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95 votes
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Were there any planes used in WWII that were able to shoot their own tail?

The Douglas SBD Dauntless's rear gunner could shoot its own tail. The SBD-5 had two 30-cal machine guns that could be popped out of storage in the aft fuselage and locked into a ring frame around the ...
Rob McDonald's user avatar
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53 votes
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Can anyone identify what appears to be a crashed WWII German plane?

It's a P-47 Thunderbolt, the original "razorback" version (not the later ones with the bubble canopy and cut-down rear fuselage). The instant giveaway is the V shaped windshield, which had ...
John K's user avatar
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49 votes
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Can the dome gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress shoot the plane's tail off?

There's a profile cam in the turret track ring that operates a mechanism that interrupts the guns when the barrels are pointed at parts of the aircraft. Waist gunners were the only ones who had to ...
John K's user avatar
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46 votes
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Would jet fuel for an F-16 or F-35 be producible during WW2?

Jet fuel is mostly kerosene, with some aromatic hydrocarbons mixed in for stability, temperature range and the like. You could probably run military jets on pure kerosene if they were magically ...
GdD's user avatar
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40 votes
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How does the head-up display on a spitfire work?

It's not a head-up display, it's a reflector gunsight. (Follow that link to learn how they work.) It just displays a fixed reticle to aim the cannon, not any flight instrumentation. Some (but not all)...
Dan Hulme's user avatar
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36 votes
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Incidents of V1 flying bombs being nudged instead of shot down

Probably not often. Catching up with the V-1 in level flight was not easy for the (piston-powered) aircraft of the time. Quotes from Osprey book "Meteor I vs V-1 Flying Bomb". [L]egendary ...
got trolled too much this week's user avatar
32 votes
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What is this board given to a pilot in World War II?

The photo in the question is a screenshot from the movie "Midway"(2019). The board is a Mark 3A Plotting Board used for navigation by pilots flying from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers during World War ...
Mike Sowsun's user avatar
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32 votes
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What is this plane from WWII (probably French or Allied forces)?

It's an RAF Coastal Command Vickers Wellington, a maritime patrol variant, with a chin radome for its search radar and the nose turret removed and just greenhouse for observing. The dark projection ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
28 votes
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Did LeMay actually require crews to remove their guns on B-29s?

Yes, in March 1945 Curtis LeMay did order guns and ammo removed, but then shortly after rescinded the order. Here is a quote from his book titled “Superfortress”: “At first, we had decided to take out ...
Mike Sowsun's user avatar
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23 votes
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What are the unusually-enlarged wing sections on this P-38 Lightning?

It was a test bed that was looking into laminar flow on the wings. was converted in 1942 as a two-seater, with an elongated central nacelle extending aft of the wing trailing edge, intended as a ...
Dave's user avatar
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23 votes

Did WWII fighters do a roll before engaging to identify themselves to radar operators?

For a radar to be able to detect/recognize/distinguish the electromagnetic signature of a "roll" requires very sophisticated real-time Signal Processing, that was not available until digital ...
Charles Bretana's user avatar
22 votes

What is this WWII four-engine plane on skis?

Looks like a TB-3 or a variant thereof. According to Wikipedia, this four-engine all steel(!) heavy bomber first flew in 1930 and was the world's first cantilever aircraft in this class. The skis do ...
AEhere supports Monica's user avatar
20 votes
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Identifying WWII reconnaissance plane wing

It looked too short to be a C-47 wing, which meant it was most likely a Beech 18. And sure enough, in the cropped image below (taken from a copyrighted image - uncropped pic at the link above), you ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
19 votes

What is this WWII four-engine plane on skis?

As yury10578 and AEhere correctly pointed out it's ANT-6A "Aviaarctica", polar version of TB-3 heavy bomber. (The plane's name is written on its body) Its drawing in that exact livery: ANT-6A with ...
Lumi Akimova's user avatar
18 votes
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Why does this Curtiss Kittyhawk have a Question Mark in its squadron code?

It was fairly common to use “?” if there were more than 26 aircraft in the squadron. (only 26 letters in the alphabet) Camouflage and markings of No.112 Squadron RAF, “The second thing is the use of ...
Mike Sowsun's user avatar
  • 37.8k
16 votes

Can anyone identify what appears to be a crashed WWII German plane?

This looks like a P-47 (twin row radial, 4-blade prop, unique canopy frame structure) that is part of a scrap pile with some German types in the mix.
niels nielsen's user avatar
15 votes

How did War Emergency Power work?

Generally, War Emergency Power was a power setting that was available, but exceeded the engine's long term running condition rating. It was usually specified in manifold pressure, and primarily ...
Zeiss Ikon's user avatar
  • 17.1k
15 votes

Incidents of V1 flying bombs being nudged instead of shot down

Pic source It apparently did really happen, described in the book V1 Flying Bomb Aces by Andrew Thomas, page 19: It was on 23 June that one of No 91 Sqn's Australian pilots, Fly Off Ken Collier, ...
Koyovis's user avatar
  • 61.8k
14 votes
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How is Spitfire landing gear powered?

Early models of Supermarine Spitfire (prior to the 175th production aircraft) had no hydraulic gear extension system, according to Wikipedia: At the same time the manual hand-pump for operating the ...
mins's user avatar
  • 74.8k
14 votes

Did the Germans ever use captured Allied aircraft against the Allies?

Not sure about the Germans, but the Italians used a P-38 (from the site 12 O'Clock High): The piece about the P-38 captured by the Regia Aeronautica is extremely correct (at last, I was sick of ...
Eugene Styer's user avatar
  • 3,709
14 votes
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Twin-Engine WWII Japanese Bomber

Google Lens suggests that this is a photo of a Tachikawa Ki-54 (trainer / transport). And I think Google Lens is right. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachikawa_Ki-54 Tachikawa Ki-54 photo source
gdir's user avatar
  • 256
13 votes
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Can anyone help me with the Make, Model (version), and Unit of this WWII army trainer. Appears to be an AT-6 version

That is a North American NA-36, BC-1, a North American NA-16 derivative, the predecessor of the North American T-6 Texan Source: nationalmuseum.af.mil Some observations that helped to determine the ...
DeltaLima's user avatar
  • 83.6k
10 votes

What's an "outrigger" for parking aircraft on a carrier?

You can see it a bit better in this picture: (Source) In order to save deck space for operations, the smaller escort carriers like HMS Khedive used outriggers. The tail wheel is first affixed ...
Dave's user avatar
  • 101k
10 votes
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In WW2, how did aircraft navigate to the carrier?

You are correct. US carriers did indeed have a homing beacon that enabled aircraft to find them. The carrier transmitting units were called YE or YG, and the receiving units in the planes were ...
DJClayworth's user avatar
  • 4,501
10 votes

Would jet fuel for an F-16 or F-35 be producible during WW2?

Hydrocarbon cuts that can be used for jet fuel were plentiful during WWII; it was gasoline, especially high octane avgas, that was in short supply. Greatly over-simplified: the first stage in a ...
blacksmith37's user avatar
10 votes
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Did Japan actually use any production aircraft with inverted gull wings during WW2?

At least one - the Aichi B7A - although it saw little action, coming very late to the war. The Aichi B7A Ryusei (愛知 流星艦上攻撃機 Aichi ryuusei-kanjou-kougeki-ki) ("Shooting Star", Allied ...
Party Ark's user avatar
  • 13.6k
9 votes
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What is this part on the Me 262?

They are Werfer-Granate 21 rocket launchers - The Werfer-Granate 21 rocket launcher, also known as the BR 21 (the "BR" standing for Bordrakete) in official Luftwaffe manuals, was a weapon ...
Party Ark's user avatar
  • 13.6k
9 votes
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Could Sudden Decompression Cause You to be Shot Out of the Tunnel on a B-29?

If lying down, probably air would just whoosh past you for a second or two until equalized and it might slide you along a bit. There isn't a lot of volume in the two pressure chambers and a ...
John K's user avatar
  • 132k
9 votes

Why weren't WWII piston aircraft able to fly at 500mph?

What am I missing? The contribution of zero lift drag to overall drag at high speed. L/D drops to much lower values than 10 at the top speed of piston-powered airplanes. Let's take an example: Given ...
Peter Kämpf's user avatar

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