There can be no doubt about the fact that World War II is passing out of living memory. However, it remains one of the most iconic conflicts in the West, so much so that its influence permeates its cultures in ways that are both subtle and not so subtle.
One excellent example is how even now, a number of WW2 planes remain well-known in spite of the fact that it has been decades and decades since they have seen serious use. Here are 10 of the most recognized military planes of WW2.
1. Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress possesses a reputation for being a long-range bomber that was both tough and fast by bomber standards. As a result, it is no wonder that it saw extensive use in the United States's bombing campaigns on the western front, as shown by the fact that it was responsible for something along the lines of 640,000 tonnes out of the 1.5 million tonnes of bombs that U.S. planes unleashed on the Nazis.
2. Supermarine Spitfire
Much ink has been spent on the hypothetical Nazi invasion of Britain called Operation Sealion, which would've been catastrophic for the Nazis. In part, this is because sending soldiers in open-top barges against British war-ships in the rough waters of the English Channel would've been very unwise to say the least. However, it should also be noted that the Supermarine Spitfire played an important role in ensuring British control of British skies in the Battle of Britain.
3. Hawker Hurricane
Speaking of which, the Hawker Hurricane played an important part in the Battle of Britain as well. Sure, it wasn't as glamorized as the more advanced Supermarine Spitfire, but it shouldered a greater share of the burden in going up against the Luftwaffe. Due to this, it is no exaggeration to say that the Hawker Hurricane had already done its job well by the time it was being phased out in preference for its superior counterpart.
4. Ilyushin II-2 Shturmovik
The Shturmovik has a number of nicknames, with examples ranging from "Ilyusha" to the "flying tank." However, nothing illustrates its importance better than the fact that it is the second most produced plane ever at more than 36,000 units. For those who are curious, the Shturmovik was a ground-attack plane with a particular usefulness in eliminating German armor.
5. North American Aviation P-51 Mustang
The P-51 Mustang started out as a product that was manufactured by North American Aviation for the British Purchasing Commission because it was uninterested in manufacturing an older, obsolete design from a different manufacturer. In time, the P-51 Mustang proved to be one of the best long-range fighters of World War II, so much so that it went on to see use in the Korean War as well.
6. Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Since the Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the single most expensive U.S. weapons project carried out in World War II, it should come as no surprise to learn that it was packed full of innovations, with examples ranging from a pressurized cabin to remote-controlled turrets.
It is interesting to note that the Superfortress proved to be well-suited for a number of bombing missions, which explains why it was the plane chosen to carry the nuclear bombs used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that ended the conflict in the Pacific theater.
7. Yakovlev Yak-3
The Yak-3 had come into existence in 1941 but it didn't see use by the Soviet Union until 1943. Then, it proved to be popular with Soviet forces, combining plenty of power in a small package with robustness as well as ease of maintenance. On the whole, they were put to excellent use in combating Nazi fighters in the lower stretches of the sky.
8. Mitsubishi A6M Zero
The Zero was the single most produced Japanese plane of the war. Initially, it was a capable, long-range fighter that performed well when matched up against its counterparts. By the end, Japanese issues with design as well as production meant that it was very much lacking in comparison, which contributed to their choice to use said plane in suicide missions.
9. Vought F4U Corsair
Initially produced by Vought, the F4U Corsair proved to be so popular that it soon had to be manufactured by other companies as well to meet the demand. It proved to be superior to the Zero when fighting over land as well as over sea, meaning that it had a critical role in winning the Pacific theater.
10. Junkers 87 Stuka
Stukas have a reputation for making a high-pitched scream, which was even more noticeable because of their use as dive-bombers. Later on, when the Allies managed to bring sufficient air cover, Stukas made for very vulnerable prey to Allied fighters.
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Written by Benjamin Smith
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