Header Graphic

Combat Aircraft

"Fighters" as such did not become so until after the First World War. The British coined the term. In the RAF such aircraft continued to be called "scouts" into the early 1920s. The British began using the "fighter" term after that period.

The U.S. Army combat planes were termed "pursuit" aircraft and boasted a "P-" designation from about 1915 until the late 1940s. The French and the Germans use words which literally mean "hunter". This has been followed in many other languages.

However, the Russians see their aircraft as somewhat different, in which the fighter is called "истребитель" (spoken as "istrebitel") which means "exterminator".

Since the U.S. did not build aircraft in World War I which were combat quality, we need to focus on the British, French and German aircraft.

SopCamls   VickFB5

On the left is a row of Sopwith Camels, on the right is a Vickers F.B.5 "Gunbus." The two British "scouts" did a lot of the job for the British.

SPAD S.XIII  Nieuport 28

The French had some real workhorses in World War I, here on left is the SPAD S.XIII. The Nieuport 28 is on the right. Eddie Rickenbacker flew the SPAD with the 94th Aero Squadron. The U.S. bought hundreds of these planes for their pilots to use.

The Germans had very capable combat aircraft, and two of them are seen below. They are Fokkers, and the one on the left is a D. VII. The one on right is a tri-winged Dr. I. This is the type Baron von Richtofen flew and he was known as the Red Baron because he had painted his plane bright red.

Fkkr DVII   RedBaron

Proceed to World War II