7. C-47 Dakota
The C-47 Dakota was the military version of the Douglas DC-3, a civilian airliner that was developed in the late 1930s. It was extensively used by the Allies during World War II after the design was strengthened and a cargo door added to get it ready for use with the military.
Huge numbers of Dakotas were used in Europe for the invasion of Normandy, Operation Market Garden and Operation Vassity to drop paratroopers or tow gliders. When not in use for this role it was used to transport supplies, usually gasoline, to the front lines. During the Battle of the Bulge they were used to drop supplies on the besieged 101st Airborne and other units at Bastogne.
The C-47 was not armored and did not have self sealing fueltanks so even light FLAK was a serious danger to this low flying slow transport plane.
The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular, those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma, where the C-47 (and its naval version, the R4D) made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese army.
The C-47 was also used to make the difficult and treacherous flight from India to China throughout the Pacific war. Variations of the C-47 continued to be flown after the war and long into the Vietnam War until around 1967.
6. Aircraft Carrier
It was the aircraft carrier that changed naval combat during World War II, shifting the focus from surface engagements between Battlesships to airplanes flying hundreds of km to throw a bomb or launch a torpedo. The superior range, flexibility and effectiveness of the carrier-launched aircraft was the driving factor in this change having a longer range and higher precision than the traditional naval guns.
In November 1940 the Britihs carrier HMS Illustrious launched a raid on the Italian Fleet at anchor at their base in Taranto, causing significant damage and incapacitated three of the six battleships at a cost of two bi-plane torpedo bombers. This method of attack was then copied and refined by the Japanese in their raid on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, though the Aircraft Carriers, their prime objective, were not in port and escaped destruction.
The ability to project power has since been the hallmark of the Aircraft Carrier but the vulnerability of carriers has been demonstrated in 1940 when German battle cruisers sank the HMS Glorious. Later, during the Battle for Midway in the summer of 1942, a Japanese carrier was sunk by a U.S. submarine.
5. Supermarine Spitfire
The Spitfire is most likely the most famous aircraft from the World War II era. It was the king of low-altitudes, it will be known forever as the plane that turned the tide in the Battle of Britain.
It’s main foe in that battle was the 109, the Spitfire made the Germans stay low with their bombers, which was not ideal for the 109 but it was perfect for the Spitfire.
In the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire gained fame by having the highest victory-to-loss ratio among British aircraft. Bob Tuck (27 kills), Johnnie Johnson (34 kills) and Douglas Bader (20 Kills) were the ace fighters in that battle.
The Spitfire was also the most produced fighter for the British and was continuously produced throughout the war. (ok)
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