The American B-17
The American B-17 bomber, through various models and manifestations, was the bomber primarily used in both the European and Pacific theatres. In 1934, the US Army Air Corps specified a need for a plane to be used in bombing runs against shipping vessels, hoping for a two-engine plane that could carry the necessary weight to hold the number of bombs needed to be effective. Instead, Boeing supplied the Army with a 4 engine plane, seen here, that could take the same number of bombs, but move faster and fly higher. A total of 7 different models of the B-17 were made over the course of the war, each a slight improvement of the previous model. The B-17G was the most popular, accounting for 8,680 of the 12,731 produced. However, the B-17 had its problems, most notably, its lack of self-defense. The B-17 was armed with 13 .5 inch machine guns, the idea being that it could just put up a wall of metal that would keep the Luftwaffe at bay. Unfortunately, this was unrealistic, as the German planes were too fast. Without a fast plane to accompany it, the B-17 was a sitting duck. This led to the development of the…
The P-51 Mustang
The problem with the conventional fighters shown below was that while they were good for defending Britain, they had no long range capabilities, as they did not have the fuel storage to make the long journey into the depths of Germany. This meant the American bombers, who relied on day bombing runs to drop their bombs accurately, had no defence but their own machine guns to ward off Luftwaffe fighters. Unable to take evasive action that would take them off target, the bombers were out of luck until the development of the long range P-51 Mustang enabled a fighter escort to accompany the bombers on their day runs. With the P-51 in the fight, the Allies were finally able to have air superiority over Germany, winning the air war against the Luftwaffe.
The British Hurricane
The British Hawker Hurricane was designed in response to the German Messerschmitt. It was built in a method similar to that used to produce bi-planes, and was ergonomically unmatched for the pilot. Additionally, it was easy and inexpensive to produce and repair. It was a slightly larger and slower than its counterpart the Spitfire, but was considered more durable and able to withstand more injuries.
The British Spitfire
The British Spitfire was a unique design by R.J. Mitchell. Mitchell ignored common plane designs of the day, instead drawing inspiration from the Supermarine seaplane. It was the wars first all-metal fighter, and had an aerodynamic shape and oval wings. Its sleek design made it easy for pilots to fly, though it did have lower killing statistics than its counterpart the Hurricane.
B-17 image from http://www.angelfire.com/fm/odyssey/3fortress.htm
P-51 image from http://www.angelfire.com/fm/compass/Mustang.htm
Images from http://www.retrosellers.com/features61.htm