Come friends, I’d like to provide a resource regarding one of aviation buffs favorite questions: “Which was better, the Zero or the Spitfire?”
Note: Well yes, I know that’s actually an Oscar catching the business from one Adam Haynes above. Something about I might have wrote the book. However, half the time Allied pilots couldn’t tell the difference anyway, and I didn’t feel like chasing down another image…or asking Anita C. Young to do one for me.
While I could go on for a couple 1000 words on this one, I’d much rather spend those keystrokes solving a certain carrier battle in the Indian Ocean. So, instead, I present to you a web resource that provides much more information.
Of course, there’s also the small problem that the Spitfire and Zero both fought the entirety of the conflict for their respective nations. As noted in the source above, the Mark V and most Zeroes were evenly matched through 1943. Even more so than the Germans, however, the Japanese were playing from behind in the aeronautical research and developmental department. Therefore, while the 1945-version of the Zero was, at best, a moderate improvement, the Mk XIV Spitfire was basically a full generation beyond the 1939 version. Indeed, as Eric Brown, quite possibly the world’s foremost pilot of all time put it, “[t]he Spitfire XIV was the greatest British fighter of World War II.”
Even ignoring the pilot disparity that existed by 1945, the British fighter was faster, more rugged, and had heavier firepower than its Japanese counterpart. In short, all other things being equal, the Spitfire would dictate the terms of the engagement from sighting to the Japanese pilot getting a free cremation courtesy of the Royal Air Force.