- We all know that the Zero was the most potent aircraft in the Pacific at the start of the Pacific war. So much so that it was feared by Allied pilots as being impossible to defeat. Once tactics changed from dogfighting to hit and run, it was discovered that the Zero was not the terror of the skies, and actually was pretty easy to bring down, thanks to its lack of armor protection for the pilot, engine and fuel systems.
- Though built from day one to the end of the war, the A6M went from superiority to mediocrity in just 4 years of warfare. Attempts were made to bring it up to specs, but with added weight of protection, more power was needed and its sterling qualities soon started to go away.
- The most built variant was the A6M5. It had a shorter and broader wing than earlier versions with improved systems. Here is a brief rundown:
- The A6M5 was a modest update of the A6M3 Model 22, with nonfolding wing tips and thicker skinning to permit faster diving speeds, plus an improved exhaust system (four pipes on each side) that provided an increment of thrust. Improved roll-rate of the clipped-wing A6M3 was now built in.
- “A6M5a Model 52a «Kou»,” featuring Type 99-II cannon with belt feed of the Mk 4 instead of drum feed Mk 3 (100 rpg), permitting a bigger ammunition supply (125 rpg)
- “A6M5b Model 52b «Otsu»,” with an armor glass windscreen, a fuel tank fire extinguisher and one 7.7 millimeter Type 97 gun (750 m/s muzzle velocity and 600 m range) in the cowling replaced by a 13.2 millimeter Type 3 Browning-derived gun (790 m/s muzzle velocity and 900 m range) with 240 rounds
- “A6M5c Model 52c «Hei»” with more armor plate on the cabin’s windshield (5.5 cm) and in the pilot’s seat. This version also possessed armament of three 13.2 millimeter guns (one in the cowling, and one in each wing with a rate of fire at 800 rpm), twin 20 millimeter Type 99-II guns and an additional fuel tank with a capacity of 367 liters, often replaced by a 250 kg bomb.
- The A6M5 could travel at 540 km/h and reach a height of 8000 meters in nine minutes, 57 seconds. Other variants are the night fighter A6M5d-S (modified for night combat, armed with one 20 mm type 99 cannon, inclined back to the pilot’s cockpit) and A6M5-K “Zero-Reisen”(model l22) tandem trainer version, also manufactured by Mitsubishi.
- Scale: 1:48