Consider yourself a flying ace? Can you spot the difference between a Hellcat and a Black Widow with a single glance? If so, you just may have what it takes to triumph over this WWII planes quiz!
Unlike any prior conflict in the long and bloody history of war, WWII was a crusade fought mostly in the air. Earlier wars were fought or land, at sea or in trenches, but the Second World War was largely fought among the clouds.
You probably know about some of the greatest aeronautic moments of the war, but how much do you really know about the planes that played a starring role in these events? Sure, everyone has heard the tragic tale of Pearl Harbor, in which Japanese bombers killed thousands of Americans off the coast of Hawaii in December 1941, but do you know if the Japanese fighters were flying Mitsubishi Zeros or Kawasaki Ki-10's?
And who hasn't heard of the Enola Gay, which dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, leading Japan to surrender and effectively ending the war? But do you know whether the Enola Gay was a B-17 or a B-52? How about the Bockscar, which dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki just a few days later?
From Block MBs to P-51s and everything in between, WWII was a golden age for war planes. Take our quiz to test your 40s fighter plane IQ!
Designed as a carrier-based fighter and entering service in mid-1945, the Grumman F8F Bearcat saw no action during World War II. The war came to an end before it could be deployed in any large numbers.
This essentially was an A6M Zero with a float attached. It was used in the Pacific theater and, while a threat to small U.S. Navy patrol boats, was not much of a match for its fighters. In fact, the float meant that the aircraft lost as much as 20% of its performance.
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was designed specifically to replace the F4F Wildcat, which had suffered at the hands of Japanese A6M Zeros in the Pacific theater. This rugged fighter did indeed outperform the Zero. Over 12,000 were built in just two years.
Nicknamed "The Fork Tailed Devil" by the German pilots that faced them, the Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a twin-engined aircraft that performed a number of roles. These included bomber escort, interception, level bombing and dive bombing, as well as photo reconnaissance. The Lightning was exceptionally fast and maneuverable.
The Douglas P-70 Havoc was a night fighter version of the A-20 light bomber. They served in the Pacific theater. Fewer than 200 of these planes were produced.
The Bell P-63 Kingcobra proved to be a slight improvement on its predecessor, the P-39 Airacobra. Much like the Airacobra, the Soviets used 72% of the models built in their fight against Germany and Japan.
The most famous Japanese fighter of World War II, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was carrier-based, had an incredible range and was extremely maneuverable. It was far superior to early American aircraft in the Pacific theater and at one stage had a kill ratio of 12:1.
The Hawker Typhoon was originally intended to replace the Hawker Hurricane as a frontline fighter. It was outclassed by many German aircraft, however. It soon found its niche and became an excellent ground attack aircraft with the ability to carry rockets and bombs as part of its payload.
Designed by Jiro Horikoshi who created the legendary A6M Zero, the J2M was designed to be a high-altitude interceptor. It saw action throughout the Pacific, but was often dogged by mechanical problems. Later in the war, it was used in its intended role, but performed poorly against the high-flying B29 Superfortress bombers of the U.S. Air Force.
The Bell P-39 Airacobra didn't really perform in the role it was intended; a high altitude fighter. It did excel below 10,000 ft, however, and was an adequate ground attack aircraft which served in large numbers in Russia under a lend/lease agreement.
Along with the Messerschmitt Me 109, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 made up the bulk of the German Air Force fighter strength during World War II. When it first came on the scene, it was superior to the Supermarine Spitfire Mk V, much to the astonishment of the British pilots. The Fw 190 was continually upgraded during the war, capable as a dogfighter and interceptor, as well as a fighter-bomber.
Designed in the mid-1930s the Curtis P-36 Hawk was one of the first monoplane fighters used by the United States. Much of the combat seen by these models were in the hands of French pilots during the Battle of France. Many were captured after the fall of France and sent to Finland, where they were used against the Russian Air Force. The P-36 Hawk did claim the first Japanese aircraft shot down of the war during the raid on Pearl Harbor.
First flown in 1940, the North American P-64 was built as a fighter for export to other countries. They saw action in 1941 with the Peruvian Air Force during the Ecuadorian-Peruvian war.
The Kawasaki Ki-61 "Tony" was a fighter/interceptor serving in the Japanese Air Force during World War II. Unlike many Japanese fighters at the time, the Tony could reach American B-29 Super Fortress bombers at their operational height and engage them.
An improvement on the Hawker Typhoon, the Tempest was a formidable fighter-bomber as well as a capable interceptor, a role in which its predecessor had failed due to its high-altitude performance limitations.
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, or "Jug" as it was affectionately known by its pilots, was a very versatile aircraft. From escorting bombers over Germany to ground attack missions, the Jug could do it all. It was a massive piece of machinery. When fully loaded with weapons and fuel, it weighed around eight tons.
A carrier-based fighter in the early part of World War II, the F4F Wildcat was the mainstay of the U.S Navy fighter wings. Eventually, it was replaced by the F6F Hellcat.
One of the most famous aircraft ever designed, the Supermarine Spitfire can easily be recognized by its elliptical wing shape. With over 20,000 Spitfires built during the war, the aircraft was constantly evolving and was able to perform a number of roles, an incredible feat considering it start out life as simply a fighter.
The Vought Corsair was such an excellent aircraft that over 13,000 were manufactured between 1942 to 1953. In fact, this is the longest production run of any American aircraft ever. The Corsair served in the US Navy in the Pacific and proved to be an excellent fighter. It could perform other roles as well, including as a fighter-bomber. The last Corsair retired from the Honduras Air Force in 1979.
The Supermarine Seafire was a carrier-based version of the Spitfire, arguably one of the most famous aircraft designs in aviation history. The first few Seafires were converted Spitfires, but eventually the aircraft was modified for carrier-based operations. Of the most important of these modifications was folding wings, which allowed aircraft to be stored below decks far more easily.
A French fighter that never saw combat, the Arsenal VG-33 was in production at the start of World War II, but France fell to the Germans before it reached the front lines.
The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first monoplane carrier-based fighter of the U.S. Navy. Although it was an adequate aircraft at the start of the war, it suffered significant losses during the Battle of Midway, with their pilots describing them as "flying coffins."
At the start of World War II, the Bloch MB.150-157 was one of the main French frontline fighters equipping nine fighter groups. They were no match for their German opponents, though.
The North American P-51 Mustang is legendary in aviation circles. This is the aircraft that first flew bomber escort missions over Germany, something the German high command thought impossible. It was a great all-around fighter, capable of ground attack duties as well. Interestingly, the first Mustang models suffered from underpowered engines. It was only when the Rolls Royce Merlin was fitted to the airframe that it became a strong aircraft all-around.
An obsolete biplane design by the time World War II started, the only Avia BH-33s to see combat belonged to the Yugoslavian Air Force. They were both shot down, with their pilots killed.
The "Saetta" or "Arrow" performed in many theaters during World War II, but most notably in North Africa and the Mediterranean. It was a capable fighter until the mid-point of the war where new Allied aircraft were far better in terms of performance.
A fighter aircraft of Hungarian design, the MÁVAG Héja was based on the Italian Reggiane Re.2000. They saw little combat during the war, as most were placed in home defense squadrons. One squadron did fly on the Russian front, however.
A biplane of Czechoslovakian origin, Avia B-534 was largely outdated by the time World War II started.
The Koolhoven F.K.58 was designed and manufactured in the Netherlands under French contract. It was a single-seat interceptor that saw very little action during the Battle of France. In fact, they did not record a single enemy aircraft shot down. The Germans destroyed all of these models after the fall of France.
When World War II started, the Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 was the main fighter of the French Air Force. It was very maneuverable, but unfortunately, it was underpowered and lacked firepower, leading it to be easily outperformed by German fighters. Over 250 were lost during the battle of France.
The Nakajima Ki-84, codenamed "Frank" by the Allies, was an important fighter to Japan as the war came to an end. It proved to be an excellent interceptor, able to reach the high-flying B29 Superfortress bomber and defend itself from any P51 Mustangs flying fighter escort.
Made entirely of wood, the Ambrosini SAI.207 was an Italian fighter aircraft which came into operation in 1941. Only 14 were ever built, although the aircraft did see action against the Allies. It never managed to claim a victory, however.
A Polish high-wing monoplane fighter, the PZL. P.24 was intended for export and didn't serve in the Polish Air Force. It did, however, serve with the Turkish, Greek and Romanian Air Force.
While not the greatest American fighter ever produced, the Republic P-43 Lancer had excellent performance at high altitude. This made it one of the only Allied planes able to intercept the Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" recon plane for much of the war.
Designed with export in mind, the Curtiss-Wright CW-21 Demon, of which 62 were built, served with the Chinese Nationalist Air Force, as well as with the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force. It was a more than adequate fighter plane.
The Fiat G.50 Frecce or "Arrow" was the first Italian monoplane with retractable landing gear and a closed cockpit. It was very maneuverable, but was under-powered in terms of weapons, with only two machine guns on board. It served in a number of theaters during World War II.
Certainly regarded as one of the best Italian aircraft of World War II, the Reggiane Re.2005 arrived too late to have any influence on its outcome. Only 48 were built, with the bulk involved in the defense of Italy as the Allies pushed towards Rome in 1943.
The Dewoitine D.520 entered service in small numbers just at the start of World War II. It was more than a match for the Messerschmitt Me 109, slightly slower but more maneuverable. Unfortunately for France, there simply were not enough on the front line.
The VL Myrsky, which served with the Finnish Air Force in World War II, was partly constructed of wood. It was mainly used in a reconnaissance role or as a fighter against the Russians.
The Yakovlev Yak-9 was the most produced Soviet fighter of World War II. It was essentially a lighter version of the Yak-7 and over 16,000 were built. During the Korean War, the Yak-9 was used by the North Korean Air Force.
This twin-engined heavy fighter was the first of its kind to be used by the U.S. Navy, where it served from the end of World War II right until 1952. They arrived too late for action in the war, but were involved in the Korean conflict.
The Bristol Beaufighter was capable of many roles, from night fighter to ground attack, as well as anti-shipping missions. The last Beaufighters in active service retired from the Australian Air Force in 1960.
The Rogožarski IK-3 was a Yugoslavian fighter from World War II. Although it was a capable aircraft, the Yugoslavian Air Force was simply overwhelmed when the Axis powers invaded the country in 1941, although they did claim 11 kills. All aircraft were destroyed to stop them from falling into German hands.
A U.S. fighter ordered by Sweden, the Vultee P-66 Vanguard never made it to that Scandinavian country, as at the time of the scheduled delivery in 1941, the U.S. changed their mind about exporting them, preferring to keep them as home defense and as trainers. Some Vanguards did see action in China, but without much success.
The Dornier 217 was an upgrade on the Dornier 17. It could carry a bigger payload, as well as attack targets far beyond the 17's range. It served on all fronts in a variety of roles, including conventional bombing, torpedo bombing and anti-shipping. It was even converted into a night-fighter towards the end of the war.
The Fairey Fulmar was designed as a carrier-based fighter. It played a role during the battles in the Meditteranean early in the war, but was not agile enough to take on land-based fighters of the Italian and German Air Force. With the arrival of the Supermarine Seafire, the Fulmar become obsolete and from then on was mostly used in a training role.
Able to stand up to all of the German fighters on the Eastern Front, the Lavochkin La-5 was essentially a refinement of the LaGG-3. One of the major changes was a much more powerful engine. Interestingly, due to the fact that cockpits were difficult to open at high speed and had a problem with fumes entering them, pilots often entered combat with their cockpits open.
The Boeing P-26 Peashooter was the first American design to be constructed totally out of metal. Although it was designed as a fighter, it was out of date by the time America entered the war.