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Old 4th October 2006, 11:10
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Navy F4F vs Zero

According to many sources, the first Navy F4F pilot to have shot down a Zero is Ens. W.A. Haas of VF-42, on May 7th - first day of the Coral Sea battle.
But...
According to Frank Olynyk's lists, he claimed two "VF Type 96s".
The only credits for Zero kills are for AR3C John Liska (two!), rear gunner of Ens. J.A. Leppla, who claimed a third one. The crew belonged to VS-2.

Japanese sources mention that "Shôhô" put into the air 4 A6Ms and 2 A5Ms. Three were lost (thus, there is at least one Zero), the others making an emergency landing on Deboyne Island.

In the late afternoon of same day, VF-2 and VF-42 claimed 4 Zeros. Lt.Cdr. P.H. Ramsey got the first "official" credit for a Zero.
But Japanese sources mention that no Zero took part in this mission over the US fleet because it implied a night landing and the Zeros had no blind flying equipment.

It leaves us with the first air-to-air encounter in mid-day of May 8th.
Though on top of Frank's list for a claim vs a Zero, Lt(jg) E.S. McCuskey states in his combat report that he first saw his wingman (Lt(jg) W.S. Woollen - both of VF-42) shoot down a Zero before he claimed his own.

So, I assume that Woollen is the first Navy F4F pilot to have actually shot down a Zero.
What do you think?
Thanks.
Chris
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Old 4th October 2006, 12:16
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Hello CJE
Lundstrom's First Team is the source to look answers to You question.
IIRC Lunsdstrom opinion is that there definitely was Zero vs F4F air combats over Shoho and he gives a couple pages description on that. His opinion is that because of the long clear canopy of Zero the pilot who downed the Zero claimed it as Val IIRC or as some other 2-seater. So my bet is that the F4F pilot who shot down the Shoho’s Zero was the first Wildcat pilot to shoot down Zero, Lundstrom names the pilot in his book as he names the Zero pilot but all I recall is that the name of Japanese pilot was one of the longer ones of Japanese names, Iwamoto or something like that. Check the book and I’ll do it when I’ll get to home.

Juha
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Old 4th October 2006, 12:37
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Thanks, Juha.
I don't have this book and it would appreciate that you check it for me.

However, how can a pilot mistake a Zero with a Val with its fixed u/c?
In Olynyk's list there are only 3 Zeros claimed, all by the SBD crew Leppla/Liska. All fighter pilots claimed "VF Type 96's" and "VF Type 97's".
Knowing how serious Frank's work is, I stick to that.
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Old 4th October 2006, 13:28
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Hello CJE
Type 96 was A5M Claude so Type 97 was probably something which USN expected to be the next IJN fighter but IMHO the info on Zero which filtered down to USN fighter pilots was not something very trustworthy even if IIRC USN had got reports on Zero from China but had lost them somewhere in the system. I'll check the book tonight.

Juha
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Old 4th October 2006, 22:10
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Hello CJE
According to Lundstrom op.cit. p. 203 Brainard Macomber was the first F4F pilot to attack Zero (W.O. Imamura). It was he who was thinking that because of Zero's long canopy he was attacking a 2 seater. Also Macomber's wingman, Bassett, who rescued his leader when the surprisingly agile 2 seater manoeuvred towards Macomber's tail, thought that the E/A was some sort of bomber. Bassett moved behind preoccupied Imamura and fired a long burst. At the first sight of enemy tracers, the Zero rolled out and away, then poured on the speed in a fast dive toward the water...and got slowly away from Bassett but was then surprised by Haas, who dived in for a good stern shot and fired a long burst. Zero burst into flames.
P. 204 and plowed into sea. Both Macomber and Bassett witnessed the splash. Haas kill went into records as a Type 96 fighter because of the confusion of a/c recognition according to Lundstrom.

HTH
Juha

Last edited by Juha; 5th October 2006 at 10:05.
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Old 5th October 2006, 08:03
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

It seems to have legs.
Frank Olynyk list Macomber's prey as an Aichi Type 99 dive bomber.
AFAK, "Vals" had a fixed u/c, something Macomber cannot have missed.
But, you're right, great was the confusion in the recognition manuals at that time... Not speaking of "Me 109's", I even found a "Kagekiki VT" - wonder where this name came from?

Thank you very much, Juha. I think the matter is settled.
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Old 5th October 2006, 08:12
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Sorry, I answered too quickly before checking my files.
Lundstrom is just adding more confusion in my head!

Macomber and Haas' kills were recorded around 1800.
The Japanese archives state that no Zero took part in the raid because they couldn't fly and land in the dark!

The only Zeroes recorded in the morning were shot down by VS-5 and VS-2.
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Old 5th October 2006, 10:05
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Hello CJE
Those combats happened during the attack on Shoho, was that around 11 AM on the 7th? Macomber was first to attack Zero but Imamura, using his a/c's better manouevrability, was working towards his tail when Bassett intervened and forced Imamura to disenagage. Bassett also claimed that he probably got some hits to Imamura's Zero but it could still draw away from him. And after that Haas attacked. So there was 3 F4Fs attacking one Zero. Macomber was first to attack but Haas was first to kill. It seems that I left one important "the" out in my earlier message.

Juha
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Old 5th October 2006, 10:37
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Just my two euro cents, I can only back up Juha comments about John Lunström's book, they're unavoidable concerning this particular subject, and in my view very near to be the definitive work on that campaign (If a definitive work exist).
History, technics, tactics, everything's there.
I've just checked at La maison du livre aviation in Paris, they still have the first volume, and I think that the second one can be obtained easily from amazon or abebook, for example.
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Old 5th October 2006, 14:42
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Re: Navy F4F vs Zero

Indeed!
Lundstrom is right. I checked again for the 243th time and the time of Haas' kill matches what wrote Olynyk.
So, this time, I'm sure the matter is settled once and for all.

Thanks to all of you.

Chris
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