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Old 09-14-2018, 01:02 PM
Hydro Junkie
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Originally Posted by Ernie P. View Post
Hydro Junkie; there is even more to the story. By the time the P-38's were in combat, the U.S. pilots had learned to adapt their tactics to exploit the strengths of their aircraft, speed, firepower and armor, and minimize the strengths, mainly low speed maneuverability, of the Japanese fighters. The Zero could maneuver very well; but above 200 MPH, and especially above 250, not so much. The new tactics of the American pilots were pretty simple: Keep your speed up; don't get into a turning fight; dive down and if you miss, simply repeat the maneuver. IOW, boom and zoom. Maneuvering is essentially a defensive tactic. Don't play the game. Dive, shoot, zoom and repeat as necessary. Once the Americans learned that, the game was pretty much over. Thanks; Ernie P.
And while all of that is true, you have to remember that there wasn't a significant amount of P-38s, or Corsairs for that matter, around until mid to late 1943. On April 18, 1943, there were only 18 total on Guadalcanal and all were slated to go in Operation Vengeance. Regardless, as I said in my last post, a majority of the elite Japanese pilots were gone, using the same tactics you just described. It wasn't until an intact A6M (other than the vertical stab, which was replaced using one from another captured wreck) was found in Alaska, after the Battle of Midway, and tested that the American pilots really knew how to defeat them. Claire Chenault previously had taught the same tactics to the AVG(otherwise known as the "Flying Tigers") which brought them much success. It must also be remembered that the A6M was optimized to fight below 15,000 feet. This fell right into the Allison's performance envelope considering that the Allison was also very good below 15,000 feet. I do have to agree, the A6M's controls got heavier as the speed increased, limiting the plane's ability and taxing the pilot's endurance.