Saturday, March 28, 2020

On Japan not being able to produce good pilots later in the war

Years ago I read Samurai by Saburo Sakai.  Also the matter is covered in Toll and some others.  Japanese pilot training methods were exhaustive and time consuming.  Only a relatively small percentage of those who tried out were able to complete the training.  The Japanese pilots we encountered at the beginning were the best in the world.  But as they were killed off or wounded and could no longer fly, the Japanese had to change their methods.  There wasn’t time to train new pilots as thoroughly as they trained them in the past.  I can’t recall whether it was Sakai or one of the other Japanese aces who survived the war that said all of the pilots who washed out during his training were better than the pilots being turned out with abbreviated training toward the end of the war. 

As to planes being destroyed on carriers versus being shot down in combat – this occurred on both sides.  Launching planes from a carrier was time consuming, and if the enemy’s planes showed up before you got yours into the air then you had to stop launching and concentrate on saving your boat.  Lots of planes were destroyed on decks or down below if enemy planes were successful.  But at some point, almost all Japanese pilots being produced were inferior to American pilots.  Also, American planes at some point were superior to the Japanese.  The Japanese hadn’t time to produce a new design.  They tinkered with the Zero, but couldn’t make it as good as the later American planes.

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