Airplanes of the Past Home Page U.S. Army Air Force Fighter Planes of World War II including the P-40, P-47 and P-51



U.S. Army Air Force Fighter Planes of World War II

The United States manufactured about 300,000 aircraft just prior to, and during, World War II. Included in this number was large quantities of numerous fighter and attack aircraft.

A variety of designs were employed from various aircraft manufactuers. Among popular fighter planes used by the Army Air Corps and U.S. Navy included the F4F Wildcat, F4U Corsair, F6F Hellcat, F8F Bearcat, P-38 Lightning and P-61 Black Widow.

Other US AAF fighters included the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and the P-51 Mustang, highlighted below.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Curtiss P-40 WarhawkCurtiss P-40 Warhawk

The P-40 was the United States' best fighter available in large numbers when World War II began. P-40s engaged Japanese aircraft at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines in December 1941. They also served with the famed Flying Tigers in China in 1942.

Though often slower and less maneuverable than its adversaries, the P-40 earned a reputation in battle for extreme ruggedness. It served throughout the war but was eclipsed by more capable aircraft.

More than 13,738 P-40s were built during 1939-1944 at the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, NY. The P-40 served in the air forces of 28 nations, and was the third-most numerous US fighter produced for World War II.

... about the P-40 Warhawk, its specifications, history, production and photographs


P-47 Thunderbolt

P-47D ThunderboltP-47D Thunderbolt

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single piston engine.

Used as both a high-altitude escort fighter and a low-level fighter-bomber, the P-47 quickly gained a reputation for ruggedness. Its sturdy construction and air-cooled radial engine enabled the Thunderbolt to absorb severe battle damage and keep flying.

During WWII, the P-47 served in almost every active war theater and in the forces of several Allied nations.

Before production ceased, 15,660 Thundebolts were manufactured.

... about the P-47 Thunderbolt, its specifications, history, production and photographs


P-51 Mustang

North American P-51 MustangP-51 Mustang

The North American P-51 Mustang was among the best and most well-known fighters used by the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. Possessing excellent range and maneuverability, the P-51 operated primarily as a long-range escort fighter and also as a ground attack fighter-bomber. The Mustang served in nearly every combat zone during WWII, and later fought in the Korean War.

Mustangs served in nearly every combat zone in WWII, including the Pacific where they escorted B-29 Superfortresses to Japan from Iwo Jima.

Between 1941 and 1945, the AAF ordered 14,855 Mustangs (including A-36A dive bomber and F-6 photo recon versions), of which 7,956 were P-51Ds.

... about the P-51 Mustang, its specifications, history, production and photographs



Photographs of World War II Fighters

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 29629 of the Commemorative Air Force at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas
Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 29629 of the Commemorative Air Force at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas
Curtiss P-40 29629 of the CAF at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas
Curtiss P-40 29629 of the CAF at Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Big Stud" in Seattle, Washington
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt "Big Stud"
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, S/N 44-32798, Ogden, Utah
Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, S/N 44-32798
P-51 Mustang "Betty Jane" of the Collings Foundation, seen at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport
P-51 Mustang "Betty Jane" of the Collings Foundation, seen at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport