WWII Fighters

Annual 2021

Flight Journal's WWII Fighters Special features the best allied and axis fighter aircraft of the Second World War. From the P-51 Mustang to the Focke Wulf 190, these stories were written by the pilots who flew them in combat and places the reader right in the cockpit. With stunning vintage and contemporary photography, this unique edition will be sought after by those who are passionate about aviation.

United States
Air Age Media

in this issue

2 min
warriors and their machines: brought back to life

The aerial warriors of the Second World War were simply in a kill or be killed situation. It was one pilot and plane against another, and someone was going to die. The do-or-die nature of combat isn’t something we like to think about. We prefer to focus on the equipment, tactics and heroes who persevered. Flight Journal has written much about the flying legends and aces of that great conflict, and a precious few are still with us, but what’s alarming is that most of the fighters never came home. Even if they survived combat, many were destroyed at war’s end. Aviation archeologists and restorers continue to be motivated to find these warbirds and bring them back to their original condition, preserving their history and stories. Periodically we hear of such finds:…

14 min
butcher bird survivor

In 1989, the forests east of Leningrad gave up a ghostly relic of the fierce fighting that scarred the Russian landscape in the latter years of World War II: a Focke-Wulf 190 A5/U3 was found that had been force landed in 1943, amongst once-tiny saplings that grew to hide the airframe from view. Aside from its bent propeller, Fw 190 Werk Nummer 1227 remained remarkably intact. The Balkenkreuz on the fuselage and black Swastika on its tail stood out defiantly against the march of time and surrounding greenery. The pilot’s leather flying helmet still rested on the seat, where he had carefully placed it before setting off on foot. Even the fighter’s tires still contained their wartime air. Only the decayed fabric surfaces and saplings growing through the wing confirmed that…

2 min
the saga of “white a”

Manufactured in April 1943, this Fw 190 was the 415th A5 variant constructed from batch 0150812 at the Bremen factory of Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH. Given the Werk Nummer 0151227, the airframe was modified in the factory to carry an ETC501 bomb rack in place of the usual wing-mounted 20mm cannons, making its final designation A5/U3 (the U signifying a conversion kit, or Umrüst-Bausatz). The aircraft was delivered to the Eastern front airbase of Siwerskaya (Siversky) to join the ranks of I. and II Gruppen of Jagdeschwader 54 Grünherz (Greenhearts). On July 19, 1943, 24-year-old Feldwebel Paul Rätz of 4./JG54 took off from the airfield with a 550-pound bomb strapped underneath his aircraft. Wk Nr 1227 now carried the unusual marking ‘White A.’ Colored numbers usually identified Luftwaffe Squadrons. Research suggests that…

1 min
fw 190 survivors

□ Few lists of any surviving warbirds are accurate or complete. Plus some on the lists are wrecks that are in such a ruinous state from being pulled from the jungles and oceans that they are not restorable.□ Most surviving 190s are A models, followed by fighter-bomber F variants. The FHCAM owns “Yellow 10” and “White A,” which are two beautifully restored examples. “Yellow 10” is an even rarer Dora with the liquid-cooled Jumo engine.□ Currently, there are 15 Fw 190s that exist in the United States. The National Air and Space Museum has two of the “long wing” versions. Four more are in Germany, three are in the UK, and five are in other parts of Europe. There is another known to exist in Russia.□ Twenty-one kit reproductions produced…

1 min
the flying heritage & combat armor museum

The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) on Paine Field in Everett, Washington was founded in the ’90s by the late Paul G. Allen, who began acquiring and preserving iconic armor and warbirds, many of which are the last of their kind. The aircraft, vehicles, and artifacts in the museum are a testament to the era’s engineering skill and humanity’s spirit during the world conflicts of the 20th century. On rotation are military artifacts from the United States, Britain, Germany, Soviet Union, and Japan, acquired and restored with unparalleled authenticity to share with the public. FHCAM is committed to proving complete authenticity in all its artifacts. This includes all aspects of the mechanical systems and all paint schemes and markings. FHCAM strives to make the operations and appearance as original as…

17 min
unlikely warrior

Author’s Note: My family, through the Old Flying Machine Company, has been the honored custodians of Spitfire IXb LF MH434—an outstanding example of living history—for many decades now. We have always been aware of the contributions of Henry “Pat” Lardner-Burke, the exemplary South African pilot who flew it in World War II. However, until researching this article, we never fully understood the nature of his skill and bravery, the admiration of those who served with him, and just why he died at the early age of 53. The key to much of it is the time he marked at the bitter siege of Malta. An Ace at the beginning Henry “Pat” Lardner-Burke was born into a comfortably wealthy family in South Africa in 1916. The oldest child of three, in a society…