Commissioned as a combination scout/bomber aircraft, the Dauntless entered service with the Marines in late 1940, and with the US Navy in early 1941. It is now the Navy's foremost carrier-based bomber. Although it is slower and less manoeuvrable than its Japanese equivalent, the Aichi 'Val', it is an excellent dive-bomber thanks to its very good flight characteristics, and is also able to absorb heavy amounts of damage.
The TBF Avenger is a three-seater aircraft that is due to enter service in early 1942, replacing the TBD Devastator as the Navy's main carrier-based torpedo bomber. Simple in construction, it is the largest single-engine aircraft in service anywhere in the world. Stable in flight, and capable of carrying a variety of payloads, including torpedoes, bombs and depth charges, the Avenger's main weakness is its slow speed, which makes it vulnerable to both fighter attack and AA fire.
The F4F is the Navy's main carrier-based fighter, and has been in full service since August 1940. Initially designed as a biplane, it was redesigned as a monoplane and given a larger engine to make it competitive with other designs such as the F2A Buffalo. The Wildcat is slower than the Japanese Zero, but can absorb far more damage thanks to its armour plating and self-sealing fuel tanks.
The B-17 is the USAAF's main heavy bomber, and has been so since 1938. Capable of carrying an 8000lb payload of bombs nearly 2000 miles, it is ideally suited to service in the Pacific. The B-17 is a very robust aircraft, capable of sustaining vast damage and still remaining airborne. It has received the nickname "Flying Fortress" thanks to the 13 turreted 50 calibre machine guns it carries for defence, and a formation of B-17s is a formidable prospect for an attacking fighter pilot.