A6M zero With BMW 801

Darknes0935

Recruit
2
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Nov 15, 2022
what if the A6M5 used a BMW 801 engine instead of a Sakae, could it compete with fighters like the corsair and sptifire? (remembering that this version already came with slightly acceptable armor and self-sealing fuel tanks)
 

PAT303

Staff Sergeant
1,263
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Dec 31, 2018
what if the A6M5 used a BMW 801 engine instead of a Sakae, could it compete with fighters like the corsair and sptifire? (remembering that this version already came with slightly acceptable armor and self-sealing fuel tanks)
No, the A6M controls were very stiff over 250mph and solid over 300, making it faster will just make it worse.
 

BlackSheep

Senior Airman
428
433
May 31, 2018
No, the A6M controls were very stiff over 250mph and solid over 300, making it faster will just make it worse.
I’m proud to say that I recognized this dealbreaker, too, usually I have to defer to the more aeronautically educated for tech answers. Reminds me of the old problem (before you could buy insanely fast cars off the lot) when Bucky GoFaster down the street shoehorned the big-block into the Malibu, Chevelle, Nova, El Camino and never once looked at the brakes with the leaky master cylinder…car or plane, ALL systems need to compliment each other.
 

tomo pauk

Creator of Interesting Threads
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Apr 3, 2008
BMW 801 was one of the heaviest engines in wide use back in ww2. It weighted double as much as the Sakae.
Japanese are probably much better off with installing one of their more powerful engines on the Zero, like the Kinsei, Ha 41 or 109. From the Japanese standpoint, the requirement for high-octane fuel for the BMW 801D is also a problem.
 

GTX

Master Sergeant
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Dec 18, 2015
Japanese are probably much better off with installing one of their more powerful engines on the Zero, like the Kinsei, Ha 41 or 109.
Which they essentially did with the A6M8 with the Sakae replaced by the Mitsubishi Kinsei 62 engine of 1,560 hp:

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82
81
Mar 1, 2022
I love the idea but it's not possible to throw a new engine on a plane without substantial modifications to the airframe, unless the engines are approximate in weight. IIRC, Susumu Kajinami mentioned that the Ki-61 had a lead weight in the tail after the 61 had had its rear fuselage tank removed. My guess is that if the Zero had a heavier engine, it would have also required a counterweight in the tail.

The Kinsei and Sakae were similar in weight and size so adapting a Kinsei for a Zero's airframe wasn't a huge endeavor. Even so, Mitsubishi should have designed the Zero around the Kinsei 40 or 50-series but according to Horikoshi, Japanese high command was concerned about supply issues. Japan was heavily dependent on almost all natural resources, having little in the way of aviation materials (although it did have substantial amounts of gold at one point, which is how it managed to industralize). He compared Japan to Britain in terms of its dependence on labor-intensive manufacturing processes and its scant natural resources.

In other words, heavier aircraft would have overburdened Japanese industry and therefore the Navy preferred the Zuisei or Sakae over the Kinsei. There was never a chance a heavier engine would have been used. It also explains why the Ki-43 used the Sakae as well, despite it being a land-based aircraft.

Even so, during the Darwin raid, experienced veterans in the Zero would inflict heavy casualties on the relatively inexperienced Spitfire V pilots. It's pretty clear that pilot skill and leadership made the biggest difference between defeat and victory among machines that were somewhat close in performance.
 
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BlackSheep

Senior Airman
428
433
May 31, 2018
I love the idea but it's not possible to throw a new engine on a plane without substantial modifications to the airframe, unless the engines are approximate in weight. It's IIRC, Susumu Kajinami mentioned that the Ki-61 had a lead weight in the tail after the 61 had had its rear fuselage tank removed. My guess is that if the Zero had a heavier engine, it would have also required a counterweight in the tail.

The Kinsei and Sakae were similar in weight and size so adapting a Kinsei for a Zero's airframe wasn't a huge endeavor. Even so, Mitsubishi should have designed the Zero around the Kinsei 40 or 50-series but according to Horikoshi, Japanese high command was concerned about supply issues. Japan was heavily dependent on almost all natural resources, having little in the way of aviation materials (although it did have substantial amounts of gold at one point, which is how it managed to industralize). He compared Japan to Britain in terms of its dependence on labor-intensive manufacturing processes and its scant natural resources.

In other words, heavier aircraft would have overburdened Japanese industry and therefore the Navy preferred the Zuisei or Sakake over the Kinsei. There was never a chance a heavier engine would have been used. It also explains why the Ki-43 used the Sakae as well, despite it being a land-based aircraft.

Even so, during the Darwin raid, experienced veterans in the Zero would inflict heavy casualties on the relatively inexperienced Spitfire V pilots. It's pretty clear that pilot skill and leadership made the biggest difference between defeat and victory among machines that were somewhat close in performance.
Overlooked and probably the biggest reason for Japanese success in the initial Darwin raids was the stubborn refusal of Commonwealth pilots to listen to USN pilot Joe Foss.
Foss was an ace who honed his skills over Guadalcanal and worked hard to instill the ideas of flying and fighting in teams while utilizing your aircraft’s strongpoints. He happened to find himself in position to train the pilots slated to defend Darwin and other area’s along the cost, yet, no matter how much anecdotal evidence he provided the Spitfire pilots, in particular, refused to heed his warnings not to play the Zero’s game in slow and tight dogfighting. Many of them were to realize the wisdom of his lessons too late. Joe Foss went on to win the MOH, become governor of South Dakota, and many of us sportsman remember his show The Outdoors with Joe Foss. Truly a great American.
 

ThomasP

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Apr 17, 2017
midwest USA
Hey BlackSheep,

re "Overlooked and probably the biggest reason for Japanese success in the initial Darwin raids was the stubborn refusal of Commonwealth pilots to listen to USN pilot Joe Foss."

While Foss was obviously a very good fighter pilot, I do not think he could have had any role in training the Australian or Commonwealth pilots slated to defend Darwin.

Port Darwin was first attacked on 19 February 1942, and the last attack was on 12 November 1942 (which was I believe the last attack on the mainland).

Foss arrived on Guadalcanal on 9 October 1942 and left Guadalcanal on/about 15 November 1942 after being diagnosed with Malaria. He spent the next 6 weeks recovering from Malaria, first in New Caledonia, and then Sydney after a second bout. He returned to Guadalcanal on 1 January 1943.

Foss never visited Australia prior to his sick leave in late-1942 - and Foss did not arrive there until after the last of the Japanese attacks on the Australian mainland.

Unless he had the ability to time travel he could have had no influence on the air combat over the Australian mainland.
 
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PAT303

Staff Sergeant
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Dec 31, 2018
The air combat over Darwin wasn't governed by any one thing, poor quality aircraft, wrong engines with low boost, poor quality ammunition, big wing strategy instead of attacking when appropriate, only 5 pilots out of the 100+ that had combat experience, very dusty conditions, it all added up.
 

BlackSheep

Senior Airman
428
433
May 31, 2018
Hey BlackSheep,

re "Overlooked and probably the biggest reason for Japanese success in the initial Darwin raids was the stubborn refusal of Commonwealth pilots to listen to USN pilot Joe Foss."

While Foss was obviously a very good fighter pilot, I do not think he could have had any role in training the Australian or Commonwealth pilots slated to defend Darwin.

Port Darwin was first attacked on 19 February 1942, and the last attack was on 12 November 1942 (which was I believe the last attack on the mainland).

Foss arrived on Guadalcanal on 9 October 1942 and left Guadalcanal on/about 15 November 1942 after being diagnosed with Malaria. He spent the next 6 weeks recovering from Malaria, first in New Caledonia, and then Sydney after a second bout. He returned to Guadalcanal on 1 January 1943.

Foss never visited Australia prior to his sick leave in late-1942 - and Foss did not arrive there until after the last of the Japanese attacks on the Australian mainland.

Unless he had the ability to time travel he could have had no influence on the air combat over the Australian mainland.
Well, I guess I misread or he lied in his autobiography
 

ThomasP

Tech Sergeant
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Apr 17, 2017
midwest USA
Hey BlackSheep,

Would you do me a favor, if you have time and still have access to his autobiography, and check if he says that his conversations/lectures with the Australian/Commonwealth pilots occurred before 30 November 1942? The official USMC records say that he did not arrive in Australia until 30 November.

The only place I have seen the claim that he performed training in Australia prior to the end of the attacks on mainland Australia is on a couple of websites. However, while the USMC has no official record of Foss teaching the Australian/Commonwealth pilots, there is mention of him doing so in some of the Australian historical records (including a couple of the Australian pilot's memoirs) - which state that he had conversations and informal discussions/lectures with Australian pilots during his stay regarding his experience fighting the Japanese at Guadalcanal.
 

BlackSheep

Senior Airman
428
433
May 31, 2018
Hey BlackSheep,

Would you do me a favor, if you have time and still have access to his autobiography, and check if he says that his conversations/lectures with the Australian/Commonwealth pilots occurred before 30 November 1942? The official USMC records say that he did not arrive in Australia until 30 November.

The only place I have seen the claim that he performed training in Australia prior to the end of the attacks on mainland Australia is on a couple of websites. However, while the USMC has no official record of Foss teaching the Australian/Commonwealth pilots, there is mention of him doing so in some of the Australian historical records (including a couple of the Australian pilot's memoirs) - which state that he had conversations and informal discussions/lectures with Australian pilots during his stay regarding his experience fighting the Japanese at Guadalcanal.
I checked and couldn’t locate the book in my collection, but, I do remember a
Copy of that particular book being on the shelf of a thrift store, I frequent. Time permitting and as long as the gunfire isn’t too thick this Black Friday/holiday shopping weekend, I’ll swing by for it.
I’d like to see where I went wrong, also, because honestly that book was the only substantial piece of literature I’ve read on the man.
 

BlackSheep

Senior Airman
428
433
May 31, 2018
Hey BlackSheep,

Would you do me a favor, if you have time and still have access to his autobiography, and check if he says that his conversations/lectures with the Australian/Commonwealth pilots occurred before 30 November 1942? The official USMC records say that he did not arrive in Australia until 30 November.

The only place I have seen the claim that he performed training in Australia prior to the end of the attacks on mainland Australia is on a couple of websites. However, while the USMC has no official record of Foss teaching the Australian/Commonwealth pilots, there is mention of him doing so in some of the Australian historical records (including a couple of the Australian pilot's memoirs) - which state that he had conversations and informal discussions/lectures with Australian pilots during his stay regarding his experience fighting the Japanese at Guadalcanal.
On a whim, I checked Wikipedia (yes, I know) and it appears to have been written using material taken from the book I was referencing, A Proud American: The Autobiography of Joe Foss, although I couldn’t locate a direct citation confirming so.
Regarding the subject we are investigating, under subheading Guadalcanal Flying Ace, the second paragraph states:
In December 1942, Foss contracted malaria. He was sent to Sydney, Australia for rehabilitation, where he met Australian ace Clive “Killer” Caldwell and delivered some lectures on operational flying to RAF pilots, newly assigned to the theater.
What I remember reading did elaborate more on what he was teaching and the after combat results.

I still intend on finding the book and giving it a place in my library and will update you when I do.

Interestingly, I also learned that the shooting range, west of Phoenix, is named after him. Also, I remembered the story, but, didn’t realize it was Foss, who was attempting to fly out of Sky Harnor Intl when the TSA tried to confiscate his MOH, as a deadly weapon. Sadly, they had no clue as to what it was.
 

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