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Johnny L.A.
11-09-2010, 10:06 AM
I know England used F6F Hellcats and F4U Corsairs in WWII. I think the Hellcats (or were they F4F Wildcats) had some successes. Did Corsairs engage in air combat in Europe, the Mediterranean, or Africa? What types of aircraft were engaged by Hellcats (and Wildcats) and Corsairs? Bombers? Fighters? What types? What kinds of Axis aircraft were shot down, and what victories (and in what aircraft) did the Axis have over the Allied Naval fighters?

John DiFool
11-09-2010, 10:14 AM
Apparently Pacific-only, where a good majority of its kills had to have been Zeroes of various marks (also Betty 2-engined bombers, and a bunch of other stuff). Its performance was pretty much on-par with that of the USAAF fighters which battled the Luftwaffe over Germany, even if said performance was overkill against enemy fighters 60 knots slower than it.

Malacandra
11-09-2010, 10:30 AM
The Wildcat (known as Martlet in Fleet Air Arm service, this practice later being dropped) scored numerous successes over Axis types such as Ju88, FW200 "Condor" and even Bf109. cite (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_F4F_Wildcat#Royal_Navy)

FluffyBob
11-09-2010, 10:40 AM
I didn't know the Brits used the Hellcats. Both these aircraft were designed for naval use, which typically left them a little heavier and lower performing than land based contemporaries. The Corsair was however an excellent performer either way, very fast. The British had plenty good land based aircraft of their own for all their needs.

As John DiFool says their opponents were hopelessly outmatched either way. The Japanese did not keep developing aircraft as the other powers did and by the time they were forced to they were behind. Some of the later Aircraft like the Raiden, KI-84, and Shiden were competitive, but flown by poorly trained pilots and of poor reliability and small numbers. The early aircraft like the zero weren't really that much better than their American contemporaries as is usually portrayed.

yendis
11-09-2010, 10:43 AM
RN Hellcats enaged Luftwaffe 109s and 190s during Operation Tungsten (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tungsten) (an attack on the Tirpitz) where they claimed three kills for one Hellcat lost. There where also Wildcats (Martlets), Corsairs and Seafires flying escort on the same raids.

RN Wildcats where also used to provide convoy cover and shot down a number of Fw200 Condors.

FluffyBob
11-09-2010, 10:47 AM
That's an interesting tidbit Malacandra, as any 109 was faster, and had better acceleration and firepower than a Wildcat. The Wildcat could out dive and turn circles around a 109 though. I bet the experienced British pilots led the probably poorly trained and inexperienced late war German pilots into a turn fight and cleaned them up.

Hypno-Toad
11-09-2010, 10:47 AM
...The early aircraft like the zero weren't really that much better than their American contemporaries as is usually portrayed.

They were better in some, but not all, ways. Faster and more manueverable than the USN fighters. But very fragile compared to the Wildcat. It came down to a pilot making the best of his planes' advantages and using his opponents' weaknesses. In the early days of the war, it was the greater experience of the Japanese pilots that really decided the outcome of many air battles. They could sucker a newbie US pilot into trying to fight in the way that favored the Japanese. This made it look like the Zero was just way to hard to beat.

Johnny L.A.
11-09-2010, 11:06 AM
That's an interesting tidbit Malacandra, as any 109 was faster, and had better acceleration and firepower than a Wildcat. The Wildcat could out dive and turn circles around a 109 though. I bet the experienced British pilots led the probably poorly trained and inexperienced late war German pilots into a turn fight and cleaned them up.

I must have seen hundreds of documentaries in my life, and this is the first time I've heard of a Pacific-type fighter taking on a 109. When I wrote the OP I was curious. Now that I think about it, I seem to have some trouble wrapping my head around the scene. The documentaries I've seen have been on the Pacific Theatre and the air war over Europe, with a couple showing some action in North Africa. Few showed the RN (I used to watch reruns of World At War when I was a kid), and those seemed to concentrate on surface battles and also the role of the Swordfish in the sinking of Bismarck. The image of a barrel-shaped Grumman against a 109 just seems strange. (Barrel shapes in Europe belong to the 'Jug'!)

I knew the FW200 existed, but don't know much about it. Germany seemed not to like four-engine bombers.

I wonder how a fight between Corsairs and FW190s would have gone?

paperbackwriter
11-09-2010, 12:04 PM
The Battle of the Atlantic is really poorly- covered by most documentaries. Documentaries are supposed to be factual, but they are still entertainment. Most of the important actions in that battle come down to things like a destroyer escort chasing off a shadowing u-boat before it can surface and bring in a wolfpack. Not exactly cinematic. This is the hard work that the RN's escort carriers and their Martlets contributed towards. RN, RCN, and USN escort carriers closed the Mid-Atlantic "Air Gap" that bedeviled convoys early on.

The Air Gap was the area of the North Atlantic that was out of the range of the Allied patrol airplanes flying from land bases. These patrol planes spotted and attacked U-boats on the surface, where they were most vulnerable. Remember that the U-Boat spent most of its time surfaced, since both range and speed were drastically reduced when submerged. Having F4F's and SBD's along to look for subs helped bridge this gap. Eventually, the escort carriers were put at the heart of hunter-killer groups that just went out hunting U-boats separately from convoys, where they were even more effective.

Shooting down FW 200's was another major contribution that F4F's off escort carriers performed. The Condors were actually one of the most feared weapons the Axis had. They weren't really used as bombers so much as reconnaissance aircraft. They would go out looking for convoys, send back reports, and then the U-Boat commanders ashore would vector in large multi-wolfpack attacks on the convoy and overwhelm the escorts. Shooting them down before they made contact with the convoy was, obviously, very helpful.

And as an illustration of what FluffyBob said about late-war training standards:
On January 5, 1945 Imperial Japanese Navy Lt (jg) Yutaka Maruyama crashed his Zero onto the flight deck of the escort carrier USS Manila Bay. His body was recovered and his wallet was given to the air officer of the Manila Bay's air group, Commander Wilson Bartlett. At the time of his death, Maruyama had about 300 hours total flight time. Bartlett (a relatively average pilot on a somewhat minor unit of the US fleet), had accumulated more time in the air, in more types of aircraft, before he had finished flight training. That was the biggest difference between the US and Axis air forces after, say, 1944.

(Source: Bartlett, Randolph and Sugahara, Kan, "The Kamikaze's Wallet", Naval History, 24(6):52-58)

jinty
11-09-2010, 12:29 PM
Pages 93 and 96 of the book Wildcat Aces of WW2 (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Zj9q57s9Z3AC&pg=PA93&lpg=PA93&dq=operation+torch+dewoitine+f4f&source=bl&ots=Q6-jSwEH3L&sig=YzbOO4t8fiXiyPOkADO6gakcfYU&hl=en&ei=hoHZTJq-Odq5jAeKorGwCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBUQ6AEwAA#v=onepage) (Google online book) contain some interesting details, including #16 and #17 of kills made against Vichy French aircraft during Operation Torch (invasion of French North Africa in November 1942) and #42, which confirms/repeats Malacandra's cite about RN Fleet Air Arm Martlets downing 4x Bf109s in 1945.

And this page (http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/Aircraft/FAACapturedAircraftHomepage.html) has an, erm, slightly speculative drawing of an FAA F4U in German markings following its capture after a forced landing in Norway. Not exactly what you're looking for but you might be interested.

sqweels
11-09-2010, 01:06 PM
They were better in some, but not all, ways. Faster and more manueverable than the USN fighters.
Faster? The A6M-2 Zero was scarcely faster at all than the F4F-3 (332 mph vs 330), but its superior acceleration and climb rate made it seem faster. The F4F-4 paid a penalty for its folding wings and extra guns which brought its speed down to 312 or 316.

The A6M-5 was up to 351 mph, but the F6F was 380, still relatively slow for a late-war fighter.

Having F4F's and SBD's along to look for subs helped bridge this gap. Eventually, the escort carriers were put at the heart of hunter-killer groups that just went out hunting U-boats separately from convoys, where they were even more effective.
I think most escort carriers used TBF/TBM Avergers along with F4F/FM Wildcats, although later Corsairs were also used. I haven't heard of escort carriers embarking SBDs.

Sailboat
11-09-2010, 01:28 PM
Both these aircraft were designed for naval use, which typically left them a little heavier and lower performing than land based contemporaries.

Indeed. I'm always shocked at how big a difference in performance existed between contemporary land-based and carrier aircraft.

Faster? The A6M-2 Zero was scarcely faster at all than the F4F-3 (332 mph vs 330), but its superior acceleration and climb rate made it seem faster. The F4F-4 paid a penalty for its folding wings and extra guns which brought its speed down to 312 or 316.

The A6M-5 was up to 351 mph, but the F6F was 380, still relatively slow for a late-war fighter.

Chuck Hawks (http://www.chuckhawks.com/hellcat.htm) says 371 mph, but quoted speed is a malleable thing with WWII aircraft especially, as it varied by altitude and weapon configuration as well as numberless variants, with subtle variants often flying at the same time. For comparison, the contemporaneous land-based P-38J (http://www.chuckhawks.com/lightning_P38.htm) was capable of 426 mph and the P-51B-7 (http://www.chuckhawks.com/mustang_P-51.htm) could hit 445 mph (all three aircraft are late 1943 models).

For what it's worth, I've read that Japanese pilots regarded the Corsair as the finest American fighter, which my Lightning-loving heart has trouble accepting. :P I've never hear of the Corsair in Europe; I always assumed it was, like the B-29, specifically designated to the Pacific theater.

paperbackwriter
11-09-2010, 01:53 PM
I think most escort carriers used TBF/TBM Avergers along with F4F/FM Wildcats, although later Corsairs were also used. I haven't heard of escort carriers embarking SBDs.

Damn brain cramp. Here I am talking about escort carrier use in the Atlantic versus Pacific and I mention a plane used in the Pacific. You're right, Avengers were used to hunt subs. SBD's were embarked on some escort carriers in the Pacific to help in pre-invasion bombardments and the like.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
11-09-2010, 05:53 PM
They were better in some, but not all, ways. Faster and more manueverable than the USN fighters. But very fragile compared to the Wildcat. It came down to a pilot making the best of his planes' advantages and using his opponents' weaknesses. In the early days of the war, it was the greater experience of the Japanese pilots that really decided the outcome of many air battles. They could sucker a newbie US pilot into trying to fight in the way that favored the Japanese. This made it look like the Zero was just way to hard to beat.
No self-sealing fuel tanks.

carnivorousplant
11-09-2010, 08:25 PM
No self-sealing fuel tanks.

Was it Guadalcanal where Marine or Navy pilots were flying aircraft with some kind of wooden home made drop tanks?

Snnipe 70E
11-09-2010, 09:25 PM
If remember right from the docs that I have watched the zero could out turn and climb the wildcat, and the wildcat could out dive the zero.

Zero pilot would attempt to get wildcat in a turning or climbing fight. Where as the Wildcat pilot would make a diving attack on the Zero.

But the Wildcat could take a lot of hits and just a few hit in the Zero ended up in a flaming plane.

The Hellcat had more power and could out climb the Zero. I read a story about one of the Japaneese Aces who had made many kills by getting a Wildcat pilot in a climb and when the Wildcat stalled he would get his kill. The first time he faced a Hellcat, thinking it was the same plane. He thought he had a sure kill when the Hellcat began a climb. He was suprised that the kept climbing and his Zero stalled. He was shot down but did servive but with injuries.

Johnny L.A.
11-09-2010, 11:13 PM
I read a story about one of the Japaneese Aces who had made many kills by getting a Wildcat pilot in a climb and when the Wildcat stalled he would get his kill. The first time he faced a Hellcat, thinking it was the same plane. He thought he had a sure kill when the Hellcat began a climb. He was suprised that the kept climbing and his Zero stalled. He was shot down but did servive but with injuries.
I heard the same story.
But the Wildcat could take a lot of hits and just a few hit in the Zero ended up in a flaming plane.
The Hurricane Mk. I had a similar problem. They didn't have armour, and the header tank is right in front of the instrument panel. By the Battle of Britain most of them were fitted with 70 pounds of plate behind the pilot, and self-sealing tanks. They also began retrofitting metal wings. (The earlier versions had fabric-covered wings.)

carnivorousplant
11-09-2010, 11:15 PM
(The earlier versions had fabric-covered wings.)

Christ on a crutch!

Johnny L.A.
11-09-2010, 11:22 PM
Christ on a crutch!

The fuselage aft of the cockpit was fabric covered, too. And the tubular steel frame was bolted and riveted together instead of being welded, and used wooden formers and stringers. Fascinating design. The frame being bolted together, it was pretty simple to repair in the field. The fabric was easy to repair as well. Bullet holes? just glue on a patch!

carnivorousplant
11-09-2010, 11:29 PM
The fuselage aft of the cockpit was fabric covered, too. And the tubular steel frame was bolted and riveted together instead of being welded, and used wooden formers and stringers. Fascinating design. The frame being bolted together, it was pretty simple to repair in the field. The fabric was easy to repair as well. Bullet holes? just glue on a patch!

Fabric burns, does it not?
:)

Johnny L.A.
11-09-2010, 11:55 PM
Yep, but generally incendiary ammunition wasn't used. There were tracers, but the idea was to break the target apart rather than to set the skin on fire. Hitting the opponent's fuel tank was desirable, but generally speaking you wanted to break parts off.

Most aircraft at the time had some fabric-covered parts, generally the control surfaces (rudder, ailerons, and elevators). The Hurricane was deigned using 'old school' techniques. It was developed from the Fury biplane. The Spitfire, which first flew four months after the Hurricane's first flight, was developed with the more modern monocoque construction.

carnivorousplant
11-10-2010, 12:01 AM
I thought the incendiary ammo concept in WWI was to burn balloons, zeppelins and fabric covered aircraft.

Johnny L.A.
11-10-2010, 12:16 AM
IIRC, the primary purpose of incendiary ammunition in WWI was to go after the observation balloons. By WWII most front-line fighters and bombers were metal. The idea was to smash as much lead as possible against that metal so as to cause structural failure. (Or to kill the pilot, or to set the fuel on fire.) The British used .303 Brownings, and had to use eight of them in the Hurricanes and Spitfires to get that lethal mass. Later Hurricanes carried 12 Brownings. Both the Hurricane and Spitfire later gained quartets of 20mm cannons in the wings. Meanwhile, the Bf-109 was designed with a pair of 7.92mm (roughly .30 caliber, like the Brownings) machine guns (one in each wing) -- and a 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub. Most of our planes (e.g., the P-51 Mustang or the F4U Corsair) used six .50 caliber guns, which packed a greater punch. The mighty P-47 Thunderbolt had eight fifties.

Take a look at some of the documentaries, and you'll see how well the guns chewed up the metal. In many clips you'll see parts flying off.

Hm... Kind of getting away from U.S. Navy (designed-for) fighters in the European air war...

Knorf
11-10-2010, 12:53 AM
The mighty P-47 Thunderbolt had eight fifties.
Phrases such as this make me feel all tingly and happy inside.

I never understand why people don't mention the mighty P-47 Thunderbolt more often. I suppose it's because the P-47 isn't as immediately striking in appearance as others, but for sure one can't fault its performance.

yendis
11-10-2010, 03:43 AM
Hm... Kind of getting away from U.S. Navy (designed-for) fighters in the European air war...

Which reminds me of another US Navy fighter used in Europe: the Brewster Buffalo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brewster_F2A_Buffalo), used by Finland in their Continuation War against the USSR.

audit1
11-10-2010, 04:19 AM
On August 19 1944 Ens. Alfred R Wood shot down two German planes while flying an F6F-5 from VOF-1 off the USS Tulagi over southern France. On August 20 Lt Edward Olszewski scored two more kills flying the same plane. I have no information as to what sort of German aircraft was involved. Souce F6f Hellcat in Action. Squadron books 2009

audit1
11-10-2010, 04:44 AM
Did a quick wikipedia search. and the German aircraft shot down on August 21, 1944 were JU 52s. USS Tulagi was operating in support of Operation Dragoon the invasion of Southern France.

Icerigger
11-10-2010, 06:02 AM
Note, a Corsair did manage to shoot down a Mig 15 in Korea.

Sailboat
11-10-2010, 08:01 AM
Note, a Corsair did manage to shoot down a Mig 15 in Korea.

That's dead sexy.

Captain Jesse G. Folmar, according to tha intarweb. Silver Star for it, but was shot down himself.

Sailboat
11-10-2010, 08:06 AM
Phrases such as this make me feel all tingly and happy inside.

I never understand why people don't mention the mighty P-47 Thunderbolt more often. I suppose it's because the P-47 isn't as immediately striking in appearance as others, but for sure one can't fault its performance.

I've read that, at very high altitudes, the chunky, heavy Thunderbolt was more maneuverable than any of its contemporaries. Possibly because of the horsepower and the elaborate supercharger system.

So, to sum up, you've got a plane that was faster, higher-flying, much more rugged, more heavily armed, longer-ranged, faster-diving, AND more maneuverable under some circumstances (at bomber-stream height) than anything your enemies had. And present in large numbers.

Tingly indeed.

mlees
11-10-2010, 11:12 AM
On August 19 1944 Ens. Alfred R Wood shot down two German planes while flying an F6F-5 from VOF-1 off the USS Tulagi over southern France. On August 20 Lt Edward Olszewski scored two more kills flying the same plane. I have no information as to what sort of German aircraft was involved. Souce F6f Hellcat in Action. Squadron books 2009

According to the Order of Battle page for this operation, there were several Hellcat squadrons involved:

800 Squadron on the HMS Emperor
VOF-01 on the USS Tulagi
VF-74 on the USS Kasaan Bay
VOC-01 (a composite squadron) with the Mediterranean Allied Coastal Air Force

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Dragoon_order_of_battle

This site ( http://www.vectorsite.net/avf4u.html#m5 ) claims some Royal Navy Corsairs engaged the Luftwaffe (but no enemy fighters) over Norway in raids on the Tirpitz in April, July, and August of '44, but wiki says no aerial opposition was encountered ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F4U ).