Listed below is an overview of some of the top fighter aircraft of WWII.  In order to draft a definitive list, a specific set of guidelines must be used.  This aircraft list was compiled using a number of different sources, but not a specific set of guidelines.  However, the performance of the aircraft has certainly earned them a place on any WWII top fighter list.  They are in alphabetical order.


A6M Zero – The A6M Zero was the first long range escort fighter.  Flown by most of the top aces of the Imperial Army, the Zero was the key Japanese aircraft at the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  This plane remained a superior war aircraft until American technology began making superior advancements.


F6F Hellcat – Developed to replace the F4F wildcat, the F6F Hellcat was one of the few great American fighter plans that out-performed the Zero in the Pacific theater.  This aircraft is credited with destroying more aircraft than any other Allied plane.


Focke-Wulf FW 190 – Known as a “pilot’s aircraft” this easy to handle, efficient German fighter was first launched in France shortly after D-Day.  A number of the Luftwaffe’s successful fighter pilots claimed a number of victories while using the Fw 190.


Ki 84 Hayate – Equipped with powerful armament, this aircraft was considered to be the best Japanese fighter of World War II. 



Messerschmitt Bf 109 – This aircraft was small in nature, but big on engine power.  The Bf109 was flown by some of the top fighter pilot aces of the Luftwaffe, including their top fighter, Erich Hartmann who is credited with 352 victories.



P-38 Lightning – Flown by both American top fighter pilot aces, this aircraft is credited with shooting down more Japanese aircraft than any other US Army Air Force fighter in World War II.



P-47 Thunderbolt – Heavily armed, the P-47 was not only the largest, but also the heaviest and the most expensive single-piston engine fighter plane in history.  The P-47 Thunderbolt was one of the main fighters of the USAAF during WWII.



P-51 Mustang – This American long-range fighter and fighter-bomber provided support for the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator during World War II.  A total of 4,900 enemy aircraft were shot down by Mustang pilots – making it the highest scoring US fighter aircraft of the European theater.



Spitfire – The British Spitfire was a fast and maneuverable aircraft.  It was also considered to be one of the best fighters during the earlier period of the war.  The Spitfire was flown by many of the top British aces, including top scoring Captain “Johnny” Johnson – credited with 38 victories.


Yak-3 – Many of the Soviet’s top aces flew the Yak-3 during the latter part of the war.  The aircraft had a tight turning radius, was highly maneuverable and proved to be an excellent performer below 20,000 feet.  Though not difficult to fly, only a skilled pilot could take advantage of the Yak-3s full fighting potential.


World War II saw many great pilots and many great aircraft.  The above are just a few that rise to the top when searching for a top ten list of WWII fighter planes.