Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Fighter

Pilot's Notes "When the war began, the Zero gave enemy pilots a rude shock. No Allied fighter could match the Zero’ s phenomenal maneuverability and climb, or its range. Some thought the Zero was invincible, but the Zero got its performance through light construction—and a lack of armor or self-sealing tanks.

The Zero pilot learned to use the plane’s outstanding maneuverability to out-turn and—in some cases—out-climb Allied aircraft. Even when the U.S. introduced faster and more powerful fighters, pilots could never underestimate the Zero —in the hands of a skilled pilot, it was always a dangerous adversary against any American fighter.

The Zero’s lightly loaded, high-lift wing and low weight made it a dream to fly at speeds below 220 knots, with a simply jaw-dropping ability to execute the wildest gyrations and zoom climbs at the whim of its pilot. However, the Zero became hard to handle as its speed approached 260 knots - 260 knots.

Although it could reach an altitude of more than 32,000 feet, its climb rate and maneuverability fell off between 15,000 and 20,00 feet. Light weight, relatively low horsepower, and that high-lift wing made the Zero a reluctant diver.

Designed by the brilliant Jiro Horikoshi, the Zero got its name from the Japanese Navy Air Force numbering system, based on the final digits of the year in which the aircraft entered production. For the A6M, the year was 1940, (the year 2600 in the Japanese calendar), so it was called the “Type 0 (zero) fighter. "

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