The Truth About Our Fighter Planes

This is not a defense of American fighters; none is needed. Nor is it unqualified praise. But here are the facts which prove beyond reasonable doubt that American fighters, taken as a whole, with their equipment and armament, hold the edge of superiority in aerial combat.

While it is true that some American combat planes were deficient in armament at the beginning of the war as compared with some foreign types, it is senseless to assume that our air forces and plane manufacturers blithely continued ordering and building inadequately armed airplanes. We were simply in the same position as all of the major powers who were forced to modify their designs and equipment in the light of the lessons learned in actual combat.

In aerial warfare, as in all other forms of warfare, there is a constant jockeying on the part of the contestants to achieve an edge in the fire power, efficiency and overall performance of all types of equipment. The balance has rocked back and forth and will continue to do so for the duration.

The Hurricanes and Spitfires of today are far different aircraft from those which went into service at the beginning of the war — just as different as the P-40Es and P-40Fs now rolling off the production line and hurtling into the battle are from those originally delivered to our air forces and to the British. The same thing applies to German Messerschmitts, Jap Zeros, Boeing Flying Fortresses and all other aircraft engaged in the war.

During all of early 1942, ample evidence regarding the superiority of American combat planes, both fighters and bombers, was accumulating in the form of United Nations War Communiques, which would have prevented so many writers and speakers from going so far astray had they sought all the facts and omitted certain syndicated columns from their daily stint of reading material.

When a journalist or any other person makes a public statement in critical times such as these, comparing the performance of an American combat type with that of an allegedly superior performance of a foreign fighting plane, he should be certain to exercise the fairness and honesty to determine whether the performance figures he cites for the American type are gleaned from an old clipping or obsolete directory and perhaps quite different from the actual performance of the particular fighting plane in question. And he should remember that published performance figures do not reflect the latest accomplishments of the design.

American fighter planes have undergone the severest and probably the most inaccurate criticism. So to dispel the confusion which exists in the comparisons of type, the individual types will be referred to by their full designations. Of the American fighter planes, the Curtiss P-40 series have been produced in the largest numbers to date. The B and C models are called by the British the Tomahawk, the D and E the Kittyhawk, and the P-40F the Warhawk. Next is the Bell P-39, known as the Airacobra. Many thousands of both of these fighters have been produced.

The "Flying Tigers" of the famous American Volunteer Group in China were largely equipped with Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks. Up to the time it was disbanded on July 4, 1942, the AVG shot down 218 Jap planes with a loss of only 84 of its own planes. These figures include only verified losses of both sides. Aircraft destroyed on the ground in bombing or strafing attacks were not taken into account.

During the month of August, 1942, the War Department kept tabs on all the aerial engagements in which P-39s and P-40s participated. They downed their adversaries at ratios of 5 to 1 and 3 to 1 respectively.

Lt Gen Henry H Arnold, Commander of the Army Air Forces, reported on Aug 15, 1942, that 1,110 Army planes had met 1,459 Japanese aircraft in aerial combat and had shot down 190 of the Jap planes with a loss of 104 American aircraft. The answer is obvious — such a record could not have been established had not American airmen and their flying equipment enjoyed a clear and definite superiority over those flown by the Nipponese airmen.

Two other American fighter types which have been delivered to the Navy and Marine air arms are the Grumman F4F Wildcat and the Brewster F2A Buffalo. After the big Solomon Islands offensive in August when United States Marines occupied the Tulagi area, the Japs attempted a counter-offensive and a fierce air and sea, battle developed on Aug 24 when our combined forces intercepted the Japanese. Associated Press correspondent Clark Lee, an eye witness, reported that 96 Jap airplanes were brought down on that day. Navy pilots accounted for 31 enemy planes. Anti-aircraft and other air units got the remainder. American losses were described as eight pilots missing.

Most significant of all was the achievement of a single carrier-based squadron which accounted for a total of 27 enemy planes. That squadron lost one pilot.

Moreover, there is now in production for the Navy a new carrier-based fighter far superior to existing types. It is the Vought-Sikorsky F4U Corsair. It is powered by a 2,000-hp Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp, which gives it a top speed in excess of 400 mph and an excellent rate of climb and altitude performance.

No attempt will be made to describe the scores of fighter aircraft which are in operation throughout the world. It is our purpose here to clear up the considerable confusion which exists through a factual description of those fighter planes of the major air forces which are significant by virtue of their outstanding performance, their numbers or the controversies which revolve around them.

First, therefore, is the Curtiss P-40 series of pursuit ships. It is a single-engine, low-wing, design with conventional retracting landing gear. It is powered by the General Motors Allison liquid-cooled V-type engine. This engine is manufactured in several types, rated at 1,150 hp and higher. Unless otherwise specified, the rated horsepower of engines will be in the amount of power available for takeoff at sea level.

The manufacturers and designers of the P-40 will admit honestly and freely that during the early stages of this war, about the time of the fall of France, the first P-40s were not adequate in performance or armament as compared with the first-line German and British fighters. No time was wasted. As quickly as the information based on certain operational experiences at the front could be transmitted to the manufacturer, it was translated into blueprint and change order. These were changes that could be made simply and quickly without retarding production, such as the addition of armor plate, bullet-resisting windshields, and self-sealing fuel tanks.

Those early Tomahawks did not enjoy a warm reception in England. There were some obvious reasons for this. The very first ones actually were not equal to the task which the British wanted them to do. There was probably something of the natural reaction felt against a strange dog in the home kennel. Furthermore, during the hectic days of the Battle of Britain the RAF had little time to study and familiarize itself with the foreign machines. The latter situation was complicated by the lack of adequate service facilities in those early days.

Consequently, the Tomahawk entered the Libyan campaign with two strikes against it. But it was soon learned that it was the only pursuit plane available in quantity that would cool properly under those extreme climatic conditions. The Australians, South Africans and New Zealanders took to the Tomahawk immediately. As the desert squadrons of the RAF acquired more and more combat experience with the Tomahawk, their reports swelled into a steady stream of praise for the American plane.

Meanwhile, the manufacturer, in cooperation with the Army Air Forces and the RAF, was busy redesigning the P-40 on the basis of the considerable new knowledge acquired from wide operational experience. This was the P-40D, a fairly radical departure from its predecessors. The fuselage cross-section was reduced, provision was made for increased armament, and an engine of greater potential power installed.

The blueprints for this model were hardly dry, however, before additional information and newer requirements made it necessary to engineer a more advanced type as quickly as possible. This resulted in the P-40E Kittyhawk which went into production in 1941, and the P-40F Warhawk which was in production early in 1942.

These two models are quite similar except that the P-40F is powered by a Rolls-Royce liquid-cooled engine which is being built in this country by the Packard Motor Company.

Before dismissing the earlier P-40, the Tomahawk, it should be remembered that they have been more than holding their own in many theaters of the war. The magnificent achievement of the American Volunteer Group in China, mentioned previously, was established with the Tomahawk, which is a design two years older than the Warhawk — and two years means a lot in the age of a fighter. The layman should also be cautioned against assuming that foreign air forces are made up largely of such superior performing aircraft as the Spitfires, Messerschmitts, Zeros and Beaufighters. It would be very enlightening and heartening for the average American to see some of the flying junk heaps which are still doing yeoman service in the RAF and the vaunted Luftwaffe.

We have no intention of minimizing or belittling the foreign air forces in comparison with our own, but it is a common mistake to assume that our own air forces are made up of a lot of inferior planes with a few good ones.

The P-40Es and Fs are armed with six .50-in-calibre machine guns, three mounted in each wing. These models have maximum speeds approaching 400 mph, but probably not exceeding it in straight and level flight. In this connection it should be noted that the P-40 can outfly the Zero by 100 mph or more in a dive, despite the fact that the Zero's maximum speed and maneuverability are greater than that of the P-40. This is due to the superior design and more rugged construction of the American plane. The Warhawk's service ceiling, that is the maximum altitude at which it can still perform effectively, is well in excess of 25,000 ft.

If this altitude performance is not as good as that of other fighters, it is not because the P-40 cannot be equipped to reach high altitudes, but primarily because it is not supposed to. The Warhawk could be modified to reach far greater altitudes by the installation of more elaborate supercharging equipment. As soon as this was done, however, one or more of the other desired characteristics of the present version would have to be sacrificed.

It is interesting to note that the British Spitfire, though able to perform at far greater maximum altitudes than the P-40, is nevertheless outperformed by the P-40 at certain medium altitudes.

There, briefly, is the case for the P-40. It is not a defense nor is it unqualified praise. It has a particular set of performance characteristics and other qualities not duplicated by any other airplane in the world. In certain respects it is superior to most other fighters. It is consistently winning victories against Jap Zeros and even the excellent German Messerschmitt 109. Much credit for these victories is due to the courage and superb training of American pilots, but do not for an instant be deluded into believing that our airmen could continue turning in such brilliant performances if their flying equipment was as inferior as certain irresponsible critics would have the American public believe.

The Bell Aircraft Company's P-39 Airacobra, although it has been in operation for a long time, is still a dark horse, as fighters go. It is a single-engine fighter equipped with a 37-mm automatic cannon. It is the world's only single-engine fighter equipped with tricycle landing gear. It possesses many other unique design features.

The most unusual feature of the Airacobra's design is the location of the engine. An Allison liquid-cooled V-type engine is mounted approximately in the center of the fuselage behind the pilot's cabin. This offers a number of advantages considered highly important in fighter plane design. It permits the pilot's cabin to be placed well forward toward the leading edge of the wing, affording maximum visibility with a minimum of obstruction to his view whether in the air or on the ground. An extension shaft from the engine runs along the bottom of the fuselage between the pilot's legs to a gear box in the nose, which drives the propeller. The propeller has a hollow hub and it is through this aperture that the muzzle of the 37-mm cannon protrudes. In addition to the automatic cannon the fighter is equipped with various combinations of machine guns. A common arrangement is two .50-calibre machine guns in each wing and two additional machine guns of .30 or .50 calibre firing through the propeller arc.

It is not enough that an airplane be able to perform well in combat. It is vastly important that it be easy to service and maintain under the most adverse conditions. The Airacobra offers some unusual advantages in this respect. The wings are attached to the fuselage at their root, by means of simple fixtures. A single set of jacks is all that is necessary for erection or disassembly, eliminating the need for an overhead hoist of any kind. If a wing or landing gear must be replaced or repaired, no crane is needed; only in removing or installing the engine is such a rig required. This greatly facilitates repair and replacement in the field.

The tricycle landing gear feature also has proven a boon to servicing and repair. The fuselage and wing remain in a level position when the craft is on the ground, providing a level platform on which servicemen may work. This is important away from regular bases where work platforms are not readily available. The location of the engine is also important from the standpoint of performance. The engine, which is the heaviest single part of a plane, is near the center of gravity of the aircraft structure. This means, in simple terms, that in sharp turns or in a pullout from a steep dive, fewer excessive strains are imposed upon the structural members of the plane.

In this connection it may be stated that American aircraft are continuing to be constructed with ruggedness, high safety factors and reserves of strength almost unbelievable to the pilots and aeronautical engineers of all other countries.

In reports of aerial combat from abroad we frequently read of pilots who are quoted as saying their adversary "exploded" or "flew to pieces" in their gun sights. This simply means that when a cannon shell or burst of machine gun fire struck the enemy plane it disintegrated. This happens very rarely to American planes. A gas tank may explode, their engines may be torn loose from their mountings, their control surfaces may be shot away or shells put through their wings, but they don't "fall to pieces." And very often, they return to their bases in spite of grievous wounds.

Before going on to the later and more advanced American fighter types about which the public has not heard very much as yet, the best known fighters of foreign air forces will be described. The most popularly known are the British Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, the German Messerschmitt 109 and Focke-Wulf 190 and Jap Zero. All of these, with the possible exception of the Focke-Wulf 190, have been produced in a series of different models varying from several to half-dozen. The latest models upon which information is available are referred to unless otherwise indicated.

When England entered the war the Hawker Hurricane was her foremost fighter. The Vickers Supermarine Spitfire was in development, well along toward the production stage. The further modification and development of both the Hurricane and the Spitfire was dictated by day-to-day experience in actual combat and they have proved to be the world's best fighter planes for the particular mission they were designed to accomplish. Both of these fighters are powered by a single Rolls-Royce Merlin liquid-cooled V-type engine. This engine, like its American counterpart, the Allison, has been improved upon steadily during the past few years. The Merlin XX, one of the latest models, is rated at 1,260 hp.

Both fighters have low-wing design with conventional landing gear. The Spitfire has somewhat cleaner aerodynamic design than the Hurricane. The top speed of the latest model is in the neighborhood of 400 mph. The outstanding feature of these two fighters is the amount of firepower packed into them by the British. Everything else was subordinated to the requirement that they be able to take off and climb at a maximum speed to intercept attacking bombers and concentrate a withering fire. To this end, the British installed as many as twelve .303-in-calibre guns in the fighters, six in each wing, and in some versions installed four 20-mm cannon, two in each wing, firing outside the propeller arc. And was Jerry surprised! It is only now that Germany is beginning to bring out later types of fighters with increased offensive armament.

The Spitfires have a very short range, being unable to remain in the air for more than approximately two hours without returning to their bases for refueling. Although their concentrated fire power is terrific, the ammunition carried is only sufficient to last a short while if all machine guns are fired simultaneously. Without detracting from the credit due these fighters, experience has shown that they have not displayed the same versatility and adaptability as American fighters when placed in service under extremes of climate and terrain in other theaters of the war.

The Focke-Wulf 190 is the newest German fighter encountered in the war. It is a low-wing design distinguished chiefly by its air-cooled radial engine and inward-retracting landing gear of extremely wide tread. Its BMW 801D 14-cylinder engine develops approximately 1,600 hp. It is significant that the Germans have finally switched to an air-cooled radial engine installation in a fighter.

The FW-190's armament consists of two 7.92-mm machine guns mounted on top of the fuselage and firing through the propeller arc; two 20-mm Mauser cannon mounted in the wings near the fuselage, also firing through the propeller arc, and two 20-mm Oerliken cannon also mounted in the wing, but firing outside the propeller arc. The British report that the effectiveness of the fire power is curtailed due to the short range of the machine guns and low muzzle velocity of the Oerlikens.

The plane is well armored. Armor plate is installed behind the pilot's seat and an even thicker plate is fitted behind the pilot's head in the movable cockpit cover. A thick, bullet-proof windshield protects the pilot's head in the front and certain vital portions of the engine installation also are protected with armor plate. This is standard practice, also, in the construction of American warplanes.

The RAF captured one of the machines intact and put it through its paces. They reported its maximum speed was 375 mph at 18,000 ft. It is most effective at altitudes ranging from 15,000 to 25,000 ft but is a poor performer at lower altitudes. American bomber crews who have met the FW-190s in combat report that it does not handle very well near its reported service ceiling of 37,000 ft. One disadvantage of the 190 is that it glides in at 125 mph and sets down at 110 mph. This is compensated for in some measure by its unusually wide-tread landing gear, set well forward of the center of gravity, which enables the pilot to apply brakes freely. Its range is very limited, but as is true with most fighters, provision is made for the attachment of an auxiliary fuel tank below the fuselage which can be dropped in flight after its contents are exhausted.

The FW-190 is ingeniously designed and well built. It enjoys the hearty respect of engineers and pilots of the United Nations Air Forces; but it is very far from being the world's best fighter plane and does not live up to the exaggerated claims made for it by Nazi officialdom.

The Messerschmitt 109 series represents the standard single-engine fighter of the Luftwaffe. It is powered by a Daimler-Benz liquid-cooled inverted V-type engine, developing approximately 1,150 hp. The top speed of the ME-109F, the latest model, is approximately the same as that of the FW-190, but it is very deficient in armament. It is equipped with one 20-mm cannon and two 7.92 machine guns. Both the ME-109 and FW-190 are very maneuverable and climb at 3,000 ft per min or better, depending on the altitude.

The Heinkel 113 is another single-engine German pursuit frequently mentioned. It also is of low-wing design having conventional landing gear and is powered by a Daimler-Benz liquid-cooled engine like the Messerschmitt. When it first made its appearance a few years ago, it was tricky and difficult for the pilot to handle, but it has been learned that it was redesigned and the result was good.

Now we come to that great Nipponese mystery plane — the Zero. At the outset let it be said that the Jap Zero fighter is a fast, high altitude, very maneuverable job, but right there its virtues cease. The record of the battle in the Pacific proves conclusively that these qualities alone are not sufficient to win aerial battles.

The Japanese fighter plane commonly referred to as the Zero has been in service nearly two years, possibly a little longer. Consequently, it has as many modifications and variations as would be expected of any other type of combat plane in service for a similar length of time. The problem of identifying a particular fighter is further complicated by the obscure system of aircraft identification used by the Japs.

The Japs take the last two numerals of their calendar year when a plane goes into service and put a "T" in front of it. The Jap calendar begins at the year 660 BC, so that it is now the year 2602 in Japan. Airplanes which went into service during their year 2600 (our 1940) were designated as T-00, or just plain zero. Several manufacturers produce the Zero fighter and each incorporates some modification in design or construction. The Zero fighter is produced for the army, a carrier-based model for the Jap Navy, and still another version is equipped with pontoons. In any event, the outstanding characteristics common to all of the Zero-type fighters will be described.

The Zero fighter is a low-wing, all-metal monoplane, equipped with conventional landing gear, except for the seaplane version, and powered by an air-cooled radial engine. It is somewhat similar to the Focke-Wulf 190 in that it has an inward-retracting wide-tread landing gear and a radial engine with a slim tapering fuselage.

The Mitsubishi Kinsei engine which powers the Zero has been analyzed by American aeronautical engineers. It is a 14-cylinder, twin-row radial, with seven cylinders in each bank. It is equipped with a single-stage engine-driven supercharger and is rated at 1,050 hp for takeoff. It is copied chiefly from American engines of similar design, although it incorporates modifications of design features of similar engines of British and German design. It is rated as a highly dependable engine, although considerably less efficient for its size and weight than comparable engines of American manufacture.

The top speed of the Zero has been reported as being 340 mph but it is probable that improved models can attain higher speeds than that. Its light construction, bordering on the flimsy, coupled with its low wing loading, enables it to climb at a fast pace and reach altitudes in excess of 30,000 ft. The wings and fuselage of the Zero are constructed in one piece. In other words, a damaged wing panel could not be removed and another one attached by a set of bolts as is the case with virtually all American aircraft. This makes for lighter weight and faster construction, but it also means that in case of severe damage the entire airplane must be replaced, and it doubtful whether the Japs can supply replacements in sufficient quantities to maintain strength.

This, and other similar short cuts in design and construction, contribute to the relatively high performance of the Zero in relation to its power. The Japs consider pilots and planes as "expendables." Hence, the Jap pilot carries no parachute. He has no protective armor (except in the latest models, which do not afford adequate protection). His plane does not have self-sealing fuel tanks. His safety devices, radio equipment and instrumentation do not compare with those of American fighters.

All these omissions mean savings in weight which can be translated into performance, but only at the expense of the pilot's safety. Jap pilots are trained to fight and die. This is rejected by American fighting forces. Not alone for humanitarian or sentimental reasons, but because we know our way is more efficient. American pilots are superbly trained, trained to fight and keep on fighting. Thus, vitally important human and material resources are better conserved.

Returning to American types, the North American P-51 Mustang, like the P-39 and P-40, was one of the earlier American fighter designs to see active service in the war. It did not come along sufficiently later than the P-39 and P-40, however, to incorporate in its original design applications of new discoveries in fundamental aeronautical research which have been made within the past few years.

The P-51 again is a low-wing monoplane with conventional landing gear powered by an Allison liquid-cooled engine. Earlier models were equipped with engines rated at 1,050 hp for takeoff at sea level. It is likely that future models will incorporate a similar powerplant delivering considerably greater horsepower; it is even more likely that this change already has been accomplished. Superficially the Mustang resembles the Messerschmitt 109, chiefly because of its square-clipped wing and tail surfaces and angular lines. In some other respects, particularly in the fuselage streamlining, it is akin to the Spitfires and Hurricanes. The British ordered this fighter in considerable numbers in 1941. From the very first, British reports concerning their all-around satisfaction with the performance of this fighter have been at least as enthusiastic as those regarding any other American combat plane.

It is a low- and medium-altitude fighter. Its engine is equipped with a single-stage blower, which simply means that it was not designed to even attempt to reach high altitudes. The British have placed it in service as an army cooperation plane. For the most part it will be called upon to operate in close connection with ground forces near the battlefields and usually far away from prepared bases. It is ideally suited for this work because of its rugged construction and brilliant performance at lower altitudes. The British have reported that its landing gear has proven exceptionally tough and its wide tread, nearly 12 ft, enables it to operate from hastily prepared landing fields or wire mesh landing strips without mishap.

It is not permissible to reveal the maximum speed of the Mustang, but the British freely describe it as unquestionably the fastest army cooperation plane in the world. The standard armament of the P-51 consists of two machine guns on top of the fuselage firing through the propeller arc and two machine guns in each wing.

Wings, Tail, Are New Type

Its wings and tail surfaces are of the so-called "laminar flow" section which was developed in the laboratories of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics after years of intensive research. The prime requisite for the utilization of these highly efficient sections is smoothness of wing and tail surfaces. Flush riveting and smooth joints between skin panels throughout the plane are means of accomplishing the desired finish.

The newest American fighter in service is the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. This is in many ways a remarkable fighter airplane. It is the first American combat airplane designed since the outbreak of war in 1939 to see action. It is generally conceded to be the world's first fighter airplane to be powered by 2,000-hp air-cooled radial engine. This is the 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp.

The P-47 is a single-seat low-wing airplane with conventional landing gear. Aside from its husky powerplant, it is distinguished by the fact that it is one of the few fighter planes in the world to be equipped with the famous exhaust-driven turbosupercharger, the same device which was developed and pioneered in the United States and has enabled the famous Boeing Flying Fortresses to operate at peak efficiency at extreme altitudes for many years.

Its maximum speed is definitely in excess of 400 mph. It is equipped with six or more .50-calibre machine guns and has a range of operations greatly exceeding that of any other single-engine fighter. Pilots who have flown it and the strategists and engineers who are responsible for its design and construction unhesitatingly rank it as the best single-engine high altitude fighter airplane in production or in action anywhere in the world today.

The design was completed on the P-47 in 1939. Two additional plants are tooling up and getting into production on the same type. Actual reports from AAF officers are understandably lacking in detail, but all are to the good.

This brings us to the twin-engine and multiple-place fighters. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is believed to be the only twin-engine, single-seat fighter plane in action anywhere in the world.

Multiple-Place Fighters

The British Bristol Beaufighter is probably the outstanding multiple-place twin engine fighter. The German Messerschmitt 110, an older design, is a three-place twin-engine fighter. Planes of this type are really aerial destroyers, capable of roving long distances in search of prey. The combination of high performance, deadly offensive armament and long range enables them to seek out the enemy and engage him in combat at distances far beyond those capable of defense by the small interceptor fighters.

The Lockheed P-38 was first flown in 1939. Piloted by an Army officer, it crossed the United States from the West Coast to the Eastern Seaboard at an average flying speed of 404 mph. An aircraft capable of maintaining that speed for many hours at a time has a maximum speed considerably greater.

The Lightning is of very unusual design. It does not have a fuselage like the conventional aircraft which terminates in the empennage, or tail surfaces. Instead, the two nacelles which house its Allison liquid-cooled, V-type engines, which are similar to those installed in the single-engine fighters, taper into slender booms which support the horizontal tail surfaces at either end and terminate in twin rudders and vertical fins. In place of the fuselage, a large nacelle housing the pilot's cabin and center guns juts well forward out over the leading edge of the wing and terminates at the trailing edge at the center of the wing. The engines are equipped with the very efficient exhaust-driven turbosuperchargers, which enable it to perform in the thin air around 40,000 ft.

Uses Tricycle Gear

The P-38, like many other advanced American designs, is equipped with tricycle landing gear. This feature is particularly important for planes of such high performance. It decreases the likelihood of ground looping or nosing over when a pilot is forced to land on a rough field or under other adverse conditions. Its armament consists of multiple cannon and machine guns mounted in the nose of the pilot's nacelle. The Lightning got into good quantity production late in 1941 and has been rolling off the assembly lines in increasing numbers ever since. By now, considerable numbers must be in service at the fighting fronts, although few reports have been permitted to be published. Gen Arnold, however, has stated that the Lockheed P-38s have engaged the Japanese with notable success in the Pacific area.

Complacency Attacked

Americans have no monopoly on brains. Therefore, both allied and enemy nations are creating aircraft, engines and other instruments of war of excellent design and construction. Most of these nations have been learning the lessons of warfare far longer than we have. In some instances, certain foreign products excel ours. As a nation, we are proud that in both war and peace the reverse is generally true. There would be grave danger in kidding ourselves about the superiority of our warplanes if they were not, in fact, superior. They are not above criticism as types or models. Intelligent, constructive criticisms are welcome and should continue. But the inescapable conclusion for all those in possession of the facts is this: American fighter planes, on the whole, are superior to those of our enemies; as our latest types reach the fighting fronts in increasing numbers, the edge of superiority in quality and performance will be increased month by month.

This article was originally published in the October, 1942, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 41, no 10, pp 93-95, 334-336B.
The original article includes 7 photos showing the various American planes discussed.
Photos are not credited.