I understand the RAF made extensive use of C-47 and other support aircraft from the US, but they never seemed to adopt fighters and bombers for frontline service like the British Army so eagerly did with the m3, lee and sherman and other equipment. What was the reason for this? Where there not enough British pilots available to justify the purchase? Or was British manufacturing just better suited to producing airframes than tank hulls?


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Not sure where you get your information, but the RAF extensively used P-51 Mustangs (it was designed for them originally), P-47 Thunderbolts (in the Far East and Middle East), P-40 Tomahawks (in the Far East and Middle East), and B-25 Mitchells (Europe, Middle East and Far East) throughout the war.

They ordered some P-38 Lightnings early on but specified non-counterrototating engines and no supercharging, and the performance was disappointing as you would expect, and further orders were declined.

The RAF also operated B-17s and B-24s and PBYs in Coastal Command. The Royal Navy operated Corsairs and Wildcats off carriers. It was the Royal Navy that convinced the US Navy to revisit carrier operations for the Corsair, after the Navy initially abandoned carrier ops and transferred their Corsairs to the Marine Corps for land based ops, by perfecting the curved approach path on Royal Navy carriers.

The main limitation would be available quantities restricted as the US started to prioritize its own needs

Meanwhile, the US Army operated DeHavilland Mosquitos for reconnaissance and pathfinding, as well as Spitfires.

I'm sure there are other types I missed.

My father flew C-47s in Burma, and was based at RAF Tulihal just inside India, and the base included RAF squadrons of both B-25s and P-47s that provided tactical support to the 14th Army's drive down the Irrawaddy valley to Mandalay. When I was little he told me stories of orbiting near Japanese lines in their Dakotas and watching the RAF Mitchells and Thunderbolts pound Japanese positions so they could make their drops over British Army positions.

  • $\begingroup$ My conjecture is that since US manufacturing is closer to the Far East theatre than UK manufacturing, but UK manufacturing was (obviously much) closer to the European theatre, the RAF would have primarily used UK planes in Europe and US planes in the Far East. Which since many British history buffs are more interested in the European Theatre gives the impression that the RAF flew mainly UK types. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2022 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ Mainly it was that the Far East was a secondary priority, way lower priority as far as Britain was concerned, and had to distribute their more limited resources a bit more carefully. Plus the only major theatre of operations for UK was India/Burma. The RAF did send Spits to Burma in 1943 and 1944, Mark Eights I believe. The Spit could fly circles around an Oscar (Army Zero). The UK just couldn't produce enough airplanes in-house, so they supplemented their needs with US types, and in some cases like the B-24, and B-25, they were just the best design for the job. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Nov 14, 2022 at 22:14

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