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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Mitsubishi A5M fighter; Mitsubishi Type 96 Carrier Fighter
Allied code name: Claude

Photos

Mitsubishi Type 96-2a fighter:
Japan's Mitsubishi Type 96-2a fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Mitsubishi Type 96-2a fighter:
Japan's Mitsubishi Type 96-2a fighter
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Design

The Mitsubishi A5M met a 1934 strict specification, the 9-Shi, that requested a fighter that could fit on an aircraft carrier, and was fast and manoeverable.1,5 Mitsubishi came forward with the Ka-14 prototype.1 The design team was led by Jiro Horikoshi.3,5

Unique Features

For its time, the Type 96 had unique features incorporated into its design.4 It had flush rivets throughout and had washout type wings.4

Cockpit

The A5M's cockpit was open allowing for an excellent field of view for the pilot.1,2,6

Fuselage

The fuselage of the A5M was a metal framework with aluminum stressed skin.1

Undercarriage

The undercarriage of the A5M was fixed.2,5,6

Wings

This was the Japanese Navy's first monoplane fighter.2,4 The wings were placed low.6

Prototype

A total of nine prototypes were finished in January 1935.4

The Ka-14 prototype first flew on February 4, 1935 at Kagamigahara.1,2,5

Japanese Army

The Ki-18 and Ki-33 prototypes were built for the Japanese Army in 1935 - 1936.2 The Army choose to go with the more maneuverable Nakajima Ki-27.2

Production

The A5M1 was built at the Sasebo Naval Factory with 1,094 produced until 1940.1 The A5M4 started production in 1938.2

  • Mitsubishi Ka-14: 62
  • Mitsubishi Ki-18: 12
  • Mitsubishi Ki-33: 22
  • Mitsubishi A5M1, Mitsubishi A5M2, Mitsubishi A5M3, Mitsubishi A5M4, Mitsubishi A5M5: 9822
  • Mitsubishi A5M4-K: 1032
    • Produced by Dai-Nijuchi until 1944.2
  • Total: ~1,0004, 1,0941,2,5
    • Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K.5
    • Production: 1936 - ?5
      • Produced by Mitsubishi until 1940, Watanabe until 1942, and Dai-Nijuichi until 1942.2

Variants

  • Mitsubishi Ka-14: Initial prototype.1 Had Nakajima Kotobuki 5 radial engine (600 HP).2 It had an inverted gull wing, but all following models had straight wings.2
  • Mitsubishi Ki-18: Prototype built for Japanese Army.2
  • Mitsubishi Ki-33: Prototype built for Japanese Army.2
  • Mitsubishi A5M:
  • Mitsubishi A5M1a: Had 2 20 mm Oerlikon cannons.1
  • Mitsubishi Type 96 Model 14: Had Kokobuki Improved Model 2 engine (460 HP).4
  • Mitsubishi A5M2:
  • Mitsubishi Type 96 Model 2.14: Had Kokobuki Model 3 engine (600 HP).4
  • Mitsubishi A5M2a: More powerful engine.2
  • Mitsubishi Type 96 Model 2.24: Larger fuselage with an enclosed cockpit.4
  • Mitsubishi A5M2b: More powerful engine.2 Used three bladed propellar.2 Could carry small bombs or drop tanks under wings.2
  • Mitsubishi A5M3: Experimental model.2 Had Hispano-Suiza V 12 engine.2 Had 20 mm cannon firing through propeller hub.2
  • Mitsubishi Type 96 Model 44: Had Kotobuki Model 4 engine (680 HP).4
  • Mitsubishi A5M4: Main production model.2 Had a 42 gallon / 160 liter drop tank.1
  • Mitsubishi A5M4-K: Trainer.2 Two seat.2

Usage

First entered service in early 1937.1,2

The A5M did have some landing accidents on rough air strips.1 However, in the air they were extremely sturdy and one made it back to base with 1/3 of its port wing gone.1

China

The A5M provided air superiority in the second Sino-Japanese war of 1937 - 1940.2

The first victories of the A5M was against Curtis Hawks of the Chinese Air Force.1

Aces

A total of seven A5M pilots became aces, with Lt. Tetsuzo Iwamoto at the top with fourteen kills.1

Carrier Operations

The A5Ms were used from aircraft carriers against Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.1

Training

After May 1942 the A5Ms were sent back to Japan to be trainers.1

Kamikaze

Some A5Ms were used in kamikaze attacks.1

Specifications

  Mitsubishi A5M
Type Carrier fighter2
Crew 12
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades  
Fuel capacity 135 gallons6
Dimensions  
Span 36'6, 36' 1"2
11 m2
Length 24' 7"6, 24' 9.75"2
7.56 m2
Height 9' 10"6, 10' 8.75"2
3.27 m2
Wing area 180 ft2 6
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 4,400 lb6
Maximum load 4,700 lb6
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament 2: 7.7 mm MG6
Upper fuselage 2: 7.7 mm MG2
Bombs 132 lb3
  Mitsubishi A5M-1
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Nakajima Kotobuki 2 KAI2
Cylinders Radial 92
Cooling  
Net HP 6302
Propeller blades 22
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
  Mitsubishi A5M2a
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Kotobuki 2 KAI 3A2
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP 6902
Propeller blades 22
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
  Mitsubishi Type 96-2a
Type Fighter7
Crew 17
Engine (Type) 1: Mitsubishi A-14 Kinsei7
Cylinders Radial7
Cooling Air7
Net HP 7307
Propeller blades 37
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span 36'7
Length 24' 6"7
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 4,300 lb7
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 250 mph7
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 450 miles7
Armament  
Fuselage 2: MG7
Wings 2: MG7
  Mitsubishi A5M2b
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Kotobuki 32
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP 7152
Propeller blades 32
Fuel capacity  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Bombs - under wings 2: 66 lb2
2: 30 kg2
  Mitsubishi A5M4
Type Carrier fighter1, Fighter5
Crew 11,5
Engine (Type) Nakajima Kotobuki 411,5
Nakajima Kotobuki 41 KAI2
Cylinders Radial 91,5
Cooling Air1,5
Net HP 7101,5, 7852
Propeller blades 21, 32
Fuel capacity  
Fuel capacity - drop tank 42 gallons1
160 liters1
Dimensions  
Span 36' 1"1,5
11 m1
Length 24' 10"1,5
7.57 m1
Height 10' 9"1,5
3.27 m1
Wing area 192 ft2 1
17.8 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 2,675 lb1, 2,784 lb2
1,216 kg1, 1,263 kg2
Loaded 3,684 lb5, 3,751 lb1, 4,017 lb2
1,705 kg1, 1,822 kg2
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 270 mph1
440 kph1
Speed @ 9,845' /
3,000 m
270 mph2,5
434 kph2
Climb 2,790'/minute2
850 m/minute2
Climb to 9,800' /
3,000 m
3 minutes 35 second1
Climb to 9,840' /
3,000 m
3.6 minutes2
Service ceiling 32,150'2,5, 32,200'1
9,800 m1,2
Range 746 miles5, 750 miles1
1,200 km1
Range with drop tanks 746 miles2
1,200 km2
Armament 2: MG5
Upper fuselage 2: 7.7 mm Type 89 MG1
Bombs 132 lb5
Bombs - under wings 2: 66 lb1,2
2: 30 kg1,2

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of World War II, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. A6M Zero in Action, Shigeru Nohara, 1983
  4. Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units in World War II, Ikuhiko Hata, Yasuho Izawa, 1989
  5. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  6. Handbook on Japanese Military Forces, US War Department, 1991
  7. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site