& Match collections. I've always been facinated by the
twin-engined fighters of WWII. Almost every nation made an effort
to design one or more, and almost all the designs either failed to
meet their original goals or were eventually successful in some new,
It's possible that the Lockheed
P-38 was the only twin-engined design that
lived up to its pre-war promise, though at least two other designs
may have been more successful had they been given enough time. While
the P-38 struggled to do combat with single-engine fighters in the
European theater, it was more successful over the Pacific. That success
was due to the P-38's firepower, its ability to fly very high, its
range, its ability to absorb damage, and its high speed. By and large
Japanese types weren't as fast and weren't able to absorb the lethel
firepower of the P-38.
The Bf 110
showed initial promise in combat with less capable fighters from the
less developed nations attacked by Germany in 1939 and
with more advanced British types proved its undoing as a day fighter.
However, the design made a successful transition to the nightfighter
roll as soon as British bombers began attacking German-occupied territories.
In this photo study, it was surprising
to find that the Bf 110 was smaller and less bulky than the P-38,
though the Messerschmitt had a larger wing area.
The two twin-engined fighters that might have made a name for themselves,
but arrived too late in the war, were the Grumman
F7F Tigercat and the beautiful Mitsubishi
Ki-83 two-seat escort fighter. The Tigercat
was capable of speeds up to 435 mph, and had a 51 ft 6 in wingspan.
The Ki-83 could reach 438 mph, and had a 50 ft 10 in wingspan. The
following comment is from Japanese
Aircraft of the Pacific War by Rene J. Francillon:
"Had the war lasted longer, the Ki-83 would have been a formidable
weapon as its performance compared favourably with that of the contemporary
Grumman F7F Tigercat..."