World Warr II stimulated another divergence in the aeroplane’s development. The few biplanes surviving in front-line units quickly disappeared, while many of the advances in late-1930s civil aviation were hurriedly adapted for military use. Armament had improved little in the interwar period, but heavily-armed fighters soon predominated. High-speed bombers required efficient, power-operated turrets for their defensive weaponry, and bomb capacities and range also increased. Flying boats again proved valuable for patrol and anti-submarine work. Ground-attack, a role that had evolved at the end of World War I, assumed greater significance as control of airspace over a battlefield became vital. The aircraft carrier played a prominent part in the war
at sea. Following initial experiments in the 1930s, the jet engine became a practical proposition and the first jet-propelled fighters and bombers appeared towards the end of the war.

Bristol Beaufighter

Bristol's pugnacious Type 156 Beaufighter was a heavy two-seater,…

Yokosuka Ohka

Essentially a piloted flying bomb, the romantically named Ohka…

Mitsubishi A6M Zero

The Japanese Navy's agile A6M Reisen "Zero" fighter thoroughly…

Heinkel He 178

The Heinkel He 178 was the world's first aeroplane to fly purely…

Gloster Meteor

Because of the surprising tardiness of the US's development…