P-39/P-400 AIRACOBRA VS A6M2/3 ZERO-SEN NEW GUINEA
After the huge advances made in the early months of the Pacific war, it was in remote New Guinea where the advance of Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) A6M Zero-sen fighters was first halted due to a series of offensive and defensive aerial battles ranging from treetop height up to 30,000 ft. Initially, the IJNAF fought Australian Kittyhawks, but by May 1942 they had fought themselves into oblivion, and were relieved by USAAF P-39 and P-400 Airacobras. The battles unfolded over mountainous terrain with treacherous tropical weather.
Neither IJNAF or USAAF pilots had been trained for such extreme conditions, incurring many additional losses aside from those that fell in combat. Using specially commissioned artwork and contemporary photographs and testimony, this fascinating study explains how, despite their initial deficit in experience and equipment, the Airacobras managed to square the ledger and defend New Guinea.