Most 'Underrated' Aircraft of WW2?

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Airman 1st Class
Apr 11, 2007
Following from the excellent question posed by Lucky13, I'd like to know what aircraft people think has received a raw deal.

A number of the polls here have argued over the worst aircraft, sometimes basing their views on dated information, or information passed down from those with prejudiced views during the war.

For me it has to be the Buffalo and P-36 Mohawk.

The Buffalo because of its excellent service for the Finns, and the fact that it did actually provide a commendable stop-gap service in Singapore (after reading Buffalos over Singapore) I really admire the pilots and the aircraft for what they achieved DESPITE all the difficulties. Most of the negative views seem to be based on Midway being extrapolated across the board.

And the same for the Mohawk (over Burma it did sterling service, despite the circumstances).

There must be other aircraft that look cr*p on paper but then turned out to have achieved more than one could expect.
Brewster Buffalo maybe? Flown by the Finns they scored quite a few kills.....

"In Finland, the Brewsters enjoyed their greatest success. The planes did not arrive in time for the Winter War, but their impact in the Continuation War was remarkable. The plane was never referred to as the Buffalo in Finland; it was known simply as the Brewster, or sometimes by the nickname Taivaan helmi ("Sky Pearl") or Pohjoisten taivaiden helmi ("Pearl of the Northern Skies"). The 44 Brewsters used by the FAF received the serial numbers BW-351 to BW-394. Other nicknames were Pylly-Valtteri ("Butt-Walter"), Amerikanrauta ("American hardware" or "American car") and Lentävä kaljapullo ("flying beer-bottle"). It appears the workmanship of the Finnish airframes was also better than those produced later; this was a common phenomenon as the aircraft factories were manned by an unskilled work force after the start of World War II.

Brewster XF2A-1 prototype, similar to the F2A-1 sold to the Finnish Air ForceThe Brewster was regarded as being very easy to fly and many Finnish pilots commented that it was a "gentleman's plane" while the Messerschmitt Bf 109 (also used by the FAF) was "a killing machine." Brewsters were also popular within the FAF because of their long range and endurance, and their good maintenance record. This was due in part to FAF mechanics, who solved a problem plaguing the Wright Cyclone engine by inverting one of the piston rings in each cylinder, thus enhancing the engine reliability.

In the end, the Brewster gained a reputation as one of the most successful fighting aircraft ever flown by the Finnish Air Force. In service during 1941-1945, the Brewsters were credited with 496 Soviet and German aircraft destroyed, against the loss of 19 Brewsters: a victory ratio of 26:1. However, the substantiation of this claim on German and Soviet records is so far incomplete, and all claims have not been managed to be connected on actual losses (as of 2006).

During the Continuation War, Lentolaivue 24 (Fighter Squadron 24) was equipped with the B-239s until May 1944, when the Brewsters were transferred to Hävittäjälentolaivue 26 (Fighter Squadron 26). Most of the pilots of Lentolaivue 24 were Winter War combat veterans and the squadron achieved total of 459 kills with B-239s, while losing 15 Brewsters in combat. For example, between 25 June 1941 and 31 December 1941, LeLv 24 scored 135 kills with Brewsters at a cost of two pilots and two Brewster Buffaloes.

The top-scoring Buffalo pilot was Hans Wind, with 39 kills in B-239s. Wind scored 26 of his kills while flying BW-393 and Eino Luukkanen scored seven more kills with the same plane. BW-393 is credited with 41 kills in total, possibly making it the fighter aircraft with the greatest number of victories in the history of air warfare.

The top scoring Finnish ace, Ilmari Juutilainen, scored 34 of his 94 and one-half kills while flying B-239s, including 28 kills with BW-364.

Although the Buffalo was clearly obsolete in 1944, barely holding its own against Soviet fighters, with most airframes worn out, LeLv 26 pilots still scored some 35 victories against the Soviets in the summer of 1944. The last aerial victory by a Brewster against the Soviet Union was scored over the Karelian Isthmus on 17 June 1944. After Finland agreed to a truce, it was obliged to turn against its former ally, Germany, and a Brewster pilot, Lt Erik Teromaa (11 kills), claimed a Luftwaffe Stuka on October 3, 1944, during the Lapland War.

There were many other modifications to the B-239 that were made locally in Finland during its career. Some of these were the installation of pilot seat armor and replacing the single 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun with a 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun. By 1943, all except one Finnish B-239 had four 0.50" machine guns. The wing guns had 400 rounds and fuselage guns 200 rounds each. The 0.30 in (7.62 mm) had 600 rounds. In spring 1941, before reflector sights — the Finnish Väisälä T.h.m.40 sights, which were based on the Revi 3c — were installed, metric instruments were installed.

During the war, Finnish designers devised a new aircraft, the Humu based on the Brewster Buffalo, but domestically produced from cheaper materials such as plywood. Only a single prototype was built, as the plane was clearly obsolete in 1943 and deliveries of Messerschmitt Bf 109s filled the needs of fighter squadrons.

The last flight made by the Buffalo in Finnish service was on 14 September 1948. Besides the Humu prototype, the hood and fin (with 41 kills) of BW-393 survive in a museum. The BW-372 is displayed today in NAS Pensacola's aviation museum, restored in Finnish colours."
I feel the A-20, P-39 and Hurricane are underrated. But it's still rather positive because these belonged to the winning side.
The story is quite different for the Italian or German aircraft. For Germany alone, I have the Me 163, Ba 349, Bf 110C, He 111H, Ju 87, Bf 109G and He 177 to think off.

If this was a poll I would go for the Komet.
I feel the A-20, P-39 and Hurricane are underrated. But it's still rather positive because these belonged to the winning side.
The story is quite different for the Italian or German aircraft. For Germany alone, I have the Me 163, Ba 349, Bf 110C, He 111H, Ju 87, Bf 109G and He 177 to think off.

If this was a poll I would go for the Komet.

The German plane that I would go for isn't on your list, the Do217, in my mind second only to the Mossie as a medium bomber, well ahead of the B25 B26 and Pe2 in my book.
It was active in all parts of the world, could hold its own against the best planes that were put against it, plus it was one of the first planes to use guided weapons with some significant results. But no one ever seems to give it the credit it deserves.
Well, I wasn't aware that the Do 217 is considered a bad aircraft. It's a damn good bomber with good armament, speed and bomb load. It could also carry Hs 293s and Fritz-Xs.
So I wouldn't consider it underrated. But perhaps it depends on what you've read about it.

I know that the Do 17 is considered a rather bad bomber although it performed very well until taken out of service.
When thinking of heavy night fighters I think that the p-61 blackwidow would be just as heavy as the Do 217 and that did very well out in the Pacific
Planes that have gotten a raw historical deal - in no particular order:

P-36 Mohawk
A-20 Havoc/Boston
P-61 BlackWidow
Me 109
Me 109G
"Other late Italian fighters"
Lagg 5
Lagg 7
Vultee Vengeance
Will update this list as other aircraft are listed
Too heavy, too slow, and not easy to fly. It was too much of a conventional bomber.

The P-61 did well in the Pacific? I can imagine, given their opposition. In Europe, the P-61 was rather a disappointment. Moderator Erich likes to mention how they completely failed to intercept the Stukas.


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