Next year will be 80 years since the D-Day invasion commenced at Normandy, one of the largest invasions of any war in modern history. While most Americans who know about the day are aware of the heroic assault by infantry and mobile artillery on the beaches, as well as the naval bombardment preceding the attack, what is often overlooked about that D-Day was the role the Air Force played. Also see: The 16 Biggest Military Invasions of the Last Century.
After the invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower toured the Normandy beaches. He remarked, “I wouldn’t be here without air supremacy.” The crucial role of air power was evident through reconnaissance, cargo transport, tactical and strategic bombing, as well as aerial combat, granting a decisive advantage.
World War II spurred rapid military aircraft technological progress. From jet propulsion to radar, pivotal advancements emerged between 1939 and 1945, many of which are now taken for granted.
Using data from the U.S. Air Force, as well as multiple aviation publications, 24/7 Wall St. identified the most-produced military aircraft of WWII. Over 10,000 units of each plane on this list were manufactured for the war effort, rolling off assembly lines in Germany, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Initially, Japan and Germany held air superiority, using it to eliminate foes and outmaneuver Allied aircraft. The Japanese “Zero” fighter boasted a 12-to-1 kill ratio, while the German Focke-Wulf Fw-190 excelled against weaker Allied counterparts. (Here is a look at 13 massive air battles that changed world history.)
But this dynamic shifted from 1942 onwards. Advanced British and American fighters, like the Spitfire and P-51 Mustang, tilted the balance. These aircraft secured vital victories, escorting bombers and aiding troop advancement, culminating in Japan’s unconditional surrender. (Here is a look at the cities destroyed by the USA in World War II.)
While cargo planes played a significant WWII role, transporting troops and materials in Europe and the Pacific, fighter and bomber aircraft saw greater production. Consequently, no transport planes rank among the top WWII aircraft.
Click here to see the most produced military planes during WWII.
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