The airborne confrontations in World War 2 were some of the largest and most significant in the history of aviation – much more than the fairly minor impact that aircrafts had on World War 1. The Axis forces (Germany and Japan) launched with heavy air strike campaigns and early on during WW2 they overran Denmark and Holland.
Combined strikes using bombers and fighters for the Axis forces (particularly Germany) used very capable and advanced aircraft that.
The use of these planes and many others during WW2 meant that the Allies had to respond in kind. The British did respond with the now world-famous Spitfire plane – guided by an advanced technology called radar. And so began the Battle of Britain. The entire conflict was fought in the air and when the German war planes were unable to dominate the British skies, the German war plans drastically changed.
It was around this time that the Japanese used aircraft carriers that had been in service since the 1920’s to attack Pearl Harbour in Hawaii. This surprise attack all but wiped out the U.S. Pacific fleet using aircraft. It was a devastating assault which caused the deaths of 2,402 Americans and 1,247 injuries. The attack on Pearl Harbour led to the United States’ entry to WW2.
A number of technological advancements saw the planes evolve during WW2. During World War 1 the planes were made of wood and built in the bi-plane style. WW2 planes were much sleeker and more powerful with aluminium bodies and supercharged piston engines.
The British, German and Americans also began to experiment with jet engine planes during the war. The jet engines were used on a number of combat outings and achieved far greater speeds than their propeller equivalents.
This website charts a history of aircraft and offers suggestions to people who wish to visit aircraft museums.
Everyone interested in World War II history knows the significance of aircraft in the Battle of Britain, and how it was won by the narrowest of margins. Fewer people are aware, however, of the contribution made during the Battle by Polish pilots, contribution which is perhaps most vividly described in the words of Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding, the C-in-C of the RAF Fighter Command during the Battle: (...) had it not been for the magnificent material contributed by the Polish squadrons and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to say that the outcome of battle would have been the same. Here is the story of Polish involvement in this greatest air battle in history:
First Polish pilots started reaching England in December 1939, following the British agreement to accept a contingent of 300 Polish aircrew and 2,000 of support personnel. The British were at first reluctant to use them for operational duties, but after the German invasion of France, in view of her imminent collapse, the Air Ministry agreed to form two Polish bomber squadrons, as part of the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve.
Sir Hugh Dowding strongly opposed forming Polish fighter squadrons - for which the Polish government in exile pressed very hard - but in view of rapidly deteriorating military situation, with Britain's very survival depending on the Few fighter pilots it could muster, an agreement was finally reached on August 5, 1940. Four bomber and two fighter squadrons would be formed. These would formally constitute an independent Polish Air Force, operationally however they would be under British command.
In the meantime, even more Polish pilots had reached England following the collapse of France, and in July several of them had already been posted to British squadrons in the ranks of RAF Voluntary Reserve.
British reluctance to accept Polish aircrew into RAF was understandable, even though in the end it proved unfounded. John Kent, a Canadian posted in August 1940 as a flight commander to 303 Squadron later remarked, All I knew about the Polish Air Force was that it had resisted the Luftwaffe for about three days. The ever increasing casualties and insufficient supply of new pilots finally forced the RAF to accept into service foreigners, of whose Poles were the largest group. This bloody passage forms one of the most significant moments in British history.