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Encyclopedia > Mitsubishi Zero
Mitsubishi A6M5 "Zero" Model 52
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Mitsubishi A6M5 "Zero" Model 52

The Mitsubishi A6M was a light-weight carrier-based fighter aircraft employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1795x763, 191 KB) Subject : Mitsubishi Zero Model 52 (A6M5) Location : Yasukuni Shrine Yushukan, Tokyo Date : 2005/06/23 Photographer : Paul Richter File links The following pages link to this file: Mitsubishi Zero ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1795x763, 191 KB) Subject : Mitsubishi Zero Model 52 (A6M5) Location : Yasukuni Shrine Yushukan, Tokyo Date : 2005/06/23 Photographer : Paul Richter File links The following pages link to this file: Mitsubishi Zero ... The Mitsubishi companies, or the Mitsubishi Group of Companies or the Mitsubishi Group is a large group (keiretsu) of independently operated Japanese companies which share the Mitsubishi brand name. ... A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for attacking other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed to attack ground targets, primarily by dropping bombs. ... Ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy. ... 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ... 1945 (MCMXLV) was a common year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ...


While the official Allied code name was Zeke (or Hamp for the A6M3 model 32 variant), it is universally known as Zero from its Japanese Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter (零式艦上戦闘機), taken from the Imperial year 2600 (1940).


A combination of excellent manuverability and very long range made it one of the best fighters of its era and gained it a legendary reputation, but design weaknesses and lack of more powerful engines eventually doomed it. An engine is something that produces some effect from a given input. ...

Contents


History

The Mitsubishi A5M was just starting to enter service in early 1937 when the IJN started looking for its eventual replacement. In May they issued specification 12-Shi for a new aircraft carrier-based fighter, sending it to Nakajima and Mitsubishi. Both started preliminary design work while they awaited more definitive requirements to be handed over in a few months. The Mitsubishi A5M was the worlds first monoplane shipboard fighter and the direct ancestor of the famous Mitsubishi A6M Zero. The Allied code-name was Claude; the Japanese Navy designation was Type 96 carrier-based fighter (九六式艦上戦闘機). ... Ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy. ... An aircraft carrier is a warship whose main role is to deploy and recover aircraft—in effect acting as a sea-going airbase. ... Categories: Stub | Japanese aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engine manufacturers ... The Mitsubishi companies, or the Mitsubishi Group of Companies or the Mitsubishi Group is a large group (keiretsu) of independently operated Japanese companies which share the Mitsubishi brand name. ...


Based on the experiences of the A5M in China, the Navy sent out updated requirements in October. The new requirements called for a speed of 500 km/h at 4000 m, and a climb to 3000 m in 3.5 min. They needed an endurance of 2 hours at normal power, or 6 to 8 hours at economical cruising speed (both with drop tanks). Armament was to consist of two 20 mm cannons and two 7.7 mm machine guns, and two 30 kg or 60 kg bombs. A complete radio set was to be mounted in all planes, along with a radio direction finder for long-range navigation. Finally the maneuverability was to be at least equal to A5M, while the wing span had to be less than 12 m to fit on the carriers. A small cast-iron cannon on a carriage A cannon is any large tubular firearm designed to fire a heavy projectile over a considerable distance. ... Massive ordinance air-burst bomb. ...


Nakajima's team thought the new requirements were ridiculous and pulled out of the competition in January. Mitsubishi's chief designer, Jiro Horikoshi, felt that the requirements could be met, but only if the aircraft could be made as light as possible. Every weight saving method was used, and the designers made extensive use of the new duralumin alloy. With its low-wing cantilever monoplane layout, retractable wide-set landing gear and enclosed cockpit, the design was not only much more modern than any the Navy had used in the past, it was one of the most modern in the world. Duralumin (or duraluminum) is an alloy of aluminium (about 95%), copper (about 4%), and small amounts of magnesium (0. ... The cantilevered beam (green) hangs out into open space from its supporing structure (blue). ...


At the time of Pearl Harbor there were only 420 Zeros active in the Pacific. The carrier-borne Model 21 was the type encountered by the Americans, often much further from its carriers than expected, with a mission range of over 1600 statute miles (2,600 km). They were superior in many aspects of performance to all Allied fighters in the Pacific in 1941 and quickly gained a great reputation. However, it failed to achieve complete superiority due to the development of innovative tactics by the Allies that utilized the advantages of formation flying and systematic mutual support. The Imperial Japanese Navy made its attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. ...


When the powerful Grumman F6F Hellcat, Vought F4U Corsair and Lockheed P-38 appeared on the Pacific theater, the A6M with its low-powered engine lost its competitiveness, although in competent hands it could still be deadly at the end of the war. Because of the scarcity of high-powered aviation engines and some problems with planned successor models, the Zero remained in production until the end, with over 11,000 of all types produced. The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, later Grumman Aerospace Corporation, was a leading producer of military and civilian aircraft of the 20th century. ... The Grumman F6F Hellcat started development as an improved F4F Wildcat, but turned into a completely new design sharing a family resemblance to the Wildcat but with practically no shared parts. ... Chance Vought F4U Corsair The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was a fighter aircraft that saw service in World War II and the Korean War. ... The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was one of the most important American fighters of the Second World War. ...


Designed for attack, the Zero gave precedence to manoeuvrability and fire-power at the expense of protection—most had no self-sealing tanks or armour plate—thus many Zeros were lost too easily in combat. During World War II, it quickly became apparent that fighter planes needed to provide adequate protection for the pilots. ...


Due to the high agility of the Zero, the Allied pilots found that the correct combat tactic against Zeros was to remain out of range and fight on the dive and climb. By using speed and resisting the deadly error of trying to out-turn the Zero, eventually cannon could be brought to bear and a single burst of fire was usually enough. Another important maneuver was called the "Thach Weave", named for the man that invented it, then-LtCdr John S. "Jimmy" Thach. It required two planes, a leader and his wingman, to fly about 200 feet apart. When a Zero would latch onto the tail of one of the fighters, the two planes would turn toward each other. If the Zero followed its original target through the turn, it would come into a position to be fired on by his target's wingman. This tactic was used with spectacular results at the Battle of the Coral Sea and at the Battle of Midway, and helped make up for the inferiority of the US planes until new aircraft types were brought into service. The Thach Weave was an aerial combat tactic developed by naval aviator John S. Thach of the United States Navy during World War II. The maneuver was designed to defeat the Japanese Mitsubishi Zero which was superior to any US fighter at the time. ... John Smith Thach (19 April 1905 - 15 April 1981) was a World War II naval aviator, air combat tactician, and Admiral in the United States Navy. ... The tone of this article is inappropriate for an encyclopedia. ... The Battle of the Coral Sea, in early May 1942, was one of the major turning points of the Pacific War. ... The Battle of Midway took place on June 5, 1942 (June 4 – June 7 in U.S. time zones). ...


When the US had learned the "secret" of the Zero, new aircraft such as the Grumman Hellcat and Vought Corsair were introduced, planes that outperformed the Zero in every way but in maneuverability. The result was that the US Navy's 1:1 kill ratio suddenly jumped to better than 10:1. The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, later Grumman Aerospace Corporation, was a leading producer of military and civilian aircraft of the 20th century. ... The Grumman F6F Hellcat started development as an improved F4F Wildcat, but turned into a completely new design sharing a family resemblance to the Wildcat but with practically no shared parts. ... Chance Vought F4U Corsair The Chance Vought F4U Corsair was a fighter aircraft that saw service in World War II and the Korean War. ...


Variants

A6M1, Type 0 Prototypes

The first A6M1 prototype was completed in March 1939, powered by the 780 hp (580 kW) Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 engine with a two-bladed propeller. It first flew on April 1st, and passed testing in a remarkably short period of time. 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.


A6M2, Type 0 Model 11

While the Navy was testing the first two prototypes, they suggested that the third be fitted with the 940 hp (700 kW) 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 plane well past the original specifications. Nakajima Sakae engine on a Mitsubishi Zero The Nakajima Sakae (栄, glory) was a two-row, 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine used in Japanese aircraft during World War II. It was version of the famous Gnome-Rhône 14K, a license for which had been taken out in 1936. ...


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-16's and I-153s that had been such a problem for the A5M's currently in service. In one encounter 13 Zeros shot down 27 I-15 and I-16's in under three minutes without loss. After hearing of these reports the Navy immediately ordered the plane into production as the Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model 11. Extent of Manchuria according to Definition 1 (dark red), Definition 3 (dark red + medium red) and Definition 4 (dark red + medium red + light red) Manchuria (Manchu: Manju, Simplified Chinese: 满洲; Traditional Chinese: 滿洲; pinyin: ) is name given to a vast territorial region in northeast Asia. ... Chongqing (Simplified Chinese: 重庆; Traditional Chinese: 重慶; pinyin: Chóngqìng; Wade_Giles: Chung_ching; Postal System Pinyin: Chungking) is the largest and most populous of the Peoples Republic of Chinas four municipalities, which have provincial_level status. ... The Polikarpov I-16 was the worlds most advanced fighter aircraft when it was introduced in the mid-1930s, and soon formed the majority of the Soviet Air Forces units. ...


Reports of the Zero's performance filtered back to the US slowly. There they were dismissed by most planners, who felt it was impossible for the Japanese to build such an aircraft. Others were not so sure, and techniques were developed by Butch O'Hare to combat them just in case. Lt. ...


A6M2, Type 0 Model 21

After the delivery of only 65 planes by November 1940, a further change was worked into the production lines, which introduced folding wingtips to allow them to fit on the aircraft carriers. The resulting Model 21 would become one of the most produced versions early in the war. When the lines switched to updated models, 740 Model 21's were 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 modifed tail), and the A6M2-K two-seat trainer of which a total of 508 were built by Hitachi and the Sasebo Naval Air Arsenal. An aircraft carrier is a warship whose main role is to deploy and recover aircraft—in effect acting as a sea-going airbase. ...


A6M3, Type 0 Model 32

In late 1941 Nakajima introduced the Sakae 21, which used a two speed supercharger for better altitude performance, and increased power to 1,130 hp (840 kW). Plans were made to introduce the new engine into the Zero as soon as possible. A supercharger (also known as a blower, a positive displacement pump or a centrifugal pumper) is a gas compressor used to pump air into the cylinders of an internal combustion engine. ...


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 down by 8 inches (200 mm), moving the engine back towards the cockpit. This had the side effect of reducing the size of the main fuel tank (located to the rear of the engine) from 518 litres to 470 litres. In physics, the center of gravity (CoG) of an object is the average location of its weight. ...


The only other major changes were to the wings, which were simplified by removing the Model 21's folding tips. This changed the appearance enough to prompt the US to designate it with a new code name Hamp, before realizing it was simply a new model of the Zeke. The wings also included larger ammunition boxes, allowing for 100 rounds for each of the 20 mm cannon.


The wing changes had much greater effects on performance than expected. The smaller size led to better roll, and their lower drag allowed the diving speed to be increased to 360 knots (670 km/h). On the downside, manuverability was reduced, and range suffered both due to decreased lift and the smaller fuel tank. Pilots complained about both. The shorter range proved a significant limitation during the Solomons campaign of 1942.


The first Model 32 deliveries began in April 1942, but it remained on the lines only for a short time, with a run of 343 being built.


A6M3, Type 0 Model 22

In order to correct the deficiencies of the Model 32, a new version with the Model 21's folding wings, new in-wing fuel tanks and attachments for a 330 litre drop tank under each wing was introduced. The internal fuel was thereby increased to 570 litres in this model, gaining back all of the lost range.


As the airframe was reverted from the Model 32 and the engine remained the same, this version received the navy designation Model 22, while Mitsubishi called it the A6M3a. The new model started production in December, and 560 were eventually produced. This company constructed somes examples for evaluation, armed with 30 mm Type 5 Cannon,under denomination of A6M3b (model 22b).


A6M4

The A6M4 is a subject of some debate. Most sources refer to an experimental turbocharged version of the Zero for high altitude use, but only a single mention of the A6M4 can be found in text and it does not mention much.


A6M5, Type 0 Model 52

The A6M5 was a modest update of the A6M3 Model 22, with wings with nonfolding tips and thicker skinning to permit faster diving speeds, plus an improved exhaust system (four pipes on each side) that provided an increment of thrust. Subvariants included the "A6M5a Model 52a «Kou»", featuring cannon with belt feed instead of drum feed, permitting a bigger ammunition supply; the "A6M5b Model 52b «Otsu»", with an armor glass windscreen, a fuel tank fire extinguisher, and one 7.7 millimeter gun in the cowling replaced by a 13.2 millimeter Browning-pattern gun; and the "A6M5c Model 52c «Hei»", with more armor plate on the cabin's windshield (55 cm) and in the pilot's seat. This version also possessed armament of three 13.2 millimeter guns (one in the cowling, one in each wing), twin 20 millimeter guns and an additional fuel tank with a capacity for 367 liters, often replaced by a 250 kg bomb. The A6M5 could travel at 540 km/h and reach an height of 8000 meters in 9 minutes and 57 seconds. Other variants are the night fighter A6M5d-S(some conversion for night combat,armed with one 20 mm type 99 Cannon, inclined back to Pilot's cockpit) and A6M5-K "Zero-Reisen"(model l22)tandem tranier version,also only manufactured ones seven examples by Mitsubishi. Several machines survived the war and are now in display all over the world in countries such as Japan (in Aichi, Hamamatsu and Shizuoka), China (in Beijing) or the UK (Duxford.)


A6M6c

This was similar to the A6M5c, but with self-sealing wing tanks and a Nakajima Sakae 31a engine featuring water-methanol engine boost.


A6M7, Type 0 Model 63

Similar to the A6M6 but intended for attack or Kamikaze role.


A6M8

Similar to the A6M6 but with Mitsubishi Kinsei 62 engine, two prototypes built.


Specifications

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Mitsubishi Zero

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General characteristics (A6M2 Model 21)

  • Wing span : 39 ft (12 m)
  • Length : 29 ft 9 in (9 m)
  • Engine : 925 hp (690 kW)
  • Max weight : 5,300 lb (2,400 kg)
  • Armament : 2 x 7.7 mm MG, 2 x 20 mm cannon; 2 x 66 lb (30 kg) or 1 x 132 lb (60 kg) bombs; 2 fixed 250 kg bombs for kamikaze

A kamikaze, a Mitsubishi Zero in this case, about to hit the USS Missouri. ...

Performance

  • Max Speed : 336 statute mi/h at 20,000 ft (540 km/h at 6,000 m)
  • Ceiling : 10,000 m (32,800 ft)
Related content
Related Development

Nakajima A6M2-N Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe Interceptor/Figther-Bomber Floatplane // Dimensions Length : 10,10 m Wing Span: 22,44 m2 Hight : 4,30 m Weigth All-Up Weight : 2,880 Kg Empty Weight : 1,912 Kg Engine Engine: Nakajima NK1C Sakae of 12 940hp Performances Cruise Speed: 295 Km/h Max Speed...

Similar Aircraft

Grumman Wildcat The Grumman F4F Wildcat was the standard carrier-based fighter of the United States Navy for the first year and a half of World War II. An improved version built by General Motors (the General Motors FM Wildcat) remained in service throughout the war, on escort carriers where newer, larger...

Designation Series

A3N - A4N - A5M - A6M - A7M The Nakajima A4N was a carrier-based fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Navy, and the last biplane design by Nakajima. ... The Mitsubishi A5M was the worlds first monoplane shipboard fighter and the direct ancestor of the famous Mitsubishi A6M Zero. The Allied code-name was Claude; the Japanese Navy designation was Type 96 carrier-based fighter (九六式艦上戦闘機). ... The Mitsubishi A7M Reppu (烈風, Hurricane) was designed as the successor to the Imperial Japanese Navys A6M Zero, with development beginning in 1942. ...

Related Lists

List of military aircraft of Japan - List of fighter aircraft This list of military aircraft of Japan includes prototype, pre-production and operational types regardless of era. ... A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for attacking other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed to attack ground targets, primarily by dropping bombs. ...


Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers This list of aircraft is sorted alphabetically, beginning with the name of the manufacturer (or, in certain cases, designer). ... This is a list of aircraft manufacturers (in alphabetic order). ... List of aircraft engines - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins-1. ... This is a list of aircraft engine manufacturers both past and present. ...


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  Results from FactBites:
 
MITSUBISHI ZERO (507 words)
Of the many different models of the Zero produced from 1939 until the fall of Japan in 1945, the A6M5 was the most numerous.
The Zero was armed with a pair of 7.7 millimeter Vickers-type machine guns that were mounted on the top of fuselage and fired through ports in the engine cowling.
The Zero was used in nearly 2,000 kamikaze attacks before Japan finally surrendered to bring down the curtain on the war in the Pacific.
Axis History Factbook: Mitsubishi A6M Zero (0 words)
Some Zero variants were said to have racks for a total of ten 32 kilogram (70.5 pound) bombs, though it is uncertain that this was a standard feature in all types of the Zero.
The fact that the Zero was not a miraculous design is emphasized by the fact that in the late 1930s, the British designed and flew a fighter that was strikingly similar to the Zero.
In fact, during the war, Allied intelligence repeatedly suggested that the Zero was a copy of various other types of foreign aircraft, such as the Howard Hughes 1935 air racer and particularly the the Vought 143, a one-off prototype fighter that the Japanese purchased.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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