Aviation of World War II

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  • Reconnaissance Seaplane
  • First flight: 1936
  • Mitsubishi

The command of the Imperial Japanese Navy was well aware of the army and the importance of aviation in modern warfare at sea, so large Japanese warships (battleships and cruisers) were equipped with a large number of seaplanes of various types. These were category E vehicles, the main purpose of which was long-range reconnaissance. But the range of tasks of float aircraft was not limited to this, therefore, in the mid-30s, Kaigun Koku Hombu came to the conclusion that it was expedient to put into service observation seaplanes, for which a large flight range was of less importance. They were supposed to be used to adjust the fire of naval artillery, close reconnaissance and combat enemy aircraft. To accomplish the above tasks, it was decided to create a category of aircraft, which was designated by the letter F.

In March 1935, the technical requirements of the 10-Ci for a new type of seaplane were formulated. The firms "Aichi", "Kavanishi" and "Mitsubishi" took part in the competition.

At Mitsubishi, the design was entrusted to the design team led by Yoi Hattori, who paid special attention to the careful study of the aerodynamic forms of the aircraft. The work went quite quickly - by June 1936, a prototype seaplane was ready, bearing the corporate designation Ka-17 and the naval F1M1. In the same month, he made his first flight. After the end of the factory tests, the new aircraft was handed over to the customer for comparative testing with the Aichi F1A1 seaplane (the Kawanishi company refused to participate in the competition after the development of the preliminary design).

Comparative tests were carried out in the port of Nagoya and revealed a number of shortcomings of the F1M1 aircraft. Pilots noted insufficient lateral stability, unsatisfactory hydrostatic characteristics on the water and the tendency of the machine to be drawn into a "corkscrew". Nevertheless, the Mitsubishi car was declared the winner of the competition, however, at the same time the company received the task of seriously modifying the design and building three additional prototypes.

The developers made a number of significant changes to the project, in particular, they used a redesigned central float from the Nakajima E8N seaplane, a completely new wing and a larger empennage. Since by this time new engines with higher performance had been created, with the consent of Kaigun Koku Hombu, star-shaped Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 with a capacity of 875 hp was installed on additional prototypes. c (instead of the 820-horsepower Nakajima Hikari 1 engine). In August 1938, the second prototype took to the air. Flight tests have shown that the characteristics and handling qualities of the aircraft have improved markedly. The new machine received the designation "Observation Seaplane Type 0 Model 11" (F1M2 Model 11). Only in 1940 was an official decision made to expand production, which was established by Mitsubishi at a plant in Nagoya. Post production of 524 F1M2 aircraft. their release was transferred to the plant of the 21st Naval Aviation Arsenal in Sasebo. Before the end of production in March 1944, another 590 vehicles were built there. Part of the serial F1M2 was converted into training aircraft, which received a duplicate control system and the designation F1M2-K.

At the first stage of the war in the Pacific, the F1M2, which received the code name "Pit" from the Allies, together with the Aichi E13A1 scouts, formed the basis of the aviation force, which was based on large warships and floating bases of the Japanese Navy. They supported landing operations in the Philippines and Celebes from the air, and attacked ground targets. Despite the fact that the main task of the F1M2 was considered to be the adjustment of artillery fire, aircraft of this type, due to their very good maneuverability, were often used as interceptor fighters. In addition, they were widely used in areas where there were no airfields. Starting in 1943, when the Japanese offensive was halted and there was no longer a need for seaplane fighters designed to provide air cover for the landing, the F1M2 were transferred to quieter areas and performed mainly the functions of patrol and communications vehicles, and were also used to escort convoys , combating submarines and solving many other problems. After the Allies went on the offensive, F1M2 seaplanes were again sometimes used as dive bombers. However, a small bomb load significantly limited their capabilities.

F1M2 Specification
Crew 2
Length, m 9.50
Height, m 4.16
Wing span, m 11.00
Wing area, m² 29.54
1 × PE Mitsubishi MK2C "Zuisei 13" 1 × 875 hp.
Weights, kg
Empty weight 1,928
Loaded weight 2,550
Maximum speed, km/h 365
Cruise speed, km/h 287
Maximum rate of climb, m/min 515
Service ceiling, m 9,440
Service range, km 730

Armament. Two synchronized 7.7 mm type 97 machine guns and one 7.7 mm type 92 machine gun on a mobile mount at the end of the cockpit; 120 kg of bombs.

Construction. The outer consoles of the fenders of the serial F1M had a trapezoidal shape with rounded ends instead of the elliptical ones on the prototype. This change was introduced for the sole purpose of simplifying the manufacturing process.

The design of the all-metal fuselage of the aircraft is mixed: frame in the front and semi-monocoque in the rear.

Mitsubishi MK2A Zuisei 13 14-cylinder radial air-cooled engine with 875 hp. With.

Photo Description
Drawing F1M2

Drawing F1M2


  • World War II Japan Aircraft. /O.V. Doroshkekvich /
  • Encyclopedia of Military Equipment / Aerospace Publising /