Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A6M Zero



A6M Zero

One of the great fighters of World War II the A6M none the less illustrates the fact that there are never any perfect solutions.  The fighter's designers sacrificed protection and heavy firepower for agility and range.  History shows strategies must be able to meet changing circumstance.  There was never a successful follow up to the Zero.  Richard Seaman took this picture of the Zero at the 2006 Chino Air Show.  

Crew:                    1

Power:                   Nakajima 1130 hp NK1C Sakae 21 14-cylinder two-row radial piston engine

Max. Speed:          570 kph / 354 mph
Ceiling:                 11,500 m / 37,500 ft
Range:                  1920 km / 1200 miles with drop tanks
Climb:                    6000 m / 19,685 ft in 7.05 minutes

Weight -
Empty:                  1876 kg / 4136 lbs
Max. Take Off:      2733 kg / 6025 lb

Size -
Wingspan:              11 m / 36 ft 1 in
Wing Area:             21.3 sq m / 229.28 sq ft
Length:                   9.06 m / 29 ft 9 in
Height:                    2.98 m / 9 ft 8 in

                             2 - 20 mm / 0.78 in cannon in wing
                             2 - 7.7 mm / 0.303 in machine guns in fuselage
                             2 - 60 kg / 132 lb bombs on underwing racks


    Zero with F6F Hellcat

The F6F Hellcat replaced the F4F with improved characteristics specifically designed to counter the attributes of the Zero.  The Japanese Zero not only suffered from more capable competition but Japan was never able to sufficiently replace the attrition to their experienced pilots.  Performance advantages are lost in the hands of a novice pilot.  Photo by Richard Seaman.


A6M2 Cockpit

The cockpit of the Zero type used during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The A6M2 was aboard the Akagi in December, 1941 and was used as fighter protection on that Sunday morning over Hawaii.


Pearl Harbor Flight Approach

The A6M2 and A6M3 Zeros dominated their competition in the Pacific during the early part of the war.  With the introduction of the P-38 Lightening, the F4U Corsair and, most notably, the F6F Hellcat the balance was shifting to the competition.  By mid-1943, even with the beefed up characteristics of the A6M5, the Zero was essentially obsolete - although it remained very lethal in the right hands.  


Zero pilots

Men who flew the Zero.  They were the elite of Japanese aviation but many of the original fliers were lost with the sinking of their carriers at Midway.  



The immediate predecessor to the Zero is this open cockpit, fix landing gear A5M Claude.  Note the tail hook for carrier landing.  




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