US Navy

F4B-4 Carrier Fighter

The Boeing F4B series served as the primary fighter of the U.S. Navy in the early 1930s flying from the USS Langley and the USS Saratoga and with the Marines. It remained in service in numerous roles until the early 1940s. It was the last wooden-winged, biplane fighter produced by Boeing and used by the U.S. military. First flown on June 25, 1928, the Navy initially purchased twenty-seven production aircraft. The first were delivered in the summer of 1929. The new fighter was capable of reaching speeds of more than 175 mph, and could carry five 24 lb. bombs under each wing, with either one 500 lb. bomb or one 41 gallon fuel tank beneath the fuselage. Armament on the F4B-1 consisted of two .30 caliber machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. The fourth and final version of the F4B series was the F4B-4. Essentially an F4B-3 with a broader chord fin and a larger headrest for an inflatable life raft, the F4B-4 was first ordered in April 1931, and the last of ninety-two aircraft were delivered on February 28, 1933. Twenty-one of these airplanes were assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps. The F4B-4 maintained the good flight characteristics of the earlier versions despite greater weight and increased power. This model show a F4B-4 flown by Fighting Squadron 2 flying off of the USS Lexington in the 1930s.

F4B-4 Carrier Fighter

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F11C-2 Goshawk Carrier Fighter

The Curtiss F11C Goshawk (later redesignated as the BFC-2) was a U.S. Navy fighter and dive bomber that served from 1933 to 1938. The F11C was used to pioneer dive bombing techniques by the US Navy. The Goshawk was also heavily exported and saw combat in China, Thailand and South America. Ernst Udet purchased two examples for the Luftwaffe after he saw a dive bombing demonstration in America. This led to the development of the Stuka dive bomber for the Luftwaffe. The F11C was armed with two .30 cal. M1919 Browning machine guns and could carry one 470 lb. bomb on an under fuselage hard point or one 120 lb. bomb under each wing. A 50 gallon fuel tank could also be carried under the fuselage. This model shows a F11C-2 from VF-1B High Hats squadron flown by section two leader Lt. Thomas S. Combs flying off of the carrier USS Saratoga in July 1933.

Curtiss F11C Goshawk Carrier Fighter

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F4F-4 Wildcat Carrier Fighter

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the standard shipboard fighter of the US Navy at the start of the war in the Pacific. It was often said that the Wildcat was completely outclassed by the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, as the Zero was faster, more maneuverable and better armed Wildcat. However, the Wildcat had virtues of its own. It was rugged and reliable, could withstand a great deal of battle damage and was a very stable gun platform. Its four (later six) .50 cal Browning machineguns were an effective armament. Moreover, the Zero lacked the F4Fs amour and self-sealing fuel tanks. At the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 and at the decisive Battle of Midway 4-6 June 1942, the Wildcat demonstrated that it could fight the Zero on equal terms, even when the Zero was flown by the elite pilots of the Japanese carrier striking force. While the F4F's successor immediately replaced the Wildcat aboard the Pacific Fleet's fast carriers, the Wildcat continued to operate from escort carriers until the end of the war and gave sterling service. This model shows a F4F-4 from Fighter Squadron 41 flying from the USS Ranger CV-4 in the late 1930s.

F4F-4 Wildcat Carrier Fighter

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XF4U-1 Corsair Carrier Fighter

The Vought F4U Corsair was one of the greatest combat aircraft of WWII. Designed in 1938, the Corsair made its first flight in May 1940. The prototype was the first single engine US warplane to exceed 400 mph and outperformed all other American aircraft at that time. The XF4U-1 prototype had the biggest and most powerful engine, largest propeller and largest wing on any fighter up to that time. The Corsair's aerodynamics was an advance over those of contemporary naval fighters. The F4U was the first U.S. Navy airplane to feature landing gear that retracted fully leaving a completely streamlined wing. The first Corsairs were armed with two .30 cal. machineguns mounted in engine cowling and two .50 cal. machineguns in the wings. The first production Corsairs had several major changes from the prototype including a change of armament to six wing mounted .50 cal. M2 Browning machineguns, changing the fuel tank location to the forward fuselage ahead of the cockpit, 150 lb of armor plate, a bullet proof windscreen and a more powerful engine. Production began in 1942 and lasted until 1952, the longest production run of any American aircraft. Some 12,571 Corsairs came off the production line and the Corsair served with the US Navy and Marines throughout WWII and the Korean War into the late 1950s. Several smaller air forces used the Corsair until the late 1960s with the last combat missions being flown in 1969. Action with land based Marine squadrons began in the Solomon Islands in 1943 and from then on the Corsair swiftly gained air supremacy over the Japanese with an 11:1 kill ratio. Corsairs flew with the US Navy, US Marines, Fleet Air Arm, Royal New Zealand Air Force, French Navy, Argentine Air Force, El Salvadorian Air Force and the Honduran Air Force This model shows the prototype aircraft. Also see here for the WWII Navy version of the Corsair and here for a Marine version.

XF4U-1 Corsair Carrier Fighter

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SBC-4 Helldiver Carrier Dive Bomber

The Curtiss SBC Helldiver was the last combat biplane built for the Navy. Originally designed as a monoplane fighter and redesigned as a biplane dive bomber, the first Helldiver was delivered to the navy in 1937. 83 SBC-3s were built and followed by 224 SBC-4s with a more powerful engine and more payload capacity. 5 were to be transferred to France in June 1940 but were sent to the RAF after the fall of France and designated Cleveland Mk I. While it did not have a long service life, the Helldiver was critical in developing the dive bombing tactics used in the Pacific. The Helldiver had a maximum speed of 224 mph and was armed with 1 .30 cal forward firing machine gun, 1 .30 cal rearward firing machine gun in a flexible mount and 1 1,000 lb bomb. This model is of a plane flown by the Air Group Commander flying off of  the USS Enterprise.

SBC-4 Helldiver Carrier Dive Bomber

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TBD-1 Devastator Carrier Torpedo Plane

First flying on April 15, 1935 the Douglas TBD-1 Devastator was the USNs first carrier based monoplane, first all metal construction naval aircraft, first USN plane with an enclosed cockpit and the first Navy plane with hydraulically folding wings. The Devastator entered service in 1937 and was highly advanced for the time. By the beginning of the war in 1941 the Devastator was completely obsolete. Of the 129 planes built, 100 remained. They fought well in the Battle of the Coral Sea, sinking the carrier Shoho. In the morning attacks on June 4th 1942 at the Battle of Midway, 41 Devastators were launched from the US carriers against the Japanese fleet. Attacking on their own, several TBDs got within a few ship lengths of their targets before dropping their torpedoes, being close enough to be able to strafe the enemy ships and force the Japanese carriers to make sharp evasive maneuvers. The Devastator attacks left the Japanese carriers unable to launch their armed and fueled planes and drew the Japanese air cover out of position. This opened the way for the dive bomber attacks that sunk three carriers. 37 out of the 41 Devastators launched were shot down without scoring any hits. After Midway the Devastator was withdrawn from carrier service and replaced by the TBF Avenger. The TBD-1 Devastator could carry a 1,200 lb. Bliss-Leavitt Mark 13 aerial torpedo or a 1,000 lb. bomb under the fuselage. Alternate loadouts included three 500 lb. general purpose bombs or twelve 100 lb. fragmentation bombs. It carried a .30 cal. machinegun for the rear gunner and either a .30 cal. or .50 cal. Machinegun in starboard side of the cowling. This model shows a Devastator of VT-6 flying off of the USS Enterprise in 1939.

TBD-1 Devastator Carrier Torpedo Plane

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USN Sopwith Camel Fighter

The Sopwith Camel accounted for more aerial victories than any other Allied aircraft during World War I. Credited with destroying 1,294 enemy aircraft; it was called the Camel due to the humped fairing over its twin .303 cal Vickers machineguns. An agile, highly maneuverable biplane, the Camel was a difficult plane to fly. Noted for its tendency to kill inexperienced fliers, many pilots feared its vicious spin characteristics. During World War I, 413 pilots died in combat and 385 pilots died from non-combat related causes while flying the Sopwith Camel. About 5,490 Camels were produced and they served with the Australian Flying Corps, Belgian Air Force, Canadian Aviation Corps, Estonian Air Force, Hellenic Air Force, Latvian Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, Polish Air Force, Swedish Air Force, Royal Flying Corps, United States Army Air Service and the US Navy.

The US Navy received several Sopwith Camels after the end of WWI. One was assigned to the battleship USS Texas (BB-35) and in 1919 was flown off a platform built atop the number 2 gun turret by Lt. Commander Ed McDonnell. This was the first time an airplane was launched from a battleship. Also see the Sopwith Camel British Fighter here.

USN Sopwith Camel Fighter

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[Karl's Models] [British Empire] [US Navy] [F4F-4 Wildcat] [F11C-2 Goshawk] [F4B-4] [XF4U-1 Corsair] [USN Camel] [SBC-4 Helldiver] [TBD-1 Devastator] [US Army Air Corps] [Estonia]

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