Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Spitfire vs Zero

Discussion in 'Air War in the Pacific' started by scrounger, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    183
    Not true. The 5th AF (and the Aussies) in New Guinea wasn't just getting blown from the sky with nothing to show for it.
     
  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    10,090
    Likes Received:
    2,559
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    CPL Punishment, tactics were a factor, but much of your post has inaccurate information.

    Actually, USN and Marine aircraft tangled with the Zero in very few large engagements prior to the Guadalcanal Campaign. The Navy's carrier pilots would not tangle with the Zero until early-May, 1942, at the Battle of the Coral Sea, until that time their only opposition was from the A5M "Claude". The first, and, AFAIK, the only Marine combat against the Zero, before, Midway, was on December 22, 1941. Two Marine F4Fs rose to oppose an incoming Japanese strike that consisted of six A6M2s and 33 B5Ns; both Marine fighters were shot down and two B5Ns were lost to either fighters or flak.

    So, much of the USN and Marine "practical" knowledge was gained from only Coral Sea and Midway. Further, the majority of the USN pilots at Coral Sea and Midway had only "earned their wings" in 1941, and only had between 300-600 hours of flight time. These men could hardly be called "veterans". Most of the "veterans"(those with over 1,000 hours of flight time) had been moved to other duty following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.


    How do you figure? The Guadalcanal Campaign began on August 7, 1942 - while, at that time, the Akutan Zero, aka "Koga's Zero" was still being repaired in Seattle, Washington. While it first flew on September 20th, flight testing was not completed until October 15, 1942 - By that time, the Guadalcanal Campaign was already, not that anyone actually knew it, half over!!!

    What you have forgotten is that not only had the Chinese, far before anyone else, have a good year of seeing the Zero in action, and their reports were duly passed along to US military attaches(the most famous one being Claire Chennault, whom in turn passed the information along to the US. But the Chinese also captured two intact Zeros before Pearl Harbor! Untitled Document
    However, the Zero's performance information was so outstanding, that many chose not to believe that the Japanese could design, let alone produce, such a a "wonder" fighter. Still, there were a few pilots that took this new information to heart. One you may know, John S. Thach.

    So, saying that the Akutan Zero had any direct bearing on the success of the US fighter pilots at Guadalcanal Campaign is practically unsupportable. It is possible that information derived from the Akutan Zero may have had some effect on the pilots' flying at the very end of the campaign, since it would take some time to be reproduced and then disseminated to combat units. But then again, it is just as likely that the combat pilots had already figured much of that out for themselves.


    Hmpf! Similar intelligence information was available before the Pacific War began on December 7, 1941. However, as I said earlier, very few chose to believe it. IIRC, Thach has given credit to a Fleet Air Tactical Unit bulletin of September 22, 1941, which had performance information on the "new" Japanese Zero, as the impetus for developing tactics to combat the Japanese fighter. Thus, it seems that any pre-war pilot "who listened to the lectures, read the intel circulars, and trained like hell" was capable of forming this knowledge into something useful. However, while all were training, few believed what they heard or read.


    Much the same for the Americans - they were all either trainees, recent qualifiers, or long service veterans, and the only tactical doctrine they had was from the European air war. While some of the US carrier squadrons were working on evolving their fighter doctrine to meet the changing wartime challenges, by the time of Guadalcanal, it had not yet coalesced into an overall Navy fighter doctrine. Only the basics had been laid down, the many finer points still needed to be worked out. This would happen during the Guadalcanal and Solomons Campaigns.
     
  3. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    31

    Were they fighting IJN/A6M's or IJAAF/Ki-43's??? The Flying Tigers were credited with tangling with Zero's but in fact basically were fighting Ki-27's & Ki-43's. I don't know how much the 5th AF faught IJN Zero's for sure but know they were going up against IJAAF/Ki-43's quite often. The USN managed about a 1-1 split between it's F4F's and the IJN's Zero's but against the IJAAF Ki-43's managed a positive mid to high single digit to one kill ratio ,as per Lundstrom.
     
  4. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    31

    The USN/USMC with it's F4F's managed an equal kill ratio with the IJN/A6M's with or without using special tatics furthermore the Thach Weave ,if I'm not wrong, was used only by one squadron at Midway and wasn't taught system till from Mid-1943 again per Lundstrom. The Spitfires at Darwin supposedly changed their tatics and still had their heads handed to them. Now one last bit of info the Spitfire Vc used at Darwin was probably the worst performing model of that series furthermore in actuallity even today there's some debate as to the Zero's real capabilities per speed & climb.

    Another thing is the short nose of the Grumman fighters it allowed far better high angle deflection shooting then say in a fighter like the Spitfire with a longer nose. The USN trained highly in this form of shooting,much more so then other foriegn airforces. It's one of those things that is not quite aircraft not quite pilot.
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    183
    The IJN was fighting in New Guinea prior to Guadalcanal. Allied P40's and P39's were up against the Zero's and the loss ratio's were pretty much 1:1.

    As for the USN fighting against the Ki-43's; I don't think they had that many opportunities to do so. I have to check my books, but the the IJAAF didn't really make their presence known in that part of the Pacific untill well after Guadalcanal began.
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    10,090
    Likes Received:
    2,559
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    IIRC, Lundstrom's first book, covering Pearl Harbor to Midway, in "The First Team" series, does not mention the KI-43 at all.

    I want to go back over Eric Bergerud's "Fire in the Sky - The Air War in the South Pacific" to see what he has to say.
     
  7. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,713
    Likes Received:
    1,501
    Just as a point of interest, the Ki-43 "Oscar" to the allied air forces code I.D. was truly identified many times incorrectly as a "Zero" by the Americans and others. The aircraft was a real wash-out in many ways, even though it was very "nimble", its lack of speed and fragility turned against the thing in battle.

    The Ki-43 was Nakajima's designation for the fighter design to replace the Ki-27 ("Type 97"/1937) fighter codenamed Nate. The Ki-43, Type 1 (1940) Army Fighter, known to the Japanese as the Hayabusa, and to Allied Forces as the Oscar. It was a slow, fragile and underarmed, but an extraordinarily maneuverable, fast climbing plane of fame. Although it was very vulnerable in battle, most who flew it would agree it was a beautiful airplane to handle. Production started in 1941 and continued until 1944, with 5,751 aircraft being built.

    …The Oscar was to change that, but not to the extent hoped. Superior marksmanship/airmanship was to make up for the lack of heavy guns. This clever hope failed to materialize. The plane's light wing loading and fundamentals limited its top speed, diving ability and punch. Light armament dogged the design to the end, and doomed its pilots as well, and not for a lack of trying...the design could simply not carry more guns, not on pylons, not anywhere, although it was tried desperately down the years (finally with an unsuccessful nose-stretch for twin cannon.) as time ran out for Japan.


    Goto:

    Nakajima Ki-43 (Oscar)
     
  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2003
    Messages:
    1,091
    Likes Received:
    740
    Location:
    The Old Dominion
    No USN pilot was credited with downing a Ki-43 until 4 Dec 1943. On that date LTJG Cleveland LeRoy Null from Lexington's VF-16, in a single sortie over Kwajalein, was credited with shooting down an A6M, a Ki-43 and a probable of another A6M.

    The first reported credit for a USN pilot shooting down a Ki-27 was on 12 Sep 1944 near the northern tip of Negros by ENS John Dempsey Stokes from Wasp's VF-14. Nearby, over Manapla Field, LTJGs Cornelius Joseph Haggerty and James Eldon Starkel, from VB-14, were each credited with damaging Ki-27's.

    The next day was worse. Between the hours of 0745 and 0830, USN pilots from four squadrons, VF-2 (Hornet), VF-14, VF-15 (Essex) and VF-22 (Cowpens), were credited with downing a total of 17 Ki-27's, plus 3 probables and 1 damaged in the same area. Scorers were LT William K Blair, VF-2, (1,0,0); LTJG Byron M Johnson, VF-2 (1,0,0); ENS Kenneth B Lake, VF-2 (1,0,0); ENS Eugene J Streeter Jr, VF-14 (1,0,0); ENS Larry R Self, VF-15, (3,0,0); ENS Wendell Van Twelves, VF-15 (3,1,0); ENS Kenneth A Flinn, VF-15 (2,0,0); CDR David McCampbell, VF-15 (2,1,0); ENS James D Bare, VF-15 (1,0,0); LCDR George C Duncan, VF-15 (1,0,0); ENS Richard H McGraw, VF-15 (1,0,0); ENS Richard L Davis, VF-15 (0,1,0); and ENS Ormond A Higgins, VF-22, USS Cowpens (0,0,1).
     
  9. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    31
    Sorry about that guys I thought it was Lundstrom that said that,at least not in PH to Midway . Now I seem to remember that the Zero did better then 1-1 against the P-40/P-39 came from a discussion over on tank-net,warships1.com forum & on The Great Planes forum. Alot of the posters on those sites seem to know what they're talking about. However I'm still pretty certain that Allied pilots in P-39's/P-40's didn't equal the Zero,maybe against the Ki-43 though & as BRNDIRT seems to imply alot of times the Ki-43 was mis-identified as a Zero, over New Guinea & Solomons unless it was later on when the USAAF had P-38's alongst with USMC F4U's to fly topcover over said P-39/P-40's..
     
  10. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    31
    Yeah I think your right we were discussing this over on some other forums and I got it mixed with some info that was imputed from Lundstrom in those discussions. Sorry about that.
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    183
    In NG, untill the IJAAF took over in the fall of 1942, the allied P39's and P-40's essentially held a 1-1 loss ratio.
     
  12. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    31
    Ok but are we talking claims of actual losses???? Also what sources are you using????
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    1,240
    Likes Received:
    183
    Actual losses. Data was from the 5th AF monthly statistics vs IJN losses.
     
  14. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    31
  15. ickysdad

    ickysdad Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    552
    Likes Received:
    31
    and here's a discussion over on J-aircraft.com pertaining to Darwin
    Zero versus Spitfire V...

    and in this thread over on The Great Planes website it was discussed ,in one of my post I linked to several other threads on that website where it was disussed about the zero versus other European Fighters, the F4F versus the Hurricane and another thread about the Spitfires versus Zero's over Darwin


    http://warbirdsforum.com/showthread.php?t=4313


    Also in this thread pay close attention to waht JBren1 says he used both Japanese & Allied sources in comparing losses of the Zero to P-40's/P-39's. But go to page 1 rather page to which I linked.
    http://warbirdsforum.com/showthread.php?t=652&highlight=spitfires+darwin&page=6

    I'm off Tuesday & Wednesday so I'll look through my Hata's & Izawa's books on the IJAAF & IJNAF to see what they have to say basically they looked at Japanese records then collobarated them with Allied records.
     
  16. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2008
    Messages:
    7,726
    Likes Received:
    814

    Maybe missed it but don't see mention of the habit of the Ki43 wings ripping off in high g manoeuvrings, which figured in the P 40 tactics used against it. Have I got that wrong? p 40 - Google Search
     
  17. Vanir

    Vanir Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    28
    Caldwell gave an assessment to a local newspaper (Sydney Herald I think) about the Spit V versus Zero. He rates the Spit quite well, essentially superior at all heights but don't get in a turning dogfight, same thing the Americans found. My family used to live with a vet who told me the Kittyhawk III iirc was as good as the Spit V at low alt easily in his opinion and he reckons most pilots felt the same, so I guess we might think of the Spit V like a P-40 up against the Spit, with most of the same rules but a better throttle altitude.
    Thing I know the Darwin based interceptors reported was that they only had a window of a few minutes to even bother trying to intercept if you didn't catch them on early warning, because the Japanese aircraft and their escort fighters had such immense range advantages you couldn't afford to chase them at equivalent engine settings for as long, trying to could wind you up in the sea before you get to guns range on anything useful.

    So the range thing was a really big issue in the Pacific even for defence interception, although admitedly from an armchair I don't know quite how everything worked with all this, and have only piecemeal information to go on. People with actual service employment among us would know much more about this than me.
     
  18. Vanir

    Vanir Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    28
    I've got the RAAF 1943 comparative flight testing report on the first Ki-43 restored to flying condition and actually tested by the Allies in WW2, I've got three computers with partitions and crap everywhere, I'll hunt it down and edit this post with whatever I've got.

    From memory, they found it of genuinely excellent build quality and general manufacture, their weaknesses were by design and not inferiority and it got them amazing slow speed manoeuvre capabilties and phenomenal range for their class. The Oscar was very strong despite being lightly built, this was due to the superior grade duralumin monocoqué they used well ahead of European fighter construction. The RAAF didn't even rate them under gunned, the two fifties were perfectly adequate. Its drawbacks were level and dive speeds, the P-40 was much faster at combat heights which tended to range about 12,000ft over PNG I suspect, but they couldn't turn or manoeuvre with Oscars and it was dangerous to go vertical with them. They found the Oscar was very sturdy in high stress manoeuvres.

    I'll have to find whatever I've got on disk. I completely did a 180 on my impressions of the Oscar, now I think both it and the Zero were really very nicely made aircraft of the highest quality for a contemporary warbird. They just had range and manoeuvre dictates in design philosophy, and eugenics-style assertions that a pilot superiority would ensure a swift and absolute battlefield domination.

    Surely it is well established Allied forces won every theatre by attrition. Issues like the industrial complexes are smokescreens directly result of this.
     
  19. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    8,428
    Likes Received:
    2,449

    Very true...getting to altitude was always the big one...most of our birds climbed like anchors...Wirraways, Boomerangs etc...they started to fly up there anyway at about the right time to try and intercept them in the sky...plenty of wasted time there...but we did have a Dinah that flew recon the same time every day...we got him! : )
     
  20. Vanir

    Vanir Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2008
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    28
    Yes of course! Getting to interception altitude must've been what that range issue was about, if you didn't have early warning about long ranging aircraft. I even remember it said that if you didn't get early warning it was a tail chase no matter what and you only had a few minutes window for that. Allison Division in fact reported that interceptor squadrons based in Australia were overboosting the P-40 (D, E and K models specifically), for shocking amounts of boost well beyond factory specification although I haven't been able to find RAAF references for it and never did confirm if it was the Air Corps, RAAF or both doing this. Still I think the valuable point is that it infers the desperation of the day.

    I've been keeping an eye for those articles, I'm certain I have them saved from a scan I snatched off the web. The Caldwell one is reprinted by Sqn Signal I think, or something like that and uploaded. Someone might be able to find it independently. The Ki-43 one...might've been referenced in one of Michael Bower's rather cool blog pages.
    And as I've recalled after a night's sleep, I believe actually Caldwell compared the MkVIII (ie. two stage blown) Spit, but I had translated it to infer how a Mk V would handle against one under 15,000ft. Because I remember now one paragraph where he mentioned in the second stage. Still at lower alt the two-stage Merlin acts mostly like a 45 or 50 depending on the version. I think they even got cleared for +18lbs at the same time (the 45/50 was using +15lbs at first)...might not be exact here off the top of my head but that should be very close.

    Squadron Signal, or Monogram Closeup, pretty sure I got the Caldwell thing from one of those. I'll keep hunting, but I'm finding more junk than even I thought I had. Hundreds of gig of little bits and pieces I've collected ever since I thought I might spend a decade or two learning to become some sort of professional writer (I'm a dreamer I know, some days I'm so scattered I can hardly remember my name).

    :D
     
    CAC likes this.

Share This Page