Mitsubishi A7M Versus Grumman F6F

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Sputnik 1, Jun 12, 2019 at 6:25 AM.

  1. Sputnik 1 Kicked

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    Sorry if I should have put this in ASB. I was a bit confused about where to actually place this, so if I wasted a Mods time, well, sorry about that.

    The Japanese replacement to the Zero never really left the drawing board, and never got combat tested or even really flown at all, even as a kamikaze. I'm sure I could just look up the specs on Wikipedia, but I'd much rather hear from you guys.

    Say that the A7M Reppu is, ignoring the how, ready for mass deployment around the same time the Americans start fielding the Hellcat. Know I know it couldn't change the course of the Pacific War, what I want to know is could it (with a decent pilot at the stick) measure up to one of the best combat aircraft of the Second World War? (Tip: The Reppu was to have superior speed, climb, diving, and armament over the Zero, as well as better maneuverability. As a result, the wing area and overall size were significantly greater)

    Thanks!
     
  2. Paul_Sussex Well-Known Member

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    Well, the small number of Kawanishi N1K2's did well, so in the right hands; but the main problem might be lack of competent pilots?
     
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  3. MatthewB Well-Known Member

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    It is the apt comparison. Too many consider the A7M as a 1945-6 generation fighter akin to the Hawker Fury or Bearcat. I wonder how the A7M would have compared to the Nakajima Ki-84, reputed to be Japan’s best fighter.

    With the A6M first flying in early 1939 and entering service in summer 1940, the IJN really should have had the replacement aircraft in the design pipeline in 1940, but the IJN didn't issue their specifications for the A6M's replacement until July 1942! If you look at the IJAF, they had a constant stream of new aircraft year after year, Nakajima alone provided the army with four single engine fighters (Ki-27, Ki-43, Ki-44 and Ki-84) during the A6M’s service life.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019 at 8:30 AM
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  4. Scott Washburn Well-Known Member

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    As Paul_Sussex points out, the big problem the Japanese faced was a lack of trained pilots. Their training system was totally inadequate to their needs and after their veteran pilots were mostly wiped out in the battles of 1942-43, they were dependent on hastily trained replacements who couldn't hope to match the Americans.
     
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  5. Sputnik 1 Kicked

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    All good points folks. I think even the Zero was more maneuverable than the Hellcat, but if you've got a pilot who has literally less than a hundred hours of training time, it doesn't really matter.
     
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  6. bsmart Well-Known Member

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    DID the A7M have self sealing fuel tanks or any armor plate? Those were the big failings of the A6M. Without improvements in those areas it would still be an easy kill when it was hit.
     
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  7. MatthewB Well-Known Member

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  8. AlanJWhite extensive reader, occasional poster, tyro author

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    Yes, the kill ratio was around 1+ vs both Hellcats and Corsairs in March 1945

    similarly Mitsubishi J2Ms did well as late as 2 hours before the surrender, achieving 1:1 kills vs Hellcats

    In the end the Japanese problem in the air was absolute numbers of planes and pilots it could produce
    .. just as it was with ships at sea
     
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  9. eltf177 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed, if the trained pilots aren't there the type of fighter is immaterial. The other problem is reliability, can Japan produce enough of them and of sufficient quality so that they're operational?

    Saboro Sakai loved the N1K "George", so I have no doubt he would have at least liked the A7M.
     
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  10. Zincwarrior Well-Known Member

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    Its still slower than a Corsair and Mustang. While officially equal to a Hellcat the Hellcat was unofficially faster than the Wiki nameplate speed. Both the Hellcat and Corsair were extremely rugged (due to overall design and its shared Thunderbolt engine).

    If it comes into theater in 1943 it at best restores the balance similarly to the Wildcat vs. Zero, except that half of the veteran Japanese pilots are now dead, the Americans have substantially longer training periods and adapted tactics, and there are increasingly gobs more of them. It impacts, but not greatly. There just weren't enough good Japanese aircrew after Midway / Eastern Solomons / Santa Cruz Islands carrier battles.
     
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  11. WaterproofPotatoes #TeamMahan

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    Setting aside the butts for seats question, a big problem with the A7M is finding a big enough engine for the big bird, as well as an adequate supercharger and/or turbocharger for said engine.

    It's a good airframe, there's no denying that, but 1943-45 Imperial Japan lacked the industrial capacity to develop it , and even then, it would have made little difference.
     
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  12. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back Kicked

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    Generally, when larger and heavier with greater wing area, very difficult to also have superior maneuverability.
    The A6M had a poor roll rate from weakness of the wings, this was a built in feature, not a bug. Stronger wings meant more weight and lower performance.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2019 at 12:34 PM
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  13. MatthewB Well-Known Member

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    Instead of building the in-line Kawasaki Ha40 the Japanese should have requested plans for the BMW 801. The 801 is one of the best radial engines fielded in numbers by the Axis. In 1943 a single FW 190 A-5 was supplied to the Japanese.
     
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  14. AlanJWhite extensive reader, occasional poster, tyro author

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    AIUI (and I'm by no means an expert and all my sources are secondary reports)
    both the A7M Reppu and N1K "George" were fitted with advanced automatic "combat flaps".
    This restored much of the lost manoeuvrability.

    As others have noted the main deficiency was raw engine power even with the Homare series motors
    (1990 hp vs 2100 for a Wasp or 2400+ for a Centaurus)
     
  15. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back Kicked

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    Flaps or no flaps, it's almost almost impossible for a heavier plane to be more maneuverable than a lighter one. It's wingloading. A big wing for a big plane cuts into roll rate, and flaps and even boost tabs and hydraulic powered assist isn't enough.
     
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  16. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    One thing to keep in mind is that the Zero was optimized for low speed maneuverability. Depending on what speed you're measuring maneuverability at for the A7M, its very possible that it was more maneuverable at high speed than the Zero was.
     
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  17. AlanJWhite extensive reader, occasional poster, tyro author

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    I said "much" not "all". The Japanese seemed happy that not too much of the Zeros qualities had been sacrificed.

    and talking of weights. AIUI secondary sources again :confused: unloaded/ loaded in pounds
    Hellcat 9,200/12,600
    Corsair 9,300/12,400
    Reppu 7,200/10,400
    George 5,900/8,900

    (max TO weights with bombs & rockets in Attack mode up to 4,000 lbs higher)

    If weight determines manoeuvrability, the Japanese planes would still outclass their US peers.
     
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  18. Zincwarrior Well-Known Member

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    If the plane is that much lighter, then it cannot be armored, have self sealing fuel tanks, etc. It doesn't address the weaknesses the Zero had. Again this just returns it to a Zero vs. Wildcat fight. No change in tactics required.
     
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  19. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back Kicked

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    That's a low bar, as the Ailerons were pretty much ineffective over 210 knots. The F4F could always outroll the A6M at any speed.
     
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  20. tomo pauk Well-Known Member

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    People can look at this site for 1st hand data on ww2 aircraft (fighters mostly, but also some bombers). And yes, Hellcat was the slowest 1st line US fighter, 380-390 mph on best altitude.
    The problem of Homare was not the raw power (1800-2000 HP will still cut it in 1945 if the supercharger is excellent, and fighter is not too big/too heavy), but that it lacked another stage of supercharging apart from just one; Homare was also with a small frontal area for an 18 cyl engine. We also have reliability problems with Homare?

    Homare+Hayate (as per OTL) or Homare+Hien (ALT) will equal a good/superb fighter.
    Homare+Reppu? Not so much.
     
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