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The Zero's little-known weakness


GrungyMonkey

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Everyone knows about the Zero's poor armor, and it's stick forces at high speeds.

Many are aware that the trigger was on the throttle, so pilots would shoot with their left hand.

Overall, I like that design choice, as it makes pilots more deliberate with their shooting.

But combined with number one, it created a serious weakness: The Zero cannot shoot with both hands on the stick. This is a big problem when you have controllability issues above 275 mph.

This may have held back many a Japanese pilot from a firing opportunity.Polish_20231001_211015202.thumb.png.98ec9a6523802208cc2e92a518c3e032.png

Polish_20231001_205426069.thumb.png.d57fd11e4dbe4e43687790d463516c7e.png

I'd love to see this issue modeled accurately, but on the other hand I understand how frustrating it would be to work around such a mechanic.

Unfortunately this kind of thing is infamously hard to 'get right' in flight sims (much like engine limits, weapon effectiveness, stick forces, and G tolerance).

What are your thoughts? Should an effort be made to represent this? Or should it be left in the 'Bad Ideas' bin?

440px-A6M3_Model22_UI105_Nishizawa.jpg.a8e0d110770fc5d06a189f6216c1b60e.jpg

Edited by GrungyMonkey
Grammar mistake
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16 hours ago, Gambit21 said:

The first photo with the P-38 is a Ki-43 “Oscar”, not a Zero. 😉

 

I see why you would think that, but in the movie I took these from it's definitely a Zero in that scene.

Screenshot2023-10-01235205.thumb.png.acc8654909e18063dac30a976d679dad.pngScreenshot2023-10-01235224.thumb.png.13ead0d0c6a5dfce648a0ca2df5dac5c.png

Look at the kink at the bottom of the rudder in the P-38 picture, that gives it away. 😉

nakajima_ki-43_and_mitsubishi_a6m2_fighter_aircraft.jpg.20f25619082a9d38cf076ba1b565309e.jpg

Edited by GrungyMonkey
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On 10/2/2023 at 12:06 AM, Gambit21 said:

Oh, I see the stabilizer now…

What movie is that?

永遠の0

"The Eternal Zero"

It's a solid 8/10, and an interesting look at the era.

I translated it as a pet project; you can watch that here:

https://mega.nz/file/w2czXCRD#-CjwFlLQvUsUnrcqC_iu3S-Pnk0R4vqTk8zDzGlYfy8

if you want.

Edited by GrungyMonkey
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Back to the OP’s original point - stick forces and gun firing/lack thereof…this is interesting and something I hadn’t considered before. Modeling such behavior would definitely have a huge impact on tactics, and how a fight might turn out. I know this would have prevented many a snap-shot kill for me back in the old IL2. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, GrungyMonkey said:

Everyone knows about the Zero's poor armor, and it's stick forces at high speeds.

Many are aware that the trigger was on the throttle, so pilots would shoot with their left hand.

Overall, I like that design choice, as it makes pilots more deliberate with their shooting.

But combined with number one, it created a serious weakness: The Zero cannot shoot with both hands on the stick. This is a big problem when you have controllability issues above 275 mph.

This may have held back many a Japanese pilot from a firing opportunity.Polish_20231001_211015202.thumb.png.98ec9a6523802208cc2e92a518c3e032.png

Polish_20231001_205426069.thumb.png.d57fd11e4dbe4e43687790d463516c7e.png

I'd love to see this issue modeled accurately, but on the other hand I understand how frustrating it would be to work around such a mechanic.

Unfortunately this kind of thing is infamously hard to 'get right' in flight sims (much like engine limits, weapon effectiveness, stick forces, and G tolerance).

What are your thoughts? Should an effort be made to represent this? Or should it be left in the 'Bad Ideas' bin?

440px-A6M3_Model22_UI105_Nishizawa.jpg.a8e0d110770fc5d06a189f6216c1b60e.jpg

That was tryed in Clifs of Dover, make pilot have "two hands" , Anthropomorphic Controls , it was great idea but it was big fail in game. People tought it was bug when they could not do few things at same time, or it was to sensitive to make something that was posible with two hands not posible in game and so on... i doubt this gona be reproduced in any future sims.

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1 hour ago, CountZero said:

That was tryed in Clifs of Dover, make pilot have "two hands" , Anthropomorphic Controls , it was great idea but it was big fail in game. People tought it was bug when they could not do few things at same time, or it was to sensitive to make something that was posible with two hands not posible in game and so on... i doubt this gona be reproduced in any future sims.

That's a perfect example for how this goes wrong.

The best I can come up with is using a button to toggle "both hands on stick" and only then restricting controls (in exchange for a big improvement in controllability).

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I was not aware of the trigger being on the throttle.  Interesting topic, and thanks for the post.

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4 hours ago, CountZero said:

That was tryed in Clifs of Dover, make pilot have "two hands" , Anthropomorphic Controls , it was great idea but it was big fail in game. People tought it was bug when they could not do few things at same time, or it was to sensitive to make something that was posible with two hands not posible in game and so on... i doubt this gona be reproduced in any future sims.

Yep. I can't see any way to implement this in game in a way that won't be awful for the vast majority of players. Simply one of those limitations we have to accept when playing videogames with toy joysticks.

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Working signatures? What a novel concept!

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  • Executive Producer Skystreak Productions

The only way to answer this would be to somehow ask a real Zeke pilot when two hands would be required or was it ever needed? Are there any anecdotal mentions of this topic by WWII Zeke pilots? I don’t recall any. 
 

Jason

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20 minutes ago, Jason_Williams said:

The only way to answer this would be to somehow ask a real Zeke pilot when two hands would be required or was it ever needed? Are there any anecdotal mentions of this topic by WWII Zeke pilots? I don’t recall any. 
 

Jason

I don’t recall any.

However wasn’t a report published on the test that the U.S did on a captured Zero? This might have some valuable indicators on speeds/stick forces/control surfaces deflection. I’ve either never read it myself, or it was long enough ago that I can’t recall reading it.

What I’m getting at, is that if at X speed stick forces are almost unmanageable, then a linear progression can be inferred to some degree…maybe. ‘shrug’

 

 

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Just found it.

”…at speeds of 300 mph or more, both hands are necessary for slow roll”

So the inferred progression of two hands, hard, harder, harder still would start around 300 mph. Then a map for 1 hand which would be much steeper.

This is where a stick, 2 hand button map would work IMO. Or just “force” 2 hands around 300 mph if maneuvering and preclude gun use. In any case, while very early I find this whole idea very interesting.

 

 

Link won’t post with my phone, just search U.S. Japanese Zero test report.

 

 

 

Edited by Gambit21
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57 minutes ago, Jason_Williams said:

The only way to answer this would be to somehow ask a real Zeke pilot when two hands would be required or was it ever needed? Are there any anecdotal mentions of this topic by WWII Zeke pilots? I don’t recall any. 
 

Jason

https://old-forum.warthunder.com/index.php?/topic/569274-high-speed-manoeuvrability-of-a6m-series-of-fighters-zeros-is-too-good/

A lot of my information comes from this post. Here are some relevant bits:

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I inferred that if turning was that hard at medium speeds, most pilots would have had to use both hands just to turn with late war American planes in the high speed, turning dives we'd use to escape.

I wish I could track down and translate first hand accounts, but I haven't yet found any Japanese websites like ww2aircraftperformance to find combat reports.

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23 minutes ago, Gambit21 said:

Just found it.

”…at speeds of 300 mph or more, both hands are necessary”

Link won’t post with my phone, just search U.S. Japanese Zero test report.

 

 

 

http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/japan/ENG-47-1673-A.pdf

This must be what you're talking about.

Although my post was mainly about elevator response, and they're talking about ailerons.

That probably did present shooting difficulty too; The Zero's high speed roll rate was notoriously bad.

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On 10/2/2023 at 8:40 PM, GrungyMonkey said:

The best I can come up with is using a button to toggle "both hands on stick" and only then restricting controls (in exchange for a big improvement in controllability).

That is actually a nice idea, like the "lean forward" (to look through the gunsight command in certain Jet simulations for the Mig 15 etc.) maybe that would be a way to do it @Jason_Williams? But I am not sure how readily such a feature would be accepted bythe players.

It is for sure a prominent feature of the Zero and a reason why I was insistant not to go slow vs a Zero, because why??? Besides an Oscar, there is no better ride in the sub 200 mph category. But above that speed, the Zero nowhere near lives up to what it could do because of these limitations.

I also assume that back then, the maneuvering snapshot was not really in the mind of the designers. But a slashing attack run and then fire. Even though controls get hard, you can still move the stick to take good aim. But aerobatics are a different thing althogether then.

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9 minutes ago, ZachariasX said:

Besides an Oscar, there is no better ride in the sub 200 mph category.

Unrelated story, the Japanese tested the two planes against each other. On paper, the Oscar should have had a slight turn advantage, but in actual mock combat the Zero always turned better. They couldn't make sense of the physics, no matter how they ran it. I remember they were really confused.

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Well, if the tests were run by the IJN I'm pretty sure the fix was in as far as the results go.  The Army and Navy were mortal enemies.  They would never allow a result that would show the Army plane is better than the Navy one.  Much like they manipulated the outcome of wargaming the battle of Midway during the planning stages.

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On 10/4/2023 at 4:54 PM, BlitzPig_EL said:

Well, if the tests were run by the IJN I'm pretty sure the fix was in as far as the results go.  The Army and Navy were mortal enemies.  They would never allow a result that would show the Army plane is better than the Navy one.  Much like they manipulated the outcome of wargaming the battle of Midway during the planning stages.

I can't find the tests, but they figured that the Zero pilots were side-slipping ever so slightly into the turn, which made them turn faster.

Whenever we do get a modern sim Zero, it would be neat to test.

Edited by GrungyMonkey
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7 hours ago, GrungyMonkey said:

I can't find the tests, but they figured out that the Zero pilots were side-slipping ever so slightly into the turn, which made them turn faster.

I would really be careful taking anectotal evidence as an aerodynamic propperty.

In almost all cases, the actual situation that led to a given account was way more circumstancial than what they usually convey saying. I'm absolutely certain that some flew tighter circles after kissing their rabbit foot as well. But this is not how aerodynamics work. As mentioned before, the Zero was an unusual plane for the Japanese pilots when it came out because it represented the antithesis of their flying and fighting style, and they had to adapt for it. The Oscar was what they were used to and it is logical that they were better at flying that one (at least initially) than riding the edge of the enveloppe in a Zero. Petty grievances among services certainly don't help either.

But you really don't get better turn times by going crabwise, despite tons of anectotes alluding to such or similar "tricks". Given almost any plane can outturn the other depending on crcumstances, the true performance to pilots is usually obscured by several scares and close shaves.

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I was just relaying what the report said.

That said, according to these guys

https://aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/92335/what-happens-to-lift-and-drag-on-aircraft-and-its-components-when-sideslip-is

sideslipping can create lift from the fuselage, so for that to help tighten the circle isn't the most outlandish thing I've ever heard.

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4 hours ago, GrungyMonkey said:

so for that to help tighten the circle isn't the most outlandish thing I've ever heard.

If going sideways was a more benefical way for flight, every airliner would go sideways in level flight to save fuel.

In a "tight circle" you are at maximum lift. Any slip will do one thing: it will increase total drag and it will reduce total wing lift. Both effects expand and prolong your turning circle. If the air flows over the wing at an angle, the distance from root to trailing edge will be longer, hence the aerodynamic profile will be thinner, reducing max. lift coefficient. (That is also a reason why wing sweep is nice when going fast.) Frontal drag will increase with both the increase of frontal silhouette scaling by the square!) and by the reduced aerodynamic drag by having a lesser aerodynamic shape in the airflow.

The people you refer in that link to don't prove at all that side slipping increases total lift, they actually admit that they don't know and some of their musings are preposterous in context of a maximum turn maneuver. And to answer the question they raised, the lift and drag are changed when slipiing that with progressive sideslip, drag is increased and lift is decreased as well. You don't need CFD for that. That in case of dihedral, that the leading wing will have "more lift then the other" is certainly true, but in total it is a loss over any wing when flying straight. It is true that fuselages can produce a lot of lift (like in the F-15 or a Su-27), but those round fuselages like the one of the Zero don't do that for any practical purpose.

Slipping is a standard maneuver for a purpose. There is nothing mysterious about it. The side slip is a maneuver to steepen your approach. It acts as an airbrake. It steepens an aproach, because the aircraft performs progressively worse aerodynamically with a progressive increase of the side slip angle.

You should really close that book and never open it again. I'll leave it at that now.

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