Category Warbirds

. О Aichi D3A Japan

Type: Dive-Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 47 feet, 2 inches; length, 33 feet, 7 inches; height, 10 feet, 11 inches

Weights: empty, 5,310 pounds; gross, 5,772 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 1,080-horsepower Mitsubishi Kinsei 44 radial engine

Performance: maximum speed, 242 miles per hour; ceiling, 30,050 feet; range, 970 miles

Armament: 3 x 7.7mm machine guns; 816 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1938-1945


espite its obsolete appearance, the Val was re­sponsible for sinking more Allied warships than any other Axis aircraft during World War II. It was subsequently employed in great numbers as a sui­cide plane (the dreaded kamikazes).

In 1936 the Imperial Japanese Navy decided to replace its aging Aichi D1A biplane dive – bombers with a more modern craft. A competition was held among several firms, and Aichi entered the winning design. It was the first all-metal mono­plane bomber employed by the Japanese navy and owed much to the earlier Heinkel He 70. The D3A was a radial-engine low-wing monoplane with spat­ted fix undercarriage. Like the He 70, the large wing was elliptically shaped and canted slightly up­ward past the midsection. Test flights indicated the need for enhanced stability, so production models were fitted with a lengthy dorsal fin. D3As became operational in 1938 and were popular with crews. They were robust, highly maneuverable, and could dogfight once bombs were dropped. After Decem­
ber 1941, D3As formed the front ranks of Japan’s elite carrier-based aviation squadrons.

The D3A, or Val, as it was code-named, quickly emerged as the terror of Allied shipping. Commenc­ing with the attack on Pearl Harbor, they accompa­nied the first wave, inflicting heavy damage on nu­merous U. S. battleships. D3As then ventured to the Indian Ocean, sinking the British carrier HMS Her­mes and cruisers Dorsetshire and Cornwall. They proved uncannily accurate: No less than 82 percent of bombs dropped by Vals struck their intended victims! Vals remained a potent force through the first half of 1942 before sustaining heavy losses at the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway. Thereafter, Japanese naval aviation could not replace their highly trained air­crews, and efficiency waned. By 1943 an improved version, the D3A2, arrived, featuring a cleaner cowl and a spinner, but Vals suffered greatly at the hands of improved Allied fighters. Those not hacked down in combat spent their last days as kamikazes. A total of 1,495 of these impressive bombers were produced.

. Caproni Ca 310 Series

Dimensions: wingspan, 53 feet, 2 inches; length, 40 feet; height, 11 feet, 7 inches

Weights: empty, 6,730 pounds; gross, 10,252 pounds

Power plant: 2 x 470-horsepower Piaggio P. VII radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 227 miles per hour; ceiling, 22,956 feet; range, 1,025 miles Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine guns; 1,764 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1938-1945


he versatile Ca 310 was progenitor of a wide-rang­ing family of reconnaissance and lighter bomber airplanes. They served Italian interests well during World War II and were widely exported abroad.

In 1936 Cesare Pallavincino of the Caproni firm unveiled his new Ca 309 Ghibli (Desert Wind) light bomber/reconnaissance aircraft. Its ancestry can be traced to the Ca 306 Borea (North Wind) of 1935, an extremely clean-lined commercial trans­port. Likes its forebear, the Ghibli was constructed of a metal-framework fuselage, wooden wings, and fabric covering. It also mounted fixed spatted land­ing gear, a glazed bombardier nose, and light arma­ment. The Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) ac­quired 165 for policing Italian possessions overseas. Given the success of the design, Pallavincino devel­oped a more capable version, the Ca 310 Libeccio (Southwest Wind), with retractable landing gear, an extended nose, and all-around better performance. Like most Italian aircraft of the period, the Ca 310 was light and somewhat underpowered yet pos­sessed delightful flying characteristics. The Regia

Aeronautica purchased 161 of these handsome craft by 1939, with several others being exported to Nor­way, Hungary, Spain, Yugoslavia, and Peru.

In service the Ca 310 proved to be versatile fighting machines, and they functioned as reconnais­sance planes, light bombers, and torpedo-bombers. They were widely employed throughout the Mediter­ranean theater and saw extensive service in Russia. The utility and soundness of the basic design gave rise to numerous other versions. These included the Ca 311, which introduced a glazed bombardier nose and was ordered by France and Belgium (England even contemplated their purchase). The next model, the Ca 312, had a glazed nose, heavier armament, and different engines. Germany purchased 905 of these machines as crew trainers but received only a handful before the Armistice. A final version, the Ca 314, featured inline engines, a bank of windows along the fuselage; it was intended for convoy pro­tection and naval reconnaissance. A total of 2,400 of all variants were produced, making them the most numerous Italian warplane of this period.

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Light Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 31 feet, 10 inches; length, 53 feet, 4 inches; height, 14 feet, 10 inches

Weights: empty, 14,317 pounds; gross, 26,455 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 7,165-pound thrust Shenyang WP6 turbojet engine

Performance: maximum speed, 740 miles per hour; ceiling, 52,000 feet; range, 404 miles

Armament: 2 x 23mm cannons; up to 4,410 pounds of bombs or rockets

Service dates: 1965-


he Q 5 is built and marketed as a relatively sim­ple and low-cost alternative to high-priced West­ern strike aircraft. Although based on outdated tech­nology, it is capable and available in large numbers.

The history of the Nanchang Q 5 dates back to 1958, when the People’s Republic of China began mass-producing copies of the Russian MiG 19 fighter. At that time, the People’s Liberation Air Force sought a dedicated ground-attack craft with better perform­ance than existing MiGs. The program was inter­rupted in 1961 by the Cultural Revolution and did not recommence until 1965. That June a prototype Q 5 flew for the first time as a highly modified airframe with overtones of the earlier craft. The biggest change was the nose section, which was highly pointed and replaced the frontal intake of the MiG 19 with ones on either side of the fuselage. Other changes included broader wings and an internal bomb bay. The tail control surfaces were apparently retained intact. Around 1970 the Q 5 entered produc­
tion and received the NATO designation FANTAN. Roughly 1,000 have been built and are deployed in three main versions. The variant associated with the People’s Liberation Navy carries additional radar and torpedoes. It is also nuclear-capable.

The Q 5 continues to be regarded as a major tactical asset within the Chinese air force judging from the sheer number of machines fielded. The FANTAN is apparently a rugged, capable ground-at­tack aircraft that can be fitted with a variety of inter­nal and external ordnance, including ground-to-air missiles and bomb clusters. It also mounts a pair of 23mm cannons for defensive purposes. Such cheap, effective machines have decided appeal for poorer Third World countries seeking to enhance their mili­tary capabilities. For this reason, Pakistan, North Korea, and Bangladesh all have imported small quantities of Q 5s. The newest version, the Q 5I, has deleted the bomb bay in favor of additional fuel and fuselage hardpoints.

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 24 feet, 9 inches; length, 19 feet; height, 8 feet Weights: empty, 728 pounds; gross, 1,058 pounds Power plant: 1 x 80-horsepower Gnome rotary engine

Performance: maximum speed, 97 miles per hour; ceiling, 15,090 feet; range, 200 miles Armament: 1 x 7.7mm machine gun Service dates: 1915-1916


he Nieuport 11 was one of the most famous air­craft of World War I. Light and maneuverable, it helped end the “Fokker scourge” and restore Allied control of the air.

In response to the 1914 Gordon Bennett Air Race, Gustave Delage of Nieuport undertook design of a new and relatively small machine. This craft, which he christened the Bebe (Baby) on account of its size, was built in only four months. It featured conventional wood-and-fabric construction with highly staggered, swept-back wings. The lower wing was slightly shorter than the top, possessed only half the surface area, and was secured by distinctive vee struts. The racer was fast and demonstrated a good rate of climb with superlative flying qualities. Because World War I canceled the air race, the Avia­tion Militaire (French air service) decided to adopt the airplane as the Nieuport 11 scout. For combat purposes it sported a single Lewis machine gun on the top wing that fired above the propeller arc.

The first Nieuport 11s arrived at the front in the summer of 1915—none too soon for the hard-
pressed Allies. For six months previously the Fokker E III monoplanes had monopolized air combat over the Western Front, inflicting heavy losses. This latest French fighter could literally fly rings around its opponent and, in concert with the de Havilland DH 2 pusher, recaptured air su­premacy for the Allies. The Italians were also sin­gularly impressed by the design, and they obtained rights to manufacture it under license. By 1917 Nieuport 11s formed the mainstay of Italian fighter strength and were also widely exported to Belgium and Russia.

In 1916 Nieuport fitted the Bebe fuselage with a more powerful engine and additional armament. The ensuing Model 16 proved as popular as its pred­ecessor, launching the careers of many French aces, including Georges Guynemer and Charles Nungesser. This model was also unique in being fit­ted with small Le Prieur rockets for shooting down observation balloons. More than 600 Nieuport 16s were constructed, and they remained actively em­ployed until 1917.

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 26 feet, 11 inches; length, 18 feet, 10 inches; height, 7 feet, 7 inches

Weights: empty, 705 pounds; gross, 1,179 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 110-horsepower Le Rhone rotary engine

Performance: maximum speed, 109 miles per hour; ceiling, 17,388 feet; range, 186 miles Armament: 1 x 7.7mm machine gun Service dates: 1916-1917


he Nieuport 17 was one of the most famous war­planes in aviation history. Its dogfighting abili­ties were legendary, and German aircraft designers felt obliged to incorporate many of its technical as­pects into their own craft.

In 1916 Gustave Delage sought to improve upon his existing Nieuport 16 to counteract a ten­dency toward nose-heaviness and structural failures in the lower wing. The result was a strengthened, lengthened design: the classic Nieuport 17. It fea­tured additional wing area, cleaned-up lines, and a reinforced lower wing. A fully synchronized Vickers machine gun, installed in front of the pilot’s posi­tion, also replaced the wing-mounted Lewis weapon. Consequently, the new craft displayed all the agility of older models with none of their vices.

The Nieuport 17 appeared at the front in the summer of 1916, just as the struggle against the Fokker E III monoplanes was climaxing. As with earlier models, it had little difficulty dispatching nu­merous German adversaries. It also was one of the few Allied aircraft that could hold its own against
the new-model Albatros and Halberstadt D I fighters appearing that fall. Being propelled by a rotary en­gine, which exerted great torque forces while spin­ning inside the cowling, Nieuports easily outturned their faster opponents. The Italians were impressed by this compact dervish and obtained a license to manufacture it on their own. The type was also ex­ported abroad to Belgium and Russia with similar results. Moreover, it formed the strength of the American volunteer squadron, the famous Lafayette Escadrille.

Few aircraft are so closely associated with a stable of aces as this legendary Nieuport design. It assisted the careers of such flying legends as Georges Guynemer, Rene Fonck, and Jean Navarre in France, Italy’s Francesco Baracca, Edward Man – nock of Great Britain, and William “Billy” Bishop of Canada. The great British ace Albert Ball was al­legedly so attached to his Nieuport that he refused to trade it when ordered to do so! This superlative fighter plane remained in frontline service until 1917 before being superceded by the SPAD VII.

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Fighter


Dimensions: wingspan, 28 feet, 8 inches; length, 21 feet; height, 8 feet, 2 inches

Weights: empty, 1,047 pounds; gross, 1,625 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 160-horsepower Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine

Performance: maximum speed, 122 miles per hour; ceiling, 17,000 feet; range, 155 miles

Armament: 2 x.303-caliber machine guns

Service dates: 1918


he Nieuport 28 was among the most elegant fighters of World War I but inferior to earlier models. It nonetheless gained renown as the first combat aircraft piloted by newly-arrived Americans.

The appearance of new German fighters in the summer of 1917 prompted Gustave Delage to radi­cally overhaul the design philosophy of his aging Nieuport scouts. A new craft, designated the Nieu – port 28, dispensed with the familiar sesquiplane ap­proach (with one wing longer than the other) and adopted wings of equal length. Moreover, in con­trast to the square-tipped wings anchored by vee struts of earlier versions, the new craft sported rounded tips and two-bay, conventional strutting. The graceful fuselage was also circular in cross-sec­tion, with a highly streamlined metal cowling. The resulting craft exhibited delightfully stylish lines and proved highly maneuverable with a good rate of climb. Unfortunately, it was also structurally weak, as the leading edge tended to break up during dives. This could lead to the entire upper wing collaps­ing—with fatal results. In light of additional prob­
lems with the 160-horsepower Gnome Monosou – pape rotary engine, the Aviation Militaire (French air service) decided to purchase the more rugged SPAD VII instead.

The Nieuport 28 might have lapsed into obscu­rity save for developments overseas. In 1917 the United States declared war against Germany and began dispatching the American Expeditionary Force to France. It arrived in the summer and fall of that year wholly destitute of aircraft and eager to purchase modern designs. Because the Nieuport 28 was the only available fighter at the time, 297 of these rejected machines outfitted the 27th, 94th, 95th, and 147th Aero Squadrons in the spring of 1918. Both Douglas Campbell, the first American ace, and Eddie Rickenbacker, the highest-scoring pilot, cut their teeth in these fragile fighters. Other noted fliers such as Raoul Lufbery and Quinten Roo­sevelt were killed flying them. After a service life of several months, the unpopular Nieuports were fi­nally replaced by SPAD XIIIs. A handful lingered on as racing craft well into the 1920s.

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 31 feet, 10 inches; length, 21 feet, 3 inches; height, 8 feet, 5 inches Weights: empty, 1,675 pounds; gross, 2,535 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 300-horsepower Hispano-Suiza 8Fb water-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 146 miles per hour; ceiling, 27,885 feet; range, 360 miles Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine guns Service dates: 1922-1933


oo late to serve in World War I, the Ni-D 29 was one of the best fighters of the 1920s. It served many years in the air forces of France, Italy, Bel­gium, and Japan.

In 1918 Gustave Delage undertook design of a fighter to replace his less-than-successful Nieuport 28. In doing so he completely forsook the long-stand­ing design norms of the Nieuport company. His new Ni-D 29 differed greatly from previous machines by mounting an in-line, not rotary, engine. It also dis­pensed with traditional vee struts associated with that company. The new craft was a two-bay biplane of conventional wood-and-canvas design. The wings were of equal length, slightly staggered, and both possessed ailerons. The fuselage was of streamlined monocoque construction with a close-fitting metal cowl over the engine. This necessitated twin radia­tors to be suspended below the engine and between the landing struts. Delage’s latest creation first flew in June 1918, exhibiting high speed and great maneu­verability. The second prototype even established a
world’s altitude record of 29,931 feet in 1919. Having missed World War I, the Ni-D 29 entered production in 1921, with 250 units acquired by fighter squadrons. The craft proved immediately successful, and soon it was redesigned with longer wings and no upper ailerons. This version, the Ni-D 29 C.1, remained in frontline service until 1928.

The Ni-D 29 subsequently became one of the most important and numerous fighter aircraft of the postwar period. It was widely exported abroad, serving with the air forces of Belgium, Sweden, Ar­gentina, and Spain; it was also built under license by Italy and Japan. The Japanese firm Nakajima sup­plied army air force units with no less than 608 ma­chines (designated Ko 4), which remained in service until 1933. These aircraft saw extensive use during the Manchurian campaign, while French and Span­ish Nieuports fought against rebels throughout North Africa. In 1927 a mock dogfight of Ni-D 29s was even staged over Paris between a French pilot and Charles Lindbergh!

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Light Bomber; Fighter


Dimensions: wingspan (swept) 28 feet; length, 61 feet, 3 inches; height, 19 feet, 6 inches Weights: empty, 31,970 pounds; gross, 61,700 pounds

Power plant: 2 x 8,650-pound thrust Turbo-Union RB.199-34R Mk 104 turbofans Performance: maximum speed, 921 miles per hour; ceiling, 50,000 feet; range, 863 miles Armament: 2 x 27mm cannons; up to 19,841 pounds of rockets, bombs, or gunpods Service dates: 1980-


he Tornado is possibly the most flexible multi­mission aircraft in history. Designed as a strike aircraft, it can also perform air-defense, antiship­ping, and reconnaissance missions with ease.

In the late 1960s Germany, Italy, and Great Britain joined hands to design a basic ground-attack aircraft that would be built and deployed by all three nations. The new machine would have to operate from short runways, deliver ordnance with pinpoint accuracy, and operate in any weather conditions. It would also be optimized for high-speed/low-level operations that are highly taxing to both crew and airframe alike. After extensive studies, the proto­type Panavia Tornado IDS was flown in 1974. It was a compact yet highly complicated aircraft, the first European production design to employ variable – geometry wings. The wings are extremely compli­cated and designed around a number of high-lift technologies that enable it to become airborne quickly. The craft is characterized by a somewhat short, pointed nose, a long canopy seating two crew members, and a very tall stabilizer. Internally, the

Tornado utilizes advanced fly-by-wire technology, as well as highly sophisticated navigation/attack radar that combines search, ground-mapping, and terrain­following capabilities. Around 900 Tornados have been built and acquired by the manufacturing na­tions since 1980. Several dozen have also been ex­ported to Saudi Arabia.

In 1976 Great Britain wanted to develop an air – defense version on its own accord to replace the aging inventory of English Electric Lightnings and McDonnell-Douglas Phantoms. It desired a fast, flexi­ble interceptor to protect NATO’s northern and west­ern approaches. The new Tornado ADV rolled out in 1976 and is distinguished from the IDS variant by a lengthened nose. It houses the advanced Foxhound radar system, which can track up to 20 targets simul­taneously at ranges up to 100 miles. The Royal Air Force currently operates 144 Tornado ADVs, and sev­eral have been exported to Saudi Arabia. Both ver­sions saw active duty in the 1991 Gulf War and sus­tained the heaviest losses of any Allied type. They will continue to serve well into the twenty-first century.

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Medium Bomber; Dive-Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 56 feet, 3 inches; length, 41 feet, 6 inches; height, 11 feet, 6 inches Weights: empty, 12,952 pounds; gross, 18,726 pounds Power plant: 2 x 1,260-horsepower M-105PF liquid-cooled in-line engines Performance: maximum speed, 360 miles per hour; ceiling, 28,870 feet; range, 721 miles Armament: 2 x 7.62mm machine guns; 3 x 12.7mm machine guns; 6,614 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1940-1945


he Pe 2 was Russia’s outstanding tactical bomber of World War II and distinguished itself throughout that conflict. Even when fully loaded, it flew so fast that escorting fighters were hard – pressed to keep up.

In 1938 a design bureau under Vladimir Petlyakov responded to Soviet specifications for a high-altitude fighter with the VI 100. It was an all­metal, twin-engine machine with two rudders and streamlined engine nacelles. A crew of three sat in a spacious cockpit toward the front of the fuselage. In designing the VI 100, careful consideration was given to weight and drag reduction, so bulky radia­tors were located along the wings while the fuselage employed the smallest possible cross-section. Flight-testing commenced in 1939 with excellent re­sults, but the government changed the role of the craft to high-level bombing. When this proved im­practical due to inaccuracy, dive-bombing was sub­stituted, and the plane was fitted with dive brakes. Petlyakov’s design proved successful in this mode, and in 1940 it entered service as the Pe 2.

When war with Germany commenced in June 1941, Pe 2s distinguished themselves in hard – pressed attacks and flew faster than pursuing Bf 109E fighters. Pe 2s were so speedy that they fre­quently throttled back to allow Lend-Lease Hawker Hurricane escort fighters to keep up. The Pe 2 was also quite strong and could sustain major damage with few ill effects. Successive modifications and stronger engines improved performance and kept them slightly beyond the reach of the newer Bf 109F/Gs. The biggest modifications occurred in 1943, when the wing profile was modified, oil-cooler intakes were reshaped, and bomb mounts received streamlined fairings. The net result was a 25 percent increase in speed. Features to enhance crew sur­vival were also incorporated, including a novel cold – gas bleeding system to suppress fires in the fuel tanks. No less than 11,400 of these impressive ma­chines were constructed. In concert with the smaller Ilyushin Il 2, they were significant contribu­tors to the final Russian victory.

. Nanchang Q 5

Type: Heavy Bomber


Dimensions: wingspan, 128 feet, 3 inches; length, 77 feet, 4 inches; height, 20 feet, 4 inches

Weights: empty, 40,609 pounds; gross, 79,366 pounds

Power plant: 4 x 1,700-horsepower Shvetsov Ash-82FN radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 280 miles per hour; ceiling, 29,525 feet; range, 2,920 miles

Armament: 2 x 7.62mm machine guns; 2 x 12.7mm machine guns; 8,818 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1940-1950


he Pe 8 was an excellent heavy bomber, but the Soviet High Command had little regard for strategic bombing. Despite great range and a good payload, this potentially useful weapon remained a minor player in a very big war.

In 1934 the Soviet government announced specifications for a fast long-range bomber to re­place the Tupolev TB 3s in service. It devolved upon the Tupolev design bureau to create such a craft, al­though under the aegis of Vladimir Petlyakov. The new machine, initially designated TB 7, first flew in December 1936 as an all-metal, midwing monoplane with power turrets and retractable landing gear. A unique feature was the peculiarly thick wings; these allowed crew members to crawl to the inboard en­gine nacelles and man rear-firing machine guns. Ini­tial flights were also impressive, as the TB 7 reached

30,0 feet at speeds exceeding the latest German fighters. They entered production in 1937, but only 79 of these excellent machines were constructed.

This was because the Soviet High Command wanted great numbers of smaller two-engine tactical bombers to operate at low altitude in support of Red Army units. Thus, Soviet long-range bombardment aviation took a permanent backseat to battlefield considerations.

During the initial stages of World War II, the big Pe 8s were actively employed, but seldom in the ca­pacity for which they were designed. On the night of August 11, 1941, several managed to bomb Berlin, and subsequent raids were conducted deep behind German lines. But compared to British and U. S. ef­forts, these were mere pinpricks. However, in May 1942 a Pe 8 made headlines when it flew by stages from Moscow to Washington, D. C., bearing Prime Minister V. M. Molotov. This successful round-trip flight, totaling over 11,000 miles, was a considerable achievement and eloquent testimony to the sound­ness of Petlyakov’s design. After the war several Pe 8s remained employed as engine testbeds until 1950.

. Airspeed Horsa

Type: Glider; Transport

Dimensions: wingspan, 88 feet; length, 67 feet; height, 19 feet, 6 inches Weights: empty, 7,500 pounds; gross, 15,250 pounds Power plant: none

Performance: maximum speed, 127 miles per hour Armament: none Service dates: 1942-1945


he Horsa was the most numerous and widely used British assault glider of World War II. It functioned well at Sicily and Normandy and at one point lifted an entire airborne division across the Rhine.

The striking success of German glider troops in 1940 dismayed British authorities, so that year the Air Ministry issued Specification X.26/40 calling for creation of similar forces. The Airspeed company re­sponded with a prototype called the AS.51 Horsa (named after an ancient Saxon king) in September

1941. This was a high-wing monoplane with tricycle landing gear and provisions for 25 troops. The Horsa was built entirely of wood and was canvas-covered, so it creaked loudly while flying. It was also rela­tively sophisticated, possessing ailerons, split trailing edge flaps, and underwing dive brakes powered by compressed air. The craft was towed aloft by a twin- engine bomber and affixed by a rope fastened to the nose and nosewheel strut. Once airborne, the large wheeled gear were jettisoned; the glider landed on a large retractable skid. It handled well in the air, even
when crammed with men and supplies, and could touch down in relatively small areas. The Horsa en­tered production in 1941 and was initially used for clandestine operations in Norway. It witnessed its large-scale baptism of fire in July 1943, when 30 were successfully launched over Sicily.

In 1941 the Air Ministry decided to develop a specialized freight-carrying version of the Horsa, the AS.58, so that airborne forces could ferry greater supplies to the drop zone. It was similar to the previ­ous version but also featured twin nosewheels and a hinged nose section to ease unloading. The entire rear section could also be jettisoned for that pur­pose. Both models were present during the massive airborne assault over Normandy on June 6, 1944. Horsas carried select detachments of special forces that captured and held several strategic bridges. In March 1945 440 Horsas transported the entire 6th Airborne Division in another large movement across the Rhine River. The U. S. Army also employed sev­eral hundred of these useful craft. A total of 3,655 were built.

Подпись: Great Britain

. Airspeed Horsa

О Airspeed Oxford

Type: Trainer

Dimensions: wingspan, 53 feet, 4 inches; length, 34 feet, 6 inches; height, 11 feet, 1 inch Weights: empty, 5,670 pounds; gross, 8,000 pounds

Power plant: 2 x 370-horsepower Armstrong-Siddeley Cheetah radial engines Performance: maximum speed, 188 miles per hour; ceiling, 19,500 feet; range, 550 miles Armament: 1 x.303-caliber machine gun Service dates: 1937-1954


he beloved “Ox-box” was one of the unsung he­roes of World War II. Built in huge numbers, it trained thousands of British and Commonwealth air­men in the nuances of flying, gunnery, navigation, and bombardment.

In 1936 the British Air Ministry issued, as part of the Royal Air Force expansion program, Specification

T.23/36 to obtain its first twin-engine training air­plane. This was essential because biplane technology was being superceded by newer monoplanes that were faster and more demanding to fly. It so hap­pened that Airspeed was then marketing a twin-en­gine passenger craft called the Envoy, which could be easily modified for instructional purposes. The Air Ministry agreed and in 1937 submitted an order for 137 aircraft as the Oxford. The new craft was an all­wood, low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear and attractive lines. The Mk I version was also fitted with a single-gun power turret for gunnery prac­tice. In service the Oxford exhibited easy handling, but it proved tricky for novices to land and required
vigilance. This characteristic was considered more useful than not, for it prepared students for the less – forgiving aircraft they would eventually fly. When World War II commenced in September 1939, the RAF counted 400 Oxford Is in its training inventory.

The Oxford eventually became an essential component of the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme. By 1945 no less than 8,751 “Ox-boxes” had been built, and they were operated in large numbers by Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and Rhodesia. As time passed, this ver­satile trainer’s regimen was expanded to include bombardier, radio-operator, and navigation training. Literally thousands of Allied crewmen gained their wings or specializations while flying the Oxford. Many others were employed for ambulance, liaison, and communications purposes. After the war, many surplus Oxfords transferred over to the civilian sec­tor. The RAF did not relinquish its last “Ox-box” until 1954, and this stately machine stands as one of the most important military trainers in aviation history.

. CASA C 101 Aviojet

Type: Trainer; Light Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 34 feet, 9 inches; length, 41 feet; height, 13 feet, 11 inches

Weights: empty, 7,716 pounds; gross, 13,889 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 4,300-pound thrust Garrett TFE731 turbofan engine

Performance: maximum speed, 501 miles per hour; ceiling, 42,00 feet; range, 322 miles

Armament: none, or up to 4,960 pounds of gunpods, bombs, or rockets

Service dates: 1981-


he Aviojet is Spain’s first indigenously designed and constructed jet aircraft. Small, underpow­ered, and unassuming, it nevertheless attracts buy­ers from South America and the Middle East.

Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (CASA) was founded in 1923 and is one of Europe’s oldest air­plane manufacturers. For many years it built foreign designs under license; in 1972 the firm absorbed His – pano Aviacion, a major competitor. Thus augmented, CASA was well positioned to fulfill a 1975 Spanish air force requirement for a new jet trainer to replace their outdated HA 200 Saettas. The main design em­phasis was on simplicity and economy, not high per­formance. Yet the new machine also had to be capa­ble of light strike missions. Faced with such varied specifications, CASA solicited technical advice from abroad. The U. S. firm Northrop was contracted to help design the wing and engine inlets, and Ger­many’s MBB assisted with the rear fuselage and tail section. The prototype C 101 performed its maiden flight in June 1978 as a low-wing monoplane with unswept wings. To reduce costs, it employs modular
construction, and the fuselage contains ample space capable of being retrofitted with different avionic sys­tems as needed. The C 101 is powered by a commer­cial turbofan engine adapted for military use, which combines relatively good power with excellent fuel economy. A two-man crew is housed under a spa­cious canopy, with staggered seating to allow instruc­tors a better view. For military applications a built-in bomb bay exists on the underside, and the wing also sports six pylons capable of holding weapons.

The Aviojet, although somewhat underpow­ered next to comparable French, British, and Italian machines, still possesses delightful characteristics at very affordable prices. As anticipated, the Spanish air force contracted for 88 machines under the des­ignation Mirlo (Blackbird). Several of these were subsequently assigned to the national acrobatic squadron, Team Aguila. Such low-cost and good performance induced Chile, Honduras, and Jordan to place orders for trainers and attack craft. A dedi­cated attack version, the C 101DD, is currently under development.

. CASA C 101 Aviojet

Type: Reconnaissance; Trainer

Dimensions: wingspan, 43 feet; length, 22 feet; height, 8 feet, 6 inches Weights: empty, 959 pounds; gross, 1,565 pounds Power plant: 1 x 80-horsepower Le Rhone rotary engine

Performance: maximum speed, 67 miles per hour; ceiling, 13,000 feet; range, 240 miles Armament: none Service dates: 1914-1918


espite its obsolete appearance, the Caudron G III was a popular French aircraft from the early days of World War I. Throughout its lengthy ca­reer it trained thousands of allied pilots.

The Caudron brothers, Gaston and Rene, were renowned as airplane builders long before the onset of hostilities in August 1914. Their first military de­sign, the G III, was a development of an earlier civil­ian craft, the N.40, which was itself a frequent star at air shows across Europe. This Caudron machine was unique in being one of the few twin-boomed aircraft of its day. The crew of two sat in a short nacelle sus­pended between the two wings. To the rear, four booms supported a system of twin rudders; the craft was steered by wing-warping techniques. Despite its odd appearance, the G III was strongly built and pos­sessed excellent climbing abilities. The French air force had only one squadron of G IIIs deployed when war broke out, but their excellent performance re­sulted in orders for more. In a display of patriotism and to facilitate rapid production, Caudron allowed other firms to construct the GIII without a license.

The Caudron’s climbing and handling made it valuable as a reconnaissance and artillery-spot­ting airplane. However, it was relatively slow and completely unarmed, so the advent of improved German fighters terminated its frontline useful­ness by 1916. The G IIIs then rendered equally useful service as a trainer, for novice pilots appre­ciated its gentle and predicable qualities. They were also widely exported abroad, seeing service in the air forces of Italy, Great Britain, Belgium, and Russia. It gained considerable renown throughout 1917-1918, when G IIIs trained virtu­ally every pilot attached to the American Expedi­tionary Force. Caudron and other companies ulti­mately assembled 2,450 of the ubiquitous G IIIs. In 1919 one plucky craft gained special notoriety in civilian hands when aviatrix Adrienne Bolland flew it over the Andes Mountains. That same year former French ace Jules Verdrines demonstrated its superb handling by successfully landing on the roof of the Galeries Lafayette department store in Paris!

. CASA C 101 Aviojet

Type: Reconnaissance; Light Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 56 feet, 5 inches; length, 23 feet, 7 inches; height, 8 feet, 6 inches Weights: empty, 1,102 pounds; gross, 2,923 pounds Power plant: 2 x 80-horsepower Le Rhone rotary engines

Performance: maximum speed, 82 miles per hour; ceiling, 14,108 feet; range, 250 miles Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine guns; 220 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1915-1918


he Caudron G IV was the first twin-engine air­craft deployed by Allied air units in World War I. Like its predecessor, it was fast-climbing, easy to fly, and completely reliable.

The Caudron G III was a well-liked aircraft, but by 1915 it had reached the limits of development. The Aviation Militaire (French air service) therefore deter­mined to capitalize on the successful design by au­thorizing an improved, scaled-up version. When the prototype GIV appeared in March 1915, it was similar to but much larger than its forebear. The new machine possessed a larger wingspan and was powered by two cowled engines suspended between the wings. Their placement, in close proximity to the crew nacelle, was fortunate, for it made the craft more easily handled in case of an engine failure. Like the G III, the G IV also had four booms stretching backward to the tail sec­tion, although the rudders had been increased to four. It was also armed with a machine gun in the forward nacelle, as well as one pointed backward over the top
wing. Following successful test flights, the new Cau­dron entered French service in November 1915 and ul­timately equipped 38 squadrons.

In the field, the G IV displayed many fine quali­ties reminiscent of the earlier craft. Delightful to fly, it climbed speedily and was easily maintained. As the Allies’ first twin-engine bomber, it was sent in massed formations to German targets as distant as the Rhineland. Unfortunately, the slow, lightly armed G IVs were easy prey for newer and more heavily armed German fighters. Having sustained heavy losses, most G IVs were withdrawn from frontline service by August 1916. They continued in British and Russian service much longer, however, and Italians prized the awkward-looking craft for its quick climbing ability, an essential trait when flying in heavily mountainous terrain. Toward the end of the war, G IVs were employed as trainers by the newly arrived Americans, who also praised its docil­ity. A total of 1,358 were built.

. CASA C 101 Aviojet

Type: Fighter


Dimensions: 58 feet, 9 inches; length, 36 feet, 9 inches; height, 9 feet, 2 inches

Weights: empty, 3,130 pounds; gross, 4,773 pounds

Power plant: 2 x 215-horsepower Hispano-Suiza liquid-cooled engines

Performance: maximum speed, 114 miles per hour; ceiling, 19,520 feet; range, 350 miles

Armament: 5 x 7.7mm machine guns

Service dates: 1918-1922


big, impressive machine, the R 11 was the most successful escort fighter of World War I. In that role it shot down scores of German fighters while protecting vulnerable French bombers.

By 1917 the Aviation Militaire (French air ser­vice) required a new, three-seat aircraft for extended reconnaissance usage. The Caudron company de­cided to update its older R 4 bomber with a smaller, lighter, more heavily armed machine. Consequently, the prototype R 11 emerged in March 1917 as a sleek, imposing craft. It displayed a more pointed nose than its predecessor, along with two bays of wing braces and an elongated vertical stabilizer. The fuselage was also oval-shaped in cross-section, with provisions for a single pilot and forward and rear gunners. As an added measure of safety, the R 11 was outfitted with dual controls: If a pilot were killed or wounded, the rear gunner could land it safely.

The big craft exhibited sprightly performance during testing, and the decision was made to enter production. Troubles with the Hispano-Suiza geared
motors greatly slowed their acquisition, and it was not until the spring of 1918 that R 11s were acquired in quantity. At that time the French headquarters Service Aeronautique had modified the R 11’s role from reconnaissance to escort fighter. The French reasoned that because the aircraft was fast and heavily armed, it provided a more stable gunnery platform compared to single-engine fighters. The R 11 consequently received the construction priori­ties usually reserved only for two other noted stal­warts, the Breguet 14 and the Salmson 2A2.

By the summer and fall of 1918, the big R 11s dutifully conducted massed formations of Breguet 14 bombers to and from targets in the Rhineland. Their heavy firepower accounted for the loss of many German fighters and saved several hundred French lives. Had the war continued another year, R 11s would have become one of the most import weapons in the French arsenal. Construction ended at 500 units, and the big fighters were retained in service until being declared obsolete in 1922.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 30 feet, 10 inches; length, 22 feet, 9 inches; height, 8 feet, 9 inches Weights: empty, 1,653 pounds; gross, 2,056 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 180-horsepower Mercedes D III liquid-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 103 miles per hour; ceiling, 17,060 feet; range, 217 miles Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machine guns Service dates: 1917-1918


he sleek-looking Pfalz D Ills were among the most streamlined fighters to appear in World War I. Its dogfighting abilities were marginally infe­rior to contemporary Fokkers and Albatroses, but as a balloon-buster it had no peer.

Pfalz Flugzeug-Werke of Bavaria spent the first three years of World War I building Roland D-series fighters and other craft under license. By 1917 chief engineer Rudolph Gehringer advanced plans for a new fighter possessing unmistakably sharklike lines. This new craft, the Pfalz D III, first flew in June of that year. It possessed a plywood-covered mono – coque fuselage with a sharply pointed profile. The wings were slightly staggered with single-bay struts ending in raked, pointed wingtips and mounted as close to the fuselage as possible to afford good all­around view. The lower wing was somewhat shorter than the top and featured cutouts near the roots for enhanced downward vision. The German air service greatly needed a new fighter, so construction of the D III commenced in the summer of 1917.

For all its promise, the Pfalz D III proved something of a bust in combat. Good looks notwith­standing, the plane climbed more slowly and was judged inferior in maneuverability to the contempo­rary Albatros and Fokker triplane fighters then in service. Yet the Pfalz was fast in level flight, pos­sessed pleasant handling characteristics, and could outdive any German fighter extant. This trait, cou­pled with robust construction, made it ideal for the dangerous business of balloon-busting. Observation balloons at this time were heavily defended by ar­tillery batteries below and were surrounded by con­stant fighter patrols. Thus, they were extremely diffi­cult targets to bring down. The great strength of the Pfalz allowed it to dive upon its quarry, absorb con­siderable damage, and return home safely. At length, the D IIIa version was introduced, which featured minor aerodynamic refinements, including rounder wingtips and bigger tail surfaces. Nearly 600 of both models were completed, and at least 350 were in service by war’s end.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Fighter


Dimensions: wingspan, 29 feet, 6 inches; length, 20 feet, 10 inches; height, 8 feet, 10 inches Weights: empty, 1,579 pounds; gross, 1,984 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 160-horsepower Mercedes D Ilia liquid-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 106 miles per hour; ceiling, 18,500 feet; range, 200 miles Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machine guns Service dates: 1918


he Pfalz D XII was among the very last German fighters to appear in World War I. It was an ex­cellent machine but always operated in the shadow of Fokker’s superb D VII.

The lackluster performance of the earlier D III fighters induced the Pfalz company to design a bet­ter high-performance aircraft as a replacement. Sev­eral intermediary prototypes were built and flown, but it was not until the Aldershof fighter trials of June 1918 that the Pfalz D XII made its unheralded appearance. The new craft showed striking resem­blance to the famous Fokker D VII already in ser­vice, but it was a completely original design. Like the earlier D III, it possessed a plywood monocoque fuselage that tapered rearward to a knife’s edge. A 160-horsepower Mercedes engine was housed in a tight-fitting cowl section, with the top exposed and a radiator in front. The two-bay wings were of unequal length and heavily braced by wiring, while the top wing sported ailerons that flared out past the wingtips. But, given the applause surrounding Fok-
ker’s marvel, skeptics assumed that a few select bribes by the Bavarian government accounted for the Pfalz’s appearance. Nonetheless, several veteran pilots test-flew the craft and praised its many quali­ties. The government then decided to undertake pro­duction of the little-known craft to supplement the Fokkers, then in short supply.

In fact, the D XII proved an excellent design, if marginally inferior to its more famous stablemate. It was fast, immensely strong, and could outdive the D VII with complete safety. However, most pilots had their hearts set upon flying Fokkers, and when the Pfalz machine appeared at aerodromes in Sep­tember 1918 pilots viewed it with disappointment and suspicion. Familiarization flights soon con­vinced them otherwise, and in combat it proved one of few German types able to withstand the Sopwith Camel and the SPAD XIII. The much-neglected fighter fought with distinction until the Armistice of November 1918. An estimated 200 Pfalz D XIIs had been constructed.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Reconnaissance

Dimensions: wingspan, 36 feet, 1 inch; length, 24 feet, 8 inches; height, 9 feet, 8 inches

Weights: empty, 1,808 pounds; gross, 2,734 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 230-horsepower Hiero liquid-cooled engine

Performance: maximum speed, 112 miles per hour; ceiling, 17,715 feet; range, 350 miles Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machines guns; 110 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1918-1935


he ugly, angular Phonix C I was unquestionably the best Austrian two-seater of World War I. After a brief combat life, it capably served the Swedish air force for an additional two decades.

The advent of newer, more deadly Allied fight­ers toward the closing months of World War I in­duced Austria to seek better aircraft and replace its aging fleet of Hansa-Brandenburgs and Lohners. In the spring of 1917 the Phonix Flugzeug-Werke firm entered into competition with a rival firm, Ufag, to design the new craft. Both prototypes were based upon the Hansa-Brandenberg C I, a German two – seater of the “star-strutter” variety. When the Phonix machine emerged, it possessed unequal, positive – staggered wings with an unusual system of dual in­terplane vee struts. The fuselage was also very deep and placed close to the upper wing. This gave the pilot almost unrestricted frontal and upward view. Another distinctive feature was the very small rud­der, which granted the gunner a near-perfect field of fire. The new craft, christened the Phonix C I, was
initially underpowered but demonstrated many use­ful qualities. Production commenced in the spring of 1918 following a prolonged gestation of nearly a year.

In combat, the Phonix C I proved itself one of the best warplanes of its class. Once retrofitted with a powerful, 230-horsepower motor, it exhibited ex­cellent climbing and turning capabilities. In fact, C Is flew so well that they were easily mistaken for the single-seat Phonix D I fighter—often with fatal re­sults. The noted Italian ace Francesco Baracca met his death at the hands of a C I tailgunner, as did scores of other unsuspecting Allied pilots. It was Austria’s fate that this fine machine served only a few months before the Armistice concluded in No­vember 1918. A total of 110 were built.

After the war, the C I’s excellent reputation came to the attention of the newly founded Swedish air force. Between 1920 and 1932, an additional 32 C Is, known as Dronts, were built, remaining ac­tively employed until 1935.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 32 feet, 2 inches; length, 21 feet, 9 inches; height, 9 feet, 5 inches

Weights: empty, 1,510 pounds; gross, 2,097 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 230-horsepower Hiero liquid-cooled engine

Performance: maximum speed, 117 miles per hour; ceiling, 22,310 feet; range, 217 miles Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machine guns Service dates: 1918-1933


he Phonix D I was arguably the best Austrian fighter of World War I. Slow-climbing and hard to handle, it was fast in level flight, maneuverable, and served the Swedish air force for several years.

Previously, the Phonix Flugzeug-Werke firm had been contracted to produce the Hansa-Brandenburg DI fighter under license. When it became apparent by 1917 that the infamous Star-strutter could not be de­veloped further, the company embarked on a new air­craft. The design eventually incorporated a fuselage similar to the D I and also sported wings of unequal span that ended in rounded wingtips and swept-back leading edges. It was also considerably more power­ful than the earlier machine, being propelled by a 200- horsepower Hiero engine. One interesting innovation was locating the armament within the engine cowl­ing. This enhanced streamlining but placed the guns beyond the pilot’s reach if they jammed. The resulting craft was faster in level flight but somewhat unstable and slow-climbing. The Austrian government, hard – pressed on all fronts, nonetheless ordered the new craft into immediate production. In the spring of 1918
it entered service as the Phonix D I and was deployed with army and navy units.

The new machine was far from perfect, but it represented a dramatic improvement over the earlier Star-strutter. In capable hands the D I proved more than a match for the Italian Hanriots and SPADs. To enhance maneuverability, the new D II model intro­duced balanced elevators and other refinements, but the craft was judged too stable for violent acrobatics. On this basis, a few machines were fitted with cam­eras to pioneer single-seat high-speed reconnais­sance work. Phonix then concocted the D III model shortly before hostilities concluded. It featured a more powerful engine and ailerons on all four wings, which greatly improved all-around maneuverability. The war ended before the D III could be deployed, but 158 examples of all versions were delivered.

After the war, Sweden expressed interest in obtaining several copies of the D III along with man­ufacturing rights. Seventeen were ultimately con­structed, and they rendered useful service until 1933.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Heavy Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 104 feet, 11 inches; length, 73 feet, 1 inch; height, 19 feet, 8 inches

Weights: empty, 38,195 pounds; gross, 65,885 pounds

Power plant: 4 x 1,500-horsepower Piaggio P. XII RC35 radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 267 miles per hour; ceiling, 27,890 feet; range, 2,187 miles

Armament: 8 x 12.7mm machine guns; up to 7,716 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1942-1943


he Piaggio P 108B was the only four-engine strategic bomber employed by Italian forces in World War II. It enjoyed performance comparable to early B-17s but was never produced in great quantity.

Italian aviation had demonstrated talent for strategic bombing, a fact clearly established during World War I. However, throughout the 1930s and until the beginning of World War II, the bulk of dictator Benito Mussolini’s bombardment assets were tied up in short-ranged twin-engine aircraft. In 1939 designer Giovanni Casiraghi attempted a more modern solu­tion when he conceived the Piaggio P 108B (Bom – bardiere). This was an ultramodern, all-metal, four – engine aircraft similar to the famous Boeing B-17, and it was constructed for identical purposes. The P 108B housed a crew of seven and could carry a good bomb load for respectable distances. It was also heavily armed, mounting no less than eight 12.7mm machine guns. Four weapons were placed at various fuselage points, but the remaining four were ingeniously mounted in two remote-controlled barbettes atop the
outboard engines. Sighted and fired by gunners peer­ing through transparent domes, this system antici­pated by several years the system that would be uti­lized in Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. Despite its size, the big craft handled well in the air; it entered produc­tion in 1940. Nearly two years lapsed before the P 108B was available in squadron strength, and by that time Axis fortunes had waned considerably.

In service the P 108B proved rugged and de­pendable, especially when contrasted with Ger­many’s ill-fated He 177 Greif. It conducted several nighttime raids against Gibraltar, being fitted with flame dampeners on the exhausts. The type also per­formed useful service in North Africa and Russia until the Italian surrender of 1943. Beforehand, Piag – gio had also been working on a transport version of the craft, the P 108C, which featured a completely redesigned fuselage for seating 56 fully armed troops. Only 12 were built, and these were seized and used by the Luftwaffe. A total of 182 of all types were constructed.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 32 feet, 9 inches; length, 20 feet, 3 inches; height, 9 feet, 2 inches Weights: empty, 3,201 pounds; gross, 4,652 pounds Power plant: 1 x 1,000-horsepower M-62 radial engine

Performance: maximum speed, 276 miles per hour; ceiling, 35,105 feet; range, 292 miles Armament: 4 x 7.62mm machine guns; up to 441 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1934-1943


he Chaika (Gull) was among the fastest and most maneuverable biplanes ever built. It per­formed active duty from Spain to Mongolia before taking heavy losses in World War II.

In 1934 the gifted Soviet designer Nikolai Po­likarpov, recently released from the gulag, updated his successful I 5 fighter into an even more effective craft. The new I 15 shared some commonality with its predecessor, being constructed of wooden wings, steel tubing, and fabric covering. It differed, however, in possessing an inverted gull wing that melded into the fuselage near the roots. Despite a stubby appearance, the I 15 was rugged, relatively fast, and an excellent fighter. It entered production that year, and in 1936 large numbers were sent to assist Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. There the Chaika proved demonstrably supe­rior to the German Heinkel He 51, and it was a for­midable opponent for the supremely agile Fiat CR 32 Chirri. By 1938 I 15s were also heavily engaged against Japanese forces in Mongolia, but they suf­
fered at the hands of modern Nakajima Ki 27 mono­plane fighters.

Russian authorities remained convinced that biplanes were still viable weapons, so they author­ized Polikarpov to update his design again. In 1937 he responded with the I 15ter, later designated the I 153, which brought biplane performance on par with monoplane opponents. With a powerful engine and retractable landing gear, it climbed faster than many of its intended adversaries. After preliminary com­bat in Spain during 1938-1939, large numbers of I 153s arrived in Mongolia, where, after heavy losses to both sides, they finally mastered the nimble Japa­nese monoplanes. Consequently, the Soviets kept the I 153 in production long after it had become ob­solete. In 1941 it represented a fair portion of Rus­sian fighter strength and sustained great losses from German Messerschmitt Bf 109s. The rugged biplane then found a new lease on life as a ground-attack craft until being replaced by Ilyushin Il 2s in 1943. A total of 3,457 Chaikas had been built.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 29 feet, 6 inches; length, 19 feet, 7 inches; height, 8 feet, 4 inches

Weights: empty, 2,976 pounds; gross, 3,781 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 775-horsepower Shvetsov M-52 radial engine

Performance: maximum speed, 242 miles per hour; ceiling, 16,405 feet; range, 497 miles Armament: 4 x 7.62mm machine guns Service dates: 1935-1943


he stubby I 16 heralded new concepts in fighter technology, becoming the first monoplane with retractable landing gear to enter squadron service. Obsolete by World War II, it gained further renown by pioneering ramming tactics.

The famous I 16 fighter evolved from attempts by Nikolai Polikarpov to wring greater performance from his already successful I 5 design. His engineers began tinkering with notions of a squat, powerful monoplane fighter, Russia’s first. The resulting pro­totype was extremely advanced in concept, arguably superior to any fighter in existence. The I 16 was a low-wing, cantilevered monoplane with a metal frame, a wooden monocoque fuselage, and fabric – covered wings. More important, it was the first such Russian craft with fully retractable landing gear. The I 16 was extremely fast for its day, exhibiting a 60-75 mile-per-hour advantage over biplane fighters. It also possessed an excellent roll rate and was su­perbly capable of climbing and zooming. However, the stubby craft proved unforgiving and somewhat
unstable along all three axes. Pilots had to carefully employ tactics emphasizing speed, not maneuver­ability, to survive.

I 16s were initially sent to Spain to assist Repub­lican forces, who dubbed the little craft Mosca (Fly). It fought well enough but was never as highly re­garded as the slower I 15 biplanes. I 16s were also fielded during the 1939 clash with Japan in Mongolia, rendering useful service against more nimble but slower adversaries. With international tensions on the rise, the Soviets decided to acquire large numbers of I 16s as quickly as possible. By the time production ceased in 1940, more than 7,000 had been produced, making it the most numerous fighter of the Red Air Force. In June 1941 German forces exacted a heavy toll from the obsolete I 16s, but their rugged construc­tion was ideal for the desperate taran (ramming) at­tacks. Despite perils to both plane and pilot, Soviet fliers bravely adopted the new tactic, inflicting heavy damage on German aircraft. The I 16s were finally withdrawn from service in 1943.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Light Bomber; Reconnaissance

Dimensions: wingspan, 50 feet, 10 inches; length, 34 feet, 7 inches; height, 11 feet, 9 inches

Weights: empty, 4,916 pounds; gross, 7,716 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 850-horsepower M-34N liquid-cooled in-line engine

Performance: maximum speed, 196 miles per hour; ceiling, 28,545 feet; range, 621 miles

Armament: 3 x 7.62mm machine guns; up to 882 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1930-1943


he R 5 was a successful multipurpose Russian design of the 1930s and superior to similar ma­chines in the West. Rugged and fast, it gained notori­ety during the Spanish Civil War under the nickname Natasha.

The year 1927 was a banner one for Nikolai Po­likarpov, for he introduced two exceptionally long – serving aircraft. The first was the famous U 2, des­tined to be the most numerous airplane of all time. The second was the R 5, conceived as a general-pur­pose plane/light bomber, the first of its kind for the Red Air Force. The R 5 was an unequal-wing biplane constructed mostly of wood and was fabric-covered. It had single-bay wings fastened by “N” struts cant­ing outward toward the wingtips. The fuselage was rather streamlined and seated a crew of two in closely spaced tandem cockpits. The craft could be fitted with either wheels or skis, and test flights re­vealed the R 5 to be fast and strong. It entered ser­vice in 1930; by the time production halted in 1938,
more than 6,000 R 5s had been produced. They were the most numerous aircraft of their class in the world.

In service the R 5 was possibly the best light bomber of its day. During a 1930 international air­plane meet in Teheran, Persia, it easily bested such notables as the Fokker CV and Westland Wapiti in a number of categories. During this period the craft also did useful work pioneering the art of in-flight refueling. In September 1930 three R 5s flew contin­uously for 61 hours, landing without incident after covering 6,526 miles. In 1938 the craft was dis­patched in small numbers to fight in the Spanish Civil War on behalf of Republican forces. It did use­ful ground-attack work, earning the affectionate nickname Natasha. R 5s subsequently formed the bulk of Soviet light attack regiments up through the German invasion of 1941. Many were destroyed in that conflict, but others simply soldiered on until being replaced by Ilyushin Il 2s in 1943.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Trainer; Light Bomber; Reconnaissance; Liaison

Dimensions: wingspan, 37 feet, 4 inches; length, 26 feet, 7 inches; height, 9 feet, 10 inches

Weights: empty, 1,350 pounds; gross, 2,167 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 110-horsepower Shvetsov M-11 radial engine

Performance: maximum speed, 93 miles per hour; ceiling, 10,827 feet; range, 342 miles Armament: none Service dates: 1928-


he amazingly versatile U 2 was built in greater numbers than any other aircraft. It proved equally useful as a trainer or transport, but it won a measure of immortality as a night bomber.

In 1927 the Soviet government expressed need for a new general-purpose biplane. It was intended as their first mass-produced trainer, so the new ma­chine had to be easy to fly, simple to maintain, and able to operate under very primitive conditions. The Polikarpov design bureau was tasked with develop­ing such a craft, but initial efforts proved halting. The first prototype featured rectangular, austere lines, wings, and tail surfaces. When first test-flown, it failed to become airborne. Polikarpov subse­quently revamped the design with rounder wingtips and single-bay configuration. The resulting U 2 was completely successful, one of the most versatile air­craft ever flown. It entered production in 1928, and by 1941 an estimated 13,000 were flying. They ful­filled a staggering variety of roles, including agricul­tural, civilian, ambulance, transportation, glider tug,
and parachute training duties. In 1938 a U 2 made history by locating five Soviet scientists marooned on a floating iceberg for nine months. It seemed there was little that the easy-handling biplane could not do.

The onset of World War II brought additional luster to Polikarpov’s masterpiece. Armed with bombs and small arms, they distinguished them­selves as nighttime light bombers, or intruders. Fly­ing low in the dark, the noisy U 2s dropped bombs on German soldiers to deny them sleep. Given their slow speed and great maneuverability, U 2s were also extremely hard to shoot down. When Nikolai Polikarpov died in 1943, Stalin ordered the airplane rechristened the Po 2 in his honor. By war’s end, en­tire regiments of Po 2 night squadrons existed, many flown exclusively by women. The little plane contin­ued in production up until 1952, after 40,000 had been constructed. Thousands of others were ex­ported to former Soviet satellite countries and are still in use today.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Fighter; Light Bomber; Reconnaissance

Dimensions: wingspan, 52 feet, 6 inches; length, 35 feet, 10 inches; height, 11 feet, 9 inches Power plant: 2 x 700-horsepower Gnome-Rhone 14M radial engines Performance: maximum speed, 276 miles per hour; ceiling, 27,890 feet; range, 932 miles Armament: 5 x 7.5mm machine guns; 1,323 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1938-1942


he Potez 63 represented a large multirole family of combat aircraft. Marginally obsolete by 1940, they suffered heavy losses and were later exported to Romania.

In 1934 the French Air Ministry issued specifi­cations for a new two-seat fighter capable of night operations, bombardment, and reconnaissance. A special three-seat version was also desired as a “command fighter” to direct single-seat craft into ac­tion. In 1936 Louis Coroller unveiled the Potez 63 prototype to fulfill all these tasks. This was a large, all-metal airplane, one of the first “strategic” fighters then in vogue. Like its German counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf 110, it possessed twin engines, twin rudders, and a large greenhouse canopy. After teething problems were resolved, the Potez 630 and slightly modified Potez 631s entered service in 1938. They proved to be underpowered and were retained only as trainers. But the company went on to de­velop the Potez 633 ground-attack version, along with the Potez 63.11 reconnaissance version. The latter model featured an extensively redesigned
nose with glazed windows and a shorter canopy moved aft along the fuselage. With 1,360 machines built in various versions, the Potez 63 series was the most numerous French design of World War II.

A Potez 63 has the distinction of being the first Allied aircraft lost in the West, when one was downed on September 8, 1939. Once the Battle of France com­menced in May 1940, the Potez aircraft equipped sev­eral groupes de chasse (fighter groups) in northern France and were heavily engaged. Others saw front­line service with numerous reconnaissance outfits.

Lacking adequate fighter escort and commit­ted to low-altitude attacks, both types suffered heavy losses. In fact, several Potez 631s were some­times shot down by British aircraft who mistook them for Bf 110s. By the time of France’s capitula­tion, more than 400 machines had been destroyed. Many surviving craft were exported to Romania in time to be used against the Soviet Union in 1941. Small handfuls of Potez 63.11s were also retained by Vichy forces in North Africa, where they flew briefly against Allied forces.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 35 feet, 2 inches; length, 24 feet, 9 inches; height, 9 feet, 4 inches

Weights: empty, 2,529 pounds; gross, 3,968 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 645-horsepower Bristol Mercury VIS radial engine

Performance: maximum speed, 242 miles per hour; ceiling, 26,250 feet; range, 435 miles

Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machine guns

Service dates: 1935-1939


hen it first appeared in 1935, the Jedenastka was arguably among the world’s finest fighter planes. Four years later this distinctive craft was flown with great skill and courage in the defense of Poland.

For many years the fledgling Lotnictowo Wo – jskowe (Polish air force) groped with imported and usually mediocre aircraft. However, in 1929 Zygmunt Pulawski, a brilliant young designer working at the National Aircraft Factory (PZL), conceived a unique, parasol-winged fighter design, the P 1. This was fol­lowed two years later by the P 7, which was high – powered, constructed entirely of metal, and covered by stressed skin. Its introduction pushed Poland to the forefront of aviation technology at a time when most Western powers were still designing fabric-cov­ered biplanes. In 1931 Pulawski, before his death in a plane crash, began designing an improved version of the P 7, which became known as the P 11. It enjoyed a more powerful engine and numerous aeronautical refinements that rendered it an even better airplane
than the P 7. The P 11, affectionately known by pilots as the Jedenastka (Eleventh) was ruggedly built, fast for its day, and outstandingly maneuverable. It was so impressive that Romania purchased 50 machines outright and applied for a license to construct them. However, within a few years these world-famous gull-wing wonders were overtaken by low-wing monoplane aircraft—most notably Germany’s Messerschmitt Bf 109—and rendered obsolete.

By the advent of World War II in September 1939, the PZL P 11s constituted the bulk of Poland’s first line of defense. Polish pilots, seemingly helpless in the face of modern opposition, proved fanatically brave in defending their homeland. In fact, the first German aircraft shot down in World War II fell to the guns of a P 11 on September 1, 1939. Although ultimately overrun, these brave aviators managed to claw down 124 German aircraft with a loss of 114 P 11s. Of the 258 Jedenastkas constructed, one sur­vives in Warsaw and is displayed as a cherished symbol of national resistance.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Light Bomber; Reconnaissance

Dimensions: wingspan, 45 feet, 9 inches; length, 31 feet, 9 inches; height, 10 feet, 10 inches

Weights: empty, 4,251 pounds; gross, 7,771 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 680-horsepower Bristol Pegasus VIII radial engine

Performance: maximum speed, 199 miles per hour; ceiling, 23,950 feet; range, 783 miles

Armament: 3 x 7.7mm machine guns; up to 1,543 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1937-1939


he Karas was another formerly advanced Polish machine that had fallen behind technologically by 1939. Flown with fanatical bravery, they inflicted heavy losses upon German armored formations.

In 1931 the Polish government sought to ac­quire a new light bomber based upon the unsuccess­ful PZL P 13 civilian transport. Several prototypes were then constructed until the cowling was low­ered somewhat to improve the pilot’s forward vi­sion. This change gave the new P 23 Karas (Carp) its decidedly humped appearance. It was an all­metal machine with fixed, spatted landing gear and a spacious glazed canopy. The P 23 also mounted a bombardier/tailgunner’s ventral gondola just aft of the main wing. At the time it debuted, the Karas possessed radically modern features such as stressed skin made from sandwiched alloy/balsa wood. This innovation conferred great strength and light weight to the machine. Initial production mod­els were powered by a 590-horsepower Bristol Pega­sus radial engine, but their performance proved lim­
ited and they served as trainers. Subsequent models featured more powerful engines and greater pay­load, entering frontline service in 1937. By 1939 P 23s equipped 12 bombing and reconnaissance squadrons in the Polish air force. Bulgaria also ex­pressed interest in the P 23, purchasing 12 and or­dering an additional 42 in 1937. Nonetheless, by the eve of World War II the Karas had become outdated as light bombers and helpless in the face of deter­mined fighter opposition.

The initial German blitzkrieg of September 1, 1939, failed to destroy many P 23s on the ground, and they struck back furiously at oncoming armored columns. Several Panzer forces lost up to 30 percent of their equipment in these raids, although many P 23s were claimed by ground fire and enemy fight­ers. Toward the end of the month-long campaign, a handful of surviving Karas fought their way to neu­tral Romania. Within two years these machines were reconditioned and flown against the Soviet Union. A total of 253 were built.

. Pfalz Dllla

Type: Medium Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 58 feet, 8 inches; length, 42 feet, 4 inches; height, 16 feet, 8 inches

Weights: empty, 9,293 pounds; gross, 19,577 pounds

Power plant: 2 x 925-horsepower Bristol Pegasus radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 273 miles per hour; ceiling, 19,685 feet; range, 1,616 miles Armament: 3 x 7.7mm machine guns; up to 5,688 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1938-1939


he Los (Elk) was a world-class attack bomber and Poland’s most formidable air weapon of World War II. It arrived in only limited quantities but nonetheless performed heroic work throughout a hopelessly lopsided campaign.

The amazing P 37 Los had its origins in the ex­perimental P 30 civilian transport of 1930, which failed to attract a buyer. That year a design team under Jerzy Dabrowksi conceived a modern bomber version of the same craft and proffered it to the gov­ernment in 1934. A prototype was then authorized, first flying in 1936. The P 37 marked a pinnacle in medium bomber development for, in terms of design and performance, it was years ahead of contempo­rary machines. This was a sleek, all-metal, low-wing monoplane employing stressed skin throughout. Al­though relatively low-powered, its broad-chord wings permitted amazing lifting abilities, and it could hoist more than 5,000 pounds of bombs aloft—the equivalent of half its own empty weight! No medium bomber in the world—and few heavy bombers for that matter—could approach such per­
formance. The Los entered production in 1937, and the first units became operational the following year. The government originally ordered 150 ma­chines, but resistance from the Polish High Com­mand, which viewed medium bombers as expensive and unnecessary, managed to reduce procurement by a third. Meanwhile, other countries expressed great interest in the P 37, with Bulgaria, Turkey, Ro­mania, and Yugoslavia placing sizable orders. A total of 103 machines were built.

By the advent of World War II in September 1939, the Polish air force could muster only 36 fully equipped P 37s. Several score sat available in wait­ing but lacked bombsights and other essential equip­ment. Nonetheless, the Los roared into action, in­flicting considerable damage upon advancing German columns. When the outcome of the fight be­came helpless, around 40 surviving machines fled to neutral Romania and were absorbed into its air force. Within two years these fugitives were recondi­tioned and flown with good effect against the Soviet Union.

. О Albatros C XII

Type: Reconnaissance

Dimensions: 47 feet, 2 inches; length, 29 feet; height, 10 feet, 8 inches Weights: empty, 2,251 pounds; gross, 3,613 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 260-horsepower Mercedes D VIa liquid-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 109 miles per hour; ceiling, 16,405 feet; range, 300 miles Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machine guns Service dates: 1917-1918


he long-serving Albatros C class was among the finest and most adaptable reconnaissance aircraft of World War I. They combined good performance and reliability into an aesthetically pleasing airframe.

The Albatros family of two-seat reconnais­sance aircraft grew out of the prewar unarmed B – series. The new C versions, introduced in 1915, were armed, more strongly built, and capable of de­fensive maneuvering. Successive models tended to be better armed and better powered, and in 1917 the trend culminated in the introduction of the C X model. This version mounted the new 260-horse­power Mercedes D IVa engine that gave it greater speed and altitude than previous versions. It capped a tendency in the reconnaissance family to incorporate more and more features of the famous D series of fighters. It also sported lengthened wings that housed flush-mounted radiators and double ailerons. The C X displayed good high-alti­tude performance and the two-man crew carried its own oxygen supply aloft along with a wireless
radio. The plane commenced field service in the summer of 1917 and proved entirely successful as a photo platform and artillery spotter. A total of 330 machines were constructed, and they served with distinction to war’s end.

In time Albatros followed up with an improved model of the C X, the C XII. From an aesthetic stand­point, this was the most pleasing aircraft of the en­tire series. The C XII was the first reconnaissance machine to directly incorporate the trademark ellip­tical fuselage cross-section of the famous D-series fighters. It also employed an enlarged, curved tailfin strongly reminiscent of the scouts, along with a tri­angular ventral fin attached to the tail skid. How­ever, the motor, wing, and landing gear of the previ­ous aircraft were retained. The overall effect of the new machine was sleek and elegant. However, for all its refinement, the C XII boasted little improve­ment over the C X in terms of performance. It was nevertheless deployed in some numbers and served alongside earlier versions until the Armistice.

. Commonwealth CA1 Wirraway

Type: Trainer; Light Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 43 feet; length, 27 feet, 10 inches; height, 8 feet, 9 inches Weights: empty, 3,992 pounds; gross, 6,595 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 600-horsepower Pratt & Whitney CAC R-1340 Wasp radial engine Performance: maximum speed, 220 miles per hour; ceiling, 23,000 feet; range, 720 miles Armament: 3 x.303-caliber machine guns; 500 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1939-1958


he Wirraway was the first indigenous warplane produced in Australia and the first deployed by the Royal Australian Air Force. Despite severe de­sign limitations, it was heroically employed during the perilous opening months of the Pacific War against Japan.

In 1936 the Australian government encouraged formation of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corpora­tion (CAC). This was undertaken to lessen that coun­try’s dependency on outside sources for aircraft. The following year, CAC entered negotiations with North American Aviation and received permission to con­struct their BT-9 trainer under license. As such, the new CA 1 was a low-wing monoplane seating two crew members in a long, tandem cockpit. The wing and top fuselage were metal-plated, whereas the lower fuselage and control surfaces were fabric-cov­ered. The Australian version was also outfitted with a larger engine, retractable landing gear, and arma­ment consisting of two fixed machine guns for the pilot, and a single movable weapon for the gunner. Like the BT-9, the new craft, dubbed the Wirraway
(an aboriginal expression for “challenge”), was somewhat slow but handled well. At the onset of the Pacific War the Wirraway equipped several squadrons of Australia’s fledgling air force.

Australia was woefully unprepared for this war, but the existing stocks of CA 1s were pressed into frontline service as an emergency stopgap. With no re­placements in sight, Wirraways were employed as dive-bombers, scouts, reconnaissance craft and—on several hair-raising occasions—as interceptors. Bravely manned, CA 1s paid heavily for their obsoles­cence, but they were a contributing factor in helping to slow and ultimately stop the Japanese drive over New Guinea’s Owen Stanley Mountains. In time, dan­gerous low-altitude flying above mountain jungles be­came something of an Australian specialty, and Wirraways spotted, marked, and dive-bombed targets to good effect. Eventually, these war-weary veterans were replaced by more modern aircraft, but several squadrons performed combat operations until 1945. CAC ultimately produced 755 Wirraways, and many of these stalwarts performed training duty until 1958.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Dimensions: wingspan, 36 feet, 1 inch; length, 27 feet, 5 inches; height, 10 feet, 2 inches

Weights: empty, 5,265 pounds; gross, 6,989 pounds

Power plant: 1 x Daimler-Benz DB 601A liquid-cooled in-line engine

Performance: maximum speed, 339 miles per hour; ceiling, 39,205 feet; range, 646 miles

Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine guns; 2 x 12.7mm machine guns

Service dates: 1939-1945


he Falcos were a capable series of Italian fight­ers, but available in only limited numbers. They enjoyed greater success as export machines, being operated by Sweden, Hungary, and Germany.

In 1938 the new Reggiane design office rolled out its first Re 2000 Falco (Falcon), which had been designed by Roberto Longhi. Superficially resem­bling the U. S. Seversky P 35 fighter of the same pe­riod, it was stubby and possessed large, elliptical wings. However, the Italian design offered clear im­provements, being more streamlined and having re­tractable undercarriage that recessed into wing wells. Flight tests also revealed that the Re 2000 was an outstanding dogfighter and superior to the Bf 109 in a contest of slow turns. However, like all Italian fighters of the late 1930s, being driven by a low – power radial engine meant that it was relatively slow. This, and the fact that fuel was carried in unar­mored tanks near the wing roots, caused the Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) to reject the design. However, Sweden and Hungary expressed interest,
and the Re 2000 was acquired by both air forces in considerable numbers. The Regia Marina (Italian navy) also acquired 12 for possible catapult work aboard Italian battleships.

After Italy entered World War II in June 1940, Reggiane had greater access to advanced German engine technology. Longhi wasted no time refitting the Re 2000 with a powerful Daimler-Benz 601A in­line engine—quite a feat considering the rotund fuselage—and created the Re 2001 Falco II. As pre­dicted, this version possessed superior performance to the original design. It was deployed with some success over Malta in 1941, but a shortage of Ger­man engines limited its production to only 237 ma­chines. Final development of the series culminated in the Re 2005 Sagittario (Archer) when the DB 605A engine was fitted to a totally redesigned, slender fuselage. This was quite possibly the great­est Italian fighter of the war, and the Germans co­opted all 48 machines for their own use. These air­craft actively flew in the defense of Berlin until 1945.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Reconnaissance


Dimensions: wingspan, 35 feet; length, 29 feet, 6 inches; height, 10 feet, 2 inches

Weights: empty, 1,274 pounds; gross, 1,600 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 70-horsepower Renault liquid-cooled in-line engine

Performance: maximum speed, 70 miles per hour; ceiling, 10,000 feet; range, 200 miles

Armament: up to 1 x.303-inch machine gun; 100 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1912-1918


he slow, anachronistic BE 2s were among the first British aircraft dispatched to France in World War I. Despite staggering losses, bureaucratic inertia kept them in frontline service until the end of that conflict.

The BE 2a was designed and constructed in 1912 by Geoffrey de Havilland and was Britain’s first purely military aircraft. It was a two-bay biplane constructed entirely of wood and fabric, powered by an 80-horsepower engine. Despite its obvious frailty, the BE 2a possessed good performance for its day, was inherently stable, and was pleasant to fly. It therefore entered into production and, by the advent of World War I in August 1914, equipped three recon­naissance squadrons. BE 2s were the first British air­planes dispatched to France during the war, and in August 1914 they conducted the first British recon­naissance missions.

The pace of war quickly transformed the stately BE 2s into relics, a fact painfully underscored when
the machine gun-totting Fokker Eindekker debuted in 1915. The slow-flying BE 2s, unarmed and incapable of evasive maneuvers, were shot down in droves. The Royal Aircraft Factory was cognizant of these defi­ciencies and tried numerous modifications to improve performance, but to no avail. For many months in a service career that should have terminated speedily, the BE 2 remained the staple of “Fokker fodder.”

In light of the BE 2’s demonstrated obsoles­cence, it is difficult to account for why it was kept in frontline service for so long. The British government was certainly culpable on this point. In 1916 the most numerous version, the BE 2e, was introduced with a stronger engine and better armament, but the results were the same. The aging craft was finally transferred from the front in mid-1917 and relegated to training duties. It is regrettable that this docile aircraft was responsible for more Royal Air Corps casualties than any other type. A total of 3,535 of all models were built

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Fighter; Light Bomber


Dimensions: wingspan, 47 feet, 9 inches; length, 32 feet, 3 inches; height, 12 feet, 7 inches Weights: empty, 1,993 pounds; gross, 2,970 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 120-horsepower Beardmore liquid-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 80 miles per hour; ceiling, 9,000 feet; range, 250 miles Armament: 2 x.303-inch machine guns; up to 350 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1916-1918


he venerable “Fee” was one of several capable pushers fielded by England during the World War I. It counted among many victims Max Immel – mann, the noted German ace.

The FE 2 (Fighter Experimental) evolved from a series of pusher aircraft constructed at Farnbor – ough in 1912. It was among the earliest warplanes designed in Great Britain, first flying there in 1913. The FE 2 consisted of a two-seat plywood and fab­ric-covered nacelle that also housed an engine. This unit sat suspended on struts between two wings of equal length, while four wooden booms extended rearward to a rudder and high-mounted tailplane. The forward nacelle seat contained a forward-firing machine gun and a second, telescopic-mounted weapon firing rearward over the top wing. To oper­ate this weapon, the gunner stood up inside the cockpit while the aircraft was in flight. For all its rel­ative crudeness, the FE 2 was a sound, good-han­dling machine, and a fine fighter for its day.

The first FE 2s did not reach the front until December 1915, but their impact was immediate. In concert with the de Havilland DH 2, the Fees outclassed the rampaging Fokker Eindekkers and helped eradicate them. On June 18, 1916, an FE 2 operated by No. 25 Squadron shot down and killed the famous ace Max Immelmann. Other German pilots like Karl Schaefer and Manfred von Richthofen were also injured while combating the deceptively doughty craft. The appearance of Al – batros and Halberstadt D II fighters that fall spelled the end of the FE 2’s career. However, being stable in flight and solidly built, they next took on responsibilities as night bombers. On April 5, 1917, the FE 2’s initial raid was against von Richthofen’s own aerodrome at Donai. The re­maining craft were subsequently employed as trainers and in home defense units. FE 2s contin­ued serving until the Armistice of 1918. An esti­mated 1,989 were constructed.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Reconnaissance

Dimensions: wingspan, 42 feet, 7 inches; length, 32 feet, 7 inches; height, 11 feet, 4 inches

Weights: empty, 1,803 pounds; gross, 2,869 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 150-horsepower RAF 4a liquid-cooled in-line engine

Performance: maximum speed, 103 miles per hour; ceiling, 13,500 feet; range, 400 miles

Armament: 2 x.303-inch machine guns; up to 250 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1917-1918


he lumbering “Harry Tate” was built in greater numbers than any other British reconnaissance craft of World War I. Intended as a replacement for the unpopular BE 2, it was equally inadequate yet re­mained in production through the end of hostilities.

By the spring of 1916, the heavy loss of BE 2 aircraft forced the Royal Air Corps to request better machines capable of defending themselves. The Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough responded with the RE 8, which in many respects was simply a scaled-up BE 2. It too was a hulking, two-bay bi­plane with staggered wings of unequal length. Con­struction was plywood and fabric throughout, save for the metal cowling, and the upward-sloping rear fuselage gave it a decidedly “broken-back” appear­ance. It also had a small tail that during service life had to be enlarged to prevent spinning. But the RE 8 was well-armed by contemporary standards, pos­sessing a synchronized Vickers machine gun for the pilot and a ring-mounted Lewis for the gunner. Like
the BE 2, the RE 8 was predictable and easy to fly, but it was inherently too stable for defensive maneu­vers. Nonetheless, more than 4,077 were con­structed over the next two years, with the first units reaching the Western Front in 1917.

Predictably, the RE 8s fended no better in com­bat than their earlier stablemates. The slow, stately craft simply lacked the agility to defend themselves against the fast, maneuverable German scouts, and they sustained heavy losses. With no suitable suc­cessor on the horizon, the RE 8s soldiered on, pro­viding useful work in reconnaissance, artillery-spot­ting, and some occasional ground-attack work. Flight crews eventually admired its reliable qualities and nicknamed it “Harry Tate” after a noted vaude­ville comedian. Despite their glaring shortcomings, RE 8s continued to provide valuable service through the end of the war. But it is unconscionable that the British Air Ministry allowed such a derelict to serve as long as it did—and at such great cost.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Fighter


Dimensions: wingspan, 26 feet, 7 inches; length, 20 feet, 11 inches; height, 9 feet, 6 inches Weights: empty, 1,531 pounds; gross, 2,048 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 200-horsepower Hispano-Suiza liquid-cooled radial engine Performance: maximum speed, 126 miles per hour; ceiling, 17,500 feet; range, 250 miles Armament: 2 x.303-inch machine guns; up to 100 pounds of bombs Service dates: 1917-1918


he SE 5a formed half of a famous British fighter duo from World War I. Although not as maneu­verable as a Sopwith Camel, it was faster, more sta­ble, and the preferred choice of several leading aces.

In 1916 the Royal Aircraft Factory began de­signing a new fighter around the 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine. It was a standard two-bay bi­plane with rather angular features, for the wings, tail surfaces, and radiator were square. But the proto­type SE 5 (Scout Experimental) successfully flew on November 16 with impressive results. It was fast, easily handled, and could dive with complete safety. Moreover, consistent with all Royal Aircraft Factory products, great emphasis had been placed on overall stability. Hence, it was an excellent gunnery plat­form, well-armed with a nose-mounted Vickers ma­chine gun and a Lewis weapon firing over the top wing.

The SE 5 entered production in the spring of 1917, flew its first operational sorties that April, and
demonstrated mastery over the German Albatros D Vs, Pfalz D IIIs, and Fokker Dr Is opposing them. It could also hold its own against the superb Fokker D VII of 1918. The SE 5 was decidedly faster and could outclimb and outdive all its adversaries with ease. These features, combined with stable flying, made it the favored mount of leading aces like Ed­ward Mannock, Albert Ball, and William Bishop. Possessing an in-line engine, it was not as maneu­verable as the famous Sopwith Camel, but for the same reason it afforded novice pilots an easier time. By the summer of 1917 a stronger version, the SE 5a, appeared with the geared 200-horsepower French – manufactured Hispano-Suiza engine. This power plant was egregiously defective at first, and a series of similar British engines were installed in its place. By the 1918 Armistice 5,205 SE 5as had been deliv­ered while another 50 were manufactured in the United States by Eberhardt. Most were retired im­mediately after the war.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Reconnaissance


Dimensions: wingspan, 41 feet, 6 inches; length, 27 feet, 7 inches; height, 10 feet, 8 inches Weights: empty, 2,376 pounds; gross, 3,366 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 260-horsepower Mercedes D IVa liquid-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 106 miles per hour; ceiling, 21,000 feet; range, 330 miles Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machine guns Service dates: 1917-1918


he excellent Rumplers were a common sight in the skies of Europe throughout World War I. They were among the highest-flying reconnaissance machines to serve during that conflict.

Since 1915 the Rumpler Flugzeugwerke had provided the German army with numerous two-seat aircraft, both armed and unarmed. The firm’s C I was a masterpiece of aeronautical engineering that debuted in 1915 and soldiered on at the front lines three years later. Toward the end of the war Dr. Ed­mund Rumpler decided to update his long-lived de­sign with one better suited for long-range reconnais­sance work. The new version, the C IV, was a departure from earlier conceptions. A two-bay bi­plane, it possessed slightly swept, highly efficient wings constructed of wood and fabric. The fuselage was also highly streamlined and mounted a pointed spinner on the propeller hub. The tail surfaces had also been revised and lost the triangular shape that was a Rumpler trademark. But more important, this craft was fitted with an excellent Mercedes D IVa en­gine, which gave it plenty of power at all altitudes.

The Rumpler C IV appeared at the front in February 1917 and was strikingly successful. It was one of the few aircraft that could routinely reach al­titudes of 20,000 feet at speeds of 100 miles per hour. Consequently, Rumplers were considered among the most difficult German aircraft to shoot down. They were also ruggedly constructed and could absorb great damage. That fall work on an even better version was commenced, and the C VII emerged that winter. Externally, it was almost indis­tinguishable from the C IV but was powered by a high-compression Maybach Mb IV engine. This plane functioned as a high-altitude long-range re­connaissance platform. An even more highly spe­cialized form, the Rubild (Rumpler photographic) also materialized. It was a stripped-down C VII fit­ted with heaters and oxygen equipment for the crew. Thus rendered, it easily reached unprece­dented altitudes of 24,000 feet, where no Allied fighters could follow. The exemplary Rumpler ma­chines continued serving with distinction until the war’s end.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Fighter; Light Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 36 feet, 1 inch; length, 33 feet, 2 inches; height, 12 feet, 3 inches

Weights: empty, 10,141 pounds; gross, 17,637 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 5,000-pound thrust de Havilland Ghost turbojet engine

Performance: maximum speed, 659 miles per hour; ceiling, 45,000 feet; range, 1,677 miles

Armament: 4 x 20mm cannons; up to 24 x 76mm rockets

Service dates: 1951-1976


he odd-looking J 29 set an important precedent by establishing Sweden at the forefront of mili­tary aviation. It was the first European jet with swept wings and enjoyed a lengthy service life.

Even before World War II had ended, the Swedish government resolved to enforce its long­standing policy of neutrality by acquiring modern war­planes. In 1945 Project 1001 was initiated by Saab to provide Sweden with its first jet fighter. The original design intended to mount straight wings and utilize the relatively weak de Havilland Goblin turbojet. However, awareness of German swept-wing technol­ogy, coupled with invention of the more powerful Ghost engine, caused fundamental revisions in the program. The design was modified, providing the wing with 25 degrees of sweep, and the fuselage was made more portly to accommodate the new engine. The re­sulting J 29 prototype first flew in September 1948 with excellent results. It was fast, ruggedly built in the tradition of Saab products, and highly maneuverable.

When wing-mounted air brakes were found to cause excessive flutter, they were subsequently relocated to the fuselage. The tricycle landing gear were also unique in that they inclined inward before retracting inside the fuselage. Three more years lapsed before the J 29 entered production and became operational as Europe’s first swept-wing jet fighter. Pilots took an immediate liking to the tubby craft, giving it the appro­priate nickname Tunnan (Barrel).

A total of 661 J 29s were built until 1958 in six versions, all with successively better performance and endurance. The definitive model was the J 29F, constructed for ground-attack purposes and em­ploying the effective Bofors rocket clusters. It also sported an afterburner and a sawtooth leading edge for better performance in the transonic range. The beloved Tunnans were slowly phased out after 1958, but several examples remained on active duty until 1973. In 1961 Austria obtained 30 J 29Fs and re­tained them in frontline service until 1993.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 30 feet, 10 inches; length, 50 feet, 4 inches; height, 12 feet, 9 inches

Weights: empty, 18,188 pounds; gross, 25,132 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 12,790-pound thrust Volvo RM6C turbojet engine

Performance: maximum speed, 1,321 miles per hour; ceiling, 49,200 feet; range, 350 miles

Armament: 1 x 30mm cannon; up to 6,393 pounds of air-to-air missiles

Service dates: 1960-1999


he Draken, distinct with its double-delta config­uration, was one of the world’s most advanced aircraft. It confirmed Sweden’s reputation for con­structing high-performance aircraft with originality and flair.

In 1949 the Flygvapen (Swedish air force) is­sued stringent specifications for a new supersonic aircraft to replace the J 29 Tunnan. This evolved at a time when the only craft capable of such speeds was Bell’s famous experimental X-1. Nonetheless, the new machine had to be fast and display unprece­dented rates of climb. It was also required to pos­sess good STOL (short takeoff and landing) capabili­ties for operating off of highways and unprepared strips during dispersal. That year a Saab design teamed under Erik Bratt set about creating a minor aviation masterpiece when they opted to employ a unique double-delta. Such an arrangement promised great strength and internal volume with very little frontal area. The new machine could thus be crammed with fuel and avionics yet be difficult to ascertain head-on. It also promised excellent han­
dling at fast as well as slow speeds. Several small – scale models and mock-ups followed before the first J 35 flew in October 1955. The aircraft was an out­standing success, although its engine failed to pro­duce the Mach 2 speeds anticipated. It nonetheless entered production that year as the Draken (Dragon), reaching operational status in 1960. Pro­duction amounted to 660 machines.

Over time the Draken passed through succes­sive variants that gradually improved its perfor­mance. Conceived as a bomber interceptor, the new J 35F mounted a pulse doppler radar, automatic fire – control systems, and advanced Hughes Falcon air – to-air missiles. This model could also fly at speeds in excess of Mach 2, exhibiting performance equal to the English Electric Lightning on only one engine. Drakens served Sweden well over four decades and were retired only in 1999. As they aged, they also be­came available for export, with Denmark and Fin­land obtaining several copies. However, the biggest user was Austria, which purchased 24 machines that are still in service.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Fighter; Light Bomber; Reconnaissance; Trainer

Dimensions: wingspan, 34 feet, 9 inches; length, 53 feet, 9 inches; height, 19 feet, 4 inches

Weights: empty, 33,069 pounds; gross, 45,194 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 28,100-pound thrust Volvo RM8B turbofan engine

Performance: maximum speed, 1,321 miles per hour; ceiling, 60,040 feet; range, 621 miles

Armament: 1 x 30mm cannon; up to 13,000 pounds of missiles, rockets, or bombs

Service dates: 1971-


he racy Viggen (Thunderbolt) was history’s first canard fighter and a formidable interceptor. Until recently it formed the bulk of Swedish air strength, operating from hidden roadways deep in the woods.

In the 1960s Sweden began considering a re­placement for its aging Saab J 32 Lansens. It was de­termined to develop a totally integrated approach to aerial defense called System 37, whereby a single air­frame could be slightly modified to perform fighter, bomber, reconnaissance, and training functions eco­nomically. At length Saab took one of its usual depar­tures from conventional wisdom by designing the J 37 Viggen in 1967. It was a sophisticated design for the time by incorporating small delta canards, equipped with flaps, just behind the cockpit. This complemented the larger, conventional delta wing perfectly, affording greater lift and maneuverability at lower speeds than plain deltas enjoyed. More im­portant, canards allowed the Viggen to take off in rel­atively short distances. This was essential given the
wartime strategy of dispersing air assets into the woods and taxiing off roadways. To shorten landing distances even further, J 37s are equipped with built – in thrust reversers that automatically engage upon touchdown. This is an added safety feature for, given Sweden’s nominally icy conditions, applying airplane brakes in winter can be a chancy proposition at best. These machines became operational in 1971.

The first Viggens were optimized for ground attack, but subsequent variants successfully fulfilled interceptor, reconnaissance, and training missions. All look very similar at first glance, but the SK 37 trainer has a staggered second canopy behind the student cockpit. The final version, the JA 37, arrived in 1977 as a dedicated fighter intent on replacing the redoubtable J 35 Drakens. These are fitted with ad­vanced multimode look down/shoot down radar and an uprated RM8B engine. The total production of all Viggens is 330; they will remain in service until re­placed by superlative JAS 39 Gripens within a few years.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Fighter; Light Bomber; Reconnaissance

Dimensions: wingspan, 26 feet, 3 inches; length, 46 feet, 3 inches; height, 15 feet, 5 inches

Weights: empty, 14,599 pounds; gross, 27,498 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 18,100-pound thrust Volvo RM12 turbofan engine

Performance: maximum speed, 1,321 miles per hour; ceiling, classified; range, 497 miles

Armament: 1 x 27mm cannon; up to 14,330 pounds of rockets, missiles, or bombs

Service dates: 1997-


he futuristic Gripen (Griffon) is the third gener­ation of advanced Saab fighters. Its lightweight, high-performance profile, coupled with digital avionics, make it one of the world’s most sophisti­cated warplanes.

By 1980 the JA 37 Viggen was showing its age, so the Swedish government initiated studies for a suc­cessor. At length stringent performance and fiscal conditions were established, which more or less en­sured that the new machine would be lighter and smaller than the Viggen but even more capable. Fur­thermore, it was expected to simultaneously fulfill fighter, bomber, and reconnaissance missions cur­rently performed by three versions of the former craft. This led to the new designation JAS (Jakt, Attack, and Sparing). Facing such requirements, Saab resurrected its previous canard-delta planform, although with some important changes. The new JAS 39 Gripen is a single-engine design with the wing moved from low – to midbody position. The small fixed canards were re­placed with completely all-moving ones above the en­
gine inlets. The new machine is constructed almost entirely of composite materials for lighter weight and greater strength. As before, the JAS 39 is designed with a fast sink rate for hard, abbreviated landings; in the absence of reverse thrusters, the canards point downward to act as air brakes. To ensure quick stops, the main wing is also fitted with a variety of flaps and elevons for additional drag. But the biggest changes are in the avionics. The JAS 39 is inherently unstable for greater maneuverability and utilizes fly-by-wire technology. Its onboard computers also allow the craft to perform any of three mission profiles by sim­ply changing the software.

The first JAS 39 prototype flew in 1988 and demonstrated excellent, cost-effective qualities but was lost to a programming error. A second proto­type also crashed in a stall, but most problems have since been rectified. The first Gripens became oper­ational in 1997 and are slated to replace the Viggen within a decade. They are among the most advanced fighters ever built.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Reconnaissance


Dimensions: wingspan, 38 feet, 8 inches; length, 27 feet, 10 inches; height, 9 feet, 6 inches Weights: empty, 1,354 pounds; gross, 2,954 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 260-horsepower Salmson Canton-Unne liquid-cooled radial engine Performance: maximum speed, 115 miles per hour; ceiling, 20,505 feet; range, 300 miles Armament: 3 x 7.7mm machine guns Service dates: 1918-1920


his sturdy machine was one of the best French reconnaissance aircraft of World War I. It was a fine, if unexpected, achievement, considering how its designer was previously known for manufactur­ing engines.

In 1909 French industrialist Emile Salmson established the Societe des Moteurs Salmson firm for the express purpose of manufacturing water – cooled radial engines for aircraft. In the period prior to World War I, his products gained a reputa­tion for reliability, which was further enhanced during the war years. In 1916 Salmson tried design­ing aircraft to go along with his engines. The first attempt, the Salmson SM 1, was an awkward-look­ing craft with propellers driven by chains—and a total failure. The following year he had better luck by completing the prototype Type 2, which utilized a more conventional approach. The new machine was a standard biplane with two-bay, unstaggered wings of equal length. The fuselage was circular in cross-section, made of fabric-covered wood, and mounted a heavily louvered metal cowling. A crew
of two sat in separate cockpits, although at such distance that communication was difficult. Nonetheless, French authorities were impressed, and the airplane went into production as the Salm – son 2A2 in the fall of 1917.

In service the Salmson was not particularly fast but proved robust and mechanically reliable. It was well adapted for photo reconnaissance and ar­tillery-spotting, being sufficiently armed to defend itself. A total of 3,200 were constructed and outfitted 24 French squadrons during final phases of the war. Of this total, 705 2A2s were also purchased by the United States for the American Expeditionary Force. These machines were likewise extensively employed and won the admiration of their new own­ers. In one instance, a 2A2 flown by Lieutenant W. P. Irwin of the 1st Aero Squadron claimed eight attack­ing German fighters with his front gun! The Salmson was phased out shortly after the war, although it was subsequently exported to Japan. Others were refitted with enclosed rear cabins and flown as pas­senger ships by early European airlines.

. Reggiane Re 2000/2001 Falco

Type: Medium Bomber; Torpedo-Bomber; Reconnaissance


Dimensions: wingspan, 69 feet, 6 inches; length, 51 feet, 10 inches; height, 14 feet, 1 inch

Weights: empty, 14,991 pounds; gross, 23,104 pounds

Power plant: 3 x 780-horsepower Alfa-Romeo 126 RC34 radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 267 miles per hour; ceiling, 21,325 feet; range, 1,180 miles

Armament: 3 x 12.7mm machine guns; 2,755 pounds of bombs or torpedoes

Service dates: 1936-1952


he famous Sparviero (Sparrow) was the most capable Italian warplane of World War II. It gave excellent service as a bomber, torpedo plane, and reconnaissance craft.

The SM 79 was originally designed by Alessan­dro Marchetti as a high-speed, eight-passenger transport craft. It was a very streamlined, trimotor machine with retractable landing gear and con­structed of steel tubing, wood, and fabric covering. It first flew in 1934 and established several interna­tional speed and distance records. Eventually the Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force) expressed in­terest in it as a potential bomber, and a prototype emerged in 1935. The military Sparviero was out­wardly similar to the transport save for a bombard­ment gondola under the fuselage and a somewhat “humped” top profile to accommodate two gun tur­rets. Consequently, crew members nicknamed it Il Gobbo (The Hunchback) and several were de­ployed to fight in the Spanish Civil War. The SM 79 quickly established itself as a fast, rugged aircraft that handled extremely well under combat condi­
tions. Its reputation induced Yugoslavia to import 45 machines in 1938. The following year a torpedo – bomber version, the SM 79-II, was deployed. Italy had helped pioneer the art of aerial torpedo bom­bardment, so when their efficient weapons were paired with the Sparviero, a formidable combina­tion arose. By the time Italy entered World War II in 1940, SM 79s formed half of that nation’s bomber strength.

Early on, the SM 79 established itself as the most effective aircraft in the Italian arsenal. It per­formed well under trying conditions in North Africa and gave a good account of itself as a bomber. Sparvieros were also responsible for torpedoing several British warships in the Mediterranean. After the 1943 Italian surrender, surviving machines served both sides, with Germany developing a final version, the SM 79-III, which was deployed in small numbers. After the war, many Sparvieros reverted back to transports with the new Italian air force. These served capably until being replaced by more modern designs in 1952.

. О Albatros D V

Type: Fighter

Dimensions: wingspan, 29 feet, 8 inches; length, 24 feet; height, 8 feet, 10 inches Weights: empty, 1,511 pounds; gross, 2,066 pounds

Power plant: 1 x 185-horsepower Mercedes D Ilia liquid-cooled in-line engine Performance: maximum speed, 116 miles per hour; ceiling, 20,500 feet; range, 200 miles Armament: 2 x 7.92mm machine guns Service dates: 1916-1918


he famous Albatros scouts were among the most beautiful and deadly fighters of World War I. By the spring of 1917 they had become so indelibly as­sociated with fighting that the British christened this period “Bloody April.”

The famous Fokker scourge of 1915 was sum­marily ended by the appearance of the Nieuport 11 and the de Havilland DH 2, and the Germans were hard-pressed to field an effective foil. In the spring of 1916 the Albatros Werke under chief engineer Robert Thelen conceived a fighter design unlike anything that had been seen in the skies of Western Europe. Dubbed the D I, it was extremely sleek and heavily armed, being the first German biplane fighter powerful enough to carry two synchronized machine guns. It debuted with great success that spring before a subsequent version, the infamous D III, appeared. This machine proved even dead­lier. The D III combined many aeronautical refine­ments and incorporated features of the heretofore unbeatable Nieuport 17, including vee struts and a smaller lower wing. In the hands of aces like von

Richthofen, Boelcke, and Voss, it quickly estab­lished superiority over opposing Allied aircraft. Consequently, the spring of 1917 became reviled as “Bloody April,” and the prowess of Albatros scouts caused the life expectancies of British airmen to be measured in days.

One persistent problem with the D III, which it had ironically inherited from Nieuport fighters, was the inherent weakness of the lower wing. In combat it was liable to flutter and break off, with fatal con­sequences. An improved model, the D V, was accord­ingly introduced in May 1917 to correct this. It fea­tured a deeper, elliptical fuselage, a more powerful engine, and more closely spaced wings. However, despite these refinements, the D V and its successor, the D Va, boasted few advantages over the aging D III. Throughout most of 1918, the D Vs constituted the bulk of German fighter strength, although they continually lost ground to newer Allied types such as the SPAD XIII and Sopwith Camel. An estimated

3,0 Albatroses, including Austrian versions, were manufactured.