F4F3 or F4F4

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by MacArther, Dec 2, 2005.

  1. MacArther

    MacArther Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Messages:
    1,270
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Junior Historian, Paintballer, Student
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Home Page:
    Which would you prefer based on statistics and experiences? I would take the F4F3 because it had a higher speed and thus a higher diving speed, to better pounce the enemy. That and it had better manuevering than the F4F4. One downside was the relatively weaker armament of 4 .50 calibur machine guns. Still, it could be used effectively by pilots that could hit their targets.
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    four .50's was more than enough to shoot up the lightly armoured Japanese planes.
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,200
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    One of Jimmie Thatch's pilots complained about the armament between the -3 and -4. I guess he told them "if you can't hit em with 4 what makes you think you're gonna hit em with 6?"
     
  4. gabbys

    gabbys New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Well, it is a fact that firing six guns at your target increases the odd's of hitting it.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,200
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    True, I think he was making a point!
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    I wonder if the demand for carrier qualified pilots in the first part of 1942 meant that the pilots that were scheduled for deployment later in the year were sent to the fleet with fewer hours of gunnery than planned?

    I remember reading some USAAF pilot accounts from the early part of the war, that they were fully qualified in flying their planes, but hadnt really had much gunnery practise.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,200
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    That's true. In some of his memoirs, Dick Bong stated he wished he'd had more gunnery training.
     
  9. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2004
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Virginia
    My father flew both the F4F-3 and the F4F-4 in combat with some success. He flew the -3 at Coral Sea and the -4 at Midway and in the Solomons Campaign. He always said that he was never quite happy with the weight gain for no power increase in the -4, not to mention the reduced firing time, and therefore had a fonder place in his heart for the -3. His next line was usually something along the lines of, “ . . . of course, we could carry around a lot more –4s than –3s due to the folding wings.” Bottom line, though, strictly on performance, he preferred the F4F-3.

    The Thach quote comes from a de-brief interview with Jimmy Thach conducted at BuAer on 28 August 1942:

    “Q. Have the following items of material given satisfactory service? What suggestions are offered for improvement?
    Armament:”
    “I would prefer to have the .50 caliber gun to any other weapon I know of; I have, of course, never fought with a cannon, but I still feel that for a fighter four .50 caliber guns are enough. The pilot who will miss with four .50 caliber guns won’t be able to hit with eight. Increased firepower is not a substitute for marksmanship.”

    His answer goes on to touch on the subjects of radio communications, generally, and then the F4F’s oxygen system, armor, emergency kit, self-sealing fuel tanks, and electrical systems.

    Later there is this exchange:

    “Q. Are present gun combinations effective? What combination would you prefer to use?”
    “A. Our present gun combination is very effective. Naturally, it’s better if you can have your guns in the fuselage, directly along the sight. As far as the number of guns is concerned, I would like to have six .50 caliber guns, provided the performance of my airplane was superior to that of the enemy. If it’s inferior, I would say that four .50 caliber guns was optimum. If taking out two .50 caliber guns, or having two .50 caliber and two .30 caliber will make it easier to get on the tail of an enemy fighter, I will accept that. I know you can hit better with guns close to the sight and directly parallel to it. It’s just like you handle a shotgun shooting ducks.”

    And

    “Q. What is the minimum ammunition you need per gun?”
    “A. In a fighter I would like to have 500 rounds per gun, but would be satisfied with 400.”

    “Q. What sort of firing do you have in combat, short bursts or what?”
    “A. The experienced fighter pilot will fire only when he knows he’s on and hitting. In fighting the Zeros sometimes we – well, I might say most of the time, we get only what we call snap–shots or pot–shots at them when they’re climbing vertically away from us, and those shots are as far away as 400 yards. They can be effective that far away, but the lead must be exact and it’s difficult to hit an airplane at that range. We have knocked them down at 400, but we like to get in closer of course, but the performance of our airplanes won’t let us.”

    Q. How about tracer ammunition in fixed guns?”
    A. We use it. It is excellent to determine any error in deflection. We don’t particularly trust it in range, although if the tracers appear to be going ahead of the target you know they are probably going in. If they appear to going in the target in range you know that they’re going astern.”

    And he addresses the crux of the F4F-3 versus F4F-4 ammunition problem in:

    “Q. If you had a given amount of ammunition would you prefer to have a less number of guns and more rounds per gun or more guns?”
    “A. I feel that four .50 caliber guns is optimum considering this performance problem we have. I believe that two are not enough. I would rather have four guns and 400 rounds per ammunition than six guns and only 250 rounds.”

    And in the last question of the debrief:

    “Q. Would you rather have six guns if you have no sacrifice of performance?”
    “A. We would rather have six guns, but there is no use carrying around six or eight guns if you can’t bring those guns to bear on the enemy.”


    Regards,

    Rich
     
  10. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    41,750
    Likes Received:
    518
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Doctor
    Location:
    Portsmouth / Royal Deeside, UK
    Home Page:
    Good stuff Rich.
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Did your sources mention anything about a decrease in training hours for new pilots in order to get them into the fleet sooner?
     
  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2004
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Virginia
    The US Navy deliberately avoided that problem by revising the training process and by setting up replacement air groups.

    There was quite often a rather long workup period before a squadron deployed. VF-10 was established in the first week of June 1942 and didn’t west until September. VF-11 was formed in July 1942, deployed to Hawaii, and didn’t enter combat until April 1943. On the east Coast VF-9 was working up for assignment to USS Essex when they went off to North Africa aboard USS Ranger for Operation Torch in November 1942. They came back turned in their F4Fs and transitioned to F6Fs before deploying to the Pacific.

    Meanwhile there was a whole industry of training replacement squadrons at such places as ComFAirWest where returning from combat pilots shared their knowledge and experiences with working up squadrons.

    The Navy wrestled with training as a whole and the solutions were more training bases and early specialization. Prior to the war most of the training was done at Pensacola with some specialized type training programs going on at such places as Opalocka where the dive bombing training was conducted. With the coming of the war, many new pilot training bases were established, some even beginning operations before facilities were 50% complete. Thus the pipeline remained full. And there was a shift in training philosophy as well. In prewar days naval aviators were trained in all types and were assigned based on needs and class rank. One of the complaints that appears in Thach’s interview, and another by Noel Gayler, is that there were, perhaps, some folks in fighter squadrons who really should not have been there, who really did not want to be fighter pilots. These folks, mostly holdovers from the trained-to-fly-many-types days, were considered a menace to themselves and their squadronmates. Sometime around the start of the war, training classes were quickly divided into those who would go to fighters, or dive bombers, or torpedo planes, or any of the various other major types, including LTA. Sure most, if not all, the HTA folks were carrier qualified, but the in-type training began early and continued in the RAGs. Generally, once your type was designated it was not easy to get a change, so the VPB folks had very little chance of being assigned to a fighter squadron. Senior leaders, like Thach, went to the training commands after their combat tours with some pretty definite ideas on what was needed and rigidly enforced gunnery training. The same applied to the former combat pilots assigned to oversee the training of the RAGs in the Fleet Air training operations.

    Actually, one of the big concerns, especially among the junior ranked, but combat experienced pilots was the question of how many times were they going to be deployed before someone else took up the sword. If you follow US naval aviation from Pearl Harbor up through the summer of 1943, you see the many of the same names over and over again. Not always in the same squadrons, but there they are. Most of these gents were O-3 type Lieutenants serving as division leaders and XO’s and had already seen combat as Lieut. (j.g.)’s, but they were the experienced leadership and were needed on the scene until the newer squadrons could deploy. Most of them, however were finally rotated out by August 1943 and, for the most part, went to training billets.

    Rich
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Rich, would it be fair to say, that for many pilots in the first year and a half of the war, they spent lots of time training simply because there were few carriers available for them to deploy onto?
     
  14. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2004
    Messages:
    600
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Virginia
    Haven't forgotton about you. I'm thinking about the answer. Most of my really good materials for double checking some info are boxed up and buried out in the garage while I have some work done on the house, so it might be another week or so before I'm back up to speed.

    Rich
     
Loading...

Share This Page