World War II’s First Dogfights


If there is one thing that a reader will take away from Flight Journal’s World War II’s First Dogfights, it is a clear understanding that WW II didn’t suddenly start in June 1940 during the Battle of Britain or the morning of December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor. This special issue takes the reader through the complex 1930s’ development of iconic fighters and mortal enemies that led up to the war. It spells out the different philosophies that drove aircraft design and aerial warfare, and birthed the likes of the Zero, P-40, Spitfire, and Messerschmitt. More important, every developing fighter had its first dogfight and every ace had his baptism in fire, and this issue gives the reader a ringside seat to it all.

6 | 1938–1939: A Changing World of Dogfights
New airplanes, new capabilities, new tactics
by Barrett Tillman

18 | 1940–1941: The Clash of Icons
The war begins—the Battle of Britain and Pearl Harbor
by John Lloyd

32 | 1942–1943: Climbing the Learning Curve
New challenges strain both sides
by Andrew Charles

46 | The New Generation Arrives
Refining the art of war
by Barrett Tillman

60 | Remembering the First
Aces at the beginning
by Barrett Tillman

72 | Prototypes to Legends
Evolution of the icons
by Budd Davisson

4 | Editorial

30 | In Theater: A Study in Armed Utility
The Corsair in combat
by Budd Davisson

58 | In Theater: The Sleeping Dragon Awakens
An amazing decade of progress
by Budd Davisson

68 | In Theater: Brewster’s F3A Buffalo
Not deserving of its reputation?
by Barrett Tillman

82 | Tailview
Fighter pilots: A warrior clan
by Budd Davisson