"Mistakes made in peacetime constitute the greatest danger to national defense."

— Claire Lee Chennault

P-40B/E Tomahawk/Kittyhawk

While Warhawk was the official US designation for the P-40 fighter, the Soviets and the British Commonwealth used other names. The RAF used Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and E, all of which would play a key role in the CBI where they were piloted by the Flying Tigers. The shark-faced nose art of their P-40s remains among the most recognizable image of any individual combat aircraft or combat unit of World War 2.

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Ki-201 Karyū Firedragon (Me-262A-1)

The Nakajima Ki-201 Karyū was the Japanese Army’s attempt to produce a jet plane based on the German Messerschmitt Me-262. the Army Air Force were trying to perfect their design at the same time the Japanese Navy Air Force was working on the Nakajima Kikka attack plane, taking what was being learned about jet aircraft from the Kikka and applying it to a fighter design. And although both were designed by Nakajima there is no evidence of cooperation between the two teams.

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Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V

The Supermarine Spitfire was designed as the British equivalent of the Messerschmitt 109. It was was produced by Supermarine, a company that had previously built racing seaplanes, and it was this seaplane design that was used as a basis for the fighter. It had a particular elliptical wing design that gave it an added advance in maneuverability and drastically decreased air drag.

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Nakajima A6M2-N “Rufe”

The A6M2-N “Rufe” fighter was a single-crew seaplane based on the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. Constructed as an interceptor and fighter-bomber by the Nakajima company, the Rufe was hastily built as an interim aircraft while designs for a more competent floatplane (the Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu) were perfected.

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Brewster Buffalo Mk. I (Buffalo F2A)

The F2A Buffalo was already on its way out by the time the United States entered World War 2, the planes considered overweight and too cumbersome to fly. But the RAF considered them good enough for their pilots, ordering 170 of the 339Es to bolster their efforts in the tropical Far East.

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Hawker Hurricane Mk. IIB

The Hurricane fighter was built by Hawker Aircraft after the RAF asked for a low wing monoplane in response to the increasing threat from Nazi Germany in the mid 1930s. The improved Mk (Mark) IIb first took to the air in June 1940, and although it was classed as a Mk II the only difference from the earlier Mk I was that it used the Merlin XX engine, increasing the top speed to 342 mph (550 kmh) at super-high altitude of 22,000 feet.

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Ki-43-I Hayabusa “Oscar”

It was no secret that Japanese airpower ruled the skies over the Pacific at the beginning of World War II. But even with this knowledge, the appearance of a new, faster and lighter airplane caught the Allies utterly by surprise.

The new airplane was the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa “Oscar”, a brand new single-engine tactical fighter that had been in development for the past 18 months.

The Oscar came about because Japanese generals wanted a more lightweight fighter to replace the obsolete Ki-27. They were basing their decision on their recent battles in China, wanting a lighter plane for land-based army support. The designer, Hideo Itokawa was ordered to design a plane that matched the Ki-27’s maneuverability and dogfighting qualities, but in a heavier 1,000 horsepower class fighter.

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