Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log in with Windows Live Log In with Steam Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

Photo
- - - - -

F6F Hellcat versus F4U Corsair


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 GregP

GregP

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,509 posts
  • Joined 10 Years, 11 Months and 28 Days
  • 196 topics

Posted 23 September 2011 - 12:45 AM

I started looking at US Navy and Marine aircraft operations in WWII using a pdf file of “Naval Aviation Combat Statistics --- WWI”. It was compiled during the winter of 1945 – 1946 by Lieutenant Commander Stuart B. Barber (USNR) using a group of some 30 offices, enlisted men, and civilians.

The numbers are interesting.

The Grumman F6F Hellcat, for instance, is often compared to the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair. A comparison is illuminating.

The F6F had only 270 losses to enemy aircraft, but had 553 losses to enemy flak and 340 operational losses on action sorties. So although the losses to enemy aircraft were only 4.1 aircraft per 1,000 action sorties, the losses counting flak and operational losses on actions sorties were 17.5. Numbers for the F4U Corsair are 3.0 lost to enemy aircraft per 1,000 action sorties and 12.0 for all losses per 1,000 action sorties.

However, the Hellcat flew 94% of its missions from carriers and the Corsair flew 85% of its missions from land. Coming aboard a carrier is fraught with much more danger than landing on an airstrip, and the airstrip doesn’t sail away from you when you take off. Considering the dangers of carrier flying, the F6F Hellcat comes off as a very safe aircraft compared with the F4U Corsair. Corsairs didn’t usually hit the ship of run off the deck into the sea when damaged, and their airfield was always where they left it … at least 85% of the time.

The F6F Hellcat had 5163 air-to-air kills and shot down aircraft at a rate of 77.6 enemy aircraft shot down per 1,000 actions sorties. The F4U Corsair had 2.140 kills abd shot down enemy aircraft at the rate of 33.4 enemy aircraft per 1,000 action sorties.

People will say the Hellcat got into action sooner, but the F6F went into action on 1 Sep 1943 and the F4U Corsair also went into action with the US Navy in Sep 1943; check your history on that … it’s true. In fact, the Corsair passed carrier qualification with VF-12 in April 1943.

So, in combat, the Hellcat saw about the same quality of pilots the Hellcat did because it was in service at the same time, even if mostly from land bases. It shot down the enemy (per 1,000 action sorties) at about 43% of the rate of the F6F Hellcat while having about 2/3 of the loss rate per 1,000 action sorties from land bases.

If I were fighting the war as the Naval Commander, I’d want more Hellcats!

Facebook Comments

#2 Wuzak

Wuzak

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,716 posts
  • Joined 9 Years, 3 Months and 28 Days
  • 158 topics

Posted 23 September 2011 - 12:59 AM

Isn't it the case that the USN had more Hellcats?

The F4U-1 became operational before the Hellcat, IIRC, albeit in Marine service.

And what sort of missions did each fly? One would assume that USMC Corsairs were more likely to engage in ground support missions than Hellcats.

These would, perhaps, explain the differences in combat victories, and also the loss statistics.

#3 GregP

GregP

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,509 posts
  • Joined 10 Years, 11 Months and 28 Days
  • 196 topics

Posted 23 September 2011 - 02:25 AM

I am not saying one is better than the other. I am saying the Hellcat was more than twice as effective at shooting down enemy aircraft.

Whether that was due to more opportunity, better pilots, the position of the sun, or whether the enemy wore green, I can't say. I believe the hellcat had more opportunity to engage, but they both had about the same number of "action sorties," with the Hellcat having a bit over 66,000 and the Corsair having a bit over 64,000. In my book, that is about equal action sorties . . probably 3 - 4% diifference. That measn they were in action about the same amount at about the same time.

Now the carriers were used to attack islands, and the hellcats were the main carrier fighter after their introduction. That measn the Hellcats were in action during offensive attacks on enemy strongholds most of the time. The Corsairs were probably used to attack enemy locations "near" the airstrip, and so were probably used to attack less well-defended targets. That means fewer fighters than the Hellcats would likely see.

To me, this means the hellcat and the Corsair were both very good fighters, comparable to one another in effectiveness, regardless of relative performance.

I have always been a Hellcat fan since I was told how forgiving and easy to fly it is. The Corsair is many things, but forgiving it isn't. Which might be better is for another thread. I am just posting the effectiveness numbers.

Edited by GregP, 24 September 2011 - 12:30 AM.


#4 Francis Marliere

Francis Marliere

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 50 posts
  • Joined 3 Years, 3 Months and 2 Days
  • 7 topics

Posted 23 September 2011 - 08:56 AM

I am not expert, but have a couple of remarks :

1) Eventually, the USN replaced the Hellcat by the Corsair. IMHO that means that the USN though that the F4U was better than the F6F.

2) On the paper, the F4U had similar wing loading but better speed and roll rate. I am not aware of F6F being superior to F4U in anything but climb rate for early models. How can the F4U which is faster and rolls better than the Hellcat being inferior to him ?

3) I think that the F4U was better for ground attack (larger payload).

4) As you know, there are 3 kinds of lies : lies, dammed big lies and statistics. Comparing the loss rate and air kills of F4U and F6F is unfair because they didn't fight the same kind of war. First, the Corsair made far more ground attack missions than the Hellcat, loosing planes to flak and having less opportunities to shoot down aircrafts. Second, the Corsair fought fighters while the Hellcat mainly face bombers. Third the Corsair's opponent were experienced while most of the Hellcat ones were green.

However that does not mean that the Hellcat was a bad plane, but I just think that the Corsair, while more difficult to fly (and land on a carrier) was a better fighter and fighter-bombed.

Best regards,

Francis

#5 ickysdad

ickysdad

    Regular Member

  • Regulars
  • PipPipPip
  • 868 posts
  • Joined 11 Years, 2 Months and 12 Days
  • 39 topics

Posted 23 September 2011 - 04:18 PM

The F6F actually it seems was faster in service very comparable to the F4U. It seems the speed log was improperly calibrated. I'm thinking the F6F-3 was good for about 390+ MPH versus the 376 MPH alot of sources credit it for whilst the F6F-5 could hit 409 MPH since it used water injection. The Hellcat according to Dean's "America's 100,000" dived better also.

#6 Markus

Markus

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts
  • Joined 3 Years and 25 Days
  • 2 topics

Posted 24 September 2011 - 02:12 PM

4) ...Second, the Corsair fought fighters while the Hellcat mainly face bombers. Third the Corsair's opponent were experienced while most of the Hellcat ones were green.


Seconded. The F4U went into action in the spring of 1943 and flew from bases in the Solomons. The F6F went into action in the autumn and flew from carriers. Major ops didn´t begin until the end of the year.

Thus I think the Corsairs saw more intense combat against more capable enemy pilots. Performance-wise the F4U was better at very high altitudes but since both were far better than the enemy planes, that´s a moot point. Actually a double moot point as carrier planes operate at low to medium altitudes.

#7 GregP

GregP

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,509 posts
  • Joined 10 Years, 11 Months and 28 Days
  • 196 topics

Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:57 PM

Hi Francis,

If you go check my database I sent you, I have an error in the Grumman F6F-5 entry. I listed the normal loaded weight at the maximum weight.

All my calcualtions of wing, power, and span loading arte done with the normal weight. The real normal weight of the F6F-5 was 12.598 pounds. The maximum weight was 15,415 pounds.

You might want to correct that in your database copy.

At normal weight the Hellcat had a wing loading of 37 pounds per square foot and the Corsair (F4U-1) is at 44.2 pounds per square foot.

All things being equal, the lower wing loading will out-turn the higher wing loading, at least in sustained turn rate. Instantaneous turn rates may well be reversed; it depends on the airfoils and the lift devices employed. In these birds, the Hellcat was ALWAYS a better turner while the Corsair was a better in roll.

By the way, the Navy switch to the F4U Corsair after WWII was over was for logistical reasons only. They were moving to jets and needed to concentrate on minimizing the piston types in service. At the time there were more Corsairs in good condition with a good supply of spare parts, than there were hHellcats in good condition and Hellcat spare parts. So, they sent the Hellcats to the reserves and kept the Corsairs for the fleet. Almost all NEW production was jets at the time.

They COULD have kept Hellcats and could have been just fine, but the pistons were being relegated to ground attack and second-tier duties, and it was thought the F4U was a better ground attack machine. The front-line air-to-air fightger duties were being transferred to jets.

Edited by GregP, 25 September 2011 - 09:31 PM.


#8 Wuzak

Wuzak

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,716 posts
  • Joined 9 Years, 3 Months and 28 Days
  • 158 topics

Posted 26 September 2011 - 12:00 AM

And why would you have Grumman pump out F6Fs after the war when you could have F8Fs?

#9 GregP

GregP

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,509 posts
  • Joined 10 Years, 11 Months and 28 Days
  • 196 topics

Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:23 AM

I suppose I miscommunicated.

The F6F's were already built and so were most of the F4U Corsairs. The Beacats and Tigercats had a small production run and then piston fighters stopped ... and jets took over.

The piston fighters bulit after the war were simply wartime contracts being completed.

When they decided on F4U's for the regular Navy, they probably had some spares made, but probably no more or very few new Corsairs, Hellcats, Bearcats, or Tigercats.

#10 Francis Marliere

Francis Marliere

    Regular Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 50 posts
  • Joined 3 Years, 3 Months and 2 Days
  • 7 topics

Posted 26 September 2011 - 06:59 AM

Greg, thanks for the precisions on the WL of te Hellcat. That makes sense.
However, I think that the USN replaced F6F by F4U before the end of the war, because the Corsair was better suited to shoot down kamikaze.

Best,

Francis

#11 ickysdad

ickysdad

    Regular Member

  • Regulars
  • PipPipPip
  • 868 posts
  • Joined 11 Years, 2 Months and 12 Days
  • 39 topics

Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:56 AM

Greg, thanks for the precisions on the WL of te Hellcat. That makes sense.
However, I think that the USN replaced F6F by F4U before the end of the war, because the Corsair was better suited to shoot down kamikaze.

Best,

Francis


Certainly if your talking about a F4U-4 or FG-2(????). However I've always wondered just how much better the Hellcat would have been if some of the proposed modifications had taken place,i.e. turbo-charging/overboost ,better airelons,ect..

#12 Wuzak

Wuzak

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,716 posts
  • Joined 9 Years, 3 Months and 28 Days
  • 158 topics

Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:36 AM

Certainly if your talking about a F4U-4 or FG-2(????). However I've always wondered just how much better the Hellcat would have been if some of the proposed modifications had taken place,i.e. turbo-charging/overboost ,better airelons,ect..


Another whose potential improvements were overruled in order to concentrate on production.

As I understand it, the F4U-4 was a psot WW2 aircraft, or very close to the end of WW2.

#13 GregP

GregP

    Forum Guru

  • Forum Guru
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,509 posts
  • Joined 10 Years, 11 Months and 28 Days
  • 196 topics

Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:48 PM

The F4U-4 was at or near the end of twh war. The F4U-5 was definitely post-war.

I have read extensively on the Hellcat, and it seems taht a LOT of improvement s could have been made but, by that time, the war was winding down and a production interruptions was not allowed.

Among the "fixes" I have read about were improving the roll rate by eliminating the dihedral of the wing, a general clean-up to improve speed,and weight redction program to help the already very good maneuverability. By "maneuverability" I mean the turn rate in degrees per second. I consider roll-rate very important, but separate from turn rate. Togetehr, along with the limiting dive speed and airframe strength, they make up manueverability.

The top left-hand cusp of the V-N diagram is very important, and a weight reduction coupled with a better roll rate would have made the Hellcat almost unbeatable in a dogfight. I would like to have seen the V-N diagram's corner speed bt at 280 - 300 mph and 8-g's at normal takeoff weight. Whether or not they could have made it a lot faster is conjecture, but they COULD have fixed the main "faults," and I bet they could have made it into tyhe 410 - 425 mph category, particularly if they had moved to the Corsiar 4-blade propeller along with thean aerodynamic clean-up. I would also have recommended a switch to four 20mm cannons in place of the six .50's.

The effort would probably have bee less than the effort expended on the Corsair, and would have resulted in an even better fighter than the Hellcat already was.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

AVIATION TOP 100 - www.avitop.com Avitop.com