Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Japanese fighter plane

The legend of this fighter was born during the fighting in China in September 1940 and lasted until mid-1942. The myth of invincibility "Zero" was finally debunked in 1943 with the introduction by the Americans of the new F4U "Corsair" and F6F "Hellcat" fighters "In 1944, a 250 kg A6M bomb was used in the suicide attacks of the" Kamikaze ".

The A6M2 “Zero” model presented in this issue shows the 201 Kokutai aircraft piloted by Cpt. Yukio Seki. This plane was used on October 25, 1944 for the first suicide attack by the "Kamikaze".

The on-board A6M "Zero" fighter is one of the most famous Japanese aircraft of the Second World War. It owes its fame to its excellent performance and modern design, which, combined with no less perfect qualifications of the pilots, allowed the Japanese aviation to achieve numerous successes in the first half of the Pacific War.

In 1936, the production of an on-board Mitsubishi A5M ("Claude") low-wing, low-wing fighter was launched in Japan. However, a year later, the command of the Imperial Navy specified the design assumptions for a completely new fighter plane. The requirements for the new machine were very high, but meeting them guaranteed the receipt of a versatile, modern and in many respects superior to other foreign designs of this type. The design was developed by the construction team led by Eng. Jiro Horikoshi of Mitsubishi Aviation Works. The first prototype of the aircraft (A6M1) was assembled at the beginning of 1939. After making the necessary corrections, serial production was launched under the designation A6M2 Model 11. Officially, the fighter was adopted by the Imperial Navy as Type 0 (hence the informal name of the machine - "Zero").

The new planes were characterized by a modern design, high performance and strong armament. Their combat value was soon to be assessed by the pilots who received the A6M2 planes in July 1940.
Already in August 1940, the first A6M2 fighters appeared at the front in China. The first fight involving the A6M took place on September 13 over a Chinese airport near Chungking. Thirteen A6M2 aircraft attacked then 30 aircraft types I-152, I-153 and I-16. shooting down 27 of them in just a few minutes with no losses of their own. The balance of air combat in China (until mid-1941) with the A6M2 was impressive.

103 enemy planes were shot down and 163 destroyed on the ground with losses of only 3 machines shot down by anti-aircraft artillery. This is how the legend of the "Zero" fighter was born, on December 7, 1941, when the war between Japan and the USA broke out, the A6M2 was the basic fighter for the Japanese Navy. Zero's series of victories was only interrupted in mid-1942, when the Imperial fleet lost four of its large aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway. F6F "Hellcat" and F4U "Corsair" fighters. Nevertheless, the fighter was constantly improved and remained in service until the end of the war. In 1944, older models of the fighter were used for suicide attacks "Kamikaze", equipping the aircraft with an under-fuselage beam with 250 hanging from it - a kilogram bomb.

The A6M2 "Zero" was a single-seat, freestanding, all-metal low-wing fighter. Double-spar flap with a trapezoidal cut with rounded tips. The ends of the airfoil can be folded for storage. Ailerons and rudders with a metal structure covered with linen. Single-leg main landing gear. amortized, hydraulically retractable. Cushioned tail wheel, retracted in flight to the fuselage. The power unit was one 14-cylinder Nakajima Sakae 12 engine with a take-off power of 940 HP.

The armament consisted of two 20mm cannons in the wings and two 7.7mm machine guns mounted in the upper part of the fuselage. The plane could also carry two 60 kg bombs on under-wing locks. Machines designed for suicide attacks "Kamikaze" were additionally equipped with an under-fuselage beam to which it was possible to hang an aerial bomb weighing 250 kg.

Basic Specifications of A6M2 Model 21:
Span -12.00 m
Length - 9.05 m
Height - 3.52 m
Bearing area - 22.44 m2
Own weight (take-off) - 1745 (2421) kg
Gross weight - 2757 kg
Top speed - 533 km / h
Service ceiling -10300 m
Range -3105 km