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Mitsubishi A6M Reisen 'Zero'  

Mitsubishi A6M Reisen 'Zero'

The aircraft was formally adopted by the Japanese Navy for carrier service in Aug. 1940 and made its combat debut over China on Sept. 13, 1940, easily shooting down its Chinese opponents, the Soviet built I-15 and I-16 fighters and a variety of Western aircraft. During a year of combat over China, Zeros destroyed ninety-nine Chinese aircraft for the loss of two of their own, both of which were shot down by ground fire. The Zero was the principal Japanese naval fighter throughout the war, participating in all carrier actions, beginning with Pearl harbor. Produced by the Mitsubishi and, subsequently, Nakajima aircraft companies, the low-wing, single engine aircraft had excellent maneuverability, speed and range. However, the lack of armor or bulletproof windscreen for the pilot, and unprotected fuel tanks meant that a Zero that was hit was often destroyed. During the war the Zero was periodically upgraded with improved engines and other features. Because of the poor quality of replacement pilots after the carrier battle of Midway and the high losses during the lengthy U.S. Solomons-New Guinea Campaign, the Zero could never again recapture aerial superiority for the fleet. Beginning in Oct. 1944, land based Zeros - each generally armed with a 250 kg bomb became the first aircraft used in the Kamikaze attacks against U.S. ships. The prototype was first flown on April 1, 1939, and quickly obtained a speed of slightly over 498 km/h. By the time of Pearl Harbor there were 521 Zeros in naval service. Production continued until the last day of the war, with 10,938 aircraft being produced. When the war ended 6,300 improved A6M8 variants were on order, but none were completed because of the damage to Japanese industry by U.S. bombing and shortages of raw materials.

 Specifications

Full Name

Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Reisen 'Zero'

Type

Fighter

Origin

Japan

Manufacturer

Mitsubishi

Wingspan

12 m

Length

9.06 m

Height

3.05 m

Weight

Empty: 1680 kg

Maximum Speed

534 km/h

Range

3104 km

Engine

1 x 950 hp Nakajima NK1C Sake 12

Armament

2 s 20mm cannon, 2 x 7.7mm machine gun, and a bomb load of 120 kg

Crew

1

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