Nakajima A6M2-N RUFE


Back to the Virtual Aircraft Museum
  FLOAT-PLANEVirtual Aircraft Museum / Japan / Nakajima  

Nakajima A6M2-N RUFE

Japan was the only nation to produce and deliver into service float-equipped single-seat interceptor fighter seaplanes (the British Spitfire float adaptation did not progress beyond the experimental stage). When in 1940 the Japanese navy initiated the design of a new interceptor seaplane (the Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu, or 'Rex'), the need was also expressed for a stopgap aircraft and the Nakajima company was instructed in February 1941 to develop a float-equipped version of the excellent Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero naval interceptor. As evidence of Japan's long-standing plans for territorial expansion through the Pacific, it had been recognized that in the inevitable 'island-hopping' war there would be few ready-made air bases from which to provide air cover during the occupation of the smaller islands, and that the construction of runways would be impractical. Although equipped with almost a dozen aircraft-carriers, the Japanese would be unable to use them in support of every single island invasion.

After removing the wheel landing gear and fairing over the wheel wells of a standard A6M2, Nakajima mounted a large float under the fuselage by means of a forward-raked central pylon and a pair of V-struts below the cockpit; two cantilever stabilizing floats were also mounted under the wings. The standard Zero gun armament was retained, and the first prototype was flown on 7 December 1941, the day on which the Japanese navy attacked Pearl Harbor.

Entering production as the Nakajima A6M2-N and codenamed 'Rufe' by the Allies, the new fighter still displayed a creditable performance, being first issued to the Yokohama Kokutai and deployed to Tulagi in the Solomons where the Japanese had first landed during the Battle of the Coral Sea. However, almost all the 'Rufes' were destroyed in a strike on the seaplane base by 15 Grumman F4Fs from USS Wasp on 7 August 1942. Better success attended the 'Rufes' which fought in the later Aleutian campaign, but losses soared as soon as American fighter strength could be built up. During the final year of the war, when American heavy bombers and naval aircraft opened their great attacks on the Japanese homeland, 'Rufes' of the Otsu Kokutai, based on Lake Biwa, were thrown into the battle as interceptors in defence of Central Honshu but suffered very heavy losses. Total production of 'Rufe' amounted to 327 before being halted in September 1943.

Nakajima A6M2-N RUFE

 ENGINE1 x Nakajima "Sakae-12", 705kW
  Wingspan12 m39 ft 4 in
  Length10.1 m33 ft 2 in
  Height4.3 m14 ft 1 in
  Wing area22.44 m2241.54 sq ft
  Max. speed435 km/h270 mph
  Cruise speed300 km/h186 mph
  Ceiling10000 m32800 ft
  Range1150 km715 miles
  Range w/max.fuel1780 km1106 miles
 ARMAMENT2 x 20mm cannons, 2 x 7.7mm machine-guns

Nakajima A6M2-N RUFEA three-view drawing (752 x 1146)

Anonymous, 12.05.2021 17:42

Many nations, including Britain and the U.S., explored the concept of a water-borne fighter. The British mounted a Spitfire on twin floats, while the U.S. Navy tested a Grumman "Wildcat" similarly mounted on twin floats. However, those fighters remained no more than experimental prototypes. Only the Japanese actually produced such aircraft in quantity and placed them into operation. In addition to this aircraft, Kawanishi designed and built a float-plane fighter from scratch; the N1K1 "Kyofu" (known to the Allies as "Rex"). However, only 97 of the latter were ever built due to the changing course of the war, in which the Japanese no longer required float-plane fighters to operate from island bases, but instead required interceptors for use over the Japanese Home Islands. As a result, the N1K1 was redesigned as a land-based intercepter, the N1K2 "Sheden-Kai", known to the Allies as "George".


luis ceberg, e-mail, 17.02.2013 03:00

lo que no se menciona es que los nipones usaron la patente del motor PW de 14 cilindros parecido al del DC-3.


lxbfYeaa, e-mail, 14.03.2024 luis ceberg



zhuma, 21.06.2011 04:57

also would like to enter your community, hope it is possible:-) Cya around, best regards, Alex!


bombardier, e-mail, 24.05.2011 19:10

The seaplane interceptor concept was outdated from the start but using the Rufe as catapult launched seaplana wasn't a bad idea


Duane Rose, e-mail, 26.04.2011 19:40

How do you pronounce "rufe" Is it roof or rough?


Ben Beekman, e-mail, 22.02.2011 21:08

I have to agree with Griffin about the identity of the floatplane at the Adm. Nimitz Museum. I was there back in the late 1960's when they had a Kawanishi N1K Kyofu (Rex) on display out in the open air. It was in excellent condition and whoever bought it later on might have wanted to restore it to flyable condition.
Only 97 Rex's were ever built making them rarer and probably even more expensive to obtain than the Rufe.


yakpilot, e-mail, 15.02.2011 23:37

There is a fine example of this aircraft in storage at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. This aircraft is not on display and cannot be viewed by the public.


DebtMan, e-mail, 18.10.2010 06:12

Effectively Jim,a sole Rufe was captured by Russia in Manchuria in 1945 october and was tested during 5 months and finally in 1946 march the plane was scrapped


Jim, 24.03.2010 23:45

Was any rufe captured by russians?


Griffin Murphey, e-mail, 07.07.2009 07:07

It was not a Rufe, it was a Rex (Kyofu). They sold it and the SBD to buy the PT boat.


John D, e-mail, 22.06.2009 18:51

There is an intact,original, very good condition "Rufe" at the Pacific War Museum in Fredricksburg, Texas. The museum is directly behind the Admiral Nimitz Museum on Main St. The Rufe was not on common display the last time I was there in 2004 but, a docent took me into the storage area to view it because of intense interest. It was magnificent and I have photos of it.


delaney, 23.06.2007 04:35

my grandfather flew beaufighters over indonesia and there sqn actually nailed quite a few rufes aswell as petes! didnt realise it was essentially a zero.....


Tim, e-mail, 28.01.2007 21:12

Is there anywhere in North America or even in the entire world that one of the A6M2-N floatplane has been preserved and put on display?
Thank you


Alexvath, e-mail, 11.02.2007 02:22

Hello, my name is Alex, i'm a newbie here. I really do like your resource and really interested in things you discuss here, also would like to enter your community, hope it is possible:-) Cya around, best regards, Alex!


Do you have any comments?

Name    E-mail


All the World's Rotorcraft

All rhe World's Rotorcraft AVIATION TOP 100 -