When World War I suddenly erupted in 1914, airplane technologies were just a decade old. The warplanes looked it – their primitive engines and weapons were unreliable and nearly as deadly for their crews as they were for their enemies. Fast forward to the Second World War, and suddenly, fighters and bombers were entirely more advanced. From their airframes to their munitions, these planes were major fighting forces for both the Allies and the Axis. In this high-flying quiz, can you tell us what you know about the planes of World War II?
At the war’s outset, the German army, or Wehrmacht, became known for its high-speed armored strikes. With heavy bombers and dive bombers, the Third Reich’s planes strafed and bombed the front lines in Poland, making way for tanks and infantry. Do you know the names of the planes that were vital to the blitzkrieg?
Meanwhile, Japan planned its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, leveraging its aircraft carriers to surprise the Americans with death from above. On December 7, 1941, in a matter of hours, Japanese fighters and bombers laid waste to much of the U.S. Navy’s defenses in Hawaii. Do you know what type of planes caused the destruction?
The Allies countered with hundreds of thousands of new warplanes, everything from B-24s to P-51s, Spitfires to Hurricanes. Soar into this World War II warplane quiz now!
During World War II, what was the most common Japanese warplane?
They became icons of imperial Japan and its desire for conquest. Zeroes terrified American sailors and pilots, who knew that the planes were fast and well-armed.
Which side relied heavily on the Bf 109?
Germany's Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a versatile and powerful fighter-bomber that saw action all over Europe. It was so effective, the Axis used it for the duration of combat at a time when most planes became obsolete within just a year or two.
Which plane did America make the most of during the war?'
America built more than 19,000 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers in WWII. It's still the most-produced warplane in U.S. history but aircrews actually preferred the more durable B-17.
The B-29 was called the _____.
The B-29 Superfortress was indeed a super plane. Part bomber, part flying arsenal, it was one of the most formidable warplanes of the entire era.
The Soviets manufactured an incredible number of Ilyushin Il-2 ground-attack planes in WWII. How many did they build?
The USSR desperately scrambled to build Ilyushin Il-2 ground-attack planes to stop the German army. It made more than 36,000 of these planes in about four years.
The B-29 Superfortress was armed with ____ .50-caliber machine guns.
Woe to the enemy fighter pilots tasked with engaging a B-29. These bombers were bristling with 12 .50-caliber machine guns -- and just one round could potentially destroy a small fighter.
What was the P-47 called?
American manufacturers built more than 15,000 P-47 Thunderbolt fighters throughout the war. It was a heavy plane, but it was also heavily-armed, thanks to its eight .50-caliber machine guns.
The Supermarine _____ was one of the most famous British planes of WWII.
In the lore of warfare, the Supermarine Spitfire cemented its iconic legacy during the Battle of Britain. The Brits built more than 20,000 of these fighters, which were critical in fending off the Luftwaffe's ceaseless attacks.
What type of plane was the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka?
Germany's Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was a dive bomber that powered the blitzkrieg, particularly at the war's outset. But it was already obsolete halfway through the conflict.
How did Soviet aircrews feel about the Yakovlev Yak-3?
The Yakovlev Yak-3 was reliable and fast, one of the best dogfighters in WWII. It was introduced as the German army began to collapse.
If Allied pilots saw a "Judy," what did they spot?
Japan built thousands of Yokosuka D4Ys, one of the fastest dive bombers in the entire conflict. Allies used the reporting name, "Judy," when they recognized the D4Y.
What was one amazing technology of the B-29 Superfortress?
The B-29 was so advanced that it had remote-control machine guns. In some respects, the plane was several generations ahead of the war's other bombers.
The Ilyushin Il-2 was a durable warplane. What was one of its nicknames?
With its armored cockpit, the Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 could absorb bullet after bullet and keep right on flying. It's was called the "Flying Tank."
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was designed to counter which Axis plane?
Japanese Zero fighters were agile and fast, so the Allies designed the Hellcat to be even faster and more acrobatic … and it was. In the Pacific War, Hellcats tore through Zeroes.
The Allies used P-51 Mustangs mostly for what purpose?
The Allies loved the P-51 Mustangs for bomber escort missions, as these planes had the range and agility to ward off enemy fighters. Mustangs alone helped down thousands of Axis planes in WWII.
What was one notable drawback of the B-24 heavy bomber?
The B-24 was a beast to fly, particularly at low speeds. Most pilots and crews preferred the B-17.
The Japanese designed the Mitsubishi Ki-21 for what role?
The Mitsubishi Ki-21 was a heavy bomber. It was widely used for Japan's attacks on China, and American forces also saw it in action.
Which plane became America's most expensive weapons project of the entire war?
The B-29 Superfortress was the bomber to end all bombers -- faster, bigger, and deadlier than any other bomber. It was so expensive that it cost even more than the Manhattan Project, the operation that developed the first atomic bombs.
During the war, the Soviets made which major modification to the Ilyushin Il-2?
German fighters kept shooting down the Ilyushin Il-2, so the Soviets added a seat for a gunner. These gunners essentially sat in an exposed fuselage, but their bullets made Germany's fighter pilots much warier of attacking.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was equipped with how many .50-caliber machine guns?
With its unusual design and four .50-caliber machine guns, the P-38 was loaded with lead. It also had one 20 mm cannon. It's no wonder the German's called it “The Fork-Tailed Devil.”
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 had a maximum speed of around _____.
It was agile, reliable, and fast. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 could reach almost 400 mph, one of the reasons the Germans used it throughout the war.
What kind of plane dropped the first atomic bombs?
Modified B-29 bombers were the only planes big enough to carry the first nukes. A B-29 named the Enola Gay dropped a uranium bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.
The B-17 was the _____
Introduced just before the war broke out, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was a backbone of the Allied strategic bombing campaigns. It traded potential bomb space for better armor, which kept its crews safer during long bombing runs over enemy territory.
Which Allied aircraft inflicted the bulk of the Luftwaffe's losses at the Battle of Britain?
Like the Spitfire, the Hawker Hurricane was a major player in the Battle of Britain. The Hurricane was a prevalent force throughout the European Theater of the war.
What was a notable trait of the A6M Zero?
The Zero was a fighter with a very long range. Launched from carrier decks, Zeroes could attack targets hundreds of miles away and then return to safety.
The Soviet Ilyushin II-10 was designed for what purpose?
As WWII wound down, the Soviets kept cranking out the Ilyushin Il-10, a ground attack aircraft. It remained in service for about a decade after the war ended.
The "Red-Tail Angels" became famous in part because they were so adept with which warplanes?
In WWII, a group of African-American pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen painted parts of the P-51 Mustangs a bright red. They became known as the "Red-Tail Angels," zooming into battle against Axis forces.
What was one failing of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190?
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was one of Germany's most important fighters of the war but it lost much of its power at high altitude. Engine upgrades came too late to change the Third Reich's fates.
Erich Hartmann was a German ace who scored most of his victories in which plane?
Erich Hartmann reportedly scored an incredible 352 air victories in WWII, mostly while flying his Messerschmitt Bf 109. He survived the war and lived until age 71.
What was one notable trait of the B-17 Flying Fortress?
B-17s sometimes returned with gaping holes in the fuselage. They were renowned for absorbing blow after blow … and still they flew, returning their (terrified and bloodied) crews to safer skies.
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