World War II kicked aircraft research, development, and production into high gear. Combat was a crucible at exposed the faults of various aircraft designs and showed designers where to focus their efforts. World War II drove piston-engine, propeller-driven, aircraft to the very peak of their performance. It also saw the dawn of the jet era. Newly developed aircraft were appreciated for their abilities to preserve the lives of pilots and bring the war to the early end. At the end of the war, many aircraft projects were in the testing and early production phases. But, with the close of the conflict, several amazing aircraft missed their appointments with destiny.
Here are six aircraft that just missed World War II:
F8F Bearcat – The Bearcat was the ultimate expression of the Grumman propeller-powered naval fighter line that started with the Grumman FF biplane and evolved into the famous F4F Wildcat and F6F Hellcat fighters during World War II. According to Lewis Air Legends, the F8F-1 Bearcat continued the famous line with a powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W Double Wasp piston engine that produced 2100 horspower and propelled the fighter to 450 miles per hour. The Bearcat was armed with four .50-caliber machine guns.
de Havilland DH.100 Vampire – The de Havilland DH.100 Vampire was the second jet fighter deployed by the Royal Air Force and it barely missed combat service during World War II. The Vampire has distinctive twin tale design. It served the Royal Air Force in many variations until the early 1960s. According to The Word Heritage Air Museum, their DH115 T55 Vampire is powered by a de Havilland Goblin 35 Centrifugal Turbo Jet that propels the jet to a maximum speed of 575 miles per hour. With four 20 millimeter cannons and the capability to carry 8 rockets, or two 500 pound bombs or drop-tanks, the Vampire packed a punch.
Hawker Sea Fury – The Hawker Sea Fury was the last propeller-driven fighter to see service in the Royal Navy. It was powered by an 18-cylinder engine that produced 2480 horsepower. According to militaryfactory.com, the Sea Fury could reach “approximately 460 miles-per-hour at 18,000 feet.” The Sea Fury brought four 20 millimeter cannons and up to 2000 pounds of external weapons to a fight.
Lavochkin La-9 (Fritz) Fighter – The Lavochkin La-7 was one of the best Soviet fighter planes of World War II, but according to www.airpages.ru, “its wooden construction limited its performance.” The Lavochkin La-9 perfected the design and used all metal construction. The La-9 served the Soviet Union starting in 1946 until it was replaced by jet fighters. The “Fritz” was capable of 430 miles per hour and was armed with four powerful 23 millimeter cannons.
Not every aircraft that missed World War II missed its only prove itself under fire. Two of the aircraft class of 1946 contributed to other war.
Bell Model 47 Helicopter – If you’ve ever seen the opening sequence to the classic television series “M.A.S.H.” then you’ve seen the Bell Model 47 helicopter in action. While helicopters were only experiments during World War II, the Bell Model 47 was operational and useful during the Korean War where it performed medical evacuations, reconnaisance, and utility transport functions.
Douglas A-1 Skyraider – The A-1 Skyraider ground attack plane fought in Korea, but earned fame in the Vietnam War about twenty years after it was initially deployed. According to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, The A-1E Skyraider had four 20 millimeter cannons, and could carry up to 6,500 pounds of weapons and external fuel tanks. The plane had a crew of two that sat side-by-side. It was heavily armored against ground fire and could loiter for hours over a battlefield. Nicknamed the “Spad,” the A-1E Skyraider provided close air support and specialized in protecting efforts to rescue downed pilots.
Lewis Air Legends website, “F8F-1 Bearcat”
Airpages.ru, ” La-9 (Fritz) Fighter Lavochkin”
MilitaryFactory.com, “Hawker Sea Fury”
MilitaryFactory.com, “de Havilland DH.100”
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force , “Factsheets: Douglas A-1E Skyraider”
World Heritage Air Museum, “De Havilland Vampire”