Japanese Zero

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Primary Function:
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Year Deployed:
Nakajima NK1C
1,130 hp
2- 7.7 mm
2- 20 mm
2- 132 lbs. ea.
4,140 lbs.
6,025 lbs.
29′ 9″
36′ 1″
215 mph
320 mph
350 mph
3,150 fpm
37,500 feet
1,200 miles

Japanese Zero

Japanese Zero 

The Japanese Zero is Japan’s most famous World War II aircraft. It was the first carrier borne fighter aircraft capable of besting land based enemy aircraft.

The aircraft began life with a 1937 request by the Japanese Navy for a new fighter that had a level flight speed of over 310 MPH. It would be a replacement for outdated carrier fighter aircraft. Other requirements were a climb rate of 3 1/2 minutes to 9,840 feet, with range and maneuverability better than any other Japanese fighter aircraft. It’s armament would consist of two 20mm cannons and two 7.7mm machine guns.

Mitsubishi aircraft undertook the project of developing the new navy fighter aircraft under the leadership of Jiro Horikoshi. A prototype rolled off of the assembly line on March 16, 1939. Its first flight was on April 1, 1939 and it was accepted by the Japanese Navy on September 14, 1939. Its official navy designation was Mitsubishi A6M1 Carrier Fighter.

The original engine for the Japanese Zero was the light weight Mitsubishi Zuisei. A slightly larger, heavier, more powerful radial engine replaced the Zuisei. With the more powerful engine, the aircraft easily bested all the navy’s performance requirements. Production models of Japanese Naval aircraft were assigned type numbers based on the last number of the Japanese calendar year when its production began. For the Japanese Zero, the first production aircraft rolled off the assembly line in 1940. That was the year 2600 on the Japanese calendar. Therefore the A6M series was known as the Zero (Type 00 fighter).

The Japanese Navy requested that 15 pre production Japanese Zero aircraft be deployed to China where they were much needed. The Japanese aircraft were able to turn the balance of air power in their favor. No opposition aircraft could match the performance of the Zero.

The Chinese informed the U.S. government about the new Japanese fighter aircraft, but no one heeded the warnings. The appearance of the Japanese Zero in the attack on Pearl Harbor came as a complete surprise to the Americans. Thereafter the Zero took part in virtually every Pacific battle. Throughout 1941 and 1942 the 400 Japanese Zero aircraft of the Japanese Navy overwhelmed opposing aircraft. In a carrier raid against Ceylon, Japanese Zero aircraft easily defeated opposing British aircraft.

It was in mid-1942 that the Allies acquired a virtually intact Japanese Zero. It was shipped to the USA where extensive testing revealed the major shortcomings of the aircraft. That, plus a new generation of faster, more maneuverable Allied fighter aircraft spelled the end of the reign of the Japanese Zero.

The Japanese answered by installing a 1,560 h.p engine in the A6M8. It partially closed the performance gap that Japanese Zero aircraft had with newer Allied fighters, but it was introduced in too small numbers, and too late in the war to help. Eventually Japanese Zero aircraft were used in Kamikaze attacks against enemy warships. Japanese Zero aircraft were the primary suicide attackers.

More Japanese Zero aircraft were produced than any other Japanese aircraft during World War II. Mitsubishi produced 2,879 of the aircraft, and Nakajima produced 6,215 of the aircraft. A total of 844 Japanese Zero aircraft were also produced as trainers and float planes by Sasebo, Hitachi, and Nakajima.

Only one Japanese Zero with its original engine is still flying.  It performs in air shows and displays at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA, U.S.A.

Japanese Zero

RC Japanese Zero

You have a choice of a 108 in. or a 118 in. wingspan RC Japanese Zero from Meister-Scale. You also have a choice of plans, short kit or full kit from them. That is Ty Brown Jr. with the model built by his dad.

The RC Japanese Zero from Top RC Models USA comes as ARF.  Wingspan is 93 in. and  length is 75 1/2 in. Recommended engines are from 60 CC to 80 CC or the electric equivalent.  All up weight is about 28 lbs.

The RC Japanese Zero from ESM has a wingspan of 88 in. and a length of 69 in. You will need from 30 CC to 50 CC engines for power. Weight is around 18 3/4 lbs.

3 thoughts on “Japanese Zero”

  1. Thank you for your comment, Ervin. I suggest you do a computer search where you will find overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Whereas Hughes once mentioned that the Japanese Zero was a copy of his H-1 racer, closer examination shows that the design incorporated features from a number of aircraft at that time.


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