The aircraft that fought in the final years of the Second World War were highly developed war machines and are still well known. However, every nation entered the war with a ragged variety of aircraft, many of which are now forgotten.
Here is a selection of aircraft from the period between 1935 and 1940 when the lessons that war teaches had yet to be learned.
CAC CA-5 Wirraway
The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) Wirraway was the first aircraft mass produced in Australia. It was based on an American design chosen to help start an Australian aircraft making industry. Production began in 1939 and 755 were built.
This model represents a Wirraway flying with the RAAF in 1942
MPM 1/72 kit with Aussie Decals decals
The Aero A-100 was a light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft built in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s. They were obsolete by 1939 but masny were taken over by Germany and some were flown by the Slovak air force during the war.
This model represents a Slovak Aero A-100 in 1942
KP 1/72 kit with Blue Rider decals
Design of the Amiot 143 night bomber began in 1926 and the first one flew in 1931. Deliveries to the French air force began in 1935 and 138 were built. They were obsolete by the beginning of World War 2 but some were still flying in 1944.
This model represents an Amiot 143 in French service in 1939.
Smer 1/72 kit with Model Art decals
Arsenal Delanne 10
The Arsenal Delanne 10 was an experimental interceptor developed in France before World War 2. It was designed so the gunner had an unimpeded field of fire to engage enemy bombers. This idea was not developed following this prototype.
This model represents the sole prototype in June 1940.
Planet 1/72 kit
The Dewoitine 780 was a floatplane fighter designed in France in the late 1930s. It had the fuselage of a Dewoitine 520 fighter modified for floats. It was ready but had not flown by the time of the German invasion of France.
This model represents the sole Dewoitine 740 in May 1940.
Hobby Boss and A+V 1/72 kits
The Loire-Nieuport LN.411 was a French dive bomber designed during the 1930s. Work began in 1932 but the first final version only made its first flight in June 1938. Eventually 68 were built but they proved very vulnerable in combat.
This model represents a LN.441 in French service in 1940.
Azur 1/72 kit
Morane Saulnier 406
The Morane Saulnier 406 was France’s most numerous front line fighter during the Battle of France. They were sturdy and manoeuvrable but were outclassed by German fighters and suffered heavy losses during the Battle.
This model represents a Morane Saulnier 406 of GC II/3 at Dijon in February 1940.
Hasegawa 1/72 kit with Decals Carpena decals
Blohm und Voss Bv141B
The Blohm und Voss Bv141 was designed as a reconnaissance aircraft to give its crew an unrivalled view of the ground. The prototype first flew in February 1938 but they were not put into production and only about 28 were built.
This model represents a prototype Bv141B in 1941.
Airfix 1/72. kit
The Dornier Do17 was a fast medium bomber designed and built in Germany in the 1930s. They began entering service in 1937 and served in the early phases of World War 2. By 1941 they were obsolete and withdrawn from front line service.
This model represents a Do17 flying over Poland in 1939.
Airfix/MPC 1/72 kit
The Heinkel He100 was designed in competition with the Messerschmitt Bf109. It was very fast for its time but was not selected for production. Only 13 were manufactured and they were used in German propaganda promoting the Luftwaffe in the early days of the war.
This model represents a He100 in the markings of a fictitious Luftwaffe unit
Spacial Hobby 1/72 kit
The He112 was developed for a fly-off competition that was won by the Messerschmitt Bf109. The first order was from the Japanese Navy who ordered 24, 12 were delivered. The rest were taken over by the Luftwaffe and later flown by other air forces
This model represents a He112 flying with the Rumanian air force.
RS Models 1/72
Design of the Hs123 began in 1933 to give the German Luftwaffe a dive bomber and ground attack aircraft. They began entering service in 1935 and served during the Spanish Civil War. They were robust and durable and remained in front line service until 1944.
This model represents a Hs123 of 8/SchG1, Luftwaffe in Russia in 1942
Airfix 1/72 kit
The Junkers Ju52 first flew in 1931 as an airliner. Later military freighter and troop transport versions were also made. During World War 2 about 5,000 were built and they served German forces on all war fronts
This model represents a German Ju-52 in about 1941.
Airfix 1/72 kit
The Messerschmitt Bf109 was a major German fighter of World War 2. The Bf109C was an early version that had been superceded by the beginning of the war. More than 34,000 Bf109s were made but only 58 were Bf109Cs
This model represents a Messerschmitt Bf109C-1 of 2/JG 71 in the Summer of 1939.
Heller 1/72 kit with Microscale decals
The Bf110 was a heavy fighter that first flew in 1936. It performed well during the invasion of Poland and France but suffered badly during the Battle of Britain. They were then moved to other tasks such as reconnaissance, ground attack and night-fighter until the end of the war.
This model represents a Bf110C of 6/1ZS in France in 1940
Airfix 1/72 kit
The Messerschmitt Me209 was a high speed aircraft designed to establish an absolute speed record. In April 1939 it achieved a speed of 755kmh (469mph). German propaganda promoted it as a fighter but attempts to turn it into one were unsuccessful.
This model represents the Me209 in 1939.
Huma 1/72 kit
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Mk.II
The Armstrong Whitworth Whitley was designed for the Royal Air Force in the early 1930s. The prototype first flew in 1936 and they began entering service in 1937. A total of 1,184 were built but they had been withdrawn from front line service by 1942
This model represents a Whitley flying with the RAF in 1938.
Frog 1/72 kit with Flightline conversion parts and Kits at War decals
Blackburn Skua Mk.II
The Blackburn Skua was designed as a multi-role aircraft for Britain’s Royal Navy. They began entering service in October 1938 and served mainly as dive bombers. They were not very successful and were withdrawn from the front line in 1941.
This model represents a Royal Navy Blackburn Skua in 1940.
Novo (Frog) 1/72 with many altered parts and kit decals
Bristol Blenheim IV
The Bristol Blenheim was developed from a civil aircraft first flown in April 1935. It impressed the Royal Air Force which ordered a military version. It played an important role in the first years of World War II before being superceded by more advanced aircraft.
This model represents a Bristol Blenheim IV flying with the Free French Armee de l’Air in North Africa in 1941.
Airfix 1/72 kit
Gloster Gladiator Mk.I
The Gloster Gladiator was the last biplane fighter to serve with the Royal Air Force. They began entering service in early 1937. By the time war broke out in September 1939 most had been replaced in front line service but continued in secondary roles.
This model represents a Gladiator Mk I in 1938.
Matchbox 1/72 kit
Hawker Hurricane Mk.I
The Hawker Hurricane was one of the most important fighters of World War II. It served for the entire war in several roles including bomber interceptor, fighter-bomber and ground support. It was manufactured between 1936 and 1944 and over 14,800 were made.
This model represents a Hurricane Mk.I flown by 111Squadron, RAF, in July 1938.
Airfix 1/72 kit
The Supermarine 224 was designed to be a new fighter for the Royal Air Force. The prototype first few in February 1934 but it’s performance was below exepectations. Although a failure, lessons learned from it led to design of the Supermarine Spitfire.
This model represents the Supermarine 224 prototype in 1934
Heritage Aviation Models 1/72 kit
Supermarine Spitfire I
The Supermarine Spitfire was the best known British World War 2 fighter. Development in 1933 and the prototype first flew in March 1935. They began entering service in 1938, initially with a large two bladed propeller that was soon replaced by a more efficient three bladed variable pitch propeller.
This model represents a Spitfire of 19 Squadron, RAF, in 1938.
Airfix 1/72 kit
Caproni Vizzola F.4
The Caproni Vizzola F.4 was an Italian fighter designed in 1937 and built in 1939. It had an in-line engine at a time when the Italian authorities preferred radial engines for their fighters. As a result only one of this aircraft was made.
This model represents the sole Caproni Vizzola F.4 in 1940.
Dujin 1/72 kit with Sky decals
Fiat CR.42 Falco
The Falco entered service with the Italian Air Force in May 1939 and was the last biplane fighter to be used by the Italian Forces. When Italy entered WW2 in June 1940, 300 were in service. Slightly more than 1800 were built.
This model represents an aircraft of the Italian Air Force in North Africa.
Matchbox 1/72 kit
Design of the Fiat G.50 began in 1935, the prototype first flew in February 1937 and they began entering service in 1936. The Italian air force used them extensively during World War 2 and they also served successfully with the Finnish air force
This model represents as Fiat G.50 of 21 Gruppo, 51 Storma, Regia Aeronautica in 1941
Airfix 1/72 kit
Macchi C.200 Saetta
The Saetta was initially designed for a 1936 requirement for a new interceptor. It was selected but it’s rival Fiat G.50 was also ordered. Production of the Saetta began in June 1939 and 1, 153 were eventually produced. It flew more operational sorties than any other Italian type.
Revell 1/72 kit
Reggiane Re2000 Falco 1
The Re2000 first flew in 1939. It out performed contemporary Italian fighters but was not approved for use by the Italian air force. A small number were eventually used by the Regia Aeronautica where it was disliked due to difficult maintenance, unpredictable handling and engine failures.
This model represents a Re2000 of 377 Squadriglia, Regia Auronautica.
Italeri 1/72 kit
The Aichi D3A1 was introduced to service in 1940. It was the Imperial Japanese Navy’s main dive bomber at the beginning of the Pacific War in December 1941. An improved version began replacing it in front line service from Spring 1942.
This model represents an Aichi D3A1 in early 1942.
Fujimi 1:72 kit with Rising Decals decals
The A5M was the worlds first low wing monoplane shipboard fighter. It was introduced to service in 1936 and saw action against Russia and China but it had been largely replaced in by the Mitsubishi A6M by the beginning of the Pacific War.
This model represents an A5M2 of the 13th Kokutai, Imperial Japanese Navy, in China in 1938.
Fuimi 1/72 kit
The Mitsubishi A6M (commonly called the ‘Zero’) was the Imperial Japanese Navy’s main fighter at the beginning of the Pacific War. Although other fighters outclassed it later it was still being built at the end of the war and almost 11,000 were made.
This model represents an A6M2 at the attack on Pearl Harbour.
Airfix 1/72 kit with Techmod decals
The Nakajima Ki-27 was the main fighter of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force during the early part of World War 2. It entered service in 1937 and soon put to use over Northern China in March 1938 where it matched Soviet I-16 monoplanes. In WW2 it fared poorly against more modern Allied aircraft but serve as a trainer until the end of the war.
Hasegawa 1/72 kit
The Fokker D.XXI was an inexpensive, simple and rugged aircraft that was designed in 1935 for the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force. The prototype first flew in March 1936 and eventually 148 were manufactured. They served with the Dutch, Finnnish and Danish air forces.
This model represents Fokker D.XXI flying with 1 JaVa of the Luchtvaartbrigade in May 1940.
Frog 1/27 kit
The PZL P.7 was a Polish fighter that entered production in June 1931. It was very advanced at that time. Between 1933 and 1935 149 of these aircraft were built. They were then replaced by the PZL P.11c but 30 were still in service in September 1939.
This model represents a P.7c in Polish service in 1935.
Master Kit 1/72 kit
The PZL P.11c entered service with the Polish air force in 1934. At that time it was the most advanced fighter in the world, but it was still Poland’s front line fighter at the start of World War 2 in September 1939.
This model represents a P.11c in Polish service in early 1939.
Master Kit 1/72 kit
The prototype LaGG-3 first flew in March 1940 and they began entering service with the Russian air forces in early 1941. More than 6,500 were built and they were used extensively during the early stages of the German invasion.
This model represents a LaGG-3 in Russian service in 1942.
Red Star 1/72 kit
The MiG-3 was designed as an interceptor fighter and began entering service in 1941. They had poor performance at low altitudes and were inferior to opposing German fighters. Over 3,400 were produced but they did not serve beyond late 1942.
This model represents a MiG-3 defending Moscow in 1942.
Hobby Boss 1/72 kit
The Polikaropv I-16 was a Soviet fighter developed in 1933. It was the world’s first low wing monoplane fighter with retractable undercarriage to attain operational status. It formed the backbone of the Soviet air forces at the start of WW2 but was then outclassed by more modern fighters.
This model represents an I-16 flying with 72 SAT at Murmansk.
Matchbox 1/72 kit
The Polikarpov I-17 made its first flight in 1934. The improved third prototype flew in 1936 and was superior to the contemporary I-16 fighter. However, authorities preferred radial engined I-16 so the I-17 was not put into production.
This model represents the third I-17 prototype in 1936.
Amodel 1/72 kit
The Yer-2 began life as an airliner but the strategic bomber version first flew in 1940. The Soviet Union did little strategic bombing during World War 2 so this aircraft was rarely used in its intended role and only 319 were built.
This model represents a Yermolayev Yer-2 in 1945.
AModel 1/72 kit
The Boeing B-17B was the first production version of the B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’. The first B-17B flew in June 1939 and 39 had been built by March 1940. They were followed by improved B-17s and over 13,00 had been produced by the end of the war.
This model represents an American B-17B in November 1939.
Academy 1/72 kit
Brewster B339 Buffalo
The Buffalo was designed for the US Navy and first flew in December 1937. It became that navy’s first monoplane fighter. It also served with several foreign air forces including Britain’s Royal Air Force in Burma, Malaya and Singapore at the beginning of the Pacific War.
This model represents a Buffalo of 453 Squadron, RAF, in 1941.
The Curtiss P-36 first flew in 1935 as a competitor in the USAAC fighter selection competition. Although it did not win the air force also ordered the Curtiss fighter which began entering service in 1938. It was the basis of the famous P-40 fighter.
This model represents a Curtiss P-36 in service with the USAAC in 1941.
Heller 1/72 kit
Curtiss Wright SNC-1
The Curtiss Wright SNC-1 was a trainer version of that company’s CW-21 light fighter that flew first in 1938. This scout trainer version entered service in 1942 with the US Navy where they were widely used and about 440 were built.
This model represents a SNC-1 of the Peruvian air force in 1946
Kora 1/72 kit
The Grumman F4F Wildcat entered service with the United States Navy in December 1940. It was the Navy’s front line fighter in the first years of the Pacific War. As World War 2 progressed they were used in many auxiliary roles.
This model represents a F4F-4 of VF-6, US Navy, in 1942.
Airfix 1/72 kit
The Grumman XF5F was an experimental fighter developed for the United States Navy in the late 1938s. It incorporated many novel design features. Although it was not put into production it contributed to the development of later fighters.
This model represents the sole prototype in 1940.
MPM 1/72 kit
Lockheed Hudson Mk.IV
The Lockheed Husdon was a patrol bomber version of a 1930s airliner. The first one flew in 1938 and deliveries began in February 1939. When production ended in 1943 2,942 had been built. The RAAF took delivery of 247 Hudsons from 1940.
This model represents an Australian Hudson in 1943.
Italeri 1/72 kit with DK decals