Type 0 Carrier Fighter / A6M Reisen (Zero, Zeke, Hamp)
Designed by Mitsubishi chief designer Jiro Horikoshi during 1937 to replace the A5M4
Claude. Officially designated the Type 0 Carrier Fighter by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) or as Reisen (Japanese word for Zero).
The Zero was well armed, lightweight fighter that could not be
out-turned, and exceptional range. When the outside world learned about the new fighter aircraft, it was a surprise as previously Japanese aircraft designs were deemed to be inferior. Arguably, the Zero became the most famous and successful Japanese Navy aircraft of World War II.
The first Zeros entered combat on September 13, 1940 in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
At the start of the Pacific War, the Zero helped the Japanese Navy fly long range escort missions and fighter sweeps over distant targets and was superior to every Allied fighter aircraft in the first years of the war.
Code Named Zeke/Hamp/Zero
To the Allies, popularly known as the "Zero" a term was often applied to any Japanese single engine fighter. The official Allied code names were "Zeke" for the A6M2 Model 21 and later A6M5 Model 52 and "Hamp" for the A6M3 Model 22 or A6M3 Model 32 with square wingtips. "Rufe" for the Type 2 Float plane Fighter / A6M2-N.
By 1943, the arrival of new Allied fighter aircraft revealed deficiencies in the Zero including the lightweight construction that could sustain little damage and the lack of self-sealing fuel tanks. Despite these flaws, the Zero continued to be upgraded with a more powerful engine and increased armament and remained in use until the official surrender of Japan in September 1945.
A6M2 Model 21 Zero (Code Name: Zeke)
Built by both Mitsubishi and Nakajima.
Nakajima created "dummy" numbers in their codes, to deceive production totals. The first number and the second number from the right are "dummy" number that equal 10. Example: 6541 (6+4=10). By the end
of September 1942, Nakajima had produced 303 A6M2
Model 21 Zeros.
During September 1943, 20mm cannon 100 round magazines came into use in A6M2 Zeros.
A6M3 Zero "Hamp"
was first observed by the Allies, the A6M3 was thought to be another
airplane type, due to its square wingtips and assigned the code name "Hamp". When understood
to be another model of Zero the name was dropped. All A6M3s, Models 32 and 22, were built by Mitsubishi beginning in June 1942.
The manufacture numbers were derived by adding a "3" in
front of the m/n. So the 274th A6M3 would have the coded 3274. By the end of October they'd built 250. Production for
the month of November, was 67. That means Mitsubishi were producing
Model 32s at the rate of 2.2 per day. 274-250=24. 24/2.2 = 10.9 days.
Model 22 Zero had folding wingtips and adjustable trim tab on the aileron.
A6M2-N Float Plane Fighter "Rufe"
variants, such as the A6M2-N Rufe float plane
version of the fighter existed, a modified A6M2 with a centerline
float and smaller wing floats.
Two Seat (Field Modified)
version did exist, with the second crew member serving as an
observer / wireless operator. This was a two seat field
modification conceived by commander Tomoyoshi
Hori. A rear facing seat for an observer was installed behind
the pilot with a telegraph for transmitting long range communications during reconnaissance missions. At least two A6M2 Model 21 Zeros were field modified including A6M2 Zero 31870 and A6M2 piloted by Kawato.
A6M5 Model 52 Zero
The first A6M5 flew in August of 1943. In spite of an increase in all-up weight of 440 pounds, the A6M5 was faster than the A6M3 Model 32, and could reach a maximum level speed of 351 mph at 19,685 feet. It had a more powerful engine and armament package. The general opinion is that the first manufacture number was A6M5 Zero 3904.
Added more armor plate on the cockpit windshield and behind the pilot's seat. The wing skinning was further thickened in localized areas to allow for a further increase in dive speed. This version also had a modified armament fit of three 13.2 mm (.51 in) guns (one in the forward fuselage, and one in each wing with a rate of fire of 800 rpm), twin 20 mm Type 99 Mark II cannons and an additional fuel tank with a capacity of 367 L (97 US gal) or a 250 kg bomb.
Only one example was assembled.
A6M7 Model 62 Zero
Last production model of the Zero with a bomb rack of use as a fighter-bomber.
A6M7 Model 63 Zero (Reppu)
The model 63 indicates that this particular
aircraft was equipped with Nakajima Sakae 31-B aircraft engine
without methanol water injection and having a two stage supercharger.
total of 10,964 were built by Mitsubishi and Nakajima including all models.