Fighter Aircraft Performance of WW2 -- A Comparative Study


260 pages, A4 format, Perfect-bound soft cover  24.95

Print-On-Demand at

In military aviation there is the ever present compulsion to compare the flight characteristics, performance, weaponry, capabilities and so forth of the various combatant aircraft one to another. However, in itself this kind of enthusiasm presents a very considerable problem. When debate on such profoundly technical and scientific topics as aircraft performance enter into the realm of popular enthusiast banter, the matter falls rapidly into predictable categories of favouritism.

Aircraft performance is not a magical quantity, nor is it shrouded in impenetrable mystery. This book is an attempt to answer these questions-- to compare the relative properties and characteristics of the aircraft of the Second World War era in an objective and scientific way. It also offers a critical, more realistic view of the wartime aviation industry, of testing procedures, military procurement, political intrigue and in-fighting and national bias in the development of fighter aircraft designs.

Almost 200 individual aircraft types are exactingly detailed: weight and loading, aerofoil and other primary aerodynamic figures, engine and performance data, weaponry and armour protection. This work is a treasure trove for those who wish to analyse and authentically recreate combat aviation of the 1935-45 period.

I have been exploring the nature of WW2 aviation and flight for more than 30 years. That work continues to this day, albeit by now I enjoy much greater and easier access to these aircraft than previously. Over this time I had to learn the hard way-- through hard graft and copious mistakes-- that the 'usual' enthusiast sources simply cannot be trusted, and little by little, built up my own database of facts and figures. This book is the culmination of that long and arduous journey...

War In The Air

Any residents of Vancouver, Canada, might remember this game from the long lost days before PCs. It was first published in 1983 as one of these little game-pieces-with-manual packets, as was the way of small boardgames of the time. It was played on a simple grid with cardboard counters; an art seemingly lost to the modern world.

Obviously, the simulation was modest by the standards of today, and the research immature. But, it was also a fine start, and at the time there was no more convincing way to simulate WW2 aerial combat [NB Some USA residents have suggested a similar game called, "Mustangs and Messerschmitts", and from what I can tell it was similar in structure and design].


When Dynamix (soon to be acquired by Sierra) released Aces of the Pacific in 1992, my efforts largely turned to the digital world. Gradually, as with quite a lot of game software, those more clever than I in such programming things managed to suss out the file structure of AOP. Thereafter, I set about modifying the various parameters which I could identify in the file archives, so as to modify the flight behaviour and aircraft characteristics to better reflect what I felt was historical authenticity. These changes were completed to the degree possible in the sim, which, to be honest, was limited.

Be that as it may, the results were more satisfactory than a counter board game like WIA. When Aces Over Europe was released more than a year on work really got going. Working with a lovely little team, we developed new aircraft for the sim, and eventually shifted the focus to the Eastern Front with various releases of "EF-43".

Some less notable flight sim work followed AOE, including European Air War and various MS Combat Sim versions. But, for various reasons these did not really lend themselves well to modification, and my own own interest in them waned.


For all of its flaws, 1C's IL2 flight sim was a revolutionary product. It defied serious modification for years, much to the extreme frustration of many-- myself included.
However, when at last modding became possible, the doors were open to add a level of flight and behaviour complexity never seen previously. With the enormous help of our little VPB Team, progress has been significant. One may follow these efforts at the following link, or on Kjetil's FB page.

And Now...

Each step along the way was important. Years and years and attempting to generate authentic flight behaviour led to a re-assessment of what 'authentic' behaviour really was? Struggles with conflicting sources-- or non-existent ones-- led to the decision to collect my own data. Pouring over specimen after specimen of actual WW2 aircraft-- with tape measure and notebook in hand-- led to numerous discoveries, and to an appreciation that these aircraft are not very well understood in popular literature. Calibrating and defining aircraft simulation performance led inexorably to a re-evaluation of engine power and behaviour.

And so on...  FAP is the result of that journey, of three decades of gruelling and dedicated work. I hope that you will enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed evaluating our favourite machines.