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Early war air power - 6/26/2007 8:18:15 PM   
niceguy2005


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This is the continuation of a friendly discussion started in another thread...

I would not really disagree with your second post...at least not on the basics.

The Allied frontline main fighter planes were nearly a match for the Zero and probably equal to the Oscar...of course its a bit of an apples and oranges comparrision unless one also considers tactics and intended use, etc.

I would agree that when you had well trained USAAF or USN pilots in either a P-40 or an F4F they fairly well held their own.

However, the Allies being woefully underprepared for the war didn't have that many fully functional frontline units and many of them were blasted apart at Hickam on 12/7. Add to this fact that while the allied pilots were well trained and cunning, they were inexperienced in battle and still made rookie mistakes.

Add to this the fact that many frontline units were not equipped with front line fighters at the outbreak of the war. The Brewster, P-36, P-35, P-26 and Wirraway were all horrible fighters.

I would agree that you add to the above the facts that you mentioned, better logistics, better maintenance, superious numbers and you can see why Japan largely controlled the skies in the opening months of the war.

So, on the whole I would agree with your statement that when Allied top air units met Japanese top air units it was mostly a draw. However, since top Allied units were few in the beginning days of the war and they could not be everywhere, Japan still controlled the air.

The point on which I would disagree is that any of this indicates that the developers of the game lacked an understanding of early war aircraft.

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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 8:39:25 PM   
mdiehl

 

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I'll address the last first.

quote:

The point on which I would disagree is that any of this indicates that the developers of the game lacked an understanding of early war aircraft.


I can find no other explanation for the "zero bonus" or the generally higher exp values of Japanese pilots. That said, this error is shared by many game designers. The reasons are sociological I think, beginning with the tendency for history's losers of big wars to try to ennoble their cause. Thus the histories from the losers pov typically characterize their effort as fundamentally serving a bad purpose but bravely, even nobly fought, etc, and their superior individual prowess only overcome by grinding attrition, until at long last, having expended the last round from their revolver and hurled at at the onrushing foe, they were dragged down by the zombie-barbarian hoard, etc. That is pretty much how Sakai (who is the most widely read Japanese aviation spindoctor) and pretty much EVERY german general writes of the war. And the tale was convenient for people like Morison, who were pushing issues in order to compete for DoD funds for his branch postwar.

quote:

The Allied frontline main fighter planes were nearly a match for the Zero and probably equal to the Oscar...of course its a bit of an apples and oranges comparrision unless one also considers tactics and intended use, etc.


The Allied front line planes were overwhelmingly superior to the Oscar and an even trade on the Zero. The Oscar was a flying deathbox. The AVG ate those things for lunch and dinner regularly. Not because the AVG was full of special hotshot pilots. They were ordinary pre-war US pilots looking for something different. But rather because the P-40 was so vastly superior to the Oscar, that the only way an Oscar could be called a match for a P-40 was to nail one on the ground or taking off or landing.

The A6M had *some* superior characteristics. Better low speed acceleration. Better low speed maneuverability. Better low altitiude to speed, by a narrow marging, than the F4F, and really great climb. But its top speed was lower than that of the P-40, P-39 (low altitude) and Spit. And at high speed it was less maneuverable than the F4F, the Spit, the P-40. It was truly very fragile and armed with the worst exploding-shell cannon of the war (ballistically & load out terms). Ultimately while the A6M was a good industrial solution (saving materials and fuel in operation) it was a poor fighter for survival.

quote:

However, the Allies being woefully underprepared for the war didn't have that many fully functional frontline units and many of them were blasted apart at Hickam on 12/7. Add to this fact that while the allied pilots were well trained and cunning, they were inexperienced in battle and still made rookie mistakes.


Even the most experienced Japanese pilots made rookie mistakes. One lesson they seemed never to learn was to not pull up too close to an F4F. The overtaking tail pass, followed by a sharp climb (apparently intended to lure an American aircraft into an energy-burning stall climb) often resulted in death for the Japanese pilot, because 4 or more .50 call could dissassemble and flame any A6M faster than you can say "Banzai" and American deflection shooting was generally superior to anything the Japanese ever imagined.

quote:

Add to this the fact that many frontline units were not equipped with front line fighters at the outbreak of the war. The Brewster, P-36, P-35, P-26 and Wirraway were all horrible fighters.


Agreed on most of those. Funny you should laud the Oscar however and yet call the P-36 and P-35 horrible. As planes go they were the equal of the oscar in almost every respect except firepower (in which area these were superior to the Oscar). At PH, those P-36s that became airborne seem to have acquitted themselves well against Zeroes.

quote:

I would agree that you add to the above the facts that you mentioned, better logistics, better maintenance, superious numbers and you can see why Japan largely controlled the skies in the opening months of the war.

So, on the whole I would agree with your statement that when Allied top air units met Japanese top air units it was mostly a draw. However, since top Allied units were few in the beginning days of the war and they could not be everywhere, Japan still controlled the air.


Yes. But that is the key point. The Allies "front line" planes and pilots were, for the most part, man for man and plane for plane, as good as any pilot or plane the Japanese could muster. You are of course right that the P-26s (which were extremely uncommon), the Wirraways, and a couple others weren't up to measure. But AFAIC the Allies never really considered these "front line" planes. The only really inferior plane that seems to have been treated as a "front line" plane, briefly, was the F2A3 Buffalo. If you want to call it a hopeless aircraft that seems fair.



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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 9:35:07 PM   
niceguy2005


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

I'll address the last first.

quote:

The point on which I would disagree is that any of this indicates that the developers of the game lacked an understanding of early war aircraft.


I can find no other explanation for the "zero bonus" or the generally higher exp values of Japanese pilots. That said, this error is shared by many game designers. The reasons are sociological I think, beginning with the tendency for history's losers of big wars to try to ennoble their cause. Thus the histories from the losers pov typically characterize their effort as fundamentally serving a bad purpose but bravely, even nobly fought, etc, and their superior individual prowess only overcome by grinding attrition, until at long last, having expended the last round from their revolver and hurled at at the onrushing foe, they were dragged down by the zombie-barbarian hoard, etc. That is pretty much how Sakai (who is the most widely read Japanese aviation spindoctor) and pretty much EVERY german general writes of the war. And the tale was convenient for people like Morison, who were pushing issues in order to compete for DoD funds for his branch postwar.


I think the zero bonus is actually well explained in the manual as to why it is there and what it is intended to do and I don't think I would agree that it is necessarily in error. In the witp game, perhaps there could be more diversity in early war Japanese pilot experience. Certainly they had elite units and less experienced units.

As to the perception of Japanese pilots fighting the noble fight, I don't think that characterization fits the early war situation at all...perhaps the later war situation. Also, I think the perception of Japanese pilot skill is based largely on a) the kill ratio in the early war (in particular the first two months) and b) the annecdotal experience of the allied pilots who got their butts shot off in the Phillipines or Malaysia.


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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 9:42:38 PM   
castor troy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

I'll address the last first.

quote:

The point on which I would disagree is that any of this indicates that the developers of the game lacked an understanding of early war aircraft.


I can find no other explanation for the "zero bonus" or the generally higher exp values of Japanese pilots. That said, this error is shared by many game designers. The reasons are sociological I think, beginning with the tendency for history's losers of big wars to try to ennoble their cause. Thus the histories from the losers pov typically characterize their effort as fundamentally serving a bad purpose but bravely, even nobly fought, etc, and their superior individual prowess only overcome by grinding attrition, until at long last, having expended the last round from their revolver and hurled at at the onrushing foe, they were dragged down by the zombie-barbarian hoard, etc. That is pretty much how Sakai (who is the most widely read Japanese aviation spindoctor) and pretty much EVERY german general writes of the war. And the tale was convenient for people like Morison, who were pushing issues in order to compete for DoD funds for his branch postwar.

quote:

The Allied frontline main fighter planes were nearly a match for the Zero and probably equal to the Oscar...of course its a bit of an apples and oranges comparrision unless one also considers tactics and intended use, etc.


The Allied front line planes were overwhelmingly superior to the Oscar and an even trade on the Zero. The Oscar was a flying deathbox. The AVG ate those things for lunch and dinner regularly. Not because the AVG was full of special hotshot pilots. They were ordinary pre-war US pilots looking for something different. But rather because the P-40 was so vastly superior to the Oscar, that the only way an Oscar could be called a match for a P-40 was to nail one on the ground or taking off or landing.

The A6M had *some* superior characteristics. Better low speed acceleration. Better low speed maneuverability. Better low altitiude to speed, by a narrow marging, than the F4F, and really great climb. But its top speed was lower than that of the P-40, P-39 (low altitude) and Spit. And at high speed it was less maneuverable than the F4F, the Spit, the P-40. It was truly very fragile and armed with the worst exploding-shell cannon of the war (ballistically & load out terms). Ultimately while the A6M was a good industrial solution (saving materials and fuel in operation) it was a poor fighter for survival.

quote:

However, the Allies being woefully underprepared for the war didn't have that many fully functional frontline units and many of them were blasted apart at Hickam on 12/7. Add to this fact that while the allied pilots were well trained and cunning, they were inexperienced in battle and still made rookie mistakes.


Even the most experienced Japanese pilots made rookie mistakes. One lesson they seemed never to learn was to not pull up too close to an F4F. The overtaking tail pass, followed by a sharp climb (apparently intended to lure an American aircraft into an energy-burning stall climb) often resulted in death for the Japanese pilot, because 4 or more .50 call could dissassemble and flame any A6M faster than you can say "Banzai" and American deflection shooting was generally superior to anything the Japanese ever imagined.

quote:

Add to this the fact that many frontline units were not equipped with front line fighters at the outbreak of the war. The Brewster, P-36, P-35, P-26 and Wirraway were all horrible fighters.


Agreed on most of those. Funny you should laud the Oscar however and yet call the P-36 and P-35 horrible. As planes go they were the equal of the oscar in almost every respect except firepower (in which area these were superior to the Oscar). At PH, those P-36s that became airborne seem to have acquitted themselves well against Zeroes.

quote:

I would agree that you add to the above the facts that you mentioned, better logistics, better maintenance, superious numbers and you can see why Japan largely controlled the skies in the opening months of the war.

So, on the whole I would agree with your statement that when Allied top air units met Japanese top air units it was mostly a draw. However, since top Allied units were few in the beginning days of the war and they could not be everywhere, Japan still controlled the air.


Yes. But that is the key point. The Allies "front line" planes and pilots were, for the most part, man for man and plane for plane, as good as any pilot or plane the Japanese could muster. You are of course right that the P-26s (which were extremely uncommon), the Wirraways, and a couple others weren't up to measure. But AFAIC the Allies never really considered these "front line" planes. The only really inferior plane that seems to have been treated as a "front line" plane, briefly, was the F2A3 Buffalo. If you want to call it a hopeless aircraft that seems fair.






Just curios, why do you think that the Allied then suffered so horrible in the early months? I´m not doubting your words I just would like to know why the Japanese then were able to conquer such an area?

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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 9:42:51 PM   
Mike Scholl

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

I can find no other explanation for the "zero bonus" or the generally higher exp values of Japanese pilots. That said, this error is shared by many game designers. The reasons are sociological I think, beginning with the tendency for history's losers of big wars to try to ennoble their cause. Thus the histories from the losers pov typically characterize their effort as fundamentally serving a bad purpose but bravely, even nobly fought, etc, and their superior individual prowess only overcome by grinding attrition, until at long last, having expended the last round from their revolver and hurled at at the onrushing foe, they were dragged down by the zombie-barbarian hoard, etc. That is pretty much how Sakai (who is the most widely read Japanese aviation spindoctor) and pretty much EVERY german general writes of the war. And the tale was convenient for people like Morison, who were pushing issues in order to compete for DoD funds for his branch postwar.



I justify the "zero bonus" in my own mind inversely. What I think it really reflects is the mindset of Allied pilots at the beginning of the war. Most seem to have assumed that the Japanese planes and pilots were inferior, and that they could "dogfight" with Zekes and Oscars. Giving the Japs a "bonus" while the Allied pilots were being disuaded of their misconceptions seems a reasonable means of potraying reality.

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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 9:54:16 PM   
pauk


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As Mike said, but there is one more thing....


Game fails to recreate history - if you have 200 ac in A2A combat... so, while it is reasonable to have Zero bonus, 50 zeros can shot down 200 early Allied "crap" planes... in reality this would never happend - those demoralised pilots would probably turn back or they would protect bombers and allow them to drop their bombs or torps (less likely but still...)

same goes for 50 Corsairs against 400 Zekes...

sorry guys... that is how it is working....

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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 9:55:18 PM   
mdiehl

 

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quote:

I think the zero bonus is actually well explained in the manual as to why it is there and what it is intended to do and I don't think I would agree that it is necessarily in error.


Nonetheless I think it is inappropriate in a conSIM.

quote:

In the witp game, perhaps there could be more diversity in early war Japanese pilot experience. Certainly they had elite units and less experienced units.


AFAIC once pilots have been trained to a certain standard, the biggest difference their training can make is in operational loss rates and the propensity to nurse a badly damaged (but still flying, sort of) aircraft home. Some combat experience helps but again, beyond a certain point I don't think it matters much and it can be simulated by advanced training (as the USN and USAAF still do in their advanced tactical training programs).

quote:

As to the perception of Japanese pilots fighting the noble fight, I don't think that characterization fits the early war situation at all...


It's the way the japanese write about the war. Particularly Sakai, but generall most Japanese authors seem to have treated their own "confirmed kill" assessments of enemy a.c. as gospel. Thus they tend to write of the early war as a kind of happy time when Allied pilots were easy marks. But the perception is only sustainable because they vastly overclaimed the actual number of kills. In reality, American and UK/Commowealth pilots had substantially superior training. In the USN in deflection shooting. In both the USAAF, UK/C'wealth, and USN in superior formations. The four plane section of two plane elements was substantially better than the 3-plane section used by the Japanese.

quote:

Also, I think the perception of Japanese pilot skill is based largely on a) the kill ratio in the early war (in particular the first two months) and b) the annecdotal experience of the allied pilots who got their butts shot off in the Phillipines or Malaysia.


I think anecdotes aren't worth a toss because people are free to cherry pick anecdotes that favor their claims. Was one to be clever about picking anecdotes, I could select a few carefully chosen actions in the early war (I recall reading an incident where an Indonesia-stationed P-40 group bounced a Japanese raid, and then of course there's pretty much everything written about the AVG) and come up with any conclusion you want.

From a statistical point of view, when people (historians) are able to match up actual numbers of aircraft engaged, actual losses, &c, the Japanese "good days" seem only to have occurred when they had vastly superior numbers or a sudden tactical advantage (the Darwin raid, PH, Clark Field, and the Malay Campaign). Likewise, one can find a few instances where the Japanese were caught flat footed and mauled. The first USAAF trans-Owens-Stanley raid on Buna for ex.

The way I see it, pretty much all of the Allied and Japanese at-start pilots were quite well trained. Enough to accord none of the combatants any particular advantage in a consim. And their aircraft were largely comparable, with a slight advantage to the Allies because a.c. with comparable performance stats will tend to favor the ones with better guns and better durability.

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Didn't we have this conversation already?

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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 9:56:30 PM   
niceguy2005


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl
quote:

The Allied frontline main fighter planes were nearly a match for the Zero and probably equal to the Oscar...of course its a bit of an apples and oranges comparrision unless one also considers tactics and intended use, etc.


The Allied front line planes were overwhelmingly superior to the Oscar and an even trade on the Zero. The Oscar was a flying deathbox. The AVG ate those things for lunch and dinner regularly. Not because the AVG was full of special hotshot pilots. They were ordinary pre-war US pilots looking for something different. But rather because the P-40 was so vastly superior to the Oscar, that the only way an Oscar could be called a match for a P-40 was to nail one on the ground or taking off or landing.

The A6M had *some* superior characteristics. Better low speed acceleration. Better low speed maneuverability. Better low altitiude to speed, by a narrow marging, than the F4F, and really great climb. But its top speed was lower than that of the P-40, P-39 (low altitude) and Spit. And at high speed it was less maneuverable than the F4F, the Spit, the P-40. It was truly very fragile and armed with the worst exploding-shell cannon of the war (ballistically & load out terms). Ultimately while the A6M was a good industrial solution (saving materials and fuel in operation) it was a poor fighter for survival.

When speaking simply about quality of fighter planes, again it is difficult to single out any one characteristic and say that makes one plane superior to the other. Individual dogfights are decided on the basis of how each pilot uses, or fails to use, the best characteristics of his plane and the vulnerabilities of his opponent.

That said it is probably most accurate to compare the Hurricane, Buffalo and P-40 to the Oscar and the Zero to the Wildcat as they were the sorts of combat pairings you would most often see in the early days of the war. The Spitfire was not really a player in the pacific for the first several months.

I think the battles over Rangoon and Burma were most characteristic of the early war fight between the Oscar and the Hurricanes and Buffalos. By all accounts the Oscar was as manueverable as the zero and difficult to dogfight. RAF pilots often had a heard time telling the difference between the Zero and Oscar in a fight, they looked similar and performed similar. RAF Pilots often reported having great difficulty turning the nimble Japanese fighters, which is they way they were trained to fight. So in the beginning the Hurricane and certainly the Buffalo, used the way the pilots were trained to use them, did not match up well with the Oscar and certainly not the Zero. Actually some of the commanders in the RAF were already aware of this problem at the outbreak of the war, but it took time to train the pilots on new tactics.

The historical result of the air combat over Burma, which is difficult to follow because claims on both sides were wildly exagerated, tended to favor a draw to a slight edge going to the RAF, but its primary opponent was often the Oscar.

Similar statements could be made when looking at a match up between either P-40s or Wildcats vs the Zero. The flight characteristics of the US fighters was nothing special. Speed, maneuverability and climb rates were simply adequate. Where the Wildcat stood out was its armor, or I have often thought a better way of putting this is that it stood out because it had so much armor and still had good flight characteristics. However, once again US pilots took it on the chin when they tried to turn with the nimble Japanese fighters.

It would have been interesting to see an engagement between the F4F and Zero in the first two months of the war...

As a sidenote I would not include the P-39, it was nothing more than a stop gap and unless operating at low altitude was a poor fighter plane. It's historical record reflects this too.

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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 10:07:37 PM   
mdiehl

 

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quote:

What I think it really reflects is the mindset of Allied pilots at the beginning of the war. Most seem to have assumed that the Japanese planes and pilots were inferior, and that they could "dogfight" with Zekes and Oscars. Giving the Japs a "bonus" while the Allied pilots were being disuaded of their misconceptions seems a reasonable means of potraying reality.


I think that is baloney.

The fact is that some allied pilots could dogfight with zekes and some could not. Much depended on the speed of initial contact, and whomever had positional advantage at the outset. And while *some* allied pilots undoubtedly paid the ultimate price for burning too much energy in an engagement, likewise many Japanese pilots paid the price for assuming that maneuverability would save them from outstanding deflection shooting.

Unfamiliarity with the enemy's aircraft, tactics, and doctrine cut both ways. The Zero bonus is inappropriate in a conSIM. It has no merit in historical fact.

_____________________________

Show me a fellow who rejects statistical analysis a priori and I'll show you a fellow who has no knowledge of statistics.

Didn't we have this conversation already?

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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 10:15:48 PM   
Ian R

 

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The tendency to identify the Wirraway ("Challenge") as a "fighter" has always intrigued me. It was an armed trainer. It was basically a license built NA-16 Texan. It was a two seater. Its forward firing armament was 2 x 303 MG. And it was underpowered -Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine, 600 hp. Its later use as an army cooperation aircraft (ie battlefield recce and maybe throwing out a few bombs) in PNG and the Solomons shouldn't be taken to mean it was ever meant to be a fighter-bomber. It was put into production by CAC in the late 30's so as to establish the facility and assemble the workforce that would be needed soon.
 
The Wirraway, and later the Boomerang (which as things turned out wasn't required as a fighter), were used, as an example, by No. 84 (Army Co-operation) Wing on Bougainville, which used both types as observation and close support machines in 1944/5. It is probably indicative that 5 Squadron, of that Wing, was reformed for Army Co-operation in Vietnam - flying UH-1 Iroquois.
 
 From the AWM website:

Popondetta, Papua, 1942-12-12. Two RAAF Wirraway aircraft stand on the grass shortly after landing close together at Popondetta airstrip. Before Wirraway A2-103 (left) had come to a complete stop, its pilot, Pilot Officer (PO) J. S. Archer, had leapt from the aircraft and run across to the Control Tent where he had found the Control Officer talking to NX34655 Captain Alan Oliver Watson, Dental Officer with the 2/4th Field Ambulance. Puffing hard, PO Archer exclaimed excitedly, 'Sir, sir, I think I've shot down a Zero!' To this the Control Officer replied, 'Don't be silly, Archer, Wirraways can't shoot down Zeros.' 'Well, sir,' continued Archer, 'I went in to look at the wreck off Gona and I saw this thing in front of me and it had red spots on it, so I gave it a burst and it appeared to fall into the sea.' Within a few minutes, a dozen telephone calls from observers all around the Gona area confirmed Archer's story. While on a tactical reconnaissance mission over the Japanese ship wrecked in the sea off Gona, Archer and his observer, Sergeant J.F. Coulston, had sighted the Zero 1,000 feet below. After diving on the Japanese aircraft, they had fired a long burst into it with the Wirraway's two Vickers .303 machine guns, causing the Zero to crash into the sea. Archer was later awarded the DFC for his exploit.

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Ian R

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Post #: 10
RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 10:23:25 PM   
denisonh


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SO true Pauk.

I think that the point is less so much the "Zero Bonus" as that the A to A model itself is "dorked".

In the world of data modeling, discussion about parameters is pointless when the model itself is the problem.

quote:

ORIGINAL: pauk

As Mike said, but there is one more thing....


Game fails to recreate history - if you have 200 ac in A2A combat... so, while it is reasonable to have Zero bonus, 50 zeros can shot down 200 early Allied "crap" planes... in reality this would never happend - those demoralised pilots would probably turn back or they would protect bombers and allow them to drop their bombs or torps (less likely but still...)

same goes for 50 Corsairs against 400 Zekes...

sorry guys... that is how it is working....



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Post #: 11
RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 10:27:45 PM   
mdiehl

 

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quote:

When speaking simply about quality of fighter planes, again it is difficult to single out any one characteristic and say that makes one plane superior to the other.


Agreed. AND YET PEOPLE DO EXACTLY THAT. Which is why many people will claim that the Zero was a substantially better plane than, say, the F4F or the P40. It was only substantially better at retaining energy in low-moderate speed fights. If all air combats had been fought at 250mph IAS, the idea that the Zero was a substantially better plane might have some merit. But such was not the case.

quote:

That said it is probably most accurate to compare the Hurricane, Buffalo and P-40 to the Oscar and the Zero to the Wildcat as they were the sorts of combat pairings you would most often see in the early days of the war. The Spitfire was not really a player in the pacific for the first several months.


Agreed. And based on early-war performance, the Oscar was a POS, the Buffalo was a POS, and the rest were pretty much a wash or slightly favored the allies with respect to capability. Yet capability only goes so far when one is way out at the end of an unreliable logistical pipe, fatigued, and cut off from reinforcement, rest & refit.

quote:

I think the battles over Rangoon and Burma were most characteristic of the early war fight between the Oscar and the Hurricanes and Buffalos. By all accounts the Oscar was as manueverable as the zero and difficult to dogfight.


At low speeds true. At higher speeds not true. And the Oscar was woefully underarmed. So why fixate on low-speed turning radius as the ONLY appropriate measure of a plane's worth?

quote:

RAF Pilots often reported having great difficulty turning the nimble Japanese fighters, which is they way they were trained to fight. So in the beginning the Hurricane and certainly the Buffalo, used the way the pilots were trained to use them, did not match up well with the Oscar and certainly not the Zero. Actually some of the commanders in the RAF were already aware of this problem at the outbreak of the war, but it took time to train the pilots on new tactics.


Yet despite all of that the loss rates at least for Hurricanes was roughly on par with the loss rates of Oscars. What the 'canes and Buffaloes lacked in Horsepower they made up in ability to sustain battle damage from Oscars. When you consider the positional advantages and superior numbers, as well as interior supply and the depth of preparation prior to the war, if the Japanese planes were truly better, and the Japanese pilots truly better, they ought to have achieved far more than they did and at less cost to themselves.

quote:

The historical result of the air combat over Burma, which is difficult to follow because claims on both sides were wildly exagerated, tended to favor a draw to a slight edge going to the RAF, but its primary opponent was often the Oscar.


Agreed. So why would anyone claim that the Oscar was a better plane flown by better pilots? After all, the Allied logistical situation in Burma made the Japanese look like logistical masters. Which they weren't by a long shot. But at the start of the war, the Japanese had necessary fuel, supplies, munitions, parts, and reserves where they were needed. The Allies did not. Likewise, the Japanese had secure areas for rest & refit. The Allies did not. Under the circumstances, the Japanese *ought* to have done far better, were it the case that both their a.c. and their pilots were substantially better.

quote:

Similar statements could be made when looking at a match up between either P-40s or Wildcats vs the Zero. The flight characteristics of the US fighters was nothing special. Speed, maneuverability and climb rates were simply adequate. Where the Wildcat stood out was its armor, or I have often thought a better way of putting this is that it stood out because it had so much armor and still had good flight characteristics. However, once again US pilots took it on the chin when they tried to turn with the nimble Japanese fighters.


Your data seems incomplete. The F4F had a better roll rate (which is one component of maneuverability) than the A6M at almost every air speed. Not so at speeds lower than something like 200 mph IAS, but that is below the cruising speed of most of the a.c. in the war and atypical of any combat. At IAS in excess of 320 mph, the F4F could actually out roll and out turn a Zero. In the interval from roughly 280 mph to 320, the two were so close in performance as to be substantially the same. The only edge the Zero had there was in level flight top speed. The Zero of course did not lose energy as quickly in a low-speed turn, which is why after the first major engagement (Coral Sea, an action in which F4Fs largely defeated the A6Ms), American F4F drivers were coached to keep their indicated airspeed high in combat. Didn't matter whether you were turning *as long as you were going 280+ mph when you were doing it*.

quote:

As a sidenote I would not include the P-39, it was nothing more than a stop gap and unless operating at low altitude was a poor fighter plane. It's historical record reflects this too.


At low altitude the P-39 was a match for any Zero, as long as the P-39 was not caught right after take-off or during landing. It's performance flaw was above about 12,000 feet. Below that it was substantially faster than any A6M in sustained level flight, and it had much better MGs. The 37mm of the P39 wasn't worth a toss against fighters, but against a bomber such as a Betty it was pretty devastating. Japanese pilots attacking PM lamented the fact that the American 39 drivers would not climb to their altitude to engage.. which is a reflection on the poor qualities of the P-39 at climbing to high altitude. Notably, however, the A6M drivers weren't enthusiastic about descending to the P-39s altitude to engage, because a P-30 moving in on you at 350 mph had every advantage over an A6M. The 39 was faster, more maneuverable, tougher, and better armed.

The only historical regret one should feel about the P-39 was her lack of a turbosupercharger. Had the USAAF left the dratted things in the production Airacobras, the P-39 would have been the best fighter of the war until the advent of the FW-190.

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Post #: 12
RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 10:45:00 PM   
pauk


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At least, we can enoy in another original debate....

quote:

ORIGINAL: denisonh

SO true Pauk.

I think that the point is less so much the "Zero Bonus" as that the A to A model itself is "dorked".

In the world of data modeling, discussion about parameters is pointless when the model itself is the problem.

quote:

ORIGINAL: pauk

As Mike said, but there is one more thing....


Game fails to recreate history - if you have 200 ac in A2A combat... so, while it is reasonable to have Zero bonus, 50 zeros can shot down 200 early Allied "crap" planes... in reality this would never happend - those demoralised pilots would probably turn back or they would protect bombers and allow them to drop their bombs or torps (less likely but still...)

same goes for 50 Corsairs against 400 Zekes...

sorry guys... that is how it is working....





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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:01:42 PM   
denisonh


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Another aspect of the problem of assessing the relative effectiveness of aircraft is that it is ONLY a weapon.

Combat is not a simple activity. Evaluating the effectiveness of a collective event as a function of the weapon is an oversimplification, as it is really a matter of employment.

Weapon effectiveness is only one contributing factor of a unit's relative combat power.

Leadership, doctrine, and training can have a much bigger impact on the overall capability of the unit. The German campaign in France in 1940 brings this to mind. The German tanks were not better than the French counterparts, but inferior in a number of ways. The overwhelming victory was for the most part a function of doctrine(techniques, tactics and procedures) Leadership, and preparation (planning, training and logistics).

The initial unpreparedness of the Allies may be in part be attributed to poor leadership, doctrine, and preparedness. Not all applied in all cases. The anecdotal evidence of early war mistakes of trying to use tactics ill suited for the aircraft, such as dogfighting with a P-40 against a Zero rather than "Boom and Zoom", probably are a contributing factor to the initial Japanese successes.

Replacement of peacetime leaders with practical experience using wartime criteria combined with the improved doctrine and training adapted to lessons learned would result in improvements in combat efficiency WITHOUT NECESSARILY CHANGING AIRCRAFT.

Associating combat effectiveness independent of these factors can lead to some skewed conclusions IMO. The main problem with one model to span the war is precisely that both sides adapted doctrine, tactics, training, and weapons as the war progressed. It is hard to attribute the successes and failures strictly to the aircraft and its technical specifications alone.

I believe the over reliance on individual aircraft engagements places is the major reason the Air to Air model is skewed and overly bloody. It should be treated as more of a aggregated activity and modeled as such. Hard to account for tactical employment when it is a "line up and shoot" each other" affair.

Technology can only be an effective edge if employed properly. Put stabilization gear on a tank without a doctrinal change (shoot while moving), and the associated crew training (how to use it), and that technological change does not translate to combat effectiveness.

Edit: Spelling and grammar

< Message edited by denisonh -- 6/26/2007 11:07:20 PM >


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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:08:07 PM   
denisonh


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quote:

ORIGINAL: pauk



At least, we can enoy in another original debate....

quote:

ORIGINAL: denisonh

SO true Pauk.

I think that the point is less so much the "Zero Bonus" as that the A to A model itself is "dorked".

In the world of data modeling, discussion about parameters is pointless when the model itself is the problem.

quote:

ORIGINAL: pauk

As Mike said, but there is one more thing....


Game fails to recreate history - if you have 200 ac in A2A combat... so, while it is reasonable to have Zero bonus, 50 zeros can shot down 200 early Allied "crap" planes... in reality this would never happend - those demoralised pilots would probably turn back or they would protect bombers and allow them to drop their bombs or torps (less likely but still...)

same goes for 50 Corsairs against 400 Zekes...

sorry guys... that is how it is working....







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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:11:43 PM   
mdiehl

 

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quote:

The initial unpreparedness of the Allies may be in part be attributted to poor leadership, doctrine, and preparedness. Not all applied in all cases. The anecdotal evidence of early war mistakes of trying to use tactics ill suited for the aircraft, such as dogfighting with a P-40 against a Zero rather than"Boom and Zoom", probably are a contributing factor to the inital Japanese successes.


IMO this misses the mark. In some respects Allied doctrine and training were definitely superior. Nor was the admonition ever against turning with a zero. It was always against turning with a zero AT LOW SPEED. If one reads enough AARs from early engagements one can find plenty of examples of Allied planes turning inside zeros, NOT just engaging in high speed passes (which is what one generally means by boom & zoom). The successful turning engagements occur at high speed. That is why most of the USN squadron commanders got the word out to keep indicated airspeed high. Note, the general admonition was not "Do not turn with a Zero." It was "Keep your airspeed up!"

The Japanese had their own suite of rude shocks when facing Allied aircraft. The propensity for Allied pilots to fight in teams being one. The generally superior firepower of Allied a.c. being another, and really good USN deflection shooting being a third. Given these, one could argue with as much authority, on the basis of doctrine, and of "lessons about the enemy gained the hard way in battle" for a P-40 Bonus or an F4F bonus. The allegation that all the hard lessons to be learned were lessons that the Western Allies had to learn about the Japanese is a poor assessment of the early war situation.

And, one can note, if the Allies are remarkable for learning from their combat experience, the Japanese are perhaps remarkable for NOT learning from their combat experience. That is why in 1943 they were still flying with three plane sections, why Japanese squadron commanders were being told that a really reliable radio was unncessary for air to air combat, and why valor and skill could overcome inadequacies in their aircraft (which were notorious by mid-1943). The Zero bonus thus seems predicated on the supposition that the early war Japanese must have been better because only the Allies were successful at learning from combat.

< Message edited by mdiehl -- 6/26/2007 11:16:21 PM >


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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:22:58 PM   
denisonh


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I also would say that "anecdotal" evidence is not the best when evaluating effectiveness either, as I am not that well read on on many specifics of the engagements and their accompnying flight reports to reference. I still beleive that there were some very unprepared units on the Allied side pre war for a number of reasons, and some much more prepared.

You are right about it being more of an airspeed issue, but I would also submit that it was not something that was universally acknowledged pre war by the USAAF. They seemed to be slower to adapt than the Navy. Claire Chennault seemed to think this was the case.

quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

quote:

The initial unpreparedness of the Allies may be in part be attributted to poor leadership, doctrine, and preparedness. Not all applied in all cases. The anecdotal evidence of early war mistakes of trying to use tactics ill suited for the aircraft, such as dogfighting with a P-40 against a Zero rather than"Boom and Zoom", probably are a contributing factor to the inital Japanese successes.


IMO this misses the mark. In some respects Allied doctrine and training were definitely superior. Nor was the admonition ever against turning with a zero. It was always against turning with a zero AT LOW SPEED. If one reads enough AARs from early engagements one can find plenty of examples of Allied planes turning inside zeros, NOT just engaging in high speed passes (which is what one generally means by boom & zoom). The successful turning engagements occur at high speed. That is why most of the USN squadron commanders got the word out to keep indicated airspeed high. Note, the general admonition was not "Do not turn with a Zero." It was "Keep your airspeed up!"

The Japanese had their own suite of rude shocks when facing Allied aircraft. The propensity for Allied pilots to fight in teams being one. The generally superior firepower of Allied a.c. being another, and really good USN deflection shooting being a third. Given these, one could argue with as much authority, on the basis of doctrine, and of "lessons about the enemy gained the hard way in battle" for a P-40 Bonus or an F4F bonus. The allegation that all the hard lessons to be learned were lessons that the Western Allies had to learn about the Japanese is a poor assessment of the early war situation.



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Post #: 17
RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:32:25 PM   
Mike Scholl

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

quote:

What I think it really reflects is the mindset of Allied pilots at the beginning of the war. Most seem to have assumed that the Japanese planes and pilots were inferior, and that they could "dogfight" with Zekes and Oscars. Giving the Japs a "bonus" while the Allied pilots were being disuaded of their misconceptions seems a reasonable means of potraying reality.



I think that is baloney.



You're certainly entitled to whatever opinion you wish... And I'm entitled to believe that at least half of your "self description" is dead-on accurate.

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Post #: 18
RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:41:31 PM   
niceguy2005


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl
At low speeds true. At higher speeds not true. And the Oscar was woefully underarmed. So why fixate on low-speed turning radius as the ONLY appropriate measure of a plane's worth?

because that is the way the allied pilots, in particular the RAF, but also the USAAF were trained to fight in the early days of the war. Remember in Europe the RAF fighters could often out turn the Germans...this is to a large extent what the zero bonus is about, which is why witp represents this aspect pretty well.

quote:


Agreed. So why would anyone claim that the Oscar was a better plane flown by better pilots?

Looking back over this discussion I don't believe anyone has made that claim about the Oscar.

It is interesting to note that the RAF pilots flying over Rangoon had probably better thank their lucky stars they often flew against Oscars and not Zeros, for while the Oscar pilots could still get on the RAF 6 as long as the RAF pilot was trying to dogfight and turn with the Oscars, the Oscar , not having as much firepower, had a hardtime making the kill.

quote:

quote:

Similar statements could be made when looking at a match up between either P-40s or Wildcats vs the Zero. The flight characteristics of the US fighters was nothing special. Speed, maneuverability and climb rates were simply adequate. Where the Wildcat stood out was its armor, or I have often thought a better way of putting this is that it stood out because it had so much armor and still had good flight characteristics. However, once again US pilots took it on the chin when they tried to turn with the nimble Japanese fighters.


Your data seems incomplete. The F4F had a better roll rate...


I'm not sure I'm following your logic. On the one hand you argue that specific characteristics aren't important, such as the Zeros ability to out turn any early war allied fighter, yet then you talk about specific turning characteristics of the Wildcat. The Wildcat was a solid early war fighter, as I have said several times before, and when taking the planes as a whole, a match for the zero if used properly....I think this is all represented in witp.

quote:

quote:

As a sidenote I would not include the P-39, it was nothing more than a stop gap and unless operating at low altitude was a poor fighter plane. It's historical record reflects this too.


At low altitude the P-39 was a match for any Zero, as long as the P-39 was not caught right after take-off or during landing. It's performance flaw was above about 12,000 feet. Below that it was substantially faster than any A6M in sustained level flight, and it had much better MGs. The 37mm of the P39 wasn't worth a toss against fighters, but against a bomber such as a Betty it was pretty devastating. Japanese pilots attacking PM lamented the fact that the American 39 drivers would not climb to their altitude to engage.. which is a reflection on the poor qualities of the P-39 at climbing to high altitude. Notably, however, the A6M drivers weren't enthusiastic about descending to the P-39s altitude to engage, because a P-30 moving in on you at 350 mph had every advantage over an A6M. The 39 was faster, more maneuverable, tougher, and better armed.

The only historical regret one should feel about the P-39 was her lack of a turbosupercharger. Had the USAAF left the dratted things in the production Airacobras, the P-39 would have been the best fighter of the war until the advent of the FW-190.

Yes the design decisions made on the P-39 are baffling. Still, as an interceptor it was poor because of its pathetic climb rate; it just couldn't catch its prey. As an air superiority fighter it was poor because a zero pilot could decline combat anytime and simply scoot up to an alititude that was favorable to it.

The record of engagements between the P-39 and the Zero were few...the P-39 just simply couldn't catch them most of the time. In a fight on the P-39s terms it didn't do to bad, but the problem was it was too easy to force the P-39 into a fight on unfavorable terms....this is also represented very well in witp.


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RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:57:44 PM   
dtravel


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A thought that occurs to me reading this thread.

As I understand it, in real life during the first six months of the war the Japanese succeeded beyond even their most optimistic hopes.  But in PBEM games, a Japanese player who only does as well as Japan did in real life is considered a poor player, with the "standard" being expansion well beyond what was achieved in real life.

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Post #: 20
RE: Early war air power - 6/26/2007 11:58:19 PM   
mdiehl

 

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quote:

Because that is the way the allied pilots, in particular the RAF, but also the USAAF were trained to fight in the early days of the war. Remember in Europe the RAF fighters could often out turn the Germans...this is to a large extent what the zero bonus is about, which is why witp represents this aspect pretty well.


I have yet to see any documentation that American ed pilots were indoctrinated to continue to pursue enemy a.c. in a turning engagement to the degree that their aircraft were sluggish. if you wish to argue that UK/Cwealth veterans were at an actual disadvantage because they were used to outmaneuvering ME110s and ME 109s, maybe there is something to that. But Japanese pilots had much experience with Chinese pilots that lead them to take risks in front of Allied pilots, and that experience too weighed negatively against the Japanese.

The big Japanese victories over slow speed enemies seem to have occurred when the Japanese had a huge positional advantage. In stand up meeting engagements, the allies held their own. The lesson I derive from this, from a CONSIM perspective, is that the burden should be on the Japanese player to achieve positional advantage, which in turn tends to derive from good operational planning, a fast operational tempo, and cutting enemy lines of supply and communication, or surprise carrier raids. It should not be a "freebie" as is the ZB.

quote:

However, once again US pilots took it on the chin when they tried to turn with the nimble Japanese fighters.


Once again, that is incorrect. At high speeds, F4Fs could out-turn zeros. That is how they were able to get good deflection shots in zoom-climbing zeros. And that is why the admonition was to keep airspeed high, rather than to try to turn with zeros. In a sustained fight the energy burning characteristics of the F4F required mutual support or disengagement. But for meeting engagements at high speed, generally it was the Zero that took it on the chin. That is why from the outset (Coral Sea for example) F4Fs generally shot down more zeroes than they lost to zeroes.

quote:

On the one hand you argue that specific characteristics aren't important, such as the Zeros ability to out turn any early war allied fighter, yet then you talk about specific turning characteristics of the Wildcat.


It was an example of how one single attribute of the zero in one narrow range of its flight envelope had become the sole criterion for assessment of the plane.

quote:

The record of engagements between the P-39 and the Zero were few...the P-39 just simply couldn't catch them most of the time.


It's not true. At altitudes below 10,000 feet a P-39 could handily outrun a zero. So it all came down to the margin of distance between the two. With a 5 minute warning a Zero could get away. The same could be said of the P-39. In a meeting engagement at 8000 feet, it was anyone's fight with the P-39 owning the initial advantage.


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RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 12:06:39 AM   
jwilkerson


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quote:

ORIGINAL: dtravel

A thought that occurs to me reading this thread.

As I understand it, in real life during the first six months of the war the Japanese succeeded beyond even their most optimistic hopes.  But in PBEM games, a Japanese player who only does as well as Japan did in real life is considered a poor player, with the "standard" being expansion well beyond what was achieved in real life.


Well as usually happens in the Zero Bonus threads (of which this is the 83rd or 84th I forget) we have really two sub-threads. One talking about the game and one talking about history. The two sub-threads usually ignore each other, as is happening this time, and just repeat their arguments from the previous 82 or is it 83 incarnations of this thread.



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Post #: 22
RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 12:07:49 AM   
Nikademus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

That is why from the outset (Coral Sea for example) F4Fs generally shot down more zeroes than they lost to zeroes.


Zeros shot down twice as many F4F's as they lost to them at Coral Sea.



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RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 12:14:12 AM   
MineSweeper


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No Wildcat (any make) or Hellcat had a smaller intitial turn rate than a Zero IMO.....when turning at high speed, the plane was not the determined factor, it was the pilot that could withstand the highest G-forces.....

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RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 12:37:15 AM   
AmiralLaurent

 

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Mdhiel, I think the principal point over which I disagree with you is your notion of experience and the influence it had on battle.

You said: "AFAIC once pilots have been trained to a certain standard, the biggest difference their training can make is in operational loss rates and the propensity to nurse a badly damaged (but still flying, sort of) aircraft home. Some combat experience helps but again, beyond a certain point I don't think it matters much and it can be simulated by advanced training (as the USN and USAAF still do in their advanced tactical training programs). "

IMHO, the experience of a pilot should include how well he can fly and fire, but also his knowledge of his own aircraft, and his knowledge of the enemy aircraft. What is a "killer move" against one aircraft could leave you at the mercy of another... The fact is that you have to learn how your enemy fights and flies too.

This last factor is one of the reasons because, for example, many German aces with hundred of sorties were lost some sorties after transferring from Eastern Front to West, or the other way. The tricks they used before did no more work.


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RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 12:42:46 AM   
mdiehl

 

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quote:

Zeros shot down twice as many F4F's as they lost to them at Coral Sea.


I do not believe this claim is correct. Seems like Lundstrom put the number at (as I recall, it WAS a long time ago) roughly 1.2:1 favoring the F4F at Coral Sea. Somewhat better results for F4Fs at Midway. Some day if anyone at Matrix shows a propensity to let stats guide the sim I might try to run it down again. But at any rate as Jwilkerson notes there is that which was vs that which the game presents and ne'er the twain shall meet.

One of these days I'll write the definitive ww2 consim board game and then I'll get to enjoy the hotseat.

quote:

No Wildcat (any make) or Hellcat had a smaller intitial turn rate than a Zero IMO.....when turning at high speed, the plane was not the determined factor, it was the pilot that could withstand the highest G-forces.....


That is incorrect, to my knowledge, on several counts. 1. The F4F had a higher turn rate at high speed because it could easily initiate a turn much faster than a Zero. At very high speeds (that both planes could only achieve in a dive) the Wildcat could EASILY out-turn a Zero (besting both the Zero's turn RATE and the Zero's turn RADIUS). That is why the standard accepted disengagement tactic for F4Fs was quickly recognized as the high-speed turning dive out. 2. The Zeke could not withstand G-forces that came close to blacking out her pilot, and most WW2 aircraft could only generate such forces in pull-throughs and push-throughs, or (more commonly) when in uncontrollable death spirals. 3. At high speeds, Zeros were capable of generating Gs enough to pass the threshold of structural integrity of their aircraft when trying to turn, as could happen in an attempt to pull out of a high speed dive. That is a nice way of saying the control surfaces would be damaged.

< Message edited by mdiehl -- 6/27/2007 12:53:01 AM >


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Post #: 26
RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 12:52:01 AM   
mdiehl

 

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quote:

Mdhiel, I think the principal point over which I disagree with you is your notion of experience and the influence it had on battle.


Except that I am not sure that we disagree. I think I said "beyond a certain point" experience was not so important. Case in point, the USN (even in WW2) putting together their elementary advanced fighter tactics program (that evolved into Top Gun) and the USAF's equivalent efforts.

quote:

IMHO, the experience of a pilot should include how well he can fly and fire, but also his knowledge of his own aircraft,


I think all of these are properly covered by normal training and by that standard anyone in any Allied aircraft was basically trained well enough to do the job as well as any Japanese or German pilot... save perhaps some mid-war Soviet pilots. (Whose initial attrition rates were horrid. What'd the sovs do to rebuild pilot quality?)

quote:

and his knowledge of the enemy aircraft. What is a "killer move" against one aircraft could leave you at the mercy of another... The fact is that you have to learn how your enemy fights and flies too.


Agreed. The thing is, vis a vis the Zero Bonus, the advocates of the Zero Bonus forget that the Japanese had every bit as much to learn about allied capability as the Allies had to learn about Japanese capability. And it shows. If you read the A2A battles of the early war and Solomons the Japanese are fairly consistently chagrined at the durability of enemy a.c. They are also often taking risks that put them too close to Allied a.c. in a turn or overtaking pass. Possibly that is because their earlier OPfor, the CNAF, were flying craft that were lightly armed (comparable to the Oscar) and not particularly well trained in gunnery.

So a zoom-climb at close range in front of a CNAF pilot in an Italian made biplane armed with 2x.30cal was far less risky than the same maneuver in front of an F4F flown by a USN pilot armed with 6x.50cal.

quote:

This last factor is one of the reasons because, for example, many German aces with hundred of sorties were lost some sorties after transferring from Eastern Front to West, or the other way. The tricks they used before did no more work.


And I agree that this may have affected the tactics of early war Hurricane pilots. I see no compelling reason to think USAAF pilots flying ANYTHING were particularly misinformed about their enemy. Ignorant maybe, but no more ignorant than Japanese pilots were about the P-40 and F4F. And early war USN pilots routinely beat Japanese pilots flying Zeroes, albeit sometimes by small margins.

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Post #: 27
RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 1:10:59 AM   
m10bob


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mdiehl

I'll address the last first.

quote:

The point on which I would disagree is that any of this indicates that the developers of the game lacked an understanding of early war aircraft.


I can find no other explanation for the "zero bonus" or the generally higher exp values of Japanese pilots. That said, this error is shared by many game designers. The reasons are sociological I think, beginning with the tendency for history's losers of big wars to try to ennoble their cause. Thus the histories from the losers pov typically characterize their effort as fundamentally serving a bad purpose but bravely, even nobly fought, etc, and their superior individual prowess only overcome by grinding attrition, until at long last, having expended the last round from their revolver and hurled at at the onrushing foe, they were dragged down by the zombie-barbarian hoard, etc. That is pretty much how Sakai (who is the most widely read Japanese aviation spindoctor) and pretty much EVERY german general writes of the war. And the tale was convenient for people like Morison, who were pushing issues in order to compete for DoD funds for his branch postwar.

quote:

The Allied frontline main fighter planes were nearly a match for the Zero and probably equal to the Oscar...of course its a bit of an apples and oranges comparrision unless one also considers tactics and intended use, etc.


The Allied front line planes were overwhelmingly superior to the Oscar and an even trade on the Zero. The Oscar was a flying deathbox. The AVG ate those things for lunch and dinner regularly. Not because the AVG was full of special hotshot pilots. They were ordinary pre-war US pilots looking for something different. But rather because the P-40 was so vastly superior to the Oscar, that the only way an Oscar could be called a match for a P-40 was to nail one on the ground or taking off or landing.

The A6M had *some* superior characteristics. Better low speed acceleration. Better low speed maneuverability. Better low altitiude to speed, by a narrow marging, than the F4F, and really great climb. But its top speed was lower than that of the P-40, P-39 (low altitude) and Spit. And at high speed it was less maneuverable than the F4F, the Spit, the P-40. It was truly very fragile and armed with the worst exploding-shell cannon of the war (ballistically & load out terms). Ultimately while the A6M was a good industrial solution (saving materials and fuel in operation) it was a poor fighter for survival.

quote:

However, the Allies being woefully underprepared for the war didn't have that many fully functional frontline units and many of them were blasted apart at Hickam on 12/7. Add to this fact that while the allied pilots were well trained and cunning, they were inexperienced in battle and still made rookie mistakes.


Even the most experienced Japanese pilots made rookie mistakes. One lesson they seemed never to learn was to not pull up too close to an F4F. The overtaking tail pass, followed by a sharp climb (apparently intended to lure an American aircraft into an energy-burning stall climb) often resulted in death for the Japanese pilot, because 4 or more .50 call could dissassemble and flame any A6M faster than you can say "Banzai" and American deflection shooting was generally superior to anything the Japanese ever imagined.

quote:

Add to this the fact that many frontline units were not equipped with front line fighters at the outbreak of the war. The Brewster, P-36, P-35, P-26 and Wirraway were all horrible fighters.


Agreed on most of those. Funny you should laud the Oscar however and yet call the P-36 and P-35 horrible. As planes go they were the equal of the oscar in almost every respect except firepower (in which area these were superior to the Oscar). At PH, those P-36s that became airborne seem to have acquitted themselves well against Zeroes.

quote:

I would agree that you add to the above the facts that you mentioned, better logistics, better maintenance, superious numbers and you can see why Japan largely controlled the skies in the opening months of the war.

So, on the whole I would agree with your statement that when Allied top air units met Japanese top air units it was mostly a draw. However, since top Allied units were few in the beginning days of the war and they could not be everywhere, Japan still controlled the air.


Yes. But that is the key point. The Allies "front line" planes and pilots were, for the most part, man for man and plane for plane, as good as any pilot or plane the Japanese could muster. You are of course right that the P-26s (which were extremely uncommon), the Wirraways, and a couple others weren't up to measure. But AFAIC the Allies never really considered these "front line" planes. The only really inferior plane that seems to have been treated as a "front line" plane, briefly, was the F2A3 Buffalo. If you want to call it a hopeless aircraft that seems fair.






What are you smokin'?

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(in reply to mdiehl)
Post #: 28
RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 1:14:57 AM   
mdiehl

 

Posts: 5998
Joined: 10/21/2000
Status: offline
quote:

What are you smokin'?




If this becomes a flamewar I'm gonna enjoy reading about how it's all Doggie's fault.

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Show me a fellow who rejects statistical analysis a priori and I'll show you a fellow who has no knowledge of statistics.

Didn't we have this conversation already?

(in reply to m10bob)
Post #: 29
RE: Early war air power - 6/27/2007 1:15:48 AM   
niceguy2005


Posts: 12523
Joined: 7/4/2005
From: Super secret hidden base
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: jwilkerson
Well as usually happens in the Zero Bonus threads (of which this is the 83rd or 84th I forget)...


it has to be at least the 88th.



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Artwork graciously provided by Dixie

(in reply to jwilkerson)
Post #: 30
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