Nearly anyone versed in aviation history will have heard of the A6M Zero, a legendary fighter aircraft, ruling over the skies unmatched for the early part of World War II. The
A6M1 Type 0 is the prototype version of the A6M, before production began and would switch to the A6M2 model. The most immediate way to tell if the difference between the two is the propeller, the A6M1 has two blades, while other models have 3.
In game, this could be at 3.0 battle rating, given its engine is less powerful than the A6M2, and would, with the addition of the late war versions, allow War Thunder to have every built Zero variant, with this being the one that started the series. The A6M1 could be a tech tree vehicle, or a premium. History of this aircraft will show how the Zero evolved from previous designs. The history part may be a bit long, feel free to skip it, but in short it will for all intents and purposes be a slower A6M2 Model 11 due to its weaker engine. If any information is incorrect, feel free to leave corrections.
In the late 1920s, Nakajima built the A2N biplane as a private venture for the Imperial Japanese Navy. Being loosely based on the Boeing Model 69 and 100, it was ready for testing by 1929, and would replace the Mitsubishi 1MF as well as Nakajima's A1N fighters.
This would then lead to the A5M, an aircraft built to a specification put forth by the Navy, requiring it to have a maximum speed of 350 km/h at 3,000 m and able to climb to 5,000 m in 6.5 minutes. An aircraft engineer by the name of Jiro Horikoshi was tasked to develop this aircraft. He previously had made the prototype 1MF10 fighter, but this never went into production. The new fighter, designated Ka-14 initially, made use of a gull wing, and far exceeded the speed requirement, with a maximum speed of 450 km/h.
A second prototype was built, removing the gull shaped wings, with other changes to increase maneuverability and minimize drag, which would then be ordered into production as the A5M. It would see service in 1937 in the war against China, and proved itself superior to Nationalist P-26s and Curtiss Hawks. It was only when the I-16 started being used in combat that the A5M began to struggle.
However, even back in 1937 when it entered service, it was realized that the A5M design would need to be improved on. Not only would it soon be inferior to American and European designs, but it also still had fixed landing gear which created drag, and a pair of 7.7mm machine guns were not seen as sufficient enough for future combat. It also needed much greater range for escort duties over China. Updated requirements were put forth in October 1937 for the "12-shi Carrier-based Fighter". The aircraft was to have the following.
- The ability to reach 500 km/h at 4,000 m
- The ability to climb to 3,000 m in 3 minutes
- Endurance of two hours at normal power, or six to eight hours at economical cruising speed with drop tanks
- Armament consisting of two 20mm cannons, two 7.7mm machine guns, and two 60 kg bombs
- Complete radio set to be fitted to all models, along with a radio direction finder
- Maneuverability comparable to that of the A5M
- Wingspan of 12m or less for use on carriers
In January, after some evaluation, Nakajima considered these requirements unachievable, and dropped out of the competition. However, Jiro Horikoshi thought otherwise. To him, they were achievable, but the aircraft would need to be as light as could be possible, sacrificing protection and self sealing fuel tanks for mobility. Horikoshi still had his design team from when he had developed the A5M. As one source states:
Yoshitoshi Sone and Teruo Tojo performed the calculations, Sone and Yoshio Yoshikawa did the structural work, Denichiro Inoue and Shotaro Tanaka designed the powerplant installation, Yoshimi Hatakenaka handled armament and ancillary equipment, and Sadahiko Kato and Takeyoshi Mori were responsible for landing gear and related equipment. The Mitsubishi MK2 Zuisei 13 of 875hp was selected, and advanced techniques utilizing extra-super duralumin to ensure lightness, simplicity and utility were employed.
Construction of the prototype began in 1938, and would be completed by the end of that year, with it being declared ready for testing on the 16th of March, 1939, at Mitsubishi's Nagoya factory. It was towed by ox-cart for testing at Kagamigahara airfield. Test pilot Katsuzo Shima was to pilot the aircraft, and at 5:30 PM on April 1st, 1939, Shima took off after some brief tests, in a successful test flight.
Another prototype was made afterwards. It was found that, besides its speed, it met the requirements put forth. This was due to the Mitsubishi Zuisei engine of 875 hp. In September, it was approved for production and service with the Navy as the A6M1 Type 0 Carrier-borne Fighter. The Zero, its nickname, is taken from the last digit of the Imperial Year it would be entering service, 2600, or 1940. To solve the issues with speed, it was recommended before production began to replace the engine with the Nakajima Sakae model 12 engine of 940 hp. This would result in 15 pre-production aircraft being sent to Hankow in China, where it quickly proved its superiority against Chinese I-15bis aircraft led by Major Yim-Qun. The Japanese claimed 27 aircraft shot down without a loss among 13 Zeroes, but Major Louie Yim-qun had managed to get his I-15 riddled with 48 bullet holes back to base.
Regardless though, the new A6M fighter had just seen its first taste of combat, while also inflicting one of the Chinese Air Force's worst losses in the war so far. With this, the Zero was born.
Specifications (Thank you to aizenns!)
- Engine: Zuisei model 13
- Takeoff: 780 HP
- Standard: 875 HP at 3,600 m
- Propeller: 2-wing constant speed metal propeller
- Fuel loads: 518 l
- Width: 12.00 m
- Length: 8.79 m
- Height: 3.49 m
- Wing area: 22.438 m2
- Own weight: 1,652 kg
- Loads: 691 kg
- Full-load weight: 2,343 kg
- Wing loads: 104 kg/m2
- Weight to power ratio: 2.68 kg/HP
- Max speed: 275 kt (509.3 km/h) at 3,600 m
- Landing speed: 60 kt
- Climb rate: 5,000 m at 7 min 15 sec
- 2x Type 92 7.7mm machine guns, 1,360 rounds
- 2x Type 99 Mark 1 20 mm cannons, 120 rounds
- Wing pylons
- 2x No.3 Common Bomb Model 2
- 2x Type 99 No.6 Common Bomb Model 1
Pictures of the replica
Source: Original link
© Post "A6M1 Type 0" for game War Thunder.
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