In the Solomons, the IJN's operational both carrier-borne and land- based fighter was the single-seat, single-engined Mitsubishi A6M1-- the Zero. Known to us officially as the Zeke, it was armed with two 20-millimeter cannon and two .30-caliber machine guns, and was good for 340 miles an hour. As a fighter-bomber, it could carry two 130-pound bombs. It had a 31,000-foot service ceiling and a designed endurance of 1,166 miles. The Zero was extremely maneuverable and a fast climber, and dogfighting with it was to be avoided.
Also much seen in the Solomons was the IJN'S land-based multiplace twin-engined bomber--the Mitsubishi G4M2--the Betty. Capable of delivering a payload of one torpedo or a ton of bombs, it could make 325 miles an hour and had a range of 2,262 miles. For defense, the Betty carried an assortment of five cannon and machine guns. Like the Zero, it lacked self-sealing fuel tanks and tended to burn when hit. Neither carried any armor.
The operational USN carrier-borne and Marine land-based fighter at the time of the Solomons was the single-seat single-engined Grumman F4F--the Wildcat. Armed with six.50-caliber machine guns, it was capable of 318 miles an hour. As a fighter-bomber, it could carry two 250-pound bombs. The Wildcat had a 34,800-foot service ceiling and a 925-mile range. Compared to the Zero, it had a slower climb