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This site is a tribute to the dedicated men and women who worked long hours building these planes and the brave airmen who flew them through dangerous skies, many of whom would never return to see their families again.

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Bombers and Transport Planes

Some General Notes:

What’s in a name?
The US Army Air Corps was established in 1926, taking over from the previous “US Army Air Service,” and in June, 1941, six months before Pearl Harbor, the name of this branch of the Army was changed to US Army Air Forces. The significance of this is that with each name change, the importance of air power as a distinct branch of the military became more recognized. Going into World War 2, Army generals continued to see aircraft in support roles of ground forces. By the end of the war, it was clear that air power was a force in itself. Of course a lot of planes were also assigned to naval duty, especially those that could operate from a carrier. Sea-based air power became much, much more important during WW2, especially in the Pacific, and to this day, the Navy has its own planes.

Plane Names

P stands for “Pursuit,” and B stands for “Bomber.” Hence the P-51 and the B-25. The term “fighter” was mostly used after World War 2 when jets became the norm, so the jet names since 1946 generally start with the letter F. The Grumman F4F and F6F introduced before and at the beginning of the war are the exceptions. TB stands for “stands for “Torpedo Bomber.” The Grumman TBF Avenger was designed to launch torpedoes flying low over the water to sink ships, but was used more extensively on bombing missions.

The complete story about each type of plane is more complex than this web site covers, largely because design changes and improvements were often made after the first planes of the type were introduced and entered into service. So the description of a plane that is accurate for the first several dozen or hundred or thousand produced will not be accurate for planes made later. So please understand this weakness in the information provided here; it is generally true. Fortunately, there are many sources of more detailed information, some of which we will recommend.
B-17 Flying Fortress
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Introduced in 1938 and selected by the Army Air Corps in 1941, the B-17 was one of the most heavily used bombers in the war. Flying from bases in England and Italy, B-17’s dropped 640 thousand tons of bombs on industrial and military targets in Nazi Germany.
Number built: 12,731
Length: 74 ft.
Wingspan: 104 ft.
Top Speed: 287 mph
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B-25 Mitchell
North American B-25 Mitchell
Medium bomber used for high and low level bombing as well as strafing and submarine patrol. One of the most heavily armed planes of the war. Though not designed as a navy plane, sixteen B-25’s took off from the deck of USS Hornet in the famous “Doolittle” raid on the Japanese capital 4 months after Pearl Harbor.
Number Built: 9,816
Length: 53 ft.
Wingspan: 67 ft.
Top Speed: 300+ mph
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B-24 Liberator
Consolidated B-24 Liberator
Introduced early in the war and used extensively by the RAF as well as the US Army Air Corps.
Number Built: 19,000+
Wingspan: 110 ft.
Top Speed: 290 mph

B-29 Super Fortress
Boeing B-29 Superfortress
Introduced near the end of the war, the B-29 introduced new technology such as a pressurized cabin
Number Built: 3,970 1943-46
Wingspan: 141 ft.
Length 99 ft.
Range: 5,592 miles
Top Speed: 357 mph
TBF Avenger
Grumman TBF Avenger
Single engine Naval torpedo bomber also deployed for ground attack. It was a 3-man plane with a bombardier-gunner, and radio man-gunner as well as a pilot. Used extensively in the Pacific in raids on Japanese positions. The Avenger is the plane future president George H.W. Bush was flying when he was shot down in 1944.
Number Built: 9.839
Length: 41 ft.
Wingspan: 54 ft.
Top Speed: 275 mph
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B-26 Marauder
Martin B-26 Marauder
On of the most heavily armed American planes of the war, the Marauder was used primarily for ground attack with massive gunnery as well as bombs.
C-46 Commando
Curtiss C-46 Commando
Most famous for getting volumes of war materials over the Himalayas to China after the Japanese closed down the Burma Road, the C-46 had more cargo capacity than the C-27 and performed better at high altitudes.
Number Built: 3,181
Length: 76 ft. 4 in.
Wingspan: 108 ft.
Top Speed: 245-279 mph
Range: 1200 to 3,150 miles
C-47 Skytrain
Douglas C-47 Skytrain
Adapted from the Douglas DC-3 passenger plane for the war, the C-47 was used extensively for troop transport, parachute drops, and cargo.
Number Built: 10,174
Length: 63 ft. 9 in.
Wingspan: 95 ft. 6 in.
Top Speed 224 mph
Cruise Speed: 160 mph
Range: 1600 - 3600 miles
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Aircraft in Header Slides

B-26 Marauder
B-26 Marauder
Courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, OH
P-61 Black Widow
Northrop P-61 Black Widow
Courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, OH
F4F Wildcat
Grumman F4F Wildcat
Courtesy of the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL
F6F Hellcat
Grumman F6F Hellcat
Courtesy of the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL
P-51 Mustang
North American P-51 Mustang
Courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, OH
TBM Avenger
Grumman TBM Avenger
Courtesy of the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL


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