Well, it's been a long time since I've seen a MeMe worth posting, but Tamara brings one to mind, as she was referred from NRAhab, who lists his favorite five airplanes.
Best friend Scott and I spent hours of our teenaged life discussing the relative merits of this airplane and that. This group kills me to select, and I have changed it three times already. I'll just accept that it changes daily. Yes, there are a hundred others that I love, but some of those will be mentioned by others. Here are some of my faves that are underdogs:
5: B-58 Hustler. There was a time, friends, when this nation launched bombers that could outrun most (if not all) operational fighters. Hard to fly and with a notorious accident record, the Hustler had a lot more class than the smaller Aardvark that replaced it. Plus, the "ejection seats" were actually little escape pods, first tested with live bears! (Something tells me that the boys at S.A.C. had a grasp of symbolic irony.)
4. P-38 Lightning. No, it wasn't quite the fastest operational piston fighter in WWII-- that honor was edged out by the Mustang. No, it never fully did quite fulfill its destiny as a heavy bomber escort or interceptor-- its engines began to double and triple the wear time above 20,000 feet. But it was an amazing aircraft, and with that cluster of machineguns and cannon all firing parallel from the nose, the ability to hit far further out like a buzzsaw became legendary, in a time with other aircraft had to shoot at targets in their point of convergence. It was originally outfitted with two .50s, two .30s, and a 37mm cannon in the middle. (Later models replaced the .30s with two more .50s.) Think that wouldn't just ruin a Junker 88 pilot's day?
3. Fieseler Fi 156 "Storch." The very definition of ponderous, slow flying. So ungainly looking, it was called the Stork by those who saw its oversized fixed main gears. Renown for its STOL abilities and friendly to grass fields, it was a damned useful tool for the field marshal who wanted to know how effective an artillary barrage had been.
2. Supermarine Spitfire. Of the 24 marks of this incredibly profligate design, the only ones that capture my attention are the eliptical wing marks, with retractable gear. This was the Brit fighter in the Battle of Britain, as it had pre-dated WWII, and was able to turn tight without stalling, while being able to dive faster than just about any other prop fighter, ever. Whatever-- it was beautiful.
1. PBY Catalina. It's a boat. It's a plane. It's a boat plane. Anti submarine? You got it. Coastline patrol? Natch. Night-time naval bombing missions? Why not. Introduced before the War, the PBY found a LOT of people eager to employ it in peacetime service, post-war. More than one island airline was started with a Catalina. Nowadays, they're still in use in some places for fire-fighting and general transportation, in places where lakes and docks are more common than runways or roads. 70 years after it was first introduced, the Catalina is still a damned useful tool. Beauty is as beauty does.