Created as a private-venture project by a company that
was not officially recognized in its own country as
worthy of designing fighter aircraft, the North American
P-51 Mustang grew out of Britain’s overwhelming need
for large quantities of modern high-performance
fighters in the early stages of the Second World War.
It was one of the very few successful warplanes in
history that was conceived without an official
specification ever being raised before its creation.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 (also referred to as the
Messerschmitt Me 109) was one of the world’s great
fighter planes and it enjoyed the distinction of having
built in greater numbers than any other – some 33,000
were built. It was mass-produced in Germany from
1936 through 1945 and it was built in other countries
after the war, serving in Spain until 1967.
Of all the fighters that have served with the Royal Air
Force since its formation in 1918, none has achieved
wider, no more widely deserved, fame than the
No better example can be found of ”the right aeroplane
being available at the right time”; it was the Spitfire,
more than other single type, that allowed the RAF’s
fighter squadrons during World War II first to blunt the
spearhead of the Luftwaffe’s attack on Britain.
When the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 first appeared in action
over the coast of France during the autumn of 1941 it
was certainly the most advanced fighter in the world.
For the first time the Luftwaffe fighter pilots were to have
an ascendency over the contemporary Spitfire, an
ascendancy which they enjoyed at least until the
introduction of the Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX during
the autumn of 1942. The Fw 190 unofficially named
Würger (Butcher Bird), was perhaps the most perfect
radial-engine fighter ever built.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was the first military type
developed by the Lockheed Aircraft Corps.
It made its first flight on January 27, 1939, but crashed
at the end of a record transcontinental flight California
to New York on February 11.
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