The second world war was among other things a war in resources and economy. So it got me wondering, what were the prices for fighter planes used? With some searching I count not find a satisfying answer.

I am aware that these prices are very much a ball park answer. Not only different currencies, but production run length, different versions and probably some propaganda as well. Might be better comparable in man-hours to build?

Some I can find, others not so much, in particular I would like to know the price for all these planes and a way to compare these prices:

UK

USA

France

Italy

Japan

USSR

Germany

I am aware that I could grow this list a lot: WW2 aircraft, and that this might not even be possible to compare these aircraft...

  • 7
    This is going to get complicated very quickly. For example, a pre-war Mk1 Spitfire was a very different aircraft from a late war Mk21 and there were a variety of sub-variants within the Mks too. So even comparing prices of the "same" aircraft is going to give a range of possible numbers which will be difficult to equate with other airframes. – KillingTime Aug 10 at 8:25
  • There is a big issue regarding to this question, which is the scale of production. In the beginning any machine would be expensive, while the production increase will reduce the costs. So the same airplane would have different costs depending of the year of the war. – Santiago Aug 10 at 15:01
  • There's also questions of what the cost actually represent. A B-17 cost roughly $200,000 in fly-away condition from the manufacturer, but I've seen a (much less reliable) reference that it cost $400,000 by the time it was on the flight line. – David Thornley Aug 10 at 16:50
  • 1
    In 1950, the Army published a fairly thick book called the "Army Almanac" with various pieces of information from WWII. One of the pieces was a list of prices for Army Air Force aircraft as negotiated for fly-away condition. I've seen no similar list for US Navy aircraft. I'd expect them to be somewhat more expensive than their AAF counterparts, due to shorter production runs and (for carrier aircraft) more stringent structural requirements. – David Thornley Aug 10 at 16:55
  • 3
    If you want to compare the "cost", price is not a good measure. Can you compare the price of a German aircraft using slave labor and an increasingly demolished economy with a British or American aircraft using union labor? A better measure is hours while also nothing other factors such as strategic materials, manufacturing techniques, and availability of engines. For example, the Mosquito was "cheap" because it used little metal. Stamped sheet metal is cheaper and requires less skilled labor than lathe cutting. – Schwern Aug 10 at 18:38

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