Jump to content
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
  • Welcome to the forum!

    Welcome to the War History Online Community Forum, please register or login to start commenting.


Mitsubishi Zero Fighter Report

Recommended Posts


Early in July, a wrecked Japanese plane was found on Akutan Island. Examination revealed it to be a heavier, more powerful edition of the Mitsubishi Zero Fighter. Known as the Mitsubishi-Nagoya Zero, this plane has a longer and thinner tapered wing than its shorter and stubbier predecessor. Like the earlier Zero fighter, it is a low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gears and is powered by a twin-row 14-cylinder radial, air-cooled engine. Its normal range of about 500 miles can be increased by the use of detachable belly tanks to 850 or 1150 miles, depending on the size of the tanks. Its supposed maximum ceiling is 33,000 feet. Heavier and faster than the previous Zero Fighter, its reported maximum speed is 344 miles per hour.

There follows a detailed report of the Mitsubishi-Nagoya Zero:     

Low-wing, all-metal, single-seat monoplane, single engine, pronounced dihedral, flush riveting used throughout, well streamlined, shows excellent construction. The plane is Zero type, No. 1, Carrier fighter plane, Model 2, put into service February 19, 1942. 

Fuselage. About 23 feet long. (Ed. Note:  Correct length is about 30 feet).

Wings. Pronounced dihedral, 40-foot wingspread, swept back on leading edge, tapered on trailing edge, about 24 inches of wing tips which fold up for stowage, split wing flaps, round wing tips; wings riveted solidly to fuselage. Wings 8 feet, 3 inches wide where they join fuselage. Place provided for bomb rack on each wing. When wing tips are horizontal, but not locked, a red tab projects to warn pilot. Much improvement is shown over our planes in the manner in which the lights on wings and tail are faired into the wing and tail.

Tail. Horizontal tail fin has slight negative dihedral, and is placed above center of the fuselage. It is tapered on both edges, but mostly on the leading edge; about 6 feet 8 inches long from fuselage to tip and 4 feet 9 inches wide next to the fuselage. The vertical fin is tapered about 45 degrees on leading edge. 

Motor. Made by Nakajima, 14-cylinder, double-row, air-cooled radial. Motor is fastened with four bolts. Quick-change power plant assembly. 

Propeller. 3-bladed, constant speed, spinner over propeller hub. Made by Sumitomo Metal Works Corporation, Propeller Manufacturing Plant. 

Landing gear. Retractable, hydraulic system; when wheels are retracted, recess is covered with flaps; tire size, 600 x 175; tail wheel and arresting gear are retractable; tail wheel is solid rubber about 6 inches in diameter.

Armament. Two 20-mm. guns, one in each wing, about 60 rounds of ammunition for each; air-cooled; derived operating power by means of the Oerlikon method based on the "blow back" principle. The Japanese guns have a 30-inch barrel, pneumatic cocking device, pneumatic trigger motor, sturdy three-point suspension, a flash hider constructed as part of the barrel. Estimated muzzle velocity is 1,800 feet per second. Ammunition is stored in a sixty-round container. Ammunition was similar to our 20-mm. although the cartridge case was considerably shorter, and the type of fuse different. Several types of ammunition were known to be used. Although the guns examined were exposed to severe climatic conditions for almost five weeks, no signs of corrosion were evident. The guns gave every indication of precise workmanship and extremely careful maintenance. 

Two 7.7-mm. recoil-operated guns, are synchronized to fire through the propeller; 500 rounds per gun; guns are type 97 made by Nippon Manufacturing Corporation; fixed machine gun, type 3, revision 2, 1942. Three sizes and shapes of 7.7 ammunition are loaded in the following manner: 1 tracer, 1 armor-piercing, 1 incendiary, 1 armor-piercing, 1 tracer. The tracer is semi-boat-tailed. Others have square bases, but are not the same size or shape. Cartridges are about 1/4 inch shorter than 30-06, and wider at base. They are not rimless. The primer is much larger than normal, and is made with two firing points inside. The jacket is cupro-nickel. The cartridge will chamber in M 1, but will not fire because of rim and wide base. One bullet examined had flaw where jacket was incomplete.

Equipped with electric gun sight; No.. 150; shows 16, month 12 (December, 1941). Manufactured Sendaida Optical Works Corporation. 

Gas Tanks. Detachable plywood belly tank, streamlined, about 18 inches in diameter, and 6 feet long. It is divided into compartments with splash boards, and sets nearly flush against the plane. It is fastened with one casting just aft of its landing gear. Apparently the belly tank holds only about one half of its rated capacity of 150 gallons,

There is a gas tank of welded and riveted aluminum in each wing, believed not to be leakproof. 

Armor. No armor on any part of the plane.

Cockpit. Single seat, with pilot strapped to seat in three places; no armor; cockpit cover resembles plexiglass. Automatic flight control. Plate inside cockpit has following information: Place of manufacture—Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co., Nagoya Airplane Manufacturing Plant. Name, Zero type Model, type A6M2 engine; Nakajima NK 1; weight, 1,715.0 kilograms (3,782 lbs.); carrying capacity, 650.3 kilograms (1,434 lbs.); entire weight, 2,365.3 kilograms (5,216 lbs.); the year, date, and month of completion, was February 19, 1942. 

Radio. Two way radio; radio mast aft of cockpit is of streamlined wood, hollow with copper wire inside. 96 Type air, Number 1, wireless voice transmitter, type 1. Receiver No. 976, January 1942. Manufactured by Toyo Electric Corporation.

The radio compass was made by Fairchild Aero Camera Co., New York City. Aerial #429. (Ed. Note:  Emphasis added.) Loop located in pilot enclosure just in back of pilot's seat. Controls located on right hand side of cockpit. L or R meter located on instrument dash board. This equipment looked as though it had been used before it was installed in this plane. Frequency range, 170 to 460 and 450 to 1200 KC. Switch was located in the 450 to 1200 KC position when gear was removed.

The radio receiver has 5 Japanese-made tubes of the following types: one 6C6 RF amplifier, one 6A7 1st detector and oscillator, one 6C6 IF amplifier, one 76 second detector, one 76 audio stage. Receiver is super-heterodyne with a crystal-controlled oscillator to determine the frequency of the receiver. It has a beat oscillator for CW reception. One dial to tune antenna and 1st detector stage. Frequency can only be changed by changing the crystal which plugs in the front of the panel. Both transmitter and receiver were using 4145 KC crystals. No other crystals were located in or about the plane. Radio was made by Toyo Electric Corporation in January 1942. Dynamotor is marked generator, air Model 1, revision 1, input 12.5 volts, 13 amps; output for sending 500 volts, 0.12 amps; output for receiving 150 volts, 0.03 amps. No. 302360; weight, 6.8 kilograms (15 lbs.) Made February 1942 by Koana Manufacturing Corporation.

The radio transmitter has power of about 10 watts, crystal controlled, voice of C.W. Frequency range approximately 2,000 KC to 6,000 KC. Frequency can only be changed by removing crystal and inserting another. Has a neon bulb for indicating resonance in the plate circuit and an antenna ammeter with maximum reading of .8 of an ampere. Power supply is in the 12 volt plane battery and a dynamotor supply of about 600 volts, D.C. Transmitter uses one Japanese 503 tube for oscillator and one Japanese 503 tube for modulator. These tubes seem to be the equivalent of an 807 RCA tube.

There were 3 dynamotors on the plane, one each for transmitter, receiver, and radio compass. They were located aft of the cockpit. The generator taken from the Fairchild Radio Compass was an Eclipse made in the United States. (Ed. Note:  Emphasis added.)

Engine Oil Tank. Weight, 7.400 kilograms (16.3 lbs.); capacity, 60.0 liters (15.7 gals.). 

Aileron. 130 inches long; 16 1/2 inches wide next to the fuselage, 8 inches wide at outside end. All control surfaces are of fabric. 

Bomb Load. Place provided for a bomb rack on each wing. 

Arresting Gear. Retractable; hook on arresting gear can be released by pilot. 

Insignia. Insignia on top and bottom of wings; insignia on both sides of fuselage are much brighter than those on the wings; yellow stripe around after part of fuselage. 

Parachute. Type 97 (1937) Parachute, Model 2; number of manufacture, 1490853; manufactured, September 9, 1939, at Fujikura Heavy Industries Corporation.     

Remarks. All parts are marked with name plates. The plane is light gray in color. All the inside metal surfaces are finished with blue coating. The electric gun sight was repaired with friction tape. This was the only part that showed wear.

Editor Note:  This is an accurate, if slightly annotated, transcript of the intelligence report. The use of American-made equipment should be especially noted.  This was the first intact Zero recovered by the United States and it was restored to flying condition.

The above was taken from the report Tactical and Technical Trends No. 5 August 13, 1942, produced by the Military Intelligence Service of the U.S. War Department, pages 1 to 4.

  • Thanks 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The manifold pressure gauge from this plane, which can be found in the US Navy Museum at the Washington DC Navy Yard, is clearly marked on the back with the Sopwith logo.  My father, who flew this plane five or six times (I'd have to double-check his pilots log book) in late 1944, collected the port wing tip, the aforesaid gauge, and the airspeed indicator from the pile of junk in Hangar 40 at NAS San Diego after the plane had been wrecked in February 1945.  We carted that stuff around for the rest of my father's naval career, he retired in 1971 after 33 years commissioned service.  He donated the parts to the museum in 1986 - sure wish he had asked me first.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now