Special Report

A History of WW2 in 25 Airplanes

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. The United States produced more than 300,000 airplanes in World War II. Below are 25 of the most celebrated types, most of them still flying today.

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.

This year, the 70th anniversary of Allied victory in World War II, warbirds are flying demonstrations in towns and cities across the country, including a flyover of the National Mall in Washington D.C. on May 8. 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.     

—The Editors

The 25: J-3 Cub/L-4 Grasshopper PT-17/N2S Stearman T-6 Texan AT-11 Kansan P-40 Warhawk 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 


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