A History of the War in 25 Airplanes
70 YEARS AFTER THE END OF WORLD WAR II, THE AIRPLANES THAT WON IT STILL FLY.
Why some were great and some were not—and the battles that made them all famous.
MUSTANGS, MITCHELLS, CATALINAS, LIBERATORS, CORSAIRS. Combat aircraft that were everyday companions to airmen in the World War II generation have become extraordinary treasures to many in the next: symbols of the courage and sacrifice that even younger generations have come to regard as part of the national identity. Museums across the country have preserved and display these airplanes; some are exhibited in public spaces like Chicago’s O’hare International Airport, where a solitary F4F Wildcat honors Navy Medal of Honor winner Butch O’hare. Thousands of individuals, working alone or with foundations, invest time and money to keep warbirds flying. Through their good graces, one of almost every airplane described here flies today. This year, the 70th anniversary of Allied victory in World War II, warbirds are flying demonstrations in towns and cities across the country. If you’ve never heard a Merlin engine growl or seen a B-17 fly a stately pass across an airfield, this is the summer to do it.
J-3 Cub/l-4 Grasshopper ★ PT-17/N2S Stearman ★ AT-6 Texan ★ AT-11 Kansan ★ P-40 Tomahawk ★ B-25 Mitchell P-39 Airacobra ★ P-63 Kingcobra ★ PBY Catalina ★ F4F Wildcat ★ TBD Devastator ★ SBD Dauntless ★ P-38 Lightning B-24 Liberator ★ P-51 Mustang ★ B-17 Flying Fortress ★ C-47/R4D Skytrain ★ B-26 Marauder ★ A-26 Invader F6F Hellcat ★ TBM Avenger ★ SB2C Helldiver ★ P-47 Thunderbolt ★ F4U/FG-1D Corsair ★ B-29 Superfortress