Best Fighter Aircraft of WW2

Apr 2014
200
New York, U.S.
I would categorize the planes in a different way and then rate them

Mediterranean and European TO

Fighters
1 P 51
2 Spitfire
3 Fw 190

Ground attack
1 P 47
2 Typhoon

Pacific TO

Navy fighters
1 Grumman Hellcat
2 Mitsubishi Zero

Navy dive bombers
1 Dauntless SDB

Navy torpedo plane
1 Grumman Avenger

Land based fighters
P 38 Lightning (Army Air Force)
F4U Corsair (USMC)
 
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caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,330
toward the end of the war ,it's engine was giving it a definite torque
it was apain when flying but at landing it wanted to flip
The 109 is a very effective flyer and no worse in the air than other contemporary designs. In fact, the Hispano Buchon (a spanish license built 109G with a RR Merlin) is suprisingly quick and pilots have to restrain it when flying displays alongside allied types. There was a very public crash of one of these, resulting in the death of display pilot Marc Hanna, but that was an unfortunate circumstance. He was landing when he encountered turbulence from an earlier heavier aeroplane (a known problem - vortices are dangerous for a while after large aircraft have passed by at speed). He attempted to go around but the torque was too much at low speed (the important point. Note that twin engined aeroplanes have a 'blue line' spped, below which their rudder is not powerful enough to counter assymteric thrust. I speak with some experience of the result. A pilot known to me died along with three passengers after he lost power in one engine as he performed a low level circuit in poor weather. His aeroplane, a Beechcraft Baron, flipped and went nose down, reaching 400mph from less than 500ft AGL. Three counties had to send fire engines as a result of the crop fields burning).

To further demonstrate things are not so simple, a restored Grumman Bearcat was flight-tested at Duxford UK. The pilot was happy until the aeroplane responded to aileron input the opposite direction. What the ...? He gently landed and had the aeroplane investigated. It was rigged correctly, but at higher sppeds, aileron movement was warping the wing causing a control deflection the wrong way. Pilots back in the day would have been made aware of that behaviour, it was rediscovered thankfully before it caused a fatality.
 
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martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,812
Spain
The 109 is a very effective flyer and no worse in the air than other contemporary designs. In fact, the Hispano Buchon (a spanish license built 109G with a RR Merlin) is suprisingly quick and pilots have to restrain it when flying displays alongside allied types. There was a very public crash of one of these, resulting in the death of display pilot Marc Hanna, but that was an unfortunate circumstance. He was landing when he encountered turbulence from an earlier heavier aeroplane (a known problem - vortices are dangerous for a while after large aircraft have passed by at speed). He attempted to go around but the torque was too much at low speed (the important point. Note that twin engined aeroplanes have a 'blue line' spped, below which their rudder is not powerful enough to counter assymteric thrust. I speak with some experience of the result. A pilot known to me died along with three passengers after he lost power in one engine as he performed a low level circuit in poor weather. His aeroplane, a Beechcraft Baron, flipped and went nose down, reaching 400mph from less than 500ft AGL. Three counties had to send fire engines as a result of the crop fields burning).

To further demonstrate things are not so simple, a restored Grumman Bearcat was flight-tested at Duxford UK. The pilot was happy until the aeroplane responded to aileron input the opposite direction. What the ...? He gently landed and had the aeroplane investigated. It was rigged correctly, but at higher sppeds, aileron movement was warping the wing causing a control deflection the wrong way. Pilots back in the day would have been made aware of that behaviour, it was rediscovered thankfully before it caused a fatality.

Yes, bf-109 was a difficut plane to land... because the high speed was necessary to land and because the possition of the landing gear
 

Zip

Jan 2018
636
Comancheria
The Hellcat is worth consideration. Very important factor in destroying Japanese naval air power in the greatest naval war of history. Also destroyed a significant amount of Japanese land based air power.

I seem to recall reading that the Hellcat shot down more enemies than any other American plane. Maybe I'm delusional.
 
Apr 2015
283
San Jose CA
These are somewhat apples to oranges comparisons. The spitfire and me 109 were developed as very short range defensive fighters. The mustang was developed as a long range escort fighter, to achieve some desirable characteristics, e.g., long range, then you have to make some sacrifices of other things, e.g., maneuverability. Same thing with the naval fighters, they had to be designed to fly off of carriers which meant that their performance characteristics are going to be impacted by this..
 
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redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,900
Stockport Cheshire UK
my
I seem to recall reading that the Hellcat shot down more enemies than any other American plane. Maybe I'm delusional.
The Hellcat is credited with shooting down more Japanese aircraft than any other Allied aircraft, but the P-51 is credited with being the highest scoring American aircraft of WW2.

Word of caution. Overclaiming was the norm in air combat, especially in large air battles involving multiple aircraft. So total victory claims should not be regarded as anything more than a rough guide to how successful an aircraft was in combat.
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,058
The problem is that during the relatively short period of WW2 (6 years), plane technology evolved drasftically.... In 1939 there were still biplanes in combat service (including the italian CR 42 and the soviet I 15) where as by 1944 there were already jet planes....
Even "brands" such as the Spit or the Me 109 evolved quite a bit during that time frame....

So it would probably be more relevant to make a year by year comparison....

As to which planes shot more of the ennemy, that would not be a good measure, for planes that were produced in greater quantity and had more combat hours would be statistically more likely to be at the top of the list.... At the very least the kill rate should be cross referenced to the number of such planes in combat duty
 

Zip

Jan 2018
636
Comancheria
I think an argument can be made that the best fighter was the most significant one, the one with the most effect on the outcome, not necessarily the one that had the best performence or whatever. Which is why I picked the Hellcat which I think was the most significant fighter of the Pacific war.
 
Apr 2014
200
New York, U.S.
The Hellcat is credited with shooting down more Japanese aircraft than any other Allied aircraft, but the P-51 is credited with being the highest scoring American aircraft of WW2.

Word of caution. Overclaiming was the norm in air combat, especially in large air battles involving multiple aircraft. So total victory claims should not be regarded as anything more than a rough guide to how successful an aircraft was in combat.
In the Pacific, I think that honorable mention has to be given to the P 38. It was the main fighter of the Army Air Force and the leading aces all flew this aircraft.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,900
Stockport Cheshire UK
In the Pacific, I think that honorable mention has to be given to the P 38. It was the main fighter of the Army Air Force and the leading aces all flew this aircraft.
Indeed, it was the top scoring USAAF aircraft in this theatre, though it was somewhat of a failure in the campaign in Northern Europe as a bomber escort, as it was plagued by engine and icing problems at high altitudes.