Hellcat vs. Zero: Which ONE is More Lethal?

The Hellcat carried six .50 cal Browning machine-guns and could also carry up to 2,000lb of bombs.

At the start of World War II, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero was one of the most advanced and capable fighters. Designed and built largely in secret, it was an unknown package for the Allied Forces at the start of the war.

When it came out at the start of World War II, the Zero was thought to be the best carrier-based fighter in the world because of how well it could turn and how far it could fly. The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS) used it a lot as a fighter based on land too.

Powered by a Nakajima NK1C Sakae-12 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, it could reach speeds of up to 331 mph (533 kph). It was also heavily armed, with two 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns above the nose and two 20mm Type 99-1 Mk3 cannons in its wings. Most Allied aircraft at the time were only equipped with machine guns.

The Zero had a service ceiling of 33,000 feet (10,000 meters) and an enormous range of 1,160 miles (1,870 km). Its range is one of the Zero’s secret weapons, as it was almost unheard of for a single-seat fighter of the day.

This would later prove a tactical and psychological advantage as the aircraft could pop out of nowhere. This would make the Allies think that the Japanese Imperial Navy either had more carriers than they knew about or had information about where the American fleet was.

Early in the war, the Zero gained a reputation as a great dogfighter, with a kill-to-loss ratio of 12 to 1 by the middle of 1942. But the Allies in the Pacific Theater came up with new plans and methods to deal with this threat.

One such adaptation was the introduction of the American Grumman F6F Hellcat.

A dedicated carrier-based fighter aircraft, the Grumman F6F Hellcat, was made to replace the aging F4F Wildcat and respond in kind to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero. During the second half of the Pacific War, it was the most common fighter plane in the US Navy.

It got the job because it was faster than its rival, the Vought F4U Corsair, which at first had trouble seeing and landing on carriers.

The F6F Hellcat was a completely new design, but it looked like the Wildcat in many ways. It was powered by a 2,000-horsepower (1,500 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp, the same engine used for both the Corsair and the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters.

At was Also heavily armed with six 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns in its wings but could also swap out two machine guns for 20 mm AN/M2 cannons. The Hellcat had a service ceiling of 37,300 feet (11,400 meters) and a range of 1,945 miles (1,521 km).

The F6F first went into battle in September 1943. The thing that people remember most about it is that it was better than the A6M Zero and helped set up air superiority over the Pacific Theater. It was a tough, well-designed carrier fighter. 12,275 units were delivered to the US Navy in just over two years.

While in service with the American Navy, American Marine Corps, and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, Hellcats are credited with shooting down 5,223 enemy aircraft. That accounted for 75% of all air-to-air kills during the war. That was a kill-to-loss ratio of about 19 to 1.

From an air superiority point of view, the Hellcat was the best plane based on paper comparisons and actual combat effectiveness. But it should be noted that the Japanese Navy took heavy losses in battles like the Battle of Midway, losing many highly skilled pilots and carriers. After this, the Zero was tasked mainly with suicide kamikaze attacks using poorly trained pilots. For the Zero, the end was unavoidable.

After the war, both the Zero and the Hellcat were phased out of front-line service for both Navies (completely and entirely for the Japanese after their surrender), but F6F-5Ns with radar were still used as night fighters in 1954.