Aviation of World War II

Home Russian

A6M3 "Reisen, Zero"

A6M3 Reisen
  • Shipborne Fighter
  • Mitsubishi

Nakajima created a more powerful modification of the Sakae engine, designated Model 21. The new engine had a redesigned gearbox and a two-stage mechanical compressor, which made it possible to stabilize the engine at high altitudes.

Up to 1130 hp (843 kW) and increased engine power. The aircraft, which received the new engine, began to be designated as 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, A6MZ model 32 aircraft could be distinguished by the shape of the wingtips, which did not have an oval. Accordingly, the wing became a little shorter. The design and engine hoods have also changed. The oil cooler air intake was moved up, the engine cowling changed accordingly and special channels had to be made for machine guns.

Since the Sakae 21's engine was longer and heavier than its predecessor, the fuselage fuel tank capacity had to be reduced from 98 to 60 liters to partially compensate for the increased weight. Although the wing area decreased from 22.44 m² to 21.53 m² and, accordingly, the maneuverability of the aircraft worsened, the maximum speed and rate of climb increased (6000 meters gained 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 more capacious magazine began to be used. (Type 99 model 1 modification 4 received ammunition for 100 shots per barrel, against 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 covered with a fairing.

Serial production of the A6MZ model 32 began in July 1942. In total, the fleet received 343 fighters of this type.

Reducing the capacity of the fuel tanks on the one hand and reducing the wing surface, as well as increased fuel consumption by a more powerful engine on the other, led to the fact that the range of the aircraft was noticeably reduced. The Naval Aviation Headquarters did not like this very much, because due to the loss of part of the aircraft carriers near Midway, the aircraft now had to fly long distances without refueling. Therefore, again on airplanes they began to use a wing with folding consoles.

This is how the A6MZ model 22 appeared. A total of 560 machines 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 wing and folding mechanism, but also due to the fact that two additional fuel tanks with a capacity of 45 liters each were placed in the wing.

On the other hand, the Model 22 received a longer range than any other A6M fighter. This range was necessary so that aircraft could reach Guadalcanal from Rabaul, located 560 miles (over 1,000 km).

Some Model 22 fighters were equipped with new Type 99 Model 2 Modification 3 cannons, which were characterized by a long barrel, higher rate of fire and increased muzzle velocity, which made it possible to increase the range of effective fire. Such an aircraft received the designation model 22a (model 22ko). A small number of machines of this series received two 30 mm caliber guns, which were placed in the wing. However, such machines did not go into series, because the too “delicate” wing design could not withstand overloads when firing from such weapons.

A6M3 Reisen (Zero)

A6M 'Zero' Specification
A6M2 mod21 A6M3 mod32 A6M2-N2 A6M5 mod52
Crew 1
Wing span, m 12.0 11.0 12.0 11.0
Wing area, m² 22.438 21.538 22.438 21.300
Length, m 9.050 9.060 10.1317 9.121
Height, m 3.525 3.570 4.305 3.570
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 1,745 1,807 1,921 1,8945
Loaded weight 2,421 2,535 2,460 2,743
Nakajima Sakae 12 21 12 21
Power, hp/kW 841/619 1024/754 841/619 1024/754
Max. speed, km/h at sea level 296 370 296 330
at altitude, km/h 533 540 436 565
at altitude, m 4,550 6,000 4,300 6,000
Time to altitude km/min 5/6'00'' 6/7'19'' 5/6'43'' 6/7'01''
Service ceiling, m 10,300 11,050 7,960 11,740
Service range , km x 2378 x 1920
2×7.7 Type 97/cartridges 2×500 2×500 2×500 2×500
2×20-mm Type 99 mod 1/cartridges Mk3/2×60 Mk4/2×100 Mk3/2×60 Mk4/2×100
Bombs, kg 2×60 2×100 2×60 2×100
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/