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The IJN was working on two aircraft with significant improvements over the Zero - namely the J2M Raiden (Jack) and the N1K1-J Shiden (George). Also the A7M Reppu (Sam) was designed by Mitsubishi, the Zero’s designer.
Any speculations on how these would have performed against the Hellcats and Corsairs of the USN? Declining quality of Japanese pilots aside that is.
Thanks in advance for any input. This is something that fascinates me for some reason:)
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The A7M Reppu would have been superior in firepower, climb and overall maneuverability, although still slightly down on outright speed to the P-51 Mustang.
All of the above aircraft could climb and dive with the best of the American fighters. And both the N1K2-J and the Ki-84 were also more maneuverable, the J2M less so. All had comparable fuel and armour protection. That said late war Japanese aircraft performance did suffer from poor factory workmanship, ongoing maintenance, poor fuel quality and low-quality pilot training.
So generally even late war Japanese fighters proved 'easy meat' to the high quality US Army and Navy pilots. However, when American's stumbled over a high quality Japanese unit eg 343 Kokutai, then they often came off second best.
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