This is an overview of the most important aircraft used by the US Navy during World War II.
The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the Navy’s main fighter early in the war. It was armed with six 12.7mm MGs. While outperformed by the Zero, it was much sturdier than it’s Japanese opponent.
The Wildcat was replaced by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, which entered service during 1943. It was a very successful fighter, claiming a 19:1 kill ratio. The Hellcat was also used in a fighter bomber role.
The other fighter used by the Navy later in the war was the Vought F4U Corsair. While faster than the Hellcat, it was difficult to land on carriers. As a result, it was given to the Marine Corps and flown from land bases starting in 1943. It was finally accepted for carrier operations in April 1944. The Marines made heavy use of the Corsair as fighter bomber.
The Douglas SBD Dauntless was the Navy’s main dive bomber at the start of the war. It was armed with two 12.7mm MGs, one or two rear-facing 7.62mm MGs, and could carry 1,000kg of bombs. During the Battle of Midway, four Japanese carriers were sunk by SBDs.
The SBD was accompanied by the Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bomber. Already outdated at the start of the war, they were slaughtered during the Battle of Midway and withdrawn from service afterwards.
The TBD was replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger, the first aircraft reaching the fleet in 1942. It could carry one torpedo or 1,000kg of bombs. The TBF was also produced by General Motors, designated TBM.
The SBD in turn was replaced by the Douglas SB2C Helldiver. Due to many delays during development, it did not enter service before the end of 1943. It was armed with two 20mm cannons, two rear-facing 7.62mm MGs, and could carry 1,350kg of bombs.
The Vought OS2U Kingfisher was used as observation plane. The Consolidated PBY Catalina was used for patrols and anti-submarine warfare.
Early on, a blue grey over light grey scheme was used. In 1943, the tri-color scheme was introduced: A darker and lighter blue on top, and white on the underside. In June 1944, the paint was once again changed to an all dark blue. Aircraft assigned to the Atlantic fleet were painted grey and white for some time.