SPAD S. XIII
At the start of World
War I, aviation was still in its infancy, The generals on both
sides looked upon the airplane as an extension of the balloon, to
be used for reconnaissance. It soon became apparent that the airplane
could be an effective weapon of war. The race was on for air supremacy.
The SPAD XIII was designed
in 1916 and entered service in September of 1917 as a French attempt
to counter the twin-gun German fighters. The SPAD XIII used two
Vickers .303 machine guns with 400 rounds of ammunition per gun.
The U.S. Air Service began flying the SPAD XIII in March 1918 and
by war's end in November 1918, the Air Service had acquired 893
aircraft. Throughout 1917 and into 1918, the SPAD XIII held its
own against German aircraft, but in the summer of 1918, it was outclassed
by the Fokker D.VII.
The Spad S. XIII was
manufactured by Societe pour l'Aviation et ses Derives of France
and had a wing span of 26 ft. 6 in. with a length of 20 ft. 6 in.
and a height of 8 ft. 6 in.
The aircraft weighed
1,888 lbs. and was powered by a 200 hp. or 220 hp. Hispano-Suiza
water-cooled engine. Besides the two machine guns, it could carry
four 25 pound bombs.
It had a maximum speed
of 135 mph and a range of 250 miles. The service ceiling was 20,000
The B-24, along with
the B-17, was the predominate aircraft used by the American Air
Force for strategic bombing during World War II. Over 18,000 were
produced by the end of the war, more than other American aircraft.
It was produced not only by Consolidated (Convair) who designed
it, but by Ford, Douglas and North American. The first prototype
flew in December of 1939, with the first production aircraft delivered
in 1940. It saw action in all theaters of the war.
The B-24J was powered
by four Pratt & Whitney R-1830-65 Twin Wasp, 14-cylinder radial
air-cooled engines generating 1200 hp each. It had a wing span of
110 feet, a length of 67 feet 2 inches and a height of 18 feet.
The maximum speed was 300 mph at 25,000 feet with a ceiling of 28,000
feet and a range of 2,100 miles. The armament was 10 .50-cal. machine
guns and it could carry 8,800 pounds of bombs for a gross weight
of 65,000 pounds. Fully loaded, it carried a crew of 10.
The first of a series
of Cats, the F4F was produced by Grumman and saw service in the
Pacific and the Atlantic as a carrier-based fighter. It was one
of the Navy's first monoplanes. The first prototype flew in September
1937. The Navy received their first operational version, the F4F-3,
in December 1940.
In 1942, the -4's, featuring
folding wings, entered service and became the principal U.S. front
line carrier-based fighter. The Wildcat remained in production
until August 1945. The FM-1 and the FM-2 were the last two models
and were made by General Motors. The FM-2 had a maximum speed of
330 mph at 21,000 ft., with a range of 860 miles. Its armament was
four 0.50-cal. machine guns. With a wing span of 38 ft. and a length
of 28 ft. 9 in., the Wildcat had a service ceiling of 37,500 ft.
It was powered by a 1500 hp Wright radial engine.
The Flying Fortress
was the Air Corp's most celebrated four-engine strategic bomber.
A low-wing aircraft in the heavy bomber class, the prototype first
flew in July of 1935. It first saw action in May of 1941 with the
Royal Air Force. Over 12,000 aircraft of all versions were manufactured.
Widely used in the European
theatre during World War II, these aircraft operated from many airfields
in Britain, allowing crippling raids on German industrial and military
targets. The B-17 was also used in the Pacific theatre against the
Japanese forces in the early part of the war.
The B-17 had a range
of 3,400 miles and a ceiling of around 35,000 ft. The G version
carried a 17,600 lb. bomb load and was armed with 13 .50-cal. machine
guns with a crew of 10. It was powered by four Wright R-1820-97
Cyclone 9-cylinder radial, air-cooled engines of 1,200 hp each.
It was 74 ft. in length with a wing span of 103 feet 9 inches.
Gross weight of the B-17G was 65,500 pounds.
The North American P-51
Mustang, originally ordered in 1939 by the British government, first
flew in 1940 with the Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled V-12 engine.
The aircraft was later re-engined with the Packard Merlin which
greatly improved its performance and operation at high altitude.
The first prototype using this engine, a modified P-51B, flew in
September of 1942. A total of 3738 aircraft of this configuration
The largest number produced
was the D model, with 7956 aircraft. In this configuration, the
Mustang reached speeds of 437 mph at an altitude of 24,937 feet
using a 1700 hp Merlin. This later model Mustang, with additional
fuel capacity in its drop tanks, was used to escort bomber squadrons
to their targets over Europe and greatly reducing bomber losses.
Considered one of the
best fighters of the war, the P-51D was used extensively in the
Pacific in 1945 and was far superior to the Japanese aircraft it
encountered, destroying many enemy aircraft. The last production
variant, the H, was not completed in time to participate in the
pacific campaign. A total of 15,686 Mustangs of all variants were
manufactured. They were used by air forces of 20 countries and saw
service in the Korean War as well.
The P-51 had a top speed
of 450 mph and could operate above 40,000 ft altitude with a range
of 950 miles. Along with the six .50-cal. wing guns, the aircraft
could carry 2500 lb. bombs or eight 75-mm rockets. It had a wing
span of 37 feet.
A redesign of the civilian DC-3, twin-engine commercial airliner,
for use as a military cargo transport with large cargo-loading doors,
reinforced floor and an astrodome added behind flight deck. Between
1935 and 1947 Douglas Aircraft built a total of 10,654. The first
C-47s were ordered in 1940 and by the end of WW II, 9,348 had been
procured for Army Air Force use. They carried personnel and cargo,
and in a combat role, towed troop-carrying gliders and dropped paratroops
into enemy territory. The C-47 was the most widely used military
transport in World War II. It was called a Dakota by RAF and an
R4D by the US Navy. It carried a crew of 3. Called the “Gooney
Bird”, it served in all theaters of World War II.
The C-47 had
a wing span of 95 ft, a length of 64 ft 5 in and a height of 16
ft 11 in. It weighed 26,000 pounds loaded and was powered by two
Pratt & Whitney
R-1830-S1C3G Twin Wasp radials at 1200hp. The Maximum cruising speed
was 230 mph with a ceiling of 24,000 feet and a range of 1600 miles.
The aircraft that replaced the aging Douglas
TBD Devastator, the Grumman TBF Avenger, had its start in 1939 when
the Navy issued a request for a new torpedo bomber. Two companies
responded and received development contracts, Chance Vought and
Grumman Aircraft. When war broke out on December 7th
1941, Chance Vought was heavily involved with the production of
the F4U Fighter and the production for the new torpedo bomber was
given to Grumman.
First flown on 1 August 1941, the three-seat
Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo-bomber entered US Navy service just
in time to participate in the Battle of Midway in June 1942. Of
the six aircraft that were involved five were shot down and the
remaining one severely damaged without hitting their targets.
The Avenger became the mainstay of the Navy
and was an effective anti-ship weapon. Demand for the airplane was
so great that the General Motors Company was also contracted to
build it, under the designation TBM-1, beginning in September 1942.
A total of 9,836 aircraft were built with 7,546 by General Motors.
Over 1,000 TBF/TBM’s, were also used by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air
Arm in both Atlantic and Pacific theaters. The Avenger was also
used by the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
After the war the Avenger continued in service
until 1953 in such roles as a search-and-rescue aircraft, an all-weather
night bomber, an electronic countermeasures platform, a Carrier
On-Board Delivery (COD) aircraft, and a target tug.
Engine: 1,900hp Wright R-2600-20 radial piston
Weight: Empty 10,545 lbs., Maximum Takeoff 17,895
Wing Span: 54ft. 2in.
Length: 40ft 11.5in.
Height: 15ft 5in.
Maximum Speed at 16,500ft:
Climb Rate: 2060 feet
Range: 1000 miles
Two 12.7mm (0.5 in.)
forward-firing machine guns
One 12.7mm (0.5 in.)
dorsal-mounted machine gun
One 7.62mm (0.3 in.)
ventral-mounted machine gun
Up to 2,000lb of bombs
/ drop tanks / radar pod
Martin PBM Mariner
Designed in 1937 to meet a U.S. Navy requirement for a replacement
for the PBY Catalina, the prototype PBM Mariner first flew in 1939.
The aircraft was big, but compact, with twin engines, a gull wing,
twin tail fins, and a strongly dihedralled tail plane. Some were
delivered to Britain, Argentina, the Netherlands and Australia.
Total production during the war was 1,289 of which 589 were the
Mass production started in 1942 with the PBM-3 model, which incorporated
several new features that differentiate it from the earlier PBM-l
and 2, giving it greater range, better protective armament and more
striking power. While the wing and rudder design was retained, the
retractable floats of the PBM-l had been replaced by fixed floats.
At the beginning of 1944 the finial version, PBM-5 entered service
with bigger engines, more armament, and an improved radar.
Designed for very long range operations, the craft is equipped
to remain away from its base for protracted periods, while fulfilling
its duties as a patrol bomber, convoy escort or fleet operations
scout. The Mariner is equipped with a galley, sound proofing, and
sleeping accommodations for long-range operations.
Unlike the PBY, which had relatively few problems in service, the
PBM suffered from a number of problems, many of them related to
the engine. These were finally overcome when the more powerful P&W
R-2800s replaced the Wright R2600s in 1944.
The wing span was ll8 feet, with a fuselage length 80 feet and
a height of 27 feet 6 inches. The aircraft empty weighed 32,378
lbs and had a gross weight of 58,000 lbs with a crew of 13. It had
a maximum speed of 215 mph, a cruising speed of 170 mph, a service
ceiling of 17,000 feet and a range of 3,400 statute miles.
The PBM-3D’s had two 1,900 hp Wright R-2600-22 Double Cyclone
14-cylinder two-row radials and the -5 had two 2,100 hp Pratt &
Whitney R-2800-34 Double Wasp 18-cylinder two-row radials.
armament consisted of dual 0.50 caliber machine guns each in one
nose and one dorsal turret, one 0.50 caliber machine guns at waist
and tail positions (8 total 0.50 caliber machine guns). The engine
nacelle-weapon bays were capable of up to 5,200 lbs of bombs or
depth charges and two externally mounted 21-inch torpedoes.
Defined as one of the
most recognizable WWII trainers ever built, the PT-17 Stearman "Kaydet"
was a private venture by the Stearman Aircraft Company of Wichita
(bought by Boeing in 1934).
In 1936, the U.S. Army
Air Corps initially purchased 26 airframes from Boeing (the Model
75), which the Army named the PT-13. By 1940, 3519 were delivered.
The U.S. Navy's early aircraft, designated NS-1, eventually evolved
into the N2S series, and the Royal Canadian Air Force called their
Lend-Lease aircraft PT-27s “Kaydet.” Overall, more than
10,346 were built by the end of 1945.
The plane was easy to
fly, and relatively forgiving of new pilots. It gained a reputation
as a rugged airplane and a good teacher. But because of the dangers
of primary flight training, it was nicknamed the “Yellow Peril”.
The two-seat biplane
was of mixed construction. The wings were of wood with fabric covering
while the fuselage had a tough, welded steel framework, also fabric
covered. Either a Lycoming R-680 (PT-13) or Continental R-670, 220
hp (PT-17) engine powered most models. It had a top speed of 124
mph with a 505-mile range. An engine shortage in 1940-41 led to
the installation of 225-hp Jacobs R-755 engines on some 150 airframes,
and the new designation PT-18. It had a wing span of 32ft. 2in.,
a length of 24ft. 3in. and a height of 9ft. 2in. The empty weight
was 1936 pounds and a maximum takeoff weight of 2,717 pounds. The
ceiling was 11,000 feet.
C-46 Cammando was the largest and heaviest twin-engine aircraft
to see service with the USAAF. It was supposed to be Curtiss’s
airline/cargo entry in the commercial flying world and first
flew as a military aircraft in March 1940 as the C-55.
WWII broke out and the US AAF ordered many aircraft for their
Air Transport and Troop Carrier Command missions. The aircraft
took on the military designation of C-46 and 3,144 of them were
delivered. It became one of the cargo and troop-moving workhorses
of the military. The aircraft gained fame when it was used to fly
material over the ”hump”,(the Himalayas) from India
to China. The C-46 could carry more cargo than the C-47 and offered
better performance at higher altitudes.
The C-46A had a large cargo door on the port side of the rear
fuselage, folding seats to accommodate 40 troops. Commando crews
began flying the hazardous air route over the Himalayas in 1943
after the Japanese closed the Burma Road.
The C-46 did however,
require more maintenance than the C-47 and suffered a higher
loss rate. The aircraft was also used for towing gliders and
dropping parachute troops during the Rhein River crossing in
After the war the plane
saw limited service in Korea and Vietnam, mainly for cargo flights
and was phased out in a few years as it was no longer in production
and superior aircraft were made available.
Manufactured by the Curtiss-Wright company, the aircraft required
a crew of four and could hold up to 40 plus passengers. Its
power plant was two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34 radial engines
rated at 2,100 hp each. The wingspan was 76 ft 4 in and a height
of 21 ft 9 in. With an empty weight of 29,300 lb., it had a maximum
takeoff weight of 51,000 lb. At a performance speed of 245
mph, it had a ceiling of 27,600 feet and a range of 1,800 miles.