Category Archives: Allied Aircraft

Recognizing what type aircraft you’re looking at. The Documentaries -like Hollywood movies- continually substitute one aircraft for another, since most folks are unaware of the differences.

Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I.


From Wikipedia:

The Boulton Paul Defiant was a British interceptor aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II.  The Defiant was designed and built by Boulton Paul Aircraft as a “turret fighter”, without any forward-firing guns.  It was a contemporary of the Royal Navy‘s Blackburn Roc. The concept of a turret fighter related directly to the successful First World War-era Bristol F.2 Fighter.

In combat, the Defiant was found to be reasonably effective at its intended task of destroying bombers but was vulnerable to the Luftwaffe‘s more manoeuvrable, single-seat Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters.

The lack of forward-firing armament proved to be a great weakness in daylight combat and its potential was realised only when it was converted to night fighting.[2]  It was supplanted in the night fighter role by the Bristol Beaufighter and de Havilland Mosquito.  The Defiant found use in gunnery training, target towing, electronic countermeasures and air-sea rescue. Among RAF pilots it had the nickname “Daffy”.

Defiant Mark I N3313 of No. 264 Squadron, 1940

This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain.

This is because it is one of the following:

  1. It is a photograph created by the United Kingdom Government and taken prior to 1 June 1957; or
  2. It was commercially published prior to 1967; or
  3. It is an artistic work other than a photograph or engraving (e.g. a painting) which was created by the United Kingdom Government prior to 1967.

HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide (ref: HMSO Email Reply)



The Curtis P-40E Kittyhawk


A Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk Mk III of No. 112 Squadron, Royal Air Force, taxiing through the scrub at Medenine, Tunisia. The ground crewman on the wing is directing the pilot, whose view ahead is hindered by the aircraft’s nose. Imperial War Museum photo

Photo courtesy of Defense Media Network

Made famous by the AVG under General Claire Chennault in china, the Curtis P-40 was inferior in performance to the enemy aircraft it opposed.  Whatever its shortcomings against aircraft that had passed it by technologically, the P-40 held the line when nothing else was available. After the war, Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold said, “But for the P-40, the Japanese would have come all the way to Australia.”

Time in Service


Major Operators

This was the first version armed with six .50 caliber machine guns. More powerful than the P-40B/C in terms of armor, armament and performance, this was the type which fought as a fighter during the most crucial period in both the Pacific and North African campaigns. The P-40E played a major role in the defense of Australia and New Guinea in 1942, and with the Desert Air Force (DAF) in intense fighting against the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica also in 1942. The P-40E was also an important type for the Soviets.

In the Desert War the arrival of the Kittyhawk led to the early retirement of the Bf 109E and its replacement by the faster and more maneuverable Bf 109F. The top scoring DAF squadrons, including No. 3 Squadron RAAF and No. 112 Squadron RAF, transferred from the Tomahawk to the Kittyhawk, scoring many kills against Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica types, helping the DAF hold on through this tough period.

The Kittyhawk also played an important role in the Soviet Air Force in 1942, notably during the Battle of Leningrad.


6x .50 cal (12.7 mm) Browning M2 machine guns, 281 rounds/gun

Up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) of bombs on three hardpoints.


Maximum speed  360 mph

Cruising speed  270 mph

Range  650 miles

Service ceiling  –  Wiki blew it big time on this statistic; The P-40 could reach 15,000 feet, but was only good at Medium and lower altitudes, the engine’s performance being very poor at high altitude.  Interestingly, it could outrun the Bf 109-E, but it’s poor climb rate made it better suited for “hit and run” tactics.

Climb rate  2,100 ft/min

A-36 Apache Dive Bomber

I was able to find these photos of the A-36 which show the dive brakes, employed to improve accuracy.

The A-36, dubbed “Apache” by NAA (though not adopted officially by the USAAF), was developed from the Mustang I in response to a USAAF requirement for a high-speed dive bomber.  Air Force officials noted the success of the Junkers Ju-87 “Stuka” and developed the requirement to meet the needs of the Army to support its ground forces.  The high speed of the A-36 required that it incorporate air brakes in the wings to limit its dive speed to 390mph to improve accuracy.  The A-36 proved to be very successful in its service career flying 23,373 combat sortied and delivering over 8,000 tons of ordnance on targets in the Mediterranean theaters.  A total of 84 enemy aircraft were shot down and 17 more strafed on the ground for a loss of 177 A-36’s to enemy action.  Though that is a loss of over 30% of the airframes built it is indicative of the dangerous and difficult missions it performed so successfully.


Photo Source(s):
Dick Phillips.
Chuck Gardner –
Warbirds Resource Group
Timothy Cox




Type: Attack Bomber
Origin: North American
Models: A-36A
Crew: One
First Flight: N/A
Service Delivery: N/A
Final Delivery:
Prodcution: 500
Unit Cost: $49,000
Serial Number Range: 42-83663 to 42-84162

Model: Allison V-1710-87
Type: Liquid Cooled V-12     Number: One
Horsepower: 1,325hp at 3,000 ft.

Wing span: 37 ft.
Length: 32 ft. 3 in.
Height: 12 ft. 2 in.
Wing Surface Area: N/A

Empty: N/A
Loaded: 10,000 lb.

Maximum Speed: 365 mph
Cruising Speed: 250 mph
Initial climb: N/A
Service Ceiling: 25,1000 ft.
Range: 550 miles

Two .50 machine guns in each wing.
Two .50 machine guns in lower part of nose.
1,000 lbs of bombs hung externally.


U.S. Navy Aircraft







Grumman F4F Wildcat   The F4F Wildcat was the fighter used by Lieutenant Edward O’Hare who shot down five Mitsubishi G4M bombers  near Rabaul on February 20, 1942. For this action O’Hare was awarded the Medal of Honor, and also became the US Navy’s first ace of WWII.  It held the line in the dark days prior to the incredible victory at Midway, when we were outnumbered, and badly unprepared for war. 

F6F Hellcat  [right photo]   The Hellcat came into service approximately June 1943. Films about the battle of Midway will show the Hellcat when the time frame was a year prior to its entry into the war.  The F6F Hellcat was larger than the Wildcat and used the more powerful 2000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine. The F6F had distinct advantages over the Japanese Zero including greater speed, better rate of climb, and armor.

The Wildcat was already obsolescent when it entered service. But this mid-wing fighter, was -like all allied aircraft- designed to protect the pilot.  Armor protection, self sealing fuel tanks and heavy armament made it slower and less maneuverable than the feared “Zeke” -the code name given to the Mitsubishi Zero fighter- The landing gear had to be manually extended or retracted by the pilot , and folded up into the fuselage behind the engine.  The Hellcat was a low wing, aircraft, with the landing gear rotating 90 degrees, folding backward into the wings.

dauntlessDouglas SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber  The SBD Dauntless was the Navy’s main carrier-based dive-bomber in World War Two and was responsible for sinking more enemy ships than any other single type of aircraft, playing a major role in the battles of Midway, the Coral Sea and the Solomons.  At Midway, after grievous losses by Torpedo squadron eight’s unsuccessful attempt to strike the Japanese carriers with obsolete Devestator torpedo planes, the SBD’s arrived.

in about five minutes, they had hit and sunk three of the four Japanese carriers along with their crews and veteran pilots. 

tbf-avengerTBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber  First used in combat in 1942. The first six TBF Avenger torpedo bombers arrived at Midway just in time to suffer five combat loses in the battle on June 5th, 1942. TBF Avengers were the torpedo bombers later involved with the sinking of many enemy ships and submarines, including the Japanese battleship Hiei and the super battleships Yamato and Musashi.  With the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, need for the aircraft grew urgent and Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors became a second source of Avengers which would be designated TBM. In all, Eastern produced 7,546 of the total 9,836 Avengers built.

corsair-bunker-hillF4U Corsair  Although the F4U Corsair was intended for the Navy, safety concerns regarding carrier landings resulted in its being delayed from Naval service till about February 1945.  It was deemed unsuitable as a carrier-based aircraft. With the location of the pilot behind the large R-2800 engine, visibility was a problem. The “bird cage” style canopy contributed further to the problem.   Deliveries of the Corsair began in October of 1942, with most of the early aircraft going to land-based Marine Corps squadrons where they first saw combat in February of 1943.  It was used extensively by Marine pilots with great success against Japanese aircraft; the Japanese gave it the nickname “Whistling Death”. f4u-corsair-okinawa

Both Great Britain and New Zealand received the Corsair as well. The British, desperate for carrier-based fighters, reduced the visibility problem by allowing their pilots to approach the aircraft carrier in a gentle left turn, allowing the pilot to view the carrier over the dip in the wing until the last few seconds of the approach. (This was how experienced Marine pilots landed it;  being transferred to carrier duty.)


The last combat aircraft built for the U.S. Navy and Marines by Curtiss Aircraft, the SB2C sb2c-helldiverHelldiver was a large two-seat, carrier-based dive bomber, first introduced in 1943.

It was to be a replacement for the older SBD Dauntless, the latter still held in high regard — particularly after sinking or heavily damaging all four of the Japanese aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway. Although also ordered by the Army under the designation A-25 (Shrike), most of this order was instead taken by the Marines and re-designated.  There were complaints that the SB2C was underpowered, and had structural weaknesses, poor handling, and inadequate stability. Problems were addressed and a number of improvements were incorporated through a series of variants. Improvements including an uprated engine, self-sealing fuel tanks, new rear fuselage and tail assembly, increased armament, increase in fuel capacity, and armor protection.

Although not a particularly popular aircraft with its airmen, (many who said SB2C stood for “Son of a Bitch, 2nd Class”), Curtiss was still unable to meet the US Navy’s demand for the Helldiver. This prompted two Canadian companies (Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. And Canadian Car & Foundry) to produced Helldivers under license with the designation or SBF and SBW.

Photos, details [with some of my own info added in italics] courtesy of: