Posted 18 May 2012 - 07:51 PM
First off I didn't mean to question the statistic itself, I am sure it is correct, I meant to question the big difference between the two. The rest of my statements were point out that there are reasons both statistics are irrelevant to the discussion. I however, did a very poor job of it. My bust. Let me try again. (BTW, thank you Takao for the very good link).
None of the statistics the 75-76% whatever, the 56%, nor the 19:1 kill ratio of the Hellcat or the 11:1 ratio for the Corsair, are really relevant when evaluating the two aircraft's capabilities. The reason these statistics are irrelevant when determining the quality of the aircraft is because they do not take into consideration the real world reasons behind the data used to arrive at them.
The Hellcat also had a total of 5,163 kills by US Naval Aviators, (Marine Corps pilots are also Naval Aviators). The Corsair had 2140, 1,560 or 73% of which were shot down by land based squadrons (1400 Marine-160 USN). The Hellcat also flew 75% of carrier fighter sorties so it only makes sense that it has 75% of the kills. If the two planes were reversed I am sure the Corsair would have a similar record. Of the Hellcats 5163 kills, one out of ten happened at the Battle of Philippine Sea (Great Marianas Turkey Shoot). What was the big factor in this victory? The lack of quality Japanese Naval aviators because of the Midway losses.
Carrier based sorties-Hellcat: 62,240 Corsair F4U, FG: 6,488
Total Carrier Fighter Aircraft sorties were: 82,755 (F6F-62240, F4U/FG-6488, FM-12925, F4F-1102). What percentage of the sorties did Hellcats fly? You guessed it 75% (actually 75.2%).
The Marine Corps flew an additional 3241 Carrier Fighter aircraft sorties, but the majority were close air support missions. You can verify this by looking at the amount of ordinance dropped.
I could go on and on, but the reason these numbers are relevant are because of the underlying reasons I mentioned earlier. The Corsair first saw action while Japan still had an experienced and proficient air arm. The Corsair came at a critical time for the US effort in the Pacific. The Corsair went to land based squadrons first because of it's problems with suitability for carrier ops. Actually a good thing for the war effort, overall, because if it hadn't had the problems they would have gone to carrier squadrons first. There was somewhat of a pause in carrier operations for about a year, from November '42 until November 1943 (and carrier operations had been greatly reduced due to losses and damage for some months prior). It was during this period, in conjunction with their Midway losses, that the the Japanese had their pilot quality totally eroded. When the new Essex class carriers with their Hellcats resumed carrier operations again late in 1943 it was against a different Japanese pilot, one severely lacking in training and experience. It was as much, if not more, due to this factor, as to any aircraft superiority that led to the large Japanese losses the Hellcat inflicted prior to the Kamikaze threat. When the Kamikaze threat emerged the Navy increased the number of fighters deployed upon each carrier. Due to a shortage of pilots they re-embarked most of their land based squadrons (Navy and Marine Corps). The Corsair which most of the Marine pilots flew drew the vast majority of carrier based fighter, close air support missions, because this was an area they had additional training and expertise in. The Hellcat filled the primary fighter role with the Corsair being called upon when the situation required. A large number of the Hellcats kills came during this period and not to split hairs, but both the Hellcat and Corsair were during this period filling a role more akin to an interceptor than a true fighter due to the nature of the air combat at the time. You will also note if you study the statistics that the Hellcats kill ratio dropped significantly when compared to KI-84 or J2M. Why was this? Because what few experienced pilots Japan still had were given the most capable aircraft the Japanese had. Even then the US pilots were extremely well trained and many had extensive experience. The rest of the poorly trained, and I'm being generous calling them that, Japanese pilots were in effect, simply steering a guided bomb. Any US aircraft given the skill US pilots had at the time would have had an overwhelming level of success. US pilots needed to meet them, and kill them before they broke through to the fleet. Not much classic dogfighting there. Now, after running my mouth all this time there wasn't a great deal of difference in the performance of the two aircraft. If the Hellcat had been fielded first and had gone to the land based squadrons in the Solomons, it would have performed just as well as the Corsair. If the Corsair had been required to fly the majority of the later war carrier fighter missions like the Hellcat was, it would probably have similar statistics as the F6F.
TOS, by the time the Navy deployed the Corsair to it's carriers they had been modified with an anti-stall strip on their starboard wing and the excessive strut rebound dampened by the addition of a bleed valve. These two mods corrected most of their carrier use issues.
brndirt1 and TiredOldSoldier like this
"I come in peace, I didn't bring artillery. But I am pleading with you with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I'll kill you all."Marine General James Mattis, to Iraqi tribal leaders
"Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. All other conditions are secondary."Gen. Alfred Gray, 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps