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A6M3 "Reisen, Zero"

Shipborne Fighter


A6M3 Reisen (Zero)

The Nakajima company created a more powerful modification of the Sakae engine, designated Model 21. The new engine had a revised gearbox and a two-stage mechanical compressor, which allowed the engine to stabilize at high altitudes. Up to 1130 hp (843 kW) the engine power also increased. The aircraft, which received a new engine, was designated A6MZ model 32. The first prototype of this series took off in June 1942. However, serial production was delayed because the Sakae 21 engine was not finished. By eye, the A6MZ model 32 aircraft could be distinguished by the shape of the wings. The wings were simply chopped off along the kink line and got a little shorter. The design of the engine cover has also changed. The air intake for the carburetor was moved up, so the top of the casing was also raised higher. At the same time, he closed the holes for the machine guns. I had to make characteristic channels in the casing, which allowed machine guns to shoot as before. Since the Sakae 21 engine was longer and heavier than its predecessor, the fuselage fuel tank capacity had to be reduced from 98 liters to 60 liters in order to at least partially compensate for the increased weight. The clipped wings were favorably received by Japanese pilots. Although the wing area has decreased from 22.44 m & # 178; up to 21.53 m & # 178; and, accordingly, the maneuverability of the aircraft worsened, the maximum speed and climb rate increased (I gained 6000 meters in 7 minutes 19 seconds versus 7 minutes 27 seconds for model 21). Shorter ailerons made it possible to abandon the complex two-stage control system for them, which made the aircraft more technologically advanced. Starting with the fourth aircraft of this series, guns with a larger magazine were used. (Type 99 model 1 modification 4 received 100 rounds of ammunition per barrel, versus 60 for the gun of the previous modification). As before, the cartridges were placed in the drum, but with a larger diameter than before. Since the new drum protruded beyond the dimensions of the wing, it had to be closed with a fairing.

Serial production of the A6MZ model 32 began in July 1942. In total, the fleet received 343 fighters of this type. A decrease in the capacity of fuel tanks on the one hand and a decrease in the surface of the wings, as well as an increased fuel consumption of a more powerful engine on the other, led to the fact that the aircraft's range was noticeably reduced. The Naval Aviation Headquarters did not like this very much, since due to the loss of part of the aircraft carriers near Midway, the aircraft now had to fly long distances without refueling. Therefore, wings with folding ends were again used on aircraft.

This is how the A6MZ model 22 appeared. A total of 560 vehicles of this type were built, they entered the battle at the end of 1942, operating from bases in Buna (New Guinea) and Buka (Solomon Islands). The new aircraft weighed even more than the Model 32, not only because of the longer wings, but also due to the fact that two additional fuel tanks with a capacity of 45 liters were placed in the wings.

On the other hand, the Model 22 received a range longer than any other A6M fighter. Such a range was necessary so that the aircraft could reach Guadalcanal from Rabaul, located 560 miles (over 1000 km).

Some Model 22 fighters were equipped with new Type 99 Model 2, modification 3 cannons, characterized by a long barrel, higher rate of fire and increased initial projectile velocity, which made it possible to increase the effective range of fire. This aircraft was designated Model 22a (Model 22ko). A small number of vehicles in this series received two 30 mm cannons, which were placed in the wings. However, such machines did not go into production, since the too "delicate" design of the wings could not withstand overloads when firing from such weapons.

A6M 'Zero' Specification
A6M2 mod21 A6M3 mod32 A6M2-N2
Crew 1
Wing span, m 12.0 11.0 12.0
Wing area, m2 22.438 21.538 22.438
Length, m 9.050 9.060 10.1317
Height, m 3.525 3.570 4.305
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 1745 1807 1921
Loaded weight 2421 2535 2460
Nakajima Sakae 12 21 12
Power, hp/kW 841/619 1024/754 841/619
Maximum speed, km/h at sea level 296 370 296
at altitude, km/h 533 540 436
at altitude, m 4550 6000 4300
Time to altitude km/min 5/6'00'' 6/7'19'' 5/6'43''
Service ceiling, m 10 300 11 050 7960
Service range , km x 2378 x
2x7.7 Type 97/cart. 2х500 2х500 2х500
2x20-mm Type 99 mod 1/cart. Mk3/2x60 Mk4/2x100 Mk3/2x60
Bombs, kg 2x60 2x100 2x60

Photo Description
Drawing A6M3 Model 32

Drawing A6M3 Model 32

Mitsubishi A6M3 in flight

Mitsubishi A6M3 in flight


  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "50 best fighters of World War II" /Gennadiy Kornukhin/
  • "Air war" /# 3. A6M Zero/