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August’s Poll – WW2’s Most influential Warplane – The results!

So, it turned out to be a very close run affair, perhaps surprisingly, not between the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt BF109 E which we at War Stories Towers, thought it would be between! Want to see who won? Scroll down below to see the results.


1. Avro Lancaster – The Lancaster was THE British Bomber of the second world war – no other bomber in the British fleet could hold a candle to it. Perhaps remembered for its most famous operation Chastise (the Dambusting mission) the Lancasters flew over 156,000 raids, mostly at night, dropping over 600,000 tons of explosives. A grim tally, added with the loss of over 50,000 bomber aircrew, the benefits of area bombing are still hotly contested today. However, we thoroughly agree with the poll, this plane, we feel, was the most influential in the Second World War, more so than the Spit or the BF109.

2. Hawker Hurricane – Perhaps a surprising second place, but a result we entirely agree with. The Hurricane is often over-shadowed by the most famous Spitfire, but in the Battle of Britain, it shot down over 50% of all Germans planes, more than any other British aircraft AND ground forces put together. So without the Hurricane, would we have won the Battle of Britain? And if we had lost…would we have lost the entire war?

3. Supermarine Spitfire – Coming in 3rd but still perhaps the most iconic plane in the entire Second World War? The Spitfire achieved 5,988 kills in the Second World War – just more than it’s American Counterpart, the Mustang, who tallied up at 5599 despite coming in much later in the war.

4. P51 Mustang – The Mustang entered service in 1942 and was designed in just 120 days! It eventually benefited from having the Spitfire’s Merlin Engine installed which meant it could fly higher, faster and for longer distances. This enabled it to escort the B17’s on daylight bombing runs, helping to stem their previous heavy losses. The Mustang was one of the most effective Allied planes in the entire conflict and it’s powerful airframe made it effective at ground attack as well as air combat.

5. Boeing B17 Flying Fortress – So everyone remembers Memphis Belle, one of the first B-17’s to survive 25 combat missions. Why was that an achievement?. Well the US decided the only bombing missions that were suitable were daylight ones, consequently their losses were horrific. Over 12,500 were built and they were bristling with anti-aircraft armament. Sadly, their bomb weight capacity was extremely limited, it could carry 3,500 lbs, the smaller Mosquito could carry 4000lbs. However, some say their contribution to the war was significant.

6. Messerschmitt BF109 E – The arch enemy of the Allies in the Sky. The ME 109 apparently shot down between nearly 20-30K allied planes in the war – the most of any plane in the entire conflict. It made its public debut at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 and by the time the war ended over 30,000 were built – accounting for 47% of ALL German air production. However, despite it being having better climb rates than Allied planes, it did have its faults, it was especially hard to fly for inexperienced pilots with over 10% being lost due to take off and landing accidents.

The Rest – surprisingly, none of these received ANY votes. It’s clear that European conflict planes where the ones that got the most publicity despite being second best technologically speaking to planes such as the B29.

7. Mitsubishi AM6 Zero – When the Zero was first introduced the Allies had to play catch-up as it was considered to be the best long range Aircraft carrier launched plane in service. Nearly 11,000 were built and it had great capabilities, out turning and climbing even the highly manoeuvrable Spitfire. Without this plane, could Pearl Harbour have happened? A question we will never be able to answer, but for sure it’s impact for the Japanese was huge, enabling them to strike at distant targets and often bewilder enemy commanders.

8. Boeing B29 Super Fortress – Designed as high altitude bomber this revolutionary plane had state of the art equipment including a pressurised cabin and remote control turrets. The design costs were eye watering, $3 Billion (about the equivalent of $48 Billion today) which was more than the entire Manhattan Project. Talking of which, the B-29 dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and so arguably could be billed as the most influential plane in the Second World War…

9. IL-2 Shturmovik – Most people don’t know but this plane was the most produced piloted aircraft in history, with over 42,300 being built. According to the Soviets it was brilliant as a ground attack aircraft and in the Battle of Kursk these planes reportedly destroyed 70 German tanks in just 20 minutes – however, another report says the tank losses were 34. Whatever the truth, Stalin said that these planes were as important as ‘bread and air’ to the Red Army.

10. Focke-Wulf 190 – This plane, according to the German pilots who flew it, was the best fighter of the Second World War. At low level it had more firepower and better manoeuvrability that the BF109 but it struggled at higher altitudes against Allied fighters. However, its powerful engine allowed it to carry bombs and therefore be used as a ground attack platform as well as being a particularly strong anti-bomber fighter due to its thick armour. The design developed but as the war drew on it became difficult for Germany to produce the newer models in sufficient numbers to make an impact.

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