Size: 41 foot 4 inch
Wing Span: 57 foot 10 inches
Speed: 320 MPH
Guns: 4 x 20 mm, 4 x Browning .50 inches (12.7 mm).
Bombs: 8 × RP-3″60 LB” (27 KG) rockets,2× 250 lb bombs,1× British 1 inch torpedos,1× Mark 13 torpedos
The Beaufighter although sounding French is actually British. It was first made in May 1940 and built till 1946. It was used to bomb Berlin and German factories, it was also a heavy fighter and could bomb and protect itself without an escort. With torpedos it could be used to attack enemy ships.
There was one Beaufighter that stayed on a farm in Australia then was taken to a museum in Camden airport. It is Beaufighter Mk.XXI A8–186, which was built in Australia in 1945, and saw service with No. 22 Squadron RAAF at the very end of World War 2.
The Red Baron was Germany’s top ace of the first world war, and shot down at least 80 planes. The ‘von’ in his name means he was a noble, and that is why he is the Red Baron. Like other nobles he was in the cavalry at the start of WWI, but he realised the cavalry weren’t going to be doing any fighting, and decided that the air force was the place where there would be a chance to win glory.
His first plane was an Albatros C3, and he was a good enough pilot that he was chosen to be in the new Fighter Squadron 2 (‘Jasta 2’). His brother Lothar was also a pilot. Lothar shot down 40 planes. He was a show-off pilot who took risks in combat, but Manfred was very careful and made sure he attacked when he had the advantage. Still, his brother lived while Manfred got killed in the war.
Manfred liked to have a silver cup made when he shot down a plane. He eventually had 60 cups – then there was not enough silver left in Germany to waste on cups so he stopped. He won the Blue Max which was like Germany’s Victoria Cross (he is wearing it in the picture). All these kills were made while he was flying Albatros planes. He became commander of the squadron in January 1917 and decided to paint his plane red – which is why he’s the Red Baron!
By June 1917 he was in charge of a much bigger squadron of planes. This was known by the Allies as his “Flying Circus”, because so many of the planes were brightly-coloured. Manfred flew Albatros planes – C3, then D2, then D3 and D5 – until July 1917 when he was shot down. He was badly wounded, but managed to land the plane behind German lines. He went to hospital but came back to his squadron against doctor’s orders.
This is the Red Baron’s plane after he was shot down in July 1917
From July onwards he started flying the Fokker triplane because it was more manoeuvrable and better than the Albatros. He got another 19 kills in his Fokker, before April 1918. On 21st April he was shot down and killed near the Somme: some people say it was a shot from a soldier on the ground that killed him. His plane landed OK but he was found sitting in it, dead. The Allies buried him with full military honours – there is a video of it here.
Here is a film of some soldiers looking at the remains of his plane; there isn’t much of it left because everyone was taking bits as souvenirs!
Size: s5 foot 7 inch
Wing Span: 46 foot
Speed: 223 MPH
Guns: 4 x .303 Browning machine guns
The Blackburn Roc was a naval plane used by the Americans. The Roc only had four back guns. But it was very bad so failed as a combat plane and just ended its days as a target tug.
Size: 29 foot 9 inch
Wing Span: 39 foot 4 inch
Speed: 331 MPH
Guns: 2 x 20-mm cannon, 2 x 7.7-mm machine guns
These aircraft were used to take down American ships and aircraft carriers. They worked for the Japanese, they were used in the battle of Pearl Harbour and Midway.
Pearl Harbour was basically a slaughter house for the Americans because they lost 2,335 servicemen and 1,143 wounded and 8 battleships were sunk. The Japanese only lost 65 men and they attacked without declaring war.
Size: 18 foot 11 inches
Wing Span: 23 foot 7 inches
Speed: 115 MPH
Guns: 2 x 7.92 mm LMG machine guns
The Fokker Dr.1 Triplane was a German fighter plane and one major successful one was the Fokker.f1 102 and it was flown by Manfred von Richthofen also known as the RED BARON. He shot many planes down but he finally got shot down by a Sopwith camel.
George Guynemer was a shy young Frenchman who became the nation’s favourite hero – partly because he didn’t like all the attention and as very modest. He began flying in 1915, in Nieuport 11s then Nieuport 17s. By the autumn of 1916 he had 18 victories, and had just spent 3 months recovering from being shot down with 2 bullets in his arm and one which cut his face but fortunately only skimmed him. By now his squadron had been equipped with the new Spad VII and he gained 7 more kills in just 3 weeks in November. His best day was in May 1917 when he got 4 planes in a day. On that day he got 3 of them in two and a half minutes! Guynemer’s Spad 7 was called “Vieux Charles” (Old Charles); it is now in the air-space museum at Paris Le Bourget airport. Here is a picture of it.
By August 1917 he was France’s hero, flying the Spad XIII which had been made by Spad when Guynemer wrote to them telling them what was wrong with the Spad 7! The shy boy (still only 22) had 54 kills, but though he was now ill he would not rest. He disappeared on a mission in September. His plane was never found; the Germans claimed to have found his body and given him a hero’s burial – but no-one is quite sure where; and Frenchmen told their children “he has flown so high he couldn’t come down again”.
Here is Guynemer in his Spad.
This is how the New York Times reported his death – even in America he was a hero.
Size: 20 foot
Wing Span: 25 foot 8 inches
Speed: 132 MPH
Guns: 1 x 0.303 Vickers
The Spad is a very maneuverable plane so you could dive and climb with out damaging wings, 2 of the most famous french aces flew it they were called Rene Fonck who got 75 kills which is only 5 less than the RED BARON and George Guynemer who got 54 kills but was probably the best of all the french aces.
Size: 18 foot 9 inches
Wing Span: 28 foot
Speed: 117 MPH
Guns: 2 x 0.303 Vickers machine guns
Bombs: 4 x 25 LB bombs
The Sopwith camel was a very hard plane to fly because if you turned right the way the engine was going you would go very fast down and nearly crash, if you turn left the way the engine wasn’t going then you would turn quite slowly side ways or go up. It was also very easy to go into a spin and crash.
The Sopwith is a Recon plane [a scout plane] and it shot down the RED BARON, the red baron was a mighty fighter pilot.
Size: 74 Foot
Wing Span: 103 Foot
Speed: 182 MPH
Guns: 13 5-inch Browning machine guns
Bombs:8,000 LB in various combinations
The Flying Fortress was (like its name says) heavily armed for defence. It was the main American bomber on bombing raids over Germany. The 10 crew were the bomb aimer, the navigator/front gunner, pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer/top gunner, wireless operator, belly gunner, waist gunner (one on each side), tail gunner.
Size: 39 foot 9 inches
Wing Span: 49 foot 2 inches
Guns: 2 vickers K machine guns
Bombs: 1×1620-LB torpedo or 4×450-LB bombs or 6×250-LB bombs
The Barracuda was us a lot by the Fleet Air Arm [FAA] and could carry mines and rockets as well. 42 Barracudas attacked the TIRPITZ [the sister ship of the BISMARCK ] in Norway in 1944 and sunk it.
You can see a film on the attack on the Tirpitz here.
Size: 36 foot 1 inch
Wing Span: 45 foot
Speed: 232 MPH
Guns: 3×7.9-mm Machine guns
The Stuka was a Dive Bomber. What a Dive Bomber does is it fly’s straight down and drops the bomb and pulls straight up. While going down the Stuka makes a horrific siren.
Size: 39 foot 8.5 inches
Wing Span: 53 foot 4.75 inches
Speed: 349 MPH
Guns: 4×7.9-mm machine guns; 2×20-mm machine guns Fr cannon
The Bf 110 was a heavy fighter and it was a bomber escort and it was faster than the Bf 109. But it wasn’t very manoeuvre and it was only a bit slower than the first Hawker Hurricane.
Size: 31 foot 5 inches
Wing Span: 40 foot
Speed: 328 MPH
Guns: 8 .303-inch machine guns
The Hawker Hurricane was getting replaced by the Spitfire but they kept using it in the Battle of Britain. The Hurricane was so big it was slower than the Spitfire.
Size: 29 foot 11 inches
Wing span: 36 foot 10 inches
Guns: 8 .303 machine guns
The Supermarine Spitfire quickly replaced the hawker Hurricane as the best RAF fighter plane. The pilots liked it because it could manoeuvre very well and was very fast.