Soldiers in World War II primarily used fighters, bombers, transports and reconnaissance. Fighters engage other aircraft and attempt to establish air supremacy. Bombers deliver explosive or incendiary payloads to enemy targets. Transport planes deliver troops and materials to established bases or over enemy territory via airdrop. Reconnaissance aircraft scout enemy emplacements and movements. Jet aircraft were first introduced near the end of war. Soldiers used them primarily as fighter aircraft.
Several of the most notable events of World War II revolve around aircraft. The experiences of the first World War and the intervening years of technological advancement honed the combat aircraft into an efficient weapon of war. Nearly every participant country fielded an air wing of either domestically produced craft or foreign-bought planes.
The event that marked the United States' entry into the war, the attack on Pearl Harbor, featured a prominent role for fighters and bombers. Japanese planes struck the U.S. naval base and destroyed a considerable portion of the Pacific fleet and the American planes stationed in Hawaii. Only a handful of American aircraft were able to engage the attackers.
An American attack on the homeland of Japan brought the hostilities to a close in 1945. Two B-29 Superfortress bombers were dispatched to deliver the world's first atomic weapons. The destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrated the devastation nuclear-equipped aircraft could produce, and forever altered the landscape of combat.