Can You Match the WWII Plane to Its Country?

By: Mark Laufgraben
Image: National Museum of the U.S. Navy via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Screaming through the wide blue skies, the air duels and pyrotechnic bombardments of the Second World War were the first conflicts where air combat played a major role. Though it may have begun in the Great War with individuals firing pistols at each other from their cockpits, the sequel to that war saw entire cities annihilated from above, fulfilling the darkest dreams of science fiction writers like Jules Verne. 

Air battle proved a brutally Darwinian arena of conflict, with constant modifications and forced evolution compelling both the machines of war and the tactics in which they were used to change at breakneck speeds. The war's beginning saw planes with wooden frames and tarps, while the end saw the rise of jet engines and even rocket-powered planes soaring over the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. Planes were everywhere, on every front, and even the armored tankers that seemed so impenetrable had to fear the wrath of the warbirds that preyed from above.

How much do you know about the planes of WW2? Can you recognize the nations that created each of these planes? Every nation had its own particular philosophy in creating its air force, and its own distinct aesthetic. Show us you've got the right stuff and take our quiz!

The Grumman Wildcat was a mainstay of USA carrier power, being a match for the Mitsubishi Zero. The planes were comparable in many areas, but the Wildcat was far more resilient to harm, which coupled with improved tactics to give the Wildcat an edge.

The Seversky P-35 was an early war fighter for the US, the first such fighter to include all-metal construction. It also featured landing gear that could be retracted and a fully shut cockpit. Many of these planes were actually shipped to Sweden, which of course did not involve herself in the war.

The Grumman F6F Hellcat was an upgrade to their Wildcat chassis, and once it came off the line it outclassed the Japanese Zero at every level. 12,000 of these fighters were constructed in two years!

The Warwick was originally designed to be in a bomber role for the United Kingdom, but its weak power supply meant it entered service already somewhat obsolete. In practice it was used for logistics purposes.

The Heinkel He 112 was in the running to be the main fighter jet for the German forces in WW2, but they came in second. In the end, relatively few of them were actually produced, although they did see some use in the Condor Legion sent to the Spanish Civil War, and among Germany's allies Hungary and Romania.

Based on the Zero frame, the Nakajima A6M2-N was a floatplane used by Japan in WW2. It typically saw rear area duty. For example, one of its roles was protecting the Japanese conquests in the Dutch East Indies.

The Czech Avia B-135 was a steel winged monoplane that saw some service in WW2. It had some engine problems, so it was largely used as a training aircraft. A group of them may have taken down a B-24 Liberator in '44, however.

A bit of a dark horse in the WW2 fighter competition, Italy's Macchi C.202 was ranked quite high in terms of fighter performance. Although not appreciated at the time, it actually had a higher kill rate against Allied fighters than its Messerschmidt allies.

Superior in most respects to the early Spitfires, Germany's Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was one of the fighters that made up a great deal of its air fleet. It was the fighter of choice for many Luftwaffe aces, including Walter Nowotny.

Japan's Nakajima Ki-84 was a late war Japanese fighter, known to the allies as the "Frank". It was capable of matching allied fighters in performance, but it lacked in numbers and trained pilots, and mechanical defects multiplied as the Allies hammered Japanese supply and logistics capabilities.

The Ambrosini SAI.207 was an Italian experimental fighter with a wooden frame to allow for a lightweight power plant. It performed fairly well and was quite fast, but the armistice overtook Italy and prevented any substantial numbers from being deployed.

The Junkers Ju 188 was supposed to be Germany's upgraded medium bomber. However, improvements to the Ju-88, its predecessor, plus the strategic bombing campaign on Germany forced Germany to refocus its efforts on fighter production instead.

The UK's Supermarine Seafire carrier fighter was a naval version of the famous Spitfire. It first saw use in Operation Torch, the allied invasion of Northern Africa. It was also used in an important role in the invasion of Italy.

Although the Netherlands strove mightily, they were conquered quickly in the Second World War. The Koolhoven F.K.58 was designed by a Jewish refugee to the Netherlands from Germany, but not enough planes were in service to make a difference in saving Holland or, for that matter, France, where they were also deployed.

A Soviet plane, the Tupolev TB-3 was originally a heavy bomber plane. Its obsolescence in the Second World War meant that it was largely used operationally as a transport vehicle, in which role it was used in the Winter War against Finland.

A plucky little fighter, Yugoslavia only had a half dozen Rogožarski IK-3s when they found themselves fighting the mighty German invaders. They claimed 11 kills before being overrun, and rumor has it that the pilots destroyed their planes to prevent the Germans from getting them.

Only 118 of the US's Consolidated B-32 Dominator were built, as they were originally the competitor to the very successful Flying Fortress. A few of them made it into combat with Japan in 1945, making them the last bombers to go into service during the war.

The UK's Hawker Typhoon was originally supposed to replace the older Hurricanes as an interceptor, but it did not see much success in that role. Instead, they kitted it out as a ground attack bomber, in which it later excelled.

Known to the allies as the "Jack", Japan's Mitsubishi J2M interceptor was an attempt to build a high-altitude interceptor to stop the bombing raids wracking the Japanese home islands. It was not very successful, as teething problems with its engines delayed its deployment, and the Allies switched to night bombing, for which it was unsuited.

The Junkers attack bomber, the Junkers Ju 88, was one of the most successful German aircraft of the world. All told over 16,000 were constructed, and some were even turned from a bomber role to a fighter one, a highly unusual change of armaments and purpose!

A floatplane fighter, the Kawanishi N1K was a Japanese plane used in the Pacific theater. It was seen as a capable dogfighter, and was known to Allied pilots as the "Rex".

Italy's Macchi C.200 Saetta, also known as the Thunderbolt, was a mainstay of the Italian air force. Many were used in the invasion of the USSR, where it attained highly favorable kill rates against Russian fighters.

Germany's Focke-Wulf Ta 152 was a high-altitude fighter designed to interdict high-flying Allied bombing raids. Unfortunately for Germany, they were produced in too few numbers to make a difference, as they began production in early 1945.

Prior to the more popular Yak models, the Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 was one of Russia's most sophisticated available fighters. Unfortunately, it had a wooden frame and was matched poorly against comparable German fighters, making them quite unpopular.

The USA's Consolidated B-24/LB-30/PB4Y-1 Liberator was a heavy bomber. Although generally effective at its job, its low top speed and altitude ceiling meant it was rapidly replaced by the Flying Fortress once it became available.

The Kawasaki Ki-61, or "Tony" to the Allies, was Japan's attempt at creating a fighter to better match allied planes' superior dive capability. Although successful individually, they were overwhelmed by the numbers of Allied planes and ensuing Allied air superiority saw many of them destroyed out of combat.

Although an advanced machine for the '30s, the Polish PZL P.11 was hopelessly outclassed by their German opposition- even the bombers outpaced them, making them perform poorly in a fighter role. A few of them escaped destruction to Romania, where they ended up joining the Axis in any case.

The older model of Polish fighter in service during the German invasion, the PZL P.7 nonetheless managed a few kills against the German invaders. This was no small feat given the Germans' superior technology and numbers!

The Boeing P-26 Peashooter was an early line fighter for the USA. It had wire-braced wings and an open cockpit, and fortunately was eclipsed once the USA had fully gotten its forces into the fighting in the war!

One of Russia's premier fighters, the Yakovlev Yak-3 was lighter than most comparable opposition, and was extremely effective in its dogfighter role. It saw combat in 1944, and before long the Luftwaffe had been largely driven from the skies over the eastern front.

The apex of American carrier-based airpower, the Vought F4U/FG Corsair carrier fighter proved to be truly imposing in combat. In final tallies it scored an incredible 11-1 kill rate against Japanese fighters, although given that it showed up near the end of the war, one has to consider that it tended outnumber its enemies and have higher quality pilots.

The USSR primary early war fighter, the Yakovlev Yak-1 was the first of what would prove to be a line of fighters. It was surprisingly lightly armed by the standards of the time, aligning with Soviet fighter preference of having fewer, center aligned weapons rather than wing-mounted guns.

First of its line, the USSR's Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 was actually produced in substantial numbers, but its combat efficiency is unknown. This is because they were largely annihilated en masse during the surprise attack of Operation Barbarossa.

Incredibly difficult to bring down, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress was the USA's premier heavy bomber. These planes relentless bombed the German Reich at a high altitude, and its multiple gun turrets made attacking it an extremely risky proposition.

One of the USSR's primary fighter craft, the Lavochkin La-5 is a huge upgrade over the original La-1 model, with twin cannons and maneuverability capable of keeping up with German forces. Nonetheless, it suffered some of the heaviest losses of any Soviet plane, although this is as much due to facing the Luftwaffe in its prime as anything.

Germany's Junkers Ju 88 was an extremely fast, low-altitude fighter-bomber that served in multiple roles throughout the role. It was used as a close support aircraft when the Germans engaged in blitzkrieg warfare. All in all, nearly 16,000 of them were produced over the course of the war.

Although not as flashy as the better known Spitfires, the UK's Hawker Hurricane was the workhorse of the British air fleet. It was used to engage the Luftwaffe bombers while the Spitfires pulled off the interceptors, and Hurricanes actually scored more victories than their better known brothers.

An excellent long-range carrier-based fighter, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero carrier fighter is the most famous Japanese fighter of the war. Incredibly light and maneuverable, the Zero's weakness proved to be its vulnerable frame and its demanding nature- it needed skilled pilots, which were difficult to come by as Japanese losses mounted.

Italy's Fiat G.50 was a fast and maneuverable single-seated fighter. Although it proved a capable dogfighter, it was only lightly armed, which made it unable to serve as an interceptor and made it difficult to score victories against rugged Allied craft.

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