When the United States of America entered World War II in 1941, its air fleet of fighter aircraft was lagging behind the Axis countries’ and the British RAF’s. At that time, the fighter aircraft in service with the US Army Air Corps and Navy were slow and not very maneuverable. Then, Curtis P-40 was the fastest fighter that the US Air Force had at its disposal, inferior in speed and power to the German Messerschmitt Bf109, while the US Navy was equipped with the Grumman F4F “Wildcat”, awkward and slow, compared to the Mitsubishi A6M “Zero”. To catch up and even overcome the German and Japanese aircraft, the United States would have to wait for the arrival of faster, sturdier, and more maneuverable, single-engine aircraft, like the P-51 Mustang and the F6F Hellcat, respectively. However, three years before the United States declared the war on Japan, the US Air Force had already at its disposal one of the best bomber of the war, one which would become a legend: the B-17 Flying Fortress, which had entered service in 1938. During the course of the war, the United States would develop and massively manufacture bombers with stunning bombload capacity and range, like the B-29, and would lead the world in bomber production.
List of WW2 US Aircraft
US Air Force Fighters
– Bell P-63 Kingcobra (developed from P-39 Airacobra)
US Navy Fighters
Ground-attack / Naval Dive Bombers
– Vultee A-31. It did not see combat action with the US, but with the British RAF.
Light, Medium, and Heavy Bombers
Below: a P-51 Mustang, the most successful US fighter aircraft in WW2
Below: a B-17 Flying Fortress, an iconic bomber of WW2