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Myth of the Zero
Skip to content. This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage. Mitsubishi designed the Zero fighter but co-produced the airplane with Nakajima. The two companies built more than 10, Zeros between March and August
The Zero was designed to meet a tough set of specifications set down by the Japanese Navy in They wanted a plane to replace the A5M carrier fighter, also produced by Mitsubishi. The new plane had to have a top speed in excess of mph about kmph and reach an altitude of feet almost 3, meters in three and a half minutes. It also had to have better maneuverability and range than any existing fighter, as well as carry two machine guns and two cannons. It was an ambitious brief. Only Mitsubishi threw its hat into the ring, with a design team led by Jiro Horikoshi. The prototype Zero first took flight on April 1st,
Designed by Horikoshi Jiro, it was the first carrier-based fighter capable of besting its land-based opponents. It was designed to specifications written in , was first tested in , and was placed in production and in operation in China in The Zero was made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and was first powered by a Nakajima Sakae radial air-cooled engine of 14 cylinders two staggered rows of seven that developed 1, horsepower. Later it used a 1,horsepower engine to turn its three-blade constant-speed propeller. When it first appeared, the Zero could outmaneuver every airplane it encountered. Moreover, its gallon litre internal fuel tank was augmented with a gallon external tank that could be dropped when empty, thus enabling the Zero to fly far beyond its expected range. The Allies did not field fighters that could defeat it in aerial combat until
The Angels of Bataan and Corregidor: 70 Years Later
Has there ever been a warplane as mythic as the Mitsubishi Zero? Legend, mystery, racism and rumor conflated to create an unbeatable fighter flown by samurai-tough pilots. The Zero was said to have awesome performance, superb maneuverability and combat characteristics an order of magnitude ahead of anything else in the sky. Or, if you believed a different set of legends, mysteries, racism and rumor, it was a flimsy, beer-can tinderbox that brazenly aped Western designs and was flown by short, bandy-legged Asians who wore Coke-bottle-bottom glasses and fled whenever the U. Navy opened a can of Grumman whup-ass.
The official Allied reporting name was " Zeke ", although the use of the name "Zero" from Type 0 was used colloquially by the Allies as well. The Zero is considered to have been the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world when it was introduced early in World War II , combining excellent maneuverability and very long range. In early combat operations, the Zero gained a reputation as a dogfighter ,  achieving an outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1,  but by mid a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled Allied pilots to engage the Zero on generally equal terms. By , with opposing Allied fighters approaching its levels of maneuverability and consistently exceeding its firepower, armor, and speed, the A6M had largely become outdated as a fighter aircraft. However, as design delays and production difficulties hampered the introduction of newer Japanese aircraft models, the Zero continued to serve in a front-line role until the end of the war in the Pacific.