The Grumman J2F Duck (G-15), another "salty bird". It was a single-engine amphibious biplane used by the USN, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force from 1937 to the 1950s, notably in air-sea rescue. With its ungainly, unique appearance due to the large float blending under the fuselage, this biplane was sturdy, reliable and had the range needed to perform its mission. Despite a relatively low production (by WW2 standards) of 580 copies, the J2F was a jack of all trades beloved by its pilots, immortalized notably in "murphy's war" in 1971.
The legendary "stringbag" is perhaps the most famous biplane in WW2 on the allied side (outside training planes like the Tiger Moth). Although it was introduced relatively late, in 1936, it gave invaluable service to the Royal Naval Air Service, sinking many axis vessels or historically instrumental in occasions such as the stopping of KMS Bismarck or the raid on Tarento, which later confirmed the japanese to plan Pearl harbor. Although Fairey planned two replacements for it, the venerable Swordfish soldiered on and was produced practically until the end of the war.
The Curtiss SOC Seagull first flew in 1934 and was adopted the next year as main observation floatplane onboard battleship and cruisers in the USN. Production stopped in 1938 and it was scheduled for retirement in 1940, replaced by the new Seamew and Kingfisher. However the new curtiss floatplane was an engineering disaster, so much so the SOC Seagull, versed to training, returned to the front line and soldiered on until 1945...
Weekly Naval Aviation ! The 1MF was born in 1919-1920, designed by Herbert Smith, from Sopwith, to equip the newly built IJN Hosho, and later the Kaga and Akagi. They represented the very first IJN fighter, in activity until 1930. It was a starting point up to a whole lineage. The 1MF1 and 2 were prototypes, the MF3 became the production version (around 150) and evolved into the MF4 and MF5 for training. The MF9 and 10 were completely new animals, prototypes for the 1927 and 1933 contest. The #Mitsubishi 1MF was the first Imperial #JapaneseNavy Fighter, equipping the Hosho in 1923 and later the Akagi and Kaga until 1929 #interwar #IJN
An overview of fleets air arms of all belligerents, a portal page resuming the naval air forces of the allies, the USN, British, French, Candian, Soviet, Dutch, etc. and the axis, the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica assets used by the Navy, and the IJN aviation. All the models, organization and tactics.
Midway special ! - The image is clear now, since the river of history went by, nearly 80 years ago. On 4 June 1942, in a remote corner of the Pacific with no land in sight for hundred of miles, an epic clash turned the tide of the pacific war. It has been told and retold as such, and books tried to moderate the claim, but in the end it still stands strong. No battle was so decisive in its long-term effect. And it was a complex one, with a grand Japanese strategy, a desperate US Navy hang by its fingernails to its last aircraft carriers… and hundreds of courageous pilots. Among these, none but those onboard a handful of Douglas SBD Dauntless had such decisive action at Midway.
Northrop is rarely associated with US Naval aviation, albeit being one of the most famous and innovative aviation company in history. Innovation was its trademark, and its contribution to the Navy during WW2 has been tremendous for a single reason. In 1933, Jack Northrop’s firm was a small subsidiary of Douglas aircraft corp with just a few prototypes and civilian planes to its credit. Its first solid contract for the Navy was indeed in 1935 the BT, a dive bomber characterized by… perforated air brakes. With them, controlled dive and accurate bombing was possible. Despite a small production (only 55), the Northrop BT was the direct inspiration by its mother company -Douglas- to develop the mass-produced SBD Dauntless that turned the tables at Midway and altered the course of the war in the pacific…
The Grumman was the last USN biplane fighter indeed, but certainly not the last biplane of the Navy during WW2. Indeed, the Curtiss SBC Helldiver were still around well past 1942, although no longer frontline. It was replaced by the controversial Brewster Buffalo. So before the Wildcat, the frontline USN Fighter onboard all carriers was the Grumman F3F (which never receive its wartime name, although the civilian version was called "Gulfhawk"). In 1939 when WW2 broke out, the Royal Navy also had a biplane fighter, the Gloster sea gladiator. The Japanese had the Mitsubishi A5M, a fixed carriage monoplane, but the superlative A6M just entered service on 1st July 1940, while USN squadrons were just started replacing their F3F by the Brewster F2A. That's a sobering thought.
First line USN torpedo bomber in 1941-42, the Douglas TBD was caught before its replacement. Ordered in 1934, it entered service in 1937 and at the time, it was not only the most advanced USN aircraft, but possibly the most serious contender for the title of "world's best carrier-borne TB". The pace of aircraft development however caught up, and in June 1942 at Midway, the TBD reputation was destroyed while another Douglas, the Dauntless, won the day, in part because of how the events unfolded. Vastly outclassed for speed and agility while facing the Mitsubishi Zero, remaining TBDs were simply wiped out with little torpedo hits to their credits.
The Vought OS2U Kingfisher became the staple of the USN’s battleships and cruisers catapulted spotters/recce models, in the shape of a rugged and dependable floatplane. The Kingfisher lacks the aura of the fighters of that time, but they played a vital role when radar technology was in its infancy, and went on even the latter improved during WW2. The OS2U-3 became the Number one artillery spotter plane for battleships, its main task, while also performing long range reconnaissance and recognition of ships previously spotted on radar. But they also carried personal, recovered downed planes or crews, and even hunted down submersibles. 1,519 were built, which also served in the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Air Force and even the Soviet Navy, and went on well into the cold war under other flags. Its direct competitor, the Curtiss SO3C Seamew, was never as popular.
The worst USN fighter ever ? - The Brewster Buffalo has quite a reputation in WW2. For many, it was “the worst fighter of WW2”. That can be analysed in facts and put in relation to the context of its deployment, and compared to the plane’s actual technical issues. But at the end of the day, it started as a naval fighter, ordered by the USN to a young and relatively untested company. Long story short, the Navy tried it, and curtailed the order as soon as reports came in. The production models then were passed onto the “second market” of lend-lease, the British operated it, as did the Dutch in the same theatre of operations, and the Finns. In the hands of the latter it did apparently wonders, which makes the whole case of “worst of WW2” a statement to take with at least a pinch of salt. Now here you go, let’s dive into this model squarely and look at its short career in the US Navy where it started.
The PBY Catalina was during WW2 both a spy and vengeful angel of death for U-Boats, and an angel of mercy for their victims. With more than 3,300 produced, perhaps more than 4,000 in all versions, it was the most common flying boat of WW2. Like the Swordfish also one of the most memorable fleet air arm aircraft for its historical significance. A few spotting fleets often decisively, while thousands others just served reliably and without fanfare, far more often saving lives than taking those. The Catalina also had a very long career spanning the cold war and beyond, notably in the civilian market, still in service today, 80 years after its introduction. In ten years from now (2020), some still flying would be 100 years old. Their pilots kept fond memories of these rugged beast of burdens, yet agile and powerful. The Catalina definitely passed into the legends of aviation and easily can be the most underrated US plane of WW2...
Two cantilever monoplan dive bombers were in service in USN carriers in December 1941: The Vought Vindicator and Douglas Dauntless. If the latter gained an immortal fame at Midway, the first faded into obscurity as one of the least appealing planes of the USN ever put into service. Despite of this, it carried great hopes and was ordered as soon as it was available by the French and British, but was so disappointing it was soon completely replaced by the Dauntless for USN carrier service, while the Fleet Air Arm discarded these in 1942 despite having no real alternative available. Why it was so ?