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Why Is/Was the Wildcat So Ugly?


Bearfoot
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VA_SOLIDKREATE

I can already see the servers with 42 IJN and like 10 USA planes. The Zeke will get spammed big time. Mainly because a lot of folks think the plane makes the pilot. If we get the F4F-4 with six guns; it'll be interesting. Or better yet the FM-2 as a 'Collector Plane'. It had a taller tail and a more powerful engine (1350hp vs 1200hp for the F4F-4). Bad thing about it is I think we lose two guns again on the FM-2.

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Wildcat ugly? Naaaw it had a functional beauty, as did the F6F.

 

If you want to look at ugly, check this out (the Stipa-Caproni c. 1932)

 

Stipa-Caproni-7_zpsxcg4eors.jpg

 

800px-stipa-caproni_zps14k38ghy.jpg

 

Looks like it swallowed an Auster - and it did actually fly...

 

Edited by NZTyphoon
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Wildcat ugly? Naaaw it had a functional beauty, as did the F6F.

 

If you want to look at ugly, check this out (the Stipa-Caproni c. 1932)

 

Stipa-Caproni-7_zpsxcg4eors.jpg

 

800px-stipa-caproni_zps14k38ghy.jpg

 

Looks like it swallowed an Auster - and it did actually fly...

 

 

Ha, yes. But this is exactly the Wildcat design taken to its logical extreme!

 

Caproni_Stipa.jpg

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A portrait of an F4F fan: Lt. Cdr. John "Jimmie"  Thach

 

F4F_Martlett_fbz_62.jpg

 

 

And another functionally ugly aircraft, from this part of the world, the Transavia PL 12 Airtruck:

 

brainteaser_169_transavia_pl-013.jpg

 

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Indeed, off the top of my head I can't think of an uglier mass produced (thousands) fighter than F4F.

 

 

I include the P47 along with it
 
 
P47 on the other hand looks really great to me. 
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SvAF/F19_Klunk

when US builds a plane around a big beefy radial engine (necessity and a pragmatic solution for carrier operated planes; less hussle with maintenance) .. well that's when u get a carrot/turnip looking thang.. I love em

Edited by SvAF/F19_Klunk
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Though in this it is more difficult than usual to separate the performance of the a/c from the performance of the pilots in this success, as for most of its service life, was there not massive disparity in training/competence/experience of the USN pilots vs the IJN, the latter having irreplaceably lost the flower of its fighter corp in the early part of the war?

Somewhat yes, but not quite that simple. Although Japan's early war IJN plane corps suffered losses at all early naval battles, they weren't, as a whole, all that big. Many pilots survived and continued to march on... but with what and whom?

 

The replacement scheme for Japanese was completely different from allies and couldn't respond fast to developing situation - until late war they only produced about 100 pilots every year. They didn't have the speed and quality in balance, and used their most experienced pilots in combat duties, not as trainers or tactical officers. They spent a year filling their carrier groups for summer 1944 offensives and were wiped out in just two days in Philippines. The attrition rate for experienced and rookie pilots combined led to:

1) Overall, inability to produce enough pilots to counter Allied offensives;

2) A huge knowledge loss every time a precious pilot was lost in battle.

3) Finally, a drastic drop in pilot quality against an enemy that actually increases flight training every single year.

 

In 1944, Japanese trainee had about 250+ hours of flight training before combat, but for US pilot the same number was increasing to beyond 500. In the end, Japanese minimized training, with pilots having under 100 hours of flight training before they went to fight the 500+ hour US pilots who had been instructed by recent veterans.

 

So production and training time of pilots was a key factor here - as it was with Germans, as well. Immense gap in plane production capabilities would have required resource-starved Japan to produce something like 10 times the pilots and planes to operational duty to even equalize the losses against Allied forces. So in case you happen to fight an industrial-scale 1940s air war - get your pilot training programme running immediately :)

 

Edited by ElPerk
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=362nd_FS=Hiromachi

 

 

They spent a year filling their carrier groups for summer 1944 offensives and were wiped out in just two days in Philippines.

That's not true. 1st Mobile Fleet was based on three carrier divisions, each with three aircraft carriers. First Carrier Division included Shokaku, Zuikaku and Taiho carried on board 601st Kokutai. Second included Chitose, Chiyoda and Zuiho carried 653rd Kokutai which was created on February 15, 1944. Third, and last, included Hiyo, Junyo and Ryuho and carried on board 652nd Kokutai created on March 10. 

 

The reason Japanese used fresh units in Battle of Philippine Sea is because their carrier based units were used throughout 1943 to reinforce land based operation in Solomons and New Guinea. So the Japanese Navy plan to create a massive mobile air fleet had to be curtailed and units with trained and experienced crews were prematurely sent to Central Pacific area, and carrier based units were simply flooded with inexperienced pilots coming in March 1944. Many of them did not complete operational training and in some cases had been graduated from a truncated and accelerated basic pilot training program. 

 

The one reason often omitted in those kind of discussions is the level of society advancement, US society was quite motorized and by 1950s the ratio of cars per person skyrocketed. Japanese had much smaller industry and it wasnt focused on civilian designs, especially that country did not have great roads and largely depended on railways. It's just easier to familiarize people with technology when they already know something or saw something. Either way, Japanese could have a better starting position if they did not have such a rigorous training, even Sakai complained that many talented men failed during training and ultimately had to serve on ships while they didnt even learn to fly yet. But that was Navy idea in 1930s to have small but professional and highly skilled force. When it came to attrition war with industrialized society they failed. 

 

Anyway, thats  not related to Wildcat. Ugly as it is, F4F is still a dangerous opponent. 

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That's not true. 1st Mobile Fleet was based on three carrier divisions, each with three aircraft carriers. First Carrier Division included Shokaku, Zuikaku and Taiho carried on board 601st Kokutai. Second included Chitose, Chiyoda and Zuiho carried 653rd Kokutai which was created on February 15, 1944. Third, and last, included Hiyo, Junyo and Ryuho and carried on board 652nd Kokutai created on March 10.

 

The reason Japanese used fresh units in Battle of Philippine Sea is because their carrier based units were used throughout 1943 to reinforce land based operation in Solomons and New Guinea. So the Japanese Navy plan to create a massive mobile air fleet had to be curtailed and units with trained and experienced crews were prematurely sent to Central Pacific area, and carrier based units were simply flooded with inexperienced pilots coming in March 1944. Many of them did not complete operational training and in some cases had been graduated from a truncated and accelerated basic pilot training program.

 

The one reason often omitted in those kind of discussions is the level of society advancement, US society was quite motorized and by 1950s the ratio of cars per person skyrocketed. Japanese had much smaller industry and it wasnt focused on civilian designs, especially that country did not have great roads and largely depended on railways. It's just easier to familiarize people with technology when they already know something or saw something. Either way, Japanese could have a better starting position if they did not have such a rigorous training, even Sakai complained that many talented men failed during training and ultimately had to serve on ships while they didnt even learn to fly yet. But that was Navy idea in 1930s to have small but professional and highly skilled force. When it came to attrition war with industrialized society they failed.

 

Anyway, thats not related to Wildcat. Ugly as it is, F4F is still a dangerous opponent.

Thank you for the correction. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
216th_Lucas_From_Hell

Nice video, 5tuka... but I still see an ugly aircraft which flies nicely. Kind of like the F-4E :biggrin:

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  • 2 months later...

Though in this it is more difficult than usual to separate the performance of the a/c from the performance of the pilots in this success, as for most of its service life, was there not massive disparity in training/competence/experience of the USN pilots vs the IJN, the latter having irreplaceably lost the flower of its fighter corp in the early part of the war?

 

True. The IJN lost most of their best pilots when their carriers were sunk at Midway and they did not have a reserve of well trained pilots like the US had. The IJN put all their eggs in one basket and it backfired big time.

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A portrait of an F4F fan: Lt. Cdr. John "Jimmie"  Thach

 

I read somewhere that Thach, Flatley, & co weren't necessarily fans of the Wildcat, specifically the F4F-4. It seems they complained about the six guns (better with four because less weight), the fact that the guns tended to jam, the folding wings (adding weight), and the initially missing armor plate, shoulder harnesses, and belly tanks. I think it was in "The First Team" where I read that.

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True. The IJN lost most of their best pilots when their carriers were sunk at Midway and they did not have a reserve of well trained pilots like the US had. The IJN put all their eggs in one basket and it backfired big time.

The Japanese still had quite a few good pilots after Midway. It's the fighting in the Solomons and New Guinea after that took the real toll. Make no mistake - many good Japanese pilots found themselves over Henderson field in late 1942.

 

Okinawa - not so many. FORCE PARITY is one of the things that makes Guadalcanal so interesting

The whole "the Japanese lost all their good pilots at Midway" thing is pure myth.

Edited by Gambit21
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Indeed Gambit, just more of the hegemony of the carrier fans, totally ignoring US, Commonwealth, and,  Japanese Army, aviation.

 

In particular New Guinea was the meat grinder for the Japanese Army's pilots.  As I recall from my last read of Fire in the Sky, the Japanese Army lost 50% of all their pilots with 350 hours or more of combat experience over New Guinea.

The destruction of the IJAAF was so complete, that the commander of US Naval Aviation in the Pacific remarked to General Kenny, USAAF commander in the SW Pacific that by the time the carriers got to Japanese home waters, there was nothing left for them to shoot down.

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You want ugly...

 

Here's ugly...

 

fleetshadower.jpg

 

The Airspeed Fleet Shadower

 

Wow, it really doesn't get much more unattractive than that.  One of the reasons I love British aircraft so much is that backyard inventor/determined to fail, even if I succeed in the attempt attitude that seems to surround so many of their designs.

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=362nd_FS=Hiromachi

Yes, British designs are like British tactics. Sometimes brilliant and piece of mastery, but mostly ugly and prone to fail:

 

 

 

In particular New Guinea was the meat grinder for the Japanese Army's pilots.  As I recall from my last read of Fire in the Sky, the Japanese Army lost 50% of all their pilots with 350 hours or more of combat experience over New Guinea. The destruction of the IJAAF was so complete, that the commander of US Naval Aviation in the Pacific remarked to General Kenny, USAAF commander in the SW Pacific that by the time the carriers got to Japanese home waters, there was nothing left for them to shoot down.

New Guinea was really a mess. First Army was not even keen on participating and considered it secondary front at best - they werent even sure they were needed there and though Navy would better reinforce this area. Secondly, Army considered it was ill prepared for operations in Southern Pacific -  their training, equipment or doctrine were not well suited to operate over large expanses of water but was focused on war on the Asian mainland. 

Last but not least, I'd not be so sure about that 50% figure. If Army sent there some of best fighter units, the bomber units were really fresh - for instance light bomber units sent there were former training units hastily re-equipped and brought to operational status.

Edited by =LD=Hiromachi
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Of course not all of their good pilots were lost at Midway. Japanese aces such as Saburo Sakai and Tetsuzo Iwamoto were still racking up many aerial victories until the end of the war. But the IJN did lose four carriers and a massive amount of their good pilots at Midway, which was a great blow to the Japanese. Midway is regarded by many historians as the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Before Midway, the Japanese had the upper hand. After Midway there was Parity and it took many more battles in the following months before the US had supremacy. In fact, the battles only got tougher and bloodier after Midway.

I'd also like to see Guadalcanal included in IL-2. There were indeed many good Japanese pilots over Henderson field in 1942. The air war of the Guadalcanal Campaign was fierce, with both sides losing hundreds of aircraft. The US was however able to rescue more than half of their downed pilots, while the most of the downed Japanese pilots were never recovered.

 

The battle of Midway, the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal resulted in the IJN losing a massive amount of their best pilots in 1942. Something they were unable to fully recover from. The United States also had a more effective pilot rotation system, which meant that more veterans survived and went on to training, where they were able to pass on lessons they had learned during combat.

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=362nd_FS=Hiromachi

 

 

Of course not all of their good pilots were lost at Midway. Japanese aces such as Saburo Sakai and Tetsuzo Iwamoto were still racking up many aerial victories until the end of the war.

Still missing the point man. Besides, Sakai wasnt scoring much after mid 1942 since he was badly wounded.

 

 

 

But the IJN did lose four carriers and a massive amount of their good pilots at Midway, which was a great blow to the Japanese.
 

No, no no. Japanese lost during Midway events 121 airmen (11 of those were from cruisers recce seaplanes) out of 480+ (stay with me - airment =/= pilots) which differs not much from following battles - Eastern Solomons (110) or Santa Cruz (145). In fact far far more painful at this stage was loss of 721 skilled and experienced aircraft technicians and deck crews who were responsible for servicing aircraft on board of Kido Butai. When it comes to fighter pilots for example they lost 25 of them. However severe, especially in terms of officers commanding the air strikes and flight leaders, they weren't nearly as disastrous as portrayed before and up to this date often. 

 

 

 

Midway is regarded by many historians as the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Before Midway, the Japanese had the upper hand. After Midway there was Parity and it took many more battles in the following months before the US had supremacy. In fact, the battles only got tougher and bloodier after Midway.

Well, one may question their assumptions. As I said above, as much as painful those losses were not terrible and certainly did not account for a turning point. World War II was not a war of few battles but attrition war and as such it wasnt one battle to decide things but continuous line of events leading to gaining advantage of one side. Japanese were suffering losses through 1942 and 1943 while Americans (no doubt suffering as well) were building Big Blue Fleet and gaining material and numerical superiority impossible to match by the Japanese.

 

I'd say not Midway but South Pacific campaigns were far more disastrous, both New Guinea and Solomon Islands sucked all available resources of Navy and decent chunk of Army.

 

 

 

The US was however able to rescue more than half of their downed pilots, while the most of the downed Japanese pilots were never recovered.

It's easier for Americans to fly back to Henderson than for Japanese to Rabaul or Bougainville and same for rescue operations, Japanese (especially that they were worse prepared for such operations) would have to air zone controlled by Americans and risk loosing not only downed aircrew but also rescue party. There are however a few instances when badly mauled Betty bombers came back to Rabaul on just one engine.

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PatrickAWlson

Kinda been said, but the US and Japan had really different philosophies.  The US wanted tough planes that could make it home.  The Japanese wanted range and agility above all else with survivability as an afterthought.  The planes reflect that right down to their appearance.  

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PatrickAWlson

Back to the Wildcat - I actually like the way it looks.  FW190 A is my favorite.  F4U is my favorite US fighter (I like the P51 and P38 too).

 

For whatever reason I don't care for the P47 or Hellcat.  I know the Hellcat is a direct descendent, but ... something about the smaller Wildcat is much more appealing.

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=362nd_FS=Hiromachi

It's more complicated than that Pat. US could afford heavier (thus better protected, more robust in some ways and often better armed) planes having more advanced and greater industry which could produce engines of greater power output, more advanced superchargers and even turbochargers. Japanese at the same time to produce a competing airframe in terms of performance had to balance things out, not even necessarily in terms of range or agility, but also speed and rate of climb. On the other hand protection was not considered until 1941/1942 but for other reasons - unlike Soviet Union, Britain or Germany (and US having rich flow of information and experiences from British sources), Japan suffered relatively minor losses during combat over China and thus protection was not considered as there was nothing alarming. Yet after Khalkin-Gol some thought was given to that by both Navy and Army, rapidly boosted after the outbreak of  Pacific war. 

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