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and how we learned to fight it ...
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In April 1942 thirty-six Zeros attacking a British naval base at Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), were met by about sixty Royal Air Force aircraft of mixed types, many of them obsolete. Twenty-seven of the RAF planes went down: fifteen Hawker Hurricanes (of Battle of Britain fame), eight Fairey Swordfish, and four Fairey Fulmars. The Japanese lost one Zero.
Five months after America's entry into the war, the Zero was still a mystery to U.S. Navy pilots. On May 7, 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, fighter pilots from our aircraft carriers Lexington and Yorktownfought the Zero and didn't know what to call it. Some misidentified it as the German Messerschmitt 109.
A few weeks later, on June 3 and 4, warplanes flew from the Japanese carriers Ryujo and Junyo to attack the American military base at Dutch Harbor in Alaska's Aleutian archipelago. Japan's attack on Alaska was intended to draw remnants of the U.S. fleet north from Pearl Harbor, away from Midway Island, where the Japanese were setting a trap. (The scheme ultimately backfired when our Navy pilots sank four of Japan's first-line aircraft carriers at Midway, giving the United States a major turning-point victory.)
In the raid of June 4, twenty bombers blasted oil storage tanks, a warehouse, a hospital, a hangar, and a beached freighter, while eleven Zeros strafed at will. Chief Petty Officer Makoto Endo led a three-plane Zero section from the Ryujo, whose other pilots were Flight Petty Officers Tsuguo Shikada and Tadayoshi Koga. Koga, a small nineteen-year old, was the son of a rural carpenter. His Zero, serial number 4593, was light gray, with the imperial rising-sun insignia on its wings and fuselage. It had left the Mitsubishi Nagoya aircraft factory on February 19, only three-and-a-half months earlier, so it was the latest design.
Shortly before the bombs fell on Dutch Harborthat day, soldiers at an adjacent Army outpost had seen three Zeros shoot down a lumbering Catalina amphibian. As the plane began to sink, most of the seven-member crew climbed into a rubber raft and began paddling toward shore. The soldiers watched in horror as the Zeros strafed the crew until all were killed. The Zeros are believed to have been those of Endo, Shikada, and Koga.
After massacring the Catalina crew, Endo led his section to Dutch Harbor, where it joined the other eight Zeros in strafing. It was then (according to Shikada, interviewed in 1984) that Koga's Zero was hit by ground fire. An Army intelligence team later reported, "Bullet holes entered the plane from both upper and lower sides." One of the bullets severed the return oil line between the oil cooler and the engine. As the engine continued to run, it pumped oil from the broken line. A Navy photo taken during the raid shows a Zero trailing what appears to be smoke. It is probably oil, and there is little doubt that this is Zero 4593.
After the raid, as the enemy planes flew back toward their carriers, eight American Curtiss Warhawk P-40's shot down four VaI (Aichi D3A) dive bombers thirty miles west of Dutch Harbor. In the swirling, minutes-long dogfight, Lt. John J. Cape shot down a plane identified as a Zero. Another Zero was almost instantly on his tail. He climbed and rolled, trying to evade, but those were the wrong maneuvers to escape a Zero. The enemy fighter easily stayed with him, firing its two deadly 20-mm cannon and two 7.7-mm machine guns. Capeand his plane plunged into the sea. Another Zero shot up the P-40 of Lt. Winfield McIntyre, who survived a crash landing with a dead engine.
Endo and Shikada accompanied Koga as he flew his oil-spewing airplane to Akutan Island, twenty-five miles away, which had been designated for emergency landings. A Japanese submarine stood nearby to pick up downed pilots. The three Zeros circled low over the green, treeless island. At a level, grassy valley floor half a mile inland, Koga lowered his wheels and flaps and eased toward a three-point landing. As his main wheels touched, they dug in, and the Zero flipped onto its back, tossing water, grass, and gobs of mud. The valley floor was a bog, and the knee-high grass concealed water.
Endo and Shikada circled. There was no sign of life. If Koga was dead, their duty was to destroy the downed fighter. Incendiary bullets from their machine guns would have done the job. But Koga was a friend, and they couldn't bring themselves to shoot. Perhaps he would recover, destroy the plane himself, and walk to the waiting submarine. Endo and Shikada abandoned the downed fighter and returned to the Ryujo, two hundred miles to the south. (The Ryujo was sunk two months later in the eastern Solomons by planes from the aircraft carrier Saratoga. Endo was killed in action at Rabaul on October 12, 1943, while Shikada survived the war and eventually became a banker.)
The wrecked Zero lay in the bog for more than a month, unseen by U.S.patrol planes and offshore ships. Akutan is often foggy, and constant Aleutian winds create unpleasant turbulence over the rugged island. Most pilots preferred to remain over water, so planes rarely flew over Akutan. However, on July 10 a U.S. Navy Catalina (PBY) amphibian returning from overnight patrol crossed the island. A gunner named Wall called, "Hey, there's an airplane on the ground down there. It has meatballs on the wings." That meant the rising-sun insignia. The patrol plane's commander, Lt. William Thies, descended for a closer look. What he saw excited him.
Back at Dutch Harbor, Thies persuaded his squadron commander to let him take a party to the downed plane. No one then knew that it was a Zero.
Ens. Robert Larson was Thies's copilot when the plane was discovered. He remembers reaching the Zero. "We approached cautiously, walking in about a foot of water covered with grass. Koga's body, thoroughly strapped in, was upside down in the plane, his head barely submerged in the water. "We were surprised at the details of the airplane," Larson continues. "It was well built, with simple, unique features. Inspection plates could be opened by pushing on a black dot with a finger. A latch would open, and one could pull the plate out. Wingtips folded by unlatching them and pushing them up by hand. The pilot had a parachute and a life raft." Koga's body was buried nearby. In 1947 it was shifted to a cemetery on nearby Adak Island and later, it is believed, his remains were returned to Japan.
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Thies had determined that the wrecked plane was a nearly new Zero, which suddenly gave it special meaning, for it was repairable. However, unlike U.S.warplanes, which had detachable wings, the Zero's wings were integral with the fuselage. This complicated salvage and shipping. Navy crews fought the plane out of the bog. The tripod that was used to lift the engine, and later the fuselage, sank three to four feet into the mud. The Zero was too heavy to turn over with the equipment on hand, so it was left upside down while a tractor dragged it on a skid to the beach and a barge. At Dutch Harborit was turned over with a crane, cleaned, and crated, wings and all. When the awkward crate containing Zero 4593 arrived at North Island Naval Air Station, San Diego, a twelve-foot-high stockade was erected around it inside a hangar. Marines guarded the priceless plane while Navy crews worked around the clock to make it airworthy. (There is no evidence the Japanese ever knew we had salvaged Koga's plane.)
In mid-September Lt. Cmdr. Eddie R. Sanders studied it for a week as repairs were completed. Forty-six years later he clearly remembered his flights in Koga's Zero. "My log shows that I made twenty-four flights in Zero 4593 from 20 September to 15 October 1942," Sanders told me. "These flights covered performance tests such as we do on planes undergoing Navy tests."
"The very first flight exposed weaknesses of the Zero that our pilots could exploit with proper tactics. The Zero had superior maneuverability only at the lower speeds used in dog fighting, with short turning radius and excellent aileron control at very low speeds. However, immediately apparent was the fact that the ailerons froze up at speeds above two hundred knots, so that rolling maneuvers at those speeds were slow and required much force on the control stick. It rolled to the left much easier than to the right. Also, its engine cut out under negative acceleration [as when nosing into a dive] due to its float-type carburetor. We now had an answer for our pilots who were unable to escape a pursuing Zero. We told them to go into a vertical power dive, using negative acceleration, if possible, to open the range quickly and gain advantageous speed while the Zero's engine was stopped. At about two hundred knots, we instructed them to roll hard right before the Zero pilot could get his sights lined up. This recommended tactic was radioed to the fleet after my first flight of Koga's plane, and soon the welcome answer came back: "It works!'" Sanders said, satisfaction sounding in his voice even after nearly half a century.
Thus by late September 1942 Allied pilots in the Pacific theater knew how to escape a pursuing Zero.
"Was Zero 4593 a good representative of the Model 21 Zero?" I asked Sanders. In other words, was the repaired airplane 100 percent?
"About 98 percent," he replied.
The Zero was added to the U.S. Navy inventory and assigned its Mitsubishi serial number. The Japanese colors and insignia were replaced with those of the U.S. Navy and later the U.S. Army, which also test-flew it. The Navy pitted it against the best American fighters of the time-the P-38 Lockheed Lightning, the P-39 Bell Airacobra, the P-51 North American Mustang, the F4F-4 Grumman Wildcat, and the F4U Chance Vought Corsair-and for each type developed the most effective tactics and altitudes for engaging the Zero.
In February 1945 Cmdr. Richard G. Crommelin was taxiing Zero 4593 at San Diego Naval Air Station, where it was being used to train pilots bound for the Pacific war zone. An SB-2C Curtiss Helldiver overran it and chopped it up from tail to cockpit. Crommelin survived, but the Zero didn't. Only a few pieces of Zero 4593 remain today. The manifold pressure gauge, the air-speed indicator, and the folding panel of the port wingtip were donated to the Navy Museum at the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard by Rear Adm. William N. Leonard, who salvaged them at San Diegoin 1945. In addition, two of its manufacturer's plates are in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum in Anchorage, donated by Arthur Bauman, the photographer.
Leonard recently told me, "The captured Zero was a treasure. To my knowledge no other captured machine has ever unlocked so many secrets at a time when the need was so great." A somewhat comparable event took place off North Africain 1944-coincidentally on the same date, June 4, which Koga crashed his Zero.

A squadron commanded by Capt. Daniel V. Gallery, aboard the escort carrier Guadalcanal, captured the German submarine U-505, boarding and securing the disabled vessel before the fleeing crew could scuttle it. Code books, charts, and operating instructions rescued from U-505 proved quite valuable to the Allies. Captain Gallery later wrote, "Reception committees which we were able to arrange as a result . may have had something to do with the sinking of nearly three hundred U-boats in the next eleven months." By the time of U-505's capture, however, the German war effort was already starting to crumble (D-day came only two days later), while Japanstill dominated the Pacific when Koga's plane was recovered.
A classic example of the Koga plane's value occurred on April 1, 1943, when Ken Walsh, a Marine flying an F4U Chance-Vought Corsair over the Russell Islandssoutheast of Bougainville, encountered a lone Zero. "I turned toward him, planning a deflection shot, but before I could get on him, he rolled, putting his plane right under my tail and within range. I had been told the Zero was extremely maneuverable, but if I hadn't seen how swiftly his plane flipped onto my tail, I wouldn't have believed it,"
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Walsh recently recalled. "I remembered briefings that resulted from test flights of Koga's Zero on how to escape from a following Zero. With that lone Zero on my tail I did a split S, and with its nose down and full throttle my Corsair picked up speed fast.I wanted at least 240 knots, preferably 260. Then, as prescribed, I rolled hard right. As I did this and continued my dive, tracers from the Zero zinged past my plane's belly. "From information that came from Koga's Zero, I knew the Zero rolled more slowly to the right than to the left. If I hadn't known which way to turn or roll, I'd have probably rolled to my left. If I had done that, the Zero would likely have turned with me, locked on, and had me. I used that maneuver a number of times to get away from Zeros."
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By war's end Capt. (later Lt. Col.) Kenneth Walsh had twenty-one aerial victories (seventeen Zeros, three Vals, one Pete), making him the war's fourth-ranking g Marine Corps ace. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for two extremely courageous air battles he fought over the Solomon Islandsin his Corsair during August 1943. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1962 after more than twenty-eight years of service. Walsh holds the Distinguished Flying Cross with six Gold Stars, the Air Medal with fourteen Gold Stars, and more than a dozen other medals and honors.
How important was our acquisition of Koga's Zero? Masatake Okumiya, who survived more air-sea battles than any other Japanese naval officer, was aboard the Ryujo when Koga made his last flight. He later co-authored two classic books, Zero and Midway. Okumiya has written that the Allies' acquisition of Koga's Zero was "no less serious" than the Japanese defeat at Midway and "did much to hasten our final defeat." If that doesn't convince you, ask Ken Walsh.
INSIDE THE ZERO
The Zero was Japan's main fighter plane throughout World War II. By war's end about 11,500 Zeros had been produced in five main variants. In March 1939, when the prototype Zero was rolled out, Japan was in some ways still so backward that the plane had to be hauled by oxcart from the Mitsubishi factory twenty-nine miles to the airfield where it flew. It represented a great leap in technology. At the start of World War II, some countries' fighters were open cockpit, fabric-covered biplanes. A low-wing all-metal monoplane carrier fighter, predecessor to the Zero, had been adopted by the Japanese in the mid-1930's, while the U.S. Navy's standard fighter was still a biplane.
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But the world took little notice of Japan 's advanced military aircraft, so the Zero came as a great shock to Americans at Pearl Harborand afterward. A combination of nimbleness and simplicity gave it fighting qualities that no Allied plane could match. Lightness, simplicity, ease of maintenance, sensitivity to controls, and extreme maneuverability were the main elements that the designer Jiro Horikoshi built into the Zero. The Model 21 flown by Koga weighed 5,500 pounds, including fuel, ammunition, and pilot, while U.S.fighters weighed 7,500 pounds and up. Early models had no protective armor or self-sealing fuel tanks, although these were standard features on U.S.fighters. Despite its large-diameter 940-hp radial engine, the Zero had one of the slimmest silhouettes of any World War II fighter. The maximum speed of Koga's Zero was 326 mph at 16,000 feet, not especially fast for a 1942 fighter. But high speed wasn't the reason for the Zero's great combat record. Agility was. Its large ailerons gave it great maneuverability at low speeds. It could even outmaneuver the British Spitfire.
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Advanced U.S.fighters produced toward the war's end still couldn't turn with the Zero, but they were faster and could out climb and out dive it. Without self-sealing fuel tanks, the Zero was easily flamed when hit in any of its three wing and fuselage tanks or its droppable belly tank. And without protective armor, its pilot was vulnerable. In 1941 the Zero's range of 1,675 nautical miles (1,930 statute miles) was one of the wonders of the aviation world. No other fighter plane had ever routinely flown such a distance.
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Saburo Sakai, Japan 's highest-scoring surviving World War II ace, with sixty- four kills, believes that if the Zero had not been developed, Japan "would not have decided to start the war." Other Japanese authorities echo this opinion, and the confidence it reflects was not, in the beginning at least, misplaced. Today the Zero is one of the rarest of all major fighter planes of World War II. Only sixteen complete and assembled examples are known to exist. Of these, only two are flyable: one owned by Planes of Fame, in Chino, California, and the other by the Commemorative Air Force, in Midland, Texas .
 

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If I may ask, what source/publication was that copied from?
 

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I'm still amazed & enthralled by stories such as these considering the number of years passed.
 

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I believe most of that story comes from the book "Koga's Zero".
Since it is based on actual history, it is told slightly differently depending on which of the major players is being interviewed.

In re-reading the post, I believe the author combined multiple accounts to tell a factual story of a historic event from many viewpoints. I am pretty sure I have seen all the pieces of this story though not all from the same place.

There is at least one arguable point in the story but it isn't a misquote.
People still debate today about how fast the A6M2 Zero actually was.
326 mph is quoted here and that is a bit slow for a fighter of the time.
The actual fighter was tested by US military at 332 mph so one might wonder why they quoted a lesser speed when a less than perfect captured example could do better.
Saburo Sakai remembered it to be 345 mph with the engine running at "Overboost" or emergency power.

There is a large amount of data about the Type Zero Fighter out there though some is a bit obscure. PM me if you are looking for something specific. I had to round up a fair amount of data to build an aeroplane for Combat Flight Simulator a while back.

- Ivan.
 

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That's a great read. The Zero on display at the National Air & Space Museum is awesome to look at. If you climb the stairs to the second level of the gallery that it's in, your looking right down the nose at the cockpit. One of neat things is the engine exhaust - they just piped it right out from under the cowling, no collective pipes or the like - just a bunch of small exhaust pipes all the way around the cowling.

When it all is said and done, however, it's always the pilots that count. Take the Bell Airacobra for instance, our Air Corps did not like it, and due to it's lack of a turbo supercharger, Bud Anderson claimed it was useless above 15,000 feet and so the US lend leased it to the Soviet Union and their pilots did quite well with it - even against the Luftwaffe. I believe the Soviets had 28 pilots with at least 15 victories in the Airacobra, with the high scoring ace in high fifty (58-59 kill) range. It goes without saying that tactics are all important as well (the Thatch weave being an example of one in the Pacific).

I would take a Hellcat, though. You only need to look at the Grumman Hellcat's figures to realize how great a plane that was in the Pacific theatre - it dominate the skies in the latter days of the war, and was universally praised by it's pilots.

Thanks for your posting!

Dean
 

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There's no mystery here!

I fact, I see Zero mystery.......:applause

Really though, fascinating story! Thanks for posting it! :thumb
 

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I would take a Hellcat, though. You only need to look at the Grumman Hellcat's figures to realize how great a plane that was in the Pacific theatre - it dominate the skies in the latter days of the war, and was universally praised by it's pilots
I'd take the Corsair, but that's just me! :D
 

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That's a great read. The Zero on display at the National Air & Space Museum is awesome to look at. If you climb the stairs to the second level of the gallery that it's in, your looking right down the nose at the cockpit. One of neat things is the engine exhaust - they just piped it right out from under the cowling, no collective pipes or the like - just a bunch of small exhaust pipes all the way around the cowling.
The Zero in the Washington DC NASM is actually a A6M5 and not the A6M2 version that was recovered in the Aleutians. The A6M2 flown by Koga actually DID have an exhaust collector ring instead of ejector exhausts as found on the A6M5. The contour of the upper cowling is different because the A6M5 version had the intake running through there. The A6M2 had a carb scoop under the cowl at the leading edge.
The one in the Smithsonian also has about 1 meter less wingspan than the early versions and no longer had folding wing tips.

When it all is said and done, however, it's always the pilots that count. Take the Bell Airacobra for instance, our Air Corps did not like it, and due to it's lack of a turbo supercharger, Bud Anderson claimed it was useless above 15,000 feet and so the US lend leased it to the Soviet Union and their pilots did quite well with it - even against the Luftwaffe. I believe the Soviets had 28 pilots with at least 15 victories in the Airacobra, with the high scoring ace in high fifty (58-59 kill) range. It goes without saying that tactics are all important as well (the Thatch weave being an example of one in the Pacific).
The high scorer was Alexander Pokryshkin. He would have been an ace and a great fighter leader in anyone's air force. The Airacobra had lots of little problems that made it less than optimal in the USAAF. The poor altitude performance and very short range made it useless as an escort fighter over Europe. The poor altitude performance also made it incapable of intercepting Japanese bombers in places like Guadalcanal where USN Wildcats had much fewer issues.
The Russians flew mostly Tactical air support at very low altitude where its heavy 37 mm cannon was useful.
Another big problem was that the heavy gun armament was all up front so that firing off all the ammunition would produce a great shift in the center of gravity rearward and make the aircraft much less stable. That shift in combination with a very light pilot who also sat pretty far forward MIGHT be the reason the aircraft had a reputation for tumbling.

I would take a Hellcat, though. You only need to look at the Grumman Hellcat's figures to realize how great a plane that was in the Pacific theatre - it dominate the skies in the latter days of the war, and was universally praised by it's pilots.
The Hellcat ace David McCampbell actually gave a slight edge to the Corsair when he compared the two fighters. By the end of the war, the Hellcat was no longer competitive which is why it was due to be replaced by the Bearcat. The Corsair (as the F4U-4) just got a new engine instead of being completely replaced. The same engine upgrade was tried with the Hellcat, but it didn't gain as much in performance as the Corsair did.

- Ivan.
 

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Great post & information Ivan!

I couldn't remember the Soviet pilot's name, but I did come close on his kill total.

As far as the Hellcat vs. Corsair rivalry goes, it is important to note that the Navy had very little confidence in the Corsair as a carrier based plane - hence it gained most of it's fame not as an air superiority plane, but a ground attack aircraft flown by Devil Dogs (at least until a certain 70's TV show came out)

The Hellcat was also the least modified aircraft of all of the US planes during the war -testament to it's great overall design characteristics. It also destroyed over 5,000 enemy aircraft - more than any other US plane during the war.

It is also worthy of note that David McCampbell won the CMH while piloting the Hellcat (there were many MOH Corsair winners as well)

The Corsair is generally regarded as the best all-around piston fighter of WW2 by most experts - but the Hellcat was also considered to be a very easy plane to learn to fly, and was perhaps the most forgiving of all US combat fighter planes - early on, the Corsair was nicknamed the "ensign eliminator" for it's difficulty for new pilots to master.

The Corsair definitely made a great impression in the six short months that it served in WW2, and was also a match for Korean War jet fighters - when anyone but an experienced pilot was flying these jets.

The Hellcat just happens to be my personal choice - I like the underdog!
 

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Thanks Dean.

Hope we are not hijacking this thread too much.

The Corsair served as the Hellcat did as an air superiority fighter. It just did not serve aboard USN carriers early in the war because of poor lateral control at low speed, a great wing drop at the stall and a bouncy landing gear. Thus it was flown from land bases early in the war by both Marine AND Navy squadrons such as VF-17. The British flew Cosairs off carriers much earlier than USN. The lateral control issue was never solved but the other two issues had simple fixes.

The Hellcat had a pretty significant modification from the F6F-3 to the F6F-5: Spring tab ailerons. They reduced the low speed roll rate a little but improved the high speed roll by a lot.

There are many candidates for best all-around Piston engine fighter of WW2. The F4U-4 Corsair is up there among the top choices but so is the Spitfire XIV and the FW 190 series.

The F4U-1 Corsair was around for most of the war. The F4U-4 was only around for 6 months at the end of the war.

- Ivan.
 

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Nice points...

It is also worth noting that the Corsair in all versions was not considered reliable by most of it's pilots and in particularly, it's ground crew / mechanics. It was very difficult to maintain to combat readiness - often times in books and articles I have read it's reported readiness was often times 50%. Had the war been more in doubt at the time of the Corsair's true introduction - 1943, this would have been a serious problem for the USN / USMC. It had battery, starter, landing gear, and a sometimes fatal habit of gushing oil onto the cockpit windscreen.

More than a few pilots reported that they would have to fly through rain squalls in order to clear their windscreens of oil on combat missions. The landing gear problem also made the Corsair and uneasy plane to land, even for experienced combat veterans.

It is interesting to note that of the United State's top ten aces of WW2, THREE were P-38 pilots (a plane many considered to be inferior to most WW2 fighter planes). One Hellcat pilot is on the list, and two Corsair pilots - one of which it could be argued should not appear on the list due to the fact that Mr. Boyington's victiories were self-reported, and not witnessed by any other pilots on at least 12 occasions.
 

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More than a few pilots reported that they would have to fly through rain squalls in order to clear their windscreens of oil on combat missions. The landing gear problem also made the Corsair and uneasy plane to land, even for experienced combat veterans.

One Hellcat pilot is on the list, and two Corsair pilots - one of which it could be argued should not appear on the list due to the fact that Mr. Boyington's victiories were self-reported, and not witnessed by any other pilots on at least 12 occasions
To that I say BA.......BA Black Sheep! :lol:lol:lol
 

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Dogfights: The Zero Killer




 

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It is also worth noting that the Corsair in all versions was not considered reliable by most of it's pilots and in particularly, it's ground crew / mechanics. It was very difficult to maintain to combat readiness - often times in books and articles I have read it's reported readiness was often times 50%. Had the war been more in doubt at the time of the Corsair's true introduction - 1943, this would have been a serious problem for the USN / USMC. It had battery, starter, landing gear, and a sometimes fatal habit of gushing oil onto the cockpit windscreen.
I can't disagree with anything here though I do wonder why the starter and battery had issues since they would have to be very close to the installations on the Hellcat.
One other point of failure on the Corsair is actually very obvious visually:
Have you ever wondered why there was a white stripe pattern on the top of the fuselage just in front of the cockpit on some Corsairs and that the pattern didn't seem to absolutely consistent between aircraft?
The Corsair had a tendency to leak fuel from its main (and sometimes only) fuel tank in front of the cockpit. The white tape was applied to seal the external panel seams to keep the fuel from fouling the windscreen and canopy!

It is interesting to note that of the United State's top ten aces of WW2, THREE were P-38 pilots (a plane many considered to be inferior to most WW2 fighter planes). One Hellcat pilot is on the list, and two Corsair pilots - one of which it could be argued should not appear on the list due to the fact that Mr. Boyington's victiories were self-reported, and not witnessed by any other pilots on at least 12 occasions.
Completely agree on Boyington.
One other worthwhile discussion on Boyington besides his unwitnessed claims in the USMC is his performance in the AVG. The Chinese didn't agree to pay him for all the claims he made there either.

Regarding the P-38, In some ways it was inferior. In some it was superior to anything else flown by the US forces: It accelerated faster than just about anything else around because of its very high power to weight ratio. This great acceleration along with partial deployment of the Fowler Flaps would give it a better turn rate than expected.
The visibility was great above the aircraft but not so good below.

Below is a theory of mine that I have not seen documented anywhere:
The P-38 as a high power twin engined aircraft with BOTH propellers rotating outboard. While most other twins have just one "critical" engine, the P-38 has two. When the critical engine loses power, the aircraft has a very great tendency to yaw toward the dead engine.
My theory is that the really expert P-38 pilots figured that out and used differential engine power to cut turns that a regular aircraft simply could not follow.

- Ivan.
 

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Great info on the tape / fuel leak, Ivan - I did not know that.

Surprisingly, in the ETO, P-38s made 130,000 sorties with a loss of 1.3% overall, comparing favorably with ETO P-51s which posted a 1.1% loss. This is an outstanding record, considering that the P-38s were vastly outnumbered during the majority of their combat sorties, which were made in the period prior to Allied air superiority in Europe when inexperienced US pilots fought against the cream of the Luftwaffe crop, a very experienced and determined cadre of combat proven pilots.

By the time the P-51 entered service the Luftwaffe was already being stretched too thin in material and trained pilots, fighting essentially a three front war after Italy capitulated to the allies.

Most WW2 buffs don't realize that the P-38 had an excellent service record in the Italian theatre of operations, where the later J - models flew missions deep into Germany with very successful results.

Regarding Mr. Boyington, I read in a couple of books that when he met Joe Foss at a veterans event after the war, the two ended up having a fist fight, due to disagreements over enemy kill reporting / legitamacy and the fact that Foss was awarded his MOH for combat merit, while Boyington's was awarded by the military "posthumouosly" as more of a public relations move thinking that he was killed when he was shot down in the Pacific.

If you ever go to South Dakota, you will fly into Joe Foss Field, where they have a very nice display dedicated to the MOH winning Marine Aviator.
 

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Re: Dogfights: The Zero Killer


That is a very rare bird that is pictured here. The windscreen is from the F6F-3 while the lack of a quarter window indicates F6F-5. Such aeroplanes did exist, but there were not many of them.

- Ivan.
 

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Here is the A6M2 Model 21 I built a while back.
This is a screenshot from Combat Flight Simulator 1.

From a manual captured on Kwajalein island, the Type Zero Mark I (A6M2) was described to have greater fighting power than the Type Zero Mark II (A6M3 and A6M5) at low altitudes. The later aircraft had a two-speed supercharger.

- Ivan.

 

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This is from a post I found in another forum some time ago.

- Ivan.

Report of Lieutenant Commander Eddie Sanders, the initial test pilot in his report of September 29, 1942 on the famous "Koga Zero" recovered from Akutan Island in the Aleutians:

"All controls are very light, free from friction and all are over-balanced statically. High maneuverability at normal speeds is obtained with small control movement. The ailerons are unusually long and lateral control is excellent right down to the stall. Aileron forces increase with speed. They are still fair around 200 KTS to 210 KTS, but at 230 to 250 KTS they practically freeze up and fast rolling cannot be done at 250 KTS. Could detect no buffeting or reversal at maximum displacement obtainable which is very small at high speed. The rudder is light and very effective. The elevator is the only control on which there is much change in trim with speed and power changes and that is not excessive. An adjustment elevator tab is the only tab provided. The others are fixed. Action from movement of any control is immediate.

"The plane handles remarkably like an SNC-1, feels about as light and maneuvers about the same. The main difference is in the ailerons where much less movement is needed for the rolling effect.

"The horizon was not working, but by estimating the angles, obtained 1.35 sec. to the right, and 1.1 sec. to the left for the standard rate of roll test in landing condition. The angle was probably more like 60 degrees. Rate of roll at 200 KTS was 5.4 sec. for 360 degrees. This was with not much more that half aileron displacement, but it was as far over as I could put it because of the high forces. Forces are higher to the right than left."

Some of Sanders' pertinent points in his evaluation were:

"Engine quits on push-overs"

"Ailerons get very stiff at higher speeds making fast rolls at high speeds (above 250 knots) physically impossible. At 200 knots the rate of roll (with ailerons) is slightly slower than an F4F. At lower speeds the Zero probably has an increasing advantage in any rolling maneuvers since it is highly maneuverable."

"Started getting considerable vibration and some flutter at 280 knots indicated. May be peculiar to this plane, but believe the diving speeds are probably considerably restricted."

"Believe F4F would accelerate faster in a dive and could roll or spiral at high speeds in such a way that a Zero could not follow because of aileron forces along [sic], if not speed and acceleration restrictions necessitated by strength limitations."
 

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