More advanced aircraft during WW2? Germany or Japan?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by machine shop tom, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. machine shop tom

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    This was touched on the Stuka thread.

    Which country fielded the most advanced aircraft during WWII?

    Germany had the jet aircraft and the FW190D/Ta152 series and others.

    Japan had the Ki84 Hayate, the N1K2-J Shiden Kai, and others.

    Each had effective medium bombers, but both lacked good strategic bombers.

    Japan had the lead in direct-injection radial engines. Germany's DB 605 was a marvel.

    Etc.

    Any thoughts?

    tom
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    WWII era German industry was overall more advanced then Japanese industry. This shows up in all sorts of ways:
    - Japan could not make a reliable copy of the DB601 engne because they could not heat treat the crankshaft properly. Copying the even more powerful DB603 engine was out of the question.
    - Japan had difficulty copying the MG151 cannon.
    - Japanese radios, radar and AA fire control were inferior.
    - Germany had superior supercharger systems.

    Many of the Japanese aircraft designs per se were quite good. The Ki-61, Ki-84 and D4Y (Judy) dive bomber come to mind. But they were handicapped with inferior engines, weapons, electronic equipment etc. Low power engines in turn resulted in a lack of pilot armor and self sealing fuel tanks as weight had to be kept as low as possible.
     
  3. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree with Dave, I have to give the edge to Germany. Another advantage is her manufacturing base - which I think was a serious handicap to Japan.
     
  4. machine shop tom

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    Why is the fact that they couldn't copy the DB such an indication of lesser technology? That they didn't embrace the in-line engine as the Europeans did is because they preferred and had more advanced radial technology. Had they actually needed better in-line technology, they probably would have developed it.

    tom
     
  5. DAVIDICUS

    DAVIDICUS Member

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    If by advanced you mean more capable, then with respect to the fighter role I will cut and past my post from that thread:

    For 1942, 43, 44 and 45, would you rather fly Japan's best against Germany's best or would you rather fly Germany's best against Japan's best?
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Apparently not. Otherwise the Ki-61 would have been powered by a radial engine from the beginning. And the A6M2 engine would have produced more then 950hp during 1941, at a time when the typical German fighter engine produced 1,350hp.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Japan had larger, more powerful radial engines available in 1941. They would not have given the required range however.

    The Kawasaki Ha-40 may not have used the same supercharger drive as the DB-601, at least the figures in most books give a critical altitude of only 3,900 meters.

    Japan was behind the major western nations in technology, but that is not surprising given Japans smaller industrial base. Production of iron and steel is sometimes used to compare nations industrial base at those times and Japan produced about 1/4 the amount of crude steel as Germany.

    Japan had built the BMW V-12 under license but this was the last gasp of WW I technology and needed massive redesign to be a useful WW II engine.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That may be true but it hardly matters if the poor quality crankshaft causes the engine to throw a rod after 100 hours of service. Places like New Guinea and Rabaul were at the end of a very long supply line. Your Ki-61 is likely to remain inoperable for months while waiting for a spare engine to arrive.
     
  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    In December 1941, German fighters could not undertake the missions required of the Japanese aircraft. German fighter aircraft could not fly from Formosa to the Phillipines, and German fighters could not have covered the landings in Malaya. Their strike aircraft could not have hit and sunk the Prince Of Wales and Repulse, and they had no aircraft comparable to the B5N and D3A.

    The roles for Japanese and German theartres were fundamantally different, and each would have had difficulty in fulfilling the others mission profiles.

    There is no question in my mind that as a generalization German technology was more advanced than the Japanese, but the wquation about what you would rather fly is far more complicated than that....
     
  10. DAVIDICUS

    DAVIDICUS Member

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    #10 DAVIDICUS, Jan 25, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2010
    There is no question in my mind that as a generalization German technology was more advanced than the Japanese, but the quation about what you would rather fly is far more complicated than that....

    Good point. Let's simplify. Pretend they are meeting to do combat at 15-25K feet at mid point where their respective bases are 400 miles apart.
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I do no think that the two aircraft can be compared that way. If the Germans were in the position of the Japanese, I am sure the German aircraft would have been designed with further range in mind. The Germans would not have designed aircraft with 400 miles radius if they were living on an island in the middle of the pacific. The German doctrine was different and they designed their aircraft based off of that doctine.

    I have no doubt in my mind that the German aircraft were more advanced.

    Try comparing the aircraft one on one in actual combat.
     
  12. DAVIDICUS

    DAVIDICUS Member

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    This is no different than any of the P-51 vs. (insert German fighter here) comparisons that you have contributed to.
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    That I have contributed to? I don't think I have ever said that all German aircraft were more advanced or superior than allied aircraft. I think you have me confused with Soren. How insulting...
     
  14. DAVIDICUS

    DAVIDICUS Member

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    "I don't think I have ever said that all German aircraft were more advanced or superior than allied aircraft."

    ???

    I don't think I ever said that you did. Just that in the past, you have contributed to threads where the topic was P-51 vs. __________ and where the same hampering considerations of design / range were present.
     
  15. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    The German industry was more advanced in general, but the *degree* is routinely exaggerated, often seriously. As Parsifal said, German fighters of early 1942 could not have accomplished the missions assigned to Japanese fighters, were very seriously deficient in range. 400 mile radius? the Bf109 certainly didn't demonstrate any such practical radius, nowhere remotely near that. Relying on license built Bf109E's (which isn't so far fetched) the Japanese could not possibly have achieved the huge miiltary successes of Dec 41-thru mid 1942, successes which wounded the Western pscyche to the extent we *still* after all these decades tend to kneejerk skip ahead to 'well we got them in the end didn't we?' rather than acknowledge how large and shocking those victories were, vast territories conquered in remarkable little time. No way to do that with Bf109 as your main fighter, just too short ranged.

    Just taking the question as asked in terms or real a/c not 'woulda/coulda' imaginary long range German fighters, then in 1941-1942 to perform offensive missions at any significant range, you'd have to take the Zero. The Bf109 was an excellent *defensive* fighter, as well as for combats offensive/defensive over a ground front, where both sides flew from airfields just out of artillery range of the front (like Western Front 1914-18, Eastern in WWII, Western Desert in most periods, etc). The Bf109 had a much spottier record as escort against other than such battlefield targets. Its shorcomings in protecting bombers in both BoB and over Malta were mainly a function of its very short endurance and persistence in combat at ranges where a Zero could hang around literally for hours; it wasn't that the opposing fighters had any inherent advantage, as shown by much better record in kill ratio terms when the British came back over France with *their* very short legged fighters ca. 1941-42, and in Western Desert in same period with both sides on a similar footing when it came to endurance: commanding kill ratio advantages for the Bf109 in those cases v closer ratios (though still in 109's favor when only considering fighter-fighter) in BoB and Malta.

    For 1943 for the (now usually defensive) missions required for all Axis AF's it's the German fighters, and similarly for 1944 except for the new Japanese fighters introduced from then, in limited numbers, which were more comparable to German (and Western for that matter) ones, not altogether as advanced, but again not a huge difference.

    But then 'the a/c industry' or 'advaned a/c' isn't the whole story anyway. The general British impression going into Pac War that Japanese fighter opposition would be far easier than German was very questionable in terms of the results; a/c like Hurricane were by then typically getting badly beaten up by German fighters in Med/North Africa, but they did no better or evenr worse v the Japanese; in a few cases that was same units which had fought both places, and it included Brit pilots who were veterans of relatively successful action v the Germans. Again the leftover propaganda kneejerk is to basically say 'OK some German fighter units were very formidable and Hurricane an obsolescent a/c by 1942' but then make all kinds of excuses for similar setbacks by Hurricanes (or later on, Spitfires) against the Japanese. IMO, it's not at all clear Japanese Navy fighter units in 1942 were any less formidable than German, in air combat considering all factors not just 'advanced industry', and the Japanese fighters could range much further from any given set of bases which made them a lot more difficult to deal with when they were on the offensive.

    Joe
     
  16. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Excuse me for misunderstanding you.

    I do however stand by what I said. Mission profile helps dictate the design of an aircraft. If the roles had been reversed, you would have seen Luftwaffe aircraft with greater ranges.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It might depend on what is meant by more advanced.

    The Japanese might very well be equal to the Germans in ideas or patents.

    They might be slightly behind in in the ability to turn ideas in prototype aircraft, in part because of a smaller industry. Few engineers and suppliers.

    They may be a bit further behind in turning ideas into squadron service fighters, again in part because of the smaller industry and even more raw material shortages than the Germans.

    In regards to piston engines there may be a fuel difference. We are told the German fuel was equal or close to that of the Allies. Japanese fuel is usually called 92 octane I believe (welcome a correction) but since a fair amount of it came the Java oil fields that had supplied the British pre-war and had a high amount of aromatics that would tend to push up the rich mixture rating I don't know how it really compares.

    The Japanese were also more fragmented than the Germans, with a complete inability to standardize guns and/or ammo they spent an awful lot of resources on developing parallel guns that might have been better spent on developing one series of guns.

    Many late war Japanese designs of guns, engines and aircraft were let down by a lack of good raw materials and quality control rather than by out dated designs.
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I am quite sure you would have seen Luftwaffe aircraft with greater ranges. But then the resulting aircraft would have had poorer performance, speed and climb, or sacrificed protection. You don't get something for nothing. would the resulting Luftwaffe aircraft performed significantly better than the Japanese aircraft?
     
  19. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Agreed 100%. I believe that overall the Germans aircraft still would have been a bit more advanced. I think that the German industrial base and R&D program would have contributed to that however.

    Not trying to knock the Japanese, but the Germans were ahead in the development of jet powered aircraft. This alone puts German aircraft design ahead. The Germans were already working on the next generation of Jet aircraft when they the Japanese were still playing around with Me 262 and Me 163 knock offs.
     
  20. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    Germany's main aviation fuel still was 87 octane B4 almost from start to finish. If Germany had had the need for longer ranges, different engines would've been produced and the well-known engines probably wouldn't exist in the forms they did.



    As for the original question: Look at how many technology transfer attempts from Germany to Japan were there as opposed to the other way around?

    Now some may explain that by lack of interest due to overconfidence or racism (certainly partially true), but of the top of my head I can't think of too many technologies from Japan at the time that were worth copying.
     
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