The mid 1930ís saw a revolution in aviation design. By the end of the First World War many manufacturers were constructing all metal frame aircraft, but it was still a somewhat new concept. By the 1930ís most aircraft manufacturers had decided that a more durable all metal aircraft was the way to go. Furthermore, a mono-winged design was more popular as opposed to a bi or triplane design. Aircraft wings were no longer weak and flimsy and did not need the extra support of additional wings. Monoplane design was not a radically new concept as Fokker had produced a mono-winged fighter in the First World War, but it was not until the mid-thirties that the design became the standard.
Not only were planes designed differently, but their overall performance capabilities had improved as well. Landing gear on most fighter aircraft was now retractable to help avoid drag. Most aircraft were now soaring at speeds exceeding 300mph and could reach ceiling of 30,000 ft. The German manufacturer Heinkel actually had developed a fighter plane that could exceed 400mph in 1936, but at the time its engine design was hard to mass-produce. Moreover, aircraft arrangements included wing-mounted as well as engine-mounted machine guns. Indeed most fighter planes being rolled off assembly-lines were now armed with four to six machineguns/cannons as opposed to having only one or two. Also, aircraft were now capable of flying much greater distances than there predecessors.
The year 1936 saw Messerschmitt debut the ME 109 (pictured top-left) off the assembly line. At the time it was hailed as the most formidable mass-produced single engine fighter in the world. The aircraft had a balance of speed and agility and would later be tested with the outbreak of the Second World War. At about the same time the British manufacturer Supermarine sent up what would become the staple of the British air fleet in the Spitfire (pictured middle-right). The Spitfire, so dubbed for its four .50 caliber machineguns and twin 20mm cannons, would later become infamous in its role in the Battle of Britain. Later on in 1943 after the United States had entered the war, the aircraft maker North American would mass-produce a fighter plane, the P-51 Mustang (pictured bottom-left), capable of speeds reaching nearly 450mph and a range of 1000 miles almost doubling the distance of most single engine aircraft of the time.