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WW II Fighters & Dive Bombers
Fighter planes contributed significantly to the Allied powers' victory in World War II. At the start of the war in September 1939 when the German Luftwaffe led the invasion of Poland, the U.S. was awestruck. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 was led by similarly impressive aircraft. But the U.S. quickly developed and deployed fighter planes of equal and then superior capabilities, turned out in huge numbers by the U.S. aircraft manufacturing industry. These fighters provided escort for bombers, attacked ground and sea targets, and performed reconnaissance. Their role in the Allied victory cannot be underestimated, and showed the importance of air superiority in modern warfare.
Fighter Planes and Dive Bombers of World War II
Fighter Planes and Dive Bombers were important weapons of the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy respectively. In the U.S. Army, the Army Air Corps was responsible for developing and deploying aircraft, plus training pilots. The Army Air Corps became the Army Air Forces in June 1941, then became a separate branch of the U.S. military, the U.S. Air Force, on 18 September 1947.
Dive Bombers are related to fighters in size, but have a different mission. Their bombs are delivered by diving on the target with release of the bomb at short range. This increases accuracy against small targets such as ships, armored vehicles, or fixed emplacements such as bridges.
The Army's aircraft include some of the best known planes of World War II. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was famed as the first American airplane to destroy a German aircraft in the war. It also played an important role in reconnaissance because of its high service ceiling. Both the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and the North American P-51 Mustang provided close-air support for ground operations and escort for bombers, whose crews referred to them as their "Little Friends."
The U.S. Navy had its own aircraft, developed in concert with aircraft carriers to project force, particularly in the Pacific theater where the war against Japan involved taking control of islands such as Midway, Saipan, and Iwo Jima. Carrier-based operations involved protecting ships from Japanese aircraft and surface vessels as well as attacking Japanese assets.
The Navy's planes were renowned as dive-bombers and torpedo bombers. The Grumman F4F Wildcat could take off from small aircraft carriers, then hunt and kill Japanese submarines. The F6F Hellcat became the most successful plane in the Pacific theater because it could easily defeat the Japanese A6M Zero. Its power and versatility contributed substantially to the Allied victory in the Pacific.
WW II Fighters Photo Pages
The most significant fighter and dive bomber aircraft used in WW II are presented on the following Olive-Drab.com pages, with photos and description. Click on the photo link to go to the page for the individual aircraft.
Recommended Books about World War II Fighter Planes
See also the Olive-Drab.com Recommended Military Books: Air Force and Military Aviation.
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