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Which was better?Zero./P38 Lightning


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#1 [email protected]

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 10:05 AM

Hi guys, watched a tv documentary recently, about the Japanese Zero,and the P38Lightning in the Pacific theatre of WW2.just wanted to know your thoughts regardinging manoeuvrability ,and performance,
Although the Lightning was faster, the Zero was a formidable opponent especially if they were flown by experienced pilots. The armament of both aircraft were very effective although the Lightning had forward firing 50 calibrate machine guns which gave direct line of fire ,the Zero,s fire power consisted of wing positioned cannon and machine guns whilst having forward mounted guns firing through the prop..
The lighting however had a high operational ceiling than the the Zero so I believe, but the Zero being far lighter than the the Lightning was much more manoeuvrable, although the lack of armour plating for the pilot in the cock pit was a disadvantage..the fuel tanks too 5in total two in each wing and one positioned forward of the pilot,gave the Zero a greater range.Although the lighting was probably more advanced and more technical tha the Zero, it was even equipped with a dive break /flap which the pilot would use to slow the P38 whilst in a dive to stop the wings vibrating.
Anyway just wanted to know your thoughts on this .thankyou for your time guys.
Regards
Keith...

#2 Armand

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 12:09 PM

The huge fuel load of the Zero is to see in it's naval operation. In the lack of sealing/protecting of the tanks became the fuelload a treath against the survival of the pilot. The P-39 had a huge payload, wich could be used as external gastanks equaling the range of the Zero (when comparing detail-by-detail).
The naval use makes it not Zero the most likely opponent to the P-39.
After Midway became experienced pilots a rarity in the Japanese airforces.
The problems of the P-39 in dive was lack of response beyond certain speed. However this was way over the possible speed of the Zero, hence diving was a suitable evasive manouvre, whereafter the Zero was to be out-speeded and out-climbed leaving it with it's only advantage: The manouvrability.
I wish to underline that the Zero likely had forward(!) firing guns! ;-)
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#3 [email protected]

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 03:32 PM

Hi Armand,Thankyou for your comment,it's greatly appreciated,good to hear from you,take care.
All the best
Keith.

#4 Heräkulman Ruhtinas

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 08:57 PM

My 2 cents for this would be that P-38 has most the advantages over A6M. A6M had range and lateral maneuverability. Armament was effectively comparable. 

 

However, tactically it seems that USAAC did not for long time appreciate what they had, but tried to combat the Zero's on their own terms. Same went with RAF and RAAF in area. 


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#5 CORSNING

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 09:43 PM

Which was better? Zero / P-38?

 

Just to put a little twist on your original question I will answer it from a civilian standpoint.

The Zero hands down would be my choice. The reasons are the following.

1. Way cheaper to operate.

2. Much easier to fly and handles like a dream. 

3. I imagine the slow tight, completely controllable turns putting a smile on your face.

4. If you are not worried about being the fastest kid at the airshow, the maneuverability is

   awesome.

5. I am sure I forgot about a half dozen other good points also. :)

 

BUT IF I HAVE TO GO INTO COMBAT WITH IT, THE P-38. PERIOD!


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#6 CORSNING

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 10:18 PM

The original question stirs up another question. WHEN, what is the time frame?

 

First of all the speed advantage goes to the P-38 anytime during the war. The

Lightning was anywhere from 30 to 90 mph or more faster depending on model

and altitude.

 

The Zero held the overall edge until the P-38G showed up. The P-38E/D were

just not maneuverable at all.

 

Range: internal / maximum at economical cruise in miles.

A6M2   1,030 / 1,580

A6M3      995 / 1,585

A6M5   1,200 / 1,844

P-38G     850 / 1,670

P-38H     710 / 2,200

P-38J  1,175 / 2,260

P-38L  1,210 / 2,200


Edited by CORSNING, 18 December 2016 - 03:29 PM.


#7 Wuzak

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 12:28 AM

The A6M had 2 0.303" mgs and 2 x 20mm Cannon.

 

The P-38L had 1 x 20mm cannon and 4 x 0.5" mg.

 

The Zero's 20mm cannon fired a lighter shell at a lower muzzle velocity and rate of fire than the Hispano cannon in the P-38L. So the P-38L had the greater firepower.

 

The P-38L had the speed and climb advantage over the Zero, and by some margin.

 

The P-38L's dive brakes allowed it to dive more steeply than earlier versions, but it was still restricted. That may not have been as much of a problem against the A6M as it was against the Bf 109 and Fw 190.

 

The Zero had the manoeuvrability, but that advantage was best at speeds below 250mph IAS, above which it wasn't as responsive.



#8 [email protected]

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 06:50 AM

Hi guys, Thankyou for sharing your thoughts ,just like to point out that the dive break on the P38 was implemented in later versions to stop the wings vibrating in steep dives as in previous versions, which made it difficult for pilots to control,as I was reading that in a steep dive the P38 could achieve 400mph ,causing the wings to vibrate,hence the introduction of the air brakes positioned under each wing when lowered.
Thankyou once again for your comments .
All the best
Keith....

#9 Ricky

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 08:41 AM

Service ceiling is irrelevant as the Pacific air war was generally conducted at medium to low altitudes

#10 Armand

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 12:49 PM

Service ceiling is irrelevant as the Pacific air war was generally conducted at medium to low altitudes

The altitude of an airbattle aren't laid by any law, agreement or common rules. It is caused by the possibilities and willingness of the participants and as both the Zero and the Wildcat could manage 33000ft I can't see any reason why it shouldn't have been btought to the top and I've noticed that a try on outclimbing the Zero was a death trap as the Wildcat would stall before the persuing Zero, hence read between the lines: The fight above the Pacific was(!) done above medium height!

In Europe was the fighters of both sides equipped with superchargers wich caused the altitude of the airbattle to rise quite high from the very start as every pilot tried to exploit His possibility of gaining height - Leaving the arrived USAAF pilots as spectators from beneath as their uncharged aircraft couldn't manage such height.

However, the P-38 was the first American fighter to have turbo charged engines, and later came P-47 with a huge system of airducts for the turbo-charger in the Jug's big fuselage. The Mustang achieved only it's heritage after getting the Supercharged Merling engine fitted.
Ceiling is(!) a major factor!

Edited by Armand, 15 December 2016 - 01:25 PM.





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