Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter. Used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945. When the Zero was introduced in 1940, it was known as the best carrier based fighter in the world, was an excellent dogfighter, and had extremely long-range. For example, it had a better rate of climb and turning radius than the spitfire, and could stay airborne for 3 TIMES AS LONG! However, by 1942, the allies had come up with new tactics and more powerful engines, which helped even the odds. The zero was very light, and had almost no armor, so it didn’t take much to rip them apart. The trick was how to get the advantage on them in a dogfight. A cool story: At one point during the war, allied forces found a crashed zero in the Aleutian Islands in almost perfect condition. As legend has it, the japanese pilot was losing oil pressure and had to attempt a landing, but because the ground was so soft the plane flipped over and he hit his head and died. The plane was in perfect shape so the allies shipped it back home and got it running. They repainted it in our colors and let all the top test pilots fly it. What they realized was that there is a major weakness in the zero that no one knew about. When the Zero goes into a dive, it cannot stay there for long because of a phenomenon known as “wing compression”. What happens is the wake of air created by the wings makes a pocket of dead air/low pressure around the tail wings. This makes it impossible for the zero to manuever and essentially gets it “stuck” in the dive. After this discovery, all allied pilots had to do was force the zero into a dive situation and keep them there until they reached the compression speed, at which point they could just sit back and watch as the zero flew straight into the ground! Ok, some basic zero specs: powered by a Mitsubishi Nakajima Sakae 12 cylinder radial making 950 HP, ceiling of 33, ooo feet, range of 1929 miles, max level speed 331 mph, armed with 2 7.7 mm type 97 machine guns and 2 20mm cannons.
January 18, 2011