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From: (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Cannon v. machineguns (Was: Re: 100 Octane Fuel)
Date: 09 Sep 1997

>the Ki-43-Ic and all later production
>variants (including all Ki-43-II and the Ki-43-IIIa) had two 12.7mm machine
>But yes, the armament was still very light.

Like all good figher pilots, JAAF Oscar drivers in New Guinea were trained
to take advantage of the weaknesses of enemy aircraft.  For USAAF
Prestone-cooled fighters, this meant the radiators and associated plumbing.
 A couple of puntures was all that was needed to write off an e/a.  The
P-39F used by the 8FG was dead meat for a Ki-43's 2 mgs because the
radiator and plumbing were all in the rear, and not protected by armor.
All the Ki-43 pilot had to do was maneuver onto the P-39's six and squirt a
few rounds into the center of mass and that was all she wrote.
The P-40 was a tougher nut, because the radiator and plumbing were all
bunched up forward and well-protected by armor.  An Oscar jockey could nail
away for quite some time without inflicting serious damage on the Curtiss
machine.  His best bet was an attack from six o'clock low, aiming at the
front of the aircraft, or from the side in a pursuit curve, again aiming
for the front of the aircraft.  Or he could aim for the cockpit and try to
kill the pilot.  The P-40 was more vulnerable when it attacked bombers just
because its radiator was forward, and thus subject to receiving projectile
strikes from defending bomber gunners.
The P-38, should the joker at the controls allow his speed to bleed off,
was also easy pickings for the Oscar driver, whose standard tactic was to
attack from the four or eight o'clock position and aim for the bulges on
the boom that housed the radiator.  He could also rip the shit out of the
turbo-supercharger by walking his rounds forward a bit.
The P-47 was the toughest nut to crack, because its engine was air-cooled.
 But the turbo-supercharger was mounted aft, and vulnerable to a few
well-placed rounds.
The problem for the Oscar driver with the P-38 and the P-47 was that they
held such a performance advantage over his mount that he was unlikely to
get a chance to make his nails count.
In the hands of a skilled pilot with excellent gunnery skills, the Ki-43
was formidable.  In the hands of a less-skilled pilot with poor gunnery
skills....  Even for a skilled pilot, the Ki-43 was too lightly armed to do
much damage to a bomber.
The Ki-43 also had its weak point:  a high-pressure oxygen cylinder
mounted directly behind the pilot.  AAF pilots tried to place their rounds
to strike it; the ensuing explosion would rip the Ki-43 apart.
It's worth noting that the throw weight of the Ki-43 with 2 .50 cal (more
or less) machine guns was about 162 lbs per minute.  The throw weight of
the Me-109 models with one 20mm cannon and two .30 cal (more or less)
machine guns was about 246 lbs. per minute--better, but not all that much
different.  The throw weight of a P-40, with six .50 cal mgs, however,  was
486 lbs. per minute--very significantly different.  That's why marksmanship
was so important to scoring with either the Ki-43 or Me-109:  the pilot had
to make the few rounds he could fire in the brief window of opportunity he
had count.  The P-40, on the other hand (and the other US fighters) put out
such a volume of fire that as long as they hit the e/a somewhere, they
likely did serious damage.

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