That's part of my point Brad, It's never been right. The Dauntless had a range about equal to the Zero. Of course the game doesn't handle widely differing ranges on the carrier air groups very well.
There have been discussions here and on the old pacwar mailing list about range. Many of them. Similar points have been made by people for 20+ years. Someone says the range of an aircraft is x and someone else says yes, but not combat loaded, and someone else says its longer with a drop tank, and someone else says there's no... what's the term... linger time?... over the target at that range.
Anyway, I've seen nothing in any of those multiple discussions convincing enough to make changes in the range of significant numbers of aircraft. Of course, anyone can modify the ranges to their liking, regardless of community consensus... as long as their opponent agrees!
As far as "never been right" goes, well, the contraints of the game are that the same forumla for application of the range rating applies to all aircraft. Range to ships and LCUs is as rated, to ports, airfields, and factories 1.5 the rating (rounded down), and over a certain range bombers may carry a lighter load based on a comparision between capacity and weapon warhead. WHen changing the range rating because of one characterisitc, it must be considered whether there are resultant consequences more undesireable than the one being corrected.
Or, in short terms, I don't have an answer to a problem that has been discussed by many knowlegeable people over a 20 year period without coming up with an answer.