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  #41  
Old 28th June 2015, 14:35
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: Allied Opinion of IJN vs. IJA Fighter Pilots

If I have understood correctly the Japanese fighter pilots had to keep the drop tanks even during the combat over Guadalcanal in order to have enough fuel reserves to fly back to Rabaul or other Japanese airfields like the one in the Buka island. This must have been some handicap in the combat situation - drop tank means extra weight, more drag and less manouverability in combat.

Taking in account all the circumstances and the Japanese handicaps the real question is not why Japanese lost but how Japanese managed to keep pressure on Guadalcanal as long as they did.

The biggest problem in the Japanese strategy at the Pacific was that it was too ambitious for their limited resources like the inadequate logistics and maintenance structure.

By mid 1942 Japanese were already too overstretched to make any further progress and they could not replace their losses as easily as the US and its allies. Even when the air victory records were relatively good for Japanese, the relative losses were much higher for the Japanese side. A Wildcat shot down over Guadalcanal could be repaired or used for spare parts and its pilot could save himself by bailing out or making a belly landing. A Zero shot down was completely lost as well as its pilot.

One should note that by late 1942 Japanese were still relatively strong and could win some battles like in the Santa Cruz on 25.-27.10.1942 which to my knowledge was a clear tactical victory for the Japanese. I would dare to say that by late 1942 Japanese pilots and their planes were still quite competitive with their US/Allied counterparts although the balance was already favourable for the Allied side.

When one takes in account the US/Allied opinions of the "inferiority" of Japanse fighters pilots in late 1942 one should remember the common overclaiming factory, of which following examples of the air combat records over Guadalcanal:

24.8.1942 - US combat claims on 11 destroyed Japanese bombers and 5 destroyed fighters - real Japanese combat losses: 3 bombers and 1 fighter

26.8.1942 - US claims: eight bombers and five fighters destroyed - real Japanese losses: 3 fighters

Between 18.-23.10.1942 US pilots claimed to have destroyed as many as 50 Japanese fighters whereas the actual Japanese losses were 12.

Source: F4F vs. A6M Zero Sen - Pacific Theater 1942 (by E.M. Young 2013)

This kind of combat records (made in perhaps good but erroneus faith) must have added something on the comments of the "deteriorating combat skills" of the adversary....
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  #42  
Old 28th June 2015, 17:59
Kutscha Kutscha is offline
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Re: Allied Opinion of IJN vs. IJA Fighter Pilots

That doesn't make sense GC. Fuel in the drop tanks would be used first.

I think a more logical explanation for keeping the drop tanks on is a lack of drop tanks. That is, supply could not keep up with demand.
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  #43  
Old 28th June 2015, 19:46
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: Allied Opinion of IJN vs. IJA Fighter Pilots

Yes, more logical and underlines again the Japanese problems with inadequate logistics and limited supplies.

When it comes to the skills of Japanese pilots, they could fight relatively well with technically inferior equipment up to 1943. For example the AVG pilots had first to pay some price before learning to deal with IJA´s Ki-27 Nate fighters which were obsolete compared to American fighters: much slower, fixed undercarriage and armed with only two 7,7 mm guns.

In air combat over Rangoon on 23.12.1941 AVG lost two Tomahawks in combat against Nates whereas Japanese lost no fighters in the combat - two days later over Rangoon AVG was still in the process of learning right tactics and combat skills losing again two Tomahawks in combat against Nates. In air combat over Mingladaon on 23.1.1942 AVG lost three Tomahawks against Nate-equipped IJA unit 77 Sentai. The fighter vs fighter encounters between IJA and AVG were not always onesided victories for the latter. Lots of AVG´s success story is based on the fact that their primary targets were IJA´s bombers and it was not easy for the slower Ki-27´s to provide effective escort defenses against the guerrilla tactics ("hit and run") of AVG´s faster P-40´s. One wonders what these Ki-27 pilots of IJA could have done with Zero´s when pitted against AVG´s Tomahawks...

Japanese fighter pilots and their planes were considered inferior to their Allied counterparts by 1943, but even at that time they did quite well against the Spitfires in air combats over Darwin. Technically Spitfire Mk V was in some respects clearly more advanced fighter plane than Zero/Oscar but in the actual combat the Australian Spitfire pilots were often unable to make much use of the technical advantages (like more speed and more horsepower) of their planes.
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  #44  
Old 28th June 2015, 21:27
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Broncazonk Broncazonk is offline
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From Page 190 of the Above Referenced Text

Verbatim from text pertaining to the situation early-mid September, 1942:

[...] "McCain's concept of Guadalcanal as a "sinkhole" for enemy air power posed a very real threat given the perilous state of Japanese naval aviation.

The Imperial Navy faced immense problems prosecuting a successful air offensive against Guadalcanal, many of its own making. The nearest fully operational airfields to the target remained the cluster of bases around Rabaul: Vunakanau Field (Rabaul West) for the bombers and the fighter strip at Lakunai (Rabaul East) set beneath a massive volcano. All lay at least 560 miles from Guadalcanal entailing strike missions of eight hours or more. The auxiliary field at Buka, 400 miles from Guadalcanal, was used only sporadically for lack of support facilities.

The extremely long and fatiguing missions down the "Guadal Highway" (Gadaru Gaito), as the Japanese nicknamed the Slot, adversely affected the Zero fighter escorts. To save fuel many pilots fought with their belly tanks attached, which reduced combat performance. Even so the fighter leaders set a maximum of 15 minutes over Guadalcanal. Most of the Rabaul Zeros, clipped-wing A6M3 Model 32s with 20 percent less range than the A6M2 Model 21s, could not even reach Guadalcanal and return. Work had only begun on the vital airstrip at Buin on southern Bougainville opposite Shortland Island and 300 miles from Guadalcanal. Until its completion set for late September, no Zero 32s could be used, and crippled aircraft enjoyed no refuge short of Buka. (14)"

Wow-o-wow...

GuerraCivil wrote, "Taking in account all the circumstances and the Japanese handicaps the real question is not why Japanese lost but how Japanese managed to keep pressure on Guadalcanal as long as they did." That observation is right on the money.
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  #45  
Old 29th June 2015, 10:47
Graham Boak Graham Boak is online now
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Re: Allied Opinion of IJN vs. IJA Fighter Pilots

What is the comparative size of the external and internal tanks? Surely there is less fuel in the drop tank than in the airframe and it will have been emptied on the way down? Retaining the tank after the fuel had been used will reduce not just the agility but also the range of the aircraft. Retaining the tanks does not save fuel but waste it. The quoted statement is contradictory.
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  #46  
Old 3rd July 2015, 03:56
NickM NickM is offline
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Re: Allied Opinion of IJN vs. IJA Fighter Pilots

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuerraCivil View Post
If I have understood correctly the Japanese fighter pilots had to keep the drop tanks even during the combat over Guadalcanal in order to have enough fuel reserves to fly back to Rabaul or other Japanese airfields like the one in the Buka island. This must have been some handicap in the combat situation - drop tank means extra weight, more drag and less manouverability in combat.

Taking in account all the circumstances and the Japanese handicaps the real question is not why Japanese lost but how Japanese managed to keep pressure on Guadalcanal as long as they did.

The biggest problem in the Japanese strategy at the Pacific was that it was too ambitious for their limited resources like the inadequate logistics and maintenance structure.


By mid 1942 Japanese were already too overstretched to make any further progress and they could not replace their losses as easily as the US and its allies. Even when the air victory records were relatively good for Japanese, the relative losses were much higher for the Japanese side. A Wildcat shot down over Guadalcanal could be repaired or used for spare parts and its pilot could save himself by bailing out or making a belly landing. A Zero shot down was completely lost as well as its pilot.

One should note that by late 1942 Japanese were still relatively strong and could win some battles like in the Santa Cruz on 25.-27.10.1942 which to my knowledge was a clear tactical victory for the Japanese. I would dare to say that by late 1942 Japanese pilots and their planes were still quite competitive with their US/Allied counterparts although the balance was already favourable for the Allied side.

When one takes in account the US/Allied opinions of the "inferiority" of Japanse fighters pilots in late 1942 one should remember the common overclaiming factory, of which following examples of the air combat records over Guadalcanal:

24.8.1942 - US combat claims on 11 destroyed Japanese bombers and 5 destroyed fighters - real Japanese combat losses: 3 bombers and 1 fighter

26.8.1942 - US claims: eight bombers and five fighters destroyed - real Japanese losses: 3 fighters

Between 18.-23.10.1942 US pilots claimed to have destroyed as many as 50 Japanese fighters whereas the actual Japanese losses were 12.

Source: F4F vs. A6M Zero Sen - Pacific Theater 1942 (by E.M. Young 2013)

This kind of combat records (made in perhaps good but erroneus faith) must have added something on the comments of the "deteriorating combat skills" of the adversary....
Well let us not forget that lots of the ace pilots (Sasai, Ota among others) of the IJN land based fighter force were killed over The 'Canal'; the long flight to & from Rabaul along with fatigue & illness certainly wore down the pilots of the Tainan Wing
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