|This page is about the American fighter P-43A-1. For other version, see P-43A-1 (China).|
The P-43 was started as a private venture by the Seversky Aircraft Company (later known as Republic) which sought to improve upon its earlier fighter design the P-35. Several design changes turned this fighter into a good platform of which made the leap to the younger sibling, the P-47. The P-43 in its own right during 1940 when introduced to the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the only fighter which excelled at high-altitude performance due to its belly-mounted turbo-supercharger and an effective oxygen system to sustain the pilot at those heights.
Much like its predecessor and successor, the P-43 is a heavy fighter with a large engine which fills the role of a fighter/interceptor. Japanese aircraft at this rank can still outturn the P-43, but if used properly as a Boom & Zoom fighter, there should not be any need to turn fight. Priorities are to gain altitude and then be selective of the targets. Use diving speeds to zip in, shoot the enemy aircraft and then pull up and climb away. Resist the temptation of immediately turning back and finishing off an aircraft which was missed or wounded as doing so will only cause the P-43 to bleed energy it needs to work at its optimum. As a last resort, if caught in a situation where you need to dogfight, do so, but look for a way out so that you don’t become easy pickings for another enemy pilot.
| Max Speed
(km/h at 7,600 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Max Speed
(km/h at 7,600 m)
|Max altitude (meters)||Turn time (seconds)|| Rate of climb
|Take-off run (meters)|
|Combat flap||Take-off flap||Landing flap||Air brakes||Arrestor gear|
| Wing-break speed
| Gear limit
| Combat flap
|Max Static G|
|< 370||< 400||< 440||> 270|
|Optimal altitude||100% Engine power||WEP Engine power|
|2,100 - 7,000 m||1,100 hp||1,200 hp|
Survivability and armour
- No armour plating
- No armour glazing
- Critical components located at front of aircraft (fuel, pilot, engine, controls)
- More fuel tanks located in wings near fuselage
The P-43, to begin with, was a fairly heavy aircraft which needed to avoid any more weight to maintain its performance. In the early 1940s, aircraft protection was not a priority and therefore there are no armour plates or armoured glazing on the canopy. Critical components such as the pilot, engine and aircraft controls are clustered fairly close from the mid-fuselage to the nose. The aircraft also has fuel tanks located in the wings close to the fuselage which if ignited are quite difficult to extinguish.
Play to the P-43’s speed and manoeuvrability to Boom & Zoom and avoid enemy fighters to get the upper hand, as the P-43 cannot take too many shells before a critical component fails, the pilot is knocked out, fuel fire burns the plane or a wing snaps off.
The P-43A-1 is armed with:
- 2 x 12.7 mm Browning M2 machine gun, nose-mounted (200 rpg = 400 total)
- 2 x 12.7 mm Browning M2 machine gun, wing-mounted (200 rpg = 400 total)
For those pilots who have flown the P-36C, the machine gun layout on this aircraft is the same, except with beefier machine guns. The P-43 features 4 x 12.7 mm Browning M2 machine guns all holding 200 rounds of ammunition, meaning that all guns fire at the same rate and will empty out at the same time. Although two of the machine guns are mounted in the nose cowl and are synced to fire through the propeller arch the other two guns are each mounted in the wings.
Having the wing-mounted machine guns will require the pilot to consider their convergence range with 200 – 350 m being the ideal distance, depending on what the pilot is comfortable with. If the pilot tends to fly right on the tail of the enemy aircraft, then a 200 m convergence can be devastating especially when catching the enemy in a banking climb. For those pilots who tend to be a little ways off when firing, then a convergence of about 300 – 350 should work best.
Usage in the battles
As previously alluded to, the P-43 is a great fighter due to its turbo-supercharger in that with altitude, it can be devastating. The P-43 is a heavy hitter and can be used for both Boom & Zoom tactics or as a bomber hunter. While still a fairly manoeuvrable aircraft, it is suggested to avoid turn-fighting especially with Bf 109s and A6M Zeros which will dance around the P-43.
The four .50 calibre machine guns are the perfect platform for P-43 as a Boom & Zoom fighter. With diving speeds, the P-43 can race down and attack an enemy aircraft and then with full throttle can climb right back up to the perch where it was. Any enemy aircraft testing fate by climbing up after you, will most likely run out of energy and stall out, floating helplessly waiting for gravity to take over. At this point, the P-43 can rudder over with its large tail rudder and once again dive, but at this point will have a quite stationary target to eliminate. Once dispatched, the P-43 should climb right back up to its observation altitude and look for its next target.
One challenge of flying a fighter aircraft is the ability to climb higher altitudes to get to bombers. Many fighters simply do not have any superchargers or turbo-superchargers which allow it to continue to climb in the thinner air. The P-43 was outfitted with one such turbo-supercharger and therefore can easily get up to bomber altitude and pick off any pesky bombers orbiting ground targets. While the P-43 does not have any armour and can easily be disabled with a few machine gun rounds, it is advised to come at most bombers from the front, from above or from the side where many bombers tend to be the weakest in armament. It is important to attack critical components on the bomber such as the engines or the pilot as many bomber bodies and wings can easily soak up a large number of 12.7 mm rounds before systems begin to fail. As a bomber interceptor, it is important that you are attacking a bomber for the shortest amount of time possible because of their ability to shoot back.
For those aircraft which find themselves facing a P-43 in combat, head-on encounters can work to take out an engine or the pilot, but beware of the 4 x .50 calibre machine guns pointing at you, typically fire off some rounds at range and then take evasive maneuvers setting up for an Immelman or a Split-S right before or right after passing so to get your guns on target before the P-43 has a chance to manoeuvre or zoom away. If you are lucky to catch a P-43 pilot in a turn fight, maximize your turns with flaps and throttle control and it should not be long before you are in a situation where you have a firing solution and dispatch the aircraft. If you can bleed the P-43’s energy, then there will not be many options left for that pilot and leave you holding all the important cards in the deck.
Manual Engine Control
|Controllable||Not controllable||Not controllable||Not controllable||Separate||Not ontrollable||Not controllable|
Pros and cons
- Efficient armament of 4 x .50 calibre Brownings M2 machine guns
- Late Browning belts packs heavy firepower
- High red-line speed; 725 kph, does not compress too badly after 650 kph
- Decent energy retention for Boom & Zoom operations
- Excellent turn time, can turn with anything but biplanes and Japanese fighters
- Good performance at altitude thanks to a turbocharger
- Engine runs reliably during leaks
- Long take off due to heavy aircraft
- Somewhat underwhelming climb rate
- Slow acceleration overall
- Extremely low ammunition count
- Overheats quickly, back off of WEP and don't run at 100% as needed
- Somewhat low roll rate
- Very fragile without armour protecton
The Seversky Aircraft Company (later known as Republic), was trying to break into the fighter aircraft manufacture scene. In the early to mid-1930s, Seversky designed, developed and built the P-35 fighter aircraft. This aircraft was featured in competition with the Curtiss Hawk 75 (P-36), whereas compared to the Hawk, the P-35 was heavier, underperformed and more expensive, but resulted in being the overall winner and the USAAC contracted with Seversky to build fighters. Unfortunately, Seversky ran into production issues and was not able to produce the P-35 in a timely manner resulting Curtiss being awarded a contract also for the P-36.
Undeterred, Seversky believed they were developing a fighter which could find a way as a main fighter with the USAAC. In 1939, Seversky changed its name to Republic and began to privately modify their design of the P-35, working through known issues and enhancing those qualities which worked well for the fighter. After five iterations, the AP-4 came about; its improvements and differences came from a new Pratt & Whitney R-1830-SC2G engine which featured a belly-mounted turbo-supercharger. Interesting note was that the turbo-supercharger was a product of Boeing which they developed for the B-17 and when other aircraft companies became aware of this device, they sought to implement it with their aircraft to enable fighters the ability to perform at high altitude (future fighters such as the P-38 and P-47). The AP-4 also featured flush rivets (added aerodynamics), fully retractable landing gear.
Unfortunately, the AP-4 prototype also had a tight cowl fitted to the aircraft which lead to overheating and engine catching on fire resulting in the pilot bailing out and the loss of the aircraft. Undeterred, the USAAC was impressed with the demonstration fighter and put in an order for 13 more. At this time, the AP-4’s designation was changed to YP-43. By 1941, the initial 13 aircraft were delivered and has exceeded all expectations of the USAAC, the fighter was considered obsolete compared to other aircraft of the time due to lack of armour, limited manoeuvrability and no self-sealing fuel tanks. Further USAAC interest in the P-43 fizzled out as they began a hard look at Republic’s new venture, the P-47.
Production issues with the P-47 resulted in the USAAC ordering upgraded P-43J fighters which featured an upgraded engine and .50 calibre guns in the wings (as opposed to the .30 calibre used on earlier versions). Unfortunately the USAAC started receiving reports from Europe that the new P-43 would be obsolete by the time it was delivered and therefore the order was cancelled. At this point, Republic’s production line was rolling with P-47, however Pratt & Whitney was behind with their engine production causing production of the P-47s to halt. To keep the work moving, a lend-lease agreement with China was made to produce 125 P-43A-1 fighters. Very little difference was between the Chinese fighters and the others built by Republic except that the Chinese versions had added armor plates in the cockpit. During combat between China and Japan, the Chinese P-43s did not perform well and it was determined that the additional armor in the cockpit did not make a difference.
- The P-43A-1 has only been available in Operation S.U.M.M.E.R. of 2017 that lasted from 28 July to 28 August. It was unlocked after obtaining 7 pilot Marks of Distinction.
- 456fis.org website Republic P-43
- Joebaugher.com website [ http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_fighters/p43.html P-43 Lancer]
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