Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

What was the best fighter plane of World War II?

Originally published on HistoryNet.com. Published Online: May 06, 2010 
Print Friendly
44 comments FONT +  FONT -

What was the best fighter plane of World War II?


44 Responses to “What was the best fighter plane of World War II?”


  1. 1
    Jerry Parker says:

    You just love to startt an argument, don't you. I have always supported the P-51 Mustang in this category.

  2. 2
    Darryl Raby says:

    Always been fond of both the P-51 & the Focke-Wulf 190, but for wide spread & effective use? How about the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the Vought F4U Corsair & the YAK-3. Too many good planes, put to wide use.

  3. 3
    Chuck says:

    I like the P 40 Thunderbolt just for its awesome look

  4. 4
    Eric Couch says:

    Best Fighter? The P-51 Mustang.
    My Favorite? The P-47 Thunderbolt. Fast, rugged as hell, packed a hell of a punch. There are stories of Luftwaffe pilots emptying their gun magazines into P-47's only to watch the Thunderbolts continue to fly home to safety.

  5. 5
    Mike H. says:

    F4U-4 Corsair, P51D Mustang, P47N Thunderbolt…top contenders… If it had been properly utilized by the Gwermans then it'd have to be the ME262-1. Nothing else could touch it.

  6. 6
    Chuck says:

    Sorry about that, I meant p47 Thunderbolt
    What the heck do I know it's snowing here in Montana.

  7. 7
    B says:

    51D or the Spitfire MK9

  8. 8
    Gordon H. says:

    I'm sorry guys I know it wasn't the best but it is too me and that is the P-38 lightning. Big guns, fast, long range. The fork-tailed devil shot down Yamamoto for heaven's sake. The fighter that made the greatest impact would be the Me-262 though, once it came out all others were obsolete.

  9. 9
    GW HOLLOWAY says:

    p51 mustang or the p40 . both where ahead of their time

  10. 10
    Willi Krause says:

    ME-262 hands down. Most of the 100 ME-262's lost were lost during ascent or descent because of proximity of Allied airfields to German aifields during the Allied advance. Once in the air few ME-262's were shot down in combat. However, they shot down 500 Allied aircraft. The 262's favorite prey of the ME-262 aces: The P-51 Mustang Fact.

    • 10.1
      Tarv says:

      the reason for the mustangs were because they were fitted with drop tanks that allowed them to escort bombers all the way to Germany. Later tactics used by p-51s were to escort from high altitude, Then dive down on attacking ME-262 from above which negated there speed. many more were shot down attempting to land as they guzzled too much fuel. better plane by far P-51 mustang. also the team effort affect. bombing fuel etc. Might want to ask the tuskeegee airmen but thats a whole nother story.

  11. 11
    Maurice says:

    There are several, such as the P 51, F 4U Cosair, the P47> But, remember the old P 38 Lightning flown by Majors Blong and Mcguier. No one in WW ll had more kills than these two guys. Blong had 33 kills if I'm
    not mistaken and McGuier had something like three less after he was killed in action.

  12. 12
    WayneWhite says:

    We in the 15th air force out of Italy pick the P51's because of their longer range. They could stay with us on the target run where the P38's usually had to go home for lack of fuel

  13. 13
    HueChi Chang says:

    P-51 is the BEST!

  14. 14
    PBY Ace says:

    The Wildcat? No, really. Not that it was actually the "best" fighter, (ME-262) but that it gets instantly overlooked. My father, a Navy pilot from early 1941-1948, went through flight training with Joe Foss and Marion Carl, among others. He was too tall to fit into carrier planes and ended up as a PBY pilot for VP-12, the Black Cats. Most of his classmates went to Devastators and died at Midway. Anyway, he told me that under 10,000', where most of the action happened in the Pacific, a Wildcat could out-perform any plane it flew against. Wildcat pilots held a 6-1 shoot-down advantage over the Zero, mind you, this was against the well-trained Zero pilots, almost all of whom were dead by the time the Hellcat was introduced. Granted, a good part of that success was due to superior tactics, like the Thatch Weave and the fact that the radios in Zeros were next to useless. (And that Zeros came apart almost instantly when hit by .50 cal. rounds.) Kind of hard to fight as a team when you can't talk to your wingman. Toward the end of the war, Dad spent a good deal of his time rescuing "wet, pissed-off Mustang pilots." (His words) Almost any damage to the fuselage would bring down a P-51. P-51 pilots ruefully joked that the plane could be brought down by a hat pin.
    The Wildcat could accelerate faster than the Zero, as well as the much heavier Hellcat and Corsair. A Wildcat pilot could disengage by diving, something that a Zero did poorly. If a Wildcat pilot had the advantage of higher altitude, it could make a diving attack at much higher speeds than a Zero could flown. At low altitudes, a Zero was only marginally faster. In low altitude dogfights, a Wildcat, with it's greater HP could maintain higher speeds during turns. In a rare encounter with ME-109s over the Atlantic, the Wildcat proved to be decisively superior. Also overlooked is the Douglas Dauntless SBD, which could easily out maneuver a Zero and enjoyed the lowest loss rate of any carrier plane in the PTO. SBD pilots accounted for a good number of Zeros.

  15. 15
    Somebody says:

    For me… Hmmm… I'd say it was the DH Mosquito. It was fragile but with it's 2 Rolls Royce Merlin engines and fine British craftsmanship put together with great low altitude capabilities and great ground attack capabilities. It didn't pack a great punch but jerry could never catch it. They could be produced cheaply, quiqly and in large quantities.
    The Super Marine Spitfire Mk.1 packed a hell of a punch during the Battle of Britain. It did have its flaws but it could be produced 3 times faster than the ME-109.
    You can't forget the Hawker Hurricain Mk.1 either. It had more kills to its name than the spitfire during the Battle of Britain.

  16. 16
    Old Hoopster says:

    There were several very good fighters, and fortunately the Allies had more of them: P-51, P-47, P-38, F4U, F6F, Spitfire, Tempest. Strategy and tactics allowed the Allies to use these and the Hurricane and F4F to get the job done. The Me-262 was clearly superior in it's element, but by the time it was used in numbers, its bases were subject to attack, so it had no where to hide. But range and lower fuel consumption are what made the P-51 the best; it could take the fight to the enemy, anywhere he was. Nothing but the Me-262 was faster, some could take more punishment, some hit harder with more powerful armament, but the Mustang was where ever the enemy was. Once the Mustang appeared, air superiority was assured all over the theater of operations.

  17. 17
    david eastman says:

    p51 for great range and could mix it with the best but most pilots would go for the spitfire mk 9 and 14. at sea it would be the hellcat of course. oh and eric would say do not try to turn with a gloster gladiator

  18. 18
    Patrick says:

    There was a saying by the airmen in the pacific, " If you want to send a picture home to your girlfriend, stand next to a Mustang, If you want to go home and kiss her, fly a wildcat "

  19. 19
    Roger says:

    Expect for the ME 262 it have to be the Focke Wulf 190 since i suppose we are talking about prop planes

  20. 20
    Jack Lane says:

    I'm going with the P-38, as it was present for the ENTIRE War, and at the war's end, was ordered destroyed in various pacific country's rather that leaving it for the indigenous native airforces to pick up as Mustangs were. It was considered too dangerous to leave behind. Mustangs showed up effectively as of 1944. The P47 does have many story's about being hard to shoot down though.

  21. 21
    James W. says:

    E.Hartmann nailed 352 enemy planes flying a Bf 109..
    Thats gotta mean something..

  22. 22
    Barrie says:

    The Mosquito was probably the best fighter to be in, the lowest losses of any operational allied plane. The Spitfire served right through the war as did the Bf 109, The Fw 190 was very good, the P 51 after it got the Merlin was ok, very long range but not as fast or agile as a Spitfire at the same time, the P 51 had to be escorted to the German border by P 38 ( when they did not suffer from unreliability), P 47 and Spitfire or it did not have the range to escort bombers to the target and back. In the last year of the war range was not so important. The Tempest V probably the best fighter in the last 2 years of the war, accounting for well over 600 V 1`s and took out a number of Me 262`s inj combat too as did the Spitfire Mk IX and XIV.

  23. 23
    Bernard says:

    Well, Brewster Buffalo…
    I can see your eyes, but it is true.
    That plane produced an ace every 17 produced airframes. No other plane can claim that.
    :-)

  24. 24
    Scott says:

    Gunter Roff was a top scoring German fighter pilot. He got to fly all the allied and Axis aircraft. He had over 275 kills. primarily against Russia. He said the P-51 was by far the best It was air cooled but the RR Merlin gave it tremendous range and it is an extremely maneuverable aircraft. Once it was refit with the RR engine and bubble canopy the Luftwaffe rapid lost control over Germany. It could escort the bombers all the way to Berlin and back non stop. At 40.000 feet it would run 437 mph and had a tremendous climb rate. well above the ME-109. The Spitfire was strictly a defense fighter as it was scrambled to intercept incoming Germans. It had only 15 seconds of machine gun time and only 1/3 the range of a mustang. Any fighter like the p 47 that had to turn back because of lower range was very ineffective as an escort. They were rugged as was the Hellcat, which has a 11/1 kill ratio and more aces were created flying it (305) the number lost (247). I was up against a smaller air force piloted by marginal pilots. I say it was the P=51 as this aircraft was the one that turned the air war in Europe and also was very successful in the Pacific. It was used by some countries until the early 60s because of its all around effectiveness. ( fire power, range, maneuverability and speed. No other WW2 aircraft could match it in the air whether it be speed or climbing. Six 50 caliber browning machine guns made the German aircraft its prey. When Gering saw a flight over Berlin escorting bombers he stated the war is over and Germany was up for second place. I say it is the Mustang. especially when the German pilots feared it so much. I would give the hellcat and Corsair a tie for second place as they pretty much wiped out the jap air force. The MER 109 was a death trap as between 1/3 and 1/2 were lost to ground looping. I sat in on and made that statement as the main gear struts bolted into the fuselage. Look at the wheel base when you get a chance as well as the size of the vertical stabilizer. The CAF had four and lost one to a ground loop. The other three have been sold. The mustang turned the air war like no other allied fighter when the Germans had an air force. It was truly an offensive aircraft and most of the others if not all were either defensive of used primarily for observation ( P-38)

  25. 25
    Henry the cabbi says:

    Hi! everyone.

    The BF109 made more aces with higher kills than any other aircraft of WW11.

    The Zero was a great pursuit fighter/bomber with probably a longer range than any of its opponent adversaries. It could outmanouvre a spitfire having a tighter turn.

    But the finest of them all was, in my opinion, the De Haviland Mosquito. German pursuit aircraft couldn't catch it. It could fly higher and faster than anything the krauts could put up. The wooden wonder.

    Despite the BF109 the RAF with spitfires and hurricanes managed to defeat the Luftwaffe and establish aerial superiority in the Europan skies.

    Prhaps the most sinificant tool that won the war in Europe was the Merlin engine.

  26. 26
    William says:

    I have to go with the Spitfire it was unbelievably fast and highly maneuverable, after that I would say the Me262 but the P51 was almost as good as the ME, the P51 had greater range and better guns, then I would say the Hellcat, I have to say that the corsair was probably the worst airplane the U.S. ever made what a piece of crap, it was very maneuverable but that was about it. I have to give it up for the Hurricane as well a very underrated plane, as well as the Lightning.

    • 26.1
      Billy says:

      P-51 better guns than the 262? What have you been smoking. I urge you to look up the size comparison between the two. One round was meant for taking down the bombers that were plaguing Germany at the time. The mustang's guns were meant to wear down a specific aircraft, but it needed lot's more to destroy a plane. Also the F4U the worst airplane the US made? If you think that's bad do some more research and you'll be horrified

  27. 27
    Bob says:

    All depended on what you wanted. Airacobras had speed meaning you could intercept and get from A to B quickly, the spitfire was a brilliant turnfighter and cheap to produce (for most models), the zero left things in the dirt as did the mosquito. The 109, Beaufighter and mustang just ripped things to shreds.

  28. 28
    Bob says:

    Edit: My grammar was horrid just then.

  29. 29
    Barrie says:

    The Spitfire was in front line service right through the war, the P 51 after it got the Merlin and there were enough in service late 1943 it did escort the USAAF bombers into Germany and back, however it could not fight when heavy with fuel and with the drop tanks on so the Bombers needed an escort which could fight at least as far as Germany, this was P 38, P 47 and the Spitfire. The Tempest V and Spitfire Mk XIV were both in service 6 months before the P 51.
    Spitfire`s were used as a defensive fighter, for sweeps over France, as a dive bomber, fighter bomber Photo Reconnaissance and an escort fighter, they escorted USAAF bombers before US had anything capable.

  30. 30
    Barrie says:

    I wrote the Tempest V and Spitfire Mk XIV were in service 6 months before the P 51, by mistake I left off the D.
    I also left out the Spitfire served as a high altitude fighter and a low altitude fighter as well as used on aircraft carriers

  31. 31
    Victor says:

    Best in form of climb ratio and agility? The Macchi MC.205V Veltro is your choice. Not the best range though. It does have a few drawbacks though they can be patched up pretty quickly with good maintennence.

  32. 32
    Barrie says:

    I am not sure how it would compare to a Spitfire Mk IX, or even the Re 2005.
    The climb of the MC 295 was tested with no load and using emergency power, using combat power and a normal load does affect it quite a bit,

  33. 33
    bunyan says:

    the Me-262 had 4 30mm cannons and if it flew at the beginning of the war with the horton ho 229 the war would be won in 2 years at least

    • 33.1
      Barrie says:

      The Me 262 was not in service until late 1944, as a fighter it was outclassed by RAF fighters like the Spitfire and Tempest, the 30 mm cannon were not very effective, also the Gloster Meteor was in service about the same time.
      The Ho 229 was never finished and there were no suitable jet engines for it in Germany.

  34. 34
    Barrie says:

    The Me 262 had 4 x 30 mm but they were low muzzle velocity and not the most effective, as for the P 51 the 6 x 0.5 were not nearly as good as the 20 mm used on RAF fighters, shorter range and less hitting power, I wouldn`t say the Corsair was bad, not the best but not bad, I would still rate the Spitfire as the best.

  35. 35
    marian says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_flying_aces
    list of the best pilots in ww2 they d ont flew P51 P51they destroyed BF 109 and FW 190
    waiting for comments….

    • 35.1
      Barrie says:

      Claims are often misleading and most Luftwaffe claims were against Russian planes when the Fw 190 and Bf 109 had an advantage, against the RAF they did not do so well, since many USAAF and Luftwaffe claims were very exaggerated and the way different claims were counted will also affect the figures.

      • 35.1.1
        marian says:

        Maybe you're right, but there writes the number one pilot shot down over Romania 5 P51 by FW 190

  36. 36
    Barrie says:

    It would depend on which Fw 190, it evolved from 1941 when it had the radial engine up to 1944 when they used an inline engine, rate of climb and maneuverability both would beat the P 51.
    In 1944 The Spitfire Mk XIV in service in January, the P 51 D and Fw 190 D both about 6 months later
    Top speed Spitfire then Fw 190 then P 51, Acceleration Fw 190 then Spitfire then P 51, Climb Spitfire then Fw 190 then P 51, maneuverability Spitfire and Fw 190 close then p 51.

  37. 37
    Rock says:

    i read this and i didnt see eny one mention p63 kingcobra
    it has 37mm and 6x 50cal. mgs
    it was wery fast and slim and hard to shoot at
    p47 thunderbolt is just a legend some pilotes iven breake sound barier when dyving

  38. 38
    Barrie says:

    The P 63 when it entered service was not very fast and had a low rate of climb, the P 47C had a critical mach speed of just 0.69, even the later P 47 N only had a critical speed of mach 0.83, the fastest piston engine plane in a dive was the Spitfire which had a critical speed of mach 0.89.
    No plane during the war, not even jets came close to breaking the sound barrier.in a dive

  39. 39
    David says:

    Well, first of all you have to define what you mean by the term, \best fighter\. Because I don't have all-night I'm going to suggest we just define it as an air superiority fighter, that, given a co-energy state, is most likely to survive an encounter with any other fighter aircraft of that era. So which aircraft is the most likely candidate? Long story short, it will be the Spitfire XIV.

    So why the Spitfire XIV and not the P 51D? Because the Mk 14 Spitfire is as fast as a P 51 BUT, with a better rate of climb, better operational ceiling, better turn, better roll and better acceleration. The only clear advantage the Pony has over the Spit is operating range and on that score the P 51 is without doubt, the best. Combine that one attribute with a huge numerical superiority (which the US enjoyed over Germany from late '44) and you have a war-winner. However, in a straight out fight, the Spitfire would kill the P 51 more often than not.

    Now, if you want the 'best' low/medium altitude fighter of the War I'd suggest you have a serious look at the Hawker Tempest. No good over 20,000 feet of course but under that altitude, a real killer.



Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy