The K.u.K. Seefliegerkorps, or Austro-Hungarian naval aviation was created in 1915 and shared resources and manufacturers with the regular air force, or Kaiserliche und Königliche Luftfahrtruppen. Yet, the Austro-Hugarian Navy (KuK Kriegsmarine) independent air force called the K.u.K. Seeflugwesen (Imperial and Royal Naval Air Corps), operated many models above the Adriatic, Hansa-Brandenburg, Fokker, Aviatik, Albatros and Phönix models as well as Lohner seaplanes.
The Nakajima B5N was completely unknown by US Intel before 1941, and vastly underrated (like most Japanese aviation, seen as mediocre western copies). Little was known that this model, albeit of the same generation, vastly outperformed the Douglas TBD Devastator, its rival at the time, which in all western publications was proudly accumulating records and "world's firsts". The B5N was simply faster and more capable overall. For some authors it was even the world's best carrier-borne torpedo bomber when WW2 broke out. Best proof of that, the "Kate", much like the "Val" was soon much feared in the early phase of the Pacific Campaign, never truly replaced and fighting on the frontline to the end. #pacific #midway #WW2 #imperialjapanesenavy
When good enough beats better: The TBY Sea Wolf was a 1940 designed USN carrier-borne torpedo aircraft from Vought as the TBU, unlucky contender and contemporary to the Grumman TBF Avenger. Its development dragged on and its production went to Consolidated in 1943, redesigned as the TBY-2. It never saw battle with the last cancelled in September 1945 after 180 were completed. The Seawolf was the ultimate "what if", an arguably better alternative to the legendary Avenger and now largely forgotten. #WW2 #USNavy
The IJN customary had two reconnaissance/spotter floatplanes in service, one for battleships, and one for cruisers, the latter model bing mostly used for reconnaissance. The F1M (WW2 allied code "pete") was the last biplane ever designed by Mistubishi. It was a replacement planned in 1935 for the Nakajima E8N ("Dave") as main catapult-launched navy spotter from cruisers, reliable but slow and underpowered. It first flew in 1936 and introduced in 1941, in service until 1945 and produced up to 944 machines. #WW2 #ImperialJapaneseNavy
The Curtiss SO3C was supposed to be the main reconnaissance and spotting floatplane in service on board capital ships, cruisers and aircraft carriers of the US Navy in 1940, in its convertible versions. However it was a such mediocre seabird, that the production was cut short aft 800 delivered, and it was often replaced by the previous SOC Seagull and Kingfisher on battleships. It nevertheless served from 1942 to 1944 mostly from cruisers.
The "French Stuka" as it was called, was an attempt by the Navy to acquire a modern dive bomber to be based on the aircraft carrier Béarn and coastal units. It was a rugged, inline engine model which initial development started in 1934, but when introduced in 1939 with the Béarn already at sea, they served on land and were mostly destroyed in action by May 1940.
The Ryan FR Fireball was the sole US Navy mixed-power (piston and jet-powered) fighter aircraft, designed by Ryan Aeronautical during WW2, hence it's classification here. It was one of these numerous projects never completed in time to take part in WW2, but it's purpose was defeated by its experimental value. But it has at least the distinction of being Navy's first jet aircraft. Only 66 were built before Japan surrendered in August, just enough to fill a single squadron, training and not seeing any combat. It proved that structural strength was required for aircraft carriers operations, as well as it's transitional, uneasy nature, and was withdrawn quickly, in mid-1947.
The standard dive bomber of the Imperial Japanese Navy in WW2, until replaced in 1943 by the "Judy", the famous D3A "Val" was the terror of the US Navy in 1941-42, starting with Pearl Harbor and the battles of the Coral Sea, Midway and the Solomons Campaign. Slow, but deadly accurate, this dive bomber was also quite agile.
The Brewster Buccaneer was an ill-fated scout bomber designed in 1940, which first flew in 1941, but was plagued by so much problems and manufacturing issues, that it was soon retired from active units, sent to mechanics training only, or scrapped altogether on arrival (British ones); It caused an abrupt cancellation of the contract, followed after the war, by a full commission of enquiry on the company. It is a solid contender for the title of worst plane of WW2, for all categories.
The most common WW2 catapulted amphibious reconnaissance seaplane of the Royal Navy, on board cruisers and battleships, but also aircraft carriers, was the Supermarine Walrus. It was a slow pusher biplane, but innovative for its time, very sturdy, with a fully retractable carriage and foldable wings... Its contribution to the war has been considerable, although often overlooked by another product from Supermarine also designed by Mitchell, the Spitfire...
The name "corsair" in the USN for an aircraft has a long legacy. The cold war LTV A-7 Corsair II produced by Vought through Ling-Temco-Vought is now retired, but modern drones are likely to retake the name, first granted to a Vought plane back in 1928. This was the original one, before the legendary WW2 fighter-bomber. From the 1926 Vought XO-26 prototypes to the production O2U Corsair, the Navy had its standard biplane scout and observation aircraft, both usable with floats or interchangeable wheeled undercarriage.
It was used notably on virtually all interwar USN aircraft carriers in wheeled version, being only retired in 1939 on these (O3U), and was also standard on most interwar US Battleships and cruisers. That very long legacy did not ended in WW2, as no fewer than 141 Corsairs were still serving with the US Navy and Marines, and the type was still used by many countries outside the US, notably for training. It saw action in China, in the Colombia-Peru war, and by the Thai air force against France in 1941. It became iconic in the last scene of 1933 classic "King Kong" as well. The "Corsair" despite its age, was licenced-built and largely exported, seeing plenty of action before and during WW2.
The Nakajima E8N was the standard catapult-launched observation and artillery spotting floatplane onboard all battleships and heavy cruisers of the IJN from 1936 to 1941. The type saw heavy action over China and soldiered on until the battle of Midway, before being sidelined. It was reliable, versatile, sturdy enough to be used as a dive bomber, agile enough to dogfight, but slow and weakly armed.
The Fairey Fulmar was a British carrier-borne reconnaissance and fighter aircraft developed and manufactured by Fairey Aviation in 1939-40. Named after the northern fulmar, British Isles seabird it became one of the most used Fleet Air Arm (FAA) model during WW2. Production ceased in 1943 as the new, much more powerful Firefly came into service. Looking superficially to the underpowered RAF Fairey Battle, the Fulmar never had any chance to compete as a fighter against the Bf 109, but still scored many victories and played many important roles until gradually replaced as a fighter by the Sea Hurricane, Martlet and Seafire, and as a general purpose model by the Firefly and later the Firebrand.
The Yokosuka B4Y, also called Navy Type 96 Carrier Attack Bomber was the specialized torpedo bomber of the IJN, and last biplane of that type before the arrival of the B5N "Kate". Introduced in servive from 1936, it equipped all IJN aircraft carriers and was still in use by 1943 in China, in second line and training units. The B4Y replaced the Mitsubishi B2M2 as the last operational biplane by the IJN. It was known by the Allies as "Jean".
The Mitsubishi A5M (first flight 1935) was the first Imperial Japanese Navy monoplane fighter, derived from the Ka-14 gullwings prototype. It soon appeared to have outstanding performances and was adopted as the A5M1, seeing combat debut in China. The A5M2 and A5M4 mostly served in China when WW2 broke out, but also in the home island and some pacific outposts. It was copied by the Army with the Ki-27 "Nate" and was replaced from 1940 by the legendary A6M "Zero".
With 90 built and exported also to Argentina, Peru and Chile, the Fairey Seal was a naval plane usable with undercarriage or floats, derived from the Fairey IIIF. It operated from the deck of all British aircraft carriers before its replacement by the Swordfish in 1936-38. The last one still trained pilots in 1943.
The Aichi D1A/D2A "Susie" was a reliable, modern dive bomber biplane in service with the IJN from 1935 to 1940 (1942 with Mandchukuo). It was the direct predecessor of the D3A "Val" monoplane of WW2 fame, and still served in many units in China while replaced in the fleet from 1940. Two models were developed, the D1A1 and D1A2, mostly used in China.
Rarely fighters in history had been so hard-pressed in desperate situations and proved up to the task than the Grumman Wildcat in 1942-43. When the F4F-3 was chosen for production after a long development going back to 1937, there was a fighter neither pretty nor supremely agile, but it was sturdy yet light and reliable. From 1941 to 1945 it became a staple of USN and Fleet Air arm naval fighters even though better models appeared in between.
The Nakajima A4N was the main Japanese naval biplane fighter during the 1937 Sino-Japanese war and until the arrival of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero in 1941. It fought alongside its precedessor the A5M "claude", which was a monoplane, and was still operating in 1940 from many bases throughout China.
Fairey Aviation became as indispensable to the British Naval Aviation as Grumman was to the USN or Mitsubishi to the IJN: Probably its most bespoke model was not the Swordfish, but one model going back to 1917: The legendary Fairey III. Derived from the Campania, through its various iterations (A to F), the Fairey III made the near-impossible feat of staying active until WW2 and generating a tree of new models, including the Gordon, Seal, Swordfish and its successors.
The #Macchi M3 and its fighter variant, the M5, were an important part of the Italian involvement in the Adriatic campaign of WWI. Derived from a captured Austro-Hungarian Lohner, the M3 and M5 soon appeared as among the best entente naval fighters of the war. The name Macchi was soon associated with excellent seaplanes and its Schneider Cup rivalry with Supermarine. The M5 was also tested by the USN and USMC, and on it, Charles Hammann received the first Medal of Honor awarded to any United States naval aviator. #ww1 https://bit.ly/3nD05L5.
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 ?
|AAS||Amphibious Assault Ship|
|AEW||Airbone early warning|
|AFV||Armored Fighting Vehicle|
|AMGB||armoured motor gunboat|
|APC||Armored Personal Carrier|
|ASMD||Anti Ship Missile Defence|
|ASWRL||/// rocket launcher|
|ATW||ahead thrown weapon|
|AWACS||Airborne warning & control system|
|BLR||Breach-loading, Rifled (gun)|
|Cal||Caliber or ".php"|
|CIC||Combat Information Center|
|C-in-C||Commander in Chief|
|CIWS||Close-in weapon system|
|CE||Compound Expansion (engine)|
|Ch||Chantiers ("Yard", FR)|
|CMB||Coastal Motor Boat|
|CNO||Chief of Naval Operations|
|COB||Compound Overhad Beam|
|CODAG||Combined Diesel & Gas|
|COGAG||Combined Gas and Gas|
|COSAG||Combined Steam & Gas|
|CRCR||Same, connecting rod|
|CTL||constructive total loss|
|CTOL||Conv. Take off & landing|
|CVS||// ASW support|
|DASH||Drone ASW Helicopter|
|EOC||Elswick Ordnance Co.|
|ESM||Electronic support measure|
|FCS||Fire Control System|
|fps||Feet Per Second|
|GPMG||General Purpose Machine-gun|
|GUPPY||Greater Underwater Prop.Pow.|
|HCDA||// Direct Acting|
|HCDCR||// connecting rod|
|HDA||// direct acting|
|HDAC||// acting compound|
|HDAG||// acting geared|
|HDAR||// acting reciprocating|
|HDML||Harbor def. Motor Launch|
|HF/DF||// Directional Finding|
|HMS||Her Majesty Ship|
|HNC||Horizontal non-condensing hp|
|HRCR||// connecting rod|
|HS(E)||Horizontal single (expansion)|
|IDA||Inverted direct acting|
|IFF||Identification Friend or Foe|
|KNC||// non cemented|
|LCAC||// Air Cushion|
|LFC||// Flak (AA)|
|LSC||Landing ship, support|
|LSF||// Fighter (direction)|
|LSS||// Stern chute|
|MA/SB||motor AS boat|
|MTB||Motor Torpedo Boat|
|HMG||Heavy Machine Gun|
|MCM(V)||Mine countermeasure Vessel|
|NBC/ABC||Nuc. Bact. Nuclear|
|OPV||Offshore Patrol Vessel|
|PDMS||Point Defence Missile System|
|psi||pounds per square inch|
|PVDS||Propelled variable-depth sonar|
|RCR||return connecting rod|
|rpg||Round per gun|
|SAM||Surface to air Missile|
|SAR||Search Air Rescue|
|SSBN||Ballistic Missile sub.Nuclear|
|SOSUS||Sound Surv. System|
|SPR||simple pressure horiz.|
|SLBM||Sub.Launched Ballistic Missile|
|spf||steam paddle frigate|
|STOVL||Short Take off/landing|
|SUBROC||Sub.Fired ASW Rocket|
|t||ton, long (short in bracket)|
|TACAN||Tactical Air Nav.|
|UDT||Underwater Demolition Team|
|UHF||Ultra High Frequency|
|VDE||/ double expansion|
|VDS||Variable Depth Sonar|
|VIC||/ inverted compound|
|VLF||Very Low Frequency|
|VQL||/ quadruple expansion|
|VSTOL||Vertical/short take off/landing|
|VTE||/ triple expansion|
|VTOL||Vertical take off/landing|
|VSE||/ Simple Expansion|
|BuShips||Bureau of Ships|
|DBM||German Navy League|
|DNC||Directorate of Naval Construction|
|EEZ||Exclusive Economic Zone|
|FAA||Fleet Air Arm|
|FNFL||Free French Navy|
|MDAP||Mutual Def.Assistance Prog.|
|MSA||Maritime Safety Agency|
|RAF||Royal Air Force|
|RAN||Royal Australian Navy|
|RCN||Royal Canadian Navy|
|R&D||Research & Development|
|RNZN||Royal New Zealand Navy|
|USSR||Union of Socialist Republics|
|UN||United Nations Org.|
|USN||United States Navy|