How did Corsairs compete with Zeros?

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by artifactsofmars, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. artifactsofmars

    artifactsofmars New Member

    I was a huge fan of the show Baa Baa Black Sheep. about the exploits of Major “Pappy” Boyington, and one of the things that impressed me was he said in an episode that the Corsairs could not outmaneuver the Japanese Zeros. This was quite true early on.
    The zeros were these ferociously maneuverable planes that early in the war slaughtered allied aircraft. I did some reading and the Wiki says that the allies developed new tactics, like the buddy system in the show.
    One of the starkest examples of the ferocious nature of the Japanese Zero was the attack on Midway Island and the slaughter of the torpedo planes that attacked the Japanese carriers.
    On Midway Island, Red Park's fighters were quickly destroyed by the Japanese zeros which outnumbered them 3-1 anyway. I don't think anyone can forget the slaughter of the torpedo planes, not only from the carriers but from Midway itself. It does make one wonder how we learned to overcome these odds, but better equipment and tactics eventually turned the tide.
  2. Peter T Davis

    Peter T Davis Administrator Moderator

    One edge that the US fighters had over the Zero, and other Japanese planes was survivability. The Zero was very lightly armored, and in many cases their pilots were simply shot to death in the cockpit, whereas, US fighters, and especially the F4U, had significant armor plating protecting the cockpit. Any time a Zero could trade bullet for bullet with an F4U, the odds were that the F4U would win. If the pilot wasn't shot directly, something else like the gas tank (especially the gas tank) would get shot up and catch fire.

    But, the F4U wasn't present at Midway. It wasn't until '43 that the Corsair started showing up in combat in a significant way. The F4F Wildcat was the fighter used at Midway by the US fleet. I dont know the exact numbers, but for the most part the F6F Hellcat replaced the Wildcat as carrier based planes, while the Corsair is more commonly known as a land-based, or island-based fighter (which is what you see on the show Baa Baa Black Sheep), but I do know some Corsairs were carrier based.
  3. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    At higher speeds the A6M's much vaunted maneuver superiority went away. Think about how fast an F4U could go . . . the short answer to how the F4U dealt with the A6M2.

    I'd also note that there was nothing new to team tactics . . . these were standard long before the war, you know, wingmen, supporting sections and such. Certainly such tactics as the well known Thach Weave were more than a little effective, but what is generally lost in the gee whiz of it all was that the Thach Weave was strictly a defensive maneuvering exercised only under certain conditions. The USN and USMC fighter pilots did not go Thach Weaving across the Pacific once the tactic became a standard in practice. It was just another tool in the toolbox for a specific application.

    The knowledge that high speed meant an A6M2 could not get away through maneuver, or if necessary, could not follow one's own evasive maneuver was the important piece of the puzzle. Play the A6M2's game and you were in trouble, make it play yours and it was in trouble.
    Peter T Davis likes this.
  4. themanikin

    themanikin New Member

    the thing is if you had a plane that had a weakness you would try and draw on your planes strengths and protect its weaknesses as mentioned already the zero while fast was rather flimsy in the protection department and it had a terrible tendency to shake apart during dives and sharp turns. knowing this the american pilots would work out a strategy where they could exploit this weakness in the zero
  5. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Yup, boiled down to "speed is life."

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