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P-40 vs. Zero

Aviation Discuss P-40 vs. Zero in the World War II - Aviation forums; I just read an interesting article about the P-40, and some of it was written by a 14th. Air Force ...

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    P-40 vs. Zero

    I just read an interesting article about the P-40, and some of it was written by a 14th. Air Force pilot who said a few things I had not heard before. The standard diving attack was mentioned, and was said to be effective, as the Flying Tigers proved earlier. This pilot said maintaining an airspeed of over 250 m.p.h. was the best way to even up the fight between a 40 and a Zero or Oscar. The Zero's agility of course was legendary at low speeds, but above 250 those large ailerons became a liability, and a roll at high speeds was extremely difficult due to the stick forces. A 40 would out-roll a Zero at high speeds, and a good 40 pilot could use this to great effect if the Zero pilot fell for it. Another factor mentioned was that for every successive Zero model, the contemporary 40 version was faster. A6M2 vs. P-40C, A6M3 vs. P-40E and F, A6M5 vs. P-40N. In each case, the pilot said the 40 had at least a 30 m.p.h. speed advantage. So, the 40 pilot could always break the engagement off. The P-40 of course had an even greater advantage in diving speeds, with well over 400 m.p.h. attainable with no risk of damage to the robust airframe. Early Zero's couldn't hit 350 without the risk of damage. The 14th. Air Force pilot also indicated that himself and many of his fellow pilots preferred the 40 to the P-51, as the high altitude capabilities of the 51 were not a factor in their theater. Seems like the more I read about the old P-40, the more I find out that it truly was by no means a second rate fighter. Most Japanese pilots had a great deal of respect for a competent pilot in a 40, but I have wondered what opinion the Luftwaffe pilots had of the Tomahawk.


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    Senior Member Marshall_Stack's Avatar
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    Why did the 14th pilots like the P-40 over the P-51? More rugged? Even though high altitude performance may not be a factor, aircraft range is always a factor. Big difference between the two, and that would be a big factor to me.

    As far as the Luftwaffe, I heard that the P-40 could out turn their planes. As a fighter I don't think they feared them but probably hated them as a fighter-bomber.

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    Senior Member Twitch's Avatar
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    It was more like 300 MPH when aileron response got heavy and slowed on the Zeros. But P-40 pilots used the strong points of their crates and avoided the weak points like good pilots should. The main thing was that they kept in the energy fighter thinking and chose their combats when they had the advantage. Often they would simply dive on their prey and make one firing pass and keep going whether they could confirm a kill or not.

    I don't believe the Luftwaffe was overly scared of P-40Bs & Cs aka Tomahawks or Kittyhawks P-40Ds & Es in North Afrika. F3s and F4 Trops had good performance compared to P-40s plus Spits Vs and Hurricane IIs of the theater at the time.

    From all I know I would say that the Spit was the toughest customer the men of JG 27 faced from the dialogues they've left.

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    Even though the P-40 may have been a charm, the P-51 had longer range, better high altitude performance, and, more importantly, a far greater maximum speed.

    Remember, the Zero (and probably other Japanese fighters) had poor performance at high speed, whilst the P-51 was just fine. Remember the 'zoom and boom' attacks? Speed kills, and that's a fact.

    Of course, in regards to the zoom and boom tactics, I guess the P-47 would have been better for those for obvious reasons...

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    PipsPriller
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    The Flying Tigers never fought against the Zero. By the time they were operational the Navy had moved out of China and the JAAF had taken over for the remainder of the war. Against the Ki-27's and Ki-43's the P-40 did reasonably well. Later in the war when face with the Ki-44 and Ki-84 in didn't peform so well.

    Over New Guinea there were only a few scraps with the Zero's - and the P-40 struggled to keep it's head above water. Partly due to the superior quality of the Japanese Navy pilots and partly due to the relative inexperience of the Americans' and Australians. And of course the P-40's suffered badly against the Zero's over the Philippines.

    The only battlefront where the P-40's held their own against the Zero was over Darwin in 1942. With the advantage of radar and ealry warning lookouts in te Timor Sea the 49th FG usuallu managed to get airborne in time to gain an altitude advantage against the attacking G4M's and Zero's. But even with that they only managed a 1:1 victory rate against the fighters. They did much better against the bombers.

    The P-40 had three clear advantages aginst the A6M Zero. One was it's ruggedness - which saved many an Allied pilot. Another was straight line speed - although this was not always evident in a dogfight and had to be worked at. The third, and most important, was it's dive speed; which would often be the last resort for pilot. But this was more a defensive advantage than offensive. Once a pilot dived away he would rarely be able to climb back up and rejoin the fight - it would have moved on out of reach.

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    IP/Mech THE GREAT GAZOO FLYBOYJ's Avatar
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    Pips hit it on the head - I've posted earlier about USAAF units in late summer 42' were P-39s and P-40 had about a 1.5 to 1 kill ratio over New Guinea and escalated that kill ratio when the P-38 entered the scene in Dec. 42.

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    Pacific Historian syscom3's Avatar
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    Here is a very rare color picture of a Zero being shot down by a P40 in China.









    Ooopppsssss.... i didnt mean China, I meant Chino! Sorry about that! And it is a rare picture because I rarely show it.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails P-40 vs. Zero-p40-shoots-down-zero.jpg  
    "Pilot to copilot..... what are those mountain goats doing up here in the clouds?"

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    Senior Member lesofprimus's Avatar
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    Just about any plane that flew against the Zero could out-dive it to disengage....

    Zeros were mistaken for other aircraft approx 60% of the time... Many pilots didn't know the difference.... The Blacksheep went through similar problem throughout their 2 tours, with pilots misidentifying Zekes and Haps all the time, not to mention shooting down numerous Ki-44's when infact the werent any in theatre at the time....



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    Senior Member loomaluftwaffe's Avatar
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    they all do look the same


    "The German Luftwaffe always fought without any reserves. This is also the reason why we have pilots with extremely high numbers of victories."
    - General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland"



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    Senior Member R988's Avatar
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    Luftwaffe in North Africa rated the P-40 as a more dangerous opponent than the Hurricane but not as dangerous as the P-38 or Spitfire IIRC, not sure about the Eastern front.
    Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.

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    IP/Mech THE GREAT GAZOO FLYBOYJ's Avatar
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    From an old post...

    "In Italy the 325 Fighter Group, commonly know as "The Checker-Tailed Clan" amassed one of the best kill to loss ratios of any fighter group in the European Theater. With a yellow and black checkerboard adorning the tail of their P-40s (and later P-47s and P-51s), they flew many sorties against more numerous German forces, and won most of the time. In 1943 the 325th won two major engagements. On July 1, 22 checker-tailed P-40s were making a fighter sweep over southern Italy when they were jumped by 40 Bf-109s. After an intense air battle, the result was half of the German aircraft shot down for the loss of a single P-40. There was a similar situation on the 30th of July, again over Italy, when 35 Bf-109s ambushed 20 P-40s. On this occasion, 21 German fighters were shot down, again for the loss of a single P-40. Because the pilots of the 325th were trained to maximize the P-40's strengths and minimize its weaknesses, it became a lethal opponent for the German fighters. The final record of "The Checker-Tailed Clan's" P-40s was 135 Axis planes shot down (96 were Bf-109s), for only 17 P-40s lost in combat."

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    Senior Member Aggie08's Avatar
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    I hadn't heard of that, flyboy. I always saw the luftwaffe ace's kill counts- sorry, i'm awful with names- more than one shot down at least 40 warhawks. it seemed like the p40 was effective only against the japanese.
    "I had ten rockets on board, and as I wasn't particularly fond of head-on attacks, I salvoed the whole lot at him. The rockets didn't hit him but but they must have scared the bejesus out of him, for he did a steep turn to starboard... I let him have the full blast, all eight fifty-calibers. I had never seen an aircraft completely disintegrate in the air the way this Me-110 did..."
    Bill Dunn, 406th Fighter Group



    Matt

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    IP/Mech THE GREAT GAZOO FLYBOYJ's Avatar
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    No doubt the Luftwaffe had their way with the P-40,; at least not all the time and not against the 325th FG...

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    Senior Member the lancaster kicks ass's Avatar
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    i think Aggie's right, the P-40's fine for the pacific and Africa but over Western Europe the incredible rate of development left the P-40 behind, she didn't do too badly against the LW in Africa though much to her credit.......

    "Reminds me of the time I sank the Tirpitz" comments a Spitfire pilot, "One pass of course, old boy."

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    IP/Mech THE GREAT GAZOO FLYBOYJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the lancaster kicks ***
    i think Aggie's right, the P-40's fine for the pacific and Africa but over Western Europe the incredible rate of development left the P-40 behind, she didn't do too badly against the LW in Africa though much to her credit.......
    Yep - you'll find later in the war the P-40 was used a bit in Italy and was flown by the Tuskeege Airmen.

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