World War II still fascinates many people today. It was the bloodiest and most devastating war the world has ever seen. War tends to bring out the worst in mankind, and it also brings out the best. The best in terms of the people, and sometimes, the best in terms of ingenuity and necessity. Most American planes at the beginning of the war were not as good in many ways, as the planes of Germany and Japan. By the middle and end of the war, however, that changed dramatically. This list represents that change. These are the top five American fighter planes of World War II with the most kills.

It’s very easy to romanticize conflict and war, especially World War II. For aircraft, especially fighter planes, romanticism is high. Gorgeous, sleek machines flying through the skies, in modern-day duels to the death, are the stuff of dreams and legends. Dogfights were the ultimate 1-one-1 test of skills, finesse, and wits.

The reality is that most air-to-air kills during the war were not from dogfights, especially in the European Theater of Operations (ETO). After the Battle of Britain, most Allied and Axis fighter pilots tried to avoid dogfights and preferred to use other tactics and techniques to score their victories.

After the Americans entered the war, and as the American fighter planes got better, the control of the skies changed hands. Allied countries achieved air superiority, and this significantly enabled the ground and naval forces to make progress and ultimately secure victory.