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IJN dogfight tactics


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#1 Armand

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 04:46 PM

The airwar of WW2 was seemingly not what anyone had expected.
I haven't read how RAF and Luftwaffe might have adapted their tactics early into the BoB (wich went upwards due to the supercharged engines of both opponents). However I have noticed that the USAAF not only had to replace their P-39 with Spitfires when arriving to North Africa, but also had to adapt the more aggressive British fighter tactic to counter German fighters succesfully.
But what about the Pacific? The usability of the 'Thach wave' prooved quickly against Japanese pilots, wich seemingly tells that there wasn't any real USAAF tactics before that :-/
The IJN is probably the most unnoticed in general litterature. Does Anyone know about IJN pilots had any tactics from the start (ex the use of wingmen!) or was it morely a straightout 'Banzai charge' in oldschool cavallery style?

#2 Heräkulman Ruhtinas

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 12:43 AM

As far as I have read, they were even more stuck to the pattern than the British were, IJN tactics relied heavily on solo performance and for long time used the "vic" formation. In squadron level, there were attempts to better tactics to suite them, but not on higher level. They were not promoting co-operation much either.

 

On the other hand, they did not count personal victories either, unless the pilot himself kept track. 

 

This from some old discussions and Saburo Sakai's book.


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#3 GregP

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 02:20 AM

Also, the IJN was, almost by definition, engaging in small fights ... perhaps 4 vs. 4  up to 8 vs. 8 and mixes of multiples of 3 or 4. Carriers didn't hold large numbers of aircraft on either side and most encounters were small units versus small units.

 

If all you are doing, for the most part, is small engagements, it can take a long time for the weakness of your "system" to be really obvious, especially if you are usually getting the upper hand, as the Zero's were at first. Why change when you are universally successful?

 

I also saw where someone said, pronbably in another thread, the US Allies named the aircraft the "Zero." That is not the case. The US named the aircraft the "Hap," later changed to "Hamp" to avoid embarrasung General "Hap" Arnold. The Japanese themselves named the aircraft the "Carrier Fighter Type 0" because it was either contracted for or first flown in Japanese calendar year ending in 00. We had nothing to do with the "Zero" name at all.



#4 Rick65

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 06:43 AM

There is a lot on the differeing tactics in the Pacific this in a wordy book I downloaded for my Kindle.

Fire In The Sky: The Air War In The South Pacific Paperback – April 13, 2001 Eric M Bergerud

Any feedback on this from others that have read it?

To summarise in one sentence, the author Eric Bergerud attributes much of the Allied success to communication (the use of operational and installed radios) structured tactics and specifically the focus on working as pairs with the use of a wingman.

 

In terms of the Zero, wasn't this initially given the code name of Zeke? The Hap name was created for the later version with square wing tips which was intially thought to be a different plane.



#5 GregP

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 08:26 AM

Yep, Zeke it was, then Hap, then Hamp. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. The museum where I volunteer has the last original A6M5 Model 52 and I many times forget to consider earlier versions.

 

I believe the first combat-ready Zero was the A6M2. They DID build two A6M1s but one exploded in mid air. The third Zero was the A6M2 Model 11, followed, I believe, by the Model 21. I think the first prototoype had a 780 HP radial and made 305 mph. They made a version with a folding wingtip and the A6M6 with the squared wingtip (not the A6M5 model 52) ahd the squared tips. The Model 52 has rounded wingtips that match the squared wintip span, so it didn't take up anymore space on the carrier.

 

The folding wingtips were so short that I wonder why they bothered at all. Perhaps the carrier standard hanger or elevator size had something to do with it.

 

Happy New Year.



#6 Kutscha

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 01:14 PM

Zero comes from the Japanese calendar year (2600), the year it entered service.



#7 Heräkulman Ruhtinas

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 03:21 PM

Yep, Zeke it was, then Hap, then Hamp. Thank you for pointing out the obvious. The museum where I volunteer has the last original A6M5 Model 52 and I many times forget to consider earlier versions.

 

I believe the first combat-ready Zero was the A6M2. They DID build two A6M1s but one exploded in mid air. The third Zero was the A6M2 Model 11, followed, I believe, by the Model 21. I think the first prototoype had a 780 HP radial and made 305 mph. They made a version with a folding wingtip and the A6M6 with the squared wingtip (not the A6M5 model 52) ahd the squared tips. The Model 52 has rounded wingtips that match the squared wintip span, so it didn't take up anymore space on the carrier.

 

The folding wingtips were so short that I wonder why they bothered at all. Perhaps the carrier standard hanger or elevator size had something to do with it.

 

Happy New Year.

 

Also with A6M5 (at least) they used types "Ko", "Otsu" and "Hei" , roughly equivalent to I, II and III , to differentiate with subversions, if my memory serves me right.


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#8 Rick65

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 03:11 AM

A nice aspect of digital reading platforms is that you can cut and paste.

 

"The Japanese, however, did develop a significant refinement to the standard vee-formation. The Japanese three-plane section, the shotai, was much more flexible than other varieties of the Vic. Instead of flying ing in rigid position, the two wingmen flew much farther back from the leader. While the flight leader held a steady course, looking for the right place to engage, the wingmen weaved right and left and up and down behind him. This gave the formation much better defense from surprise attack because the weaving fighters were able to check blind spots. The tactic was enhanced by the bubble cockpit mounted on both the Zero and Oscar, allowing excellent pilot visibility. When the flight leader engaged, instead of going in simultaneously and firing as one aircraft, the wingmen trailed the leader, each attacking in succession. sion. When several shotai participated in the same attack against an unwary target the impact was devastating. Yet once engaged or, worse yet, if the shotai was the victim of attack, then Japanese pilots fought individually. The system worked well for several years. Consequently its flaws were hard to see. Japanese fighters, above all, failed to develop velop disciplined techniques for deployment at the squadron and group levels. If put on the defensive the Japanese proved to be at a serious rious disadvantage. In 1944, three years after other air forces had done so, the Japanese converted to the four-plane formation. However, by then the number of good flight leaders was so small, and U.S. machines chines so superior, that changing tactics did little good.

Eric M Bergerud. Fire In The Sky: The Air War In The South Pacific (Kindle Locations 6828-6837). Kindle Edition.

 

Is this guy and his output considered reputatable?

One online source says the following:

Mel D. Lane in a Library Journal review describing Fire in the Sky as "repetitious and overly long." Despite its "unoriginal thesis," judged Lane, Bergerud's work "offers new perspectives." Both Lane and the Publishers Weekly critic recognized Bergerud's use of participant interviews as one of the volumes' primary strengths. According to the critic for Publishers Weekly, Bergerud's text is "refreshingly multidimensional" and "meticulously documented." The historian's writing expresses both "thoroughness" and "boundless energy," observed Lane. Fire in the Sky is a "fine history" that "[clearly shows] the perils and rewards of the Pacific campaign," asserted the Publishers Weekly critic.



#9 Armand

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Posted 02 January 2017 - 08:41 AM

The double wingmen deep V-formation explains the story of Lt Rasmussen in his P-36 above Pearl harbour:
(Edited copy-paste) ... Rasmussen charged his guns only to have the machine guns start firing on their own.
While the pajama-clad pilot struggled to stop his guns from firing, a Japanese aircraft passed directly in front of him, flew into his bursts of gunfire, and exploded - Wich shaked off two Zeros on his tail .....!




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