Mitsubishi A6M Reisen / ZEKE
1939
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Mitsubishi A6M Reisen / ZEKE

The famous Mitsubishi A6M, popularly known as the 'Zero', was the first carrierborne fighter in the world capable of outperforming any contemporary land-based fighter it was likely to confront. Because of inept Allied intelligence it was able to achieve immediate air superiority over the East Indies and South East Asia from the day Japan entered the war. Designed under the leadership of Jiro Honkoshi in 1937 as a replacement for the neat but obsolescent A5M, the prototype A6M1 was first flown on 1 April 1939 with a 582kW Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 radial; production A6M2 fighters with two wing-mounted 20mm guns and two nose-mounted 7.7mm guns were fitted with the 708kW Nakajima Sakae 12 radial, and it was with this version that the Japanese navy escorted the raiding force sent against Pearl Harbor, and gained air superiority over Malaya, the Philippines and Burma. In the spring of 1942 the A6M3 with two-stage supercharged Sakae 21 entered service, later aircraft having their folding wing tips removed. The Battle of Midway represented the Zero's combat zenith; thereafter the agile Japanese fighter found itself ever more outclassed by the American F6F Hellcat and P-38 Lightning. To counter the new American fighters the A6M5 was rushed to front-line units; this version, with Sakae 21 engine and improved exhaust system, possessed a top speed of 565km/h, more A6M5s (and subvariants) being produced than any other Japanese aircraft. It was five A6M5s of the Shikishima kamikaze unit that sank the carrier St Lo and damaged three others on 25 October 1944. Other versions were the A6M6 with water-methanol boosted Sakae 31 engine and the A6M7 fighter/dive-bomber. Total production of all A6Ms was 10,937. (The reporting name'Zeke' was given to the A6M, and 'Rufe' to a float version, the A6M2-N.)

Mitsubishi A6M Reisen / ZEKE


Specification 
 MODELA6M2
 CREW1
 ENGINE1 x Nakajima NK1F "Sakae 12", 705kW
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight2410-2796 kg5313 - 6164 lb
    Empty weight1680 kg3704 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan12.0 m39 ft 4 in
    Length9.06 m30 ft 9 in
    Height3.05 m10 ft 0 in
    Wing area22.44 m2241.54 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed525 km/h326 mph
    Cruise speed330 km/h205 mph
    Ceiling10000 m32800 ft
    Range w/max.fuel3050 km1895 miles
    Range w/max.payload1850 km1150 miles
 ARMAMENT2 x 20mm cannons, 2 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 60kg of bombs

3-View 
Mitsubishi A6M Reisen / ZEKEA three-view drawing (752 x 1009)

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Ron, toolkeeper123=rr.com, 14.04.2014

The A6M2 could out-gun, outloop and out-run the Ki 43 but not out-roll or out-turn it.

The A6M3 had the new high velocity 20 mm cannon (Type 99 Model II)

The A6M7 fighter-bomber had a level top speed of 340 mph (no water-methenol injection). 150 produced. Used for Kamikazi mostly.

Ron, toolkeeper123=rr.com, 14.04.2014

Machia,
Hughes statement to that effect before congress was an obvious attempt to enhance his stature with hubris evoking a stereotype that had traction back then.

However it was more factual that the Fw 190 was inspired in part by his 1935 racer, not the Zero! This was so dispite the fact that the Focke-Wulf tail looked different.

It's true that the Hughes racer had the pointy tail-end as did the A6M Reisen (like its predecessor the Mitsubishi A5M), but so did other fighters of WW2 like the Macchi and Fiat designs. But the propaganda wouldn't 'fly' if those were mentioned instead of the vaunted Japanese fighter. No one would believe the Italian or German planes were 'copies'.

Jiro Horikoshi didn't sit still for this slander by Hughes either. It's a matter of record.

This is a good site for exploding such false myths about Japanese fighter designs or anyone elses.
The vail of WW2 propaganda should be lifted by now. It had its day already.

machia, machia0705=gmail.com, 22.03.2014

Any truth to the old rumor that Mitsubishi was influenced by the Howard hughes racer built in 1935 in the design of this airplane? Epinage design is very similar.

Ron, toolkeeper123=rr.com, 27.02.2014

'The wind rises' movie is highly recommended. This tribute to the love of flight shared among plane designers isn't aimed only at aviation buffs.
The pre-war back-story of Mitsubishi fighters is the main focus of the A6M designer's saga rather than WW2 and its aftermath which are very brief but present in the film. Horikoshi's romantic love interest is compelling for all audiences, to round out the movie.

Ron, toolkeeper123=rr.com, 20.01.2014

Till the end the Zero made up at least half of the Japanese fighters encountered.

Since it was effectively obsolete for the last half of the Pacific war, I wonder what it would have been like if they had teamed up with other more competent types like the Shiden for a given mission -- like the Allies did with Ausie P-40s down low, F4U mid-level, and P-38s higher up.
Maybe they did and I haven't heard of it.
As a 'what if' scenario at least, since the A6M5 had the numbers and the N1K had the competence, combined - both types would be better off as one fighter force together. Maybe even some Raidens could serve as top cover on short flights. Leaving out army fighters for now since inter- service rivalry was so strong.
Maybe 1 unit of J2Ms, 2 units of NiKs, and 7 units of Zeros.
Not such a walk-over as all A6M5s alone!
Same for the army side. Perhaps the Oscar's numbers could be spearheaded with late war types likewise. Again, maybe they were. I think Ki 43s and Tonys complimented eachother on flights.
Can you imagine trying to dive from a Zero - only to find a Jack pouncing on you?

Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 13.10.2013

We can say the A6M is the greatest Japanese fighter just based on its production. Its predecessor, the A5M was just over a tenth of the quantity, and its successor, the J2M was only one twentieth as many.
However a second glance shows that of the 10,937 Zeros, more A6M5s were built than any other model and the Zero was by then obsolete (Marianas turkey shoot). Thus the question arises if the resources couldn't have been better utilized on the J2M Raiden or at least the Nakajima factory that helped on the Zero could switch back to there own Ki 84 Hayate?
Alternately, Mitsubishi should have stuck to its guns on a new engine for the A6M5 as planned until the delayed methenal boosted engine matured (A6M6). Then do a fly-off between it and the stock A6M5 before mass production was committed to. In that case perhaps the Zero design team would have won the day. But the fact is 2 years later the A6M8 was accepted with the more powerful engine that was supposed to be in the A6M5 back in 1943. Too late now to correct the mistake! The prototype flew but then it was all over.
When you look at the puny production of all the late-war Japanese fighters except the A6M5,6, and 7, you may question if resources weren't misplaced. The Zero wasn't so great in 1944 and 1945.

Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 18.10.2012

I was reading somewhere else about the A6M2 vs the Spit V.
Many can't fathom how the Spit fared so poorly when on paper it looks superior to the Zero.
Even after Allied tactics were adjusted and even when the Zero had to fly orders of magnitude farther to engage combat.


My answer is the light weight of the Zero. It's quickness and initial climb are invisible on paper where ceiling and maximum speed are relied on.Take off weight doesn't apply when it enters combat with only half it's fuel weight on board after 500+ miles one way. This was imposible to the Allied pilots. Not expecting any Jap fighters also had alot to do with the results.

Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 18.10.2012

Hey bombadier.
I think if the Zero design team had their way, The A6M5 would not have been underpowered. They finally got permission for that engine in the A6M8. Of course now the war was all but over. In 1943 it would have kept the Zero more competitive. US pilots can thank the JINAF authorities for this blunder. Horikoshi is not to blame.

bombardier, www.2888617=gmail.com, 02.09.2012

While it was impossible to fit the Zero with an engine that would keep it's speed equal to Allied fighters without increasing it's weight to unacceptable levels it was possible to fit it with more armour and self-sealing fuel tanks from the start.

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Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 23.03.2012

I found a dive limit for the A6M3 of 416.3 mph; 410 mph for the A6M2.?!
Of course lower speeds were more prudent since this is before the thicker skinned A6M5a (b, or c depending on source) to reach 460 mph terminal dive, to within about 30 mph of the typical F4U dive speed.
The A6M5c finally had the armored pilot seat but also added a fuel tank behind it that messed with the cg (ala P-51D) that pilots frowned on. Also gone was the last superfluous 7.7 mm MG. 3x 13.2 mm MGs now complimented the 2 high velocity 20 mm cannon and a belated fire suppression system piled on the weight. The needed power increase was not authorized by the Navy so level speed declined to the 340-348 mph range while the rival Ki 43-III caught up at 348 mph. in the last year of the war this is quite academic. They needed double the hp to matter in 1945, not 1300hp! In 1940 the Zero could do 345 with overboost and in 1945 the same - Just heavier weight. Too bad for Japan.

Hiroyuki Takeuchi, cxc02366=nifty.com, 23.03.2012

The widely spread information that the engine quits on negative G on the A6M2 is misinformation from the test reports on the captured Zero with the carbs not adjusted properly. I say this because there was a valve located on the carb specifically for preventing the negative G engine stalls and Saburo Sakai, in one of this books published in Japan comments that he has never had a negative G engine stall on any Zero models, questioning the condition of the Zero tested in the US.

Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 18.03.2012

Recently I came across the fact that the US testing of the first captured A6M2 was not flown in over-boost while the Japanese did use over-boost in combat against US fighters. Their pilots could get 345-348 mph out of it while US tests only went 331mph at best! Now I know why. Over-boost!
Perhaps that explains wide discrepancies in published initial climb rate as well. The US tests were 3100 fpm or less, but I've seen 4517 fpm elsewhere.
I used to wonder why the US pilots who survived the Battle of Wake Is, for example, would be not only out-turned but out-climbed and even out-run by A6M2 pilots although their USN F4F-3 could climb 3300 fpm and go around 330 mph. Yet they would complain about how out-classed they were in speed and climb as well as turn. Fantastic performance like 5000 fpm climb and unrealistic speeds were claimed for the Zero by the USN pilots. US Army P-39 and P-40 pilots too (from various battles)... and they could go over 331 mph. Go figure!
Before, I would think it was the quick acceleration of the A6M2 that explained the false impression of maximum speed and fpm initial climb rate. True, acceleration was a big advantage for the Japanese. But over-boost performance in the hands of Japanese pilots puts it all in a new light for me now.

MARINER, rboj13=hotmail.com, 29.01.2012

JAPANESES, HOJE MATAR BALEIAS INOCENTES E AINDA FICAR COM LUCRO. VIVA A AMERICA

ARNOLD ANDERSON, arnoldcanderson=yahoo.com, 29.09.2011

There is a lot of wild conjecture which is totally incorrect. To understand the origin of the Mitsubishi 0 obtain book, Eagles of Mitsubishi by, Jiro Horikoshi.
The author was lead designer of the airplane.

Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 28.02.2011

I found this:
"Considering the contemporary service aircraft were biplanes, Hughes fully expected the United States Army Air Forces to embrace his aircraft's new design and make the H-1 the basis for a new generation of U.S. fighter aircraft. His efforts to "sell" the design were unsuccessful. In postwar testimony before the Senate, Hughes indicated that resistance to the innovative design was the basis for the USAAF rejection of the H-1: "I tried to sell that airplane to the Army but they turned it down because at that time the Army did not think a cantilever monoplane was proper for a pursuit ship..."[7]

Aviation historians have posited that the H-1 Racer may have inspired later radial engine fighters such as the P-47 Thunderbolt and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.[8] After the war, Hughes further claimed that "it was quite apparent to everyone that the Japanese Zero fighter had been copied from the Hughes H-1 Racer." He noted both the wing planform, the tail empennage design and the general similarity of the Zero and his racer.[9][N 2] Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi Zero strongly refuted the allegation of the Hughes H-1 influencing the design of the Japanese fighter aircraft."

Lynn seems to take Hughes' verbose posturing concerning the Zero as fact.
Even a rudimentary comparison of the A6M Zero to his H-1 racer shows no such copying took place.
Historians see it inspiring possibly the P-47 or maybe the German Fw 190 but they don't include the Zero even if Hughes does.
Further, being inspired by a pre-war racer is not the same as buying it and copying it as a fighter plane.
His point that the US Army mentality was slow to accept the monoplane fighter concept like his H-1 was to prove true. But all fighter designers of WW 2 followed this path generally speaking.
Hughes' postwar hyperbole to stress his point was pandering to the war propaganda against Japan and the A6M Zero.

And certainly it deserved a challenge then and even more so now.
What are your thoughts?

Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 18.01.2011

D Lynn,
Do you have any credible evidence or proof.
Such a post is hard to take seriously otherwise.
Perhaps a half-truth maybe. Maybe not.
It begs for some light of day.
There was a time when such would pass for fact without further rigor, but that was in 1941 or 42!

D Lyn, dlynch62=cfl.rr.com, 04.01.2011

I have heard that Howard Hughes designed the Zero and offered it to the U S but they wern't interested. It was made of spruce Plywood. The Japanese later bought it.

Bill Brickhouse, billbipms478=cox.net, 02.01.2011

Looks like the ZERO has been cut short here. The A6M series started with the Model 11 and went thru the Model 63. Showing only the Model 21 is hardly telling the story of the A6M, I realize you cant show every detail but there is a lot missing.

Ron, toolkeeper123=roadrunner.com, 29.11.2010

For all the inexperienced pilots in the new A6M5, I'm amazed that only a couple of fighters did any better than it did to the end.

1-20 21-40 41-60

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