I have seen snippets of very interesting discussion in various threads on Japanese night fighter production, but as I am in the beginning of my first campaign as the Japanese, I would like to ask for the latest advice on the issue. I am playing Scenario 1 with PDU On.
This is my plan thus far - could you please let me know if there are serious flaws in it or suggest a better path?
IJNAF: Irving J1N1-Sa (first going through the J1N1-S to speed up research) then the C6N1-S Myrt for the end game.
IJAAF: Dinah Ki-46-III KAI then the Randy Ki-102c for the end game.
For the IJNAF, i'm thinking the Myrt over the Denko as the Denko seems to have good firepower but has high maintenance and comes pretty late. I am second guessing myself however and wondering if I should concentrate on the Frances instead?
For the IJAAF, I am concerned by the lack of armor on the Dinah - is that reason enough to go for the Nick instead? Is the Peggy worth thinking about?
Finally, any reason to contemplate the Zero and Judy versions?
I very much appreciate thoughts and advice on the issue, especially from the veterans who have experienced the late game. Thanks!
Pretty much all the options for IJ night fighters are bad, to be frank.
My main reflection is that with night fighters, the goal isn't to generate kills directly. It's more to generate disruption to the air raids (and limit damage to your units) and inflict airframe damage on Allied bombers (to cause OPS loses and excessive repair time for Allied 4E squadrons).
That changes the valuable attributes for your night fighter aircraft in some areas compared to normal daytime air combat. There's a greater element of quantity over quality.
The dynamics of night air combat are such that the attacking bombers tend to be broken up over several smaller strikes, so there is great value on a strong and durable Japanese night CAP - that's a challenge given how punishing defensive fire from 4E's can be on fairly fragile (and mostly unarmoured) night fighters).
With the IJN, going the J1N1-Sa is the right move. It comes fairly early, and has radar. They will die to droves to defensive fire from 4E's, so plan accordingly with fairly deep pools. I recall using the Judy and possibly the Zero NF as well - I was not hugely impressed with either. My go-to IJN transition would probably be the Frances - armour, durable, radar and a pair of fairly decent guns. Too slow to catch B-29s, but at least likely to hang around through 20 penny packet raids.
For the IJA, it's a similar story. The Nick gets a place on the roster by virtue of arriving early and enabling you to build a big stockpile. The Dinah died in droves for me thanks to the poor durability and lack of armour. Best bet for a transition is to work on bringing the Randy forward and accepting that you'll need to live without the radar till 10/45.
I'd write off the Peggy thanks to the woeful accuracy on the 75mm cannon.
Worth considering bolstering night fighters with regular fighter squadrons on night CAP, just for the quantity aspect.
Excellent food for thought - thank you!