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I turned the 20mm cannon switch to the 'off' position, and closed in. For some strange reason, even after I had poured about five or six hundred rounds of ammunition directly into the Grumman, the airplane did not fall, but kept on flying! I thought this very odd—it had never happened before—and closed the distance between the two airplanes until I could almost reach out and touch the Grumman. To my surprise, the Grumman's rudder and tail were torn to shreds, looking like an old torn piece of rag.
With his plane in such condition, no wonder the pilot was unable to continue fighting! A Zero which had taken that many bullets would have been a ball of fire by now. In combat with an F6F or F4U, the only positive thing that could be said of the Zero at this stage of the war was that, in the hands of a skillful pilot, it could maneuver as well as most of its opponents. Due to shortages of high-powered aviation engines and problems with planned successor models, the Zero remained in production until , with over 10, of all variants produced.
During an air raid over Dutch Harbor on June 4, , one A6M fighter was hit by ground-based anti-aircraft fire.
Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero-Sen Type 32
Koga died instantly of head injuries his neck was broken by the tremendous impact , but the relatively-undamaged fighter was found over a month later by an American salvage team and was shipped to Naval Air Station North Island , where testing flights of the repaired A6M revealed both strengths and deficiencies in design and performance. The A6M's airframe was "built like a fine watch"; the Zero was constructed with flush rivets , and even the guns were flush with the wings. The instrument panel was a "marvel of simplicity The Japanese method was much slower, but resulted in a very strong structure and improved close maneuverability.
While stable on the ground despite its light weight, the aircraft was designed purely for the attack role, emphasizing long range, maneuverability, and firepower at the expense of protection of its pilot. Most lacked self-sealing tanks and armor plating. The Zero had ruled the roost totally and was the finest fighter in the world until mid It first flew on 1 April, and passed testing within a remarkably short period. By September, it had already been accepted for Navy testing as the A6M1 Type 0 Carrier Fighter, with the only notable change being a switch to a three-bladed propeller to cure a vibration problem.
Mitsubishi had its own engine of this class in the form of the Kinsei , so they were somewhat reluctant to use the Sakae. Nevertheless, when the first A6M2 was completed in January , the Sakae's extra power pushed the performance of the Zero well past the original specifications. The new version was so promising that the Navy had 15 built and shipped to China before they had completed testing. They arrived in Manchuria in July , and first saw combat over Chungking in August. There they proved to be completely untouchable by the Polikarpov Is and Is that had been such a problem for the A5Ms when in service.
In one encounter, 13 Zeros shot down 27 Is and Is in under three minutes without loss. After hearing of these reports, the navy immediately ordered the A6M2 into production as the Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model Reports of the Zero's performance filtered back to the US slowly. There they were dismissed by most military officials, who thought it was impossible for the Japanese to build such an aircraft.
After the delivery of the 65th aircraft, a further change was worked into the production lines, which introduced folding wingtips to allow them to fit on aircraft carriers. When the lines switched to updated models, Model 21s had been completed by Mitsubishi, and another by Nakajima. Two other versions of the Model 21 were built in small numbers, the Nakajima-built A6M2-N "Rufe" floatplane based on the Model 11 with a slightly modified tail , and the A6M2-K two-seat trainer of which a total of were built by Hitachi and the Sasebo Naval Air Arsenal.
A prototype Zero with the new engine was first flown on July 15, The new Sakae was slightly heavier and somewhat longer due to the larger supercharger, which moved the center of gravity too far forward on the existing airframe. The cowling was redesigned to enlarge the cowl flaps, revise the oil cooler air intake, and move the carburetor air intake to the upper half of the cowling.
The wings were redesigned to reduce span, eliminate the folding tips, and square off the wingtips. The wings also included larger ammunition boxes and thus allowing rounds per cannon. On the downside, turning and range, which were the strengths of the Model 21, suffered due to smaller ailerons, decreased lift and greater fuel consumption. The shorter range proved a significant limitation during the Solomons Campaign, during which Zeros based at Rabaul had to travel nearly to their maximum range to reach Guadalcanal and return.
Soon after, it was realized that it was simply a new model of the "Zeke" and was termed "Zeke 32". In order to correct the deficiencies of the Model 32, a new version with folding wingtips and redesigned wing was introduced. More importantly, it regained its capabilities for long operating ranges, similar to the previous A6M2 Model 21, which was vastly shortened by the Model However, before the new design type was accepted formally by the Navy, the A6M3 Model 22 already stood ready for service in December Approximately aircraft of the new type had been produced in the meantime by Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.
According to a theory, the very late production Model 22 might have had wings similar to the shortened, rounded-tip wing of the Model While the engine cowling is the same of previous Model 32 and 22, the theory proposes that the plane is an early production Model Mitsubishi is unable to state with certainty that it ever used the designation "A6M4" or model numbers for it.
Some researchers believe "A6M4" was applied to one or two prototype planes fitted with an experimental turbo-supercharged Sakae engine designed for high altitude. It shows a turbo unit mounted in the forward left fuselage.
Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero-sen (5) | Most LEGO models of Zero figh… | Flickr
Lack of suitable alloys for use in the manufacture of a turbo-supercharger and its related ducting caused numerous ruptures, resulting in fires and poor performance. Consequently, further development of a turbo-supercharged A6M was cancelled. The lack of acceptance by the navy suggests that the navy did not bestow model number 41 or 42 formally, although it appears that the arsenal did use the designation "A6M4".
The prototype engines nevertheless provided useful experience for future engine designs. Sometimes considered as the most effective variant,  the Model 52 was developed to again shorten the wings to increase speed and dispense with the folding wing mechanism. In addition, ailerons, aileron trim tab and flaps were revised. The prototype was made in June by modifying an A6M3 and was first flown in August Research by Mr. Bunzo Komine published by Mr.
Kenji Miyazaki states that aircraft through had the same exhaust system and cowl flaps as on the Model Stan Gajda and Mr.
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Halls, production number and , respectively. A new exhaust system provided an increment of thrust by aiming the stacks aft and distributing them around the forward fuselage. The new exhaust system required "notched" cowl flaps and heat shields just aft of the stacks. Note, however, that the handling manual translation states that the new style of exhaust commenced with number Whether this is correct, indicates retrofitting intentions, refers to the prototype but not to all subsequent planes, or is in error is not clear.
From production number , the wing fuel tanks received carbon dioxide fire extinguishers. This caused hot exhaust to burn the forward edge of the landing gear doors and heat the tires.
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Therefore, from number Mitsubishi began to install shorter bottom stacks. Perhaps seven Model 52 planes were ostensibly converted into A6M5-K two-seat trainers. The A6M6 was developed to use the Sakae 31a engine, featuring water-methanol engine boost and self-sealing wing tanks. Only one prototype was produced.
The A6M7 was the last variant to see service. The A6M7 had a similar armament layout to the A6M5c with the exception of the bomb centreline bomb rack, capable of carrying kg or kg bombs. Entering production in May ,     the A6M7 was also used in the special attack role. The carburetor intake was much larger, a long duct like that on the Nakajima B6N Tenzan was added, and a large spinner—like that on the Yokosuka D4Y Suisei with the Kinsei 62—was mounted. The larger cowling allowed an armament change to 2x Two prototypes were completed in April but the chaotic situation of Japanese industry and the end of the war obstructed the start of the ambitious program of production for 6, A6M8s, only the two prototypes being completed and flown.
Like many surviving World War II Japanese aircraft, most surviving Zeros are made up of parts from multiple airframes. As a result, some are referred to by conflicting manufacturer serial numbers. In other cases, such as those recovered after decades in a wrecked condition, they have been reconstructed to the point that the majority of their structure is made up of modern parts.
All of this means the identities of survivors can be difficult to confirm. Most flying Zeros have had their engines replaced with similar American units. The rarity of flyable Zeros accounts for the use of single-seat North American T-6 Texans , with heavily modified fuselages and painted in Japanese markings, as substitutes for Zeros in the films Tora! One Model 52 was used during the production of Pearl Harbor. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Japanese carrier-based fighter aircraft.
Play media. Japan portal Aviation portal. Pacific Wrecks Incorporated. Retrieved 23 February Retrieved: 18 January Oxford, Great Britain: Osprey. Retrieved: 22 November Retrieved: 5 July Action Reports: Battle of Midway.
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The work brought some interesting aspects to light, such as poems written by the original repirers which were found under the port gun panel. The refurbishment also revealed the original carrier paint scheme. At the end of the war the aircraft had been overpainted in white with green surrender crosses. When painted for display in , a disruptive grey and green scheme was applied as illustrated below. The refurbishment has also raised questions about the aircraft's identity. The museum now believes according to the display boards that the fuselage, which had been thought to be a composite belongs to a single aircraft - coded Investigations by Peter Lewis of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand in the mid 's suggest the fuselage cames from two aircraft and with other parts from a variety of sources.
A copy of Peter's findings, originally published in the AHSNZ Journal in June can be found on his website here , which includes a history of the aircraft and numerous photos well worth a look! Witty's scale Zero is constructed almost entirely of solid diecast metal and features rarely-seen subtle panel line details. The solid metal wing has 20mm cannon ports on the leading edge, fixed landing gear and a center mounted drop tank. Each model in the series has a beautifully replicated birdcage canopy and machine gun ports on the engine cowling.
The models in this series include the early A6M2, the supercharged A6M3 with redesigned engine cowl a clipped-wing variant is also available and the iconic A6M5 with exhaust stacks notably projected along each side of the forward fuselage.