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"Best Fighter Aircraft of the 1930s" Topic

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Tgerritsen Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2022 5:41 p.m. PST

Continuing a decade a day, we move on the early Inter War Years.

If you want to chime in on previous decades you can find them here:
1920's TMP link
1910's TMP link

Now things get interesting and only accelerate from here as Air Combat comes into its own. The classic style of the World War One Biplane is finally on the way out and the all metal (or fabric over metal) monoplane is the direction of things to come.

What is your favorite fighter aircraft of the decade 1930-1939? Can be from any theater or country. There is no wrong or right answer. This is purely an excuse to talk up the greatest fighters of the 20th Century one decade at a time.

The aircraft should be operational within this period, so an aircraft designed in the 20s but still flying is an acceptable answer.

To me there's not much debate. The Spitfire goes operational in 1939 and becomes a symbol of England and WWII aerial combat. You might argue the Bf109, but I think the classic Spit rules this decade (and many will likely pick it again in the next decade).


I do have to give special mention to some other iconic fighters of this decade-

The Polikarpov I-16 was a surprising indication of what the Soviets could do and would do later in the century with simple, capable fighters that were nimble, rugged and able to fight.


The Fiat Cr.32, a smart Italian design and another with lovely spats. This agile fighter gave the I-16 a run for its money over the skies of Spain, and the Spanish flew them all the way up to 1953 (by which time they were hopelessly outclassed).


And one for pure looks alone- the P-26 Peashooter. An early monoplane that often had beautiful paint jobs and more lovely spats that seemed to define the age.


What is your favorite fighter of this decade and why?

Personal logo gamertom Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2022 6:06 p.m. PST

Been waiting for this one. The Curtiss F9C Sparrowhawk is my fav (though I admit to being surprised to find it wasn't built in the 1920's). What's not to like about an aircraft carrying airship with its own special fighter. Wikipedia has a good article on it with wonderful pictures.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2022 6:16 p.m. PST

Favourite Me-109, but best – Spitfire!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP27 May 2022 6:33 p.m. PST

The P-26. Because it's cool.

Prince Alberts Revenge27 May 2022 9:39 p.m. PST

Cr32 Falco is one of the mot beautiful planes ever built. The I-15 and I-16 also beautiful planes. I'm not talking best but prettiest.

Fitzovich Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2022 2:05 a.m. PST

P-26 in my opinion.

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2022 9:30 a.m. PST

There's so many interesting fighters of the 1930s its hard to choose just one.

Hawker Fury has beautifully sleek lines.

I always thought that the Cr42 was a better looking plane than the Cr32.

P-26 has to take a prize for the most ungainly looking fighter aircraft to survive long enough to serve briefly in WW2.

F2A Brewster Buffalo, the flying beer barrel, looks comfortably plump. In the hands of the Finns it was deadly.

Father of Cats Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2022 10:31 a.m. PST

Spitfires get the glory, but Hurricanes did a lot of the work. It needs to be in the list.

DBS30328 May 2022 1:15 p.m. PST

Definitely not the best, but incredibly important for how it paved the way for the transformation of air combat – the Bristol Blenheim If. Slow, under armed for its size, a converted light bomber; but the first to be fitted with radar and the first to score victories at night with it. The very first being achieved over a Do 17Z on 22 July 1940, with the Blenheim crewed by F/O Ashfield, P/O Morris and Sgt Leyland.

Londonplod28 May 2022 3:11 p.m. PST

P26 or the two seaters used to take out King Kong.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP28 May 2022 4:38 p.m. PST

Hawker Fury has beautifully sleek lines.
That whole series of Hawker aircraft (Hart, Hind, Nimrod, Fury, etc.) were gorgeous.

While certainly far from the best, I've always had a soft spot for the Dewoitine D.500 series, especially the D.510. To me it just screams 1930s. It's like someone asked William Van Alen or Raymond Hood to design a fighter plane.

Prince Alberts Revenge28 May 2022 9:09 p.m. PST

I always thought that the Cr42 was a better looking plane than the Cr32.

They are both great looking planes. I said Cr32 because I kinda view the Cr42 as a 40s era fighter even though they were produced in 1939.

I also like the look of the Henschel 123 even though I wouldn't say its pretty.

Midlander6530 May 2022 11:09 a.m. PST

I was waiting for this. It might have been better to restrict the 1930s competition to those in service by the end of 1936 to rule out the early Second World War candidates but, if we are going up to December 1939 then it has to be the Bf. 109.

skedaddle Supporting Member of TMP31 May 2022 12:33 p.m. PST

Gotta love the BF110 here.

Timbo W31 May 2022 5:17 p.m. PST

Spitfire I (1938) 73.70
Spitfire I (1940) 83.78
Polikarpov I16 59.98
Polikarpov I16M 83.85
Bloch MB152 73.37
Me109 E3 75.70
P36C Hawk 73.34
P36G Hawk 79.39

So pretty close, and I'm not sure of exact service dates for some of these eg the Polikarpovs

But, for me, the Spitfire, obviously!

Anton Ryzbak03 Jun 2022 8:54 p.m. PST

The Boeing P-26 for it's awkward attractiveness
The KI-27 Nate for it's sleek lines
The I-16, it lasted through to 1943 a tough and agile bird
The Hawker Fury a simply beautiful aircraft
Fokker D XXI it personifies 1930's style

But, mostly, the Boeing P-26

freecloud08 May 2023 6:46 a.m. PST

Misubishi Zero also has to be in contention, and it has beautiful lines.

freecloud09 May 2023 3:58 p.m. PST

Ah I just raed has to be operational pre 1940, not flying. Rules out Zero.

I've always thought the gull winged PZL P.11 was a beautiful plane

MacColla11 May 2023 7:15 a.m. PST

How do you define best? Best looking – Spitfire, no competition IMHO. Agree with Father of Cats above, my ex-WW2 RAF father always said the Spitfires got the glory but the Hurricanes did the work. Has to also be on the list.

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