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A real blueprint, developed direct from a vellum master -- expertly restored from old design drawings, factory plans, microfiche revision plates etc. Note: all reasonable efforts have been made to keep this blueprint historically accurate, with a balance for technical accuracy and usefulness -- this blueprint is offered for historical, research, and collectible purposes. Size: Developed on 42"x 30" master sheet.
The Mitsubishi A6M fighter was the first shipboard fighter capable of surpassing land-based aircraft. With its tight turning radius,... continues below
| Continued from above… tight turning radius, it was an extremely deadly weapon in a dogfight. |
More widely known by its Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter, or Zero, the plane gained a legendary reputation. A combination of excellent maneuverability and very long range made it one of the best fighters of its era. The A6M Reisen was unique among WWII combat aircraft in creating a myth. The Allies credited the Reisen with almost mystical powers of maneuver, fostering a myth of Japanese aerial invincibility. Everything to the Japanese that the Spitfire was to the British, the Reisen was a lightly constructed but extraordinarily capable fighter.
This most effective Japanese fighter of World War II was known by many names. To the Imperial Japanese Navy, it was the Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model 52. To the U.S. Navy pilots who fought it in the skies over the Pacific, it was the "Zeke." And to the American public it was known as the Zero.
By whatever name, the Imperial Japanese Navy's Zero fighter was one of the most potent warplanes of World War II and probably the best all-around carrier-based fighter of the early 1940s. The Zero's outstanding performance stemmed primarily from the fact that it weighed only 5,500 to 6,500 pounds fully loaded. For this reason the Zero was extremely maneuverable and had a fast rate of climb.
At the time of its appearance in 1940, the Zero fighter has a performance package superior to any other naval aircraft in the world. Speed, range, rate of climb, maneuverability and the ability to operate from aircraft carrier decks combined to forge a seemingly invincible weapon in the hands of the Japanese Navy.
In the six months after Pearl Harbor, the Sentais (fighter Groups) equipped with the A6M so dominated the sky that the Imperial Forces had conquered over 12 million square miles. Over 10,000 Rei-sen (Zero) fighters were produced by the Japanese, and it is interesting to note that that the Zero weighted only 50% of the Corsair, one of the reasons being the lack of armor plate protection for the pilot and fuel tanks.
At the time of Pearl Harbor there were only 420 Zeros active in the Pacific. The carrier borne Model 21 was the type encountered by the Americans, often much further from its carriers than expected, with a mission range of over 1600 miles. They were superior to all current Allied fighters in the Pacific and remained unchallenged until early 1943, although in competent hands the Zero was deadly until the end of the war. Because of their reputation and ease of manufacture the Zero remained in production until the end, with over 11,000 of all types produced.
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Designed for attack the Zero gave precedence to maneuverability and fire-power at the expense of protection - most had no self-sealing tanks or armor plate - thus many Zeros were lost too easily in combat. Nevertheless, many Allied pilots died trying to learn how to fight such an agile aircraft.
The correct combat tactic against Zeros was to remain out of range and fight on the dive and climb. By using speed and resisting the deadly error of trying to out-turn the Zero, eventually cannon could be brought to bear and a single burst of fire was usually enough.
When the US had learned the "secret" of the Zero new aircraft such as the Grumman Hellcat and Vought Corsair were introduced, planes that outperformed the Zero in every way but maneuverability. To correct for that shortcoming, US pilots simply had to remember the correct tactics. The result was that the Model 22s were swept from the skies in huge numbers, and the US Navy's 1:1 kill ratio suddenly jumped to better than 10:1. However Japanese development did not remain static - newer planes like the George were excellent fighters and a match for the later US models.
As the war progressed, the Zero, once the most feared fighter in the Pacific, became outclassed by new more powerful American fighters. Even so, it remained an important factor in the Pacific theater, for it was used for kamikaze, or suicide, missions that inflicted some of the most severe damage of the war on the U.S. Navy. Loaded with explosives and manned by pilots willing to lose their lives for their country, the Zero became a flying bomb aimed at American ships. The Zero was used in nearly 2,000 kamikaze attacks before Japan finally surrendered to bring down the curtain on the war in the Pacific.
The Zero fighter ranks with the Supermarine Spitfire, Vought Corsair and North American Mustang as one of the historic fighters of World War II.