F4F Wildcat versus P-40E Tomahawk

Discussion in 'Polls' started by Pong, May 18, 2008.

?

Who was better?

  1. P-40 Tomahawk

    54 vote(s)
    49.1%
  2. F4F-3 Wildcat

    39 vote(s)
    35.5%
  3. Both

    17 vote(s)
    15.5%
  1. Pong

    Pong Active Member

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    Who could have been better, the P-40E or the F4F? We all know that they can't match the Zero's performance before the production of the F6F, but which could have been the better dogfighter, the 'Ironworks' Wildcat, or the Tomahawk?
     
  2. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    The Zero (assuming A6M-2) only held the edge in climb and low speed maneuverability and acceleration, level speed was about equal with the F4F-3 and at a disadvantage to the P-40. And of course both of the US fighters were much tougher and had armor and self-sealing tanks.

    The Zero also had an advantage in range, but no so much with the P-40 (with max fuel and drop tank) not to mention the unprotected fuel tanks on the Zero.

    The P-40 had a max range advantage and an overall performance advantage below ~16,000 ft. But the Wildcat (which was equipped with a 2-stage supercharger) had considderably better altitude performance.

    The armament is debatable. Bothe the P-40E and 4-gun F4F had very symila ammo loads, but the P-40E had more guns at the expence of firing time. (the F4F-4's gun arrangement is a disadvantage with a considerable increase in total ammo and firing time, plus the guns are more spread out)

    And I assume the discussion is with the F4F-3, otherwise things change a bit.

    And by the way only the P-40C and earlier models were Tomahawks, the P-40E was a Kittyhawk. Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Tomahawk, Kittyhawk
     
  3. Flightcommander

    Flightcommander New Member

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    i would have to vote based general Chenault's works with the p-40 in china.
    1. with a total of 27 planes working they had the japanese thinking that they had over 100 planes attacking.
     
  4. Blue Yonder

    Blue Yonder Member

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    In all seriousness, they both had their moments in World War Two along with their effectiveness. The P-40 was faster then the F4F and they both had the same armament. Six fifty's, which made them excellent gun platforms. The P-40 was also used and held up against the A6M Zero during the AVG's exploits under General Chennault. But the F4F was rugged and could take a lot of hits under fire. All in all I have been a P-40 fan for a long time, possibly my entire life, and in a match I would say the Tomahawk would outperform the Wildcat. It has the ability to out turn the Wildcat and can fly faster (by about fifty to sixty mph).8)
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    FALSE - they never fought against Zeros....

    "The Flying tigers, the true story"
     
  6. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Also, be careful on your wording. The Tomahawk was only used by the British and Russians and only referred to the B and C models. After that, it was called the Kittyhawk........but I need verification on this. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

    The question was the Warhawk P-40E.
     
  7. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    P-40E= Kittyhawk Mk.IA
    Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Tomahawk, Kittyhawk

    The 6x .50 armmed Wildcat wasn't that great, it carried less total ammo than the 4-gun versions, and the outer 2 guns (added on) were spaced much rarther out from the others and would be less accurate. (and added a decent amount of weight)

    Against most Japanese a/c 4x .50's was pretty good as well, even to european contemporaries it was decent (the P-51A/B/C had only 4x guns and with less ammo)

    It was the British that had requested the added guns.


    4x .50 with 430 rpg (1720 rounds total) ~30-36 sec of firing time.

    6x .50 with 240 rpg (1440 rounds total) ~17-20 sec firing time.


    A good marksman can get more out of the 6x guns and an enemy plane has a better chance of going down in a short firing window. But for an average pilot, or even most pilots in most circumstances the 4x guns with the extra ammo will tend to be able to do more damage before you're out of ammo.


    the P-40 on the other hand could carry its 6x .50's in compact blocks of 3 with about as much total ammo as the 4-gunned F4F.

    6x .50 M2 281 rpg (1686 rounds total) 20-24 sec firing time




    The fairest comparison would be with the F4F-3, as it had the 4x guns and lacked the folding wings which added weight and deteriated performance. Since we're comparing it to a land based fighter. Even more fair, a USMC F4F-3 with carrier equipment eliminated.


    And on the performance figures, the P-40 was not more than 50 mph faster than the F4F (even the F4F-4) t any altitude. Up to ~15,000 ft the P-40 was ~30-40 mph faster at max power (WEP of 1,570 hp up to ~5,000 ft then dropping off rapidly to ~1,100 hp at 15,000 ft in level flight -with ram air-)
    Above 15,000 ft the P-40's performance fell, while the Wildcat's speed continue to increase up to ~21,000 ft due to the 2-stage supercharger. Turning ability would be better for the F4F-3 than the P-40 above 15,000 ft as well. (as probably would acceleration and climb, certainly by 20,000 ft)


    At low alt the P-40 has an edge in sustained turn, but probably not in instantaneous turn. (due to the F4F's lower wing load and high-lift airfoil)

    The P-40 has a significant advantage in foll rate, and was probably better in a dive.
     
  8. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I don't believe the P40E ever met A6Ms or IJN pilots so it's record against Japanese AC is not easy to compare against F4F3s.
     
  9. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    This is an interesting comparison which I had never considered before. It is a little difficult to compare but if one is trying to get an idea of comparative performance of early WW2 AC it would seem that the P40E and the F4F3 would be the likely candidates. They were both the first high production AC of the two models. There were running changes in the F4F3 that changed the performance substantially such as adding armor and self sealing tanks and the performance figures one sees sometimes don't specify whether it is the early or later model which gained about 700 pounds and lost some range with the addition of armor and sef sealing tanks. In addition, because of a shortage of engines, some Wildcats, designated F4F3As had only a single stage supercharger which hampered performance above 15000 feet. I don't believe either AC ever had WEP. So all Vmaxs and climb numbers are at military power. My source says the P40E at 8400 lbs could make 360 mph at 15000 feet but from there up it fell off rapidly. The P40E was the worst climber in the US inventory, taking more than 21 minutes to climb to 25000 feet. It's range with 149 gal internal fuel was 650 miles. That is not a practical range but a yardstick range. The F4F3 could touch 335 mph at 22000 feet, could climb to 20000 feet in 7.5 minutes and had a yardstick range of 1280 miles with internal fuel of 147 gallons. The F4F would weigh anywhere from 700 to 1000 pounds less than the P40E. The F4F3 carried 420 rds per gun for four guns. The F4F would probably win a turning contest with a P40E because of lower wing loading although the P40 would have a better rate of roll. Because of much better climb rate, better high altitude performance, somewhat more range and better survivability(radial engine) and better design for full deflection shots, it would seem the F4F3 would be a clear choice over the P40E.
     
  10. starling

    starling Member

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    this one is as tight as a badgers a#se,ill go for the p40,he looks better to me.yours,lee.
     
  11. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    The P-40D/E did have WEP at low altitude, which gradualy decreased to 1,150 hp mil power at crit alt. (15,000 ft)

    The 8.8 blower Allison engines (-39 of D/E, and -73 of K) were rated maximum of 60" Hg for WEP with which 1,570 hp could be produced at 3,000 rpm at crit alt.


    Perils P40 Archive Data

    http://www.raafwarbirds.org.au/targetvraaf/p40_archive/pdfs/Allison 1710-39 abuse.pdf


    The Tomahawk's V-1710-33 engine is another matter though. While it's supercharger was capable of boost similar to the -39/73 (slightly less iirc) it had lower structural limitations. So 1,150 hp max was rated (1,040 mil power at 14,800 ft) This was due to a weaker gearing system which was changed to a stronger spur gear in the -39 (it also changed the thrust line and engine length, hence the change on the P-40D's nose).
    The AVG aparently ran there engines at considerably higher powers than the -33 was normaly rated for (between 1,200-1,300 hp) which eventually led to gearbox failures, but also gave significantly better performance than contemporary P-40B's.
     
  12. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    RAAF P40E's certainly did in the defence of Port Moresby in March-May 1942..
     
  13. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    And don't forget the hand full P-40B's to get airborne durring Hearl Harbor.
    (George Welch soring the highest, and nearly becoming an ace in a day)
    The Amazing George Welch: Part One

    There were probably plenty of encounters, particularly with commonwealth P-40's.

    But the AVG did not.


    I wonder if the Tomahawk (P-40B/C) ever faught against Zeros, other than at Pearl Harbor. (they were stationed in the Philippines, but I don't know it any ever fought Zeros -or fought at all.)
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Read "Bloody Shambles."
     
  15. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Are these aircraft close enough in performance (except at high altitudes) to where it really would come down to pilots skill and luck?
    In the hands of the right pilot, both these planes were a match for the Zero, so it would seem to me that pilot skill would be the deciding factor.
     
  16. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    My mistake, I was thinking about the CBI and forgot about PH, Australia, Java and New Guinea. I doubt if the kill total by Welch at PH was accurate, however. The F4F3 had a pretty good record versus the A6M, giving better than it got.
     
  17. claidemore

    claidemore Member

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    A note about names for the P40.

    I believe the US referred to all early P40s as simply P40 (or Curtiss 81), and from the P40F variant on, it was officially called Warhawk.

    The export planes that went to Britain and the Soviet Union were called Tomahawks and Kittyhawks. B/C were Tomahawks, D/E/K and the rest were Kittyhawks I/II,III,IV etc (P40-K was a Warhawk in US service, Kittyhawk III in British service).

    Best way to avoid confusion is to use the actual model designation, P40-E/F/K etc.
     
  18. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    I agree Tomahawk was virtually not used at all by the US, the early P-40's had no US name. But, even Warhawk was relatively seldom used in the USAAF, the plane was the P-40. Likewise operating units generally called their planes F4F's (or later, FM's) not Wildcats. Primary designation by official name was (and is) a Brit thing. It was only adopted by the US in WWII era (1930's US military a/c seldom had names) and used in publicity/manufacturer oriented things, plus sometimes by USAAF in Europe, again perhaps Brit influence was a partial explanation. AFAIK it was rare in operating units of USAAF in PTO or the USN, or in the US Army (eg. M4 tanks were generally called that in the US Army, not Shermans).

    F4F or P-40? Well counting all F4F's, mainly -4's, the F4F was the more effective plane in the early part of the Pacific War when Japanese fighter opposition was toughest. As usual, the causes might be debated, among 'plane', 'pilot' and overall situations, but nonetheless the case. And I don't think it's very meaningful to try correct for non-plane factors and say which *would* have more effective 'all else equal'. If we want factually state the P-40 was faster, etc that's fine, but we don't have an agreed system to convert a given speed advantage into a particular % combat effectiveness advantage... well it's going over old ground, but I still haven't heard a good counterargument to that point.

    On strictly plane characteristics though, the F4F's superior altitude performance was actually useful in situations we might compare. For example F4F's defending Guadalcanal v P-40's defending Darwin and Port Moresby (latter RAAF, but at least some of those a/c were actually P-40E's diverted from USAAF in theater, not LL std Kittyhawks). The F4F's were more lethal against both Japanese Navy fighters and bombers and the (Allison) P-40's clunky altitude performance was probably one factor.

    Anyway overall the F4F had a distinctly better record (around 1:1 exchange) v the Zero (itself, not counting Japanese Army fighters P-40's faced but F4F's didn't face until 1943) than the P-40 did (1:2 in best episodes, sometimes substantially worse), in the toughest phase of the war.

    Joe
     
  19. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Pong,

    >which could have been the better dogfighter, the 'Ironworks' Wildcat, or the Tomahawk?

    Hm, I'd say that depeands on what you mean by "better dogfighter" :)

    Generally, air combat in WW2 was not decided by dogfighting. Just like Boelcke pointed out in WW1, it was decided by attacking a victim over which one held the maximum number of advantages one could achieve.

    And even if dogfighting ensued, it was rarely a one-versus-one affair - WW2 doctrine consisted of elementary formations of two, three or four aircraft that were intended to fight as a coherent unit under all circumstances, and the highest priority for a pilot who got separated from his unit was to find a friendly fighter and attach himself to it.

    I spent some time preparing a performance comparison of the F4F-4, the P-40E and the A6M2. Here it is - the figures speak for themselves ...

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     

    Attached Files:

  20. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    What about performance of the P-40E at WEP?
     
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