Heavy fighter

A heavy fighter is a historic category of fighter aircraft produced in the 1930s and 1940s, designed to carry heavier weapons, and/or operate at longer ranges than light fighter aircraft. To achieve performance, most heavy fighters were twin-engine, and many had multi-place crews. In Germany, they were known as Zerstörer ("destroyer").

A de Havilland Mosquito FB.VI fighter-bomber used for testing rocket armament

This fighter was a major design class during the pre-World War II period, conceived as long-range escort fighters or heavily armed bomber destroyers. Most such designs failed in this mission, as they could not maneuver with the more conventional, single-engine fighters, and suffered heavy losses. Most notable among such designs was the Messerschmitt Bf 110, which suffered great losses during the Battle of Britain. An exception was the American Lockheed P-38 Lightning,[1][2][3] which proved an effective heavy fighter; even against smaller, lighter, single-engine aircraft and particularly in the Pacific theater.[4]

Many twin-engine heavy fighters found their niche as night fighters, especially in the bomber-destroyer role; or as fighter-bombers, roughly analogous to modern strike fighters. Notable among such conversions was the Bf 110, which served as a relatively successful night fighter for most of the war,[5] and the Bristol Beaufighter, which emerged as a major anti-shipping strike fighter of the Royal Air Force.[6]


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