Prior 1943: Zero vs. Allied aircraft

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Dec 13, 2014.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The much feared scourge of Pacific, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, is still a best known Japanese fighter. I'd love to see it's combat record for the early days of it's use, as well as other interesting facts. Spurred by the post of our parsifal, where is this stated, among other:

     
  2. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    #2 Vincenzo, Dec 13, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2014
    From JoeB old posts:
    "On paper or in one on one dogfight practice maybe, but the record of the two types in combat v Japanese fighters in 1942 was quite different. F4F's fought Japanese Navy Zeroes at just about 1:1 real exchange ratio, in actually a fair variety circumstances, in 1942, they downed a handful of obsolescent Navy Type 96's without loss, they didn't meet the JAAF in 1942. The Hurricane and F4F samples are of same order of magnitude size counting by Allied losses (around 63 Hurricane losses to J fighters in the bottom up Hurricane sample I gave, ~100 F4F's lost to Zeroes in '42) samples are only much different size counting by Japanese fighter losses (16 to Hurricanes in the sample, also ~100 to F4F's)."
    "according to each side's loss report, including only combats where both side's losses are known, see Bloody Shambles and Air War for Burma. In 1942, Hurricanes downed 6 Zeroes for 35 air combat losses"
    "Anyway operational record is a simple fact and your statement is exactly the wrong way around as far as operational record. The F4F had the best operational record of any Allied fighter in 1942 v Japanese fighters, especially the Zero. It was mentioned that its actual (per recorded losses on both sides) kill ratio v the Zero was around 1:1 in 1942, but to put that in context every other Allied fighter, which saw any significant combat that year, had a worse record, mostly much worse. P-39 and P-40 ballpark of 1:2~3, P-38's didn't establish superiority over Zero's in few encounters of late '42;"
    "But it was the other way around in the Pacific War. The P-36/Hawk was used in three different episodes, two very brief but another a bit more substantial:
    1) USAAF P-36's at Pearl Harbor: downed 2 Zeroes (confirmed in Japanese accounts) for 1 P-36
    2) Dutch Hawks in the East Indies, only had one combat Feb 3 1942: 5 Hawks and 12 CW-21's were lost for 3 Zeroes (two of the Hawks had engine problems and were shot up by Zeroes on the way back to base; but one or more of the Zero losses might have been to AA).
    3) omissis (were not Zero). "
    "The 49th FG's total record in the period was 10-11 Zeroes and 12 escorted bombers per Japanese accounts for 19 P-40's, while Spits downed 5 fighters (4 Z's+1 Oscar) and 14 escorted bombers (including all 'force lands'/'crashlanded' in both cases) for mid 20's+ Spit combat losses, again not counting interceptions of unescorted non-fighters in either case. "
    "v. Zero: 8 combats, 15.5 Buffaloes, 4 Zero's."
     
  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    A lot of kills associated with the Zero are mixed in with klls by the Ki43. I have seen big claims for Zeros against Hurribombers over Burma when there should should only have been Ki43s fighting in the majority of cases.
     
  4. cherry blossom

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    Part of the explanation for the good record of the F4F against the Zero may be the Guadalcanal Campaign. There is an old post by Richard Dunn archived at Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" Pt 4 saying:

    “ However, there is significant evidence that Zeros in the early Rabaul to Guadalcanal missions did not jettison tanks. This must certainly have aided the Wildcats in those early days. Whether this was due to a supply shortage or dictated by the range or conditions involved I have never discovered.”
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    JoeB always gave some great info but was a bit cynical when questioned or challenged. (I'm not trying to insult the guy, he is very knowledge and would welcome his return to the forum) I've always have had some doubts about the high number of Zero victories claimed during the early part of the war, but there is no doubt that the 1:2~3 kill/ loss for the P-39 and P-40 against the Zero might be accurate. I do recall reading some of the 49th FG claims and losses during the late summer of 1942 and it seemed they were beginning to hold their own. It also seems that although the Zero (and Oscar) were scoring victories against the P-39 and P-40, it seems the Japanese, while maintaining aerial superiority, had a higher pilot attrition rate then the allies. Also consider that the fighter pilots lost at Midway basically doomed the IJN from ever replacing the numbers and quality of Zero drivers to effectively challenge the allies in the Pacific.
     
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  6. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    The numbers of JoeB had nothing in common wth the claims, or better the number of books used from JoeB as sources, they checked the claims with declared lost from the other side
     
  7. pattern14

    pattern14 Member

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    In the book "Darwin Spitfires", there is some comprehensive research into the combat results between the Zero and the Spitfire MkV. One of the more unknown but interesting aspects was the high rate of engine failures among the Spitfire. A significant number simply fell out of the sky during operations as a result of the engine overevving, blowing its seals and or/cooling system. An aircraft trailing smoke with a dead engine would be easily claimed in the heat of a dogfight. Another major issue was the 20mm cannon failures due to jamming. Forced to rely on the remaining .303 machine guns, the Spitfire was at a distinct disadvantage. By comparison, the Zero engines appeared far more reliable, as was their 20mm cannons. They also had a greater operational range compared to the Mk V as well.
     
  8. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    If I recall correctly, they used a Zero in the 1944 Fighter Conference test and it was one of the very few planes that never broke.
     
  9. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Is there a kill/loss figure for Hurricanes in 41/42 vs ALL Japanese aircraft? (not just zeros)

    I'm guessing it might be 1.5 or 2 to 1, but I'd like to know if someone has an actual figure for the Hurri in the Pacific theater
     
  10. Balljoint

    Balljoint Member

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    My impression is that the Zero was fairly dominate against all comers when engaged in the dogfight mode. However, when vertical tactics and maintenance of high speed were learned, the Zero’s poor aileron response changed the balance. I haven’t seen this theory specifically called out, but the Darwin record switched in the Spits favor from a rather poor I initial showing rather suddenly.
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    An article with some good sources;

    http://www.warbirdforum.com/zerodunn.htm

    At 275 mph the Zero's advantages disappeared, this has been well documented over the years
     
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