The Japanese Zero
The Japanese Zero, also known as the Mitsubishi A6M was a World War II fighter aircraft used by the Japanese Imperial Navy. The Japanese Zero, A6M was codenamed "zeke" by the allies. The Japanese Zero was referred to as zero sen or rei sen by the Japanese which could be translated as zero fighter, with the number zero being derived from the production type or it's designation number. The Zero was designated a type 0 carrier fighter because of the year that it was produced, according to a Japanese Imperial calendar. The A-means it was produced for carrier use, the 6-means it's the 6th of it's product generation or model and the M, signifies it was made by Mitsubishi.
The A6M replaced the A5M and was primarily manufactured for carrier use. The Japanese Zero was very light, highly maneuverable and had extreme, long range capabilities. In the beginning, the ratio in battle against the Zero was 12-1 in favor of the Zero. Of all the aircraft built by Japan, the Zero was the most mass produced.
The A6M was made from a top secret aluminum alloy which made it light, agile and responsive however, the Zero lacked armor to protect its pilot or engine. Although a formidable aircraft, the lack of armor for the engine made it susceptible to enemy fire. The Zero is said to have lost combative effectiveness due to the loss of skilled pilots. The Zero's fighter aircraft nemesis' were the American's F4U Corsair and F6F Hellcat. In the hands of a skilled pilot the A6M was very deadly.
The A6M weighed 3,700 lbs empty and 5,300 loaded. It could climb 3,100 feet per minute. It had a maximum speed of over 330 miles per hour. It had a range of over 1,900 miles and compared to other fighters could stay in the air three times longer, This made the Zero's adversaries believe there were many more Zeros, than there actually were.
The Zero had a crew of one and was armed with two 7.7 mm machine guns, two 20 mm autocannons and could carry two 130 lb bombs or one 550 lb bomb if it was a kamikaze.