Can You Identify These Pre-War Airplanes?

By: Robin Tyler
Image: By Kadellar , from Wikimedia Commons / By L-Bit, from Wikimedia Commons / By Kogo (photo taken by Kogo), via Wikimedia Commons

About This Quiz

The period between World War I and World War II saw some incredible advancements in aircraft design.

Although some monoplane aircraft had been designed before 1920, this single-wing design became the template that many aircraft companies began to use, particularly in the 1930s. That doesn't mean that biplanes suddenly fell out of favor. It was a more gradual process than this, with new biplanes still entering airspace in the mid-1930s. 

It was obvious, however, that monoplane aircraft were the way forward.

And as an aircraft nut, you probably know that manufacturing techniques changed as well. No longer were aircraft constructed from wood and covered with canvas. More and more planes were made from lightweight metals, aluminum for example, and this became the norm as the 1930s wore on. 

Pre-war planes came in all shapes, sizes and forms and included new generation fighter aircraft, bombers and attack aircraft as well as a range of different airliner types, some even in the form of seaplanes. 

But the questions is, would you be able to identify them? For aircraft aficionados, some are simple to identify, because although they were first flown in the '30s, they went on to make a name for themselves in World War II. 

Others, however, will test your aviation knowledge to the limit.

Good luck!

The B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the most famous aircraft ever produced. Designed as a bomber, it was primarily used in the West, flying daylight missions against Nazi Germany. The B-17 could hold 9,600 pounds of bombs and had 11 to 13 machine guns as defensive armament. It first flew in 1935 and entered service in 1938.

The Supermarine Spitfire is one of the most famous aircraft ever built. It first flew in 1936 and played a major part in defending Great Britain against the Luftwaffe, Hitler's air force, during the Second World War. It was produced throughout the war with over 20,000 built. There are still around 50 flying examples found around the world.

This 10-seater commercial passenger aircraft from Lockheed first saw service in 1935. It perhaps gained more fame due to the fact that it was the plane chose by Amelia Earheart on her trip to circumnavigate the world, one she never returned from.

Perhaps one of the most famous training aircraft ever produced, the T-6 Texan first flew in 1935 and, incredibly, was still in service with the South African Air Force up until 1995.

First flown in 1937, the Grumman Goose was an amphibious passenger plane that could transport up to eight passengers. Incredibly, it was purposely designed for businessmen in the Long Island area.

The Junkers Ju 52 entered service in 1931. This tri-motor aircraft was initially a passenger aircraft but saw service in World War II as a paratroop and regular transport machine.

Together with the Supermarine Spitfire, the Hawker Hurricane held off the German Luftwaffe during World War II, most notably during the Battle of Britain. Failure to do so would have seen Germany hold air superiority which would have let Hitler invade the island nation. Although not as famous as the Spitfire, the Hurricane was an excellent fighter in its own rights. This famous fighter first flew in 1935.

The Douglas DC 3 Dakota is nothing short of a legend. It first flew in 1936 and has been used in many guises, from an airliner to cargo aircraft, and even during the Second World War as a troop transport, cargo carrier, glider tow aircraft or to carry paratroopers. The DC3 is affectionately known as the Goony Bird.

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was one of the major carrier-based fighters of the United States Navy during World War II. The Wildcat saw action throughout the Pacific, playing a pivotal role in defending the U.S. fleet from Japanese attack. It first flew in 1937.

The Keystone B-3 was a biplane bomber aircraft in service with the United States Army Air Corps in the 1920s. Although made obsolete by the new all-metal monoplanes of the 1930s, the B-3 stayed in service until 1940.

The De Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide was a majestic looking bi-plane that could carry from 6 to 8 passengers. At the outbreak of World War II, most Rapides were pressed into service with the Royal Air Force.

The first all-metal fighter produced by the United States, the Boeing P-26 Peashooter first flew in 1932. Chinese-built Peashooters saw action against the Japanese before the outbreak of World War II, while the Peashooter also served in the Pacific with the Philippine Army Air Force.

A two-seater bomber, the Hawker Hart served with Royal Air Force from 1930 but was obsolete by the outbreak of World War II.

Produced between 1932 and 1933, the Gee Bee was a very distinct-looking aircraft. It was built especially for air racing and set a speed record of 296 mph in 1932.

The Avro Anson entered service in 1936 and performed a number of roles in the Royal Airforce including as a light bomber, trainer, maritime reconnaissance and transport aircraft. It was largely obsolete by the time World War II started

This two-seat, two-engined fighter performed poorly for the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain where it was no match for the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire. in fact, the Messerschmitt BF110 often needed its own fighter escort, despite the fact that it was a fighter. It first flew in 1936.

Not necessarily the most glamorous fighter ever produced by the United States during World War II, the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk certainly served a purpose. It was a capable dogfighter that was easy to build and helped to ensure that the United States Air Force was significantly armed during the early days of the war. Almost 12,000 of the P-40 were built up until 1944.

A bomber introduced into the United States Army Air Corps in 1934, the Martin B10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber in service in the United States. When introduced, it proved faster than any of the current fighters in service.

The Boeing 314 Clipper was a flying boat airliner which first entered service in 1939. Clippers were capable of flying across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, with fuel stops along the way, of course.

This two-engine commercial passenger aircraft first entered service in 1934. Constructed from steel tubing and covered with fabric, it was soon superseded by the newer designs which used stressed aluminum in their construction.

This 1930s two-engine aircraft was intended as a transport plane. Only two were ever built, as the Miles factory was commissioned to focus on the Magister training aircraft as the threat of war approached in the late 1930s.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the primary fighter in service with the German Air Force at the outbreak of World War II. First introduced in 1937, the aircraft had proved itself extremely capable during the Spanish Civil War, where it was flown by German pilots helping Franco.

At the start of the Second World War, the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was one of the most feared aircraft available to the German Air Force. This ground attack plane used dive bombing techniques to great effect. It was feared as it also employed wind-driven sirens that would wail on each attack, causing panic for both civilians and enemy soldiers. It first flew in 1935 and saw action in the Spanish Civil War.

The Model 9 Orion from Lockheed was a single-engined commercial passenger aircraft first released in 1931. The enclosed cabin could transport six passengers comfortably. The Orion was the first airline with retractable undercarriage.

The De Havilland Express was a larger of the Dragon Rapide, also built by De Havilland. Over 700 were built in the 1930s.

One of the last biplane fighters in the Royal Air Force, the Gloster Gladiator was obsolete by the outbreak of World War II although it had served as a frontline fighter from around 1935 onward.

The Blackburn Skua was a two-seater fighter/dive bomber that saw service with the British Fleet Air Arm after entering service in 1938.

The Supermarine S6 designed by RJ Mitchell, who later went on to design the Supermarine Spitfire. This air racer won the Schneider Trophy race in 1929.

Introduced in 1931, the Boeing YB-9 didn't have a long operational service in the US Army Air Corps, and by 1935 was retired from service. It does have the distinction as the first monoplane bomber to be made entirely out of metal.

The Hudson from Lockheed entered service in 1939 as both a light bomber as well as a coastal maritime patrol aircraft. Interestingly, it was commissioned for the Royal Air Force and was used by a number of Commonwealth countries, even after World War II. It did service with US forces as well.

The Buffalo, a fighter manufactured by Brewster, first entered service in 1937. It was one of the first aircraft to include an arrestor hook for operations from aircraft carriers.

A design from Howard Hughes, the H-1 set a number of records in the late 1930s. During this time, the H-1 was the fastest landplane around, capable of speeds of over 350 mph.

This single-seat aircraft was designed for sport flying as well as touring by the famed Messerschmitt aircraft factory and Willie Messerschmitt in particular. It first flew in 1934.

The F.XX, from Dutch designers Fokker, entered service in 1933 as a passenger transport aircraft. It could fly up to 12 people and crew up to distances of 800 miles.

The 1930s saw an upsurge in the popularity of flying boats as a form of commercial airliner and the Empire Boat, from Short, is one of the more famous examples. First introduced in 1936, it was capable of flying up to 24 passengers up to 700 miles at a time.

This short stubby Russian fighter first entered service in 1934. By the start of the World War II, the Polikarpov i-16 was no match for more advanced German fighter aircraft. It was fondly nicknamed 'Donkey' by its pilots.

The Lockheed YP-24 was a two-seat fighter that never entered service. In fact, only one was made, in 1931. Factors, including the Great Depression, saw the project abandoned.

Only one example of this behemoth was built in the early 1930s in the U.S.S.R. The K-7 has seven engines and was proposed as both a bomber and passenger aircraft. The only prototype crashed in 1933, killing 14 people.

The Fairey Swordfish was a biplane torpedo bomber that first entered service in 1936 with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. It has the distinction of helping to sink the German battleship, the Bismarck, during World War II.

Initially developed as an airliner for long-range trips, the Focke-Wulf F200 Condor was used extensively by the Luftwaffe during World War II as a maritime patrol aircraft and anti-ship bomber. It was first introduced in 1937.

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