Fighter planes significantly affected the outcome of the Second World War, being essential for air dominance as air power became increasingly important. Fighters saw significant advancements during the war, with some powers still using wooden bi-planes at the beginning and the introduction of jet-fighters at the end of the war.
Unlike the First World War, in which fighters first emerged but did not greatly affect the war's outcome, air superiority became important during the Second World War. Powers used fighters to control the skies and keep bombers from attacking friendly targets. Taking air superiority with fighters allowed armies to move without worrying about attacks from the sky, a tactic used successfully by Germany and Japan during the war's early stages.
During the Battle of Britain, fought entirely by air, British Spitfire fighters fought off attacks from German fighters and bombers, including the Messerschmitt BF-109 fighter. The Pacific War between the United States and Japan was fought in large sections between fighters and fighter-bombers stationed on aircraft carriers.
Fighter aircraft saw significant advancements during the Second World War, with jet engine fighters introduced at the end of the war, such as the American F-80. Fighter plane speeds increased to over 400 mph, and manufacturers outfitted planes with up to eight .50 caliber machine guns or heavy cannon armaments with exploding shells.