Can You Identify These Pre-WWII Planes?

By: Robin Tyler
Image: U.S. Navy via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Oh, those magnificent men in their flying machines, as the old song goes!

It's not really the men that are magnificent, is it? It really is those flying machines! Incredibly, despite being heavier than air, thanks to some wizardry, they stay aloft.

Seeing that humans only managed to fly in 1903, the aircraft produced in the two decades before World War II had come a long way from the Wright flyer. By the mid-1930s, wood was no longer the primary material used in their construction. Most planes were now made out of metal, which made them far heavier. Luckily, engine technology too had advanced at a rapid rate, so the powerplants installed on these aircraft were powerful enough to get them in the air and perhaps, more importantly, keep them there.

The 1920s and '30s also saw the beginnings of passenger transport. Flying in an aircraft drastically cut the traveling time between cities and companies soon realized this. Now, the aircraft was not only used for military purposes or the transporting of mail or goods, but it could also carry people to their destinations in style!

So now it's time to test your aircraft identification skills!

Will you be able to tell us which aircraft is which? 

Good luck!

The Model 9 Orion from Lockheed was a single-engined commercial passenger aircraft first released in 1931. The enclosed cabin could transport six passengers comfortably. The Orion was the first airliner with retractable undercarriage.

The de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a majestic looking bi-plane that could carry six to eight passengers. At the outbreak of World War II, most Rapide's were pressed into service with the Royal Air Force.

One of the last biplane fighters in the Royal Air Force, the Gloster Gladiator was obsolete by the outbreak of World War II although it had served as a frontline fighter from around 1935 onwards.

Produced between 1932 and 1933, the Gee Bee was a very distinct looking aircraft. It was built especially for air racing and set a speed record of 296 mph in 1932.

This 1930s two-engine aircraft was intended as a transport plane. Only two were ever built as the Miles factory was commissioned to focus on the Magister training aircraft as the threat of war approached in the late 1930s.

The first all-metal fighter produced by the United States, the Boening P-26 Peashooter first flew in 1932. Chinese built Peashooters saw action against the Japanese before the outbreak of World War II, while the Peashooter also served in the Pacific with the Philippine Army Air Force.

First flown in 1937, the Grumman Goose was an amphibious passenger plane that could transport up to eight passengers. Incredibly, it was purposely designed for businessmen in the Long Island area.

Perhaps one of the most famous training aircraft ever produced, the T-6 Texan first flew in 1935 and incredibly, was still in service with the South African Air Force up until 1995. Many examples are still flying today.

Only one example of this behemoth was built in the early 1930s in the U.S.S.R. The K-7 had seven engines and was proposed as both a bomber and passenger aircraft. The only prototype crashed in 1933, killing 14 people.

The Fairey Swordfish was a biplane torpedo bomber that first entered service in 1936 with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. It has the distinction of helping to sink the German Battleship, the Bismarck during World War II.

The Douglas DC3 Dakota is nothing short of a legend. It first flew in 1936 and has been used in many guises, from an airliner to cargo aircraft, and even during the Second World War as a troop transport, cargo carrier, glider tow aircraft, or to carry paratroopers.

A bomber introduced into the United States Army Air Corps in 1934, the Martin B10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber in service in the United States. When introduced, it proved faster than any of the current fighters in service.

This two-engine commercial passenger aircraft first entered service in 1934. Constructed from steel tubing and covered with fabric, it was soon superseded by the newer designs which used stressed aluminum in their construction.

A two-seater bomber, the Hawker Hart served with Royal Air Force from 1930 but was obsolete by the outbreak of World War II.

The Blackburn Skua was a two-seater fighter/dive bomber that saw service with the British Fleet Air Arm after entering service in 1938. It is named after a sea bird.

The Supermarine S6 designed by RJ Mitchell, who later went on to design the Supermarine Spitfire. This air racer won the Schneider Trophy race in 1929.

This short stubby Russian fighter first entered service in 1934. By the start of World War II, the Polikarpov i-16 was no match for more advanced German fighter aircraft. It was fondly nicknamed 'Donkey' by its pilots.

The Junkers Ju52 entered service in 1931. This tri-motor aircraft was initially a passenger aircraft but saw service in World War II as a paratroop and regular transport machine.

Initially developed as an airline for long-range trips, the Focke-Wulf F200 Condor was used extensively by the Luftwaffe during World War II as a maritime patrol aircraft and anti-ship bomber. It was first introduced in 1937.

The Keystone B-3 was a biplane bomber aircraft in service with the United States Army Air Corps in the 1920s. Although made obsolete by the new all-metal monoplanes of the 1930s, the B-3 stayed in service til 1940.

The De Havilland Express was a larger of the Dragon Rapide, also built by De Havilland. Over 700 were built in the 1930s.

The Avro Anson entered service in 1936 and performed a number of roles in the Royal Airforce including as a light bomber, trainer, maritime reconnaissance and transport aircraft. It was largely obsolete by the time World War II started.

The Boeing 314 Clipper was a flying boat airliner which first entered service in 1939. Clippers were capable of flying across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with fuel stops along the way of course.

The Hudson from Lockheed entered service in 1939 as both a light bomber as well as a coastal maritime patrol aircraft. Interestingly, it was commissioned for the Royal Air Force and was used by a number of Commonwealth countries, even after World War II. It did service with US forces as well.

The Buffalo, a fighter manufactured by Brewster, first entered service in 1937. It was one of the first aircraft to include an arrestor hook for operations from aircraft carriers.

Introduced in 1931, the Boeing YB-9 didn't have a long operational service in the US Army Air Corps, and by 1935 was retired from service. It does have the distinction as the first monoplane bomber to be made entirely out of metal.

A design from Howard Hughes, the H-1 set a number of records in the late 1930s. During this time, the H-1 was the fastest landplane around, capable of speeds of over 350 mph.

This single seat aircraft was designed for sport flying as well as touring by the famed Messerschmitt aircraft factory and Willie Messerschmitt in particular. It first flew in 1934.

This 10-seater commercial passenger aircraft from Lockheed first saw service in 1935. It perhaps gained more fame due to the fact that it was the plane chose by Amelia Earhart on her trip to circumnavigate the world, one she never returned from.

The F.XX, from Dutch designers Fokker, entered service in 1933 as a passenger transport aircraft. It could fly up to 12 people and crew up to distances of 800 miles.

The 1930s saw an upsurge in the popularity of flying boats as a form of a commercial airliner and the Empire Boat, from Short, is one of the more famous examples. First introduced in 1936, it was capable of flying up to 24 passengers up to 700 miles at a time.

The Lockheed YP-24 was a two-seat fighter that never entered service. In fact, only one was made, in 1931. Multiple factors, including the Great Depression, saw the project abandoned.

A 1930s racing aircraft, the Percival Mew Gull was made of wood. This made it very light and coupled with the de Havilland Gipsy Six motor that powered, helped the Mew Gull to many air speed records during its lifetime. It had a top speed of 265 mph.

Introduced in 1933, the Curtiss BF2C Goshawk saw service on U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. It served as both a fighter and fighter bomber. A number also saw service for China against the Japanese.

The de Havilland Tiger Moth was the main trainer used by the Royal Air Force before World War II. Close to 9,000 examples of this beautiful biplane were made, and many still exist. All-in-all, the Tiger Moth served in the air forces of 39 countries.

Introduced in 1933, the General Aviation PJ was a flying boat used by the U.S. Coast Guard. Generally, it was in operation for search and rescue missions. It featured a high wing, flying boat hull and stabilizing pontoons under the wings. Only five of them were made.

Very similar in looks to the T6 Texan, the Vultee V-11 was an attack aircraft a number of air forces around the world used in the 1930s, including the Chinese. It only flew in the U.S. air force for test purposes.

This experimental aircraft featured a monoplane device and all-metal construction. It was an alternative design to the Boeing P-26 Peashooter but lost to that aircraft when the United States opted for the Boeing as a front-line fighter.

A three-engined design from the Edgar Percival, the Spartan Cruiser could carry between 6 and ten passengers. Most saw service with Spartan Air Lines, flying from the Isle of Wight to London.

The Douglas TBD Devastator first entered service in 1937. Although it was advanced for its time, it performed poorly during World War II and during the Battle of Midway 35 of the 41 Devastator's were lost.

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