posted on Feb, 1 2006 @ 04:06 PM
Junkers Ju-86P German Recon plane could reach 45,920ft (14,000m)
It had a pressurized cockpit and diesel engines, this was at the beginning of the war.
However it carried no defensive armament (apart from the odd bomb or two) on the assumption it couldn't be intercepted, which proved to be correct
until August 24, 1942 when a specially stripped version of the Mk V Spitfire (MkVI I presume) made a successful interception at 42,000ft over Egypt,
probably one of the highest intercepts of the war. Just a month later a Mk IX Spitfire made an intercept of another Ju86 over England t 43,000ft but
only succeeded in damaging it as the Spitfire was at the very edge of its envelope at that height and was on the edge of stall, making it difficult to
The Germans later tried to improve the chances of the Ju 86 surviving over enemy territory by creating an updated Ju 86R version. An even
higher-aspect ratio wing was fitted, having a span of 104 ft 11 3/4 in. along with a pair of Jumo 207B-3 diesel engines, each offering up to 1000 hp
for takeoff. The engines were also provided with GM-1 boost (nitrous oxide injected into the supercharger) to boost power at very high altitude. A
few Ju 86Ps were converted into Ju 86R configuration, and tests showed that an altitude of 47,250 feet could be reached and maintained. A handful of
operational missions were flown by the Ju 86R, but the type was eventually taken out of service by July 1944.
Service ceilings for some other common ww2 aircraft (keep in mind it takes a loooong time for these aircraft to reach these altitudes, not good for
quick interception of high slying bombers
A6M5 Zero Model 52 (1943)
Spitfire IIA (1940)
37,600 ft (later versions obviously got a bit higher)
Focke-Wulf Ta 152H (1944) perhaps the ultimate high altitude fighter in WW2 with a ceiling of 48,550 ft and designed from the outset to perform at
it's best above 40,000ft.
[edit on 1/2/06 by R988]