Mitsubishi G3M NELL


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Mitsubishi G3M NELL

As far back as 1935, in response to Japanese naval requirement for a landbased twin-engine reconnaissance aircraft, Mitsubishi flew the first Ka-15 prototype, an aircraft which possessed a design potential that allowed development as a long-range medium bomber. Accordingly, following successful flight trials, the aircraft entered production in June 1936 as the Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber Model 11 (Mitsubishi G3M1). The initial version, of which 34 were produced, was powered by 678kW Kinsei 3 radials and possessed a maximum speed of 360km/h at 1975m. As the improved Kinsei 41 and 42 engine became available in 1937 a new version, the G3M2, started production and, with a total of 581 built by mid-1941, was the principal variant. With a top speed now increased to 374km/h, a bombload of up to 800kg carried externally and a defensive armament of three 7.7mm machine-guns, the G3M2 possessed a maximum range of 4380km. A yet further improved version, of which production was undertaken by Nakajima during 1941-3, was the G3M3 with 970kW Kinsei 51 radiais and a top speed of 415km/h at 6000m.

Mitsubishi G3M2s were first flown in action by the Japanese navy's Kanoya Kokutai in August 1937 in raids on Hangchow and Kwangteh in China. By 1940 four kokutais in China were equipped with a total of about 130 G3M2s, a number that grew to 204 by the date of Pearl Harbor with the deployment of forces against Wake Island, the Philippines and the Marianas. And it was a force of 60 G3M2s of the Genzan and Minoro Kokutais (with 26 Mitsubishi G4Mls of the Kanoya Kokutai) which, flying from bases in Indo- China, found and sank the British warships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse as they steamed without fighter protection off the Malayan coast on 10 December 1941. The type was known to the Allies as the 'Nell'.

Mitsubishi G3M NELL

 ENGINE2 x Mitsubishi MK8 "Kinsei-51", 975kW
  Take-off weight8000 kg17637 lb
  Empty weight5250 kg11574 lb
  Wingspan25.0 m82 ft 0 in
  Length16.5 m54 ft 2 in
  Height3.7 m12 ft 2 in
  Wing area75.1 m2808.37 sq ft
  Max. speed415 km/h258 mph
  Cruise speed295 km/h183 mph
  Ceiling10300 m33800 ft
  Range w/max.fuel6200 km3853 miles
 ARMAMENT1 x 20mm cannon, 4 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 800kg of bombs

Mitsubishi G3M NELLA three-view drawing (752 x 765)

Scott Ritchey, e-mail, 30.11.2021 22:00

Working out on wake island and we have recovered part of a prop. We believe it to be Japaneese. Does anyone have the specs on the prop, or where to look to find any info on it.


Doug Focer, e-mail, 12.01.2022 Scott Ritchey

I just watched the first season of Survivor which takes place in Borneo. There was a wrecked aircraft on the beach. The contestants ran past the tail section in the jungle and the twin tails were close together like the Nell. It had a greenhouse nose. The number 15 is painted on the fuselage behind the nose.
Who knows, this might be something interesting.


Klaatu83, e-mail, 22.01.2021 18:15

These aircraft had no real counterpart in the U.S. Navy. During the 1930s the basic strategy of the Japanese Navy was based upon the notion that the U.S. Navy would attack Japan across the Pacific, during which the Japanese Navy would whittle down the American Fleet by means of torpedo attacks delivered by submarines, destroyers and long-range strike aircraft such as the GM3. By the time the weakened American battle-fleet arrived across the Pacific the Japanese battle-fleet would be able to face it on more-or-less equal terms. That was the strategic idea around which the design of the G3M and its' successor, the G4M "Betty", were created. The U.S. Navy had nothing in that category in their inventory. Perhaps the closest Allied equivalent was the RAF's Bristol Beaufort twin-engine torpedo-bomber, although the Beaufort was not capable of anywhere near the range of the G3M or G4M.


Oldgysgt, e-mail, 17.01.2016 03:09

The Mitsubishi G3M Nell was an example of a "Colonial" aircraft, much like the Italian Breda Ba.65. A Colonial aircraft is one that is designed to drop high explosives and rain aerial machinegun rounds down on people with bare feet who have nothing more than dirt clods and single-shot rifle bullets to throw back in return. Because of this, range is reasonable important, but bomb load and defensive armament can be relatively light. The G3M Nell's suffered seriously from the few serviceable Marine F4Fs on Wake, but as mentioned above, one of the G3M's shinning hours was its part in the Naval Battle off Malaya; proving the folly of operating capitol ships without air cover while in range of opposing bombers. Once the "New" wore off of the Pacific war however, the Nell's limited bomb load was revealed for the serious handicap it really was.


Klaatu83, e-mail, 17.11.2012 22:47

Built for maximum range (3,800 miles), which was impressive, but at the sacrifice of fuel protection. These planes caught fire easily when hit by enemy fire.


Mykola, 20.10.2010 23:55

Not a bad plane.


David Wesely, e-mail, 05.03.2010 05:16

SOme souce said this was the first "intercontinental" ot "trsns oceanic" strat4egic bombing mission, and everyone lese just has to repeat it. Sorry guys, the Germans were bombing London from Germany with Airplanes (as well as with Zepplins) in the First World War, at least 20 years before the 1937 mission from Japan to China. Neither of these missions is transoceanic (yeah, the South China Sea is part of the Pacific, but only in the same twisted way that the the North Sea is part of the Atlantic) or intercontinental.
If we want to really get legalistic, at least one mission was probably flown from Egypt (Africa) 100 miles over to Palestine (Asia) during WWI or from the Panama CZ to bomb the Sandinistas Nicaragua in the 30's. But the G3M missions to China just don't make it.


Bowen Kerrihard, e-mail, 08.02.2010 23:57

For Henry Dittman: "Mitsubishi Green" may be a cousin of "Savoia Marchetti Green" and refer in both cases to the zinc chromate paint used on many WWII airplanes to retard salt-water corrosion. PBYs used lots of it, too. I've never found an exact color match, but zinc chromate was generally a kind of pea green, leaning toward chartreuse.
I hope this helps,
Bo Kerrihard


Prof. Henry Dittman, e-mail, 17.01.2010 05:39

I am a scale model airplane builder and am currently building a "Nell". What was the cockpit /interior color in this airplane? I have read that it was "Mitsubishi Green", but that doesn't give me a very good idea of the shade. Can you be more specific than that?
Prof. H. Dittman


Barry, 17.12.2009 16:48

3853 miles with a maximum fuel load i.e. minimal war load, hardly what one would call intercontinental if you wanted to return that is. I suppose flying across the Bering Straights could be classified as intercontinental but this plane did not do that.


Gordon Isaacson, e-mail, 11.10.2009 22:24

When did the Kanoya Kokutai get its name? Or better yet what was their Kokutai name in China? I have what I believe is the Kanoya Kokutai 1940 year book yet they do not call themselves Kanoya Kokutai. They are named after their Commanding Officer. Any ideas?


ss, e-mail, 05.07.2009 16:04



Mick Dunn, e-mail, 23.11.2008 06:42

World's first true Intercontinental Bomber! Combined with the Zero...a world beating long range Weapons System!


Scott Russell, e-mail, 05.03.2008 02:06

I am preparing a public exhibit at the Saipan International Airport that will present an overview of the development and use of Aslito and Isely Fields. I would very much like to acquire a high resolution scan of the photo of the Mitsubishi G3M that appears on this page. I am prepared to cover reproduction costs.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

Scott Russell


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