NAVY AND MARINE CORPS AIRCRAFT

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The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) flew some of the same planes as the USAAF, but the navy aircraft, U.S. 31 in particular had two special requirements: fighters that could take off and land on aircraft carriers, and seaplanes. The following are some of the best-known navy and USMC aircraft of World War II. F2A Buffalo. The Brewster F2A Buffalo was the first monoplane fighter operated from an aircraft carrier. The rather unwieldy fighter was no match for Japanese aircraft and could achieve a top speed of no more than 300 miles per hour. After the navy abandoned it early in the war, the marines used it for land-based operations, mostly in the close air support role. Only 502 Buffalos were built. TBD Devastator. While the Brewster Buffalo was the navy's first carrier-based monoplane fighter, the Douglas TBD Devastator was its first carrier-launched torpedo bomber. Built to carry a single heavy torpedo under the fuselage, it was a large aircraft powered by a 900-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engine, which made a speed of just over 200 miles per hour. A prototype flew in April 1935, and production began in 1937–39, so that the Devastator soon replaced prewar carrier-based biplanes. In combat, the TBD's slow speed and inadequate defensive armament—one .30-caliber machine gun firing forward and another in the rear cockpit—made it very vulnerable to fire from enemy fighters and ships. At the Battle of Midway, only four of 41 TBDs escaped destruction. TBF/TBM Avenger. The Grumman TBF Avenger was introduced in 1939 as a replacement for the TBD Devastator and proved so effective that General Motors also began to build the plane (designated TBM) under license in 1942. The large aircraft was equipped with an electrically powered gun turret and an internal bomb bay to accommodate four 500-pound bombs or a single aerial torpedo. Its crew included a pilot, radioman, and gunner. A total of 9,842 TBF/TBM Avengers were produced during the war. The TBM engine was a 1,900-horsepower Wright, and maximum takeoff weight was 17,895 pounds. Top speed was 276 miles per hour, ceiling 30,100 feet, and range 1,000 miles. The aircraft was armed with two 12.7-mm forward-firing machine guns, one 12.7-mm dorsal- mounted machine gun, and one 7.62-mm ventral- mounted machine gun; it could carry up to 2,000 pounds of ordnance. F4U Corsair. The gull-wing F4U Vought Corsair went into production in 1942 and continued in production well after the war, ending its run in 1952, by which time 12,582 had been built. One of the most successful fighters of World War II, it enjoyed an 11 to 1 kill ratio against Japanese aircraft in the Pacific. The single engine developed a mighty 2,000 horsepower, and the gull wings not only reduced drag, but allowed for shorter landing gear to accommodate an oversized propeller. The wings could be folded over the canopy to save space on the hangar deck. Unfortunately, t...


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