WAR IN THE AIR : Updates 2008

WWI gunner stands to fire over the propellor

Updates from: 20142013201220112010200920082007

8 December

The Mitsubishi B2M was a Japanese biplane torpedo bomber designed by Blackburn Aircraft in Britain in response to a request from Mitsubishi for designs to replace their own B1M1 Type 13 carrier attack bomber.

Aichi was the fourth biggest Japanese aircraft company of the Second World War.

The Aichi E12A was a two-seat twin-float reconnaissance floatplane designed in response to a Japanese Navy 12-Shi specification issued in 1937 for an aircraft to replace the Kawanishi E7K2 three-seat reconnaissance seaplane.

The Aichi E13A 'Jake' Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane was the most important Japanese floatplane of the Second World War.

The Aichi E16A Zuiun 'Paul' was a floatplane reconnaissance aircraft and dive bomber designed to replace the E13A 'Jake' on the cruisers and battleships of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The Aichi M6A Seiran is the only aircraft to have been designed as a submarine-based attack aircraft and to have entered service, although its only military operation was ended prematurely by the end of the Second World War.

4 December

The Hiro G2H was a Japanese land based naval bomber developed as part of the Experimental 7-Shi programme, an attempt to develop a new generation of aircraft for the Japanese Navy

The Mitsubishi G1M1 was a designation given retrospectively to the sole Mitsubishi Ka.9, the first prototype in the series of aircraft that would enter service as the G3M ‘Nell’.

The Mitsubishi G3M Type 96 Attack Bomber 'Nell' was the Japanese Navy’s main land based torpedo and high level bomber in the years before the start of the Pacific War. Although it was in the process of being replaced by the G4M ‘Betty’ at the end of 1941 the 'Nell' stilled played a major part in the early Japanese conquests in Malaya and the Pacific.

The Mitsubishi G3M1 Model 11 was the first production version of the Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber, powered by the same Mitsubishi Kinsei 3 engines as the fourth and eleventh prototypes.

The Mitsubishi G3M2 was the main production version of the G3M Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber. It was produced in two models – the Model 21, which differed from the G3M1 mainly in having more powerful engines, and the Model 22 which also carried heavier defensive armament.

The Mitsubishi G3M3 Model 23 was the final version of the Mitsubishi G3M Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber. It was very similar to the G3M2 Model 22, but was powered by two 1,300hp Kinsei 51 engines

The Kusho L3Y was a transport version of the Mitsubishi G3M 'Nell' Navy Type 96 attack bomber. It was produced in two versions, both of which emerged before the Japanese entry into the Second World War

2 December

The Japanese Navy used two main and two subsidiary aircraft designation systems during the Second World War, causing so much confusion on the Allied side that a fifth codename system was developed.

The Japanese Army Air Force used three overlapping aircraft designation systems – the Type number, based on the year the aircraft was accepted, the Kitai, or airframe number, allocated while a project was under development, and a series of popular names adopted just after the start of the Pacific War.

1 December

The Jukogyo Ki-35 was a design for an army cooperation aircraft, produced in response to a Japanese Army specification of May 1937 but which did not enter service.

The Kawasaki Ki-5 was an inverted gull-wing cantilever monoplane designed in 1933 in an attempt to produce a Japanese fighter equal to the Hawker Fury or the Boeing B-26A, and to replace the Nakajima Army Type 91 Fighter and the Kawasaki Army Type 92 Fighter.

The Kawasaki Ki-22 was one of three designs for a heavy bomber produced in response to a Japanese Army specification issued on 15 February 1936 but that never progressed beyond the design stage

The Kawasaki Ki-28 was a monoplane designed in response to a Japanese Army fighter specification issued in June 1935, but which failed to enter production.

The Kawasaki Ki-38 was an early version of the aircraft that would enter production as the Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Nick) twin engined fighter.

The Mitsubishi Ki-18 was the designation given by the Japanese Army to a single A5M (Claude) carrier fighter that was evaluated for service with the Army.

The Mitsubishi Ki-33 was a version of the A5M Navy Type 96 carrier fighter submitted to the Japanese Army in response to a specification issued in June 1935.

The Mitsubishi Ki-69 was to have been an escort fighter based on the Mitsubishi Ki-67 Hiryu (Dinah).

The Mitsubishi Ki-73 was a design for a single-engined long range escort fighter, produced in response to a Japanese Army specification issued in May 1943.

The Mitsubishi Ki-97 was to have been a transport aircraft based on the Mitsubishi Ki-67 Hiryu (Dinah).

The Mitsubishi Ki-112 was a design project for a heavily armed fighter based on the Ki-67 Hiryu (Dinah).

The Nakajima Ki-11 was a low-wing monoplane designed to replace the Japanese Army’s Nakajima Army Type 91 Fighter and the Kawasaki Army Type 92 Fighter, but which lost out to the biplane Kawasaki Ki-10

The Nakajima Ki-12 was an experimental monoplane fighter aircraft produced in the early 1930s, and which gave Nakajima valuable experience that they used in the design of the Nakajima Ki-27 Army Type 97 Fighter.

The Nakajima Ki-58 was a long range escort fighter based on the Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu heavy bomber.

The Nakajima Ki-106 was a version of the Ki-84 Army Type 4 Fighter constructed with a wooden fuselage in an attempt to save light alloys

The Nakajima Ki-113 was a version of the Nakajima Ki-84 Army Type 4 fighter produced with a number of steel components in an attempt to reduce the demand for light alloys.

The Nakajima Ki-116 was the last variant of the Nakajima Ki-84 Army Type 4 fighter to reach the prototype stage.

The Nakajima Ki-117 was to have been a high altitude version of the Nakajima Ki-84 Army Type 4 fighter.

The Tachikawa Ki-72 was a design for an improved version of the Ki-36 Army Type 98 Direct Co-operation Plane.

13 November

The Douglas AC-47A gunship was developed in the early 1960s for use in anti-insurgency operations, and combined a long-standing aerial manoeuvre – the pylon turn – with the use of sideways firing weapons

The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was the military version of the DC-4 airliner, and was the first truly effective four-engined transport aircraft to enter USAAF service.

The Douglas R5D was the US Navy’s version of the C-54 Skymaster, the military version of the DC-4 airliner.

The Douglas R3D was the Navy’s version of the commercially unsuccessful DC-5 short haul passenger transport. 

The Douglas C-110 was the designation given to three DC-5 airliners after they were impressed into USAAF service during 1944.

The designation Douglas XC-112 was given to two different aircraft, one a proposed pressurized version of the C-54 and the other the first military DC-6.

The Douglas XC-114 was a lengthened and re-engined version of the C-54 Skymaster.

The Douglas XC-115 was to have been a version of the XC-114 powered by four 1,650 Packard V-1650-209 engines.

The single Douglas XC-116 was a sister to the XC-114, and like that aircraft was a version of the C-54 with a longer (100ft 7in compared to 93ft 10in) fuselage.

12 November

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain was the first fully militarised transport to be based on the DC-3 airliner, and was the first transport aircraft to be ordered in large numbers for the USAAF.

The Douglas C-47A Skytrain was produced in larger numbers than any other version of the C-47, and with 5,253 built represented nearly half of the total production run of 10,654 aircraft in the DC-3 family.

The Douglas C-47B was designed for high altitude operations on the “Hump” – the aerial route between India and China that for most of the Second World War was the only way for the Allies to get military supplies into China.

The Douglas XC-47C was a floatplane producing by fitting Edo Model 78 floats to a standard C-47.

The designation C-47D was given to a large number of C-47Bs that had their high altitude supercharger removed.

The Douglas EC-47N was an advanced electronic warfare version of the standard C-47A, developed in the mid 1960s for use in Vietnam.

The Douglas EC-47P was an electronic warfare version of the C-47D, developed for use during the Vietnam War.

The Douglas EC-47Q was the designation given to electronic warfare versions of the C-47 powered by the 1,290hp Pratt & Whitney R-2000-4 engine

The Douglas XCG-17 was an experiment cargo carrying glider produced by removing the engines from a standard C-47 Skytrain.

The Douglas C-53 Skytrooper was a dedicated troop transporter developed from the DC-3 airliner.

The designation Douglas C-117 was given to two very different versions of the DC-3, first to a more comfortable version of the basic C-53 and then to the Navy’s fleet of R4D-8 Super DC-3s.

The US Navy was the third biggest operator of military versions of the Douglas DC-3, after the USAAF and the RAF, and eventually received over 550 aircraft in seven main versions, giving them the designation R4D

The Douglas R4D-8 emerged from an unsuccessful attempt by Douglas to extend the commercial lifespan of the aging DC-3.

The Douglas Dakota I was the RAF designation for fifty three C-47s received under the lend-lease scheme.

The Douglas Dakota II was the RAF designation for nine C-53 Skytroopers received under the lend lease scheme.

The Douglas Dakota III was the RAF designation given to 962 C-47A Skytrains that were received under the lend-lease scheme.

The Douglas Dakota IV was the RAF designation for 896 C-47Bs received under the lend-lease scheme.

The L2D 'Tabby' was a version of the Douglas DC-3 built under licence in Japan, and which became the Japanese Navy's standard transport aircraft during the Second World War.

The Lisunov Li-2/PS-84 was a version of the Douglas DC-3 produced under licence in the Soviet Union.

11 November

The single Douglas C-41A was the only transport aircraft based on the DC-3 to be built for the US Army Air Corps, and was a VIP transport purchased for use as a staff and VIP transport.

The Douglas C-48 was the designation given to 36 Pratt & Whitney powered DC-3s impressed by the USAAF after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Douglas C-49 was the designation given to 138 Wright Cyclone powered DC-3s impressed by the USAAF after the American entry into the Second World War.

The designation Douglas C-50 was given to fourteen Wright Cyclone powered DC-3 airliners impressed off the production line by the USAAF after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Douglas C-51 was the designation given to a single Wright Cyclone powered DC-3 impressed directly from the production lines after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Douglas C-52 was the designation given to six Pratt & Whitney powered DC-3s impressed by the USAAF in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

The designation Douglas C-68 was given to two Pratt and Whitney powered DC-3s impressed off the Douglas production line after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Douglas C-84 was the designation given to four in-service DC-3s powered by Wright Cyclone engines and impressed by the USAAF during 1942.

10 November

The Curtiss SBC Helldiver was a pre-Second World War US Navy dive bomber that remained in service just long enough to see limited use in the early days of the war

The de Havilland Mosquito NF.Mk XVII was the first version of the de Havilland Mosquito to be equipped with centimetric radar, and was producing by converting 100 NF.Mk IIs to carry the American produced SCR720/729 radar

The single Douglas DC-1 was the direct ancestor of the DC-3, an aircraft that would revolutionise civil aviation, and of the C-47/ Dakota family of military transport aircraft, the most important Allied transport aircraft of the Second World War.

The Douglas DC-2 was the production version of the DC-1, and helped to revolutionise the civil aviation industry in the mid 1930s.

The designation Douglas R2D-1 was given to the first DC-2s to enter US military service, serving as staff transport aircraft for the US Navy

The designation Douglas C-32 was given to one DC-2 purchased by the USAAC in 1936, and to twenty-four civilian DC-2 airliners that were impressed by the War Department after the start of the Second World War.

The Douglas C-33 was the first purpose-built military transport aircraft to be based on the Douglas DC-2, and was thus the ancestor of the thousands of C-47s, C-53s and Dakotas that would be built during the Second World War.

The Douglas C-34 was the designation given to two military versions of the DC-2 purchased for use by the Secretary of War.

The single Douglas C-38 was producing in an attempt to improve the stability of the DC-2/ C-33 series of aircraft.

The Douglas C-39 was a military transport aircraft that combined the fuselage and outer wings of the DC-2 with the centre wing section, engine nacelles and larger tail of the DC-3.

The Douglas C-41 was the designation given to a single transport aircraft based on the DC-2 and produced as a transport for the Chief of Staff of the Army Air Corps

Like the C-41 the Douglas C-42 was the designation given to a single transport aircraft similar to the C-39, with the fuselage of the DC-2 but the tail and wing centre section of the DC-3.

3 November

The Vickers Virginia biplane bomber was one of the mainstays of the RAF in the interwar years, equipping ten bomber squadrons at its peak, and remaining in front line service from 1924 until 1937.

The Vickers Victoria was a troop transport developed alongside the Vickers Virginia bomber, and which shared many design elements with that aircraft.

The Vickers Valentia was the name given to a strengthened version of the Vickers Victoria troop transport, powered by two Pegasus engines.

2 November

The Blackburn Botha was one of the least successful British aircraft of the Second World War, suffering from a serious lack of engine power, and with a front line career of only three months.

The Blackburn Firebrand demonstrates the difficulties encountered by many aircraft manufacturers when developing new aircraft during the Second World War. When work began on the Firebrand in the spring of 1939 it was seen as a short-ranged two-man fleet interceptor, but ever-changing requirements meant that by the time it entered service in September 1945 it was a single seat torpedo-armed strike aircraft.

The Blackburn Roc was the Royal Navy’s equivalent to the Boulton Paul Defiant, and was a turret armed fighter aircraft developed just before the Second World War, and which proved to be ineffective in combat.

The Blackburn Swift was a carrier based torpedo bomber developed during 1919, and which founded a long line of Blackburn biplane torpedo bombers that remained in service for the next twenty years.

The Blackburn Dart was the production version of the Swift torpedo bomber, a private venture aircraft built in 1920.

The Blackburn Velos was a two-seater floatplane torpedo bomber based on the Blackburn Dart that was built for the Greek navy in the late 1920s.

The Blackburn Ripon was the second in a series of Blackburn biplane torpedo bombers that equipped the Fleet Air Arm in the interwar years.

The Blackburn Baffin was a radial powered version of the Blackburn Ripon torpedo bomber.

The Blackburn Shark was the last in a series of Blackburn produced biplane torpedo bombers that equipped the Fleet Air Arm in the interwar years.

31 October

The Fairey Albacore was a biplane torpedo bomber, designed to replace the earlier Fairey Swordfish. While the Albacore successfully supplanted the Swordfish on the large fleet aircraft carriers, it was not as adaptable as the Swordfish, and was withdrawn from front line service in 1944, one year before the Swordfish.

The Fairey Barracuda was a monoplane torpedo bomber designed in the late 1930s to replace the biplane Albacores and Swordfish. The Barracuda didn’t enter service until 1943, but it soon became a mainstay of the Fleet Air Arm, operating in home waters, the Mediterranean and the Far East.

30 October

The Supermarine Seagull was a biplane amphibian, originally designed to operate as a spotter for naval gunfire at the start of the 1920s. It was then almost completely redesigned for the RAAF in 1933 as the Seagull V, and this version of the aircraft entered British service as the Supermarine Walrus.

The Supermarine Seamew was a biplane amphibian designed to satisfy Air Ministry specification 29/24, but which had a low priority at Supermarine and never entered service.

The Supermarine Sea Otter was designed as the replacement for the Walrus, but although the first aircraft made its maiden flight in September 1938 Supermarine was busy with the far more important Spitfire programme, and only a small number of Sea Otters saw active service late in the Second World War

The Supermarine Walrus was one of the unsung workhorses of the Fleet Air Arm and RAF during the Second World War, operating as a fleet spotter and air sea rescue aircraft and fighting in just about every theatre of the war.

The Short Rangoon was a military version of the same company’s Calcutta flying boat. Five Rangoons were built for the RAF, and served with No.203 Squadron in Iraq.

The Short Singapore was the oldest of a group of biplane flying boats still in RAF service at the start of the Second World War, although the last squadrons to use it replaced their aircraft before entering combat.

29 October

The Fokker T.VIII-W was a twin-float twin-engined torpedo bomber and reconnaissance sea plane built for the Dutch, but that saw service in small numbers in both the Luftwaffe and the RAF during 1940.

The Supermarine Southampton was the first flying boat designed after the First World War to enter RAF service, and was the first of a series of successful military flying boats designed by Reginald Mitchell.

The Supermarine Scapa was an improved version of the Southampton flying boat, developed after Supermarine was taken over by Vickers, and using technology developed for the Schneider races.

The Supermarine Stranraer was the last of a series of large biplane flying boats designed by Reginald Mitchell, and was essentially a larger version of the Supermarine Scapa, itself an improved version of the earlier Southampton.

The Saro A.27 London was one of the last generation of large biplane flying planes to serve in the RAF, operating alongside the Supermarine Stranraer in Coastal Command in the years immediately before the Second World War.

The Saro Lerwick flying boat was one of the least successful aircraft to serve with the RAF during the Second World War, and demonstrated the danger of ordering a new design off the drawing board.

28 October

The Short Sunderland flying boat was one of the mainstays of Coastal Command during the Second World War, and was one of the longest serving military aircraft of its era, with an RAF career that lasted from 1938 until 1959. We start with a look at the development of the Short Sunderland, before moving on to look at the service career of the Sunderland. We also add a picture gallery for the Sunderland.

The Short Sunderland Mk I entered service in 1938, and was one of the few modern aircraft available to Coastal Command at the start of the Second World War.

The Short Sunderland II was introduced in 1941, and was the first version of the aircraft to carry ASV radar.

The Short Sunderland III was produced in larger numbers than any other version of the aircraft, accounting for 463 of the total of 749 Sunderlands that were built.

The Short Seaford was originally developed as the Sunderland Mk IV, and was an attempt to use the Bristol Hercules engines of the Short Stirling on the Sunderland.

The final version of the Sunderland to enter service was the Sunderland V, which remained in use in the RAF from early in 1945 until 1959.

27 October

The British Taylorcraft Auster was a light aircraft used in large numbers by the RAF for artillery spotting and communications duties.

The Percival Proctor was a radio-trainer and communication aircraft, developed from the Percival Vega Gull, and produced in large numbers during the Second World War.

26 October

The Northrop N-3PB floatplane patrol-bomber was the first aircraft to be produced by the independent Northrop Aircraft Inc after its foundation in 1939

The Avro Rota was the name given to twelve Cierva C.30A autogiros built under licence for the RAF by Avro during 1934-35.

The de Havilland D.H.91 Albatross was a pre-war passenger aircraft produced in very small numbers, and which served as a transport aircraft during the Second World War.

24 October

The Vickers Vincent was a version of the Vildebeest torpedo bomber modified to operate as a general purpose aeroplane, a role that combined army-cooperation, ground attack and light bombing functions and was designed for Imperial policing

The Vickers Type 253 general purpose biplane was the first aircraft to use the geodetic construction method devised by Barnes Wallis, and made famous on the Wellington bomber.

The Vickers Wellesley was the first aircraft built entirely using Barnes Wallis’s geodesic construction method to enter service, and is best known for establishing a new world distance record in 1938.

The Vickers Warwick was one of many examples of promising aircraft whose development was delayed by the choice of engines. It was originally designed as a twin-engined heavy bomber, and like the Avro Manchester was to use the Rolls Royce Vulture.

23 October

Private Johnson Gideon Beharry is the first British serviceman to be awarded teh Victoria Cross since 1982, and the first living recipient since 1965.

The Amistad Mutiny was a relatively small incident which was to have long term political impact on US public opinion about the slave trade and sour relations between the US and Spanish governments

The Vickers Type 131 Valiant was a general purpose biplane produced by Vickers as a private venture, and was designed to satisfy Air Ministry specification 26/27

The Vickers Venture was an improved version of the Vixen II, designed to act as reconnaissance aircraft in an army-cooperation role.

The Vickers Vespa was designed as an army co-operation and reconnaissance aircraft, to replace the First World War-era Bristol Fighter. None were ordered by the RAF, but the Vespa was sold in small numbers to Bolivia and the Irish Free State, while the original prototype, in a greatly modified form, broke the World Height Record in September 1942

The Vickers Vildebeest was a land based biplane torpedo bomber, designed in the late 1920s to defend the British coast, but which was still the only torpedo bomber available to Coastal Command at the start of the Second World War.

8 October

Huff-Daland Airplanes Incorporated was formed in 1920 by Thomas Huff and Elliot Daland, at Ogdensburg, New York. It would become a key early supplier of bombers to the US Army Air Corps, although most would be better known under the Keystone name that was adopted in 1927

The Huff-Daland XHB-1 Cyclops was the only one of the three entries in the Army Air Corps’ Heavy Bomber sequence to actually be produced, and was a modified and expanded version of the Huff-Daland LB-1.

The Huff-Daland XHB-3 was a mid-1920s design for a twin-engine monoplane heavy bomber, and was the final entry in the US Army Air Corps’s short-lived Heavy Bombardment series.

The Huff-Daland LB-1 was the first in a long series of bombers better known as the Keystone bombers (after a change of company name).

The Huff-Daland XLB-3 was one of three attempts to turn the same company’s single engined LB-1 into a twin engined aircraft.

The Huff-Daland XLB-5 was the second attempt to produce a twin-engined version of the company’s LB-1 light bomber, coming between the Huff-Daland XLB-3 and the Keystone XLB-3A.

On 8 March 1927 the new owners of Huff-Daland renamed the company as the Keystone Aircraft Corporation. Over its brief five year existence Keystone would produce nearly 200 bombers for the Army Air Corps, and the Keystone Bomber was the standard American bomber during the early 1930s

The Keystone XB-1 Super Cyclops was the first aircraft in the “B” category for US Army bombers, and was an experimental bomber notable for the inclusion of two rear-firing gun positions at the back of the two engine nacelles.

The Keystone XLB-3A was the third attempt to produce a twin-engined version of the Huff-Daland LB-1 light bomber.

The Keystone LB-5 was the first of the series of twin-engine biplane bombers developed from the single-engined Huff-Daland LB-1 to enter service with the US Army Air Corps

The Keystone LB-6 was a modified version of the LB-5 twin-engined biplane light bomber, with larger wings, a longer fuselage and new engines.

The Keystone LB-7 was the highest numbered entry in the US Army Air Corps Light Bomber series to enter production, although the 18 aircraft ordered were actually built before the very similar LB-6.

The Keystone LB-8 was the designation given to the seventeenth LB-7 light bomber after it was given Pratt & Whitney R-1860-3 radial engines.

The Keystone LB-9 was the designation given to the last LB-7 after it was re-engined with geared Wright Cyclone

The Keystone LB-10 was the direct predecessor of the Keystone B-3A Panther and the series of biplane bombers that followed, and was the last entry in the LB Light Bomber series to be ordered into productionengines.

The Keystone LB-11 was the designation given to the second-to-last LB-6 while it was being used as an engine test-bed.

The Keystone XLB-12 was the designation given to the first LB-7 light bomber after it had been re-engined with Pratt & Whitney R-1860-1 radial engines.

The Keystone LB-13 was the designation given to seven Keystone bombers that were originally to be powered by geared Pratt & Whitney R-1690-3 radial engines.

The Keystone LB-14 was a short-lived designation given to a version of the LB-10A light bomber that was to be powered by Pratt & Whitney GR-1860 radial engines.

The Keystone B-3A Panther was the fourth version of the Keystone bomber to be produced in significant numbers, and the first to receive a designation in the new B (bombardment) sequence, adopted by the Army Air Corps in 1926. 

The Keystone B-4A Panther was ordered alongside the B-6A, and together they were the last biplane bombers to enter American service.

The Keystone B-5A Panther was a twin-engined biplane bomber produced in 1930 by equipping the last 27 B-3A Panthers with Wright engines.

The Keystone B-6A Panther was the final development in a series of bombers descended from the Keystone LB-5, and was the last biplane bomber to enter US Army service. 

The Atlantic XHB-2 was a large twin-engine monoplane bomber designed by Antony Fokker’s American subsidiary Atlantic Aircraft.

6 October

The Curtiss A-3 was a ground attack aircraft produced for the US Army Air Corps by modifying the existing O-1 Falcon observation aircraft.

The Curtiss XA-4 was a single A-3 attack aircraft modified to test the 440hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engine.

The Curtiss A-8 Shrike was a ground attack aircraft developed for the US Army Air Corps and which would eventually enter service as the A-12

The Curtiss YA-10 was the designation given to the first YA-8 Shrike when it was given a Pratt & Whitney Hornet air-cooled radial engine.

The Curtiss A-12 Shrike was a ground attack aircraft produced for the US Army Air Corps in 1934.

The Curtiss XA-14 Shrike was a two-man twin-engined ground attack aircraft designed in 1934 for the US Army Air Corps.

The Curtiss A-18 Shrike was the service-test version of the XA-14 twin-engined ground attack aircraft.

The Curtiss XA-43 was a design for a twin-engined attack aircraft proposed in 1945 as the Model 29, but which eventually flew as the XF-87 Blackhawk

The Northrop XA-13 was the first of a series of attack aircraft based on the Northrop Gamma, one of the first aircraft produced by the newly founded Northrop Corporation in 1932

The Northrop XA-16 was the designation given to the XA-13 after it was given a different engine in an attempt to imrpove visibility.

The Northrop A-17 was the standard US Army Air Corps attack aircraft during the second half of the 1930s.

The Douglas A-33 was the designation given to thirty-one Douglas 8A-5s that had been ordered by the Norwegian government in 1940, but were taken over by the US Army Air Force after the German invasion of Norway

3 October

The Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter was the first Sopwith aircraft to be produced in large numbers during the First World War, and performed as a scout, a bomber and a fighter for the RAF, the RNAS and for the French.

The Sopwith 9700 Type 1 ½ Strutter was a single-seat bomber version of the standard two-seat 1 ½ Strutter fighter-reconnaissance aircraft, produced for the RNAS and intended to operate as a strategic bomber

The Sopwith Ship Strutter was a version of the 1 ½ Strutter designed to be launched from platforms installed on top of the main gun turrets of battleships and battle cruisers.

2 October

The Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Co Ltd was most famous for the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley, one of the main British bombers at the start of the Second World War, but it had a history that stretched back to the First World War, and by 1939 was part of a larger company that also included Hawker and Avro.

A. V. Roe and Company, better known simply as Avro, was one of the most famous of all British aircraft manufacturers, best known for the iconic Avro Lancaster bomber. Originally founded in 1910 by the aircraft pioneer Alliot Verdon Roe, by the time the Lancaster appeared the company was part of the Hawker Siddeley Group, while Roe himself had moved on to form Saunders-Roe Ltd.

Saunders-Roe was formed in 1928 when Sir Alliot Verdon Roe, the founder of Avro, purchased S. E. Saunders Ltd, a builder of amphibious aircraft based on the Isle of Wight.

The Sopwith Aviation Company was founded in 1912 by Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith, already a noted pioneer pilot, and in the Sopwith Camel produced the most famous British fighter of the First World War.

1 October

No.39 Squadron began and ended the Second World War as a regular bomber squadron, but spent the four years from January 1941-January 1945 operating as a maritime reconnaissance and anti-shipping squadron, serving around the Mediterranean.

No.41 Squadron operated the Supermarine Spitfire for the entire duration of the Second World War, taking part in the fighting over Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain and flying sweeps over occupied France before moving to Europe to join the Second Tactical Air Force.

No.42 Squadron began the Second World War as a torpedo bomber squadron equipped with the obsolete Vickers Vildebeest, and performed that role for the first half of the war. It then briefly operated in the Mediterranean at the time of the battle of El Alamein, before moving on to Burma, where it spent the remaining years of the war operating as a fighter bomber squadron.

No.43 Squadron fought as a Hurricane squadron during the Battle of Britain and in Operation Torch, then as a Spitfire squadron in North Africa and Italy.

17 September

No. 31 Squadron spent the entire Second World War operating as a transport squadron, based in India.

No. 32 Squadron was one of the most successful Hurricane squadrons of the Battle of Britain, and was credited with 102 victories in the first half of the battle. It then moved to the Mediterranean, taking part in Operation Torch, the invasion of Italy and the liberation of Greece.

No.33 Squadron began the Second World War operating the Gloster Gladiator in the Western Desert, fought in Greece and on Crete, then fought against Rommel during the see-saw battles that ended with the victory at El Alamein, before returning to Britain to take part in the D-Day landings and the campaign in Western Europe.

No. 34 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a Blenheim squadron based in Singapore, before reforming in India after the Japanese entry into the war. The squadron ended the war as a fighter bomber squadron, operating over Burma

16 September

No.28 Squadron spent the entire Second World War operating from India or Burma, at first as an army co-operation squadron equipped with the Audax and Lysander, then as a tactical reconnaissance squadron, equipped with the Hawker Hurricane.

No.29 Squadron spent most of the Second World War operating as a night fighter squadron, taking part in some of the earliest experiments with airborne radar before converting to the Beaufighter and then the Mosquito.

No.30 Squadron began the Second World War as a Blenheim bomber squadron based in Egypt, but went on serve as a fighter squadron in Egypt, Greece, on Crete and in the Far East, ending the war operating with Thunderbolt fighter bombers over Burma.

5-6 September

Very few aircraft attracted a wider range of designations than the Douglas DB-7/ A-20 Havoc/ P-70 Nighthawk/ Havoc night fighter/ Boston bomber

The Douglas A-20 Havoc may not be one of the best known bombers of the Second World War, but it was used by seven Bombardment Groups, fought in the south west Pacific, took part in the invasions of North Africa, Italy, France and Germany, and remained in service until the end of the war

The Douglas DB-7 was one of a number of American aircraft ordered in large numbers by France during 1939 in a vain attempt to reequip the Armèe de l’Air before the outbreak of war with Germany

The Douglas A-20 was the first version of the Havoc to be ordered by the US Army Air Corps.

The Douglas A-20A was similar to the original A-20, but without the turbo-superchargers used on the earlier version of the Havoc

The Douglas A-20B was the first version of the Havoc to be produced in large numbers for the USAAF, but it lacked self-sealing fuel tanks and did not have enough armour.

The Douglas A-20C was originally produced for export to Britain and the Soviet Union under lend-lease, but a large number were retained in the United States after Pearl Harbor

The Douglas A-20D was the designation given to a lightened version of the Havoc that would have been powered by turbo-supercharged R-2600-7 engines.

The Douglas A-20E designation was given to a small number of Havocs used for experiments with lightened fuselages

The Douglas A-20F was the designation given to a version of the Havoc armed with a large 37mm gun in the nose, built on a modified A-20A chassis

The Douglas A-20G saw the biggest change to the design of the Havoc with the replacement of the glass bombardier’s nose by a solid nose carrying six forward firing guns.

The Douglas A-20H was a minor variation on the A-20G, the first solid-nosed version of the Havoc.

The Douglas A-20J saw the reintroduction of the glass bombardier’s nose, replaced on the A-20G by a solid gun nose

The Douglas A-20K was a glass-nosed “lead ship” produced to work alongside the solid nosed A-20H

At the start of the Second World War the US Army Air Corps lacked a modern radar equipped night fighter, and so it was decided to copy the RAF and convert a number of Douglas A-20s into P-70 Nighthawks night fighters.

The Douglas BD was the US Navy designation for nine A-20 Havocs, used as high speed target tugs

Forty nine Douglas A-20 Havocs were converted to act as photo-reconnaissance aircraft, under the designation Douglas F-3

The Douglas Boston was the best of a series of American light bombers to serve with the RAF during the Second World War, serving with ten RAF and SAAF bomber squadrons and three night intruder squadrons. 

The Douglas Boston I was the designation given to 20 Douglas DB-7 bombers originally ordered by France, but that entered service with the RAF

The Douglas Boston II was the British designation for late production French DB-7s, powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S3C4-G Twin Wasp with a two-speed supercharger.

The Douglas Boston III was the most important version of that aircraft in RAF service, with a total of 768-771 aircraft produced. It was also the first British version to be actually be used as a bomber, and the first version to have come from the original British order for the Douglas DB-7B

The Douglas Boston IV was the British version of the glass-nosed A-20J Havoc.

The Douglas Boston V was the RAF designation for the glass-nosed A-20K Havoc, and was the final version of the aircraft to see service with the RAF.

The Douglas Havoc was an impromptu conversion of lower powered French DB-7s, which achieved a certain amount of success as a night fighter and intruder in 1941 and 1942.

The Douglas Havoc I (Pandora) was a particularly unusual weapon which demonstrated the urgent need for any weapon capable of dealing with the threat from German night bombers during the Blitz.

The Douglas Havoc I (Night Fighter) was one of a series attempts to make use of the relatively large number of French DB-7s which arrived in Britain after the collapse of France in June 1940

The Douglas Havoc I (Intruder) was designed to operate as a night time intruder over occupied Europe, and was produced by modifying late production French DB-7s

The Douglas Havoc II (Night Fighter) was produced by installed a new solid nose carrying twelve guns to 100 French DB-7As which reached Britain after the collapse of France

2 September

The Martin 167 A-3 was a light bomber designed for a US Army bomber contest of 1937-38, but that entered combat with the French Armée de l’Air, before becoming the basis of the RAF’s Maryland and Baltimore bombers.

The Martin Maryland was a light bomber originally developed to satisfy a US army specification and which entered British service after the fall of France.

The Martin Baltimore was a light bomber developed by the Glenn L. Martin Company from its Model 167 Maryland to satisfy a British specification.

We provide a list of squadrons that used the Martin Baltimore light bomber

The Martin Baltimore I was a light bomber developed from the earlier Maryland by increasing the width and depth of the fuselage and installing more powerful engines and more guns.

The Martin Baltimore II differed from the Mk I only in that it was delivered with two 0.30in Browning machine guns in the rear dorsal position in place of the single gun of the Mk. I

The biggest problem with the earlier versions of the Martin Baltimore had been the poor rear guns – two hand operated Vickers “K” guns which proved to be difficult to use in combat – and so the Baltimore III was equipped with a powered gun turret

The Martin Baltimore IIIA was the first version of the aircraft to be provided under lend-lease, and was armed with a different turret to the Baltimore III.

The Baltimore IV was very similar to the Baltimore IIIA, differing only in some internal equipment.

The Baltimore V was the final version of the aircraft to be produced, and differed from the earlier versions in using more powerful Wright R-2600-29 Cyclone engines.

31 August

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was the main long range reconnaissance aircraft in use with the US Navy in the first half of the Second World War

Like many American military aircraft of the period the Consolidated Catalina actually gained its first combat experience in British hands.

We also supply lists of the US Navy PBY Squadrons and RAF Catalina Squadrons of the Second World War

Canada developed a very sizable aircraft industry during the Second World War, and one of the aircraft it produced in large numbers was the Consolidated Catalina.

29 August

The Consolidated PBY-5A was the first version of the Catalina to be equipped with wheeled landing gear, turning it from a pure flying boat into an amphibian, capable of operating from sea and land bases.

The Consolidated PBY-6A was the last production version of the Catalina amphibian, and combined the features introduced during the production run of the PBY-5A with the new tail designed for the PBN-1 Nomad

The Consolidated OA-10 was the USAAF’s designation for the Catalina flying boat, used by the air force for air-sea rescue duties in the vast expanses of the Pacific.

The Naval Aircraft Factory PBN-1 Nomad was an improved version of the Consolidated Catalina, produced by the same facility that had produced the design for the XPY-1, the first flying boat to be produced by Consolidated and a direct ancestor of the Catalina.

28 August

The Consolidated XPY-1 Admiral was the first in a series of designs that would eventually produce the PBY Catalina, the most successful fly boat ever built.

The Martin XP2M was a second prototype of the basic flying boat design first developed as the Consolidated XPY-1.

The Martin P3M flying boat was the production version of the aircraft that had first been developed as the Consolidated XPY-1.

The Consolidated P2Y was the second flying boat to be designed by Consolidated for the US Navy, and the first to be produced by the same company.

The Consolidated PBY-1 was the first production version of the Consolidated Catalina, which would be produced in far larger numbers than any other flying boat

The Consolidated PBY-5 was the first version of the Catalina to be produced in large numbers, and the last to be a pure flying boat, and yet at the start of 1939 it had looked as if the PBY-4 was to be the final production version of the aircraft.

27 August

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was by far the most successful flying boat of the Second World War, and played a major part in the both the war in the Pacific and the Battle of the Atlantic, serving in large numbers with the US Navy and RAF Coastal Command.

The Consolidated PBY-2 was the second production version of the Catalina flying boat, and was very similar to the PBY-1, the main differences being on the tail.

The Consolidated PBY-3 differed from the previous version of the Catalina in having more powerful 900hp R-1830-66 Twin Wasp engines in place of the 850hp engines used on the PBY-2.

The Consolidated PBY-4 was the last of the early versions of the Catalina fly boat, each of which was ordered in small numbers in the period before the Second World War.

16 July

The 21st Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was one of a small number of USAAF units to take part in the fighting on the Aleutian Islands, becoming one of the first squadrons to make a land-based attack on the Japanese home islands.

The 27th Bombardment Squadron spent 1942 and 1943 flying anti-submarine warfare patrols and training replacement crews before moving to the Central Pacific in November 1943 to take part in the island hopping campaign.

15 July

The 494th Bombardment Group (Heavy) operated the B-24 Liberator with the Seventh Air Force in the Pacific from late in 1944 to the end of the Second World War.

The 864th Bombardment Squadron, 865th Bombardment Squadron and 866th Bombardment Squadron were all formed as part of the 494th Bombardment Group, the last B-24 Liberator group to be deployed from the United States during the Second World War.

Despite its eventual high number the 867th Bombardment Squadron was in action almost from the start of the American involvement in the Second World War, flying anti-submarine warfare patrols for eighteen months before joining the Seventh Air Force as a heavy bomber squadron with the 494th Bombardment Group.

11 July

We complete our series of articles on the Bell P-39 Airacobra

Bell P-39 Airacobra in American Service: The Bell P-39 Airacobra was the least well regarded fighter aircraft to serve in large numbers with the USAAF during the Second World War, but despite this it did perform some useful services on New Guinea and Guadalcanal early in the war in the Pacific

Bell P-39 Airacobra in Soviet Service: The Bell P-39 Airacobra had a terrible reputation amongst British and American pilots, but it rapidly became one of the favourite fighters in the Soviet Union. Of the top six Soviet air aces, four scored the majority of their victories in the Kobra.

9 July

The Bell P-400/ Airacobra I was the export version of the P-39 Airacobra, originally developed in response to a French order of 30 March 1940 for 170 aircraft.

The Bell P-39Q was the last version of the Airacobra, and was produced in greater numbers than any earlier version, with the 4,905 built representing just over half of the total production run of 9,529 aircraft.

The Bell Airacobra first entered service with the RAF, in October 1941, but only flew a handful of sorties before it was withdrawn from the front line.

The Bell P-59A Airacomet was the first American jet fighter to take to the air, making its maiden flight on 1 October 1942.

The Bell XP-83 was developed in an attempt to produce a long range jet powered escort fighter.

8 July

We start with a look at the development of the P-39 Airacobra

The Bell P-39K Airacobra designation was given to the first 210 aircraft that had originally been ordered as the P-39G.

The Bell P-39L Airacobra designation was given to 250 aircraft produced with the Allison V-1710-63 engine and a 10ft 4in Curtiss Electric propeller

The Bell P-39M Airacobra designation was given to 240 aircraft powered by the Allison V-1710-67 (E8) engine, a lowered powered model than was then standard in the Airacobra, but one that gave more power at 15,000ft than the -63 used in the P-39K and P-39L.

The Bell P-39N Airacobra was the first version of the Airacobra to be produced in truly large numbers, with a total of production run of 2,095 aircraft in three main sub-series.

The Bell XFL-1 Airabonita was a variant of the Airacobra that was produced for the US Navy as a possible replacement for its fleet of aging biplanes.

7 July

The Bell P-39C Airacobra was the first production version of the Airacobra, although only twenty aircraft were produced before production moved on to the P-39D.

The Bell P-39D Airacobra was the first version of the Airacobra to be produced in large numbers, and the first to reach the Soviet Union, where the aircraft would achieve its main successes.

The Bell XP-39E Airacobra was an experimental version of the Airacobra originally produced as a test bed for the Continental V-1430 engine.

The Bell P-39F Airacobra was produced in order to cope with a shortage of Curtiss Electric propellers and used the 10ft 4in Aeroproducts propeller.

The Bell P-39G Airacobra was to have been similar to the earlier P-39D-2 lend lease aircraft, but using a different propeller to replace the Curtiss Electric. None were produced.

The Bell P-39J Airacobra designation was given to the last twenty-five aircraft ordered as P-39F Airacobras.

4 July

The Bell XP-52 (Model 16) twin-boomed pusher aircraft was one of a number of unusual designs for fighter aircraft produced in the United States during the Second World War.

The Bell XP-59 (Model 16) was the designation given to a short-lived project to produce a twin-boom pusher fighter powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine.

The Bell XP-77 was a lightweight wooden fighter aircraft produced to solve a problem that never materialised.

30 May

Throughout the Second World War No.24 Squadron served as a communications and transport squadron, operating a wide range of aircraft.

No.25 Squadron served as a night fighter squadron throughout the Second World War, first with the Blenheim, then the Beaufighter and finally with the Mosquito

No.26 Squadron began the Second World War as an army co-operation squadron equipped with the Westland Lysander, but spent much of the war as a tactical reconnaissance and daylight intruder squadron.

At the start of the Second World War in the east No.27 Squadron was a Blenheim-equipped fighter squadron based in Malaya. After only two months the squadron had been forced to retreat to Sumatra, where it ceased to exist. It was reformed later in the year and operated as a Beaufighter equipped ground attack squadron for the rest of the war.

29 May

We start today with a look at the often confusing system of aircraft designations used by the US Navy during the Second World War.

The Lockheed Ventura was a medium bomber ordered for the RAF after the early success of the Lockheed Hudson, but was not as successful as the earlier aircraft, entering service too late to serve in the day bomber role it was designed to perform.

The Lockheed Model 37 was the USAAF designation given to 264 Ventura II medium bombers taken over from RAF orders after Pearl Harbor.

The Lockheed B-34 was the lend-lease designation given to the Lockheed Ventura, but of the 200 aircraft produced under this designation only 66 actually went to the RAF or Commonwealth airforces (as the Ventura IIA), while the remaining 124 were retained by the USAAF

The Lockheed B-37 was a medium bomber based on the Ventura, produced in very small numbers for the USAAF.

The Lockheed PV-1 was the designation given to the Ventura bomber in service with the US Navy.

The Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon was the final production version of the Ventura bomber, modified to make it a better maritime patrol aircraft.

28 May

No.20 Squadron spent the entire Second World War in India and Burma, flying army co-operation and reconnaissance missions from 1942-February 1943 and ground attack missions for the rest of the war.

For most of the Second World War No.21 Squadron was a light bomber squadron, operating the Blenheim, Ventura and Mosquito, with a break from June 1940-March 1942 when it served as an anti-shipping unit with Coastal Command.

No.22 Squadron began the Second World War as a torpedo bomber of Coastal Command, before moving to the Far East in March-April 1942. After spending the next two years flying anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort missions, it converted to the Beaufighter and spent 1945 as a ground attack squadron in Burma.

No.23 Squadron spent the entire Second World War serving as a night fighter squadron, first in a defensive role, but from December 1940 as an intruder squadron, from bases in Britain and on Malta and Sardinia.

25 May

The Lockheed Hudson was one of the most important American produced aircraft during the early years of the Second World War, serving as the backbone of RAF Coastal Command well into 1942.

The RAAF was the second service to order the Lockheed Hudson, and the most important operator of the aircraft after the RAF.

23 May

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.I was one of a number of American military aircraft developed and produced to satisfy overseas orders, in this case from the RAF.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.II was the designation given to twenty aircraft equipped with constant-speed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propellers in place of the two-position Hamilton Standard propeller used on the Hudson Mk.I.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.III was a significant improvement on the earlier versions of the aircraft with three extra .303in machine guns, one in a retractable ventral position and two in beam positions, removing a blind spot below the aircraft

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.IV was the eventual designation given to 100 aircraft ordered for the RAAF and originally given the Australian designations Hudson Mk.I and Mk.II.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.V was the final version of the aircraft produced under direct RAF contracts before the start of the lend-lease scheme.

The Lockheed Hudson Mk.VI was the lend-lease version of the Hudson Mk.V

The Lockheed A-28 was the USAAF designation for Pratt & Whitney powered Lockheed Hudsons, introduced under the terms of the lend-lease act.

The Lockheed A-29 was the USAAF designation given to Lockheed Hudsons powered by Wright R-1820 engines and produced under the lend-lease agreement.

The Lockheed AT-18 was an advanced trainer based on the Lockheed Hudson.

The Lockheed PBO-1 was the designation given to twenty A-29 Hudson maritime patrol aircraft that served with the US Navy.

The Lockheed Hudson served with 39 RAF Squadrons and a large number of Commonwealth squadrons between 1939 and 1945

The RCAF was the second most important operator of the Lockheed Hudson by numbers, receiving a total of 248 aircraft

The Lockheed Hudson served with the RNZAF from 1941 until the end of the Second World War, first in the general reconnaissance and bomber role and later as a transport aircraft.

22 May

No.48 Squadron served with Coastal Command from 1939-1942, before moving to Gibraltar to support Operation Torch. On its return to Britain at the start of 1944 it joined Transport Command and took part in D-Day, the battle of Arnhem and the crossing of the Rhine.

20 May

No.518 Squadron was a meteorological unit of Coastal Command, formed in July 1943 at Stornoway to fly weather recording flights over the mid-Atlantic.

No.520 Squadron was a meteorological squadron which formed at Gibraltar in September 1943, operated a mix of long and short range aircraft for flights over the Atlantic.

No. 578 Squadron was formed from C Flight of No.51 Squadron on 14 January 1944 as a Halifax bomber squadron in No.4 Group, and was part of the main bomber force to the end of the war.

No.614 'County of Glamorgan' Squadron spent the first three years of the Second World War training with the army, before moving to North Africa to take part in the fighting in Tunisia before being disbanded in July 1944. It was then reformed from No.462 Squadron RAAF, and operated as a bomber and special duties squadron to the end of the war.

No.624 Squadron was formed in Algeria in September 1943 from No.1575 (Special Duties) Flight, and flew supply drop missions over southern Europe until disbanded in September 1944. It reformed in December 1944 and flew mine-spotting missions over the Mediterranean until November 1945.

No. 640 Squadron was formed from C Flight of No. 158 Squadron in January 1944 as part of No.4 Group and took part in the main bombing offensive against Germany as part of Bomber Command's main bomber force.

No.644 Squadron was formed in February 1944 in preparation for the invasion of Europe, and towed gliders to D-Day, Arnhem and across the Rhine.

5 May

No.151 Squadron began the Second World War as a Hurricane squadron, participating the Battle of Britain, before becoming a night fighter squadron in November 1940, operating first in the defensive role and later as an intruder squadron.

No.157 Squadron was the first squadron to operation the Mosquito as a night fighter, after reforming in December 1941 for that purpose.

No.158 Squadron was formed during the great wartime expansion of Bomber Command, from the home echelon of No.104 Squadron and spent the entire war operationg with the main bomber force.

No.161 Squadron was a special duties squadron, formed in February 1942 from the King's Flight and part of No.138 Squadron to carry out a mix of supply drops and agent transportation missions

No. 166 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a training unit and later as a bomber squadron operationg the Wellington and then Lancaster

18 April

No.142 Squadron began the Second World War as a Fairey Battle squadron, suffering heavily during the invasion of France. It then converted to the Wellington, operating from Britain and then in the Mediterranean, before ending the war as a Mosquito equipped pathfinder squadron.

No.144 Squadron spent the first half of the Second World War as a bomber squadron equipped with the Handley Page Hampden, and the second half with Coastal Command, for most of that time serving as a torpedo bomber squadron using the Beaufighter.

No.148 Squadron went through three very different incarnations during the Second World War, first as a training unit, then as a bomber unit based on Malta and finally as a Special Duties squadron based in Libya and finally Italy.

No.149 "East India" Squadron was a mainstay of Bomber Command, taking part on the Strategic Bombing campaign from its beginnings in May 1940 until the very end of the war.

No.150 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, starting as a Fairey Battle Squadron, which later converted to the Wellington and was posted to the Mediterranean, before being reformed late in 1944 as a Lancaster bomber squadron.

15 April

No. 106 Squadron began the Second World War as an operational training squadron, only starting combat operations in September 1940. After a brief spell with the Avro Manchester, it received the Lancaster in May 1942 and operated with that aircraft until the end of the war.

No.107 Squadron began the Second World War by taking part in the first British air raid against a German target, before taking part in the battle of France, the defence of Malta and Coastal COmmand's anti-submarine campaign. The squardon ended the war as a night intruder squadron equipped with the Mosquito

No. 108 Squadron went through three very different incarnations during the Second World War, starting as a training squadron in Britain, before becoming a night bomber squadron in the Mediterranean and finally a night fighter squadron, operating in Libya, Malta, Egypt and finally Greece.

No. 109 Squadron was formed from the Wireless Intelligence Development Unit in December 1940, and spent the next three years involved in scientific development, before joining the Pathfinders at the end of 1943.

No. 110 "Hyderbad" Squadron served in two very different roles during the Second World War, spending 1939-1942 operating as a Blenheim bomber squadron from Britain and the rest of the war as a ground attack squadron operating over Burma.

No. 114 "Hong Kong" Squadron began the Second World War as a Blenheim squadron, soon joining the RAF contingent in France. The squadron fought during the German invasion of the west, then took part in the attack on the invasion ports, before moving to North Africa in 1942, fighting on Sicily and in Italy.

No.115 Squadron was as near as any a typical Bomber Command squadron, operating with the main bomber from bases in East Anglia for the entire war.

No. 138 Squadron was a Special Duties squadron which spent most of the Second World War carrying out supply drops to resistance movements in Occupied Europe.

No. 139 Squadron was unfortunate enought to be caught up in two military disasters in the early days of the Second World War, first in France in 1940 and then in Burma in 1942. It ended the war as a Pathfinder squadron, equipped with the Mosquito.

14 April

No. 102 "Ceylon" Squadron was a heavy bomber command squadron that served with Bomber Command for most of the Second World War, equipped first with the Whitley and then with the Handley Page Halifax.

No. 103 Squadron began the war as part of the Advanced Air Striking Force, suffering very heavy loses while equipped with the Fairey Battle. By the end of 1940 it had joined Bomber Command, and took part in the night bombing campaign for the rest of the war.

No. 104 Squadron began the war as a Group Training Squadron, spend most of 1941 operating as a night bomber squadron from Driffield, before moving to the Mediterranean, where it remained for the rest of the war.

No. 105 Squadron began the Second World War equipped with the Fairey Battle, suffering heavily during the Battle of France. After a short spell with the Blenheim, it converted to the De Havilland Mosquito, first as a low-level daylight bomber and later as a pathfinder.

13 February

The Gloster E.28/39 was the first British aircraft to be powered by a jet engine, making its maiden flight in 1941.

We begin a series of articles on the Gloster Meteor with a look at the development of the aircraft.

The Gloster Meteor F Mk.I was the first Allied jet aircraft to enter service during the Second World War, and the first production version of an aircraft that would remain in front line RAF service until 1961

The Gloster Meteor F Mk.II was the designation for a version of the Meteor powered by de Havilland H.1 engines. Only one was built.

The Gloster Meteor F Mk.III was the first version of the Meteor to be produced in large numbers, and the first truly satisfactory version of the aircraft.

The designation Meteor FR Mk.5 was given to a single Gloster Meteor F.Mk.4 (VT347) experimentally modified to operate as a fighter-reconnaissance aircraft

The Gloster Meteor F.Mk.6 was a proposal for an improved version of the Meteor jet, using long engine nacelles and the Derwent 7 engine. None were built.

The Gloster Meteor T Mk.7 was a two seat trainer, based on the Meteor F Mk.4.

The Gloster Meteor F Mk.8 was the last and best day fighter version of the Meteor, and equipped the majority of home based RAF fighter squadrons in the early 1950s.

The Gloster Meteor FR Mk.9 was a low level fighter-reconnaissance version of the Meteor Mk.8.

The Gloster Meteor PR Mk.10 was a high level unarmed reconnaissance aircraft.

The Gloster Meteor NF Mk.11 was the first of a series of night fighters based on the Meteor and designed to fill a short term need for a replacement for the Mosquito

The Gloster Meteor NF Mk.12 was the second development of the Meteor night fighter, this time based around the American APS-21 radar (AI Mk.21 in RAF service)

The Gloster Meteor NF Mk.13 was a tropicalised version of the NF Mk.11, forty of which were converted on the production line to equip the RAF in the Middle East

The Gloster Meteor NF Mk.14 was the final night fighter version of the Meteor, featuring an improved clear-vision sliding canopy and slightly more powerful engines than the earlier NF Mk.12.

The Gloster Meteor U Mk.15 was an unmanned target drone created from converted surplus F Mk.4 fighters

The Gloster Meteor U Mk.16 was an unmanned target drone based on the F Mk.8.

The Gloster Meteor TT Mk.20 was a target towing aircraft based on the NF Mk.11

The Gloster Meteor U Mk.21 was an unmanned drone, similar to the U Mk.16 and like that aircraft based on the F Mk.8 fighter, but built for use in Australia

The Gloster E.5/42 was a design for a single engined jet fighter that saw some development work in 1943 as an alternative in case the Meteor project was delayed by problems with the Whittle W2.B jet engine.

The Gloster Meteor was sold to twelve countries, remaining in service in some of them well into the 1970s.

A list of the Gloster Meteor Squadrons of the RAF

The Gloster Meteor was the only Allied jet aircraft to see combat during the Second World War, making its debut a few days after the Me 262

The Gloster Meteor has a limited post-war combat career, despite remaining in serving until 1961

7 February

Today we complete our series of articles on the Consolidated B-24 Liberator

A look at the development of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, the US military aircraft produced in the largest numbers

We look at the service record of the B-24 Liberator with the Eighth Air Force in England, the B-24 in the Mediterranean and the B-24 in the Pacific.

We add a list of Consolidated B-24 Liberator Groups of the USAAF

6 February

More Eighth Air Force B-24 units today:

The 466th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force, based at Attlebridge, Norfolk, from March 1944 to the end of the war in Europe.

The 467th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit within the Eighth Air Force that was based at Rackheath, Norfolk, from March 1944 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 482nd Bombardment Group provided a pathfinder force for the heavy bombers of the Eighth Air Force.

The 486th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force, entering combat with the B-24 in May 1944 but converting to the B-17 two months later.

The 487th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force, based at Lavenham, Suffolk, from August 1944 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 489th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit within the Eighth Air Force, noteworthy for containing the only man to be awarded the Medal of Honor while flying an Eighth Air Force B-24 from Britain

The 490th Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force that entered combat just before the D-Day landings, attacking German airfields.

The 491st Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator group of the Eighth Air Force that entered combat early in June 1944, just before the D-Day landings.

The 492nd Bombardment Group was a unit of the Eighth Air Force, but despite being a heavy bombardment group it actually spent most of its time in Europe flying Carpetbagger missions, transporting agents and supplies to resistance movements in Occupied Europe

The 493rd Bombardment Group was a heavy bomber unit of the Eighth Air Force, that entered combat in May 1944, just in time to take part in the operations to support the D-Day landings.

5 February

The Consolidated C-87 Liberator Express was produced in response to a USAAF request for long range transport aircraft.

The Consolidated RY Liberator was the US Navy designation for transport aircraft based on the B-24 Liberator, known as the C-87 in the USAAF.

Operation Tidalwave, 1 August 1943, was a low level attack on the oil refineries at Ploesti, carried out by B-24 Liberators from bases in North Africa.

The Consolidated XB-41 Liberator was a prototype for a heavily armed escort fighter based on the B-24

4 February

The 34th Bombardment Group spent the first few months of the Second World War protecting the American coast, before becoming a training squadron. Finally from April 1944 the group joined the Eighth Air Force, operating the B-24 and then B-17 over Europe.

The 44th Bombardment Group was one of those Eighth Air Force units that flew the B-24 for the entire war, spending an unusually large amount of its time on tactical missions, as well as contributing detachments to the fighting in Italy.

The 93rd Bombardment Group was one of those Eighth Air Force units that operated the B-24 Liberator through the Second World War, taking part in the Strategic bombing campaign as well as sending three detachments to the Mediterranean and taking part in the attack on Ploesti

The 389th Bombardment Group was a B-24 unit of the Eighth Air Force that gained its first combat experience on detachment to North Africa between July and October 1943

The 392nd Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator group of the Eighth Air Force which operated from Wendling from July 1943 until June 1945.

The 445th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force which operated from Tibenham from November 1943 to the end of the war in Europe.

The 446th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force which operated from Flixton, England from November 1943 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 448th Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit of the Eighth Air Force that operated from Seething from December 1943 until the end of the war in Europe.

The 453rd Bombardment Group was a B-24 Liberator unit that was active from Old Buckenham in England from February 1944 until the end of the war in Europe.

1 February

The Consolidated Liberator III was the British designation for the B-24D, serving with thirteen squadrons, seven of them performing maritime patrol duties.

The Consolidated Liberator IV was apparently the designation given to the B-24E for RAF service, but no squadrons appear to have used that aircraft.

The Consolidated Liberator VI was the RAF designation for the B-24H and early B-24Js, the first production versions of the aircraft to be built with a nose turret and was the most numerous RAF version of the Liberator

The Consolidated Liberator VII was the British designation for the C-87 Liberator Express long range transport plane.

The Consolidated Liberator VIII was the RAF designation for late production B-24Js. The type equipped twenty three squadrons, although ten of those were post-war transport squadrons, leaving thirteen wartime operators of the aircraft

The Consolidated Liberator IX was the RAF designation given to 27 RY-3 transport aircraft. This was a transport aircraft based on the PB4Y-2 Privateer, a specifically naval version of the B-24 Liberator.

The Consolidated LB-30 was the USAAF designation for 75 Liberator IIs taken from an RAF order in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor

The Consolidated B-24G Liberator was the designation given to B-24 Liberators built by North American at Dallas. It would become the third version of the aircraft to be built with a nose turret

The Consolidated B-24J Liberator was built in larger numbers than any version of the aircraft, with a total of 6,678 aircraft being built by all five factories involved in the Liberator Production Pool.

The single Consolidated XB-24K Liberator saw the first attempt to fit a single vertical tail to the B-24 with the aim of improving the stability of the aircraft

The Consolidated B-24L Liberator was an attempt to improve the performance of the aircraft by reducing its weight.

The Consolidated B-24M Liberator was the final production version of the aircraft, and was produced by the two remaining Liberator factories – Consolidated at San Diego and Ford at Willow Run.

The Consolidated XB-24N Liberator was a second attempt to fit the B-24 with a single fin and would have been the standard version of the aircraft if the war had continued into 1946

The Consolidated F-7 was a photographic reconnaissance version of the B-24 Liberator, produced at the Army Modification Centres.

The Consolidated C-109 Tanker was a fuel transport aircraft based on the B-24.

The Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator was the US Navy’s designation for the B-24, used to fly long range anti-submarine patrols

31 January

No. 88 Squadron served as a medium bomber squadron throughout the Second World War, beginning and ending the war supporting the Army as it fought in Europe, although in very different circumstances.

No. 90 Squadron was the first RAF squadron to operate the Flying Fortress, but in an early ineffective version. It was later reformed as a Stirling and then Lancaster bomber squadron.

No. 96 Squadron went through two incarnations during the Second World War, first as a night fighter unit (1940-1944) and then as a transport unit in India.

No. 97 Squadron was one of the small number of squadrons to use the Avro Manchester, before converting to the Lancaster at the start of 1942.

No. 98 Squadron began the war as a training unit operating the Fairey Battle, before being reformed as a Mitchell bomber squadron late in 1942.

No. 99 Squadron (Madras Presidency) spent most of the Second World War operating the Vickers Wellington, first from Britain and later from India, where it eventually converted to the Liberator.

The six Consolidated LB-30As were the first production version of the Liberator bomber to be produced, entering RAF Service in 1941.

The Consolidated Liberator I was the first version of the aircraft to see active service with the RAF, carrying out anti-submarine patrols with No.120 Squadron.

The Consolidated Liberator II was the final version of the aircraft to be build as part of the original French order for the LB-30 and the first to feature the long nose that became a standard feature of all later versions.

The Consolidated Liberator GR V was a version of the Liberator III/ B-24D modified for service with Coastal Command.

Updates from: 20142013201220112010200920082007



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