 109bf109.jpg

The prototype Messerschmitt 109 first flew in 1935. It was a low wing, all metal monoplane of the type that became the mainstay of all sides in WW II. The Bf 109 was basically the smallest airframe that Willy Messerschmitt could devise attached to the most powerful engine available. This proved to be a very successful formula that could be progressively upgraded.

However, the type was not without flaws. Notable among these were its cramped cockpit, restricted rearward visibility and narrow track undercariage that made ground handling tricky. Another problem that plagued the type throughout its production life was that its control forces became progressively heavier as speed increased. Manuverability was very good at low and medium speed, but deteriorated greatly at high speed. The type's short range was to prove its downfall on both the Western and Eastern Fronts, severely limiting its tactical utility.

The Messerschmitt 109 fighter was flown by many of the top scoring Luftwaffe fighter pilots during WW II. The top fighter pilot of all time, Erich Hartmann (352 victories), and the second highest scoring fighter pilot of all time, Gerhard Barkhorn (301 victories), both flew the Bf 109. So did the first "General of Fighters," Werner Molders (115 victories), and his famous successor in that job, Adolf Galland (104 victories). The top scoring German ace of the Western front, Hans-Joachim Marseille (158 victories), also flew the Bf 109.
By 1937 the Luftwaffe had been equipped with Messerschmitt Bf 109B models, the first production version. The "B" model had a top speed of about 290 m.p.h. It was powered by a 680 h.p., inverted V-12 Jumo 210 engine. The small, fast Messerschmitt fighter first proved its worth in Spain during the Civil War. There the Condor Legion's 109B's quickly proved their superiority over the Russian I-15 and I-16 fighters used by the Communists.
By 1938, the "D" model had arrived. This model had a top speed of about 304 m.p.h. at altitude. Before the end of that year, the German fighter squadrons were entirely equipped with "D" models. During the Blitzkrieg across Poland, Belgium, Holland and France in 1939-40, the 109D bore the brunt of the air fighting and proved to be more than a match for the first line fighters of those nations, quickly achieving aerial superiority. By then, the latest version of the 109D had received the long awaited DB 600 engine and top speed was up to about 320 m.p.h.

The Messerschmitt model that bore the brunt of the subsequent Battle of Britain was the Bf 109E. It started coming into service in 1939 and by 1940 was the front line Luftwaffe fighter. Power for the "Emil" was the Daimler-Benz DB 601A, a supercharged, 12-cylinder inverted Vee engine with fuel injection. It developed 1,100 hp at 2,400 r.p.m. This was one of the finest engines of its time and it gave the "E" a top speed of 354 m.p.h. and a best climb rate of 2,990 ft./min.
The 109E compared very closely in performance to the British Spitfire I and II, the premier British fighters of the Battle of Britain. Its main drawback as a bomber escort was its limited range, which led directly to the British triumph in the Battle. Purely as a fighter, the Bf 109E was second to none.

By the early part of 1941, German squadrons were receiving the Bf 109F, powered by the up rated DB 601N, which incorporated a power boost system for brief emergency use. This engine was nominally rated for 1,200 hp. The "F" model probably represents the high water mark for the 109 fighter. Its more streamlined nose, retractable tail wheel, rounded wing tips (rather than the traditional "clipped" tips of the earlier models), cantilever horizontal stabilizer and 900 r.p.m. 20mm cannon made it, briefly, the best fighter in the air. Maneuverability was enhanced and top speed was up to 382 m.p.h. at 17,000 ft. Best rate of climb was a sizzling 3,640 ft/min. The "F" model was Gerd Barkhorn's favorite model. He is quoted as saying that it was lighter than other 109 variants and could turn and climb "like hell."

The next version, the "G" or Gustav, first appeared at the end of 1942. This was to became the most numerous ME 109 model of all, produced in many variations, but the basic design was starting to show its age. Performance was again up (max. speed slightly over 400 m.p.h. at altitude), but the addition of bigger machine guns and their ammunition, as well as other various improvements for which the airframe was not designed, caused bulges to appear in unlikely places on the cowling of the aircraft (hence its slang name "the bulge"). Power was provided by a bored out DB 601 called the DB 605 and this engine, which had some early reliability problems, was rated at 1,475 hp at takeoff. The Gustav was used on all fronts for the rest of the war, although later models did appear. Not only an air superiority fighter, the Gustav also performed ground attack, bomber destroyer and photo recon missions.

The final Messerschmitt production variant was the "K," deliveries of which began in September of 1944. The "K" was powered by an 1,800 hp DB 605D engine (2000 hp with methanol-water injection) that gave it a top speed of 452 m.p.h. at 19,685 feet. Best climb rate was a sensational 4,820 ft./min. Armament was two 13mm cowl mounted machine guns and one engine mounted 30mm cannon firing through the propeller boss. Two additional 20mm cannons were mounted beneath the wings in the K-4/R4 variant.

The "K" was the final effort to clean up the aerodynamics of the Bf 109 and standardize the factory and field improvements that had appeared in previous models. In this it was similar to the previous "F" model, which it resembled. Gone were the unsightly cowl bulges of the Gustav. The most numerous variant, the "K-4," of which over 700 were produced, featured a pressurized cockpit and the improved visibility "Galland" canopy. It was a formidable fighter, comparable to the best Allied fighters of the period. The "K" was to outlive the Luftwaffe, serving in the Spanish Air Force into the 1960's (by which time it had been re-equipped with Rolls Royce engines!).

The basic specifications of the Bf 109E follow (from The Fighter Aircraft Pocketbook by Roy Cross. For the sake of consistency, subsequent specifications will also be taken from this same source whenever possible).

32ft 6in


28ft 9in


8 ft. 1 in.

Wing area:

176.5 sq. ft


DB 601A, 12 cyl. Vee, 1,100 h.p.

Max speed:

354.2 mph at 16,400 ft

Best climb:

2,990 ft/min at 13,150 ft

Climb to:

9,840 ft., 3 min.; 19,865 ft., 6.3 min.

Service ceiling:

30,100 ft

Combat range:

412 miles at 16,400 ft


1.1 hours

Empty weight:

4,431 lb..

Loaded weight:

5,600 lb..


2-7.9mm fuselage guns, 2-20mm wing cannon (1/wing).

Supermarine Spitfire

The other "best" fighter of the early period of the European war was the Spitfire. The Spitfire proved, like the Bf 109, to be a very adaptable airplane and in various versions it served throughout the war. Naturally, most of the famous British aces of WW II flew the Spitfire. These included the top scoring British ace of the war, Group Captain "Johnny" Johnson (38 victories), and the legless ace and hero of the Battle of Britain, Douglas Bader. Bader flew with two artificial limbs and he scored 9 of his 20 kills from a Spitfire cockpit, the balance in Hurricanes.

The prototype Spitfire was built in 1936. Like the Bf 109 and all of the other "best" fighters I will discuss, the Spitfire was an all metal stressed-skin monoplane. This was new technology at that time and many production problems had to be solved, which resulted in considerable delays before the new fighter began reaching RAF squadrons.

The Spitfire was a low drag design that could be progressively improved to keep pace with foreign developments. By all accounts, it was a real pilot's airplane. She proved easy to fly and forgiving, a fighter without vices. This was an important consideration during the war, when pilot training was put into high gear and "stick time" in training reduced.

The first production version of the Spitfire was the Mk. I, which entered squadron service in mid-1938. When the war came in 1939, the RAF insisted in holding the bulk of their modern monoplane fighters in Britain. No Spitfires were sent to France. This proved to be a good decision as, after the fall of France, RAF fighter command could still deploy about 620 Hurricanes and Spitfires to meet the Luftwaffe's 800 Bf 109s.

The main variant of the Spitfire Mk. IA was powered by the famous Rolls Royce V-12 Merlin II engine. This produced 1,230 hp and drove a two bladed wooden propeller, giving the early Spitfire a top level speed of about 360 mph and a best climb rate of 2,530 ft./min. By the time of the battle of Britain, a three-bladed constant speed propeller, which markedly improved climb and acceleration, had been fitted.

Typical armament for this period was 8-.303 cal Browning machine guns, four in each wing. Some Spitfires were armed with a 20mm cannon in each wing, plus a couple of machine guns. These were called Mk. IB's.

Either way, their performance was closely similar to that of the Bf 109E, with the Spitfire being perhaps slightly faster and a little more maneuverable and the Messerschmitt being faster in the dive and with a superior roll rate. The 109 held a performance edge above 20,000 feet.

In 1940 the Mk. II began to appear, replacing the Mk. I in early 1941. The Mk. II was powered by a 1,240 h.p. Merlin XII that gave it a top speed almost identical to the Mk. I (354 mph at 17,550 ft), but a higher rate of climb (3,025 ft./min).

It is worth mentioning that the early Spitfires had SU carburetors, not fuel injection, and the engines would quit for lack of fuel (followed immediately by flooding) if the aircraft pulled negative g's during a maneuver or was flown upside down. This problem was not fully solved until improved pressure carburetors were adopted in 1943 for the late production Mk. V and subsequent models, although the stop-gap "Tilly Orifice," a simple flow restrictor invented by Miss Beatrice (Tilly) Shilling, was retrofitted to ameliorate the problem in early 1941.

Mk. II's were armed with either eight machine guns, or a mix of four machine guns and two cannons. All Spitfires of this period had the signature elliptical plan wings and were (in my opinion) among the most graceful of all fighter planes.

History records that the Spitfires (and Hurricanes) prevailed in the Battle of Britain. Their primary shortcoming was their short range. This was not a problem while they were serving in the interceptor role during the Battle of Britain, but it became a serious fault when the RAF went over to the offensive.

Later marks of Spitfire included the Mk. V of 1941, which for the first time introduced the "universal" wing that could accommodate either machine guns or cannons in various combinations and the option of clipped wing tips to increase the roll rate. The Mk. V had a top speed of up to 374 mph and the best rate of climb was 2,900 ft./min. The Mk. V was produced in large numbers, but was hard pressed by the improved Bf 109F and the new FW 190A. It was a very nice airplane to fly, adequately powerful and responsive; it probably represents the high water mark of Spitfire development.

The next big production model was the Mk. IX, a Mk. V airframe with a new two-stage, two-speed supercharged Merlin 70 engine that developed 1,655 h.p. at 10,000 ft. This new engine was really intended for the new Spitfire Mk. VIII airframe, but the press of events forced its adoption in the older airframe. The result, however, was quite satisfactory. Top speed was raised to 415 m.p.h. at 27,800 ft. The sustained climb rate to 20,000' jumped to 3,509 ft./min.

The Mk. IX started to enter service around the middle of 1942 and proved able to meet the improved German fighters on an essentially equal footing. The Mk. IX was approximately contemporary to the Bf 109G series and, like that fighter, served for the rest of the war.

The Mk VIII finally came along in 1943, incorporating many detail improvements, including better streamlining and a fully retractable tail wheel. Best climb rate was 3,790 ft./min. This version was used mostly in the Far East.

The final major models were the Mk. XIV of 1944 and the Mk. 22 of 1945. The Mk XIV was a Mk VIII airframe with a Rolls Royce Griffon 65 engine, developing 2,050 h.p., good for a top speed at altitude of 448 mph. It drove a five bladed propeller and gave the Mk. XIV an improved service ceiling and enhanced high altitude performance. Best climb rate was up to over 5,000 ft./min. Later Mk XIV's also had a "teardrop" style canopy to improve all-around visibility.

The Mk. XIV was, however, less maneuverable than the earlier models and more of a handful to fly. During Israel's War of Independence against the Arab League in 1948, Israeli fighter pilots flew both Mark IX and Mark XIV Spits and they preferred the Mark IX, because of its superior dog fighting ability.

The Mks. 21, 22 and 24 were the last Spitfires. These were fitted with a teardrop canopy and for the first time the wing was redesigned. The new wing was similar in plan, but was stronger, carried more fuel, housed a longer landing gear (which allowed a larger diameter propeller) and carried four 20mm cannon. Speed was up to 450 mph and best climb rate up to 4,900 ft./min. The Spitfire had reached the end of its long career. The future would belong to more modern fighters, but by this time the war was ending and the jet age had begun. For more about the Spitfire and the Royal Navy's similar Seafire, see my article "The Supermarine Spitfire and Seafire."

Following are the basic specifications for the Spitfire IIA of September 1940.


36ft 10in


29ft 9in


8 ft. 10 in.

Wing area:

242 sq. ft.


R.R. Merlin XII, 12 cyl. Vee, 1,236 h.p.

Max speed:

354 m.p.h. at 17,559 ft.

Best climb:

3,025 ft/min at 12,800 ft.

Climb to:

10,000 ft., 3.4 min; 20,000 ft., 7 min.

Service ceiling:

37,600 ft.

Combat range:

395 miles

Empty weight:

4,783 lb..

Loaded weight:

6,172 lb..


8-.303in Browning MG (4/wing)

European Theater, Later Period

After the first couple of years, in the European theater, things become more complicated. During the 1939, 1940, and 1941, the Spitfire and Messerschmitt Bf 109 were clearly the dominant fighters. However, as the war wore on, many new designs entered combat.
In 1942 (really beginning late in 1941) the Focke-Wulf 190 appeared in numbers and immediately established a measure of superiority over the Spitfire Mk. V, already hard pressed by the Bf 109F. In 1942, the first year of the war for the U.S., American P-39 and P-40 fighters were generally out performed by the German Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf fighters and things looked a bit bleak for the Allies. However, when the Spitfire Mk. IX and the P-38 started to make their presence felt, things began to improve for the Allies.
In the Spring of 1943, the P-47B went into operation in England. The Focke-Wulf 190, up until now the premier fighter in the theater, was suddenly hard pressed by the big American fighter, particularly at high altitude. In mid-1943 the much improved P-38J started to arrive and the pressure on the Germans increased. The arrival at the end of 1943 of the P-51B, the long range escort fighter the Americans so desperately needed, marked the beginning of the end for the Luftwaffe. Able to escort the bombers all the way to Berlin and back, the Mustang left the Luftwaffe no place to regroup and train. The P-51 did to the Luftwaffe what the Bf 109 did not have the range to do to the RAF earlier in the war.
So while all of the above fighters played an important part in the war, it was the P-51 that turned out to be decisive. The Americans could have won their daylight air war over Germany with the improved P-38J and L or P-47D, both of which appeared in 1944, but in fact it was the P-51, more than any other single fighter, that did it. So it seems only fair to examine first the FW 190 and then the P-51 Mustang, as the two successive "bests" of the later part of the European war.
Focke-Wulf FW 190
The Focke-Wulf 190 was designed by Kurt Tank and was a nasty surprise to the RAF in September 1941. Only a little over 200 were completed in 1941, but in 1942 1,850 were built, which amounted to about 40% of German single seat fighter production.
The new fighter was powered by a BMW 14-cylinder twin row air-cooled radial engine. This engine put out 1,760 hp and, coupled with the aircraft's forgiving handling qualities, gave the early FW 190A models a measure of superiority over the RAF's Spitfire Mk V, particularly in speed at low and medium altitudes.

Many German aces flew the FW 190. An example would be Gunther Rall, the 3rd highest scoring ace of the War (275 victories). Between 1939 and 1945, Rall flew the Bf 109, the FW 190, the "long nose" FW 190D and the Me 262 jet.

The FW 190 was known as a "pilots airplane," meaning she was a sweet ship to fly, light and easy on the controls (unlike the Bf 109, which was reputedly a handful). Its speed, climb, dive and roll rate were superior to the Spitfire Mk V. There was also excellent armor protection for the pilot. It had a wide track landing gear, which made it much less prone to ground loops than the Bf 109.

The FW 190 was also heavily armed. Typical armament, beginning with the FW 190A-3, was two 7.9mm machine guns in the engine cowling, two Mauser 20mm cannon in the wing roots (each of which could fire 700 rounds per minute, much faster than the equivalent British cannon), plus two slower firing (450 rounds per minute) Oerlikon 20mm cannon farther out in the wings. The total of two machine guns and four 20mm cannon represented a lot of firepower, the most of any contemporary fighter.

The first production Models were the FW 190A-1 and A-2. The FW 190A-3 of early 1942 basically standardized the engine and armament. This was the model that made the FW 190's reputation as a world class air superiority fighter.

Later in 1942 the A-4 model came along. This model had a methanol-water injection system for the engine which boosted power for a 10 minute period on demand and substantially improved performance at the lower altitudes. A new radio was also fitted. Other A-4 models included a night fighter version, and a ground attack version. There was also an extended range version with racks under the wings and fuselage for drop tanks or munitions

The 1943 version was the FW 190A-5. The main change was to move the engine 6 inches foreword in order to allow more flexibility for under wing stores. The primary variants of the A-5 included air superiority, bomber destroyer and ground attack versions. War emergency horsepower was up to 2,050 in the 801D engine.

The A-6 version got a new wing structure and replaced the slower firing outer wing cannons with faster firing Mauser cannons. Performance remained about the same as the A-5. The A-7 again increased firepower by replacing the .32 caliber (8mm) nose machine guns with more powerful 13mm (.51 cal) machine guns.

The FW 190A-8 of 1944 incorporated other improvements, including increased fuel capacity for longer range and an improved power boost system to improve high altitude performance. Speed was 405 m.p.h. at best altitude. Best climb was down to 2,756 ft./min. at 16,100 ft. The basic BMW radial engine had clearly reached its maximum performance limits. What was needed was a new power plant to keep the FW 190 competitive with the latest Allied fighters.

Experiments mating the FW 190 airframe with liquid-cooled Daimler Benz and Junkers inverted V-12 engines had started back in 1941. By 1944 the need for more performance was acute and the FW 190D was the result.

This much altered fighter used the standard Focke-Wulf wings and tail plane with an extended rear fuselage and a longer and heavier Junkers Jumo 213 engine. This brought the top speed up to 436 m.p.h. in the D-9 model (best climb rate was up to 3,642 ft./min.), and 458.5 m.p.h. (at 38,080 ft!) in the D-12 model.

These "long nose" models were reportedly more of a handful to fly, but still handled fairly well. They kept the Focke-Wulf competitive in performance with the best Allied fighters until the end of the war. For more information about the FW 190-series, see my article "The Focke-Wulf FW 190."

The following Specifications are for the famous FW 190A-3 model, of early 1942.

34 ft. 5 in.


29 ft. 1 in.


12 ft.

Wing area:

197 sq. ft.


BMW 801D 14 cylinder radial, 1,760 hp. at 3,000 r.p.m. at 18,000 ft.

Max speed:

395 m.p.h. at 17,000 ft.; 390 m.p.h. at 20,000 ft.

Best climb:

3,280 ft./min. at 17,500 ft.

Climb to:

16,500 ft., 4.75 min.; 18,000 ft., 6.25 min.

Service ceiling:

37,000 ft.


820 miles max. economy cruise

Max weight:

9,200 lb.. (8,580 normal)


2-7.9mm MG, 4-20mm cannon
Type: Ground Attack fighter-bomber
Origin: Dornier-Werke GmbHimages335%281%29.jpeg
– Do 335A-1 (Single-seat fighter)
– Do 335A-6 (Nightfighter)
Model: Daimler-Benz DB 603G
Type: Inverted-V12, liquid cooled engine
Number: Two Horsepower: 1,900 hp
Propeller Unit: VDM
Diameter: 3.50m (front), 3.30m (rear)

Fuel Capacity: N/A
Type: N/A

Lubricant Capacity:
18.8 Imperial Gallons/90 Liters
Type: N/A
Note: Stored in two seperate tanks behind the pilots seat (port tank for forward engine and starboard tank for rear engine)

Hydraulic Fluid Capacity: 9.9 Imperial Gallons/45 Liters in a protected tank in the port wing.
Type: N/A

Wing span: 13.8m (45 ft. 4 in.)
Wing Surface Area: N/A
Length: 13.87m (45 ft. 6 in.)
Height: 4m (16 ft. 4 in.)
Stabilizer Span: N/A
Wheel Track: N/A

Empty (A-1): 7,400kg (16,314 lbs.)
Empty (A-6): 7,700kg (16,975 lbs.)
Loaded (A-1): 11,700kg (25,800 lbs.)
Loaded (A-6): 11,700kg (25,800 lbs.)

Maximum Speed:
413 mph (665 kph) sustained, 477 mph (765km/h) with emergency boost

Range (Maximum Fuel):
2050km (1,280 miles)
Range (With Drop Tanks):
3750km (2,330 miles)

Initial Climb: 4,600 ft/min (1400m/min)
Endurance: N/A
Service Ceiling:
– A-1: 37,400 ft (11,410m)
– A-6: 33,400 ft (10,190m)
Do 335A-1
Two 15mm MG 151/15 machine guns above the nose
One 30mm Mk 103 cannon firing through the propellor hub.

Do 335A-6
Two 20mm MG 151/20 machine guns above the nose
One 30mm Mk 103 cannon firing through the propellor hub.

Do 335B-2
Two 20mm MG 151/20 machine guns above the nose
Two 30mm Mk 103 cannon mounted in the wings.
One 30mm Mk 103 cannon firing through the propellor hub.

AVIONICS: (Do 335B-2):
Fug 125a blind landing reciever
Fug 25a IFF
The Dornier Do 335 Pfeil ("Arrow") was a World War II heavy fighter built by the Dornier company. The two-seater trainer version was also called Ameisenbär ("anteater"). The Pfeil's performance was much better than other twin-engine designs due to its unique "push-pull" layout and the much lower drag of the in-line alignment of the two engines. The Luftwaffe was desperate to get the design into operational use, but delays in engine deliveries meant only a handful were delivered before the war ended.

Dornier Do 335

The origins of the Do 335 trace back to World War I when Claudius Dornier designed a number of flying boats featuring remotely-driven propellers and later, due to problems with the drive shafts, tandem engines. Tandem engines were used on most of the multi-engine Dornier flying boats that followed, including the highly successful Do J and the gigantic Do X. The remote propeller drive, intended to eliminate parasitic drag from the engine entirely, was tried in the innovative but unsuccessful Do 14, and elongated drive shafts as later used in the Do 335 saw use in the rear engines of the four-engined, twinned tandem-layout Do 26 flying boat.

Dornier Do 335

There are many advantages to this design over the more traditional system of placing one engine on each wing, the most important being power from two engines with the frontal area (and thus drag) of a single-engine design, allowing for higher performance. It also keeps the weight of the twin powerplants near, or on, the aircraft centerline, increasing the roll rate compared to a traditional twin. In addition, a single engine failure does not lead to asymmetric thrust, and in normal flight there is no net torque so the plane is easy to handle. The choice of a full "four-surface" set of cruciform tail surfaces in the Do 335's design, allowed the ventral vertical fin–rudder assembly to project downwards from the extreme rear of the fuselage, in order to protect the rear propeller from an accidental ground strike on takeoff.

In 1939, Dornier was busy working on the P.59 high-speed bomber project, which featured the tandem engine layout. In 1940, he commissioned a test aircraft to validate his concept for turning the rear pusher propeller with an engine located far away from it and using a long driveshaft. This aircraft, the Göppingen Gö 9 showed no unforeseen difficulties with this arrangement, but work on the P.59 was stopped in early 1940 when Hermann Göring ordered the cancellation of all projects which would not be completed within a year or so.

In May 1942, Dornier submitted an updated version with a 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombload as the P.231, in response to a requirement for a single seat high-speed bomber/intruder. P.231 was selected as the winner after beating rival designs from Arado, Junkers, and Blohm & Voss development contract was awarded as the Do 335. In autumn 1942, Dornier was told that the Do 335 was no longer required, and instead a multi-role fighter based on the same general layout would be accepted. This delayed the prototype delivery as it was modified for the new role.

Fitted with DB 603A engines delivering 1,750 PS (1,287 kW, 1,726 hp) at takeoff, the Do 335 V1 first prototype, bearing the Stammkennzeichen (factory radio code) of CP+UA, flew on 26 October 1943 under the control of Flugkapitän Hans Dieterle, a regular Heinkel test pilot and later primary Dornier test pilot. The pilots were surprised at the speed, acceleration, turning circle, and general handling of the type; it was a twin that flew like a single. However, several problems during the initial flight of the Do 335 would continue to plague the aircraft through most of its short history. Issues were found with the weak landing gear and with the gear doors, resulting in them being removed for the remainder of V1 flights. V1 made 27 flights, flown by three different pilots. During these test flights V2 (W.Nr 230002), Stammkennzeichen CP+UB was completed and made its first flight on 31 December 1943, again under the control of Dieterle. New to the V2 were upgraded DB603 A-2 engines, and several refinements learned from the test flights of V1 as well as further windtunnel testing. On 20 January 1944, V3 (W.Nr. 230004),Stammkennzeichen CP+UC was completed and flown for its first time by Werner Altrogge. V3 was powered by the new DB603 G-0 engines which could produce 1,900 PS (1,400 kW) at take-off and featured a slightly redesigned canopy which included rear-view mirrors in blisters, one in each of two matching side panels of the main canopy. Following the flights of the V3, in mid January 1944, RLM ordered five more prototypes (V21–V25), to be built as night fighters. By this time more than 60 hours of flight time had been put on the Do 335 and reports showed it to be a good handling, but more importantly, very fast aircraft, described by Generalfeldmarschall Erhard Milch himself as "…holding its own in speed and altitude with the P-38 and it does not suffer from engine reliability issues". Thus the Do 335 was scheduled to begin mass construction, with the initial order of 120 preproduction aircraft to be manufactured by DWF (Dornier-Werke Friedrichshafen) to be completed no later than March 1946. This number included a number of bombers, destroyers (heavy fighters), and several yet to be developed variants. At the same time, DWM (Dornier-Werke München) was scheduled to build over 2000 Do 335s in various models, due for delivery in March 1946 as well.

Dornier Do 335dorn_do-335.gif

On 23 May 1944, Hitler, as part of the Jägernotprogramm directive, ordered maximum priority to be given to Do 335 production. The main production line was intended to be at Manzel, but a bombing raid in March destroyed the tooling and forced Dornier to set up a new line at Oberpfaffenhofen. The decision was made, along with the rapid shut-down of many other military aircraft development programs, to cancel the Heinkel He 219 night fighter, and use its production facilities for the Do 335 as well. However, Ernst Heinkel managed to delay, and eventually ignore, its implementation.

At least 16 prototype Do 335s were known to have flown (V1–V12, W.Nr 230001-230012 and Müster-series prototypes M13–M17, W.Nr 230013-230017) on a number of DB603 engines including the DB603A, A-2, G-0, E and E-1. The first preproduction Do 335 (A-0s) starting with W.Nr 240101, Stammkennzeichen VG+PG, were delivered in July 1944. Approximately 22 preproduction aircraft were thought to have been completed and flown before the end of the war, including approximately 11 A-0s converted to A-11s for training purposes.

The first 10 Do 335 A-0s were delivered for testing in May. By late 1944, the Do 335 A-1 was on the production line. This was similar to the A-0 but with the uprated DB 603 E-1 engines and two underwing hardpoints for additional bombs, drop tanks or guns. It was capable of a maximum speed of 763 km/h (474 mph) at 6,500 m (21,300 ft) with MW 50 boost, or 686 km/h (426 mph) without boost, and able to climb to 8,000 m (26,250 ft) in under 15 minutes. Even with one engine out, it could reach about 563 km/h (350 mph).

Delivery commenced in January 1945. When the United States Army overran the Oberpfaffenhofen factory in late April 1945, only 11 Do 335 A-1 single-seat fighter-bombers and two Do 335 A-12 trainers had been completed.

Dornier Do 335dorn.jpeg

French ace Pierre Clostermann claimed the first Allied combat encounter with a Pfeil in April 1945. In his book The Big Show (pages 273-274) he describes leading a flight of four Hawker Tempests from No. 3 Squadron RAF over northern Germany, when he intercepted a lone Do 335 flying at maximum speed at treetop level. Detecting the British aircraft, the German pilot reversed course to evade. Despite the Tempest's considerable low altitude speed, the RAF fighters were not able to catch up or even get into firing position.

North American P-51 Mustang2013-11-16%2018.34.18%20%281%29.jpg
Many top E.T.O. aces flew the P-51 Mustang. These included Captain Don Gentile (35 victories), Captain John Godfrey (31 victories), Colonel Eagleston (23 victories), Major James Howard (the only American ace in both theaters of the war—6 victories in China flying P-40's and 6 victories in Europe flying P-51's), Chuck Yeager (who later became the first man to break the sound barrier) and Colonel Donald Blakeslee (15 victories and C.O. of the famous 4th Fighter Group). The 4th FG destroyed over 1,000 German aircraft, more than any other American fighter group in WW II.

The Mustang story began in 1940 when the British contacted North American Aviation with a request to build fighters for the RAF. North American was willing, and they offered to design and build a new fighter that would meet British requirements, and be easy to mass produce. In only 100 days NAA rolled out the first prototype Mustang. By November 1941 the first of over 600 aircraft produced under British contract were delivered to the RAF.

The new fighter incorporated some advanced ideas, in particular a laminar flow wing of thin cross section, which allowed the Mustang to avoid most of the "compressibility" dive problems that plagued many other high performance fighters of the time. Two of the first ten Mustangs built were taken to Wright Field, at Dayton Ohio, for testing by the AAF, which designated them XP-51.

The 1,150 hp. Allison F-series V-12 powered the early Mustang models. This resulted in poor high altitude performance, so the RAF used their Mustang I (P-51) and II (P-51A) models for low altitude ground attack and reconnaissance duties.

The Mustang I had a top speed of 370 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft. Best climb at 11,300 ft. was 1,980 ft./min. An assortment of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns were carried, but the Mustang IA was armed with 4-20mm cannon. Handling and maneuverability were good. Like the FW 190, the P-51 was a pilot's airplane.

P-51A (Mustang II) production was divided between America and Britain. This model standardized armament as 4-.50 cal MG. (two per wing). There were ground attack versions of the P 51A in U.S. service, designated A-36A, which served the AAF in the North African campaign. There were also specialized photo reconnaissance versions of all major Mustang models, the F-6 series.
The decision was made to mass produce the outstanding Merlin engine under license in the United States. The P-51B and C models (Mustang III's in Britian), which entered service in December of 1943, were powered by the new Packard-built version of the Merlin V-12, driving a four bladed propeller. At the same time, the airframe was strengthened, the radiator was re-designed, the ailerons were improved, and racks for long range drop tanks or bombs were added under the wings.

The 1,450 hp. Packard/Merlin engine (1,595 hp. war emergency rating) gave the P-51B-7 a top speed of 445 m.p.h. Best climb was 3,320 ft./min. at 10,000 ft. The new Mustang carried 4-.50 caliber MG (two per wing), and up to 1,000 lbs. of external stores. Its range was an astounding 2,200 miles with two 150 gal. drop tanks. Endurance with drop tanks was 8.7 hours.

The new engine completely changed the character of the Mustang, turning it into a high altitude fighter suitable for bomber escort missions. It came at a crucial moment for the AAF daylight bombing campaign. Luftwaffe fighters were taking such a toll of un-escorted heavy bombers that the losses were becoming unsupportable. The great range of the P-51B-7 allowed it to escort the heavy bombers all the way to their targets deep inside Germany. In March of 1944, Mustangs went to Berlin. Eighth Air Force bomber losses plummeted, while Luftwaffe fighter losses skyrocketed.
Later in 1944 the famous P-51D model arrived. It sported a "tear drop" canopy for better all around vision and a more powerful 1,790 hp. version of the Packard/Merlin engine, along with many detail improvements. The armament was increased to 6-.50 caliber wing MG and all manner of external stores could be carried. Recognition of the D model is easy because of its teardrop canopy and the large fillet fin added in front of the vertical stabilizer. For the Luftwaffe, the end was at hand.

The final major production version of the Mustang was the P-51H. This re-designed model incorporated major improvements, as extensive in scope as those incorporated into the FW 190D or Spitfire Mk. 22.

In the H model, the structure was increased in strength by 10%, to allow higher "g" loads in combat maneuvers. No structural part was left in common with earlier models. Streamlining was improved to increase speed and stability was increased. A new version of the Packard/Merlin, incorporating water injection, delivered over 2000 hp. These changes resulted in the finest American fighter of the war. Speed was 486 m.p.h. at 30,000 ft. best climb rate was 5,350 ft./min. at 5,000 ft. Service ceiling was 41,600 ft.

Unlike most other American piston engine fighters, which were withdrawn from service soon after the end of WW II, the Mustang fought on, doing valuable ground support work in the Korean War. It was adopted by many other nations, too numerous to list here, and remained in service in some countries into the 1960's. For more information about the Mustang, see my article "The North American P-51 Mustang." The following specifications are for the famous D model of 1944.


37 ft. 5/16 in.


32 ft. 3 5/16 in.


13 ft. 4 1/2in.

Wing area:

240 sq. ft.


Packard/Merlin V-1650-7, 1,790 hp. at 11,500 ft.

Max speed:

443 m.p.h. at 25,000 ft., 438 m.p.h. at 30,000 ft.

Best climb:

3,320 ft./min. at 5,000 ft.

Climb to:

10,000 ft., 3.3 min; 20,000 ft., 7.5 min.

Service ceiling:

41,900 ft.


1,140 miles at max. cruise power at
10,000 ft. (normal internal fuel load)


4.3 hours (normal internal fuel load)


11,100 lb. with max. fuel


6-.50 cal. MG (3/wing); up to 1,000 lb. of external stores on wing racks.2013-11-16%2018.33.38%20%281%29.jpg
Grumman-Hellcat-Two-Views.jpgCrash landing of F6F on flight deck of USS ENTERPRISE while enroute to attack Makin Island. Lieutenant Walter Chewning, catapult officer, clambering up the side of the plane to assist pilot, Ens. Byron Johnson, from the flaming cockpit.
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)
Many US Navy pilots had good cause to refer to the Hellcat as the "Aluminum Tank". With its six .50 caliber Browning M2 machine guns, it could spit out a veritable hail of destruction which no Japanese adversary could hope to survive. After the war, Japanese pilots related their fear and dread each time they were engaged by the Hellcat.
And, on the other side of the coin, the Hellcat could absorb unbelievable punishment and still bring the pilot back to his ship. Pilots tell of "mostly holes where the airplane used to be" and "more air was going through it than around it". One Hellcat had been burning for a hundred miles before landing on its carrier. Top Navy ace, David McCampbell told of watching the piston and connection rod "popping in and out" of the mangled Pratt-Whitney "Double Wasp" engine as he struggled to fly the pieces of his Hellcat back to the carrier. The Grumman Company itself was often referred to as the "Grumman Iron Works".

On board the USS Saratoga (CV-3). A groundman signals to the pilot of the F6F.
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)
In the spring of 1941, the Navy was looking to replace its F4F "Wildcat" (also manufactured by Grumman) in light of new developments in the field of aeronautics, and the worsening military situation both in Asia and in Europe. On June 30, 1941 the Navy ordered the prototypes XF6F-1 and XF6F-2. They were to have the Wright R-2600-16 engine, producing 1,700 horsepower, on the -1 and a Wright 2800-16 fitted with a turbo-supercharger on the -2. Immediately after the first flight of the XF6F1 on June 26, 1942, the craft was mysteriously redesignated the "XF6F-3" and the engine was changed to the Pratt-Whitney 2800-10 producing 2,000 horsepower. The reason for the mystery became evident only after the war.

Up until the time of the first flights of the XF6F-1, very little reliable information was available on the Japanese "Zero" fighter (Mitsubishi A6M Zero-Sen) except that it was fast, agile and shot down an alarming number of Allied aircraft. As happened on many occasions during WWII, Lady Luck was about to change all that. At the very time of the first flight of the XF6F-1, a curious incident was occurring 2,500 miles (4,023 km) away on a small island known as "Akutan" in the Aleutian chain which would have a devastating effect on the supremacy of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero-Sen.

Dynamic static. The motion of its props causes an "aura" to form around this F6F on the USS YORKTOWN. The rapid change of pressure and drop in temperature create condensation. Rotating with blades, the halo moves aft, giving depth and perspective.
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

A Navy PBY, making a routine patrol, happened to pass over tiny Akutan Island and one of the observers aboard happened to notice a dark speck on the tundra below which appeared out of place. The pilot took the "Catalina" down to have a closer look. The speck turned out to be a Japanese aircraft, and even though it was upside down, it was almost immediately identified as a Zero. The radioman sent the coordinates and within hours a Navy recovery team was on the way to investigate. On arrival, the recovery team found the dead pilot, Flight Petty Officer Tadayoshi Koga still hanging in his seat harness. Koga had had engine problems and tried to land the plane on the flat tundra of the small island with the wheels down. The wheels dug in and flipped the Zero on its back, snapping F.P.O. Koga’s neck in the process. The Zero was almost undamaged, even the engine looked to be in good shape aside from a broken oil line.hellcat.jpg

The Zero was dismantled and shipped directly to the Grumman Aircraft factory in California where it was reassembled and flown. The information gleaned from this fortunate incident put the finishing touches on the Hellcat. It was found the XF6F-1 was marginally slower than the Zero, thus the change from the Wright R-2600 to the Pratt-Whitney Double Wasp R-2800 with an output of 2,000 hp (1,493 kW) for take-off and 1,975 hp (1,474 kW) at 17,000 ft (5,182 m). This engine boosted the Hellcats top speed to 375 mph (604 k/hr), 29 mph (47 k/hr) faster than the Zero. No other unfavorable differences between the two planes could be found and the Hellcat was deemed ready for production. The finalized version of the XF6F-3 was almost identical to the production F6F-3 and Grumman shifted the assembly line into high gear.

A Hellcat goes down the deck for take-off on the USS Lexington (CV-16).
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

In terms of size, the Hellcat was the second largest single engine fighter of the war, being ever-so-slightly smaller than the Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt". At first glance, the F6F appeared too big to operate safely from a carrier. But The Grumman Iron Works had a great deal of expertise in building carrier aircraft. The US Navy wanted a much faster plane carrying heavier loads over far greater distances. The only way to achieve all three goals was the obvious way; design a larger aircraft. There was room for a more powerful engine, room for more armament and for extra fuel.

In order to keep the take-off and landing speeds at a reasonable level, Grumman made the wings proportionally larger than most aircraft (including the Thunderbolt) to reduce wing loading. In fact, the Hellcat had the largest wing area of any single engine fighter of WWII at 334 square feet (31 square meters) as opposed to 300 square feet (27.8 square meters) for the P-47.
Navy crewmen aboard the USS Monterey (CVL-26) bringing an F6F to the flight deck on an elevator.
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

Also produced were models with a suffix "N" after the dash number. These were night fighters with an APS-6 radar mounted on the starboard wing near the tip.

The first production batch of dash three’s were assigned to VF-9 aboard the carrier Essex. The first combat sorties were flown by VF9 and by VF-5 aboard the Yorktown on August 31, 1943 against Japanese targets on Marcus Island (Minami-tori Island) some 700 miles (1,127 km) southeast of Japan.

The first real test of the F6F-3 against the Zero came a few months later in December when a group of about a hundred Hellcats ripped into a like number of Japanese planes of which half were Zeros. In the ensuing battle, 28 of the Zeros were "splashed" (destroyed and crashed into the water) for a total loss to the Hellcats of 3 planes.

Surrounded by F6F's ordnance, men work on bombs on the hangar deck of the
USS Yorktown (CV-10). Officers and men in the background watch a movie.
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)hellcat.jpgimages.jpeg

The engagement which put a final seal of approval on the Hellcat took place over the Philippine Sea on June 19/20, 1944. This incident was officially called the "Battle of the Philippine Sea". To the pilots who fought, it will always be known as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". It began in the early morning of the nineteenth with a few skirmishes over the island of Guam while Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, commanding the Japanese Mobile Fleet of nine fast carriers plus assorted battleships, cruisers and destroyers attempted to find the US Fast Carrier Task Force of the 5th Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Mark Mitscher. Ozawa had nine carriers and 450 planes to Mitschers 15 carriers and 900 aircraft. By 10:00 am on the 19th, the adversaries had located each other and the Turkey Shoot was about to reach its peak. Admiral Ozawa launched about 70 aircraft of various types including 28 Zeros plus a number of fighter-bombers and torpedo planes. When they were still 150 miles away they were picked up on radar. Admiral Mitscher turned his carriers into the wind for launch. These seventy Japanese aircraft were swarmed by hundreds of Hellcats from the Carrier Task Force. Only 24 of the Japanese craft survived. Of the 24, a single fighter-bomber managed to inflict casualties and slight damage to the battleship South Dakota. Ozawa sent a second wave of aircraft toward the 5th Fleet and another debacle ensued; ninety-eight of 128 aircraft were splashed before reaching the ships. He launched two more strikes with similar results. In all, Ozawa lost almost 350 aircraft the first day of the battle (virtually all were downed by Hellcats), while accomplishing almost nothing. The US carriers lost 30 planes.

Pilots leaning across F6F on board the USS Lexington (CV-16) after shooting down 17 out of 20 Japanese planes heading for Tarawa. L - R: Ens. William J. Seyfferle; Ltjg. Alfred L. Frendberg; Lcdr. Paul D. Buie; Ens. John W. Bartol; Ltjg. Dean D. Whitmore; Ltjg. Francis M. Fleming; Ltjg. Eugene R. Hanks; Ens. E.J. Rucinski; Ltjg. R.G. Johnson and Ltjg. Sven Rolfsen.
(Photo: National Archives and Records Administration)

In addition to the aircraft destroyed, Ozawa lost the carriers Taiho (the newest and largest of Japans carriers, thought to be unsinkable) and the veteran carrier Shokaku. During the early evening of the 19th, Ozawa began withdrawing from the battle but was pursued by Mitscher all that night and all the next day, further decimating Ozawas carrier aircraft. After the Turkey Shoot, the Japanese could no longer establish or maintain air superiority over their naval objectives due to their loss of carrier aircraft and experienced pilots. Their vaunted A6M "Zero" was no longer invincible. They had gained a great respect for "The Grumman Iron Works" and its F6F "Hellcat"!

Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat
Wing span: 42 ft 10 in (13.05 m)
Length: 33 ft 10 in (10.31 m)
Height: 14 ft 5 in (4.39 m)
Wing Area: 334 sq ft (31 sq m)
Empty: 9,060 lbs (4,110 kg)
Normal Gross: 12,598 lbs (5,714 kg)
Maximum Gross: 15,413 lbs (6,991 kg)
Maximum Speed: 380 mph (612 km/hr) @ 23,400 ft (7,132 m)
Cruising Speed: 200 mph (322 km/hr)
Landing Speed: 88 mph (142 km/hr)
Service Ceiling: 37,300 ft (11,369 m)
Combat Range: 945 mi (1,521 km)
Maximum Range: 1,530 mi (2,462 km)
Pratt-Whitney R-2800-10W "Double Wasp" Air Cooled Radial 2,000 hp (1,492 Kw) Take-Off - 1,975 hp (1,473.9 Kw) @16,900 ft (5,151 m)
Six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) Browning M-2 machine guns with 2,400 rounds mounted in the wings. Later models could substitute two 20 mm guns for the two inboard .50 calibers.

Yakovlev Yak-3

The final "best" air superiority fighter of the later period of the war in Europe was the Yakovlev Yak-3. Many top Soviet aces flew the Yak series of fighters, which started with the rather primitive Yak-1 and evolved into the Yak-3 air superiority and Yak-9 general purpose fighters. (See the article "The Yakovlev Yak-9" for more details about the latter model.) The Yak-9 was produced in greater numbers than any other Allied fighter of WW II, but it is the contemporary Yak-3 that was regarded as the best dogfighter on the ETO Eastern Front.

Although a program to develop the smallest and lightest fighter possible around the proposed 1,600+ hp M-107 V-12 engine was begun in 1941, due to delays in engine development and shifts in Soviet priorities, the Yak-3 did not enter service until mid-1944. Compared to the original Yak-1, the new fighter incorporated reduced drag, an all-around vision canopy, a structurally improved airframe and a new wing of reduced span and area. In the event, the intended M-107 motor was not available in time, so the 1,300 hp M-105 was substituted. Nevertheless, the Yak-3 was about 30 mph faster than the contemporary (and heavier) Yak-9.

The Yak-3's greatest asset was its tight turning radius. It was a highly maneuverable fighter that offered excellent performance below about 20,000 feet and it could turn inside of a Bf 109 or FW 190; at one point the German fighter command issued a directive instructing their fighter pilots not to dogfight with Yak fighters lacking an air scoop under the engine. (The absence of this front scoop being the key Yak-3 recognition feature.) The Yak-3 was not a particularly difficult fighter to fly, but it required a skilled pilot to take full advantage of its fighting potential. In such hands, it became an air superiority fighter second to none.

By the time production ceased in May 1945, 4,848 Yak-3 fighters had been built. Following are specifications for the Yak-3.


30 ft. 3 in.


27 ft. 11 in.


7 ft. 11 in.

Wing area:

186 sq. ft.


M-105 PF-2, 1,300 hp.

Max speed:

412 m.p.h. at 10,197 ft.

Climb to:

16,400 ft., 4 min.

Service ceiling:

25,197 ft.


558 miles


5,871 lbs.


1-20mm cannon and 2-.50 caliber MG's, all in nose

Pacific Theater, Early Period

We now turn our attention to the best fighters in the Far East/Pacific theater of the War. In the early years, there can be only one choice. The Japanese "Zero", officially the Mitsubishi A6M5, or Imperial Japanese Navy Type 0 carrier-borne fighter.

Mitsubishi A6M Zerovariations-mitsubishi-zero.jpg

At the beginning of the Pacific War no Allied fighter was a match for the Zero. The best of the early American Army fighters was probably the Curtiss P-40 and the early models of this fighter were distinctly inferior to the Zero.

Most of the Imperial Navy's top aces flew the Zero. Prominent among them is Saburo Sakai (with 64 victories), the top scoring Japanese ace to survive the war and Hiroyoshi Nishizawa (actual total of victories unknown, but 104 confirmed), perhaps the greatest of them all. Shoichi Sugita had 120+ victories, Tadashi Nakajima 75+ and Naoishi Kanno 53.

Not only could the Zero out fight any Allied fighter, it also out-ranged them. Many people do not realize that the Zero was the world's first long range escort fighter. Zeros flew long range bomber escort missions during the war in China, before the Pacific war even began. If the Germans had the long range A6M2 Zero instead of the short range Bf 109E, the outcome of the Battle of Britain might have been very different. As well known as the Zero is, its importance is still under rated by most people.

The Zero was designed by Jiro Horikoshi to fulfill Japanese Navy requirements for great range, rapid climb, high speed, and above all superior maneuverability. In order to get them, the Zero was designed with a very low wing loading; pilot armor and self sealing fuel tanks were dispensed with to save weight. Japanese fighter pilots gladly gave up such safety features in order to achieve a fighter with superior agility.
The Zero's performance fell off at high altitudes, but early in the war the American fighters that opposed it were even worse in that regard. At low and medium altitudes, nothing could touch the Zero.

The first production version of the Zero was the A6M2 Model 11, of 1940. This had a Nakajima Sakae 12 engine, a 14-cylinder air cooled radial that developed 950 hp. at 13,800 ft. The A6M2 had a top speed of 316 m.p.h. at 16,400 ft., and a range of 1,265 miles on internal fuel. With an under fuselage drop tank, the range was extended to 1,930 miles. The standard armament was 2-7.7mm MG in the engine cowling, and 2-20mm cannon in the wings. Wingspan was 39 ft. 5 in.

The similar Model 21 had folding wing tips for aircraft carrier use. This was the model on board the Japanese carriers at the beginning of the Pacific War on December 7, 1941.

The next main version of the Zero was the A6M3, which appeared late in 1942. This version was powered by an up rated 1,130 hp. Sakae 21 radial engine, with a two stage supercharger that improved high altitude performance. Top speed was increased to 336 m.p.h. at 19,865 ft. Best climb rate was 4,500 ft./min. Armament and range remained about the same.

The A6M3 Model 32 had clipped wing tips, achieved by removing the folding wing tips of the carrier model. This was intended to improve the roll rate, which was inferior to that of American fighters. This model also had reduced internal fuel capacity (down to 134 gal. from the 156 gal. capacity of the A6M3 Model 22). The Zero was beginning to show its age, and its performance was being eclipsed by the latest Allied fighters.
The reduced wing span (36 ft. 2 in.) of the Model 32 was carried over to the next model, the A6M5 of 1943. This model had the improved Sakai 31 engine with ejector exhaust stacks to augment thrust, the reduced wing span of the Model 32 (but with the familiar rounded shape of earlier Zeros), plus heavier wing skin. Speed was now up to 358 m.p.h. and dive limit speed to 410 m.p.h. Best climb rate was 3,340 ft./min. The A6M5a had an improved wing cannon, carried more ammunition and the dive limiting speed was raised to 460 m.p.h. These models still lacked any protection for the pilot, or even an emergency release for the canopy.

The A6M5b of 1944 finally addressed some of these problems. It had an armored glass windshield, automatic fire extinguishers for the fuel tanks and 12.7mm MG replacing the previous 7.7mm MG. By this time the overall performance of the Zero had fallen well below that of its major adversaries, the P-38J Lightning, P-47 Thunderbolt, F6F Hellcat, P-51 Mustang and F4U Corsair.

The final version of the Zero was the A6M8c of 1945, which just reached production as the war ended. A new 1,560 hp. Kinsei 62 radial engine provided a top speed of 355 m.p.h. at 19,680 ft. and an improved climb rate.zerocut.jpg

By then, the Zero had fallen hopelessly behind in overall performance and more modern Japanese fighters were at last in production. However, the Zero remained the ultimate "turn and burn" dogfighter of the war. A total of 10,936 Zero fighters of all types were produced. More of the Zero story can be found in my article "The Mitsubishi A6M Zero." The specifications that follow are for the A6M5 Model 52 of 1943.


36 ft. 2 in.


29 ft. 10 in.


9 ft. 2in.

Wing area:

238 sq./ft.


Nakajima Sakai 21, 14 cylinder two row radial, 1,320 hp. at 2,600 r.p.m.

Max speed:

358 m.p.h. at 22,000 ft.

Best climb:

3,340 ft./min. at 8,000 ft.

Climb to:

20,000 ft., 7.8 min.

Service ceiling:

35,100 ft.


1,200 miles (internal fuel), 1,844 miles with drop tank.

Max weight:

10,600 lb..


2-7.7mm fuselage MG, 2-20mm cannon in the wings

Pacific Theater, Later period

During the latter half of the Pacific War, as has already been alluded to, American fighter planes caught and then surpassed the Japanese Navy's A6M Zero fighter (and also the Japanese Army's equivalent Ki-43) in most performance parameters. However, the Imperial Army introduced one of the outstanding fighters of WW II in response to a specification issued in 1942 for a fast, long range fighter to replace the Ki-43. The result was the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate, produced from April 1944 until the end of the war.

Grumman F4F "Wildcat" Fighters2013-11-16%2018.33.16.jpg
The Grumman F4F was the primary Navy and Marine Corps fighter during the first year and a half of World War II. A developed form, the General Motors FM-2, remained in active combat through the end of the Pacific War. Though the stubby little F4F could not equal the speed and maneuverability of its Japanese counterpart, the "Zero", its rugged construction and superior armament, coupled with well-trained pilots and good tactics, ensured that it generally gave at least "as good as it got" during the crisis months of 1942.

The F4F-1 was a biplane design, whose clear inferiority to the monoplane Brewster F2A-1 caused its complete recasting into the single-wing XF4F-2. When the Brewster fighter was chosen for production, Grumman's prototype was rebuilt as the XF4F-3 with new wings and tail and a supercharged version of the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 "Twin Wasp" radial engine. Testing of the XF4F-3 led to an order for F4F-3 production models, the first of which was completed in February 1940. France also ordered the type, powered by Wright R-1820 "Cyclone" radial engines. These ultimately went to the British Royal Navy, which called them "Martlet I"s. Both the British planes and the U.S. Navy's F4F-3 joined active units in 1940 with an armament of four .50 caliber Browning machine guns and a good ammunition supply.

By the end of 1941 the Grumman F4F-3 (and similar F4F-3A) fighters, which had received the popular name "Wildcat" a few months earlier, had replaced the F2A in most U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fighting squadrons. A folding-wing version flew in April 1941 and entered service in early 1942 as the F4F-4. Prompted by British tactical concepts, it had six guns but less ammunition. The heavier F4F-4 was not as nimble nor as fast as the F4F-3, but the logic of wartime manufacturing left it as the sole remaining production version, and its folding wings made it possible to cram more valuable fighters into each aircraft carrier. By the Battle of Midway in June 1942, all the Pacific Fleet's carriers had the F4F-4 and fighting squadron pilots were learning, sometimes painfully, how to best employ it. Employ it they did, quite successfully, through the Pacific's intense Guadalcanal and Central Solomons campaigns and the Atlantic's North African operation.

In late 1942 and early 1943, Grumman phased out production of the F4F-4 and General Motors' Eastern Aircraft Division took it up as the FM-1 (with two less guns). In all, the two companies produced some three-thousand "Wildcats" for the U.S. and Britain before GM's factories switched to the updated FM-2 in the later part of 1943.

F4F-4 "Wildcat" characteristics:

Dimensions: Wing Span, 38 feet; Length, 28 feet 9 inches; Wing Area, 260 square feet
Weights: Empty, 5785 pounds; Gross, 7975 pounds
Powerplant: One 1,200 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86 double-row radial engine
Armament: Six .50 caliber Browning machine guns; Two 100-pound bombs
Performance: Maximum Speed, 320 m.p.h. (@ 19,800 feet & weight of 7975 pounds)

This page features and provides links to selected views of Grumman F4F-3 and F4F-4 fighters.

Views of "Wildcat" fighters:

Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighters (part II); and Grumman F4F "Wildcat" fighters (part III)
Grumman XF3F-3 prototype
General Motors FM-2 "Wildcat" fighters; and
British "Martlet" and "Wildcat" fighters

The top land based U.S. Army Air Force fighter in the Pacific was the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. This big twin engine fighter had the range, firepower, and speed to dominate the skies in the theater. The number one American ace, Major Richard Bong (40 victories), flew the Lightning, as did the number two American ace Major Thomas McGuire (38 victories). The P-38 also made a major contribution in the European theater, but the extremely high altitude combat taking place over the continent was not really the best environment for the P-38's Allison engines. In the Pacific, the Japanese did not normally operate at extreme altitudes, and the P-38 really came into its own.

U. S. Navy and Marine pilots flew different airplanes, of course, and they had two of the best in the Pacific. One of these was the Chance Vought F4U Corsair. (The other, of course, was the Hellcat, which is covered in a separate article.) The Corsair is the famous fighter with inverted gull wings. The German Stuka dive bomber also had inverted gull wings, and it is the only other famous combat aircraft of WW II I can think of that did. The Corsair was so big and fast that until the end of 1944 the Navy used it entirely as a land based fighter. Finally, though, it was approved for carrier operations. By then aces like Marine Major "Pappy" Boyington (28 victories, and the first man to break Eddie Rickenbacker's WW I record of 26) had made the Corsair fighter famous.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning2013-11-16%2018.32.54.jpg

Let's take a look at the P-38 Lightning first. The P-38 shot down more Japanese aircraft than any other USAAF fighter in WW II. It was flown by both of the top American aces of the war. Its incredible range became legendary, and its twin engines particularly suited it for long over water flights.

The P-38 story started in January 1937, when the Army Air Corps issued a specification for a new pursuit plane for the "interception and attack of hostile aircraft at high altitude". The government anticipated an order for a maximum of 50 planes, so suitability for mass production was not a consideration. Lockheed was one of the companies that entered the competition to design and build the new fighter.

H. L. Hibard and Clarence "Kelly" Johnson were assigned the job of primary design. Johnson realized that no existing engine could provide enough power to meet the government specification, and began a series of single seat, twin engine fighter designs. The new Allison V-1710 engine was chosen by the Lockheed design team to power the new fighter.

The final layout of the new twin engine fighter (called the Model 22 by Lockheed) incorporated turbo superchargers, counter rotating props, twin tail booms, and a central fuselage for the pilot. It also had a tricycle landing gear and a control wheel (later yoke) instead of a stick.

The nose of the central fuselage was used to mount the very effective armament of 1-20mm cannon and 4-.50 cal. MG. There was no need for an interrupter gear to shoot through a propeller and no need to "converge" wing guns.

In June 1937, the Army notified Lockheed that their design had won the competition, and authorized Lockheed to build one prototype airplane, designated the XP-38. In late December 1938 the prototype was ready to fly. It was the most streamlined plane ever seen, built with flush riveted external panels butted together. Stainless steel was used extensively in its construction.

That first XP-38 proved to be capable of a level speed of 413 m.p.h. and had a terrific climb rate. Unfortunately, the first prototype crashed only 16 days after its first flight. It was written off during a record setting cross-country flight that ended with the AAF pilot landing short of the runway. Tony LeVier (Lockheed Chief Test Pilot) later estimated that disaster set the P-38 program back nearly two years.

In April 1939 the Air Corps ordered 13 YP-38 airplanes for testing. In September 1939, the Army ordered 66 more for service. In August 1940 over 600 more P-38s were ordered. At that time, Lockheed had not even delivered the first YP-38!

As alluded to earlier, the P-38 was not designed for mass production. Many serious engineering and production problems had to be solved before the Lightning could be produced in quantity.

The P-38 was one of the first airplanes fast enough to encounter "compressibility" (more properly called shock stall) problems in the high altitude, high speed dive. The basic problem was that in a sustained dive from high altitude, speed quickly built up to the point that the airflow over parts of the airplane (such as the upper surface of the wing) reached supersonic speeds. A shock wave is formed. This destroys the lift over that part of the wing. It also causes the air flowing off the wing to affect the tail in an unusual manner: it increases lift at the tail.

This loss of lift from the wings, coupled with increased lift from its tail, causes the nose of the airplane to go down. This increased dive angle causes the speed to increase farther. And so on, in a vicious and often fatal circle.

The P-38 was not the only American fighter to encounter this effect in dives from very high altitudes (where the air is thin), the P-47 and F4U both suffered the same problem. But the P-38 was different. The big radial engine fighters would dive uncontrollably toward the earth until they reached the thicker air at lower altitudes. There two things happened: 1. The speed of sound goes up as the altitude gets lower; 2. The increased drag of the thick air on their large frontal surfaces would tend to limit further speed increases. Finally the pilot would begin to regain some control and, pulling back as hard as he could on the stick, would typically wind up in a screaming zoom climb.

The P-38 differed because of its extremely streamlined design. Its drag was so low that the thicker lower air often did not have enough effect for the pilot to regain control in time: the P-38 just dove straight into the ground.

Lockheed and the Air Corps lost a number of test pilots and aircraft trying to understand and solve these problems. The P-38 had taken them into flight regimes at best poorly understood at that time. The eventual solution included counter balancing and raising the tail of the airplane some 30 inches, and developing high speed dive flaps to control the rate of descent.

Lockheed produced dive flap kits to retro-fit to planes in the field, but it was not until they began producing the P-38J-25-LO model that dive flaps were incorporated in the new aircraft coming off the assembly line. A brief description of four of the major P-38 combat models follows.

The P-38F went into production in March 1942, and into combat in the Pacific in December, where it reversed the fortunes of AAF fighter pilots facing the previously unbeatable Zero. The "F" had a 1,325 hp. Allison engine. Top speed was 395 m.p.h. at 25,000 ft.

P-38G models had strengthened Fowler flaps which could be used at combat speeds up to 250 m.p.h. to tighten the turning radius. The engines developed an extra 100 hp. Production began in August 1942.

The P-38J went into production in mid-1943. It incorporated many improvements, including more powerful engines, improved superchargers, relocation of the intercoolers from the leading edge of the wings to beneath the nose of the engines, a bulletproof windscreen, and, at the J-25-LO model, the factory installed dive flaps. Speed was up to 426 m.p.h., and best climb to 3,900 ft./min. The "J" would climb to 20,000 ft. in 5.9 minutes.

The P-38L of 1944 was the final and best Lightning, a world beating fighter. It incorporated many of the improvements of the "J" and "K" models. For more information about the P-38, read my article "The Lockheed P-38 Lightning." Specifications of the P-38L-5-LO follow.


52 ft.


37 ft. 10 in.


12 ft. 10 in.

Wing area:

328 sq. ft.


Allison V-1710-111, 1,600 hp. at 28,700ft.

Max speed:

414 m.p.h. at 25,000 ft.

Climb to:

10,000 ft., 4 min.; 20,000 ft., 7 minutes

Service ceiling:

44,000 ft.

Combat range:

450 miles at 290 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft.;
2,600 miles with max. external fuel

Empty weight:

14,100 lb.

Loaded weight:

21,600 lb.


1-20mm cannon, 4-.50 cal MG, 3,200 lb. external stores.

Chance Vought F4U CorsairF4UCorsair.jpg

The Chance Vought F4U Corsair is my other "best" Pacific theater fighter. This big, fast, Navy and Marine fighter was designed in 1938 around the new Pratt and Whitney R-2800-2 Double Wasp engine, which promised to be the most powerful in the world at that time. It was a twin row 18 cylinder radial engine that produced some 1,850 HP in its initial version.
The most distinctive feature of the Corsair is its "cranked" or inverted gull wing. This feature was designed to raise nose of the airplane higher off the ground without unduly lengthening the undercarriage. The reason was to allow the use of the largest possible diameter propeller in order to make most efficient use of the engine's high power. It also allowed the wing's hinge point to be a little closer to the ground, and the tips consequently a little lower when folded, giving a little more hanger deck roof clearance on board aircraft carriers. The propeller selected was a three-bladed Hamilton-Standard Hydromatic constant speed model.

The prototype XF4U-1 was delivered to the Navy in 1940, where it became the first Navy fighter to exceed 400 MPH in level flight and also to encounter shock stall, as described in the P-38 section above. This insidious problem affected the first generation of fighters to achieve high mach numbers in a dive, including the P-38, F4U and P-47.

The Corsair F4U-1 was ordered into production in the Autumn of 1941. It reached the Marines fighting to hold Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, in February of 1943, where it went operational for the first time with Marine Squadron 124.

The Marines found that the big Corsair at last gave them superiority over the Zero, as long as they did not try to turn with the lighter Japanese fighter. The Corsair was much faster than the Zero, had a better roll rate, and could dive away to safety when necessary. Corsair pilots established a very satisfactory kill ratio and helped turn the tide of war against the Japanese. The F4U-1 had a top speed of 393 m.p.h. at 25,000 ft. Water injection was eventually added to the engine, raising the top speed to 415 m.p.h.

The Corsair was continuously modified and improved. By 1945 over 3000 minor and major improvements had been made. The definitive Corsair was the F4U-4.

Major improvements evident in the F4U-4 included a four-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propeller, a new cockpit layout, a clear view sliding hood, a two stage turbo-supercharged engine, and under wing attachment points for rockets or bombs.

Unlike most American piston engine fighters, the Corsair continued to serve long after the end of WW II. Production did not finally end until 1953, by which time about 12,500 F4U's of all types had been built.

Interviews conducted after the war revealed that Japanese fighter pilots considered the Corsair to be the best all-around American fighter. The Corsair subsequently served in the Korean War, and with the French in Indochina (Vietnam). It also served as a carrier based fighter with the British Royal Navy during and after the war. For more information about the Corsair see my article "The Chance Vought F4U Corsair." Specifications for the F4U-4 follow.

40 ft. 11.75 in.


33 ft. 8.25in


14 ft. 9.25 in.

Wing area:

314 sq. ft.


Pratt and Whitney R-2000-18W; 2,325 hp. at 2,800 r.p.m. at S.L.

Max speed:

435 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft.

Best climb:

4,770 ft./min. at S.L.

Climb to:

20,000 ft., 4.9 min.

Service ceiling:

38,400 ft.


1,005 miles at 214 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft.

Empty weight:

9,167 lbs.

Loaded weight:

12,405 lbs.


6-.50 cal. MG (3/wing); up to 2,000 lbs. of bombs under fuselage; 8-5 in. rockets under wings.

Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate

Generally considered the best Japanese fighter of the war and equal or superior to the best Allied fighters, the Ki-84 Hayate (Hurricane or Storm) was Nakajima Hikoki KK's response to a set of specifications promulgated early in 1942 by the Imperial Japanese Army for a fast, long range, multi-purpose fighter to replace the increasing obsolescent Ki-43 and the later Ki-44. A top speed of 640-680 km/hr (398-420 mph) was desired, along with substantial endurance, a stronger airframe, pilot armor, self-sealing fuel tanks and a heavy armament of 2-20mm cannons and 2-.50 caliber machine guns. The power plant was to be the Nakajima Ha-45 19-cylinder radial engine, expected to develop around 1,800 HP.

Nakajima accepted the challenge and the result was the prototype Ki-84, which appeared in March 1943. The Ki-84's big radial engine was closely cowled and the prop was fitted with a large spinner, rather like the FW-190, with a large oil cooler carried in a fairing beneath the engine cowling. The engine's 18 cylinders had individual, thrust augmenting, exhaust stubs. The two .50 caliber machine guns were located in the cowling above the motor and the 20mm cannon were mounted in the wings outside of the propeller arc. In addition, hard points allowed for carrying extra fuel in drop tanks or a 550 pound bomb beneath each wing. The pilot benefited from excellent all-around vision provided by a streamlined greenhouse canopy. A wide-track landing gear that retracted inward simplified take-offs, landings and ground handling.

The potential of the new fighter was immediately realized and the Army ordered a large number of pre-production aircraft for in-service testing. By April 1944 the Ki-84 was in series production as the Army Type 4 Fighter Model 1A (Ki-84-1a), replacing the earlier Ki-44 on the assembly lines. A total of 3,514 Ki-84 fighters were completed by the end of the war in two Japanese and one Manchurian factory. Manchurian production amounted to something like 94 aircraft, all built in 1945, and these were labeled "Ki-84-1s." Deleting the 12.7mm machine guns and increasing the armament to 4-20mm cannon resulted in the model Ki-84-1b. A further increase in armament to 2-20mm and 2-30mm cannon, designed to counter the B-29 heavy bombers that were by then pillaging Japan, became the Ki-84-1c. Few of the 1b and 1c models were ever built, the great majority of production being the Ki-84-1a variant.

In service, production Ki-84's were hampered by shortages of raw materials (particularly lightweight metals), shoddy assembly, poor quality control (Japanese aircraft production facilities were by then under unrelenting attack by American air power and few skilled workers remained), shortages of high octane gas, a lack of well trained pilots and poor maintenance in the field. Even so, the Ki-84 (code named "Frank") was highly respected by the Allied fighter pilots who faced it in the skies over Manchukuo, China, Formosa, Okinawa, the Philippines and Japan.

After the war a captured K1-84-1a was brought to the U.S. and extensively tested. Air Force pilots found that this aircraft, properly maintained and supplied with good aviation gas, was capable of 426 mph at 20,050 feet carrying a full fighter load of 7,505 lbs. This was slightly faster than either the P-51D or P-47D tested in identical conditions, the fastest American piston-engined fighters of the war. However, the Ki-84's performance fell off at high altitudes. This aircraft was eventually returned to Japan, where it is now on display.

Compared to the other great WW II propeller driven fighters, the Ki-84 was an excellent air superiority fighter that could match the best in the world at low and medium altitudes. It was competitive with the best energy fighters in "boom and zoom" and capable of winning dogfights ("turn and burn") against the Ki-44, Raiden, Bf-109, FW-190, P-51, P-47, P-38, La-5, La-7 and Corsair. It generally out-performed the fighters equal or superior to itself in maneuverability (principally the Ki-43, Zero, Spitfire, Hurricane, P-40, Wildcat, Hellcat and Yak 3), making it a difficult antagonist for any contemporary piston-engined fighter. Specifications for the Ki-84-1a follow.


36 ft. 10 in.


32 ft. 7 in.


11 ft. 1.25 in.

Wing area:

226 sq. ft.


Nakajima Ha-45 radial; 1,825 hp (1,990 hp in the final production series). at S.L.

Max speed:

388 m.p.h. at 19,865 ft.

Climb to:

16,400 ft., 6 min. 29 sec.

Service ceiling:

10,500 m (approx. 35,000 ft.)


1,005 miles at 214 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft.

Empty weight:

5,908 lbs.

Loaded weight:

8,267 lbs.


2-.50 cal. (12.7mm) MG, 2-20mm wing cannon; up to 1,100 lbs. of bombs under wings.

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