Ki-94... Well, it costs the same to make as an Oscar II ( once online ) so with appropriate planning of supply usage, research and production and mating those appropriately with strategic needs I believe enough can be made to be useful. You've got to bear in mind that in a game beginning 7th December 1941 I would always have my research and production plans for 1945 planned from Day 1 and decide my strategy and operations on the basis of that.
True, but starting on Dec 7th doesn't give you any inherent advantage in pushing the deployment date of the airframe forward. Sure, you may see some progress on repairs to the R&D factories down to random chance as the war progresses, but in my experience it's rare that you'll get a R&D factory repaired to the optimum size 30 any earlier than a year before the arrival date. My understanding of the engine bonus is that it's dependant on R&D factories producing points (IOW repaired).
It's different of course if you capitalize on the upgrade chain to bring late war airframes forward but that doesn't apply here.
Of course, you could use R&D factory sizes smaller than 30, but then you're just introducing more random rolls.
I could be wrong as I've been away quite a while but I've never seen an AARed game feature proper planning research planning to focus research and production from 7th December 1941 to accelerate late-war planes combined with operational pauses to get the IJAF and IJNAF over the difficult months where a generation of planes is being skipped. In some games I've withdrawn the Japanese airforce from the front lines for months at a time in order to get through a period of decreased airplane production as I'm skipping a generation of planes via research. Do that twice during the war and plan your research and production from Day 1 with efficiency of supply and HI utilisation in mind and you can get very useful planes in early-1944 and paradigm-shifting planes in early 45 ( assuming PDU on etc obviously ). I believe that with proper planning the increased supply usage in the present is amortised by the decreased cost in supplies over time in the future due to decreased losses. Especially as an increased plane performance improves pilot survival rates, increases enemy losses and generally decreases losses in the future with consequent supply savings.
Yeah, going all in on late-war aircraft isn't something I recall seeing done either.
Withdrawing the Japanese air force is one solution to the mid-war airplane shift, but it's contingent upon having an opponent that won't capitalize on it or isn't in a position to do so. Considering that 1943 can often be the critical year in regards to determining the eventual outcome of a game, that's certainly a high-risk move to do it once, let alone twice. On top of that there's the fact that it gifts the tactical and strategic benifits of air superiority while the air force is grounded waiting for the wonderweapons, as well as the absolute gift of enabling the Allied player to build up squadron EXP with little to no opposition - I'm not sure if having the generational advantage in airframes is worth losing the pilot experience advantage...
Then again, it's not stupid if it works, and I do see the value in it.
So, in the short term it looks ruinously expensive, over the course of a 5 year war when you factor in decreased Japanese aerial losses, increased Allied aerial losses and a slowing in the rate of Allied advance I think it isn't that expensive at all. This sort of interesting what if is one of the reasons to play the game. Maybe I'm right, maybe I'm wrong. From my experience in game meeting mid-1943 Allied fighters with mid-1944 Japanese fighters is worth the cost and can delay the Allies long enough to bring the 1945 generation of planes into action. Obviously though, for Japan you've got to take into account SR ratings and so there is still a place for slightly inferior planes with SR1 or 2 to thicken low level CAP and which can be produced from an early stage allowing you to build a huge pool over time through lengthy periods of low to moderate level production.
I'm with you on the principle that the late-war airframes are by far the best investment. Thankfully the game meta has moved away from the massive production lines of Tojo fighters that went obsolete halfway through the game to something a bit more sensible.
If you can hold the Allies back from strategic bombing range into mid-44 and bring this plane into action at that point in time then, prior to kamikaze activation, you have a bomber which can bomb Allied forming up bases and, after kamikaze activation, you've got a plane which can attrit the Allied navy at a favourable ratio for Japan and slow the pace of their advances by providing a meaningful threat to naval TFs in areas which would have previously been safe. Whenever I've gotten them I tend to commit all of my Patsy to Kamikaze duties. With a 15% hit rate (less vs warships, more vs merchants) I can expect to have 45 hits on Allied naval ships from a production of 300 Patsy per month. From an autovictory point of view I expect that Patsys will cause better than a 1:1 exchange ratio, which is far more than the 2:1 I need to make it worth my while and more effective than building 600 D5Ys which will complicate Allied SLOC security requirements less and secure fewer than 45 hits per month, on average.
Obviously strategic bombing impacts on this but, really, once that enters the fray Japan has already fallen off the cliff edge and it is just a matter of how quickly and messily you hit the rocks below.
Bottom line though, you can't get them early enough to matter without planning from it from Day 1 and making massive sacrifices to get them. Those sacrifices necessitate strategic compromises which I've never seen implemented cohesively in an AAR but which I've found to be worth the cost. YMMV of course and that's one of the nice things about the game. There are MANY different approaches and many of these approaches are valid. It all depends on how well the approach you take fits into your grand strategic objective and how it is suited vs the particular opponent you play. Aim to get the super-planes into action in mid-44 but collapse in late-43 and you'll never get to see them in action . That tends to be the most common scenario played out in AARs from what I can see.
I don't really see the Pasty's value in attacking ground targets much - between Allied flak, the nightmare it would be to try to get escorting fighters for it and defensive CAP I can't see it being anything more than an airframe that would force the Allies to be honest about rear-area CAP to stop raids plastering some planes on the ground or smash up some ships at anchorage. That has a great deal of value in itself however, but the G3M3 can do that, and you get it much earlier. However, giving the IJA an airframe that can do it gives you that much more flexibility.
I'm completely sold on the use of the Patsy as a kami however. The only two downsides I see are that the late arrival date means there won't be any serious pools of this airframe, so what you produce is what you get. The other is that you'll be lucky to get fighters to fly in escort mode on strikes with this thing, so it's a write off against opposing CAP.
Have you seen any evidence that it's amazing max altitude gives it an easier time breaching CAP? If so, this airframe has me very excited.