The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is a World War II-era fighter aircraft produced by the American aerospace company Republic Aviation from 1941 through 1945. Its primary armament was eight .50-caliber machine guns, and in the fighter-bomber ground-attack role it could carry 5-inch rockets or a bomb load of 2,500 lb (1,100 kg). When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to 8 tons, making it one of the heaviest fighters of the war. The Thunderbolt was effective as a short-to medium-range escort fighter in high-altitude air-to-air combat and ground attack in both the European and Pacific theaters. The P-47 was designed around the powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial engine, which also powered two U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps fighters, the Grumman F6F Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair. An advanced turbosupercharger system ensured the aircraft's eventual dominance at high altitude, while also influencing its size and design. The P-47 was one of the main United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters of World War II, and also served with other Allied air forces, including those of France, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union. Mexican and Brazilian squadrons fighting alongside the USAAF also flew the P-47. The armored cockpit was relatively roomy and comfortable and the bubble canopy introduced on the P-47D offered good visibility. Nicknamed the "Jug" owing to its appearance if stood on its nose, the P-47 was noted for its firepower, as well as its ability to resist battle damage and remain airworthy. A present-day U.S. ground-attack aircraft, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, takes its name from the P-47.
The Vought F4U Corsair is an American fighter aircraft which saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. Designed and initially manufactured by Chance Vought, the Corsair was soon in great demand; additional production contracts were given to Goodyear, whose Corsairs were designated FG, and Brewster, designated F3A. The Corsair was designed and operated as a carrier-based aircraft, and entered service in large numbers with the U.S. Navy in late 1944 and early 1945. It quickly became one of the most capable carrier-based fighter-bombers of World War II. Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II and its naval aviators achieved an 11:1 kill ratio. Early problems with carrier landings and logistics led to it being eclipsed as the dominant carrier-based fighter by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, powered by the same Double Wasp engine first flown on the Corsair's initial prototype in 1940. Instead, the Corsair's early deployment was to land-based squadrons of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy
The Mustang was designed in April 1940 by a team headed by James H. Kindelberger of North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission. The Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation to build Curtiss P-40 fighters under license for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Rather than build an old design from another company, North American Aviation proposed the design and production of a more modern fighter. The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, 102 days after the contract was signed, and first flew on 26 October. The Mustang was designed to use the Allison V-1710 engine, which had limited high-altitude performance in its earlier variants. The aircraft was first flown operationally by the RAF as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber (Mustang Mk I). Replacing the Allison with a Rolls-Royce Merlin resulted in the P-51B/C (Mustang Mk III) model, and transformed the aircraft's performance at altitudes above 15,000 ft (4,600 m) (without sacrificing range), allowing it to compete with the Luftwaffe's fighters. The definitive version, the P-51D, was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the two-speed, two-stage-supercharged Merlin 66, and was armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) AN/M2 Browning machine guns. From late 1943, P-51Bs and P-51Cs (supplemented by P-51Ds from mid-1944) were used by the USAAF's Eighth Air Force to escort bombers in raids over Germany, while the RAF's Second Tactical Air Force and the USAAF's Ninth Air Force used the Merlin-powered Mustangs as fighter-bombers, roles in which the Mustang helped ensure Allied air superiority in 1944. The P-51 was also used by Allied air forces in the North African, Mediterranean, Italian, and Pacific theaters. During World War II, Mustang pilots claimed to have destroyed 4,950 enemy aircraft.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is an American single-seat, twin piston-engined fighter aircraft that was used during World War II. Developed for the United States Army Air Corps by the Lockheed Corporation, the P-38 incorporated a distinctive twin-boom design with a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Along with its use as a general fighter, the P-38 was used in various aerial combat roles, including as a highly effective fighter-bomber, a night fighter, and a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks. The P-38 was also used as a bomber-pathfinder, guiding streams of medium and heavy bombers, or even other P-38s equipped with bombs, to their targets. Used in the aerial reconnaissance role, the P-38 accounted for 90 percent of the aerial film captured over Europe. The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the aircraft of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories), Thomas McGuire (38 victories), and Charles H. MacDonald (27 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the introduction of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war. Unusual for an early-war fighter design, both engines were supplemented by turbosuperchargers. This gave the P-38 excellent high-altitude performance, making it one of the earliest Allied fighters capable of performing well at high altitudes. The turbosuperchargers also muffled the exhaust, making the P-38's operation relatively quiet. The Lightning was extremely forgiving in-flight and could be mishandled in many ways, but the rate of roll in early versions was low relative to other contemporary fighters; this was addressed in later variants with the introduction of hydraulically boosted ailerons. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in large-scale production throughout American involvement in the war, from the Attack on Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day.