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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Mitsubishi A6M2 Rei-sen (zero fighter) fighter
Navy Type 0
Allied code name: Hamp, Zeke

Design

Engine

The Sakae 12 engine resulted in the the carburetor intake being made integral in the cowling and placed in the lower part of it.

Cockpit

At the rear the glass panels were shortened.

Wings

The A6M2 Model 11s were tested on the Soryu in June 1940. It exceeded all expectations but it was found that the wing tips could sustain damage while being moved on the elevators. The Model 21 was designed with 20" on each end of the wing being able to fold upwards to make for more room on the elevators.

Production

The A6M2 first flew on December 28, 1939.

Variants

  • Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 11: Deliveries began in July 1940.
  • Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21, "Zeke 21": Had folding wings. These allowed for the Model 21 to ride a carrier's elevator easier as this made the wing span 20" shorter.
  • Mitsubishi A6M2-K: Trainer.

Usage

The Model 11 saw its first combat in China and the first kills were in September 1940 when 13 A6M2s fought 27 Chinese Polikarpovs and shot all of them down.

Units

In central China the 12th Kokutai had around 30 Model 11s. In southern China the 14th Kokutai had around 9.

Burma, Malaya, Pearl Harbor and the Philippine Islands

The A6M2 was the primary version that was used in the first months of the war in the Pacific. It made up 2/3 of the Japanese Navy's fighter force.

First Complete Airframe

In July 1942 the Americans were able to retrieve a complete A6M2 airframe from the Aleutian Islands, where it had been forced to land. A report was issued on September 4, 1942, after tests were conducted.

Specifications

  Mitsubishi A6M2
Type Fighter, Navy fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Sakae 12
Nakajima NK1C Sakae 12
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 950
Propeller blades 3
Dry weight 530 kg
Diameter 1.15 m
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4.5", 39' 5"
12 m
Length 29' 5", 29' 8.75"
9.06 m
Height 10'
3.05 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded 5,300 lb
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Speed at sea level 282 mph
454 kph
Speed @ 14,930' /
4,550 m
331 mph, 332 mph
533 kph
Climb 3,150'/minute
960 m/minute
Climb to 19,685' /
6,000 m
7.5 minutes
Service ceiling 32,810'
10,000 m
Range 1,162 miles, 1,930 miles
1,870 km
Range with drop tanks 1,926 miles
3,100 km
Armament 2: 20 mm
2: MG
Nose 2: 7.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm
Bombs 132 lb
2: 132 lb
2: 60 kg
  Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 11
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Nakajima Sakae
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP 950
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
  Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Sakae 12
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP 940
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 3,770 lb
1,710 kg
Loaded 5,313 lb
2,410 lb
Maximum load 6,164 lb
2,796 kg
Performance  
Speed 288 mph
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Range with drop tanks 1,930 miles
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of World War II, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. Seafire vs A6M Zero Pacific Theatre, Donald Nijboer, 2009
  5. A6M Zero in Action, Shigeru Nohara, 1983
  6. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site