Ah this my kind of conversation, ooo let’s see . . .
North American P51- B,C,D,K
Gumman TBF Avenger
. . and SBD Dauntless, and SB2C Helldiver, and P39
Fast Movers . .
The entire Century series
Okay I didn’t play by the rules but you get started talkin’ combat aircraft and I get stoopid, anything Grumman builds is just badass, how can you possibly narrow the list down to five favs, there’s A5’s, A4’s, S2’s, A6’s and the big birds like the B47 (great movie by the way), and the B25 and the A26K, and the B36 . . man I can’t do it! I love 'em all, Birddogs, Mohawks, Harriers, Jaguars, Tomahawks, Kingfishers.
I’m sorry my bad, too much coffee I guess. Oh no wait, I got so excited I almost forgot the P38 and the F7F now that’s a sexy darn airplane. And then there’s that oddball turbo prop jet plane I can’t even remember his name, too late for WWII. Whew, oh my, is it warm in here to you? I need to step into the other room for a minute, excuse me.
Propeller driven. Hard choices to make as there are a lot I like.
1 P-47 D. Both the razorback and bubbletop, but I won’t turn anything with the R2800 down.
2. P-40. First model and stuck in my mind as what a fighter is supposed to look like.
3. B-24 D .Story of Ploesti is stuck with me.
4. B-25 C/D Another early model kit. I like the look of the strafers.
5. Ki-84 Elegant and functional, and better than the Japanese knew.
F-16C Used to watch them fly over the house all day long.
F-4 Phantom Remember seeing these perform at airshows when I was little.
A-4 Skyhawk Another early model. Can’t ever seem to find one in stock.
EA-6B Everybody loves tadpoles!
A-10. Probably because of the Thunderbolt name.
And since it was already brought up, Rotorcraft
CH-47 I must have been about 5 when several flew over the house. Another that stuck in my head.
Ju 88 because it was the first a/c I was able to crawl all over (1960 U.S.A.F museum, the Junkers and others were parked outside with access scaffolding and ladders, I was a kid with my dad and the staff was pretty accommodating.
I don’t really have 5 favorite jets. I like the phantom a lot, but beyond that, don’t think too much about them.
For props, picking 5 is very hard. The top 3 spots are easy - held by the BoB Fighters (the 109e, the Spit, and the Hurricane) but I don’t think I could rank them. I like those planes because they were involved in the Battle of Britain, which is a landmark air battle. I also like them because I think each of them are elegant in a way. After that, I’d have to put the Albatros, but not sure whether it would be the DV or the DIII. The 5th is so hard as I like the Nieuports and the SE5 a lot, but there is also the F4U Corsair and the P-38. I guess everything except the Corsair and the P-38 are on the list mostly because of their looks. I won’t say the Albatros is elegant but it has a certain look that is really cool. The Corsair and the P-38 largely because of the uniqueness of their designs. I guess I do like the way the Corsair looks also.
Years ago, while the Iron Curtain just lifted and information about airplanes from the Other Side was still scarce, I received a gift from my then GF.
She graduated Archeology and went to Germany to do her Ph.D.
At her first coming home for Christmas, she brought me a present- a 450 pages full colour Encyclopedia of Aircraft, covering all periods, branches and producers.
From the several thousand airplanes in this book, I fell in love with the Hawker Sea Fury(prop):
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Max Holste MH 152 Broussard. When I was a kid, the local skydiving club used an ex-Army one and I’ve grown accustomed to the rasping noise of it circling high in the sky above. Nowadays the club uses a turboprop Pilatus PC-6 and the Broussard has been restaured (as seen below). Each time I hear its Pratt & Whitney radial it’s a blast from the past…
It’s fairly obvious to me what are the top five. The top one was the key to my research in understanding how the history of WWII tactics is understood upside-down: It did not go from turning to hit and run… On the contrary, high speed hit and run was 1930s theories that took over from the get go, as soon as monoplanes appeared (The 1935 P.Z.L. P.11 has obvious hit and run features, such as the fully trimmable tail, and could dive to above Me-262 level speeds). Turn fighting then increasingly dominated in later War actual combat, but this was completely forgotten as the jet age appeared. The FW-190A is also a prime example of how the physics of these things, still today, has not been worked out at all: It was obviously designed for high speed hit and run, and yet turned out so opposite to the designer’s intentions it is literally comical… Pierre Clostermann (18 kills, RAF mission record holder (432), condensed paraphrasing here): “At 280 knots the Spitfire out-turned the German types. But in turning combat the speed goes down and down, and, at 200 knots, the notion it out-turned the 190, or the 109, is a good joke…”
2-Spitfire Mark XIV
It’s just about the least original list out there. I know…
To which I would add the Ki-84 as a possible usurper to the P-47’s place (its nebulous performance is the hardest to pin down of all WWII types, but I now peg it to a lower level of 640-660 km/h, depending on engine, turn 17 s. to left with 20 s. to right, and a fairly low climb rate of around 2400-2800 fpm due to the small prop: The TAIC’s magnificent figures were purely calculated, not flown…).
I also rank the Ki-43 way up there. For various technical reasons, the A6M and P-38 are somewhat below the above. The P-38 was not at its best with European Theater fuels, and the A6M is hugely overrated, because the negative effect of its slow-firing cannon is not properly understood: It really did most of the damage with its 7.7 mms. It’s not just Saburo Sakai saying it… In addition, it could turn, but in fact rarely did (a recent discovery by historian Justin Pyke): The Imperial Navy never let go of the 1930s assumptions about hit and run being King… As one US Navy pilot put it: “Zero pilots have poor fighter tactics: If they would just chop their throttle and turn with us, they could simply sit on our tails.”