The Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" is a long-range fighter aircraft formerly manufactured by Mitsubishi Aircraft Company, a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945. The A6M was designated as the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 carrier fighter (零式艦上戦闘機 rei-shiki-kanjō-sentōki), or the Mitsubishi A6M Rei-sen. The A6M was usually referred to by its pilots as the Reisen (零戦, zero fighter), "0" being the last digit of the imperial year 2600 (1940) when it entered service with the Imperial Navy. The official Allied reporting name was "Zeke", although the use of the name "Zero" (from Type 0) was used colloquially by the Allies as well.
The Zero is considered to have been the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world when it was introduced early in World War II, combining excellent maneuverability and very long range. The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS) also frequently used it as a land-based fighter.
In early combat operations, the Zero gained a reputation as a dogfighter, achieving an outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1, but by mid-1942 a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled Allied pilots to engage the Zero on generally equal terms. By 1943, due to inherent design weaknesses, such as a lack of hydraulic ailerons and rudder rendering it extremely unmaneuverable at high speeds, and an inability to equip it with a more powerful aircraft engine, the Zero gradually became less effective against newer Allied fighters. By 1944, with opposing Allied fighters approaching its levels of maneuverability and consistently exceeding its firepower, armor, and speed, the A6M had largely become outdated as a fighter aircraft. However, as design delays and production difficulties hampered the introduction of newer Japanese aircraft models, the Zero continued to serve in a front-line role until the end of the war in the Pacific. During the final phases, it was also adapted for use in kamikaze operations. Japan produced more Zeros than any other model of combat aircraft during the war.
|Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero Model 22 (N712Z), used (with the atypical green camouflage shown) in the film Pearl Harbor|
|Manufacturer||Mitsubishi Heavy Industries|
|First flight||1 April 1939|
|Introduction||1 July 1940|
|Primary user||Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service|
The Mitsubishi A5M fighter was just entering service in early 1937, when the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) started looking for its eventual replacement. On October 5, 1937, they issued "Planning Requirements for the Prototype 12-shi Carrier-based Fighter", sending it to Nakajima and Mitsubishi. Both firms started preliminary design work while they awaited more definitive requirements to be handed over in a few months.
Based on the experiences of the A5M in China, the IJN sent out updated requirements in October calling for a speed of 270 kn (310 mph; 500 km/h) at 4,000 m (13,000 ft) and a climb to 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in 9.5 minutes. With drop tanks, they wanted an endurance of two hours at normal power, or six to eight hours at economical cruising speed. Armament was to consist of two 20 mm cannons, two 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine guns and two 60 kg (130 lb) bombs. A complete radio set was to be mounted in all aircraft, along with a radio direction finder for long-range navigation. The maneuverability was to be at least equal to that of the A5M, while the wingspan had to be less than 12 m (39 ft) to allow for use on aircraft carriers.
Nakajima's team considered the new requirements unachievable and pulled out of the competition in January. Mitsubishi's chief designer, Jiro Horikoshi, thought that the requirements could be met, but only if the aircraft were made as light as possible. Every possible weight-saving measure was incorporated into the design. Most of the aircraft was built of a new top-secret aluminium alloy developed by Sumitomo Metal Industries in 1936. Called "extra super duralumin" (ESD), it was lighter, stronger and more ductile than other alloys (e.g. 24S alloy) used at the time, but was prone to corrosive attack, which made it brittle. This detrimental effect was countered with an anti-corrosion coating applied after fabrication. No armour protection was provided for the pilot, engine or other critical points of the aircraft, and self-sealing fuel tanks, which were becoming common at the time, were not used. This made the Zero lighter, more maneuverable, and the longest-ranged single-engine fighter of World War II, which made it capable of searching out an enemy hundreds of kilometres away, bringing them to battle, then returning to its base or aircraft carrier. However, that tradeoff in weight and construction also made it prone to catching fire and exploding when struck by enemy rounds.
With its low-wing cantilever monoplane layout, retractable, wide-set conventional landing gear and enclosed cockpit, the Zero was one of the most modern carrier based aircraft in the world at the time of its introduction. It had a fairly high-lift, low-speed wing with very low wing loading. This, combined with its light weight, resulted in a very low stalling speed of well below 60 kn (110 km/h; 69 mph). This was the main reason for its phenomenal maneuverability, allowing it to out-turn any Allied fighter of the time. Early models were fitted with servo tabs on the ailerons after pilots complained that control forces became too heavy at speeds above 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph). They were discontinued on later models after it was found that the lightened control forces were causing pilots to overstress the wings during vigorous maneuvers.
It has been claimed that the Zero's design showed a clear influence from British and American fighter aircraft and components exported to Japan in the 1930s, and in particular on the American side, the Vought V-143 fighter. Chance Vought had sold the prototype for this aircraft and its plans to Japan in 1937. Eugene Wilson, president of Vought, claimed that when shown a captured Zero in 1943, he found that "There on the floor was the Vought V 142 [sic] or just the spitting image of it, Japanese-made", while the "power-plant installation was distinctly Chance Vought, the wheel stowage into the wing roots came from Northrop, and the Japanese designers had even copied the Navy inspection stamp from Pratt & Whitney type parts." While the sale of the V-143 was fully legal, Wilson later acknowledged the conflicts of interest that can arise whenever military technology is exported. Counterclaims maintain that there was no significant relationship between the V-143 (which was an unsuccessful design that had been rejected by the U.S. Army Air Corps and several export customers) and the Zero, with only a superficial similarity in layout.
The Zero resembled the 1937 British Gloster F.5/34. Performance of the Gloster F.5/34 was comparable to that of early model Zeros, with its dimensions and appearance remarkably close to the Zero. Gloster had a relationship with the Japanese between the wars, with Nakajima building the carrier-based plane, the Gloster Gambet, under license. However allegations about the Zero being a copy have been discredited by some authors.
The A6M is usually known as the "Zero" from its Japanese Navy type designation, Type 0 carrier fighter (Rei shiki Kanjō sentōki, 零式艦上戦闘機), taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940) when it entered service. In Japan, it was unofficially referred to as both Rei-sen and Zero-sen; Japanese pilots most commonly called it Zero-sen, where sen is the first syllable of sentōki, Japanese for "fighter plane".[Note 1]
The official Allied code name was "Zeke", in keeping with the practice of giving male names to Japanese fighters, female names to bombers, bird names to gliders, and tree names to trainers. "Zeke" was part of the first batch of "hillbilly" code names assigned by Captain Frank T. McCoy of Nashville, Tennessee, (assigned to the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit (ATAIU) at Eagle Farm Airport in Australia), who wanted quick, distinctive, easy-to-remember names. The Allied code for Japanese aircraft was introduced in 1942, and McCoy chose "Zeke" for the "Zero". Later, two variants of the fighter received their own code names. The Nakajima A6M2-N floatplane version of the Zero was called "Rufe", and the A6M3-32 variant was initially called "Hap". General "Hap" Arnold, commander of the USAAF, objected to that name, however, so it was changed to "Hamp".
The first Zeros (pre-series of 15 A6M2) went into operation with the 12th Rengo Kōkūtai in July 1940. On 13 September 1940, the Zeros scored their first air-to-air victories when 13 A6M2s led by Lieutenant Saburo Shindo attacked 27 Soviet-built Polikarpov I-15s and I-16s of the Chinese Nationalist Air Force, shooting down all the fighters without loss to themselves. By the time they were redeployed a year later, the Zeros had shot down 99 Chinese aircraft (266 according to other sources).
At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, 521 Zeros were active in the Pacific, 328 in first-line units. The carrier-borne Model 21 was the type encountered by the Americans. Its tremendous range of over 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) allowed it to range farther from its carrier than expected, appearing over distant battlefronts and giving Allied commanders the impression that there were several times as many Zeros as actually existed.
The Zero quickly gained a fearsome reputation. Thanks to a combination of unsurpassed maneuverability — compared to contemporary Axis fighters — and excellent firepower, it easily disposed of Allied aircraft sent against it in the Pacific in 1941. It proved a difficult opponent even for the Supermarine Spitfire. "The RAF pilots were trained in methods that were excellent against German and Italian equipment but suicide against the acrobatic Japs", as Lt.Gen. Claire Lee Chennault had to notice. Although not as fast as the British fighter, the Mitsubishi fighter could out-turn the Spitfire with ease, sustain a climb at a very steep angle, and stay in the air for three times as long.
Allied pilots soon developed tactics to cope with the Zero. Due to its extreme agility, engaging a Zero in a traditional, turning dogfight was likely to be fatal. It was better to swoop down from above in a high-speed pass, fire a quick burst, then climb quickly back up to altitude. A short burst of fire from heavy machine guns or cannon was often enough to bring down the fragile Zero. These tactics were regularly employed by Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters during Guadalcanal defense through high-altitude ambush, which was possible due to early warning system consisted of Coastwatchers and radar. Such "boom-and-zoom" tactics were also successfully used in the China Burma India Theater (CBI) by the "Flying Tigers" of the American Volunteer Group (AVG) against similarly maneuverable Japanese Army aircraft such as the Nakajima Ki-27 Nate and Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar. AVG pilots were trained by their commander Claire Chennault to exploit the advantages of their P-40s, which were very sturdy, heavily armed, generally faster in a dive and level flight at low altitude, with a good rate of roll.
Another important maneuver was Lieutenant Commander John S. "Jimmy" Thach's "Thach Weave", in which two fighters would fly about 60 m (200 ft) apart. If a Zero latched onto the tail of one of the fighters, the two aircraft would turn toward each other. If the Zero followed his original target through the turn, he would come into a position to be fired on by the target's wingman. This tactic was first used to good effect during the Battle of Midway and later over the Solomon Islands.
Many highly experienced Japanese aviators were lost in combat, resulting in a progressive decline in quality, which became a significant factor in Allied successes. Unexpected heavy losses of pilots at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway dealt the Japanese carrier air force a blow from which it never fully recovered.
The fighter pilots are very disappointed with the performance and length of sustained fire power of the F4F-4 airplanes. The Zero fighters could easily outmaneuver and out-climb the F4F-3, and the consensus of fighter pilot opinion is that the F4F-4 is even more sluggish and slow than the F4F-3. It is also felt that it was a mistake to put 6 guns on the F4F-4 and thus to reduce the rounds per gun. Many of our fighters ran out of ammunition even before the Jap dive bombers arrived over our forces; these were experienced pilots, not novices.
They were astounded by the Zero's superiority:
In the Coral Sea, they made all their approaches from the rear or high side and did relatively little damage because of our armor. It also is desired to call attention to the fact that there was an absence of the fancy stunting during pull outs or approaches for attacks. In this battle, the Japs dove in, made the attack and then immediately pulled out, taking advantage of their superior climb and maneuverability. In attacking fighters, the Zeros usually attacked from above rear at high speed and recovered by climbing vertically until they lost some speed and then pulled on through to complete a small loop of high wing over which placed them out of reach and in position for another attack. By reversing the turn sharply after each attack the leader may get a shot at the enemy while he is climbing away or head on into a scissor if the Jap turns to meet it.
In contrast, Allied fighters were designed with ruggedness and pilot protection in mind. The Japanese ace Saburō Sakai described how the toughness of early Grumman aircraft was a factor in preventing the Zero from attaining total domination:
I had full confidence in my ability to destroy the Grumman and decided to finish off the enemy fighter with only my 7.7 mm machine guns. I turned the 20mm cannon switch to the 'off' position, and closed in. For some strange reason, even after I had poured about five or six hundred rounds of ammunition directly into the Grumman, the airplane did not fall, but kept on flying! I thought this very odd—it had never happened before—and closed the distance between the two airplanes until I could almost reach out and touch the Grumman. To my surprise, the Grumman's rudder and tail were torn to shreds, looking like an old torn piece of rag. With his plane in such condition, no wonder the pilot was unable to continue fighting! A Zero which had taken that many bullets would have been a ball of fire by now.
When the powerfully armed Lockheed P-38 Lightning, armed with four "light barrel" AN/M2 .50 cal. Browning machine guns and one 20 mm autocannon, and the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4U Corsair, each with six AN/M2 heavy calibre Browning guns, appeared in the Pacific theater, the A6M, with its low-powered engine and lighter armament, was hard-pressed to remain competitive. In combat with an F6F or F4U, the only positive thing that could be said of the Zero at this stage of the war was that, in the hands of a skillful pilot, it could maneuver as well as most of its opponents. Nonetheless, in competent hands, the Zero could still be deadly.
Due to shortages of high-powered aviation engines and problems with planned successor models, the Zero remained in production until 1945, with over 10,000 of all variants produced.
The American military discovered many of the A6M's unique attributes when they recovered a largely intact specimen of an A6M2, the Akutan Zero, on Akutan Island in the Aleutians. During an air raid over Dutch Harbor on June 4, 1942, one A6M fighter was hit by ground-based anti-aircraft fire. Losing oil, Flight Petty Officer Tadayoshi Koga attempted an emergency landing on Akutan Island about 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Dutch Harbor, but his Zero flipped over on soft ground in a sudden crash-landing. Koga died instantly of head injuries (his neck was broken by the tremendous impact), but the relatively-undamaged fighter was found over a month later by an American salvage team and was shipped to Naval Air Station North Island, where testing flights of the repaired A6M revealed both strengths and deficiencies in design and performance.
The experts who evaluated the captured Zero found that the plane weighed about 2,360 kg (5,200 lb) fully loaded, some 1,260 kg (2,780 lb) lighter than the F4F Wildcat, the standard United States Navy fighter of the time. The A6M's airframe was "built like a fine watch"; the Zero was constructed with flush rivets, and even the guns were flush with the wings. The instrument panel was a "marvel of simplicity ... with no superfluities to distract [the pilot]." What most impressed the experts was that the Zero's fuselage and wings were constructed in one piece, unlike the American method that built them separately and joined the two parts together. The Japanese method was much slower, but resulted in a very strong structure and improved close maneuverability.
American test pilots found that the Zero's controls were "very light" at 320 km/h (200 mph), but stiffened at faster speeds (above 348 km/h (216 mph)) to safeguard against wing failure. The Zero could not keep up with Allied aircraft in high-speed maneuvers, and its low "never exceed speed" (VNE) made it vulnerable in a dive. While stable on the ground despite its light weight, the aircraft was designed purely for the attack role, emphasizing long range, maneuverability, and firepower at the expense of protection of its pilot. Most lacked self-sealing tanks and armor plating.
Captain Eric Brown, the Chief Naval Test Pilot of the Royal Navy, recalled being impressed by the Zero during tests of captured aircraft. "I don't think I have ever flown a fighter that could match the rate of turn of the Zero. The Zero had ruled the roost totally and was the finest fighter in the world until mid-1943."
The first two A6M1 prototypes were completed in March 1939, powered by the 580 kW (780 hp) Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 engine with a two-blade propeller. It first flew on 1 April, and passed testing within a remarkably short period. By September, it had already been accepted for Navy testing as the A6M1 Type 0 Carrier Fighter, with the only notable change being a switch to a three-bladed propeller to cure a vibration problem.
While the navy was testing the first two prototypes, they suggested that the third be fitted with the 700 kW (940 hp) Nakajima Sakae 12 engine instead. Mitsubishi had its own engine of this class in the form of the Kinsei, so they were somewhat reluctant to use the Sakae. Nevertheless, when the first A6M2 was completed in January 1940, the Sakae's extra power pushed the performance of the Zero well past the original specifications.
The new version was so promising that the Navy had 15 built and shipped to China before they had completed testing. They arrived in Manchuria in July 1940, and first saw combat over Chungking in August. There they proved to be completely untouchable by the Polikarpov I-16s and I-153s that had been such a problem for the A5Ms when in service. In one encounter, 13 Zeros shot down 27 I-15s and I-16s in under three minutes without loss. After hearing of these reports, the navy immediately ordered the A6M2 into production as the Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model 11. Reports of the Zero's performance filtered back to the US slowly. There they were dismissed by most military officials, who thought it was impossible for the Japanese to build such an aircraft.
After the delivery of the 65th aircraft, a further change was worked into the production lines, which introduced folding wingtips to allow them to fit on aircraft carriers. The resulting Model 21 would become one of the most produced versions early in the war. A feature was the improved range with 520 l (140 US gal) wing tank and 320 l (85 US gal) drop tank. When the lines switched to updated models, 740 Model 21s had been completed by Mitsubishi, and another 800 by Nakajima. Two other versions of the Model 21 were built in small numbers, the Nakajima-built A6M2-N "Rufe" floatplane (based on the Model 11 with a slightly modified tail), and the A6M2-K two-seat trainer of which a total of 508 were built by Hitachi and the Sasebo Naval Air Arsenal.
In 1941, Nakajima introduced the Sakae 21 engine, which used a two-speed supercharger for better altitude performance, and increased power to 840 kW (1,130 hp). A prototype Zero with the new engine was first flown on July 15, 1941.
The new Sakae was slightly heavier and somewhat longer due to the larger supercharger, which moved the center of gravity too far forward on the existing airframe. To correct for this, the engine mountings were cut back by 185 mm (7.3 in) to move the engine toward the cockpit. This had the side effect of reducing the size of the main fuselage fuel tank (located between the engine and the cockpit) from 518 l (137 US gal) to 470 l (120 US gal). The cowling was redesigned to enlarge the cowl flaps, revise the oil cooler air intake, and move the carburetor air intake to the upper half of the cowling.
The wings were redesigned to reduce span, eliminate the folding tips, and square off the wingtips. The inboard edge of the aileron was moved outboard by one rib, and the wing fuel tanks were enlarged accordingly to 420 l (110 US gal). The two 20 mm wing cannon were upgraded from the Type 99 Mark l to the Type 99 Mark II, which required a bulge in the sheet metal of the wing below each cannon. The wings also included larger ammunition boxes and thus allowing 100 rounds per cannon.
The Sakae 21 engine and other changes increased maximum speed by only 11 km/h (6.8 mph) compared to the Model 21, but sacrificed nearly 1,000 km (620 mi) of range. Nevertheless, the navy accepted the type and it entered production in April 1942.
The shorter wing span led to better roll, and the reduced drag allowed the diving speed to be increased to 670 km/h (420 mph). On the downside, turning and range, which were the strengths of the Model 21, suffered due to smaller ailerons, decreased lift and greater fuel consumption. The shorter range proved a significant limitation during the Solomons Campaign, during which Zeros based at Rabaul had to travel nearly to their maximum range to reach Guadalcanal and return. Consequently, the Model 32 was unsuited to that campaign and was used mainly for shorter range offensive missions and interception.
The appearance of the redesigned A6M3-32 prompted the US to assign the Model 32 a new code name, "Hap". This name was short-lived, as a protest from USAAF Commanding General Henry "Hap" Arnold forced a change to "Hamp". Soon after, it was realized that it was simply a new model of the "Zeke" and was termed "Zeke 32".
This variant was flown by only a small number of units, and only 343 were built.
In order to correct the deficiencies of the Model 32, a new version with folding wingtips and redesigned wing was introduced. The fuel tanks were moved to the outer wings, fuel lines for a 330 l (87 US gal) drop tank were installed under each wing and the internal fuel capacity was increased to 570 l (150 US gal). More importantly, it regained its capabilities for long operating ranges, similar to the previous A6M2 Model 21, which was vastly shortened by the Model 32.
However, before the new design type was accepted formally by the Navy, the A6M3 Model 22 already stood ready for service in December 1942. Approximately 560 aircraft of the new type had been produced in the meantime by Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K.
According to a theory, the very late production Model 22 might have had wings similar to the shortened, rounded-tip wing of the Model 52. One plane of such arrangement was photographed at Lakunai Airfield ("Rabaul East") in the second half of 1943, and has been published widely in a number of Japanese books. While the engine cowling is the same of previous Model 32 and 22, the theory proposes that the plane is an early production Model 52.
The Model 32, 22, 22 kou, 52, 52 kou and 52 otsu were all powered by the Nakajima 栄 (Sakae) 21型 engine. That engine kept its designation in spite of changes in the exhaust system for the Model 52.
Mitsubishi is unable to state with certainty that it ever used the designation "A6M4" or model numbers for it. However, "A6M4" does appear in a translation of a captured Japanese memo from a Naval Air Technical Arsenal, titled Quarterly Report on Research Experiments, dated 1 October 1942. It mentions a "cross-section of the A6M4 intercooler" then being designed. Some researchers believe "A6M4" was applied to one or two prototype planes fitted with an experimental turbo-supercharged Sakae engine designed for high altitude. Mitsubishi's involvement in the project was probably quite limited or nil; the unmodified Sakae engine was made by Nakajima. The design and testing of the turbo-supercharger was the responsibility of the First Naval Air [Technical] Arsenal (第一海軍航空廠, Dai Ichi Kaigun Kōkūshō) at Yokosuka. At least one photo of a prototype plane exists. It shows a turbo unit mounted in the forward left fuselage.
Lack of suitable alloys for use in the manufacture of a turbo-supercharger and its related ducting caused numerous ruptures, resulting in fires and poor performance. Consequently, further development of a turbo-supercharged A6M was cancelled. The lack of acceptance by the navy suggests that the navy did not bestow model number 41 or 42 formally, although it appears that the arsenal did use the designation "A6M4". The prototype engines nevertheless provided useful experience for future engine designs.
Sometimes considered as the most effective variant, the Model 52 was developed to again shorten the wings to increase speed and dispense with the folding wing mechanism. In addition, ailerons, aileron trim tab and flaps were revised. Produced first by Mitsubishi, most Model 52s were made by Nakajima. The prototype was made in June 1943 by modifying an A6M3 and was first flown in August 1943. The first Model 52 is said in the handling manual to have production number 3904, which apparently refers to the prototype.
Research by Mr. Bunzo Komine published by Mr. Kenji Miyazaki states that aircraft 3904 through 4103 had the same exhaust system and cowl flaps as on the Model 22. This is partially corroborated by two wrecks researched by Mr. Stan Gajda and Mr. L. G. Halls, production number 4007 and 4043, respectively. (The upper cowling was slightly redesigned from that of the Model 22.) An early production A6M5 Zero with non separated exhaust, with an A6M3 Model 22 in the background. A new exhaust system provided an increment of thrust by aiming the stacks aft and distributing them around the forward fuselage. The new exhaust system required "notched" cowl flaps and heat shields just aft of the stacks. (Note, however, that the handling manual translation states that the new style of exhaust commenced with number 3904. Whether this is correct, indicates retrofitting intentions, refers to the prototype but not to all subsequent planes, or is in error is not clear.) From production number 4274, the wing fuel tanks received carbon dioxide fire extinguishers. From number 4354, the radio became the Model 3, aerial Mark 1, and at that point it is said the antenna mast was shortened slightly. Through production number 4550, the lowest exhaust stacks were approximately the same length as those immediately above them. This caused hot exhaust to burn the forward edge of the landing gear doors and heat the tires. Therefore, from number 4551 Mitsubishi began to install shorter bottom stacks. Nakajima manufactured the Model 52 at its Koizumi plant in Gunma Prefecture. The A6M5 had a maximum speed of 565 km/h (351 mph)) at 6,000 m (20,000 ft) and reached that altitude in 7:01 minutes.
Subsequent variants included:
Some Model 21 and 52 aircraft were converted to "bakusen" (fighter-bombers) by mounting a bomb rack and 250 kg (550 lb) bomb in place of the centerline drop tank.
The A6M6 was developed to use the Sakae 31a engine, featuring water-methanol engine boost and self-sealing wing tanks. During preliminary testing, its performance was considered unsatisfactory due to the additional engine power failing to materialize and the unreliability of the fuel injection system. Testing continued on the A6M6 but the end of war stopped further development. Only one prototype was produced.
The A6M7 was the last variant to see service. It was designed to meet a requirement by the Navy for a dedicated attack/dive bomber version that could operate from smaller aircraft carriers or according to another source, replace the obsolete Aichi D3A. The A6M7 had considerable design changes compared to previous attempts to make the A6M suitable for dive bombing. This included a reinforced vertical stabilizer, a special bomb rack, provision of two 350 litre drop tanks and fixed bomb/rocket swing stoppers on the underside of the wings. It was also given a new powerplant, the Sakae-31 engine, producing 1,130hp on take-off. The A6M7 had a similar armament layout to the A6M5c with the exception of the bomb centreline bomb rack, capable of carrying 250kg or 500kg bombs. Entering production in May 1945, the A6M7 was also used in the special attack role.
Similar to the A6M6 but with the Sakae (now out of production) replaced by the Mitsubishi Kinsei 62 engine with 1,163 kW (1,560 hp), 60% more powerful than the engine of the A6M2. This resulted in an extensively modified cowling and nose for the aircraft. The carburetor intake was much larger, a long duct like that on the Nakajima B6N Tenzan was added, and a large spinner—like that on the Yokosuka D4Y Suisei with the Kinsei 62—was mounted. The larger cowling allowed an armament change to 2x 13.2mm Type 3 machine gun in the fuselage and 4x 20mm Type99 Mark2 cannon (two on each wing). In addition, the Model 64 was modified to carry two 150 l (40 US gal) drop tanks on either wing in order to permit the mounting of a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb on the underside of the fuselage. Two prototypes were completed in April 1945 but the chaotic situation of Japanese industry and the end of the war obstructed the start of the ambitious program of production for 6,300 A6M8s, only the two prototypes being completed and flown.
|A6M Production: Nagoya, Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K.|
|A6M Production: Ota, Nakajima Hikoki K.K.|
|A6M Trainer Production: Chiba, Hitachi Kokuki K.K. and Omura, Dai-Nijuichi K.K.|
|According to USSBS Report: 10,934||Figure includes: 10,094 A6M, 323 A6M2-N and 517 A6M-K builds.|
|According to Francillon: 11,291||Figure includes: 10,449 A6M, 327 A6M2-N, 508 A6M2-K and 7 A6M5-K builds.|
Like many surviving World War II Japanese aircraft, most surviving Zeros are made up of parts from multiple airframes. As a result, some are referred to by conflicting manufacturer serial numbers. In other cases, such as those recovered after decades in a wrecked condition, they have been reconstructed to the point that the majority of their structure is made up of modern parts. All of this means the identities of survivors can be difficult to confirm.
The rarity of flyable Zeros accounts for the use of single-seat North American T-6 Texans, with heavily modified fuselages and painted in Japanese markings, as substitutes for Zeros in the films Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Final Countdown, and many other television and film depictions of the aircraft, such as Baa Baa Black Sheep (renamed Black Sheep Squadron). One Model 52 was used during the production of Pearl Harbor.
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
|url=value (help). Planes of Fame. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
The Akutan Zero, also known as Koga's Zero and the Aleutian Zero, was a type 0 model 21 Mitsubishi A6M Zero Japanese fighter aircraft that crash-landed on Akutan Island, Alaska Territory, during World War II. It was found intact by the Americans in July 1942 and became the first flyable Zero acquired by the United States during the war. It was repaired and flown by American test pilots. As a result of information gained from these tests, American tacticians were able to devise ways to defeat the Zero, which was the Imperial Japanese Navy's primary fighter plane throughout the war.
The Akutan Zero has been described as "a prize almost beyond value to the United States", and "probably one of the greatest prizes of the Pacific War". Japanese historian Masatake Okumiya stated that the acquisition of the Akutan Zero "was no less serious" than the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway, and that it "did much to hasten Japan's final defeat". On the other hand, John Lundstrom is among those who challenge "the contention that it took dissection of Koga's Zero to create tactics that beat the fabled airplane".
The Akutan Zero was destroyed in a training accident in 1945. Parts of it are preserved in several museums in the United States.Beverly W. Reid
Beverly W. Reid (1917–1942) was a United States Navy officer who received the Navy Cross for his actions in combat during World War II in defending the crippled aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5). He carried out aggressive attacks on two Japanese torpedo planes and was credited with two confirmed "kills". He attended Redemptorist College in New Orleans, before he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 17 June 1935.
Reid, commissioned an ensign on 23 July 1942, took part in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons on 24 August 1942. He flew one of the 27 Fighting Squadron 6 fighters scrambled for the combat air patrol over Task Force 17, and, as one of two pilots listed as missing in action, was probably shot down by a Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter in the ensuing action. Never seen again, Reid was presumed killed in action.Jiro Horikoshi
Jiro Horikoshi (堀越 二郎, Horikoshi Jirō, 22 June 1903 – 11 January 1982) was the chief engineer of many Japanese fighter designs of World War II, including the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter.List of Mitsubishi A6M Zero operators
The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was the most well known Japanese warplane of World War II. A6M Zeros were predominantly used by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) on aircraft carriers, and also by its land-based fighter units. At the start of the Pacific War in 1941, the A6M constituted about 60% of the IJN fighter force. It took part in carrier operations throughout much of the Pacific Ocean, as well as over the northeast Indian Ocean.Masatake Okumiya
Incorporates translated material from the corresponding Japanese Wikipedia article
Masatake Okumiya (奥宮 正武, Okumiya Masatake, July 27, 1909 – February 22, 2007) was a historian and lieutenant general in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
Okumiya graduated from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1930 as a midshipman. He was commissioned an ensign in April 1932, received his wings in November 1933 as a naval aviator, and was promoted to sub-lieutenant in the same month. He entered the Naval Air Corps at Ōmura, receiving promotion to lieutenant in December 1936. In 1937, he participated in the attack on the USS Panay. Promoted to lieutenant-commander in October 1941, Okumiya served throughout World War II, including on the aircraft carrier Ryūjō and with the 2nd Air Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy. During 1942–1943, he served as chief of staff of the 26th Naval Air Squadron, and was appointed to a staff post in August 1944. He was promoted to his final rank of commander in November 1944. At the end of the war, Okumiya was interrogated by Allied intelligence officers, after which he was demobilised.
Following the occupation of Japan, he joined the nascent Japan Air Self-Defense Force in 1954. He returned to active duty in July 1957 with the rank of colonel, and was appointed commander of the air base at Utsunomiya. He was promoted to major general in February 1958 and served as deputy head of Personnel and Training from August 1959 to April 1960. He commanded the 3rd Air Wing from Komaki Air Base in 1961, followed by command of the Ichigaya Air Base in 1962. He was promoted to lieutenant-general in 1963 and ended his career as commander of the ATC and Meteorological Group. He retired the following year.
Okumiya wrote extensively on Japan's role in World War II. He co-wrote with Mitsuo Fuchida Midway: The Battle that Doomed Japan; the Japanese Navy's Story, published 1955. He also co-wrote, with Jiro Horikoshi and Martin Caidin, an historical account of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, titled Zero! The book was published in 1956.Midway order of battle
This is the order of battle for the World War II Battle of Midway.Mitsubishi A5M
The Mitsubishi A5M, formal Japanese Navy designation Mitsubishi Navy Type 96 Carrier-based Fighter (九六式艦上戦闘機), experimental Navy designation Mitsubishi Navy Experimental 9-Shi Carrier Fighter, company designation Mitsubishi Ka-14, was a Japanese carrier-based fighter aircraft. It was the world's first monoplane shipboard fighter to enter service and the direct predecessor of the famous Mitsubishi A6M "Zero". The Allied reporting name was Claude.Mitsubishi Aircraft Company
Mitsubishi Aircraft Company (Mitsubishi Kokuki) was the new name given by the Mitsubishi Company (Mitsubishi Shokai), in 1928, to its subsidiary, Mitsubishi Internal Combustion (Mitsubishi Nainenki), to reflect its changing role as an aircraft manufacturer catering to the growing demand for military aircraft in Japan.Mitsubishi Nainenki had been established in Nagoya in 1920, and signed a technology agreement with Junkers in 1925. By 1926, it had become one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in Japan with an output of 69 aircraft and 70 engines.
In 1932, Mitsubishi Aircraft was among the companies that involved in a consolidation process calalysed by the Imperial Japanese Navy's Aviation Arsenal. The Navy launched a three-year program to have the manufacturers develop certain types of aircraft under competition. Most important of them were the Mitsubishi A5M (96-Shiki) Carrier Fighter and Mitsubishi G3M (96-Shiki) Attack Bomber developed by Mitsubishi with engines made by Nakajima Aircraft Company. Introduced in 1936, it had a maximum speed of 450 km/h (279.617 mph). The famous Mitsubishi A6M ("Zero") fighter was an improvement of the A5M and had a maximum speed of 500 km/h (310.686 mph). Also well known was the Mitsubishi Ki-46 (100-Shiki) reconnaissance plane with a maximum speed of 540 km/h (335.54 mph).In 1934 the company was merged with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding to become Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Mitsubishi Jukogyo). It had a prominent role to play in the upsurge of aircraft production in Japan, which shot up from 400 in 1931, to 4,800 in 1941 and peaked at 24,000 in 1944.Mitsubishi F-2
The Mitsubishi F-2 is a multirole fighter derived from the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Lockheed Martin for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with a 60/40 split in manufacturing between Japan and the United States. Production started in 1996 and the first aircraft entered service in 2000. The first 76 aircraft entered service by 2008, with a total of 98 airframes produced. The first active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar on a combat aircraft was the J/APG-1 introduced on the Mitsubishi F-2 in 1995. The F-2 is nicknamed "Viper Zero", a reference to the F-16's semi-official nickname of "Viper" and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero.Miyazaki Airplane
Miyazaki Airplane was an aircraft parts manufacturing company based in Japan during World War II. The company owned a factory located in Kanuma, Tochigi, Japan, that manufactured parts, including rudders, for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. During the war, the firm relocated to Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan. Shortly thereafter on July 12, 1945, there was an air raid on the city of Utsunomiya which left 43.7% of the city destroyed.Nakajima A6M2-N
The Nakajima A6M2-N (Navy Type 2 Interceptor/Fighter-Bomber) was a single-crew floatplane based on the Mitsubishi A6M Zero Model 11. The Allied reporting name for the aircraft was Rufe.Nakajima Ki-43
The Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (隼, "Peregrine Falcon", "Army Type 1 Fighter" (一式戦闘機)) was a single-engine land-based tactical fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II.
The Allied reporting name was "Oscar", but it was often called the "Army Zero" by American pilots because it bore a certain resemblance to the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the Imperial Japanese Navy's counterpart to the Ki-43. Both aircraft had generally similar layout and lines, and also used essentially the same Nakajima Sakae radial engine, with similar round cowlings and bubble-type canopies (the Oscar's being distinctly smaller and having much less framing than the A6M). While relatively easy for a trained eye to tell apart with the "finer" lines of the Ki-43's fuselage — especially towards the tail — and more tapered wing planform; in the heat of battle, given the brief glimpses and distraction of combat, Allied aviators frequently made mistakes in enemy aircraft identification in the heat of a dogfight, reportedly having fought "Zeros" in areas where there were no Navy fighters.
Like the Mitsubishi-produced A6M Zero, the radial-engined Ki-43 was light and easy to fly and became legendary for its combat performance in East Asia in the early years of the war. It could outmaneuver any opponent, but did not have armor or self-sealing tanks, and its armament was poor until its final version, which was produced as late as 1945. Allied pilots often reported that the nimble Ki-43s were difficult targets but burned easily or broke apart with few hits. In spite of its drawbacks, the Ki-43 shot down more Allied aircraft than any other Japanese fighter and almost all the JAAF's aces achieved most of their kills in it.Total production amounted to 5,919 aircraft. Many of these were used during the last months of the war for kamikaze missions against the American fleet.Newton Henry Mason
Newton Henry Mason (24 December 1918 – May 1942) was a decorated United States Navy fighter pilot of World War II who was killed in action at the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Mason was born in New York City on 24 December 1918. He enlisted as a seaman in the United States Naval Reserve on 7 November 1940 and on 10 February 1941 was appointed an aviation cadet. Assigned to U.S. Navy Fighting Squadron 3 (VF-3) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga as a Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter pilot in September 1941, he reported to VF-3 while it was stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Territory of Hawaii, in January 1942 after Saratoga had been damaged by a Japanese submarine torpedo.Later reassigned to Fighting Squadron 2 (VF-2), Ensign Mason's first and only aerial combat occurred during the Battle of the Coral Sea on 8 May 1942, when he disappeared during action with Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft and was declared missing in action, probably the victim of Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters from the Japanese aircraft carrier Shōkaku.Mason was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his skill and courage in battle.Robert Duncan (pilot)
Robert "Bob" Wayne Duncan was an American flying ace in the Pacific theatre of World War II. Duncan was the first person to shoot down a Mitsubishi A6M Zero while flying a Grumman F6F Hellcat. He was in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1966, retiring with the rank of Captain after having flown more than 100 combat missions in World War II and the Korean War.The Final Countdown (film)
The Final Countdown is a 1980 alternate history science fiction film about a modern aircraft carrier that travels through time to the day before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Produced by Peter Vincent Douglas and directed by Don Taylor, the film stars Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, James Farentino, Katharine Ross and Charles Durning. This was Taylor's final film.
Produced with the full cooperation of the United States Navy, set and filmed on board the actual USS Nimitz supercarrier, The Final Countdown was a moderate success at the box office.Toshio Ōta
Toshio Ōta (太田 敏夫, Ōta Toshio, 20 March 1919 – 21 October 1942) was a World War II Japanese fighter ace. In early 1942, at the age of 22, he flew a Mitsubishi A6M Zero with the Lae based Tainan Air Group. There the young petty officer, 1st class became one of the so-called "Clean-up Trio" of Japanese aces, along with his squadron mates Saburo Sakai and Hiroyoshi Nishizawa.
Ōta's first confirmed kill, of a U.S. Army Air Force P-40E Warhawk, was over New Guinea on April 11, 1942. Transferred to Rabaul in August, Ōta was killed in a dogfight with U.S. Marine Corps Grumman F4F Wildcats over Guadalcanal on October 21, shortly after shooting down a Wildcat himself. His victorious opponent is believed to be 1st Lt. Frank C. Drury of the VMF-212 squadron. Ōta is credited with 34 victories, making him the Imperial Japanese Navy's fourth-ranking ace.
In his autobiography, Sakai described Ōta as outgoing and amiable, in contrast to the more reserved Nishizawa, and said he would have been "more at home in a nightclub" than in Lae.Zeke (disambiguation)
Zeke is a masculine given name or nickname.
Zeke may also refer to:
Zeke, Allied code name for the Mitsubishi A6M Zero Japanese World War II fighter
Tropical Storm Zeke, two typhoons and a tropical storm, all in the early 1990s
Zeke (band), American hardcore punk band
Zeke, Burkina Faso, a village
Zero Kinetic Energy spectroscopy, a form of high resolution photoelectron spectroscopy
Zeke, the artificial intelligence agent in development by Hub Culture
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