Military Aircraft

This section covers the workings of military aircraft, including fighter jets and attack helicopters. Learn how these aircraft work and how they are used in military operations.

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Mitsubishi A6M Zero

The successes of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero during the first six months of World War II stunned Western observers. Its dominance was frightening, but soon surpassed. Learn about the rise and fall of the A6M Zero, and its unique design specifications.

Grumman F6F Hellcat

The Grumman F6F Hellcat had many virtues and two great assets: its strong, reliable Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine, and the increasing skill and training of its pilots. Read about the specifications and successful history of the F6F Hellcat airplane.

North American P-51 Mustang

The North American P-51 Mustang spelled doom for the Luftwaffe. It was not only able to escort bombers on long-range missions and engage in dogfights, it could also drop and destroy the German Air Force on the ground. Read more on this pivotal plane.

Grumman EA-6B Prowler

The Grumman EA-6B Prowler is a perfect symbol of the Jet Age's remarkable syntheses of engines, airframes, and electronics. Learn the Prowler's specifications, and how new technologies allow the Prowler and similar planes to stay in operation.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was considered the most sophisticated aircraft Lockheed had ever built. The distinctive sight and sound of the P-38 would make it one of the best-known aircraft of the war. Learn more about the unique P-38 Lightning plane.

Messerschmitt Bf 109

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is one of few fighters ever to be developed from a light-plane design. Willy Messerschmitt's angular little plane was built in greater numbers than any other fighter. Read how the Bf 109 has been so successful and long-lived.

Douglas C-47

The durable Douglas C-47 Skytrain was the military variant of the Douglas DC-3. It was America's versatile transport plane of World War II. Even the Luftwaffe flew it, using aircraft impressed from airlines of occupied countries. Read about the C-47.

Douglas SBD Dauntless

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was a carrier-based dive bomber, a compact scrapper with a gift for sinking Japanese carriers and other large ships. Learn the specifications and how the Dauntless proved to be the supreme dive-bomber of the Pacific War.

Boeing B-17

The four-engine Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was almost certainly the best-loved bomber of World War II. Despite the plane's superiority, Congress didn't authorize its purchase in quantity until war was certain. Learn the story and specs of the B-17.

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka

The name for the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka derived from Sturzkampfflugzeug, the generic German word for dive-bomber. So famous was the Junkers Ju 87 that the term Stuka came to be identified with it in Western eyes. Read the specs and uses for the Stuka.

Supermarine Spitfire

The Supermarine Spitfire was continuously improved throughout World War II, with 22,000 Spitfires produced. The Spitfire fought successfully in every theater of the war. See specifications for the Spitfire and read how this heroic airplane developed.

De Havilland DH-4

The British de Havilland D. H.4 airplane first flew on August 1916, using a new British engine. The worst of its faults was a tendency to catch fire when its center-mounted tank was hit by gunfire. Read about the D. H.4 and its unfortunate nickname.

Grumman F4F Wildcat

In every combat area, the Grumman F4F Wildcat changed from underdog to champion, covering itself with glory and its pilots with medals. Learn the specs for the Wildcat, and how it overcame early challenges to win its place in aviation history.

Yakovlev Yak-9

The Russian Yakovlev Yak-9 was faster and more maneuverable than many other planes. The Yak-9 model also featured more metal in the structure, so it was lighter and more maneuverable than earlier iterations. Read more specs for the Yak-9 airplane.

Chance Vought F4U Corsair

The speed, strength, and firepower of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair led it to dominate Japanese opposition, shooting down 2,140 against a loss of 189 in World War II. Learn how its performance let flight leaders to create legendary fighter squadrons.

Messerschmitt Me 262

The great legacy of the Messerschmitt Me 262 is that it inspired other air forces to adopt the jet fighter as standard, and moved engineers to utilize its layout for fighters and airliners. Learn more about this top World War II fighter plane.

Fokker Dr I Triplane

The tiny Fokker Triplane has emerged as the most famous of all German planes of the First World War. Learn the specs and history of the Fokker Triplane, and how it came to be associated with both the Red Baron and the comic strip character Snoopy.

Martin B-10

The Martin B-10 had the very high top speed of 213 mph, a maximum range of over 1200 miles, and a service ceiling of over 24,000 feet--a dramatic leap ahead of competing planes in service. Read how this Golden Age classic changed military aviation.

Albatros D.Va

The Albatros D.Va flew a lot in World War I and was known as a steady aircraft, but it has never been as popular as other German fighting planes. Read this article to learn the heart of the problem for the D.Va and all German fighters of the era.

Sopwith Camel F.1

The Sopwith Camel F.1 shot down more enemy aircraft than any other Allied plane in World War I. The versatile plane served as a night-fighter, a ground-assault craft, and was launched at sea from barges. Learn more about the Sopwith Camel F.1.


The SPAD VII and SPAD XIII fighter planes were highly capable, powerful and popular during World War I. The planes featured cockpits that were cramped and uncomfortable with an unfinished, purely functional look. Read about these classic aircrafts.

Nieuport 17

The Nieuport 17 incorporated the best features of monoplanes and biplanes in what was termed the sesquiplane setup. It featured a large top wing and a smaller lower wing joined by a V-shaped strut. Learn the advantages of this classic hybrid design.

Gotha G.V

The Gotha G.V was among Germany's long-range heavy bombers of World War I. This classic airplane took over from the ungainly Zeppelins that had been used previously as bomb platforms over London and other targets. Learn about the Gotha G.V airplane.

Curtiss JN-4

The Curtiss JN-4 was produced in such numbers that the plane--sold as surplus following World I--dominated the civil-aircraft market for much of the 1920s. Learn about the Curtiss JN-4, the most famous American training plane during World War I.

Polikarpov I-16

The Polikarpov I-16 is one of the most unsung aircraft in history. Although somewhat difficult to fly, the I-16's speed, high roll-rate, and rate of climb earned it production status. Learn more details of this long-lived, underdog fighter plane.