P-39/P-400 Airacobra vs A6M2/3 Zero-Sen

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Michael John Claringbould
Other Publication Information
80 pages, 60 B&W photos, 10 color plates
Product / Stock #
DUE 87
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Front cover

This book details combat between the P-39/P-400 Airacobra and A6M2/3 Zero in New Guinea in 1942. This book follows the usual pattern/layout for this series with a history and specifications of aircraft, the training and operations of the servicemen of both nations, and then combat operations.

The book is broken down into 11 sections. The introduction discusses in brief the lead up to both designs and provides a chronology from inception until the end of the war.

Next the design and development of both types are covered. The P-39/P-400 is covered first then the A6m2/3 Zero.

Chapter Three has the technical specifications of each model. B-29 coverage begins with the P-39D and continues with the P-39F, P-39K and P-400.The same treatment is given to the A6M, covering the A6M1, A6m@ Model 11, A6M2 model 21 and ending with the A6M3 model 32.

Chapter Four discusses the strategic situation and assessments as well as logistic and supply issues faced by both sides in the early days of WWII! The P-39 was a reliable and rugged aircraft, well-armed especially with the 37mm cannon, and had superior dive speed. Just don’t try and take it above 15,000 feet! This led to not trying to dogfight with the more agile Japanese fighter but to employ hit and run tactics to try and gain an advantage. The Zero was fast, agile with a good rate of climb and these qualities were used to great advantage by Japanese pilots.

Chapter Five gives us a look into the gunnery and pilot training of both the USAAC and IJNAF. There is also a page each devoted to biographies of both a P-39 and an A6M pilot.

Chapter Six covers combat situations between the two aircraft. In addition the author gives a good account of how the weather, lack of steady supply lines, and very primitive conditions effected combat for both sides. Also, he covers the combat formations and tactics used by both sides. This is by far the longest chapter of the book at 33 pages.

Chapter Seven is the statistics and analysis section. According to the author 44 Aircobras were lost in combat in 1942 with more than half of the pilots returning to fight another day. The Japanese lost 15 Zeros but only one pilot was able to survive. He also gives statistics to show how both sides over-claimed victories and some causes of this over-claiming.

Chapter Eight covers the aftermath with a two page summation. The final two sections have suggestions of further reading and the index for this volume.

This is a good read. There is a lot of information in these 80 pages. Many interesting photographs, a beautiful two-page combat painting, excellent color cockpit layout drawings, all to please both the historian and the modeler. I recommend this book to all!

Our thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy and my thanks to IPMS/USA for the review opportunity


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