Most effective planes of the early war years

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Apr 23, 2005
We spend a lot of time and effort discussing which was the best fighter, bomber whatever of the war and the subject tends to drift towards the latter part of the war. P47N, P51K, Spit 14, 190D-9 etc.

I would like peoples views on the most effective planes from the outbreak of war in 1939 up to but NOT including Dunkirk.

So remember that no spits are included, the Hurricane was less powerful for fuel and were earlier versions. 109's are almost certainly armed with 4 x LMG as D's E0 and E1's were the most common.

If in doubt consider this to be planes that were in service and action in Europe before Dunkirk.

I am interested in Single Engine Fighters, Twin engined fighter, single engined bombers and twin engined bombers. The most effective in each category.

Idea's for starters.
How does the De520 compare to a Curtis Hawk, 109E1 or a Hurricane.
Is the Fokker G1 better than a 110, How does the Potez63 stack up
Is the Ju87 the best single engine bomber . It came unstuck in the BOB but before then?

All ideas and comments are welcome
Definately the Ju-87 and He-111 as bombers. Their effectiveness on any field of battle cannot be disputed.

RAF 1st Squadron did a pretty impressive job in France with their Hurricanes, they even retrofitted armour to the cockpit which I believe was in all other Hurricanes thereafter.

The combat reports of the early years have to be taken in light of Allied confusion caused by the shock and awe of the blitzkrieg.
I would agree with FBJ on that one. The Germans learned alot during the Spanish Civil War and took the lessons learned and put them to good practice. By the time they had started taking Europe, their pilots were veterans and experten.
I have to agree, and add on...

The Ju-87, and I think its obvious why.....

The Bf-109 came outta Spain finely tuned and overwhelmed EVERYTHING else in the sky for what? 1 1/2 years??? German Aces from Spain facing off against Green Brit boys??? Where's the sport in that?

And a twist...

The Japanese A6M Zeke... Complete domination of the Pacific for 2 years... Japanese had aces in 1939 against the Russians... Some with as many as 30 kills by the time America entered the War... What a combo..

Give credit where credit is due...... The men who designed these things of greatness.... What vision...
Sorry folks but the A6M is out as it wasn't ordered into production until July 1940. 15 Pre production prototypes were used in Manchuria which is still a bit late. The use of Pre Production Prototypes in action was a common practice in Japan.
In fact only just over 400 were in service at Pearl Harbour.
Remember your now trying to pit the Ki27 with fixed undercarrige and 2xLMG against much faster planes with up to 8xLMG, 1x20 and 4xLMG, or 4xLMG on a Me109.
Also remember that the Japs lost in Manchuria even in the air, it wasn't a one way street for them. The 153 and I16 were more than equal to the task.
If "early" in this thread is defined as up to but not including Dunkirk, then we are talking about a year and a half prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

What about the Ju-88 which entereed service with the Luftwaffe in September of 1939? It may not have had the greatest impact on the Nazi war effort by mid 1940 but was a superb aircraft nonetheless.
Direct fuel injection was a considerable advantage in the early years.
The Bf-109 E is therefore my favourite, closely followed by the Bf-110 (remember, it had a great loss to kill ratio prior to BoB) and Stuka. The Zero is great for the japanese, as is the Hurricane for the British and the I-16 for the soviets (actually the I-16 did very well in spain until they introduced their Bf-109..). Particularly the japanese G4M Betty is quite an impressive medium bomber in this timeframe...
The spit was in action from the begining of the war! Why is it out? Anyway mine are:
Bf 109 E, Dewoitine D 520, Curtiss Hawk-this plane gave a really good account of itself-a German ace who's name i don't recall was shot down by one, and a small number of these prevailed over a larger force of 109 D s . Heinkel He-111, Stuka, Hurricane.
yes i think the spit Mk.I should be included as she was in service before dunquirk.........

and i think this's really between the hurricane and -109E if the spit's excluded...........

and of course are we forgetting the wellington?? she was in service but didn't see and major action before dunquirk, but very few british planes did.........
How about the Betty Bomber (G4M-1)? It did run wild in the first few years of the Pacific War until it was found out it was a "Flying Cigar."
cheddar cheese said:
How about the Handley Page Hampden? Great plane.

I agree ;)


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The Zero didn't meet the Spitfire until 1943, over the skies of Burma. It's strange that a lot of people seem to think they met before then.

And, damn it, the Mohawk has to have mention!

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