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The Raiden (Thunderbolt) aircraft was designed as a successor to the legendary Zero, but the initial expectations were not met. Work on the machine took a very long time, and when the fighter was finally adopted for armament, it turned out that it was only slightly superior to its predecessor.
The development of the aircraft, complicated by technical problems, moved forward extremely slowly, primarily due to the fact that the priority in the work was still given to the improvement of the Zero fighter. Therefore, the first prototype of the interceptor, designated J2M1, took off for the first time only on March 20, 1942.
The subsequent modification of the J2M2 had a new, more powerful MK4R-A 1800 hp engine. with. Thanks to its design, it was possible to improve the view from the cockpit, the long shaft was abandoned (the engine had its own cooling fan), and its bow became shorter. It should be noted that the MK4R-A engine had individual cylinder tailpipes and was the first in Japan to be equipped with a water-methanol injection system for a short-term increase in power. Instead of the previous three-bladed propeller, a four-bladed one was installed. The upgraded aircraft received the designation J2M2 and was adopted by the Japanese Navy in October 1942 as a Type 2 Model 11 Marine Fighter-Interceptor. Then he was given the name "Raiden".
In March 1943, the number of Raiden produced was only 14, including prototypes, and a year later their number reached 141. In parallel with the J2M2, Mitsubishi launched the production of the four-gun J2M3, which later became the main version of Raiden. The fuselage machine guns were removed, and four Type 99 20-mm cannons were placed in the reinforced wing (two of them were placed in the underwing fairings, and two more Model 1s with a lower rate of fire were mounted directly in the wing planes).
The J2M5 was produced in small quantities, equipped with the MK4U-A "Kasei" 26a engine with a three-speed driven supercharger. This modification was also designated "model 33" and featured a wider canopy with improved visibility. The J2M5 was the fastest of all Raiden's, reaching 615 km / h at 6800 m. Above, engine power declined rapidly. If on takeoff it was 1820 liters. with., then at an altitude of 7200 m the power of the motor dropped to 1310 liters. with. Flight tests of the J2M5 began in May 1944, when on the eve of American air raids on Japan, the imperial fleet's need for interceptor fighters increased. In this regard, the release of "Raiden" again received the necessary priority.
However, difficulties with the supply of raw materials, the lack of necessary components due to the constant bombing of Japanese industrial enterprises greatly influenced the number of Raiden produced. Until the end of the war, Mitsubishi had built only 476 fighters of this type, including 155 J2M2, 260 J2M3 and 34 J2M5.
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