When considering the top 10 Fighter planes of WWII, a number of criteria should be considered.

  • What was the plane’s top speed?
  • How does the aircraft maneuver at low and high altitudes?
  • How durable is the plane?
  • What is the visibility out the cockpit windows?
  • How safe is the aircraft?
  • What armament does it carry?
  • What is the range of the aircraft?
  • What is its overall flying performance?

The Armed Forces History Museum in Largo, FL has a number of WWII scale model planes for sale.  Visit their on-line store using the link below:

Museum Store

Listed below is a list that should be entertained when considering the top 10 World War II fighter aircraft.  They are listed in alphabetical order.


1)       Chance Vought F4U-4 Corsair

This big and powerful fighter was feared by the Japanese more than any other aircraft.  The F4Us top speed was 415 mph, but at 30,000 feet, the aircraft could reach 435 mph.  Armament included 6 – 50 cal guns, 2,000 lbs. of bombs and 8 – 5 inch rockets.  The F4U-4 Corsair of WWII had a range of 1,005 miles.


2)       Focke-Wulf FW 190 D-9

Some state the FW 190 D-9 was superior even to the British spitfire.  This aircraft dominated WWII skies until the P51 D was introduced.  This aircraft was light and easy to control, which made it an ideal pilot’s plane.  Not only did the armor of this aircraft offer excellent protection, the plane was heavily armed with 2 – 7 .9mm MG and 4 – 20 mm cannons.  The FW 190 D-9 could reach a top speed of 436 mph and at 38,000 feet the aircraft could reach 458 mph.  The range was only 395 miles.


3)      Grumman F8F Bearcat

Though not the best dogfighter, this aircraft was considered small, quick and deadly.  It could reach a top speed of 358 mph.  The armament of the Grumman F8F Bearcat consisted of 4 – 20mm cannons and 4 – 127mm rockets.  It could also carry 2 – 1,000 lb. bombs.  Total range for the F8F Bearcat was 1,105 miles.



4)      Lockheed P-38J Lightning

This large aircraft was considered to be a great dogfighter and was greatly feared by the Germans.  The P-38J had a top speed of 426 mph and could climb 20k feet in 5.9 seconds.  Armament for this plane included 1 – 20 mm cannon and 4 – 50cal guns.


5)      Messerschmitt Bf 109K

The Bf 109K was an easy aircraft to fly, could reach a top speed of 354 mph and had a range of 820 miles.  It was a multi-role fighter armed with 2 to 7 – 9mm guns and 4 – 20mm cannons.



6)      Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Not only was this WWII aircraft fast (top speed of 358 mph), it had a total range of 1,844 miles.  Armament for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero included 2 to 7 7mm guns and 2 – 20mm cannons.  The aircraft was a versatile fighter that was easily maneuvered.  The Zero was constructed of wood.


7)      North American P-51D Mustang

The P-51D Mustang is considered by many to be the #1 fighter aircraft of WWII.  With internal tanks, the plane had a range of 1,140 miles.  The range increased to 2,200 miles with external tanks.  This aircraft was both fast and maneuverable.  The visibility was considered excellent.  The P-51D Mustang could reach a top speed of 445 mph, increasing to 486 mph at 30,000 feet.  Armament included 6 – .50cal machine guns.


8)      Republic P-47D Thunderbolt

Pilots favored this solid built aircraft in part, due to the protection it provided and its ability to take punishment and still fly.  The P-47D Thunderbolt carried the highest kill to death ratio of any other WWII aircraft.  Total range for the P-47D was 1,900 miles with tanks and it had a top speed of 433 mph.  Armament included 8 to 12 7mm guns, 2,500 lbs of external mounted bombs, rockets and other ordnance.


9)      Soviet Yakovlev Yak-3

The Soviet Yakovlev Yak-3 was considered the best dogfighter on the Eastern front.  It had a tight turn ratio and was an easily maneuvered aircraft.  The Yak-3 could reach a top speed of 412 mph (428 at 20,000 feet) and a range of 558 miles.  Armament for the Yakovlev Yak-3 included 1 – 20mm cannon and 2 – 50cal guns.


10)  Supermarine MKs 24 Spitfire

The WWII British Spitfire was one of the ultimate fighters of the war, had tremendous fire power and could climb to a high rate of altitude at a very fast rate.  This Spitfire could reach 454 mph and had a range of 390 miles.  Armament on the aircraft included 4 – 20mm cannons, up to 2 – 250 lb. bombs and 1 – 500 lb. bomb.


A complete list of top aircraft from WWII would be quite extensive.  However, in considering a top 10 list of WWII fighter planes, the above list should at least be entertained.


24 Responses to Top 10 Fighter Planes of WWII

  1. Evon says:

    Thanks for these information :)

  2. Terry says:

    The Spitfire has 15 seconds (300 rounds) of firepower. That would not be considered tremendous would it?

    • alon2392 says:

      I’m not sure, but I am checking with our historian and will advise as soon as I receive a reply.

    • alon2392 says:

      Our historian informs me that the Spitfires carried 400 rounds of ammo, which was not very much. They had many issues with the guns freezing up in high altitude as well.

  3. Rich Foster says:

    FW 190D9 – Armament is wrong. It was 2x13mm and 2x20mm

    F8F had EITHER 4x 12.7mm (.50 cal) OR 4x20mm (on the F8F-1B) and its max speed was 421mph, not 358.

    P-38 climb rate is insanely wrong (5.9 seconds?)

    109K is just wrong all the way around, the speed is off by almost 100mph, and the armament is way wrong as well (K4 standard was 2x13mm and 1x30mm cannon)

    The P-51D’s top speed was around 440, and that was at 25,000 feet. It couldn’t get near 486 in level flight at any altitude.

    The P-47 had a GREAT Kill/Death ratio, but not even remotely close to number 1.

    Your Spitfire numbers are taken from multiple different versions of the Spitfire… the Spit Vc (which did have 4x20mm cannon) could not do anywhere near 400 mph, let alone 454mph.

    You REALLY need to check your facts before you post this stuff.

  4. cullen harris says:

    the spitfire was believed to be better than the me109messhershit do you think that’s true because the spitfire performed amazing in the battle of britin

  5. lee says:

    the mk10 spitfire was said to better than the fw190 so how superior was the mk24? in my opinion it was the best interceptor dog fighter of ww2. it was the best or second best bar anything but time over target. too many times people say spitfire like there was only one model.

  6. Salman Ravish says:

    Wood? are you joking? Mitsubishi A6M Zero was made from duralumin…

  7. David Worsley says:

    Have you considered the Hawker Tempest? These lists are always contentious so many variations of aircraft as technology progressed-many ugly ducklings evolved into beautiful swans

    • alon2392 says:

      Definitely agree with your ugly ducking to swan analogy. Please feel free to post some info for us on the Hawker Tempest.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If Hitler didn’t get rejected from art school there wouldn’t have been a World War 2.

  9. tthomas j ippolito says:

    have world war 2 cards of aircraft that won us the war…for sale.if interested, e-mail me and we can discuss in detail….

  10. jgsteno says:

    I found this list interesting in respect that similar lists are always subjective. I don’t think you’re far off the mark, but that some of the information is incorrect. The F8F Bearcat data must be for the F6F Hellcat which had a 19-1 kills to loss ratio. The F8F Bearcat and the Spitfire Mk24 never saw combat during World War 2.
    The P-47 Thunderbolt unquestionably deserves to be on anyone best fighter of WW2 list, but at 7-1 kill ratio, it’s still not the best. But considering that the majority of the P-47 kills were against frontline German fighters, it possibly deserves to be ever higher on your list. Most similar top 10 lists ignore the fact that this aircraft, in aerial combat, has the top scoring aces and fighter group of any US fighter in the ETO.
    The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was generally made from high strength aluminum alloy, with the exception of the control surfaces on earlier models. These control surfaces were made with wooden frame using a dope on fabric construction.
    There are other errors in the aircraft information in this list, but your list is as complete as any other that I’ve seen on the internet.

  11. Erik says:

    Yea, right :D Corsair the best fighter? Heck no! It was too hard to control compared to Hellcat. Best plane of the Pacific theater was Hellcat, than A6M, European Theater P-51 and Focke Wulf

  12. Mrnuggets says:

    What??? P-38 cant climb 20k in 5 secs…..thats like 6000m up in the skies in 5 secs

  13. I appreciate your comments folks and you sure know your stuff but to me the best aircraft during WW 2 was and will always be is the P-51. I may appear to be prejudiced because of being an American of Mexican-French decent. I recall interviewing a member of the Azteca Fighter squadron and he along with his fellow pilots flew P-47s. And he said that the “Jugs” were easy to fly and easy to maintain. Hey Ravish, you are right about the zero. The Germans best aircraft was, in my opinion, the FW-190. I don’t want to forget the British Mosquito as well. Even Goring with his diatribes and misgivings of his pilots admitted the Mosquitos durability and swiftness.

  14. jack says:

    this works good for research

  15. Mark says:

    this is good for my project

  16. JM Williams says:

    I get a kick out of reading the comments. There are a lot of opinions, but I don’t think there is a lot of first hand experience behind the comments. When I transitioned from the F4F to the F6F the Hellcat didn’t seem nearly as responsive as the Wildcat. However, the speed and it’s performance as a gun platform was something the Wildcats I flew never could match. I never flew the FM2 so I can’t comment on that. Late in the war I came back to transition to the Corsair. One of the comments above said the Corsair was hard to handle. I don’t know where you got this information, but it was not my experience at all. I found the Corsair to be a wonderful combination of the Wildcat’s responsiveness, the Hellcat’s performance as a gun platform, and the addition of almost a 100 mph more speed. Of course that 100 mph was for short bursts using the water injection. Even without the water though the Corsair still had 50 to 70 mph on the Hellcat.

    As to the Corsair vs. P-51. I managed to get a few hours in the Mustang and I believe it was an excellent aircraft. However, if you did not manage your fuel distribution between tanks properly you could find yourself with a center of gravity problem that could really get your attention.

    I had the opportunity to mix it up with Army P-51s on three occasions when we crossed paths on training exercises. I don’t know the experience levels of the Army pilots we matched up against so it is unfair to paint with too broad a brush, but we never had any problem getting on a Mustang’s tail and staying there until he cried uncle.

    Thanks for the opportunity to add to the discussion.

  17. Gary says:

    This has been an ongoing debate for years and will probably be the case for ever. The P-51 Mustang was the most successful plane in WW2. In my eyes, it was the best. The Spitfire had major flaws, including the location of the fuel tank and the fact the engine would cut out when diving. Every plane that’s ever been has had its flaws. Still, the Spitfire was one of the best. The Spitfire is probably the most famous plane ever built and probably the most famous plane in WW2 history. The Focke-Wulf FW 190 D-9 is one plane that gets pushed to one side so often, it was a beast of a fighter. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is up there with the big guns. In terms of fire power, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 trampled the Spitfire. But looking at shoot downs, the P-51 Mustang holds the record. But anyone who knows the basics will agree hands down that the Messerschmitt Me 262 was the ultimate fighter in WW2, but by the time it got going, WW2 was virtually over. Some simply research, the facts can’t really be argued.

  18. Chris says:

    Why is the list upside down?

  19. Don says:

    Interesting list, inevitably subjective. However, Mitsubishi Zero speed is incorrect-built for distance and maneuverability, not able to keep up with American fighters later in the war.

    What about the Russian La5FN, certainly deserves to be on the list.

  20. John Dighton says:

    An interesting approach. I have done similary and find the Spitfire Mk XIV was the ultimate fighter of WWII. My analysis included all performance based factors and no subjective factors like toughness or durability.

    On the above, the following needs to be corrected. The F4U-4 was not a WWII fighter as it did not see combat. The P51D had a top speed of 440mph and was slightly slower than the P51B. The SPitfire Mk 24 was like the F4U-4 a post war fighter as too was the F8F Bearcat.

    The Spitfire was superior because it was fast, 446mph, could climb better than any other fighter in the air (38,000ft in 10 minutes-nothing comes close thus a spiral climb defeats all) It could reach mach0.86 or greater in a dive and was the fastest fighter in a dive comprehensively. It could out turn all 1944/45 fighters except the Zero and YAK 3 whith which it was equal. It was the best fighter at high altitude by some margin and was very vompetitive low down as well. Its armament was good enough 2*20mm cannon and 2*50 cal, but if fitted with 4*20mm cannon was equal to the Hawker Tempest in armament. Whic in closing was probably very close to being second best, but the YAK 3 is there abouts also. The US fighters were just too big and heavy to compete performance wise with the Spitfire. Their climb and turn rates are all very poor excedt the P38 lightning which went to 20k not in 5.9 seconds, but 5.9 minutes and teh P63 Kingcobra which performed similarly.

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