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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.2

Engine

Nakajima produced the Sakae engine which had a two stage supercharger.3,4 The engine was longer and required the firewall to the rear by 8" / 20 cm.3 This caused the fuel tank to have to be reduced in size.3,4

The larger engine resulted in changing the cowling to be more rounded and larger.5 Propeller was slightly larger.3,5

Wings

The first two A6M3s produced had the folding wingtips but they were removed in the hopes to increase speed.3,4 This was to compensate for the heavier engine.5 It was hoped that the shorter wings would make the A6M3 more maneuverable, but this didn't happen.5

Allied Naming

In honor of Air Force General "Hap" Arnold the A6M3 Model 32 was called the "Hap."5 However, he did not appreciate the gesture and ordered the designation to be changed to "Hamp."5 After captured examples of the Model 32 were captured the name was revised to Zeke 32.5

Production

The A6M3 was first flown in June 1941.3,5

Production ended in the middle of 1943.3

Variants

  • Mitsubishi A6M3:
  • Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 323,4,5: Had square tip wings.3,5 More ammunition for the guns.3,5 The engine was larger and reduced the fuel carried by 21 gallons.4,5
  • Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 223,4,5: Had folding wing tips.3,4,5 More fuel.3,4,5 Increased by 24 gallons.4,5
  • Mitsubishi A6M3a Model 22a3,5, A6M3 Model 22KO5: Long barrel cannons.3,5 2 or 3 20 mm Type 99.5 Some had a 30 mm installed and were tested at Rabaul.5

Usage

The A6M3 entered service in 1942.2,6 Pilots weren't as happy with the A6M3 as with other A6M models as it was only slightly faster than the A6M2.3

Many of the A6M3 Model 32 were used for training in Japan.5

First Unit

The 2nd Kokutai was the first to receive the A6M3 Model 32 in the spring of 1942.5 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.5

Guadalcanal

The A6M3 Model 22 appeared over Guadalcanal in August 1942.4,5

Zuikaku

Some A6M3 Model 22s served on the Zuikaku.5

Specifications

  Mitsubishi A6M3
Type Carrier fighter1
Navy fighter bomber3
Crew 11,3
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK1F Sakae 211,2,3
Cylinders Radial1, Radial 143
Cooling  
Net HP 1,1301,3
Propeller blades 31,3
Dimensions  
Span 36' 1"1
11 m1
Length 29' 11"1
9.12 m1
Height 11' 6"1
3.6 m1
Wing area 230 ft2 1
21.3 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 4,000 lb1
1,876 kg1
Loaded 6,025 lb1
2,733 kg1
Performance  
Speed 350 mph1
565 kph1
Climb  
Service ceiling 38,500'1
11,740 m1
Range  
Range - with drop tanks 1,200 miles1
1,800 km1
Armament  
Above engine 2: 7.7 mm MG1,3
600 rounds each1
Wings 2: 20 mm3
2: 20 mm Type 991
100 rounds each1
Bombs 2: 130 lb1, 132 lb3
2: 60 kg1,3
  Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 22
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Nakajima Sakae4
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4.5"3
12 m3
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range 560 miles4
Armament  
Above engine 2: 7.7 mm MG5
Wings 2: 20 mm MG5
  Mitsubishi A6M3 Model 32
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK1F Sakae 214
Sakae 215
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP 1,1004, 1,1305
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 36' 1"3
11 m3
Length 29' 8.75"3
9.06 m3
Height 11' 6"3
3.51 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 3,984 lb3
1,807 kg3
Loaded 5,609 lb5, 5,829 lb3
2,644 kg3
Performance  
Speed 294 mph5
Speed at sea level 279 mph3
450 kph3
Speed @ 19,685' /
6,000 m
338 mph3
544 kph3
Climb 3,100'/minute3
945 m/minute3
Climb to 19,685' /
6,000 m
7.3 minutes3
Service ceiling 36,253'3
11,050 m3
Range  
Range - with drop tanks 1,284 miles5, 1,446 miles3
2,328 km3
Armament  
Above engine 2: 7.7 mm MG5
Wings 2: 20 mm4,5
60 - 100 rounds each4, 100 rounds each5

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