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World War II: Battle of the Atlantic

World War II: Battle of the Atlantic

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of World War II, (though some say it was a series of naval military campaigns and offensives) running from 1939 through to the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, and was at its height from mid-1940 through to the end of 1943. The Battle of the Atlantic pitted U-boats and other warships of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) against Allied convoys. The convoys, coming mainly from North America and the South Atlantic and going to the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, were protected for the most part by the British and Canadian navies and air forces. These forces were aided by ships and aircraft of the United States from September 13th, 1941. The Germans were joined by submarines of the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) after Italy entered the war on June 10th, 1940.

The name "Battle of the Atlantic", coined by Winston Churchill in 1941, covers a campaign that began on the first day of the European war and lasted for six years, involved thousands of ships and stretched over hundreds of miles of the vast ocean and seas in a succession of more than 100 convoy battles and perhaps 1,000 single-ship encounters. Tactical advantage switched back and forth over the six years as new weapons, tactics and counter-measures were developed by both sides. The British and their allies gradually gained the upper hand, driving the German surface raiders from the ocean by the end of 1942 and decisively defeating the U-boats in a series of convoy battles between March and May 1943. New German submarines arrived in 1945, but they were too late to affect the course of the war.

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German Dornier Do 24T-2 Flying Boat - CM+IV, Seenotstaffel 8, Romania, 1942 German Dornier Do 24T-2 Flying Boat - CM+IV, Seenotstaffel 8, Romania, 1942 (1:144 Scale)

The Dornier Do 24 is a 1930s German three-engine flying boat designed by the Dornier Flugzeugwerke for maritime patrol and search and rescue. According to Dornier records, some 12,000 people were rescued by Do 24s during its flying career. A total of 279 were built among several factories from 1937-1945.

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German Blohm and Voss Bv 222 V2 "Wiking" Flying Boat - LTS 222, Operation Schatzgraeber, 1944 German Blohm and Voss Bv 222 V2 "Wiking" Flying Boat - LTS 222, Operation Schatzgraeber, 1944 (1:200 Scale)

The Blohm & Voss BV 222 Wiking (German: "Viking") was a large, six-engined German flying boat of World War II. Originally designed as a commercial transport, and produced in only limited quantities, it was both the largest flying boat and largest sea-based German aircraft to achieve operational status during the war.

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Royal Navy Grumman F6F Hellcat Fighter - Lt. Cdr. S. G. Orr, HMS Emperor, Norway, 1944 Royal Navy Grumman F6F Hellcat Fighter - Lt. Cdr. S. G. Orr, HMS Emperor, Norway, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - 821 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Ark Royal, 1940 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - 821 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Ark Royal, 1940 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II.

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USMC Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - VS-37, Atlantic, April 1944 USMC Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless Dive-Bomber - VS-37, Atlantic, April 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Dauntless was the standard shipborne dive-bomber of the US Navy from mid-1940 until November 1943, when the first Curtiss Helldivers arrived to replace it. Between 1942-43, the Dauntless was pressed into service again and again, seeing action in the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal campaign.

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. I Torpedo Plane - HMS Furious, Narvik, 1940 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. I Torpedo Plane - HMS Furious, Narvik, 1940 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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RAF Chance-Vought Corsair III Fighter - 718 Squadron, FAA Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland, 1945 RAF Chance-Vought Corsair III Fighter - 718 Naval Air Squadron, FAA Ballyhalbert, Northern Ireland, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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RAF Grumman Hellcat Mk. II Fighter - Fleet Air Arm, No. 804 Squadron, 1945 RAF Grumman Hellcat Mk. II Fighter - Fleet Air Arm, No. 804 Squadron, 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The F6F embodied the early lessons learned by users of Grumman's previous fleet-defense fighter, the Wildcat. In June 1941, Grumman lowered the wing center section to enable the undercarriage to be wider splayed, fitting more armor-plating around the cockpit to protect the pilot while also increasing the fighter's ammunition capacity.

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USN Grumman Avenger TBM-3 Torpedo-Bomber - Flight 19: The Missing Squadron, Bermuda Triangle, December 1945 USN Grumman Avenger TBM-3 Torpedo-Bomber - "Flight 19: The Missing Squadron", Bermuda Triangle, December 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) was an American torpedo bomber, developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps and used by a large number of air forces around the world. It entered service in 1942, and began major use during the Battle of Midway.

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Royal Navy Grumman Avenger II Torpedo Plane - S/N JZ 490, RNAY Donibristle, Scotland, June 1944 Royal Navy Grumman Avenger II Torpedo Plane - S/N JZ 490, RNAY Donibristle, Scotland, June 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) was an American torpedo bomber, developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps and used by a large number of air forces around the world. It entered service in 1942, and began major use during the Battle of Midway.

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RAF Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk. I Fighter - 804 NAS, Fleet Air Arm, 1940 RAF Gloster Sea Gladiator Mk. I Fighter - 804 Naval Air Station, Fleet Air Arm, 1940 (1:72 Scale)

One of the only biplane fighters to have any measurable success in the Second World War, the Gloster Gladiator was the product of a bygone era combining with modernity for one last fling. The Gladiator was obsolete by September 1939, but it still had what it took to make a significant impact on history. Air Ministry specification F.7/30 realized (correctly) that future fighters were going to be faster and better armed.

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - Coastal Command, No. 119 Squadron, January 1945 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - Coastal Command, No. 119 Squadron, January 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. II Torpedo Plane - Fleet Air Arm, No. 816 Naval Air Squadron, July 1944 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. II Torpedo Plane - Fleet Air Arm, No. 816 Naval Air Squadron, July 1944 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - 811 Naval Air Squadron, 1938 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - 811 Naval Air Squadron, 1938 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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Royal Navy Swordfish Mk. I Torpedo Plane - Fleet Air Arm, 815 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Illustrious, November 1940 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. I Torpedo Plane - Fleet Air Arm, 815 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Illustrious, November 1940 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - Lt. Cmdr. Eugene Esmonde VC, Fleet Air Arm, 825 Naval Air Squadron, February 1942 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. III Torpedo Plane - Lt. Cmdr. Eugene Esmonde VC, Fleet Air Arm, 825 Naval Air Squadron, February 1942 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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RAF Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Fleet Air Arm 1842 NAS, HMS Formidable, August 1944 RAF Chance-Vought F4U Corsair Fighter - Fleet Air Arm 1842 NAS, HMS Formidable, August 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Its gull-wing shape made it instantly recognizeable. Its characteristic sound while in an attack dive led the Japanese to call it "The Whistling Death." Combined with its high speed, agility and toughness, the Vought F4U Corsair was one of the finest fighters ever built.

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. II Torpedo Plane - LS326, L Flight, No. 836 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, MAC Ship Rapana, North Atlantic Convoys, 1943 Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. II Torpedo Plane - LS326, 'L' Flight, No. 836 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, MAC Ship Rapana, North Atlantic Convoys, 1943 (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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RAF Curtiss Mk. I Helldiver Dive-Bomber - JW-104, No. 1820 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, 1944 [Closed Dive Brakes] RAF Curtiss Mk. I Helldiver Dive-Bomber - JW-104, No. 1820 Naval Air Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, 1944 [Closed Dive Brakes] (1:72 Scale)

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was an American aircraft carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.

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RAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X Torpedo Fighter - No. 236 Squadron Coastal Group 16 Coastal Command RAF North Coates England 1944 RAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X Torpedo Fighter - No. 236 Squadron, Coastal Group 16, Coastal Command, RAF North Coates, England, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Developed as a private venture by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, the Beaufighter was a two-seat all-metal fighter using components from the Beaufort torpedo-bomber. First flown on July 17th, 1939, the Beaufighter eventually equipped 52 RAF squadrons, giving outstanding service during World War II, in particular as a night-fighter and torpedo-bomber (where the aircraft were affectionally known as 'Torbeaus').

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USN Curtiss SB2C-4E Helldiver ASW Aircraft - Black 47, VS-31 Topcats, NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey [Open Dive Brakes] USN Curtiss SB2C-4E Helldiver ASW Aircraft - Black 47, VS-31 "Topcats", NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey [Open Dive Brakes] (1:72 Scale)

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was an American aircraft carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.

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USN Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver ASW Aircraft - White 207, VB-83, USS Essex (CV-9), April 1945 USN Curtiss SB2C-4 Helldiver ASW Aircraft - "White 207," VB-83, USS Essex (CV-9), April 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver was an American aircraft carrier-based dive bomber aircraft produced for the United States Navy during World War II. It replaced the Douglas SBD Dauntless in US Navy service. Despite its size, the SB2C was much faster than the SBD it replaced.

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RAF Avro Anson Mk. I Multi-Role Aircraft - No. 217 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command RAF Avro Anson Mk. I Multi-Role Aircraft - No. 217 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command (1:72 Scale)

The Avro Anson is a British twin-engine, multi-role aircraft that served with the Royal Air Force, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Canadian Air Force and numerous other air forces before, during, and after the Second World War.

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RAF Supermarine Seagull Walrus Reconnaissance Aircraft - RAF Museum Hendon RAF Supermarine Seagull Walrus Reconnaissance Aircraft - RAF Museum Hendon (1:72 Scale)

The Supermarine Walrus was a British single engine amphibious biplane reconnaissance aircraft, designed by R.J. Mitchell who was also responsible for the illustrious Spitfire. The aircraft first flew on June 21st, 1933.

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RAF Supermarine Seagull Walrus Reconnaissance Aircraft - "276" RAF Supermarine Seagull Walrus Reconnaissance Aircraft - "276" (1:72 Scale)

The Supermarine Walrus was a British single engine amphibious biplane reconnaissance aircraft, designed by R.J. Mitchell who was also responsible for the illustrious Spitfire. The aircraft first flew on June 21st, 1933.

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RAF De Havilland Mosquito Mk. VI Fighter-Bomber - HR405, 143 Squadron, RAF Banff Strike Wing, February 1945 RAF De Havilland Mosquito Mk. VI Fighter-Bomber - HR405, 143 Squadron, RAF Banff Strike Wing, February 1945 (1:72 Scale)

The "Mossie," as it was known affectionately by its British crews, was both simple in construction and design. It was a twin engine, single boom aircraft that placed the pilot and navigator in a side-by-side sitting configuration. The Mosquito was one of the most cost effective aircraft ever built because it was constructed out of wood.

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RCAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X Torpedo Fighter - No. 404 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command, 1944 RCAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X Torpedo Fighter - No. 404 Squadron, RAF Coastal Command, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Developed as a private venture by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, the Beaufighter was a two-seat all-metal fighter using components from the Beaufort torpedo-bomber. First flown on July 17th, 1939, the Beaufighter eventually equipped 52 RAF squadrons, giving outstanding service during World War II, in particular as a night-fighter and torpedo-bomber (where the aircraft were affectionally known as 'Torbeaus').

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Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. I Torpedo Plane - L2742, 81 NAS, HMS Courageous, 1937 [Wheels] Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish Mk. I Torpedo Plane - L2742, 81 NAS, HMS Courageous, 1937 [Wheels] (1:72 Scale)

The Fairey Swordfish was a torpedo bomber built by the Fairey Aviation Company and used by the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy during World War II. Affectionately known as the Stringbag by its crews, it was outdated by 1939, but achieved some spectacular successes during the war, such as the destruction of the Regia Marina (the Italian Navy) in Taranto and the famous crippling of the German battleship Bismarck.

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RAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X Torpedo Fighter - No.254 (Coastal Command) Squadron, 1944 RAF Bristol Beaufighter Mk. X Torpedo Fighter - No.254 (Coastal Command) Squadron, 1944 (1:72 Scale)

Developed as a private venture by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, the Beaufighter was a two-seat all-metal fighter using components from the Beaufort torpedo-bomber. First flown on July 17th, 1939, the Beaufighter eventually equipped 52 RAF squadrons, giving outstanding service during World War II, in particular as a night-fighter and torpedo-bomber (where the aircraft were affectionally known as 'Torbeaus').

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RAF Grumman FM-1 Martlet V Fighter - HMS Formidable, 1941 RAF Grumman FM-1 Martlet V Fighter - HMS Formidable, 1941 (1:48 Scale)

The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the standard carrier-based fighter of the United States Navy for the first year and a half of World War II. An improved version built by General Motors (the General Motors FM Wildcat) remained in service throughout the war, on escort carriers where newer, larger and heavier fighters could not be used.

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