P-38 Lightning VS F6F Hellcat, Pacific Warriors!

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Josh64, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. Josh64

    Josh64 Member

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    The Lightning and the Hellcat were both the fighters that won the Pacific, that is in terms of destroying the Japanese AAF and NAF, but which is better? Now I'm a USAAF/USAF guy but I have to give my vote to the Hellcat.

    So what about You?
     
  2. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Although the P-38 is faster and flies higher than the F6F, My vote is going to the F6F. It was smaller and slower so it was more agile.

    I have a couple questions.

    Which aircraft would stall first?

    What was the unit cost of a F6F.?

    I know the P-38 was 115,000 dollars.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Describe the mission for each and then we can decide whats best.

    The P38 was clearly superior in several catagories, so lets narrow it down.
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    From what I have read, the initial cost of the F6F without all of the government furnished equipment was $50,000 which got down to $35,000 by the time production ended.
     
  5. Josh64

    Josh64 Member

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    Well both were air superiority fighters

    Both were aircraft that turned the air war in America's favor

    Both destroyed more than 5,000 Japanese aircraft

    But I think the F6F was really the first aircraft to better the A6M Zero in the Pacific War
     
  6. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The P38 was designed to be an interceptor, and that was in 1939.

    The P40 held its own against the Zero, when flown with the correct tactics. And that was before the Hellcat was even thought of.
     
  7. Josh64

    Josh64 Member

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    The P-38 was designed as an interceptor yes, stopping enemy attacks on Guadalcanal, Luzon etc. but it made an even bigger contribution in the Pacific simply blasting enemy aircraft from the sky at an incredible rate which is the Air Superiority Mission.

    The Hellcat performed almost the exact same mission, but for Naval Operations. This is Fleet Defence, Naval Air superiority etc.

    But since the Pacific war was a Naval Struggle, this is why I think the Hellcat made a contribution sooner than the P-38 did.

    The P-40 could tackle the Zero yes. But this was a "Holding off" action rather than a "Defeating" action.
     
  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    More than a few allied P40 groups would disagree with you about it being "defensive".

    Can your vaunted F6F go on 2600 mile missions? Did your vaunted F6F have an equivalant photo recon variant similar to the F4/F5?
     
  9. Josh64

    Josh64 Member

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    Hey man this is just a fun discussion with everyone voicing thier opinions. I respect your opinion and we're all just having fun. But this discussion is about about the P-38 and F6F not the P-40 anyways. And this is for which was the better FIGHTER, not Recon Plane. But again we're all just having fun and I respect your opinion, you make good points.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I think you are comparing apples and oranges. Each aircraft had it's wartime niche.

    The F6F was a CV based fighter. Somehow I cannot picture the P-38 operating from Essex class aircraft carriers.

    The P-38 was a long range aircraft. The F6F does not have the range to escort B24 bombers to places like Rabaul.

    Variants of the F4U could perform both missions. The Corsair was the Uber fighter aircraft of the Pacific war.
     
  11. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    The F6F-5P carried an aerial camera in the lower left fuselage. It could be in the fight while recording the results of the fight at the same time.

    The Hellcat was designed to be a fighter. The P-38 was designed to be an interceptor.

    Adding photo reconnaissance missions to an aircraft doesn't necessarily make it a better fighter. The P-38 carried 2 engines, which was a benefit, but the Hellcat had an air cooled engine, which eliminated the risk of a coolant line getting shot out and eliminated another liquid that would have to be carried on-board a carrier.

    Both aircraft performed their roles as fighters very well for their respective services.
     
  12. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    To begin with the Corsair played a bigger role in the Pacific than the P38 did. I recently read that in the Solomons, the availability rate of the P38 was only 38% whereas the Hellcat rate was near 90%. That tells a lot. If the AC can't fly, it does no one any good. There are some factors which may have played a role in that low availability rate such as spare parts shortages, age of AC, etc. The P40 availability was up with the Hellcat's and the Corsair's was around 66%.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The F6F operated aboard a CV where you've good good maintenance facilities and aerial combat was rare.
    Put the F6F on an island with primative maintenance facilities and where aerial combat happens every week and the availability rate will quickly drop.
     
  14. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The P38 squadrons in NG had good enough availablity rates once the supply chain had its kinks worked out. The probem for the P38 groups/squadrons was the priority the MTO had over planes and eqmt. And when you consider the sole P38 group in the Solomons was there only in the first half of 1943, it was too short a time for anyone to draw a fair conclusion.

    And I remember that it was only the P38 that had the performance necessary to fly all the way from Guadalcanal to Bougainville. Superior availability rates means nothing if your AC cant even fly to the battlefield in the first place.

    Erich .... the two premier photo recon planes of the war were the Mossie and the F5. The Hellcat was second fiddle when it came to that role.
     
  15. Skip M

    Skip M New Member

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    The question should be can the P38 go on a 5000 mile mission. The P38 tries to carry lots more fuel and the F6F just brings it's airfield along to refuel it.:)
     
  16. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    And when the carrier is port, just where exactly does the Hellcat fly from?

    Do you have any idea just how few days carriers were actually at sea?
     
  17. Butters

    Butters Member

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    Not to mention that airfields rarely get sunk....

    JL
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    So you are going to station a CV task force 225 miles from Rabaul more or less permanenty? :cry:
     
  19. Skip M

    Skip M New Member

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    By the time the Hellcat was in service in the Pacific the navy could keep some of it's carriers at sea at all times by rotating them for yard time. The point is this is a apples and oranges comparison. One plane is land base with long range and the other has good range and can live on a carrier. They are different and each can go places that the other can not go. With each plane you must have a runway close enough to the target. While the P38 had better range getting to a new airfield with personal and supplies to get within range may be harder then for the F6F. Apples and oranges.
     
  20. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    By the time the navy could keep its carriers at sea for extended times, it was late 1944.

    You need well developed fleet anchorages to do that. Even with under way replenishment, your tankers and cargo ships need somewhere to stage from.

    Agreed with the apples and oranges argument though.
     
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