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Infer-\ rcff
Few of the obsewets of the many drantatic afu displays of the
early 1930s could have foreseen that within a few short yearc
the evolution of the fightet afucraft would have changedthe
agile biplanes, so little different from their World War I
predecessots, into the potent machines of World War II.
The,ultimate biplane fighter: the Gloster Gladiator featured a cowled engine
Measured by any stirndard (aircraft performance, complexity, lethality, and enclosed cockpit. The Gladiator served with the Royal Air Force during
cost or appearance) the.1930s were a time for rapid change in fighters. the I ate I 9 30 s u ntil replaced by the new breed of monoplane fi gh ter, the
So too were the the 1940s, but that was mainly because of the introduc- Spitfire andHurricane.
tion of jet propr;lsion, A-ll the other advances that separate the scouts of
World War I from the supersonic fighters of the 1950s were introduced in deadly and it was light. What was the point in adding extra guns, cr
the decade that preceded World War II's outbreak in 1939. heavier gn:ns, if their weight made the fighter incapable of bringirng i=
During the 1920s almost nothing happened to fighter design apart guns to bear? There is some weight in this argument. At the A_liies
lrom a rapid lmprovement in the power and reliability of engines, By the darkest hour ih World War Ii, ln the desperate and hopeless f,ght icr
mid-1920s these were abie to give 500 hp (373 k\nf wlth very little Singapore, the heavy I2.7-mm (0.5-in) gmns in Brewster Buffalo flghters
llkelihood of fallure, resulting in biplane fighters that could reach almost were replaced by puny 7.7-mm (0.303-in) weapons, with half-emp:,
200 mph (322 knvh). A few were monoplanes, but these seldom showed magazines, simply in order to try to dogfiqht successfully against te
any advantage in performance and were invariably inferior rn manoeuv- superior Mitsubishi A6M.
rability, and usually inferior in climb and ceiling. Not much happened in Sulfice to say that not one of the traditional flghters designed i:l
armament, apart from lncreasing acceptance of the shell-firing cannon manoeuvrabllity in the early i930s was able to make any impression c:-
firing through the hub of the propeller of a geared engine (which had the best of the new stressed-skin monoplanes that flrst flew in 1935-c
often been used by Georges Guynemer in 1917) Another change was The best of these were the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Supermarire
that a few services, such as the US Navy , hung bombs under fighters and Spitflre, which quite quickly ended the reign of the types describei
trained the pllots in dive attacks, ancestors of today's 'dual-role fighters'. here.
Throughout the I930s arguments raged. Most fighter piiots were
adamant that a fighter should be a compact biplane with an open
cockplt, able to out-turn and out-climb the enemy and eventually to shoot Wifying the changes in fighter design in the I g30s was the Boeing P-26 . This
aircraft still had the archaic bracedwing and heavily-faired, non-rctractable
hrm down, With accurate shooting the rifle-calibre machine-gn:n was undercarriage but was one of the first to break with the biplane tradilion.

u .:r't,
# ,,sr''

':# , *i/
' *[i

Avia B 534
In its day the Avia B 534 series of
flghters were wrdely held to be the
best ever designed, the team re-
sponsible being led by Ing, Frantidek
Novotnf, AII B 534s had traditional
structures with a wrre-braced fuselaqe
lruss assembled from tubes, and with
wrngs made mainly foom steel strip,
fabric-covered throughout except for
the metal panels of the forward fixel-
age. Despite a massive water-cooled This Avia B 5 34-lV served with the
engine, with a high-drag Jadiator be- 10600 m (34,775 ft); ranse 5BO kn (360 Slovakian insurgent air arm during
ftveen the landing gears, the B 534 was miies) the Slovakian uprising in I 944.
so small that it had gtood performance weights: empry i460 ks (3,219 1b);
and aqility, and it also had better arma- maximum take-off 2 120 kg (4,674 lb) Inits day, theAviaB S34waswidely
ment than most contemporary fiqhters, Dimensions: span 9.40 m (30 ft 10 in); consrdered the finest fighter in
The family started with the B 34 of lengrth 8,20 m (26 ft 10.8 in); height ^ Europe. The aircr aft possessed
3. I0 m ( I0 ft 2 in); wing area 23.56 m' excellent high-speed
luly 1932, made in small numbers, Pro-
duction switched in 1934 to the B 534.II cooied piston engrne (253.6 sq ft) manoeuvrability and had
with many refinements and four gmns Performance: maximum speed Armament: four 7,7-mm (0.303-in) or outstanding dive and climb
in the sides of the fr:selage. (A moteur 405 kn/h (252 mph) at 4400 m later 7.92-mm (0,31-in) Model30 characterktics. Many finished their
canor was tested but shell feed (14,435 ft); climb to 5000 m (16,405 ft) in machine-gnrns, plLts stx 20-kg (44jb) servicelives oneither side of the
caused problems,) After 200 aircraft 4 minutes 28 secondsi servrce ceilinqt bombs Eas tern front during W orld W ar I I.
with small differences, productron
moved in 1935 to the B 534.III and final-
ly to the B $4.fV with sliding canopy
and iater engine with metal propeller,
Streamlined skrs could be attached in
wrnter, Avra delivered 272 of the IV
series, and 450 B 534 and cannon-
armed Bk 534 fighters were in service
in 1938, Many saw action in the war
with Hungary in March/April 1939,
flnding the enemy Fiat C.R.32s more
agrile. The Slovak air force then fought
alongside the Luftwaffe and used many
B 534s, In 1936 a single B 634 had been
flown, widely judged the cleanest and
most beautiful of ali biplane fiqhters,
but no production ensued,

AviaB 534.IV
Type: single-seat biplane fighter-
Powerplant: one 850-hp (634-kW)
Avia-built HS l2Ydrs Vee- 12 liquid-

lS iiiSLiot-sPAD sro
Developed to meet an official French
fighter requirement of 1930, the 816r-
iot-SPAD 510 was the last French
flghter biplane, and could trace its
ancestry straight back to the famed
SPAD scouts of World War I, It dilfered !
from them not so much ln size, for lt was i
amazingly small, but in having a much
more powerful Hispano-Suua engnne I
rn the ftont of an all-metal fuselage, the
rear part being a duralumin monoco-
que, The equal-span wings had l-type
interplane struts and four ailerons, the L
upper wing alone having pronounced
sweepback to bring the centre section
well ahead of the pilot. Old technology
was seen in the fabric-covered wings,
flat frontal radiator and fixed-pitch
wooden propeller,
Outclassed by the Dewoitine mono-
planes, which in fact were developed
more quickly and flew more than six
months ahead of the 5i0's first flight in
January 1933, the 5.510 was neverthe-
less agile, a fast climber and qurte im-
pressive when expertly flown. As a re-
sult rt gained a smalj consolation order

The Bl6riot-SPAD S.SJ 0 rras

oufclassedin acceptance trials by
the Dewoitine monoplanes but
proved to be an agile, tough and fast-
climbing fighter, which continued to
see lr'rnited service until the war,
when it was relegated to secondJine

1 162
Bl6riot-SPAD 5 I0 (continued) Inter-warFighters
for 60, the last two having the HS
12Xcrs engrine wrth a 20-mm motew
canon firing through the propeller hub,
ths replacing the hvo fuselage gnms
though the gnrns in the wingis were re-
tained. Prlots learned to fly the S.5I0
with abandon, its only real fault being
fuei stawation in steep climbs. Land-
rngs, however, had to be weil-judged
since the spatted qears were weak.
The puny force served with at least l0
different fum6e de l'Air units, which
were first-line fighter escadrilles
(squadrons) in 1937 and secondline
regnonal squadrons from late f$8; by
1940 survrvors had been relegated to
North Africa.

Bl6riot-SPADSI0 Bl6riot-SPAD 5.5 1 0 of ERC 4/56 l, Arm6e de I'Air (French air force)based at
Tylre: singie-seat biplane fighter H avr*Octeville in October I 9 39.
Powerplant: one 690-hp (5IS-kW)
i0500 m (34,450 ft); range 800 kn (497 (ignoring radro masts) 3.02 m (9 rt
Hrspano-Suiza l2Xbrs Vee- 12 water-
cooled piston engrine miles) I I in); wing area 22.0 m' (236.8 sq t
Performance: maximum speed Weights: empty 1255 kg (2,767 1b); Armament: fow 7, S-mm (0. 295-rn)
380 kn/h (236 mph) at 5000 m maximum take-otr 1680 kg (3,703 Ib) MAC 1934 machine-gn:ns (two above
(16,405 ft); climb to 4000 m (13, 125 ft) in Dimensions:span8.B4 m(29 ft0 in); the engnne and two under the lower
4 minutes 45 seconds; sewice ceiling Iensth 7. I0 m (23 ft 33/+ in); height wings)

ffi ii[woitine D.500 and D.5I0

This Dewoitine D .500 served with the
I dre Escadrille, Groupe de Chasse
II /I 4 at in early
Reims in
atReims 37. The D.5(
earlv I 9937. D.500
fir st flew in I une I 932 and entered
sewice inmid-1935.

Dewoitine abandoned the parasol

confign-ration in the Dewoitine D.500,
created as an official entrant in the
French 1930 C,i (single-seat fighter) Specification Dimensions:span 12,09 m(39 ftB tn):
competition, A design of grreat historic- DewoitineD.SOI lengrth 7,56 m(24 ft94s in); height
al srgmrficance, it was a clean stressed- Type: single-seat monoplane fighter 2.70 m (B ft 107+ in);wtngarea 16.50 n=
Powerplant: one 690-hp (5 I4-kW) (177,6 sq ft)
skin monoplane with non-corrugated
skin, and the only bracing struts were Hispano-Suiza l2Xcrs Vee- 12 water- Armament: one 20-mm HS STmoteu:
around the large and somewhat cooied piston engine canor andtvvo wrng-mounted 7.S-nn
Performance: maxrmum speed (0. 29S-in) Darne machine-gnrns
clumsy fixed landing gtears, with enor-
mous spats, The prototype had an 367 lan/h (228 mph) at 5000 m
cpen cockpit, ailerors occupyinq the (i6,405 ft): climb to 5000 m (16,405 ft) 1n At the time of its tust tlight, the D. 504
entue trailing edge of the wtngs (ex- 6 minutes 5 seconds; sewice ceiling was one of the most advancd
cept for small gaps left inboard to per- series to 398 excluding prototypes) 10790 m (35,400 ft); range8TO kn (540 aircratt in the world, and it irtspired
mlt some downward lrew) and a huge Many countries, including the UK, miles) many later fighters, At the heart o{ its
water-cooling radiator under the en- bought exampies to see how a modern Weights: empty 1287 kq (2,837 1b); success was lfi e flush- rive td me tal
.;nne. First flown on IB June 1932, bY flghter should be designed, maximum take-otr U87 kg (3,940 Ib) skinning.
nmed company pilot Marcel Doret,
the D,500 swept all before it and was
easily the best of the prototypes sub-
From it stemmed more than 25 diffe-
rent sub-species leading up to the
1 520, which was judged the best
irench fighter of World War IL The
:::rt1al production D.500 was armed
nrh fow 7.5-mm (0,295-in) Darne or
!,:AC 1934 guns, two of them in the
-.',:ngs; other weapons included Colt-
3rowning in three calibres, the 7.7-mm
.: 303-in) Vickers, the 23-mm Madsen
other gruns of European origin.
Liost important was the 20-mm Oerli-
<:n HS S7 cannon mounted betureen
::-e engine cylinder blocks to fire
::rough the propeller hub, This
::cteur canon was adopted for Pro-
trtrction, the fighter being redesig-
:-a:ed D.501, of which 1'Arm6e de l'Air
:::eived 133, compared with I00
- :COs,
::i 1934 the D.510 flew with the 860-
:p (64l-kW) HS i2Ycrs, with more tuel
--: revised landing gear, and ll8
r::e burlt (brinenng total output of this
rel il"i*"r He 5I
The Heinkel He 5 I was an attractive
and elfective aircraftwith a sturdy
structure. This example was an
He 5 I B- I serving with 2. Staffel,
J agdgeschwader I 32 at Doberitz in
1937. 4

Ernst Heinkel Flugzeugrwerke man-

aged to produce a succession of neat long career as flghter trainers. Weights: empty ]473 kg (3,247 lb);
biplane fighters long before Hitler normaliake-cfi 1900 kq(4. 189 lb)
came to power, and the addition of Specification Dimensions: spar . 1. iC r: (36 ft I Ln);

Walter and Sieqrfried Giinther to the HeinkelHeSlB-l lengrthS.l{ r. .21 :.:t : j. :.e-=:l:
design staff added a grrace which was Type: single-seat biplane fighter 3,20 m (10 fl 5 :-l ;;::-g -=-=2, 2 r:.'
evident in therr first design for the Powerplant: one 750-hp (559-kW) (292.78 sq ft)
company, the Heinkel He 49 fighter of BMW VI 7, 3z Vee- 12 water-cooled Armament: twc L?2-r-r- .-. : . :.
November 1932. They refined th:s into plston enelne Rheinmetall MG 7 1 na::::=-;:-
the He 51 in the summer of 1933. Thts Performance: maximum speed above fuselage
was the first fighter openly ordered in the He 5i in Luitwaffe/agdgeschwad- 330 hr/h (205 mph) at sea level
Germany, and it formed the equipment er during 1937-8. (slower at tugher altitudes); climb to The firstGermanfrghter to fue its
Suwiving He Sls served with the 2000 m (6,560 ft) rn 3 minutes 5 gruns in anger since the end olworld
of the first intensely proud fighter
squadrons of the Luftvvaffe, over 800 Spanish Nationalist air force and with seconds; service ceilrng 7700 m War I, the Heinkel He 5 I saw much
being built by Heinkel, Arado, Erla Luftwaffe traimnq schools, while 45 He (25,260 ft); range (economy crurse at selice in the S panish Civil W ar,
ald Fieseler, SlBs were completed as He 5IB-2 6000 m/19,685 ftwrth drop tank) 700 kn where itwas outclassed by the
A.substantial machine of traditional twrn-float seaplanes wluch had quite a (435 miles) Republicans' P olikarpov s.
form, the He 5l was notable in the com-
pleteness and excellence of its equrp-
ment, thouQth the structure was the
familiar mx of metal, wood and fabric,
The He 5IB-l had an auxiliary drop
tank and the final 100 Fieseler-burlt air-
craft were He SlC machines intended
for close-support in Spain with sx 10-
kg (22ib) bombs, Altogether 135 of
various types were sent to SPain,
where it was soon found that they were
unable to manoeuwe as well as the
Soviet Polikarpov I-15, and also.had
poorer speed and climb, This was a
major blow to Heinkel, who was also
losLng the next qeneration to Messer-
schmitt which completely replaced

Fiat C.R.32
The flrst standard flghter of Italian de-
sigm to gro into production a-fter World
War I was the Fiat C.R.I of 1923, C.R,
standing for Caccia Rosatelli (fighter
desigmed by Celestino Rosatelli), Its
only unusual feature was the alrange-
ment of the interplane struts, of the
zig-zag Wawen{russ type, This was
the start of a famous C,R, series which,
in relation to their contemporaries,
reached their zenith with the C.R.30 of Performance: maximum speed (frrll Amament: tvuo 12, 7-mm (0. S-in)
1932 and the C.R.32 of 1933, While en- weapon load) 356 kn/h (221 mph) at Breda-SAFAT machine-gnrns and two
3000 m (9,845 ft); clirrb to 3000 m 7, 7-mm (0, 303-in) Breda-SAFAT
grnes got more powerful, Rosatelli
(9,845 ft) in 5 mrnutes l0 seconds; machine-gruns, plus one bomb of
fought to keep his fighters small and
sewice ceiLng (flr1lload) 7850 m 100 kg (220 lb), orftvo of50 kg (1 10 ]b)
light, and the C,R,32 was one of the
smallest and most agnle fighters of its (25,750 ft); ranqe 7BO lcn (485 miles) or 12 antr-personnel bombs of 2 kg
Weights: empty 1380 kg (3,042 lb); (4.4 rb)
day. Moreover, as the two gntrB were
rn most vetsions of the 0,5-1n (12.7-mm) ma:omrrm take-off 1905 kg (4,200 1b)
size the Fiats had far more punch than Dimensions: span 9.50 m (31 ft 2 in); Among the best fighters of all time,
most of their opponents, The C.R.32bis This Fiat C.R.S2quater flew with I 6ff length 7.45 m(24 ff.51/n Ln); height ^ the Fiat C.R. 32 possessed all tfi e
had an additional pair of 7.7-mm (0.303- Squadriglia, lf Gruppo,50" Stormo 2.72m(8 ft 11 rn); wingareaZZ.Im' attributes of its genre: speed, agility,
in) guns mounted above the lower at T obruk in O ctober I 940. (237.89 sq ft) climb performance and strength.
wings, and could also carry bombs
(see specrficatton), type under licence in I93B-42 as the
Throughout the 1930s the C. R.30 and Hispano HA-132-L, Even when ItalY
C.R.32 were flamboyantly demons- entered Worid War II in 1940 at least
trated by the Reqia Aeronautica, in 400 C.R.32s were in front-line sguad-
aerobatic displays, races and flying rjqfie (squadrons), though desPite
meetings of all kinds, gaintng grreat th-eu min6euwability they had a hard
success and many export orders, The time in day air combat, soon being re-
C.R,32 in four main variants (including Iegated to close-support and night
the C.R.32ter with revised landing activities,
gear and C.R.32quater improved
C.R.32ter) was the more numerous Specification
nodel, 1,2i2 berng burlt bY 1939, Of FiatC.R.32bis
-nese at }east 380 fought in Spain, pro- Type: single-seat fl ghter-bomber
',rng the most dangerous flghter de- Powerplant: one 600-hp (447-kW) Fiat
pioyed by the Nationalists until the A, 30 RAbis Vee- l2 water-cooled
a-rnval ofthe Bf 109, Spain also built the piston engine
The Spcmish Civil Wcr
The tragedy of the SpanishCivilWar needs littleintroduction,with thebitter Mussolini too was glad to send rn his rc:::--
struggle foreshadowing the greater European conflict to come. The ferocity of the vaunted Regda Aeronautica, starting -*r--h :rpes
war was not eased by the decision of other countries to involve themselves directly, visually resembling the German ones. Sa;c-a-
supplying weapons and troops and prolonging the agony of the Spanish people. Marchetti S,M.81 bombers and Fiat CF-:2
Their interest was far from altruistic , Ior the Spanish landscape was to become a fighters, To the Repubiican governmenl (legn:-
mate, no matter how unpopuJar) it was c::-
valuable proving-ground for new weapons and tactics. rageous that it might lose the war through Fa:-
cist help from outside. It appealed for help. a:-i
The most tragic and sustained human conJlict oi many career fighter pilots, strongly supported thousands of leftist volunteers came at '-ne:
this century has revolved around what are poli- the insurrection, joining what became the own expense to fight in the Intemationa-i Br--
tically called the Left and Right. Nowhere has Nationalist cause. gades and with the Republican air force. Ma::-.-
this conflict reached such vioience and bitter- The latter might have been nipped in the brought their own aircraft, and by late 1933
ness as in Spain, where the basicaily Commun- bud had not a capable army officer, Francisco over 240 different types were sewing in ti:
ist (left) government in 1936 provoked ln- Franco, managed to airlift the tough Army of government air force. Almost all were whcl-.;
creasingly strong reaction from the ultra-rlght, Africa from'Morocco. This gained control in the ineffective, ranging from l9l8-vintage c=
which included most of the senior officers and south, while Fascist friends of the Nationalists in Havilland D.H,9s to new American lightplaa.**
what might be calted 'official establishment'. By Rome and Berlin swiftly began sending in war The main types left in the Republicaa force
18 July 1936 the scattered warfare erupted into supplies, most notably inciuding air forces. Hit- proper were the Nieuport-Delage NiD 52
firl]-scale rebellion; in every military unit there ler sent a dozen Junkers Ju 5Z3mg3e bomber fighter, Breguet Bre.XIX reconnarssance bci:--
was violence, most of the junior officers and transports which played a central role in the ber and a collection of naval machines rnclui-
other ranks remaining loyal to what became Morocco airiift and subseguently went into ac- ing Vickers Vildebeest torpedo bombers
called the Repubiicans. Senior officers, and tion as bombers. Next came a squadron of (built by CASA with Hispano-Suiza engnaes)
Heinkel He 51 fighters, Heinkel He 46 recon- and Dornier Wal flying-boats,
naissance machines and, by November, The one obvious friend of the govemmen:
General Hugo Sperrle, one of the leaders of the was the Soviet Union, This made hundreds c:
young Luftwaffe, formed the Legion C6ndor, excellent modern warplanes available, but e;-
This volunteer force had the blessing of the ery one ofthem had to be bought, and no Sovie:
Nazi leaders, and soon received all the most volunteer piiots or ground crew came \&1-r
important new types of German warplane. It them until after negotiations the Republicans
had been recognzed that, quite apart from the agreed to pay for a1l asslstance in gold. Th-
political question of whom one wanted to win, contrasted with Spain's neighbour, France
Spain offered a marvellous opportunity to test whose own leftist government freely sent ir- a
new equipment and tactics for air warfare. No- mass of airpower including Dewoitine D.3?-
body took this more seriously than the Ger- 372, 501 and 510 fighters, Bl6riot-SPAD D 5ll
mans: the Lulhvaffe was not for show but for fighters, Loire 46 naval fighters and Potez 3i
use, and it was vital that its gnowing might bombers, These were important, but the ore
should be tested in battle on a small scale so type that real1y shook the Nationalisi insurgens
that it should be Isrorm to work as efficiently as in the fighting in late 1936 was the Tupolev SB-2
possibie before Germany itself became in- medium bomber, in action from 29 Ociober.
voived in a war, Faster than any Nationalist fighter, this out-

One of the Republicans' three Hawker Fyries (with

single strut undercarriage) takes on thd Fiat C R.32
of G arcia Morato, Ieadei of Patrulla Azul (Blue
PaEoI) and later to become the leading NationaEst
ace. Unfortunately, the Spanish ground crew had
not had any experience of the Vickers interlruptel.
gear fitted to the Fury's gans and so the pilot shot
his own propeller oft. The aircraft was capturd by
the Nationalists.

standing machine bombed with accuracy and in gaining local command of the air except
impunity, though on rare occasions C.R 32 against the very best C, R.32 pilots. Other Soviet
prlots who had gnressed a target in advance types used in numbers included the Polikarpov
managed to dive from high altitude and shoot R-5 reconnaissance bomber, which was old
the SB-2 dornm. Indeed, the agile C.R.32 proved and vulnerable, and its modernized R-Z ver-
the best fighter in Spain in 1936, solely because sion (called Razante by the Spaniards because
of lts unequalled power of manoeuwe when of the way they shaved the ground on opera- ment included the Dornier Do L7F and Hens-
weil flown, tions). By spring 1937 the Legion C6ndor was chel Fis 123,
Llke the massive ground battles, the air was being built up by massive deliveries of much During the flghting around Madrid in late
a ding-dong slugging match. By November newer and better types. Most important were 1936 the Ju 52s of Kampfgnuppe 88 had suffered
1936 the Soviet Union had sent Pohkarpov I-15 the Messerschmitt Bf 1098 fighter and Heinkel severely and been driven to night bombing
and I-16 fighters, and these usually succeeded He 11lB-1 bomber, though other new equlp- The commander, Oberleutnant Frelherr von
Moreau, went to Berlin and returned in 1937
with the new Heinkels. These swept all before
them, except for the speedy Moscas (Republr
can name for the I-16) which could not only
shoot down the new bomber but also often beat
the formidable new Messerschmitts Such in-
terceptions were rare, and K88 built up its
strength to over 50 Heinkels which mounted
g$ increasingly devastating attacks on Republl-
can airfields and other targets, Iromcaliy, it was
the widely publicized bombing of the town of
Guernica on 26 April 1937 that gave the Heinkel
a bad name around the world, whereas there is
no certainty that any He 1I ls took partl There is
bitter argmment to this day on who served as-
pathfinder, but no doubt that the matn welght ol
bombs fell from Ju 52s,
Throughout 1937 and the flollowing year the
world's newspapers reported strange deals in-
volving anything from one to more than 40 air-
craft which, ostensibly being exported to more

The Spanish Civil War provided the baptism of fire

for many types which were to be used by the
Luftwaffe inWorld War IL Among the most
important of these was the Messerschmitt Bf I 09 ' a
squadron of Bf I 09E- I s being seen here.
Lrter-war Fighters

Anzortg the mosf slccessrtl airer. aff :iif fieSpaiisfi :

' CiiilWarw*ethePolilcarpituf;i:6so1'fti'er,,
.Sepubfican fo{g-es:.?tei!e gould eyen take on the.,,'
ead,y Me$sefriefuftltlBl.IA9si and certaintlt t', : .: .',' .
.grra{€ssed Ae Fittl CR 32 andt{einleffle$llfar ,l
-'sfrc.wtrlrre),Moslry'r3rcf laiirnbySijvietpilots;:,,:


than a dozen assorted nations, were actualiy

going to end in Republican Spain. Meanwhile
the Republicans selected a special version oJ
the Hawker Fury II, with Hispano engine and
other changes, as successor to the NiD.52 as TVpical of the bombers used in the campaign was
the Savoia-Marchetti 5.M.8 l. Zftr example,rsseen
officiai fighter. Three were supplied from on the pointof bomb-releasewhilst escorted by
Krngston, and did brilliantly, but plans for Span- Fiat C.R.32s performing their well- known weaving
ish production came to nothing. Meanwhile the manoeuvres, whereby every aircraft covered
in{lux of Fascist aircraft and crews sryelled, another at any time.
with Fiat B.R.20s and G.50s, Breda 65s, Savoia-
Marchetti S.M79s Caproni 3J.0s, Junkers Ju
86s, Junkers Ju 87s, Henschel Hs 126 army co-
operation aircraft, Heinkel He Il2 fighters,
Arado Ar 95 seaplanes and, not least, the over-
whelmingiy formidable Bf l09E a1l getting into
action as the bloody war drew to its inevitable
conclusion with the entry to Madrid and final
Republican defeat on 28 March 1939.
While the Soviet Union had supplied roughiy
300 SB-Zs and at least i,000 Polikarpov fighters,
tt gained nothing but gold. Its often wildly
-./wongoperational tactics were never tested or
altered and were still being used when Ger-
many invaded in June 1941. In contrast Hitler's
Luftwaffe gained incalculable experience not
cnly rn proving its new warpianes but also in
'Jrerr operational deployment, Many of their
bomber crews had florm over 100 combat mis-
sions, and their fighter pilots had passed
Juough the dangerous period ofinexperience
and become mahre and deadly opponents. In
cnly one respect did the Spanish civil war give
a misleading indication: the Luftwaffe went on
equipping with fast but lightly armed bombers
,vhose ability to survive in daylight was to be
r.rdely exposed as a myth in the Battle of Bri-
E ffiits,ruishi ASM
The Mitsubishi ASMwas a landmark in
flghter design, and especially for the
Japanese aircraft industry. Desigmed
under the leadership ofJiro Horikoshi,
who Iater was to be regarded almost as
a national saviour because ofthe next-
generation A6M (Zero), the ASM was
the first Japanese aircraft to beat all the
competition, Though it had to meet a
challenging requrrement of the Impe-
rial Japanese Naw for a carrier-based
fighter, it was amazinqly clean, despite
havrng fixed landrng gear, and its fea-
tures included an excellently cowled
engine, Iarge fuel capacity in four wingr
tanks and a drop tank. flaps, provisron
for various external weapon loads and, ::11;::,1

not least, an extremely strong flush-

riveted stressed-skin structure, The
prototype flew rn February 1935 (and
the British Fleet Air Arm did not get a -'* aE
fabric-covered Hawker Sea Hurricane ?lli i1,.,
until slx years later). ': :&,.9-,'....
Subsequently Mitsubishi delivered *- -' !id-q _,:i
.*t . t
982 production ASMs in four major
variants, all ofthem characterued by I
outstanding manoeuvrability. One ri
model had a slidrng canopy, but hke
many other fighter pilots the Japanese 1

hated it and it was quickly discarded,

Battle was joined over China on 22 Au-
gust 1937 as related elsewhere, and
very few opponents ever succeeded
in bringing their guns to bear on an Powerplant: one 785-hp (585-kW) Dirnensions: span I i.00 m (36 ft An amazingly clean aircraft for its
ASM. Standard equipment included Nakajima Kotobuki (licensed Jupiter) 10.7 in); lenqth 7.56 m (24 ft 9% in); day, the MitsubishiASM ledthe
night-flying lighting, radio, oxygen, Model 4I nine-cylinder air-cooled height3.27 m (10 ft8J/4 in): vnngarea world in carrierborne fightet design
above-wing formatron lights, catapult radral piston engrine 17.8 mz (191.6 sq ft) before the war, as well as teaching its
spools and arrester hook. The usual Performance: maximum speed Armament: two 7,?-mm (0.303-in) type land-based cousins a thing or two. At
propeller, however, was adjustable 434 kn/h(270 mph) at 3000 m (9,845 ft); 89 (Vickers) machine-gnns, plus two the root of its tremendoussuccess
only on the.ground, climb to 3000 m (9,845 ft) in 3 minutes 30-ks (661b) bombs was the aircraft's manoeuvrability,
35 seconds; sewice ceiling 9800 m w hich w as unparalleled.
(32, 150 ft); range (wrthsmaller-sze
Specification l60Jitre/35-Imp gal &op tank)
MitsnbishiASM4 1200 krn (746 mlles)
Type: slngle-seat carrier-based Weights: empty 1216 kg (2,681 1b);
monoplane fighter-bomber maximum take-off U07 kg (3,763 lb)

Mitsubishi A5M2b (Navy Type 96 Carrier Fighter

Model 2-21 cutaway drawing key
1 Starboardnavigationlight 38 81 Turnbuckles
2 Pitothead mainframe(No.1) 82 Strengthenedfuselage
3 39 Fishtailexternalplating frameiNo.l0)
4 Wingskinning 40 Controlcolumn 83 Arresterhookretraction 1 23 Undercarriage leg'front
5 Starboardouterformation 41 Rudderpedalbarassembly cable spar attachment
light 42 Cartridgeejectionchute 84 Tailfinrootfairingframes 1 24 Front spar inboard section
'125 Oilnipp e
6 Starboardaileron 43 Fuselageframe/frontspar 85 Starboardtailplane
7 Aileronactuatingrod attachment 86 Starboardelevator 126 Wing joln externalstrake
8 Controllinkage 44 Fuelfilleraccess 87 TailfinrooUspinefairing 1 27 Fuei filleraccess

I Aileronhinges 45 Controlcables 88 Tailfinfrontspar 1 28 Poltouterwing fueltank.

10 Ailerontab 46 Typego-lradiocontrolbox 89 Tailfinstructure capacrty l5lmpgal(69

'11 TypeB9-ltubulargunsight 47 Radioreceiver(port) 90 Leading-edgestructure litres)
(offsettostarboard) 48 Radiotransmitter 91 Aerialattachment 1 29 Port inner formation light
12 Starboardinnerformation {starboard) 92 Budderhinges 130 Flapprofile
light 49 Oxygencontrolunit 93 Rudderframe 131 Fixedtrailing edgesection
13Starboardouterwingfuel 50A(estelhookretraction 94Buddertab 132 Aileron tab
tank,capacitylSlmpqal control 95 Budderactuating hinge 133 Aileron hinges
(69litres) 51 Distributionpanel fairing '134 Alleron actuating rod
14 Fuelfilleraccess 52 Cockpitfixedcoaming 96 Angledrudderpost 135 Portaileronframe
5 Cowling (downward 53 Radioconnectorbox 97 Tailwheeloleoaccess 136 Portouterformation light
visibility) cut-out 54 Fuselage mainframe (No.2) plate 137 Wing ribs
16 Machinegun pons 55 Pilot'sseat 98 Buddercontrol linkage 138 Rearspar
1 7
Three-blade SS-22 two- 56 Atresterhook release lever 99 Tailnavigationlight '139 Portwingtip
pitch propeller 57 Seatadiustmentlever 100 Elevatortab
18 Propellerhub 58 Fuselageframe/rearspar 101 Elevatorframe
19 Propellershaftgear attachment 102 Tailplanestructure
20 Cowling foruard ring 59 Dynamotor 1 03 Non-retractable tailwheel
21 Panel fasteners 60 Batterylnstallation 104 Tailwheel legfairing
22 NakajimaKotobuki3nine- 61 Oxygencylinder 105 Elevatortorquetube
cylinderradialengine 62Electricalleads '106 Fuselageaftframe
23 Exhaustpipes 63 Strengthened pick-up point 'l
07 Arrester hook retraction
24 Cowling f rame 64 Fuselageupperlongeron cable guide
25 Cooling gills 65 Pilot'sheadrest 1 0B Fuselage f rame/tailplane
26 Enginebearerupper 66 Turn-overframe fairing spar attachment
supports 67 Aeriallead-in '109 Centrebrace
27 Engineaccessories 68 Aerialmast 'I
28 Enginebearerlower 69 Aerial 1 1 1 Atresterhook(retracted)
supports 70 Dorsalspine '1
12 Hooktravel
29Ammunitionmagazines 71 Spineformerframes 1 13 Arrester hook (extended)
30 Exhaust/coolingslot 72 Fuselageskinning '1
14 Pivotpoint
3lEnginesupporvbulkhead T3Accesspornt 115 Releasemechanism
upaerattachment 74 luselage{rames 1 16 Ventral strengthening 140 Portnavigation light
32 Ammunitionfeed 75 Abbreviatedcentre 117 Wingrootfillet 14'l Frontspar
33 Machinegun barrelsleeve longerol 1 18 Retractableentrystep 142 Noseribs
34 StarboardT.T-mmTvpe89 76 Wingrootfairings 1 19 Wingroot fairing frames 1 43 lntermediate rib stations
(Vickersimachine{un TTArresterhookrelease 120 Wing f lap section 1 44 Undercarriage leg fairing
35 Windscreen frames cable 121 Non-slipentrystep (fixed)
36 Flatpanels 78 Ruddercontrolcables 1 22 Portinnerwingfueltank, 145 Accessplate
37 Portmachineguncharging 79 Elevatorcontrolcables capacity23 lmpgal (104 146 Torquelink
mechanism 80 Fuselagestructure lirres) i47 Oleo leg

1 168
#r Inter-warFighters
sr-r T M itsuhishi ASM4 Ilown Aom Sr,rVt
the leader of its frghter elemenL At
lfie fime, Soryu'sAiMswere invoM
with blockade dutres in tft e Soutft
C hina S ea. The letter V deno td

Wearing the camoullage used in
1 938, this A5M2 a was assigmed to the
carrr'er Kaga en gaged in operations
in the South China Sea in I 938. ASMs
later reverted to the natural metal

I 112
148 Undercamage i€E ci€'
section fairing
149 Leq fork
150 Brake €ble
151 Wheelspat fairirc pa:es
152 Port mainwh*!
153 ate
154 Port spatfrontfair--c
@ Pilot Press Limited 155 Auxiliaryfuel tan( !--r::
156 Tank attachme.t sr-:
157 Exhauststub
158 Sta rboard wher sge:
159 Access panel
160 Starboard mainw-e
161 Auxiliaryfuelt6r< s'm::
162 Fuel line
163 Sway brres
164 Auxiliaryfuel'€r( :mJ:,
46lmpgali210 i:
tb5 3Flmpgal(16C-re
auxiliarytank r*-3,EiiE
166 Early-typ€ a wilaa -a-,(
167 Attachmenl fuin,6
168 Camera gun {at-adre
169 AttachmeniiairE
170 Operetir€€H€ r:
111 UndeMing io.rcE:'
underGmag€ teg Fra
172 Shackls
113 Aming m*tsais-
174 6&{b (30&gr urre-r. rq
bomb load
I'litsubishi Ast.l



=="l'hhs "Ta-
l--*. /
.i J. :i


M itsubishi AS M4 of the S entoki

Buntai (fighter element) of the carrier
Soryu during op erations in the East
C hina S ea in autumn I 9 39. Presented
to the service by public subscription,
this aircraft bears on both sides of its
rear fuselage the usual inscription
Hokokugo (pa lrio tism ) fo llowed by
the individual presentation number
3 0 7. Typical of I ate p rodu ction
aircraft of this type, this A5M4 is
fitted with the aerial mast and lead-in
for the'Ilpe96-l RT set.The tubular
grunsigh t protruding through the
windshield is a TYpe 89- I unit.
The end of W orld W ar I h ad left J ap an the s tronges t military p owe r in the F ar E as t. This was just the first of countless encounters
The natural direction for the expansion of J apanese influence lay on the Chinese with the ASM which were to prove the end of
the road for the aircraftwearing the I2-pointed
mainland, and the t 920s and early 1930s saw a gradual rise in military intetvention whlte star of China, There was still no proper
inChinal5y the Imperialforces.Theannexationof Manchuriawas tobelollowedin Chinese air force, and not knowingwhat else to
I 937 by fuil-scale war with China, and border clashes with Mongolia were to bring do Chiang Kai-shek personally hired a capable
I apan into conflict wilh the Soviet Union in 1939. US Army fighter pilot, who was being invalided
out on medical grounds, to accept the post of
World War I the Imperial]apanese Army
A-fter ready for the big test: tuIl-scale war with China. air adviser. His name was Clair Iree Chennault,
formed an air service under the gnridance of Further incidents followed, but the Japanese and his desperate struggle against graft, disin-
French instructors, whilst the Imperial were still furiously building up their forces, By terest, inefficiency and lack of almost every-
Japanese Navy did the same sruided by the 1937 they were ready, and still the Chinese had thing eventually did put a little muscle into what
British, An aircraft industry was also built up, no air force worthy of the name. Despite the had been a lost cause. In 194i Chennault's
and by the late I920s Japan had considerable ieadership of General Chiang Kar-shek, the scouting for volunteers had resulted in the
design capability and well-tralned and grow- Chinese alr defences comprised a motiey col- formation of the famed AVG (American Volun-
ing air units. These were eager to flex their lection of imported Western aircraft, without teer Group), or Flying Tigers, which at last
muscles, and Japan contrlved a succession of any proper planning and with a complete abs- gave the Japanese something to think about in
'incidents' to foment local conflicts. A full-scale ence of an infrastructure of training, skilled Chinese skres.
war was to be avoided during this uncertain qround staff or even Chinese pilots, except for The brrlliant performance of the A5M was all
phase; the intention was to test Japanese army a handful who owed their position to family too familiar to Chennault, who sent Washington
and nalry aircraft and pilots in local combats to influence. Thus, when on 7 July 1937 the Impe- detailed reports which were obviously filed
see if they coutd defeat their enemies. rial Japanese Army, scornlng incidents, simply rather than read. Nothing got into the Western
Only about 50 aircraft in all were lnvolved in marched from Manchukuo into northern China air magazines, and three years later history
the brief action which ilcliowed the Tsinan Inci- there was little to stop them in the air, This time was to repeat itself exactly when the next-
dent rn 1928. This gave confldence for a much it was full-scale war, which was not to be over generation Mitsubishi AOM Reisen engaged in
bigger test, and the Manchurian Incident of until the total capitulation of Japan in Augnrst deadly combat over China, proving more than
September l93l was followed by such pro- 1945 (by which time the problem in China was a match lor Chennault's best fiqhter, the Curtiss
longed fightinar that it soon became a proper crvii war wlth the growing Communist armies). P-40. Again, nobody read the reports, so the
war. It was obvious from the start that, despite The lmperiai Japanese Army committed Reisen (Zero) was a terrible shock in Decem-
colossal manpower, China was almost de- over 300 aircraft, but used them in close- ber 1941.
fenceless in the air, and this played a signi- support mlssions, It was left to the now very By i938 the A5M2 was ranging far over China
ficant part in Japan's victorles on the gnound. stronq Imperial Japanese Navy to mount the with a drop tank under its belly, getting the
The upshot was the establishment of a maln air campaign, initially from offshore car- best of such modern Western fighters as the
Japanese puppet regime in Manchuria, which riers and lncreasingly from shore bases. Dewoitine D.510 and Gloster Gladiator, In the
was renamed Manchukuo, Amons the first types in action were the Naka- bitter winter the ASMs had been modlfiedwith
Next came the Shanghai Incident ofJanuary jlma A2Nl fighter, the Aichi DIA dive bomber a slidlng canopy and cockpit heater, but the
1932. It was probably obvious to the Chinese (one of which caused diplomatic trouble by Japanese pilots dishked the canopy and had it
that they were the victims of a succession of sinking the US gnrnboat Panay), the Kawaanhi eirminated from the A5M4, the final version.
stage-managed events whose purpose was E7K reconnaissance seaplane and the superb Many other fi.ghter pilots around the world,
eventually to bring about Japanese expansion Mitsubishi G3Mlong-range bomber. On22 Au' notably in ltaly, thought the same way, and
rrto the Asian mainland, but no attempt was grust 1937 a new monoplane fighter went into Italian fighters had predominantly open cock-
made to build up a strong Chinese air force. action, the Mitsubishi ASMI. Thouqh armed pits until their armistice in September 1943!
Instead air defence became assigned to a only with the traditional two rifle-calibre
trickle of Western volunteers who came for the machine-suns, just like a 1916 Sopwith Camel, TheNomonhanlncident
money. One of the few who became famous the ASM had been desierned to meet severe Meanwhlle a completely diiferent conflict
was American Robert Short, who was given the new requirements for speed, climb and man- had flared up in the depths of central Asia. In
one-off Boeing 218 fiqrhter biplane. On 22 oeuvrability, It was perhaps the first of the new early 1933 the Japanese army had occupied a
February 1932 he shot dovm at ieast one Mitsu- cleanly streamlined monoplane fighters to de- province of Mongolia, angering the locals who
bishi B1M from the carner Kaga before being monstrate in actual combat its abtlity not only to insisted that their frontier lay far to the east on
shot down himself. Some 50 Japanese aircraft outperform traditional biplanes but also to out- the rugged and desolate Nomonhan plateau.
were inaction during February in the Shanghai manoeuwe them, As early as 4 September a There was constant friction and a series of bor-
area, half coming from another carrier Hosho. group from KaEIa met a gaggle of Chrnese Cur- der clashes, Then in spring 1938 the apprehen-
Meanwhile larger numbers of army aircraft tiss Hawk II and Itl biplanes over Kaoyr-Hu and sive Soviet Union occupied and fortifled the
were on active service in Manchukuo getting promptly shot down three. Changkufeng Hill near the junction of the fron-
tiers of the Siberian SSR, Manchukuo and
Korea. The beliicose Japanese army lnstantly
went to war, but was expressly denied air pow-
er. It was Soviet aircraft, notably the 60 locally
based Tupolev TB-3 four-engine heavy bom-
bers, that forced the Japanese to pull back.
Thls tended to make Japan regard the Soviet
Union as the chief enemy, and plans were laid
for massive production of army aircraft de-
signed for close support in cold-weather op-
erations. No great importance was attached to
long range, with the resuit that, unlike those of
the navy, most of the army aircraft in World
War I1 were lmtially ill-suited to the vast battle
theatres of the Pacific. But worse was to come
On I0 May 1939 there occwred one Nomonhan
border incident too many: Mongolian nomads
were driven back across the lhalkin Gol (riv-
er), and Mongolian forces hit back ln 1936

Pilots ofsoryn s fighter elemenf pose beside an

ASM4 on the deckof the carrier. Carrier aircraft
played a gneat part in the batile against China,
helping to implement the blockade.

Inter-war Fighters
On patrol over China, this ASM shows the clean
lines which typitied the marque. Its phenomenal
agility enabled the A1M not only to outfight its
biplane opposition but also to outlly them.

Mongolia and the Soviet Union had concluded

a mutual assistance pact, and within 24 hours
the Soviets were reinforcing their local lst
Army Group (whose commander was young
': .:!:::!,i j::ii*rr!:::irr:ll-r. ; j::a:
Georgi K. Zhukov, later to become the gneatest !i.-i,,:li.i", -i :r:jtr::i:::-i:::f;
of all Soviet marshals) and bringing up hvo i;:l;i;:';;;;:::.:;,,:z'
V-VS fighter regiments, one flying Poiikarpov
I-16 Type l0 and the other a mix of I- I6s and the
Polikarpov I-l5bis biplane, as well as other
units flying the Polikarpov R-Zet tactical recon-
naissance aircraft and the giant TB-3. The
Japanese were itching to avenge their frustra-
:on at Changkufeng, and this time it was fr:ll-
scale war, with no holds barred. In particular,
ire Imperial Japanese Army wanted to have a
:esh conflict where it could test its latest
equipment, the far-flung Chinese war having
become bogged dovrrn by supply difficuities,
:iistance and an inability to mount a decisive
battle. important addition being the Tupolev SB-2 fast totally inexperienced and crippled by rignd
Over the next four months, until 16 Septem- bomber. The chief Japanese fi.ghter was the poiitical control, which stifled initiative in com-
ler 1939, the undeclared Nomonhan war was Nakajima Ki-27b, a close parallei to the ASM; bat. The Japanese were skilled and experi-
-re biggest air war the world had yet seen. The the main tactical machines were the Mitsubishi enced, but gradually the Soviet V-VS gratned
sca-le of fighting within an area roughly I00 Ki-15 and Mitsubishi Ki-30, while the heavy the upper hand as the pilots who survived
=riesin(160 km) square exceeded anything bombers were the new Mitsubrshi Ki-21 and gained the combat experience needed to win
-=een a similar block of airspace even in the Fiat B.R.20. and the skilledJapanese began to be replaced
1'rcrld War I. At the start the ImperialJapanese There is no point in attemptrng a detailed by raw recruits with fewer than 30 hours on the
-!rmy deployed four hikodani (air dlvisions) account of this war, whlch ebbed to and fro Ki-27. What had begn-rn as a usefirl bit of expen-
l:: soon augmented these icrces, while the
both on the grround and rr the sky. The Soviet ence turned out to be more costly than eiiher
strength was to be more than trebled, an pilots outnumbered thelr enemies but were side had anticipated.

fipical of many scenes over China and, later,

Nomonhan, this ASM scores another victory over
the biplanes fielded by the Chinese. In thjs case
the aircratt is a Polikarpov I- I ibis, itself no slouch
when it cane to air combat. These were /a fer used
by the Soviet forces alongside the I-16 over
Nomonhan, hut were once again outclassed, this
time by the N akaj ima Ki- 27.
iC iitkajimaKi-Zl
History must severely criticize many
important European aircraft com-
panies, includtng almost all those in the
UK, for their extreme reiuctance to
switch from traditional airframes to the
smooth all-metal stressed-shn form.
As early as 1927 this had been demon-
strated to be superior, quite apart ftom
permittinq improved streamlined au-
craft. No such critictsm can be levelled
at Japan, whose chief militarY Pro-
totypes of the 1934-8 Period were
alrnost exclusively outstanding in Above : Nakaj im a Ki- 27 b of the I st
structwal terms. They also had adv- C hu tai, 50 th S entai operating in
anced engine installations (with con- Burma in I 942. The Ki-27 could still
stant-speed propellers as soon as they fight against more powertul frghter s,
could be produced), flaps, sliding but it suffered heavy losses andwas
canopies and very modern systerns. restricted to sale areas.
All these were featwes of the Imperial
Japanese Army's Nakajima Ki-27, first
flown on l5 October 1936. Where it did
not score was in its extreme lightness
of structure and armament, in order to
get the best possible performance and
maloeuwability from al engine that
was merely an improved licence-built
Bristol Jupiter.
From the start the Ki-27 was a wtn-
ner, and by April l93B large numbers
were snreepinq all before them over
China. It did not matter that they lack-
ed armour, self-sealing tanks and fire-
power, when in speed, climb andman- Above : N akaj ima's Ki- 27 formed the Below: Agaggle o{Ki-27s setoUt on a
vangruard of theJapanese air torce in mis sion. J apanese pilots enj oyed
oeuwability they far swPassed every
other aircraft they encountered ln the late 1 930s and saw much action. superior training over their enemies
1940 production was handed over to This is aKi-Z7bof the lstSentai, and, combined with the capabilities
the Mansyu company in the PuPPet K agantigahara, J une I 9 39. of their aircraft, this gave them
, state of Manchukuo, terminating at
aln os t comple te air s uperiority in
3,396 in the spring of 1942. It was the
vew success of the Ki-27 that led the
army to follow the same formula in rts Performance: maximum sPeed
nexi fighter, the Nakajima Ki-43. 470 lan/tr (292 mph) at 3500 m
Though some pilots built up tmpress- (11,480 ft); clrmbto3000 m(9,845 ft)in2
ive scores with both types, the Ki-43 mrnutes 59 seconds; servrce ceilirg
was soonunabie to cope withthe much 12250 m (40, i90 ft); ranqe (with tvvo
more powerhrl and tougher fighters it underwing drop tanks) I 100 kn (683
was having to meet. mrles)
Weiqhts: empty 1110 kq (2,447 lb)
maximum take-off 1790 kg (3,946 ib)
Specification Dimensions:span Il.3I m(37 ft I7a in);
NakajimaKi-27b lensth 7,53 m(24ff.81/z in); height
IYpe: singie-seat monoplane fiqhter- 3,28 m (10 ftB rn); wingarea 18.56 m'
bomber (200 sq ft)
Powerplant: one 780-hP (582-k!1D ilrmament: tv'ro 7.7-mm (0.303-tn) TYpe
Nakajima Kotobuki Ha- i nine-cylinder B0 (Vickers) machine-gnrns, plus four
ar-cooled radral prston eng:rne 2S-ks (55-1b) bornlcs


ry PZLP.z
In 1927 the PZL companY was set uP in
Warsaw to create advanced ali-meta]
aircraft, Daringly the flrst design, the
PZt P.l fighter, was entrusted to Zyg-
mund Pulaski, an unknown Young
giraduate of Warsaw Technical Uni-
verslty. His creatton was one of the true
masterpieces of fighter desigrn, and it
placed Poland in the forefront of
fighters for almost 10 years, leadhg
through the P.7 and P.ll, built in iarge
numbers for the Polish air force, to the
ultimate member of the familY, the
The main feature of all these fighters
was the 'Pulaski wrng' which combined
stressed-skin construction with the
advanced Bartel aerofoil profile ard a
pitch wooden propellers were used PZL P. 1 1 c of No. I 2 I Sqn, IIIrd Dyon,
tapered grLrll root which reduced dragi
except on a few expenmental P.24s. Znd Air Regiment of the Polish air
and improved pilot view, The fuselage
The P.24 was a strenqthened refined force based at Krakow in I 939. The
was also of stressed-skin semi- P. 1 1 took Polish aviation into the lead
monocoque construction, and this not model intended for various engines in
the l,000-hp (746-kW) class, but none of fighter design for aYear or so, but
only combined toughness with light developments suchas theP.24 did
weight but also opened up vla nurer- was avaiiable in Poland so all were
built for export, mostiY with the not carry the basic design far enough
ous hatches to qive superb access for
Gnome-Rh6ne 14 enqlne. Versions in- forward to counter the new low-wing
sewicinq. From the first P,7 the radial types.
engine was well cowled, though fixed- cluded the P.24c (40 for T\ukeY with

PZL P.24 (continued)

two camon and two machine-gnms, or

four machine-guns), the P.24e for
Romania (two cannon and two
machine-guns), the P.24F for Bulgaria
(same), the P.24f and P.249 for Greece
(G with four machine-gmns) and the
utbuilt P.24p for Poland ordered just
before the German invasion. Almost ali
the P.24s saw action driring World War

Type: single-seat monoplane flQrhter-
Powerplant one 970-hp (723-kW)
Gnome-Rh6ne 14 N7 l4-cylhdertwo-
row air-cooled radial piston engnne
Performance: maximum speed
430 kn/h (267 mph) at4250 m
(13,940 ft); climb to 5000 m (16,405 ft) rn
5 minutes 40 seconds; service ceihng
i0500 m (34,450 ft): ranse 800 kn (497 Above : PZ L P.24c of the Tur kish air
miles) force's 4 th Regiment, which w as
Weights: empty 1326 kq (2,924 1b); based at Kutahya in I I 39. P.24s were
rormaltake-off 1920 kq(4,232 lb) also flown by Bulgaria, Greece and
Dimensions:span10.72 m(35 ft2 in); Romania.
lenqth 7. 5 I m (24 ft 7 Vz in), hetght
2.70 m(B ft 1072 in); wingarea 17.9 m2 Right: The P .24 was an improved
1192,7 sq ft) version oI the P.l I featuring
Armament: two 20-mm Oerlikon FF enclosed cockpit and strengthening.
:annonandtwo 7.7-mm (0.303-in) KM I t was the ultimate mode I of the
nachrne-guns (al1in the wings), plus Pulaski gall-wing family. flris r's a
:vo bombs ofup to 50 kg (I l0 lb) each TurkishP.24c.

iiLL"rpov I-ts
PoEkarpov I - 1 5 bis (l - I 52 ) of the 70
IAP, V-VS (Soviet air force) as flown
during the Nomonhan incident on
the M anchu kuoan- M ongolian
border in the summer of I I 39. Other
actions inwhich the aircraft
participated were the Spanish Civil
War, Winter War and the Sino-
t apanese war, as well as World War

li N. Polikarpov was the leading Sovlet

:esigner of fighters and related types
before World War IL In late 1929 Poli-
karpov and his colleagmes were put 369 kr/h (229 mph) at 4265 m (9 ft7 in); wingarea2l.g m2 (mG sq:
:to a special pdson to create \ rhat (14,000 ft); climb to 1000 m (3,280 ft) in I Armament: two 7,62-mm (0.3-rn) Pi;-
:ecame the I-5, the standard fighter of minute 6 seconds; sewice cei[ng machine-gruns in fl-:selage, plus
:': day. A traditional biplane of mixed 9800 m (32, I50 ft); ranse 550 km (342 overload racks for two 20-kg (44-lbl
linstruction, the fuselage being of miles) bombs
;,-elded steel tube and the wings main- Weights: empty 127 2 ks (2,804 lb),
--i wood, wrth fabric coverrng overall, it maximumtake-off i681 kg (3,706 lb) A S panis h Republican I - I 5 dis p lays
;.;as burlt in substantial numbers wrth Dimensions:span9.75 m(31 ft Ii /+ in); the gall-wing centre section which
re M-22 iicensed version of the Bristol iengrth 6. 10 m (20 ft 0 in); heisht 2,93 m gave it its name ot C haika (WlI).
_:piter, and gave good seruice, In his
lal months in detentron, in early 1933, propeller, The final 270, bringring the
?clikarpov examined ways of impro- total to 677, had the M-25 driving the
-,:rg the i-5 and in October 1933 the AV-l (licensed Hamilton) propeller,
lrototype Polikarpov I-I5 demons- reduced fuel and four flrselage PV-l
lated outstanding all-round handling, Qnrns with 3,000 rounds, Together wlth
tilh the ability to complete a 360'turn the improved l-l5bis (I-152), the I-15
:- B seconds. saw much action in Spain and the Far
Compared with the I-5 the I- 15 had a East, leading to the faster retractable-
:cre powerful Cycione engine, trim gear I-153 which also saw action
:artrlever landrng .legs with internal against the Japanese in 1939, several
:leo struts, and a gull type upper wing thomands being burlt,
-r:uch gave rrse to the name Charka
;:ll), Cyclones could not readily be Specification
:-ade under licence, as the M-25, so Polikarpov I-15
-:-e first 404 I-15s had the old M-22 Type: srngle-seat fi ghter-bomber
=:gine, with a duralumin qround- Powerplant: one 7 10-hp (529-kW)
r:.justable propeiler, In january 1936 Wright Cyclone SGR-I820-F3 nine-
;:cduction switched to imported Cy- cylinder air-cooled radial piston
:::ne F3 geared engines with the engme
::rmilton bracket-type two-pitch Performance: maximum speed
iiln*"rpov I-
Though ofbrzarre appearance, with a
shrmpy fuselage seemingly influence.d
by the Gee Bee racer of 1932, the Poli-
karpov I-16 was a landmark in fighter
design, Though it had a traditionai
structure with semi-monocoque
wooden frxeiige and metal wings fab-
ric-covered aft of the front spar, the
I-16 was a clean cantilever monoplane
vurth fully retracting landing gear, the
first to gto into military service, It was
planned as the fast monoplane partner
to the agiie but slower I-iS family of
biplanes. Though it had many faults,
the I-16 sustained a massive produc-
tion prognamme in many versrons, and
though totally outmoded in June 1941 Above : Polikarpov I - I 6 T'ype 24 oI 4
was kept in production until early 1942, I AP, V-VS operating in the L ake
the final total being 7,005 single- Ladoga region near Leningrad in the
seaters plus at least 1,639 tv\ro-seaters winter of I 940- 1. The I - I 6 was the
(mainly UTI-4 trainers), Soviets' main tighter at the outbrcak
Fiown on the last day of 1933, the of war.
prototype had a Cyclone engnne, and
early productron (preceded by a few ately, but against thrs must be set what
with the M-22 jupiter) had the licensed was perhaps the fastest roil of any
M-25 versron. Some of the later models fighter of the day and outstandrng all-
had the improved M-62 or M-63 of up round performance and manoeuwa-
to i, 100 hp (820 kW). A host of dilferent bility. In the first year fighting the LuIt-
armament schemes was used, the I-16 waffe thousands were shot down or
Type l7 being preceded by versions destroyed on the grround, but in Spain
with two or four ShKAS or hvo ShVAK, and the Far East in earlier wars they
while later arrcraft often had four were formidable.
ShKAS and a 12.7-mm (0.5-in) BS. Many (16,a05 ft); climb to 5000 m (16,405 ft) tn Seen after capture by the Spanish
carried six or eight RS-82 rockets, Specification 7 minutes; sewice ceiling 8400 m Nationalists, this I-16 typifies the
while the I-16 Type 24 could carry Polikarpovl-16Type l7 (27,560 ft); range 800 kn (497 miles) Republicans' best fighter.
bombloads up to 500k9 (I,i02 lb) in Type: single-seat fi ghter-bomber Weights: empty i495 kg (3,296 1b);
weight, Powerplant: one 750-hp (559-kW) M- maximum take-otr 1B 10 kg (3,990 lb) Amament: tvuo 7,62 mm ShKAS
In action the I-16 was unstable to the 25V (licensed Cyclone) nine-cylinder Dimensions: span 9.00 m (29 ft 67s in); machine-gnrns in fuselage and two 20-
point of being tricky, and it was trring ar-cooled radral piston engine lenglh 5.98 m(19 ff.1 /z Ln); height mm ShVAK cannon in wings, plus (late
because the pilot could never relax, Performance: maximum speed 2.56 m (8 ft 43la Ln); wrngarea 14.54 mz type 17) two 100-kq (220.5{b) bombs
Thrs also made it difficult to arm accur- 440kn/h(273 mph) at 5000 m (156,5 sq ft) or six RS-82 rockets

ffi btoster Gauntlet

From the later Nieuport scouts of
World War I the desigmer Harry P.
Folland created fine and exceptionally
agile radial-engdned fighters icr the
RAF throughout the inter-war era.
Around 1930 the Gloster company built
the S.S.18 and S.S.19 prototypes which
were increased in span and length and
matched to the more powerfirl engines
becoming available. Eventually the
best engine was found to be the Mer-
cury, smaller in diameter than the Jupi-
ter used in the previous-generation
Gloster Gamecock but more powerflrl.
It was installed in a ring-type cowl, but
driving an old wooden propeller. The Above : Gloster G auntlet M k I I of No.
airframe had a light-alloy struchne I 1 1 Sqn based at RAF Northolt in
wlth fabric covering except for the for- March I 937. Despite the delightlul
ward fuselage which was covered in handling oI the aircraft, its design
removable aluminium panels for easy was soobsolete thatitwas quickly
access. For increased rigidity and replaced by more modern fighters.
strength the wrngs had tvuo-bay strut-
tlg (two sets of interplane struts on Right: The Gauntlet was the last
each side). were made to seven countries, four of open- coc@it fighter to serve with
Almost entirely because of the bet- them receling secondhand ex-MF the RAF. The aircraft of Finland were
ter engdne and grreat attention to detail machines. Those of Finland saw mote tfi e ones to see the most action -
desigm the final prototype, the S.S.l9B, actlon in the Winter War in 1939 than during the Winter War of I 940, when
was much faster than the Gamecock, those of the RAP, which took part in they were Ilown with considerable
Bnstol Bulldog and other RAF fighters, only a few combats in the Mddle East skill and bravery against the more
and corsiderably faster even than the in 1940, numerou s Polikarpov fi ghters.
smaller Hawker Fury. It proved to be
an exceptionally fine alrcraft, and was Specification
adopted for the RAF as the Gloster Gloster Gauntlet Mk II
Gauntlet, Gloster delivered 24 Gaunt- Type: single-seat day and night fighter Weights: empty 1259 kq (2,775 1b);
let Mk I fighters from i935, followed by Powerplant: one 645-hp (4Bl-kW) normaltake-off lB0I kg(3,970 lb)
104 Garurtlet Mk IIs vrrth a completely Bristol Mercury VIS2 nine-cylinder Dimensions: span 9.99 m (32 ft 972 in);
different Hawker-type structure (a re- air-cooled radial piston engdne Ienqth 8.05 m (26 ft 5 in); heig-ht 3. 12 m
sult of Gloster's merqer rnto the Haw- Performance: maximum speed (10 ft3 in); wingarea29.26 m2
ker Siddeley Group in 1935). Most 370 lcn/h (230 mph) at 4815 m (315 sq ft)
Gauntlets were later fitted with a (15,800 ft); climb to 6095 m (20,000 ft) tn Armament: two 7.7-mm (0,303-in)
three-blade Fairey-Reed metal prop- 9mlnutes; serviceceiltnq 102i0 m Vickers machine-gnrns in srdes of
eiler, though still of fixed pitch. Exports (33 500 ft); range 740 kn (460 miles) fuselage

Development of fhe monoplcrne
early years of the 1930s, fighter aircraft were basically
I n the
similar to the fabric and wire contraptions of 1918. By 1939,
however, the most advanced air forces were operating high-
spee4 sfressed-skrn , multi-gun aircralt of vastly greater
performance. In fact, the decade saw agreat leap inthe
evelution of the fighting aeroplane.
I so happened that by 1930 many well-known features in aircraft design had
reen around long enough for them to be assembled as a group into new types of
'lghter. Had this been done earlier, the aircraft would probably have been
:randed as a freak. By the 1930s some (but not all) air forces were ready to
3ccept change.
ln 1930 the world's fighters were World War I in concept, with a skeleton-like
airf rame (some still wood but mostly steel tube or light alloy) covered with fabric,
and braced by wires. Most were biplanes, but a few were monoplanes, usually The classic Hawker Fury was the calmination of British biplane frghter
:f the parasol type with the wing well above the fuselage. Armament was development, its fabric and wire construction harking back to the comba ta-n ts
:ypically two machine-guns, and none of the new features were usually in- over theWesternFrontin 1918. Further types were tobe developed, but the
:luded. days oI the biplane were numbered.
What were these features? One was semi-monocoque construction; instead
ri having light skin on a strong skeleton it is possible to put the strength into the Retractable landing gear had f lown in 1 920, but fighters of the early 1 93u1s : :
skin as in the claw of a lobster. Albatros scouts of 1916 had fuselages of this not use them. Nobody had demonstrated that the complex mechanical n:.-: --.
r7pe, though in wood. When this construction was tried in metal it opened the :-:
of the first such gears were unnecessary, and that they could be stror-g
,vay to 'stressed-skin' aircraft of almost perfect aerodynamic shape, with can- i:s:
simple. Again, cockpits had had sliding canopies from i914, but they .

: lever monoplane wings and no wires. Previous monoplanes had thrown away used Celluloid, giving poor long+ange visibility, and fighter pilots rejec.tec:^:-
:reir theoretical gains in eff iciency by having very deep wings or else a prof usion Voi-ce radio, oxygen and night-flying equipment were becoming stanoa.: :.
:i struts and wires. Stressed-skin wings could be quite thin, yet fully cantlle- 1930. and armament was being dramatically increased. Twb riile-ca :-.
,'ered. machine-guns were no longer enough, and while the UK chose four anc :-:-
Engines grew swiftly in power, from 500 hp (373 kW) of 1930 to 1,000 hp eight such weapons others picked the big 'f ifty-calibre' (1 2.7-mm/0.5-in i g - - :
746 kW) by 1 935 and 2,000 hp (1 a91 kW) in prospect. lnstallations were vastly even cannon of 20-, 23- or 37-mm size. All this, and the bombs bnd rC:<:::
mproved, especially for air-cooled radials which, though superior in simplicity, added by the Soviets (bombs also by the US Nar,fi) added weight. so f la:s :-:
:cmpactness (giving fighters better manoeuvrability) and performance in very often slats were needed to fit the highly loaded new monoplanes intc tne s-=
:old or very hot climates, had previously been so crudely installed that they f ields.
:culd not compete for speed with water-cooled Vee-12 and similar engines. No single type brought in all the new ideas. Dewoitine had the nerve ic -s: :
rstead of being carved from laminations of wood in one piece from tip to tip, stressed-skin monoplane wing in his D.500; Boeing flew its P-26 eari e':,:
:ropellers were given separate blades mounted in a hub containing provision for cluttered it up with bracing. Polikarpov was first to Combine a cantileve' ,", -:
'ctating the blades in their sockets: fine pitch for take-off, coarse pitch for high with retractable gear, but much of the wing was fabric-covered in ear.t -':=
speed. First flown before 1920, the idea had never got into production, though Grumman was a retractable-gear pioneer, 5ut with biplanes. Probably tn: ' -=:
:y 1930 engineers had invented the CSU (constant-speed unit) Which could vary fully modern fighterwas the prototype Bf 109 of May 1935, but that is disc,ss=:
:re pitch of the blades automatically according to airspeed and throttle setting. in another issue.

The Boeing P-26'Peashooter' first llew in March I 932, introducing the The Dewoitine D.5 I 0 was one of a series of highly advanced aircralt in France
nonoplaneintoUSAAC sewice.Tricky to handle, the P-26 retainedsome in the early 1930s. The unbracedsfresseds/<rn wing was far in advance of its
{eatures of its predecessors, notably the heavily-spatted fked landing gear contemporaries, although the tixed, spatted landing gear added a somewhar
and the externally br ace d wing. clumsytouch.

The Grumman F3F was a typical product of the'Grumman lronworks', being A landmark in fighter desigm, the Polikarpov I- I6 was the tirst cantilever
:nmensely strong. The rctractable landing gear was a Grumman speciality, monoplane with fully retractable landing gear to enter military seruice. Eatfu
and the line oI biplane fighters was to lead to the Wildcat and Hellcat oI World models had fabric-covered wings and a wooden fuselage structure.
iVarll fame.
ffi bloster Gladiator
Representing the pinnacle of British
biplane fighter development, the Glos-
ter Gladiator continued the patented
Hawker system of metal construction,
the fi:selage being built on a strong
truss of tubes joined by gnsset plates,
and the wrng having'dumb-bell spars
built up ftom rolled steel strips formed
into complex but cheaptubing. Cover-
ingi was fabric except for detachable
metal panels on the forward fi.rselage.
Chanqes from the Gauntlet were a TheFleetAir Arm's SeaGladiator featured a tailhookfor carrier operations.
much more powerfirl Mercury engine, Three of these aircraft took part in the fiamous defence of Malta.
the single-bay wings, a strange oil
radiator wrapped round the decking
ahead of the cockpit, the doubling of
the number ofgn:ns, the use ofcantilev-
er legs with Dowty internally sprung
wheels, small split flaps on all four
wings pumped down by a hand hyd-
raulic pump, and the addition of a
canopy, which was always left open.
The S.S.37 prototype flew in Septem-
ber 1934. The Atr Mnistry had wasted
years on the abortive F.7/30 specifica-
tion and quickly decided to cut its los-
ses and simply buy a production ver-
sion of the S, S. 37, orderinq 23 Gladiator
Mk I fighters in luly 1935. By this tlrne it
was obvions to an impartial obsewer
that such aircraft would probably be
outclassed by the new monoplanes,
especrally as no Gladiator reached the
RAF until March 1937. Orders con-
tinued, and from the ?lst aircraft the
two Vickers and underwing Lewis Gloster Gladiator Mk I of the 1"'" Escadrille 'La Comite' , f, Regiment of the
guns were replaced by four of the Belgian A6ronautique Militairebased af Diesl-Scfi aIIen in May I 940 during
Brownings for which a licence had the G erm an invasion of Be lgium.
been obtained (even this gun was a
1916 pattem). The Gladiator Mk II had
aMercury VIIIA driving a three-blade
Fairey-Reed metal propeller and de- Specification \ The most advanced biplane fighter,
sert equipment, while the Fleet Air GlosterGladiatorMk II 10210 m (33,500 ft); ranAre 714 kn (444 the Gloster G ladiator featured many
Arm's Sea Gladiator had a hook and a Type: sinqle-seat biplane fighter miles) advances over ifs predecessors but il
dinghy, Gladiators sold well, iB6 betng Powerpliant: one 830-hp (619-kW) Weiglrts:empty 1562 ks(3,444 Ib); was still not in the cJass ofits
exported before the war, but ex- Bristol Mercury VIIIA or VIIIAs nine- normaltake-off2206 kg (4,864 lb) monoplane cousins. Pilots of the .

Gauntlet pilots tended to prefer their cylinder air-cooled radial ptston Dimensioru:span9,B3 m(32 ft3 in); Gladiator often fought hard and
old mounts (except for the better per- engme Iensth 8.36 m (27 ft 5 in); height 3.22 m bravely, and during the first years of
formance). Total production was 932, Performance: maximum speed (10 ft 7 in); wing area 30,0 mz (323 sq ft) thewar many killswere claimed by
Gladiators saw much action in 1939-42, 414 lan/h (257 mph) at 4450 m Armament four 7.7-mm (0.303-in) this tough aircraft. This example has
usually agrainst larger numbers of far climbto 3050 m (10,000 ft) tn
(14,600 ft); Browning machine-gmns (two rn the been retained inllying condition by
more formidable aircraft. 4 minutes 30 seconds; service ceiling fi:selage and hvo in the lower wings) the Shuttleworth Trust.

I 178

ffi Boeing P-26

:ver innovative, Boeing Airpiane
-mpany took a leap forward rn 1929
-;rth the Model 200 Monomail, which
:ad stressed-skin construction, a fully
rantiiever wing and retractable land-
j'rq gear, The ultra-cautioLrs US Army
;'as not ready for such thrngs, and it
Tias not until September 1931 that the
trompany at last went ahead at its own
buildinq the Boeing Model
2tl8 pursuit (flghter) aircraft. Even then
-: had fixed landing gear and a profu-
sion of bracing wkes, partly nullifylng
:he modern all-metal semi-
:nonocoque structure. The prototype Above : B oeing P - 2 6A of the 34 th B elow : W earing coloudul m ar kings,
iew in March 1932, and three aircraft Pursuit S qu adron, I 7 th Pursui t oftenfound on American atctaft of
xere tested by the US Army as the Group hased at MarchField in this era, this P-26 was Ilown by the
xP-936 California in I934. P-26s formed the CO of the 20th Pursuit Group at
The tubby monoplane was tricky to backbone of the USAAC's fighter Barksdale in Louisiana in I 9 36. The
1y, landed fast and was thought squadrons in the latter half of the P-26 became altectionately hown as
ianqerous on the US Army Air Corps' 1930s. the Peashooter on account ofits
bumpy grrass fleids, One urgent mod-
ication was to add a Qlant headrest to
protect the pilot in an oveftirn on the
;iround, which was not uncommon.
lhe stall was very sudden, and pilots
,.;ere generally apprehensive at thrs
stange machine, but the US Army de-
:ided to adopt rt and bought 136, de-
sgmated P-264. Resplendent in stan-
jard colours of blue body and yellow
;,rngs and tail they snarled round the
-S skies acquiring the nickname
?eashooters', but by December 1941
.-:lvivors were in secondline servrce
xd saw action over the Philippines. By
--136 ail had been fitted with flaps to
slcw the landing, and Boeing also burlt
25 P-26B fiqhters with fuel-lnjection en-
;rres and 23P-26C aucraft with other
:ranges, as well as 11 export Model
281 fighters for China; these last saw
=:tion in 1937, EX-US Army users in-
:luded Guatemala and Panama.
flpe: single-seat monoplane fighter (149,5 sq ft)
Powerplant: one 600-hp (447-kW) Pratt Armament: (1eft of fr:selage) one ?.62-
r 'Whitney Wasp R- 1340-27 nine- mm (0.3-rn) BrowningrM2 machiae-
:,;linder radial piston engine gnrn, and (nght side) same or one 12.7-
Performance: maxrmum speed mm (0.S-rn) BrowmngMi92I machine-
:44 kn/h (226 mph) at 4570 m gn:rs, plus provision for two 45-kg (100-
-r.000 ft); climb to 4570 m (15,000 ft) rn lb) bombs or five practice bombs
: mrnutes; sewice ceiling8350 m
21,400 ft); range 917 kn (570 mrles) The P-26 was sturdy, agile and
Weights: empty 1030 kg (2,271 lb); responsive buf suffered from an
:-3ximum take-otr 1524 kg (3,360 lb) extremely high landing speed and a
Dimensions: span 8.52 m (27 ft IIVzn)', vicious swing. Flapswere later
-::gth 7, 19 m(23 ft.71/q in); height added tohelp care thisproblem but
: -€ m (10 ft0/z in); trrnnqarea 13.89 mz it always remained tricky tolly.

€ usA

: Seversky P-Os
-:e backgnound to this aeroplane was
-,iC, for it descended vra several in-
:=rnediate steps from Alex de Severs-
!-;s first aircraft, a three-seat civil
--:::phibian seaplane! Most features of
-:e airframe were unchanqed in the
Seversky SEV- IXP (experimental pw-
r..l), a hurried rebuild ofthe tvvo-seat
trV-2XP ir July 1935, which did well in
,S Army trials despite a troublesome
J_-;clone engine. Re-engnned (see spe-
:-i:atron) rt won a 77-aircraft order,
-:e fghters being delivered by Augmst
-::5 and designated P-35,

A Wical USAAC line-up of the 27th

Pursuit S qu adron displaying their
SeverskyP-35s at S elfridge F ield,
Michigan. The aircraft was too stable
:o be aneffectivefighter andwas
autclassed by the opposition before
:twas delivered.
Seversky P-35 (continued)

Though havinq a modern stressed-

skin airfoame and comfortable cockpit,
the landing gears did not retract fully
(folding backwards), pilots disliked
berng enclosed, and the P-35 was too
stable for success in dogrfightingunless
the pilot was very strong, By the time'
they were dehvered these machines
were already outmoded on the
grrounds of speed and firePower,
In June 1939 Sweden ordered 15 (la-
ter increased to 120) of the EP-l ver-
sion with two heavy-calibre machine-
guns in the wrngs and wrth the 1 , 050-hp
(783-kW) Twrn Wasp R-I830-45 en-
gine, In October 1940 the US govern-
menl requisitroned the final 60, and 45 Seversky P-35 flown by the CO of the 27th Pursuit Squadron, I st Pursuit G-roup
of these P-354 aircraft went to the Phl- atSefridge Field. It had some unpleasantflight characteristics, such a1 lailing
lippines where in December 1941 they away inispinathigh altitudes, butwas likedbyits pilotson accountof its
were outclaSsed by the Japanese Mit- roomy cockpit and docile landing'
subishi A6M and Nakajima Kt-43. They
lacked armour, self-sealing tanks,
speed and firepower, and in any case
most were destroyed in attacks on :"- .ihiia
thelr airfields,

Seversky P-35
| *- *
Type: singtle-seat fighter or (P-35A)
Powerplant: one 950-hp (708-kW) Pratt
& Whitney T\rln Wasp R-1830-9 14-
cylinder two-row radial piston engnne
Performance: maximum speed
452 ]ff/h (281 mph) at 3050 m
(10,000 ft); climb to 4570 m (15,000 ft) in
6 minutes 54 seconds; servrce ceiling
9325 m (30,600 ft); ranqe (tu]l757litreV
166.5 Imp gal) 1850 lan (1, 150 miles)
Weights: empty 1957 kg (4,315 1b); (9 ft 1 in); wing area20,44 mz (220 sq ft) An improved version of the P-35 was purchased by Sweden. Known as the
maximum take-off 2855 kq (6,295 ib) Armament: one 7.62-mm (0.3-in) and EP- l, 60 were delivered and flew in a number of painlscft emes such as natural
Dimensions:span 10,97 m (36 ft 0 in); one 12.7-mm (0,5-in) Brovrning metal and a variety of brown and gEeen mottles. Sixty further EP- I s were taken
lensth 7.67 m (25 ft 2 in); height2,77 m machine-gnrns above nose overby theUSAAF and flownasP-354s.

ffi- USA

Grumman F3F
Leroy Grumman formed his Grumman
Arcraft Engineering Corporation on
stability and handling were marginal,
In March 1935 the prototype F3F in-
ments, was ordered for delivery in ear-
ly 1939, by which time the basic type
was outdated. But then the next-
maxrmum take-off 2 I75 kq (4, 795
Dimensions:span9,75 m(32 ft0 in);

length 7.01 m (23 ft 0 in); height (over

the strengrth of a patented type of sea- troduced lonqer-span wings and a ion-
plane float into which landing wheels ger which vastly improved
fr-rselage generation F4F Wildcat was orignnally propeller) 2.84 m (9 ft 4 in); wtng area
could retract, one wheel into each side handling and resulted in one of the desigmed as a biplane, 24.21 m'z (260,6 sq ft)
of the large float strut. It was but a best flghters of the day, Though the Armament: one 7,62-mm (0.3-in)
natuai step to apply this retractable arrftame was of traditional form it was Specification Brouming machine-gmn and one 12. 7-
grear to a fighter, and the result was the immensely strong (the 'Grumman lron GrummanF3F-3 mm (0, S-in) Brortmng machine-gn:n,
Grumman FF-I, flown in late 1931, Works' got its name from its strong air- ftpe: single-seat carrier-based plustwo 52,6-kg (116{b) bombs
Grumman managed to overcome the craft) and very popular, Like all US fighter-bomber
penalties of shipboard operation and Navy fighters of the day the F3F had Powerpiant: one 950-hp (708-kW)
still achieve a fiqhter faster than any- exceptional fuei capacity, and Wright Cyclone R-1820-22 nine-
thing then in the US Army inventory. moreover it could carry bombs and cylinder air-cooled radral piston Despile ils biplane contigatation, the
From it was derived the F2F, which was unrestricted in dive steepness. By engtne Gruntman F3F had avery neat
entered service aboard the USS.Lex- 1937 the F3F-2 was being delivered, Performance: maximum speed retractable undercarriage, and was
rngton in February 1935, Powered bY a with the Wright Cyclone engine whrch 425 kn/h (264 mph) at 4635 m one of thefirst multi-role fighters,
shm T\rvin Wasp Junlor, this had the though of much grreater diameter was (15,200 ft); crimb io 3050m (10,000 ft) in being able to carry out both fighter
typical tubby fuselage and sliding also considerably more powerful, 4 minutes; servrce ceiling 10i20 m and dive-bomber missions. Itwas
canopy of the FF-], and in many re- Perhaps ill-advisedly a fi:rther batch, (33,200 ft); ranqe 1850 kn (i, 150 mtles) immensely strong and paved the waY
pects was outstandingly modern, but designated F3F-3 with smal1 refine- Weishts:empty 1490 ks(3,285 lb); for the F4F Wildcat.
Armed Forces of the World Pa:t 3

US tlcrl
-^: three active force Marine Aircraft Wings have a
-: nbined manpower strength of 35,600 men plus a
'":rt-line aircraft strength of about 440 aircraft and
-2 armed helicopters. Pride of place goes to the
';rter squadrons, of which there are 12. ln the
l-1970s, the US Marines sought the Grumman
Tomcat for their front-line squadrons, but
.:re forced by Congress to wait longer for a new
::reratlon fighter. The F-14A never became part of
-: US Marine Corps inventory, but because of that
, sappointment the US Marine Corps was able to
,. r an early place in receiving the McDonnell
l:uglas F/A-18 Hornet. Three F/A-18 squadrons
:-3 now operational. The remaining nine fighter
.:radrons fly the McDonnell Douglas F-4N and F-4S
:^antom. The ageing F-4N model will be retired by
::bruary '1
The US Marine Corps has 13 attack squadrons,
.^.ee of which are equipped with the AV-8 Harrier.
-.ough plagued by a series of crashes early ln its
-.rerican incarnation, the Harrier has always
=^ oyed the full support of US Marine flyers them-
:: ves. who now have total confidence in its capa-
: ties. The AV-BC Harrier, a slightly improved
,:'sion of the operational AV-BA. is now test.
:,' more advanced is the AV-BB, theunder big-wing
The US Marine Corps operates a full range of A Bell AH- I T SeaCobra escorts a UH- I N'Huev'.
aircraft, from fighters and strike airctaft to The SeaCobra is armed with TOW anti-tank
. : -s on of the Harrier scheduled to enter operational
tankers, transports and helicopters. Air power is missiles and a three-barrelled 20-mm cannon
.:.,,rce in 1985. The US Marine Corps' 10 remaining crucial to the success of amphibious operations; capable of firingup to 1,500 rounds per minute.
.:::ck squadrons include five each with the the fleet must be defended from hostile air attack The 'Huey' is a general-purpose transport and b
'.':Jonnell Douglas A-4M Skyhawk and the all- and air support provided for the Marines ashore. normally unarmed.
Armed Forces of the World {l./ ",_l
I c*: J

The Vietnam War saw the Marine Corps develop

,'"=.:-er Grumman A-6E lntruder. The US Marines The US Marine Corps also has two a ide'ence an infiight-refuelJing capaaty {or the first time.
-:.: : single photo-reconnaissance squadron flylng battalions equlpped with the lrnprcvec lA\ 'i( Today, M arnes may be committed at short notice
-= lF-48 Phantom and an electronic warfare heavy anti-alrcraft missile. to far-flung corners of the globe, so air support
.: -:dron operating the EA-68 Prowler. All of these The US Marine Air Reserve s kept at a n gn state over )ong distances remains im poilant.
: - -'r ts are expected to maintain the capability to of readiness and its 4th Manne A rcra=l !nr'ng '5
: :3.ate f rom US Navy carrier decks, and periodically formed from four aviat on g'o;os. o-e se 'r ce that ranges from massive 140-ton cranes to con-
:=: cy to carriers as part of an embarked Navy I
group, and one air control group. Tne '1 aircraft- tainer-handling tractors.
-'-. er Wing. operating squadrons of the Reserve are equipped Detachments of US Marines provide security on
>:anding behind the combat squadrons are the no with F-4N and F-4S Phantoms, A-4E, A-4F and A-4M board US Navy ships, at naval bases, and at 118
=-s mportant support squadrons, Two of these are Skyhawks, the EA-6A intruder, and the OV-10 embassies and consulates in 103 countries, Service
:,:<r'vell OV-10D Bronco observation squadrons, Bronco. A combined tanker/assau t squadron uses with a Marine Security Guard (MSG) detachment at
:-r ineTe are also several headquarters and main- 12 KC-l30Fs and is receivlng the new KC-l307 a US embassy is a sought-after perquisite. But in
::-ance squadrons with TA-4J and OA-4M Sky- model ahead of active-duty unrts. There are 10 US recent years, MSG members have been held
-:,., <s Lockheed KC-130F, KC-'l30R and KC-1307 Marine Reserve helicopter squadrons. One of these prisoner in Tehran and killed or injured in rioting in
-:':ries aircraft serve with three assault transport uses the armed AH-1J, and there are two squadrons Pakistan and Libya.
:-: :anker squadrons. Limited numbers of'17D
C-98, operating the UH-1 E/UH-1 N'Huey'in the light
The future
',:-:r American CT-39G and Douglas C-l air- transport helicopter role. For heavy lift tasks, there
:-:': nieet more mundane utility transport and are three squadrons with the CH-53A and a further The US Marine Corps enjoys the support of the
-::<'requirements. four squadrons operate the CH-46. The Reserve administration and the American public, even when
-^E US Marine Corps has no fewer than 25 opera- also has an air-defence battalion equipped with the committed to a controversial cause, as in Lebanon.
::-: nel copter squadrons. Eight of these use the HAWK heavy anti-aircraft missile. and there are a The US Marine Corps has the training, prepared-
-::.', Sikorsky CH-53D and CH-53E, and the US further 32 or so support units of one type or another. ness, mobility and firepower to fight and win on
'.':-^e Corps has 168 of these large helicopters almost any far-flung battlefield. With improved
.. .- Tore on order. There are 180 CH-46E And The support units artillery and armour support, and enhancement of its
l--:5: Sea Knights distributed among 11 squad- The US Marine Corps has to operate a large combat service support elements (the latter having
':-. a"d a couple of training units. The universal number of support units in addition to the combat purposely been given top priority) the US Marine
--3. s used in the transport role, there being and air arms. These units accomplish such f unctions Corps has an assured future. A large proportion of
:-'== 3: UH-1N squadrons, and a further three as transport (equipped with much the same types of the strength of the US Marine Corps is now involved
: : -: l -: ^ s are equ pped with the AH-1T SeaCobra wheeled transport as the US Army), fuel supply and with the RDJTF and is thus always kept at a high
'- - :-= :'-ed offensive role, carryingTOWanti-tank distribution, special signalling, equipment holding, state of readiness. New equipment for this and
-'-:: :s the US Marine Corps contributes a
F nal y, special maintenance and rearming. Normally, these other roles is on the way. The turmoil and violence of
::::- : F squadron to the USAF's Bgth Military variegated units are attached to MAUs and other these troubled times will almost certainly guarantee
- - - ,", :a at Andrews AFB, Maryland, operators of units as and when required, but one special group- the US Marines a place in the public eye for the
:-= r".s ient's 'Air Force One' which becomes ing is maintained at Camp Pendleton, California, for foreseeable {uture. While their long history of
',',- ^: One' when the chief executive is flying the specific support of the 7th Marine Amphibious achievement on the battlefield is an established
....'. e iS Marine Corps aircraft; this squadron is Brigade and the 1st Marine Division as part of the matter of record, members of the US Marine Corps
.: - ::ed w th the VH-53D, VH-46F and VH-1 N, all of RDJTF. This is the 1st Force Service Support Group. belleve (and seem to be right) that they will have
., - :- -ave been seen landing on and taking off It contains among its various components a number ample opportunity to add future achievements to
'-:-_ :^e Whrte House lawn. o{ units equlpped with materlal-handling equipment thelr long list of laurels.