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Thread: "best fighter of ww ii?

  1. #1

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    "best fighter of ww ii?

    The current Warbirds mag has an interesting article where John Fredrickson calls the P-51 "the best fighter of WW II." Maybe, but not so fast, the 51s best feature of long range is not the most vital feature of the entire war.
    First of all, the 51 was certainly not the best of 1940 nor or 41, it wasnt even in the war. The Spitfires and Hurricanes, with their pilots and radar had won the Battle of Britain and Spitfires finally won the Battle of Malta in 41 and 42, and it wasnt with 51s. In fact the 51 really wasnt in the war the first few years and didnt become a real factor until the end of 43 when the first Merlin powered B models went into ops.They were not there when the alies flew the missions to Regensburg and Schweinfurt and the bombers were decimated by Luftwaffe, with almost 15% shot down and lots returned with damage and wounded. The first A model with its Allison engine was no match for a 109, nor as good as a Spit Mk V. So the war was half over by the time the first effective 51 came to European operations.
    The B model had trouble with engines at first, perhaps a result of Packard changing Rolls Royce design somewhat and making problems, and also trouble with guns jamming when fired in a g loaded turn. But the B was fast and very long range and a big step up from a P-40 or an A model. They did their part in the war and if not as good a dogfighter as a Spitfire or ground attack as a P-47 they were good all around.
    And in the last part of the war when very long range escort over water in the Pacific was needed they came into their own. So the 51 was the best long range escort fighter of the last part of the war. And by the way, about 15,000 51s were built and 23,000 Spitfires. And the top RAF aces had 38 and maybe 40 kills, thus half again as many as the top 51 pilots.
    Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 04-20-2017 at 12:40 PM.

  2. #2
    My opinion is the F6F Hellcat was the best fighter of WWII. I think it made more aces than any other aircraft, recorded the most kills as well. The Navy planes are what really won the war so imho the best fighter should be a Navy aircraft.

  3. #3
    EAA Staff / Moderator Hal Bryan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Venture92D View Post
    My opinion is the F6F Hellcat was the best fighter of WWII. I think it made more aces than any other aircraft, recorded the most kills as well. The Navy planes are what really won the war so imho the best fighter should be a Navy aircraft.
    Interesting topic, and one that depends entirely on the criteria you use to define "best". If you're going to go with the airplane that made the most aces, then it has to be the Bf 109 by a long shot, doesn't it?

    Hal Bryan
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    EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hal Bryan View Post
    Interesting topic, and one that depends entirely on the criteria you use to define "best". If you're going to go with the airplane that made the most aces, then it has to be the Bf 109 by a long shot, doesn't it?
    ha ha, I see what you did there.....




    More serious note, being on the Russian front, wouldn't that be like shooting fish in a barrel? The kind of gun used is somewhat irrelevant.

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    EAA Staff / Moderator Zack Baughman's Avatar
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    I've interviewed plenty of WWII fighter pilots for the Timeless Voices program. I think the consensus by far is that the best fighter in the war was the one that brought you home.

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    WacoJoe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack Baughman View Post
    I've interviewed plenty of WWII fighter pilots for the Timeless Voices program. I think the consensus by far is that the best fighter in the war was the one that brought you home.
    Amen to that!
    Cheers!

    Joe

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    While I completely agree with Hal that it depends on the criteria used to define "best", in the absence of the foregoing, it absolutely has to be without reservation the Spitfire because it literally and figuratively saved an entire country from invasion, defeat and occupation. And that led to an entire continent not being forever overrun, defeated and occupied.

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    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Floatsflyer View Post
    While I completely agree with Hal that it depends on the criteria used to define "best", in the absence of the foregoing, it absolutely has to be without reservation the Spitfire because it literally and figuratively saved an entire country from invasion, defeat and occupation. And that led to an entire continent not being forever overrun, defeated and occupied.
    Weren't there a one or two Hawker Hurricanes in that battle?

    Ron "Flying a Sterling Sarcasm " Wanttaja

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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    Weren't there a one or two Hawker Hurricanes in that battle?

    Ron "Flying a Sterling Sarcasm " Wanttaja
    Yup, and shot down more German aircraft than the Spitfire during the BofB but I'm a Spitfire esthetic snob.

  10. #10
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    Really depends in what theatre you were in... and at what time in the war.

    At the very end, the Mustang was probably the best all around air superiority fighter in Europe... but in the Pacific, the P-38 had the long range and two engines to get you home over that vast Pacific ocean. But if you were on the English or German or Japanese or Russian side, you would say the best fighter was the one you racked up kills in and fit you like a glove.
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