The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

P-58 Firebat

Type: Pursuit Plane
Crew: 1
Length: 13.6 meters
Wingspan: 11.1 meters
Max speed: 790 kph
Range: 3,000 km
Ceiling: 13.5 km
Armament: 4, 20mm cannon
up to 2,000 kg payload
First flight: 1942
Introduced: 1944
Manufacturer: Convair
Built: 2,500

The Firebat was the United States Army Air Corps’ premier fighter during the later years of World War II. It is one of the few swept-winged piston engine fighters to ever be built. The airplanes saw nearly exclusive combat in the skies over Europe. The aircraft was designed to serve as escorts to the B-23s and B-27s that bombed targets within Fuhrer Germany. Its role as an air superiority fighter was only surpassed with the advent of jet-powered aircraft developed in Fuhrer Germany to shoot down the bombers. Even then, against the primitive jet fighters, the Firebat still held its own. For every 10 P-58s shot down, 7 jets were downed. It is fortunate that the Fuhrer did not order the development of jet fighters in 1942 instead of 1944.

Along with escort duty, the P-58 saw action in close-air support. In the ground attack role, P-58s shot up rail and other infrastructure targets with unguided rockets. It helped smash the Wesser Pocket in early 1946. The aircraft was phased out following the war, and none remained in service by 1950. The P-58 was highly maneuverable and very able fighter; however, with the advent of jet technology, a piston-engine fighter could no longer compete on the world stage.

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