Larry Bell and a fellow Consolidated Aircraft employee, aircraft engineer Bob xxx formed Bell Aircraft. Their first indigenous design was the FM-1 (Fighter, Multiplace). The prototype flew in 1936, and looked a lot like something out of Buck Rogers -
It was designed to stand off behind enemy B-17 class heavy bombers and knock them out. Unfortunately, while an interesting display of technology, the USAAC had no real defined mission for the FM-1, because it did not expect any enemy to develop a heavy transcontinental bomber any time soon, and maneuvered like a medium bomber (which was its size). The next idea was this could fly with B-17s as an escort, and pick off interceptors at long range. A dozen service models were built.
The other ADC in this set is the Seversky 2PA Guardsman, a two-man escort fighter cousin of the P-35. It was ordered by Sweden, but seized by the US and used as the AT-12 trainer. A few were sold to the Japanese, who used it as a patrol fighter over China.
Before the P-38J or L models, there were the E, F, and G models. The P-38 was concieved as a long-range, high-speed, high altitude fighter, designed to reach peak performance at about 25,000 ft. Lockheed chose the Lightning's twin-boom fuselageless body to reduce drag; they also gave it a very distinctive look. (Note that the P-38 was not the first twin-boom fighter; see the Fokker G.I).
While it did early on meet these performance goals, the P-38 went through a few teething models before meeting its technologic promise. Its oil system had trouble operating properly (never warmed up sufficiently at altitude) and it tended to eat its engines. Its turbo-superchargers were another issue - they were finicky and pilots were not properly trained in their use. This indirectly showed another good side of the P-38 - it could fly on one engine in the event it lost the other.
The early P-38s showed great promise in the Pacific, where its long range was quite useful. While it could not out dogfight a Zero, the Lightning could out-climb and out-accellerate anything it ran into. The Lightning's range was also used in Europe, as well as its behavior at altitude. F-4, F-4A, and F-5 recon models (P-38s armed with only cameras) were used everywhere, usually unescorted, to make 400 mph, high altitude photo-recon runs everywhere in the world.
This P-38 file (72Kb) includes the following models:
Both Vought and Goodyear produced advanced models of the Corsair at or after WW2. Since they were requested, this set of 3 ADCs (50 kb) is available:
Though they saw little use, the USAAF and USN both fielded nightfighters. Nightfighters took a while for the US to develop, and by the time they were ready for operations, much of their potential targets had either dried up (in the Pacific) or was covered by veteran British nightfighter units. This PDF file contains 5 ADCs (137 Kb):
I am working on a set of Nightfighting rules that will eventually "grace" this site.
This PDF file (96 Kb) contains other US straight-wing fighters (pre-TSOH) that you may fly if you dare:
Boeing's B-17 did not magically appear from nowhere in 1943 with its "F" model. The original prototype was developed into the USAAC's YB-17Bs, available in June, 1939, that looked real nice. About two dozen were produced and flown around the US to show how neat they looked, how quickly they flew, and so on. And as heavy bombers, YB-17B did stack up well against other bombers available in 1939. The C & D models of 40-41 included some modifications to "toughen" the B-17 and was flown in Europe by the British and in the Pacific in 1941 and 1942. (The main target of the Japanese strike at Clark Air Field was the 3 squadrons of B-17Ds). The E model was the first to show the lessons learned from combat experience, armed with the familiar top, belly, and tail turrets.
This set of 3 ADCs is available in a small PDF file (14 Kb). (Sorry; no pictures.)
After the B-17 and the B-24 came further developments toward a true strategic bomber. Here in this set of 6 ADCs (300 kb):
This set of 6 ADCs (83 Kb) covers 3 US air transports and the gliders used for air assaults in Europe (and Burma).
The United States sold China and other Asian nations aircraft long before there was lendlease. Some of these turn up fighting the Japanese in 1937 and 1938. The following PDF set (165 kb) includes six aircraft that fought - or almost fought - in Asia:
The United States built some less well-known (and admittedly less useful) aircraft. In later war years, less promising projects were simply cancelled - and by 1943, there were enough combat-experienced evaluators to tell gems form junk. But in the beginning, especially before December, 1941, almost anything that looked like a fighter could get a contract.
Some of the less aircraft the US produced were sent to less volatile areas, especially if the aircraft were already produced and rejected by the original recipient. The following PDF (78 Kb) has two such aircraft that were given to China through Lendlease:
There is also the Chinese Hawk 75M (and Thai Hawk 75N) that faced the Japanese before Lendlease started in another PDF file(52kb).
I have always had a softspot for zeppelins. My desire to mix zeppelins and Fighting Wings was stirred by a trivia question on the Air Power mailing list about the highest an aircraft carrier had been lifted. Elevon has a nice discussion about the F9C2 Sparrowhawk. Download the Zeppelin PDF file (130 Kb) containing:
Dan Foxman has produced the following additional American aircraft available in individual PDF files (no pictures):
Other than the PDF files listed here, click here to request files, leave comments, or complaints.
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