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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Mitsubishi A6M3 Rei-sen (zero fighter) fighter
Navy Type 0
Allied code name: Hamp, Zeke, Hap, Zeke 32

Design

Later models of the A6M3 had the folding wingtips not installed.

Engine

Nakajima produced the Sakae engine which had a two stage supercharger. The engine was longer and required the firewall to the rear by 8" / 20 cm. This caused the fuel tank to have to be reduced in size.

The larger engine resulted in changing the cowling to be more rounded and larger. Propeller was slightly larger.

Wings

The first two A6M3s produced had the folding wingtips but they were removed in the hopes to increase speed. This was to compensate for the heavier engine. It was hoped that the shorter wings would make the A6M3 more maneuverable, but this didn't happen.

Allied Naming

In honor of Air Force General "Hap" Arnold the A6M3 Model 32 was called the "Hap." However, he did not appreciate the gesture and ordered the designation to be changed to "Hamp." After captured examples of the Model 32 were captured the name was revised to Zeke 32.

Production

The A6M3 was first flown in June 1941.

Production ended in the middle of 1943.

Variants

  • Mitsubishi A6M3:
  • Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 32: Had square tip wings. More ammunition for the guns. The engine was larger and reduced the fuel carried by 21 gallons.
  • Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 22: Had folding wing tips. More fuel. Increased by 24 gallons.
  • Mitsubishi A6M3a Model 22a, A6M3 Model 22KO: Long barrel cannons. 2 or 3 20 mm Type 99. Some had a 30 mm installed and were tested at Rabaul.

Usage

The A6M3 entered service in 1942. Pilots weren't as happy with the A6M3 as with other A6M models as it was only slightly faster than the A6M2.

Many of the A6M3 Model 32 were used for training in Japan.

First Unit

The 2nd Kokutai was the first to receive the A6M3 Model 32 in the spring of 1942. The 2nd Kokutai was located in New Guinea and due to the A6M3s shorter range these fighters were unable to take part in the battles over Guadalcanal.

Guadalcanal

The A6M3 Model 22 appeared over Guadalcanal in August 1942.

Zuikaku

Some A6M3 Model 22s served on the Zuikaku.

Specifications

  Mitsubishi A6M3
Type Carrier fighter
Navy fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK1F Sakae 21
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling  
Net HP 1,130
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 36' 1"
11 m
Length 29' 11"
9.12 m
Height 11' 6"
3.6 m
Wing area 230 ft2
21.3 m2
Weight  
Empty 4,000 lb
1,876 kg
Loaded 6,025 lb
2,733 kg
Performance  
Speed 350 mph
565 kph
Climb  
Service ceiling 38,500'
11,740 m
Range  
Range - with drop tanks 1,200 miles
1,800 km
Armament  
Above engine 2: 7.7 mm MG
600 rounds each
Wings 2: 20 mm
2: 20 mm Type 99
100 rounds each
Bombs 2: 130 lb, 132 lb
2: 60 kg
  Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 22
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Nakajima Sakae
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4.5"
12 m
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 560 miles
Armament  
Above engine 2: 7.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm MG
  Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 32
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK1F Sakae 21
Sakae 21
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP 1,100, 1,130
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 36' 1"
11 m
Length 29' 8.75"
9.06 m
Height 11' 6"
3.51 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 3,984 lb
1,807 kg
Loaded 5,609 lb, 5,829 lb
2,644 kg
Performance  
Speed 294 mph
Speed at sea level 279 mph
450 kph
Speed @ 19,685' /
6,000 m
338 mph
544 kph
Climb 3,100'/minute
945 m/minute
Climb to 19,685' /
6,000 m
7.3 minutes
Service ceiling 36,253'
11,050 m
Range  
Range - with drop tanks 1,284 miles, 1,446 miles
2,328 km
Armament  
Above engine 2: 7.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 20 mm
60 - 100 rounds each, 100 rounds each

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