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6. Conclusion and notes


The primary rap against the CW-21 in some critiques is that it was lightly built and provided no fuel tank protection or effective armor. This is true but the same can be said for the Mitsubishi Zero that proved highly successful in early 1942. Moreover, many other Allied fighters entered combat in the Far East in 1941-1942 without adequate armor or fuel tank protection. Some aircraft that were rugged and well protected (e.g., the Hawker Hurricane) did not fare particularly well in these combats.

According to Casius "the CW-21 was superior in performance to the Hawk and B-339D." He suggests the CW-21B should have avoided dogfights with the Japanese fighters and suspects the reason this was not done was that "the Japanese opponents were greatly underestimated." It is certainly true that hardly anyone expected that the Japanese bombers that attacked Java from Borneo in early February 1942 would have land based fighter escorts.

Shores quotes Anaemet as saying Dutch pilots believed the CW-21B could out-climb the Zero but not out-turn it. The Hurricane could neither out-climb nor out-turn the Zero. Shores says the CW-21B had "a good rate of climb and maneuverability." He compares the CW-21 with the Curtiss Hawk, which he says was by no means a bad aircraft but simply surpassed "to some extent" in nearly every important performance category by its opponents.

The CW-21B was involved in few combats and those were often conducted under tactically unfavorable circumstances. Had its pilots had more time to learn the relative merits of their and the enemy's aircraft they might well have been able to use their CW-21Bs with more effect. The Hawk 75A fared poorly in the East Indies fighting but had done well in the early fighting over Europe and later did relatively well over Burma against the Japanese army's Type 1 fighter. With its metal ailerons the CW-21B probably had a higher role rate than the Zero and Type 1 fighter at high speeds. Though unable to outturn the nimble Japanese fighters, it might have been able to reverse a turn more quickly. The technique of a steep climb followed by a wingover, used by Fausel against the I-15 over Chungking, might also have succeeded against the Japanese fighters. Anaemet used a somewhat similar maneuver, a "half-loop, half-roll into a formation and shot down the leader" on February 5th to claim his only victory. The CW-21B's combat career lasting a single month was undistinguished at best. The CW-21 might have proved a relatively effective fighting machine in early 1942 had there been additional time and opportunity to engage the enemy.