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The Planes That WON the War in the Pacific

Discussion in 'Air War in the Pacific' started by EagleSquadron12, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. bushmaster

    bushmaster Member

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    Fighters are great things to have; especially if yours are better than theirs. They allow you to more effectively protect your fleet, ride shotgun for your strike forces, strafe the bad guys, etc. While there are certainly exceptions, as a very general rule, they don't do as good a job of sinking the bad guys as do your strike craft. I don't know that there was a single aircraft that was the deciding factor for the Allies in the Pacific. However, if one accepts the notion that there was such an entity, I don't know that one could make a better argument than the Dauntless.
     
  2. NavyLT

    NavyLT New Member

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    Sure, I'd agree the Navy would have lived with the F4 for it's carrier-based fighter if the F6 wasn't developed; but the F6 was. Besides, the numbers flesh out that the F6 was the king of the Pacific skies.

    While I'd certainly agree the F4 out performed the F6, the F6's success in history is largely based on his time and place in history, IMO. Not the least of which is June 19-20 of '44. It just was the perfect storm of killer success. Japanese inferiority on all aspects of air combat is among the greatest reasons behind that 19:1 kill ratio the Hellcat enjoyed. The Hellcat's design, the American fighter pilot spirit, fighter tactics, training, and the access to all those inferior Japanese planes flown with inadequate pilots using inadequate tactics all contributed to that perfect storm. The F6 had flaws, for sure, but none that really mattered.
     
  3. NavyLT

    NavyLT New Member

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    I do agree with you 'bushmaster', there is not one aircraft, fighter, bomber or otherwise, that can be credited. I There is maybe a short list of key machines or factors that credited the U.S. with victory. Carrier tactics and the platforms therein are surely on that list. I'd "second" your nomination for the SBD too. If between the two F6F or SBD, I'd still lean to "The Cat."

    Of course, who cannot say that Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa's battle against multiple Zeros isn't perhaps the greatest, at least one of the greatest, air-to-air engagements in the war. Such a great story, and pilot, in such a great plane. Of course, scuttling IJN carriers and other combatants is it's greatest contribution that is clearly on that short list of keys to victory.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I find it hard to give too much credit to the young cats...don't get me wrong of ALL the manufacturers and designers Grumman is my favourite but the early cats were an adaptation of a bi-plane:

    [​IMG]

    As the Hurricane was an adaptation of the bi-plane the Hawker Fury:
    [​IMG]
    The Poms updated with the Spitfire and later modern Hawker designs (Tempest-Typhoon)
    Once the Bearcat came out - really too late to see action, they had caught up...I just don't see why the "barrel" fighters were persisted with..?
     
  5. NavyLT

    NavyLT New Member

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    It's all in the numbers. Certainly the laminar flow design of the P-51 was a big leap forward for speed and efficiency. But regardless, in my opinion, of the Wildcat/Hellcat/Bearcat development roots to a bi-plane design, most WWII fighters were only as good as their power plant. And, the design was around that. I'd say the Grumman designs were more an adaptation of the radial engine than a biplane. And, at that time, for good reason with U.S. radial engine designs available. All that armor and self-sealing tanks made the Hellcat as good as it was, as much as its performance, and that only happened because of the P&W R-2800 series engine. No matter, the Hellcat's numbers speak to it's contribution, which I say, is utterly outstanding.
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Completely agree...I was going to say in my former post that if you strap that engine to a brick you would still get performance...
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    They did...We know it as the P-47 Thunderbolt.
     
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  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, the F4F was originally designed as a biplane. However, it's short stubby fuselage, a hallmark of Grumman's designs so far, had more to do with accommodating Leroy Grumman's distinct landing gear, than any biplane/monoplane thing. You see, before Grumman was making aircraft, the were making landing gear for Loening. It was not until the F6F and TBF that you see Grumman aircraft with landing gear that fold into the wings instead of the fuselage. Hence your "barrel" aircraft up to and including the F4F.
     
  9. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Did you know Grumman designed and built the LEM for the Apollo missions? Landed 6 times and took off again flawlessly...completely changed the design when they realised they were a tonne overweight..! This is also the same LEM that saved the lives of the Apollo 13 astronaughts...just another reason love Grumman...
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  10. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    From RNZAF - RNZAF in World War II

    By early 1942 the threat grew for a possible Japanese invasion of New Zealand. All available aircraft were allotted to shadow defence squadrons under the Forces Available For Anti-Invasion (FAFAI) scheme. Plans for arming even Tiger Moth biplane trainers and other second line aircraft were put into action.​

    New Zealand was never invaded, .... must have been the armed Tiger Moths kept the Japanese at bay.

    And on that note:

    The P40 Kittyhawk was the main fighter used by the RAAF in World War II, in greater numbers than the Spitfire.
    RAAF Kittyhawks played a crucial role in the South West Pacific theater.
    RNZAF P-40 squadrons were successful in air combat against the Japanese between 1942 and 1944. Their pilots claimed 100 aerial victories in P-40s, whilst losing 20 aircraft in combat.
    The overwhelming majority of RNZAF P-40 victories were scored against Japanese fighters, mostly Zeroes.
    The Japanese Army captured some P-40s and later operated a number in Burma. The Japanese appear to have had as many as 10 flyable P-40Es. For a brief period in 1943, a few of them were actually used operationally by 2 Hiko Chutai, 50 Hiko Sentai (2nd Air Squadron, 50th Air Regiment) in the defense of Rangoon.
    The P-40 was used by over two dozen countries during and after the war.
    The P-40 was the main USAAF fighter aircraft in the South West Pacific and Pacific Ocean theaters during 1941–42.
    The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack aircraft long after it was obsolete as a fighter. More than 13500 were built between 1939 and 1944. (Compared to F4U ca 12500 from '42-53, and F6F ca 12200 from '42-45).

    The P40 Kittyhawk was the aircraft the Allies had, when they needed aircraft in those dreadful early years.
     
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  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Also, the P-40 would have returned as a fighter with the P-40Q. Except, the
    P-51D was already in production, and it was not worth the logistical entanglements to produce.
     
  12. JJWilson

    JJWilson Active Member

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    The Arguments for the P-40 are certainly compelling, but even though it experienced much success and longevity the contributions made by the Wildcat and Hellcat, and even the Avenger outweigh that of the P-40. The P-40 was the best aircraft the U.S had at the very beginning of the war (along with the P-38), but it peaked in late 1942, not just in the pacific, but every where else. It would then be replaced by either P-38's or in some cases P-39's, which they intern would be replaced by the P-47 and P-51 later on. The P-40 also didn't take part in as many crucial and majorly strategic fights as the Wildcat and Hellcat, so even though it fought well against the Japanese and made a name for itself, I still think Grumman won it all for the U.S in the skies over the Pacific.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    P-39's replaced P-40's? The Soviets may have preferred them but I didn't think anyone else did.
     
  14. JJWilson

    JJWilson Active Member

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    I mean for the USAAF in New Guinea and only one other area, the P-39 as you siad wasn't loved by the U.S that much, but I recall hearing that the P-40's in New Guinea were replaced by the Aircobras, those P-40's were then given to Australia.
     
  15. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    It's not a bad thing, to peak at that moment in time, when your enemies are at their strongest...

    The P-40's longevity, for the entire duration of the Pacific War IMO,means no others can compete. It's importance is greater because it was a workhorse that was reliable from the beginning: China, Burma, India, New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand. Further, it was used as an advanced trainer. Not a glorious task, but an important one.

    For all the marvellous qualities of the later aircraft, once the quality of Japanese air force and Naval air nose-dived, almost of the allied air forces were also relegated to bomb-trucks. So even though the RNZAF fighter squadrons swapped to F4U's in 1944 (and were planning for P-51's), more NZ aces were made in the earlier aircraft. It didn't matter that Japan made 28,000+ aircraft in 1944. Already by 1943, the majority of the IJN's top aviators had been either shot down or lost to accidents. Add in the reticence of IJA to help IJN, and the attrition of land-based IJNAF in the battles of SWP, with the P-40.

    Before, during, and after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the USAAF's 49th Pursuit Group based in Darwin had P-40's...
    The USAAF 49th Fighter Group Over Darwin: A Forgotten Campaign | RealClearDefense
    Perhaps not Earth-shattering, but rather important for combating the intent to isolate Australia, they fended off more than 100 bombing raids.

    The fact that the "crucial" Carrier battles used carrier-based aircraft can't come as a surprise. But after the Battle of Midway, it was P-40's that were assigned to defend Henderson field (Midway), 'til '43. Again, not a glorious battle, but a trusted warhorse.

    F6F's and F4U's are cream in your coffee. Nice, but not absolutely necessary.
     
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  16. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    On 7 March 1942, the Japanese High Command decided upon the operations which would follow the so-called "First Stage Operations," which had been aimed at the occupation of the Netherlands East Indies and other areas of the Southern Resources Area. The second stage of operations which was thus adopted called for the continuation of major offensive operations in order to secure a long-term, unbeatable politico-strategic situation, after which additional active measures would be taken aimed at forcing Great Britain to capitulate and making the United States lose the will to fight.1 As part of this new strategy, the decision was made to continue the advance in the Solomons and New Guinea area, with the aim of eventually cutting off the supply route between the United States and Australia. The 7 March decision therefore confirmed what was already being executed. Lae and Salamaua on the northeastern New Guinea coast were occupied on 8 March. Two days later, the Tainan Air Corps (one of the fighter units deployed to Rabaul as part of the new strategy) sent eleven of its Zero fighters to Lae, which became an exceedingly busy advanced airbase.

    Until the end of July 1942, the naval air units based at Rabaul and Lae became intensely involved in flying missions over the Owen Stanley Range to attack Port Moresby, or other Allied bases on the New Guinea mainland. Such operations consisted of either bombing missions with fighter escort, or sweeps by fighters alone. The Japanese fighter units at this time were also kept extremely busy intercepting Allied air attacks on the Japanese bases. This phase of the air war was characterized by the lack of clear superiority by either side. Although the Australians and Americans often lost more aircraft in individual air battles, Allied air strength did not diminish significantly. On the other hand, the Japanese, although suffering fewer losses, saw a slow decline in the quality of their forces as highly-trained and experienced pilots were lost and replaced by less and less experienced ones. This period was, therefore, somewhat of a stalemate, as the Japanese could not batter the Allied air forces enough to drive them out of New Guinea.

    From Journal of the Australian War Memorial | The Australian War Memorial

    The RAAF and the USAAF 5th Air Force in PNG (with P-40's) effectively weakened the land based IJN air arm in 1942 before Guadalcanal.
     
  17. NavyLT

    NavyLT New Member

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    ....and I forgot to mention radar! Just as in the Battle of Britain, U.S. naval radar made air power so efficient and effective.
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    In conjunction with the PPI and trained FDOs...
     
  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, the P-40, Wildcat, Hellcat, and Avenger all had roughly equal roles in bringing about the defeat of Japan. The P-40 and Wildcat both "held the line" during the early dark days of the Pacific War, and both would be relegated to support roles later in the Pacific War(the P-40 moving from fighter to ground attack, and the Wildcat going from the CVs to the CVEs). The Hellcat would move into the top fighter spot in the US Navy, but the would fight against a decidedly inferior enemy than the Warhawk and Wildcat pilots faced. The Avenger would serve as one of the primary attack aircraft flying from US carriers, and did play a hand in sinking Japanese shipping and ground attack(But, let's not kid ourselves...US submarines are what really won the anti-shipping war).

    The P-40 "peaked in late 1942, not just in the pacific, but every where else."...Huh? Do you have even the foggiest clue as to what you are talking about?
    The P-40 "peaked" in late 1943 to late 1944, depending on the theater. In the Med, it would be late 43(when it began to be replaced) to mid-44(when it was moved to ground attack and as a backwater fighter). In the Pacific, again, it would be mid-43 before the P-40 saw itself beginning to be overshadowed by the P-38. In the CBI, it would remain the primary US fighter until mid-1944.

    The P-40 was the best US Army fighter at the beginning of the war...The P-38, while in production, was not yet considered ready for combat - Although some of the E-models would be sent to Alaska just before the Battle of Midway to bolster the defenses there.

    As to Grumman winning the Pacific War...Well, you can shoot down the enemy planes and sink the enemy ships, but he is still going to build more...So, you really need the big bombers to get at his "heart." Thus, you could safely say it was Boeing, and to an extent Consolidated that won the Pacific War.
     
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  20. NavyLT

    NavyLT New Member

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    Absolutely, that was my overall point, all of the Navy's exploitation of radar intelligence which includes those functions, yes. Good clarification.
     

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