Anti-Hellcat/Corsair tactics

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by shiro_amada_jp, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. shiro_amada_jp

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    Well, we all know that the Americans adopted the Thach weave and boom zoom techniques to counter superiority of the Zero during the early years of the Pacific war. When the tables were turned on the Japanese upon the advent of faster and more powerful American fighters like the Hellcat and the Corsair, did Zero fighter pilots come up with any techniques of their own on how to counter the new fighters?
     
  2. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Not really, the Japanses seened to refuse the idea of changing their combat techniques to adapt to the Allied techniques....
     
  3. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    I think they tried to adapt some of the Allied tactics (Finger Four and element lead/wingman), especially around the Phillipines. But the Allied Fighters were far more familiar with the tactics than the Japanese and knew how to exploit the gaps.

    After a couple of turns, the Japanese tended to drift back into a single dogfight mode.

    In short, Les has it right, they never really developed an effective counter.
     
  4. ppopsie

    ppopsie Member

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    Now then, an ex-zero pilot who was a reserve naval officer once told us about that. He operated from southern Kyushu early in 1945 for mostly the escorting misssions for the special attack units bound for Okinawa.

    His Zero fighter unit adopted modern energy-keeping tactics while fighting against the enemy Hellcats off Okinawa islands. He mainly used series of the barrel roll together with harsh skidding in almost unending manner, to keep up the airspeed for gaining advantages over the US fighters whilst avoiding them. In this he said cleary that although so-called Hineri-Komi maneouver was repeatedly trained while their ACM trainings, he (and his colleagues) did not use it in the actual combats because if the maneouver was done, it would kill the airspeed and make the Zero fighter, if for a moment, hang in the air. This would definately make a sitting duck before a pack of Hellcats. He denied the old "magic" there.

    Refer to; http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/naoaki_ooishi/My_Aviation_Experience.pdf
     
  5. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Interesting link Ppopsie. Will read it when I get time.
     
  6. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    It was expected that the Japanese would change fighter tactics after Midway. The allied victory was achieved mainly through bad tactics on the Japanese part. The interesting thing is they never changed because until they ran into P-38's and F6-f3's they truly felt they didn't need to change tactics.
     
  7. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    I think too that because the Japanese were so slow in putting newer and better aircraft on line, they were disadvantaged X2. Slow to change tactics and slow to improve aircraft. If some of thier later model fighters were deployed earlier and in numbers, that could have been a game-changer.
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Nice post!!
     
  9. shiro_amada_jp

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  10. ppopsie

    ppopsie Member

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    That type of mindset had been upon us for several hundred years. How could our decendants in the WW2 era change that in a very short time.

    Please note however that there had been less than ten percent of the population were samurais before and during Edo era, including ones without posts or jobs. The rest; farmers, smiths and merchants in each class subordinated to governing samurais.
     
  11. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    Robert Shaw's (USN pilot) book "Fighter Combat" about fighter tactics, though mostly about afterburning jet fighter tactics, has frequent quotes from the famous Samurai Miyamoto Musashi, alongside those of fighter a/c aces. So, the idea of focusing on the individual in air combat and relating it to individual combat of Samurai, isn't a solely Japanese idea.

    AFAIK (and most histories seem to agree) one process by which Japanese society was rebuilt in the Meiji era, when the feudal system and the Samurai passed out of existence, was to popularize elements of the Samurai ethic and teach them to everybody. That became a unifying theme in the new society, as seen in the Imperial Rescript to the Army and Navy written in the 1880's (IIRC but anyway in the Meiji era) and still the creed of the Japanese military man, at all levels, in WWII.

    On JNAF fighter tactics, Peatty discusses in "Sunburst" how what we might call energy and coordinated section tactics were actually a product of experience in China, countering hit and run tactics by Chinese/Soviet I-16's v Type 96 fighters, and the energy tactics Type 0 Fighters naturally used there because they were faster than any of their opponents. Trick manuevers like Hineri-Komi were still included but it wasn't a pure turn and burn, aerobatic individual doctrine by 1941.

    This is underlined in Lundstrom "First Team in the Guadalcanal Campaign" where he observes that tactics used by test pilots of the captured Zero in late 1942 differed from those actually used by the Japanese, which even by then usually employed hit and run firing passes against F4F's, not tail chases.

    One change the Japanese did tend to make later, as already noted above, was 4 or 2+2 plane tactical units like the USN* v minimum unit of 3 a/c at the start of the war.

    IMO more needs to be studied and written on the actual evolution and use of fighter tactics in WWII. I think it's subject to a lot of broad generalizations with limited evidence to back them up and which may not even be correct, even though repeated 1000's of times over the years. There's just less really known and less thoroughly researched writing on it than other topics. Especially of what fighter pilots really *did* in combat, not just the tactics in their manuals.

    *finger 4 was not, obviously, a USN or US invention, but the USN seemed to have more of a concept of 2+2 in its 4's, as when the elements of a division Thach Weaved, getting pretty far away from each other but still in coordination, v USAAF where the 4 ideally stayed together all the time just in different arrangements depending on the situation.

    Joe
     
  12. HellToupee

    HellToupee Banned

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    Japanese often would use BnZ like tactics, the bigger problem was the lack of skilled pilots and inability to upgrade the zero to match performance of later fighters.
     
  13. shiro_amada_jp

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    When you're so used to a fighting tactic, it becomes second nature to you. Because of this, it's so difficult to unlearn the turn and burn style of air combat especially when the plane that you're flying was built to fight that way. In Pacific Fighters, the combat flight sim that I play,it's so tempting to go one on one with the enemy fighters. Moreover, it's equally tempting to pursue a single fighter relentlessly...but we know that's a bad idea since it means opening yourself to enemy fire from the target's wingman...
     
  14. HellToupee

    HellToupee Banned

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    But their method of flying wasn't turn and burn, turn was an advantage they had and would use, but if you read accounts of Japanese pilots they would more often that not be trying to seek the advantage engaging from above, combat in the raids on Darwin good example of this.

    Its just later the gap in performance between Zeros and later US carrier planes was huge all they had then was a turn advantage. Just try disengaging from a Hellcat in pacific fighters.
     
  15. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    I have serious doubts about using sim games to draw conclusions about WWII air combat. Sim games have to be fun and reasonably (though not too) easily mastered, especially in terms of shooting down other planes, or people won't buy them. Remember that in highly successful fighter units like USN F6F units ca. 1944 only around 1/2 the pilots were credited with any kills, and not all were second or fourth men in a division, and some 2nd's and 4th's (the wingmen) scored plenty of kills. A lot of people could stay alive in air combat but were not capable of scoring kills even in units that saw heavy combat. But I've been able to score kills in every sim game I've ever tried.

    On turning, a pure hit and run tactic won't work against a situationally aware opponent who repeatedly turns into the attack, unless there's a considerable numbers advantage (somebody else is coming at him from behind once he manuevers to defeat the first attack) or the first attacker can shoot well at high deflection angle. But very few WWII airmen could do the latter. Few were even trained in it (USN was one exception on training for it, but it was still much harder to do in real combat). Computing gunsights created another partial exception late in WWII in some AF's. Some turning was highly natural, for all pilots. Even energy tactic training manuals of WWII (like the 5th AF's, reproduced in part in "Pacific Sweep" by Rust) didn't say don't turn but to give up on turns after a set angle or speed reduction if a kill wasn't achieved.

    As I've said many times, I don't think we know with certainly all the factors which led the Japanese fighter arms to go from usually substantially >1 to eventually usually substantially <1 kill ratio's v Allied fighters. We still sometimes exaggerate the degree and speed of that change by relying on inflated Allied claims. Still, there was a shift. I personally think numbers were a major factor, along with overall unit quality (pilot training, unit cohesion, etc), a/c performance too, and pure tactics. I don't see a clear way to prove the relative importance of those things with the available info.

    Joe
     
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