If you always wanted to know how many aircraft have been produced during the war years, here is your Must-Read List, ranked in an order of (American) Aircraft Output/ Quantities made between 1940 and 1945. On top, I have gathered some Production numbers of the German, Japanese and Russian Fighters made in WW II. Surprise, as the aircraft type that won the “Overall wartime-production/quantity-battle between 1940-45”, is probably not what you might think! (Feature Picture depicts the P-51D Mustang, the Post-war built Bf-109 look-alike. license-built Spanish Buchon, and the Supermarine Spitfire, all powered by basically the same Rolls Royce V-12 Merlin engine, photo by Michael McBroom.)

Find your favorite US Wartime manufacturer of fighter, bomber, transport, or specialty aircraft and see how it ranks in numbers against the competition in the US and abroad. But be aware, this list is based on official production figures that I could find on the Internet but this is surely not the complete story.
In the Top-25 List, license-built US designed aircraft, assembled abroad are not included. Also, specialty aircraft, built in smaller numbers as Test-beds or Jet-aircraft that were not yet operational in numbers by Aug 1945 are not included in this list. So not in the TOP-25 list is Sikorsky who made the first Helicopter, operational in small numbers before the end of the war: (133 R-4s were built between 1942 and 1945).  Also not included is Ryan who built de FR Fireball, a hybrid aircraft with a Piston and a Jet engine, but came too late for making any numbers during the war. Same counted for the Grumman F-7F Tigercat, the heavy Navy twin-engine carrier fighter. On top, some early pre-war operational aircraft as the Seversky P-35 and Vought SB2U Vindicator are not included as being (nearly) out-phased from production as the War started for the USA in Dec. 1941.
Photo above shows us the Lockheed C-69, a Longe-range Troop & Cargo Transport. The Military version of the epic Constellation L-049 was built in small numbers between 1942-1945. Note the extremely elegant dolphin-shaped design of the fuselage, its most distinctive Triple Fin Tail and its “High Heels’ undercarriage, in order to create sufficient ground clearance for the huge propellers that made this the fastest of all Cargo aircraft during that era.
Presented below is the TOP-25 list of US Aircraft Manufacturers. The numbers will surely be inaccurate but the overall ranking based on the numbers produced will not dramatically change with a few hundred planes more or less.
Ranking  Name of Producer     Total qty    Remarks/Main aircraft types produced
1              North American          41,180      P-51 Mustang, B-25 Mitchell, T-6 Texan Trainer
2              Douglas                        30,700      C-47 in all variants, C-54 Skymaster, A-20 Havoc, A-26 Invader, SBD/A-24 Dauntless
3              Curtiss-Wright           26,150      P-36 Hawk, P-40 Warhawk, SB2C Helldiver, C-46 Commando.
4              Lockheed                     18,926      P-38 Lightning, C-69 Constellation, Hudson/ Ventura light Bombers
5              Boeing                          18,300      B-17 Flying Fortress, B-29 Superfortress
6              Grumman                    17,500      F-4F Wildcat, F-6F Hellcat, F-8F Bearcat , TBF Avenger, smaller amphibians Duck & Goose
7              Republic                      15,600       P-47 Thunderbolt
8             Consolidated               15,000       B-24 Liberator, PBY Catalina, PB2Y Coronado. Large scale outsourcing of B-24 to Ford.
9              Bell                               13,570       P-39 Airacobra, P-36 King Cobra, more than 50 % of a/c were exported to Russia
10          Vultee                           11,500         A-35 Vengeance,  BT-13 Valiant, later merged with Consolidated to Convair (1943)
11            Stearman                    10,600      PT-17 Kaydet Trainer, since 1934 a subsidiary of Boeing. 50% was presumed to be made in wartime
12            Ford                              9,000        B-24 Liberator, outsourced by Consolidated to a new Ford Factory near Detroit, MI.
13           Glenn Martin               8,800       B-26 Marauder. PBM Mariner, Maryland/ Baltimore light bombers
14           Change Vought           8,000        F-4U Corsair, more production outsourced to Brewster, GoodYear, Vultee
15           General Motors           7,500       TBM Avenger, outsourced by Grumman who built 2,300 of the type.
16          Fairchild                       6,500        PT-19 Trainer
17           Piper                             5,700         L-4 Grasshopper, liaison, observation, AH-1 Air Ambulance
18           Goodyear                     4,800         FG-1 Corsair, outsourced by Change Vought
19           Cessna                          4,600         AT-17 Bobcat, Advanced 2-engine Trainer, based on T-50
20           Beechcraft                   4,500         C-45 Expeditor , based on Twin Beech-18, 9,000+ built between 1937-1969, longest production run ever!
21           Stinson                         3,600         L-1 Vigilant, liaison/ observation O-49, L-5 Sentinel
22           Taylorcraft                   2,200+      L-2 Grasshopper, used for training of pilots for liaison duties
23           Aeronca                        1,400         L-3 , liaison/observation
24           Brewster                       1,200         F-2A  Buffalo, failed model SB2A Buccaneer
25           Northrop                         700          P-61 Black Widow, advanced night fighter
Photo above features a Martin Aircraft Wartime Ad campaign about the Company’s effort in the US Aircraft Production with their PBM Mariner.
** The Ranking order shown above in this blog has a relative value.
If we redefine the word ‘Aircraft Manufacturer’ to the broader meaning and add the outsourced production to the original Designer-Manufacturer, that would rearrange the ranking order and could make Boeing the third largest Aircraft Manufacturer when we add half of the total Stearman production of 10,000+  Trainers PT-17 to the 16.000 + of Boeing.
Also Consolidated, they merged with Vultee to Convair in 1943. If we would add the Vultee production and Ford’s B-24 production to that single new company, it would fill up some 20,000 aircraft to their tally. In that setup, North American ends up by far as the Nr 1, followed by Convair, Douglas, Curtiss- Wright, Lockheed, and Boeing completing the list of the 6 Largest US Aircraft Manufacturers in WW II. (That B-24 production had a nation-wide spread over 5 different factories,  Consolidated San Diego, Consolidated Ft. Worth, Ford Willow Run, North American Dallas, and Douglas Aircraft Tulsa).
Photo above: Studebaker publicly announced that it made the (Wright -designed) Cyclone 9-cylinder radial engine for the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The German War Industry did similar outsourcing but had to keep that out of publicity in order to avoid being targeted at the next Bombing Raid over their city!
Here comes the list of the TOP-25 Most Built  (Pre-)Wartime Fighters, Attack & Bomber airplanes worldwide (Allied & Axis Powers),
**The Russian  Ilyushin Il-2  Sturmovik was a ground-attack aircraft/tank buster, produced in 36,183 units during the war. In combination with its successor, the Ilyushin Il-10, a total of 42,330 were built, making it the single most produced military aircraft design in aviation history.

**The Messerschmitt Bf 109, remarkably, is also often claimed to be the most produced fighter aircraft in history, but with a total of 33,984 airframes produced from 1936 up to April 1945, it falls short when compared with the Russian production of the Il-2 Sturmovik.

**The Yakolev Yak-3, allegedly some 31.000 units were produced in Russia during and after the war.

**The British Supermarine Spitfire was produced in the UK between 1938 -1948 in all its Marks with a total of 20,351 aircraft. The other British fighter Hawker Hurricane was built between 1937 -1944 in 14,583 units.

**The Focke-Wulf Fw-190 Würger came early in 1941, the same year as the P-38,  5 years after the smaller Bf-109 and was built in 20.000 units.

**The  Mitsubishi A6M Zero, Nippon’s best fighter was introduced in 1940 and built in 11.000 aircraft. The second most built Japanese Fighter was the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa/ Oscar of which almost 6,000 of them were built between 1940 -1945 and using the same engine as the larger Zero.

For the US Fighter Aircraft ranking, here is the list of most built types 1940-1945:

**The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, 15,636 aircraft were built during the years 1941-1945, including the aircraft sent abroad. With that score, the P-47 in all its variants could arguably claim to be the Nr 1 Most Produced US Fighter type during WW II, but very closely followed by the Nr. 2, the P-51 Mustang.

 **The North American P-51 Mustang was built from 1941-1945, 15,588 aircraft were built, in all variants together.

**The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, of Pearl Harbor/ Flying Tigers fame, was built in over 14,000 aircraft, serving Air Forces of 28 nations.
**The Change-Vought F-4U Corsair was also outsourced to Goodyear, Vultee, and Brewster between 1942-1953, in total 12,571 aircraft were built.
**The Grumman F6F Hellcat, produced as a Carrier-based fighter. Introduced in 1943, a total of 12,275 aircraft were built.
**The Lockheed P-38 Lightning remained in production throughout the war and ended at just over 10,000 aircraft (all versions).
**The Bell P-39 Airacobra, built between 1940-1944, in almost 10,000 units, many went to Soviets, the RAF and the Italian and French Free Forces.
**The Grumman F4F Wildcat, built in over 7.860 units, with quite e number assembled by General Motors.
PS: Out of competition, the non- powered Glider Waco CG-4 was built between 1942-1945 in almost 14,000 units!
Photo above ; The Mighty Jug, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt , is the winner if we count the numbers made during the War in the USA, but that score is not to be a guarantee  yet for making it the Best Fighter of WWII.  For some, that is an ongoing discussion, that each of you should decide for yourself. Like with Cars and Motorcycles, we must appreciate that not everyone has the same taste and preferences, it makes the World more attractive to see the variation of so many types/models.
The Most Built US/ UK wartime made Bombers rank as follows:
**The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was the most-built US aircraft of all types during the Second World war with a production of 18,500 in all its variants.
**The Junckers Ju-88, a fast Bomber, some 15,000 units produced in Germany during the wartime.
**The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was built in over 12,700 aircraft in all its variants.
**The Vickers Wellington,  British most built bomber ended at 11,462 units in all variants.
**The North American B-25 Mitchell produced between 1941-1945, 9,816 aircraft produced, last retired from Military Service in 1979 (Indonesia)
**The Avro Lancaster, UK’s most built Bomber was also built by Armstrong Whitworth, Austin Motors, Vickers in 7,377 units.
**The Handley Page Halifax was built between in Britain during the years 1940-1946 in 6,176 units
**The Heinkel He-111, of this German Medium Bomber, some 5,600 units were made during the war years.
**The Boeing B-29 Super Fortress was in production from 1943-1946, 3,970 aircraft were built, retired from USAF service in 1960.
Photo above: Cadillac was involved in the building of engines for the Allied War Machine. We see in this ad both the P-38 Lightning and the Bell P-39 Airacobra with a 37 mm T9 Cannon, made by a division of Oldsmobile (GM), plus a variety of Tanks and Landing Craft in the backdrop.  The armament and propulsion of all that Heavy Metal were supplied by the Allied Car makers.  American Packard Motor Car Company also built a licensed version of the famous Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 engine, used in the Supermarine Spitfire, the Mustang, the Hawker Hurricane, de Havilland Mosquito, and the Lancaster Bomber! That epic RR V-12 Merlin engine was built in almost 150,000 units.
**Most built Transport/ Cargo aircraft in the World is the Douglas DC-3/ C-47/ Dakota that ended with a total production (1936-1946) of over 10.600 aircraft in the USA. (Including the civil version DC-3, built pre- and post-war)
Compare this score with the best Post-War selling Transport plane: the Boeing 737, in production since 1968, has sold just over 10.000 units in March 2018, in its 50th year of continuous production. The legendary C-47 made more than that figure in only 10 years time! (And not included in this figure are the 5000+ Russian License Produced C-47s, named the Li-2 and the Yugoslav built Li-3).
That impressive figure got an unprecedented follow-up with a Post-War Military and Civil career of another 50 years after the Normandy D-Day Saga of that aircraft was born, now 75 years ago! Read my book The Dakota Hunter, and you can indulge yourself in the stories and 250 photos of that most intriguing survival tour of the oldest operational transport in the world, still making money for the Boss in numbers! No train, truck, ship or plane in the World of Transport can come close to even the shadow of that longevity! See for more info, reviews and ordering of my books  http://www.dc3dakotahunter.com
** Most built Flying Boat in the World is the Consolidated PBY-5/6 (A) Catalina that ended its production from 1937-1945 with some 3,300 aircraft, more than all other seaplanes, flying boats, amphibians of worldwide manufactures together! Like the Dakota, the Catalina made a most remarkable Post-War career, mainly in the role as a Coast Guard or Fire Fighter aircraft and transport of cargo/pax to remote areas and islands where no airstrip was available.
My illustrated book ” 80 Years, a tribute to the PBY Catalina” gives in 400 magnificent photos a complete view of this magic aircraft operating in its realm of faraway islands, lagoons, and lakes where the Cat could land at choice. During the Pacific War, the Catalinas were camouflaged as ‘Black Cats’ and Post -War,  they came into my life as civil 16-seats converted PBYs. One of the 8 Shell-owned Cats dropped me as a young kid with my Dad & Mom in the Borneo Jungle. It was the only Lifeline for us to the faraway Outside world. That made an everlasting impression, a compelling motivator to write this book, my personal tribute to the best Flying Boat ever made. (PS, The Catalina Poster, seen below will soon be available with my new book). See also http://www.catalinabook.com for reviews and ordering.
Photo above shows the Winner of the competition”US  Most built aircraft during the War Years”: the Consolidated B-24 Liberator,  who also holds a world record as being the “World’s Most Produced Bomber”. Just under 18,500 units were produced and operated by the USAAF, the RAF, The Russians, and many British Commonwealth Air Forces during the war years.
** Interested to see the US aircraft Production divided over the war years and over the categories Bombers, Fighters, Transports etc?

This table below lists aircraft production during World War II by country and year. ( source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_aircraft_production)

Country 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total
U.S. 2,141 6,068 18,466 46,907 84,853 96,270 45,852 300,557
Germany 8,295 10,862 12,401 15,409 24,807 40,593 7,540 119,907
USSR 10,382 10,565 15,737 25,436 34,900 40,300 20,900 158,220
UK 7,940 15,049 20,094 23,672 26,263 26,461 12,070 131,549
Japan 4,467 4,768 5,088 8,861 16,693 28,180 8,263 76,320
Total 33,225 47,312 71,786 120,285 187,516 231,804 94,625 786,553


**The US War effort ended in the largest Industrial Production ever made for any war in history. The merging of Military Interests for the defense of the Country with its National Industrial InfrastruGovernmentt to an unprecedented level. The involvement of many ‘non-military” civil companies was urged by the Government, for those who had the skills, the labor force, the factories and machinery to help with the development and mass production of weapons, tanks, aircraft, ships, trucks etc. Studebaker, Chevrolet, Packard, they all built (aero-) engines, cars, tanks, planes, and trucks to propel the first-ever 100 % mechanized war machine that encompassed the globe for 5 years.
Photo depicts the Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Radial 14-Cylinder piston engine R-1830 with a Hamilton Standard variable-pitch Propeller. With a displacement of 1830 cu in (nearly 30 Liters), the engine had a most successful career during and long after the war, built in almost 175,000 units. This engine was mounted on the Douglas C-47, (see photo), also on Consolidated’s PBY Catalina, PB2Y Coronado, B-24 Liberator, the Grumman F4F Wildcat, Short Sunderland V, etc. 
** In 1943, that famous Pullman-Standard company, (by far the largest US-based maker of Sleeper cars, Streetcars, Railroad wagons) had their 103rd Street Plant in Chicago, IL, converted by the Defense Plant Corp. to produce Aircraft wings. Outsourced by Douglas, those were made for their much-wanted transport planes C-47 Skytrain/Dakota (DC-3 based) and the larger 4-engine C-54 Skymaster. (DC-4 based)
This history has my special interest, as for almost 20 years, I collect damaged & derelict C-47 Wingtips and converted them to the DC-3 Wing Desk that I sold to private collectors, museums, and companies.
I recently found a few more of these wingtips and will convert them into that stunning desk, made out of an authentic war relic C-47 wingtip.
Soon, I will come back to this in one of my next Dakota Hunter Blogs. stay tuned!
If interested in this Dakota Hunter Blog, please give it a Like, and Share this blog with friends. Follow my Dakota Hunter page on Facebook for more fascinating Blog posts, published almost every weekend. Please click here http://www.facebook.com/thedakotahunter
Enjoy your weekend, Hans Wiesman.
Read my Blogs and the Reviews of my Books, where you can also order my books at Amazon (scroll down on their page for reading the stunning 26 reviews)
Note from the Author: This post was composed for infotainment purposes, it surely is not intended to trigger fierce discussions over what was the Best Fighter of the Wartime. Please respect the opinions of others, even if they do not match with your personal ideas. We all share the Passion for Vintage Aircraft and my blog posts are supposed to be informative for all, there is no absolute ‘Truth’ expressed in this list. May I invite you to forward your remarks about the figures mentioned if any shortcomings/omissions are detected. We can all learn from such input, but any rant-like comments will be banned.

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