Best Fighter Designer?

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Airman 1st Class
Nov 8, 2005
Willy Messerschmitt, Kurt Tank, Alexander Kartveli, Reginald Mitchell, Jiro Horikoshi, Alexander Yakovlev, Sidney Camm, Kelly Johnson, Raymond Rice, Edgar Schmued? They were all great, but I nominate Kelly Johnson as the greatest, with a very honorable mention of Reginald Mitchell.
Reginald Mitchell. Designed one fighter before cancer got him. It was a classic. Better than any other fighter it took increases in horsepower and armaments on the same basic frame (strengthened, of course). Horsepower doubled over the life of the aircraft and it stayed a viable machine.

Also believe the Spitfire was the only Allied fighter to stay in production throughout the way (F4F/FM2 may be the exception).
Johnson, Tank, Messerschmit and Mikoyan

These were the last of the solo designers. After WW2 fighter design was primarily a team effort with a chief engineer being assigned to the effort.

I give Mikoyan a lot of credit. From the Mig-1 through the Mig-17, he was under duress to produce.
I would also go for Mikoyan for what his team did all the way through to the Mig 29.
Sydney Camm as my second choice
are we just going by their WWII designs? because many on thr allied side kept designing great planes after the war to we considder those?
I would say Kurt Tank.
He always had to deal with more engineering constraints than any of his 'competitors', from the necessity to use a '2nd choice' engine to the need of engineering the aircraft to be produced in separate factories and assembled somewhere else (and this is not a small challenge, in terms of design and weight optimization).
Nevertheless, his fighters were at least on par with all the other best.

Messerschmitt always had more support and resources available (at least after the success of the 109 and after he won the battle with Udet), and the last designs were more the work of Waldemar Voigt than of Willy.

Kelly Johnson and Mikhoyan expressed their best after WWII.

Mitchell was probably the most genial, but life did not gave him the chance to develop his masterpiece nor to start a 'school': just look at the problems that Supermarine had in improving the basic spit frame and design a new model (apart of fitting a bigger engine): the 'new' spit (XIV) was a nightmare to develop and the other models (Spiteful and jets) failed the target.

Another guy who had not the chance to express his potential is Mario Castoldi of Macchi: when in competition with Mitchell for the racing seaplanes his designs were performing at least equally, when it came to design a fighter Castoldi had to deal with the sloppy Fiat radial instead of having a Merlin available. But the basic MC200 airframe was extremely competitive as soon as a decent engine was fitted (202 and 205V), and Castoldi's designs around a good engine (205N, 206, 207) were killed because the war for Italy was over.
Kurt Tank and Willy Messerschmitt would be my best two, but the other designs were also great and the aircraft that came out of those designs.
Kartveli's career also went long past WWII. Both the F-84 Thunderjet and the F-105 Thunderchief were his designs.
But Kurt Tank was unable to think with jet power as proven with his Indian and Argentinian projects

Users who are viewing this thread