LOADING ...

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero Was Nowhere Near The Plane You Think It Was

Michael Ballaban Sep 13, 2018. 22 comments
Foxtrot AlphaTech and news from the world of modern defense.  

Most living Americans tend to think of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero as the Japanese plane that walloped the Americans at Pearl Harbor. Okay, well, it did do that. But it wasn’t the fearsome fighter that Hollywood movies have portrayed. While it had some initial advantages, it was deeply flawed.

The Zero was not only meant to be lightweight, it was also built to be cheap. A lack of mass is exceptionally helpful at maintaining low wing loading, while aiding both the ability to turn and accelerate. Early Western carrier-based fighters, like the United States Navy’s Brewster Buffalo and the F4F Wildcat, were woeful against the Zero.

The flip side of that meant that it didn’t have some features that later Western fighters had, like self-sealing fuel tanks. A self-sealing fuel tank might be a problem in your road car, but in your fighter plane? With bullets and shells whizzing around? All that leaking fuel could become a big problem, quickly. As this video from the ever-so-cromulent Real Engineering channel on Youtube explains, the Zero even had problems like a complete lack of armor, and a lack of maneuverability at high speeds:

The Allies quickly learned of the Zero’s fatal flaws – especially with the help of the Akutan Zero – and were able to make quick work of the Zero later in World War II.

22 Comments

Other Michael Ballaban's posts

Have You Ever Owned A Mazda RX-8, The Car That Helped Kill The Rotary Engine? Have You Ever Owned A Mazda RX-8, The Car That Helped Kill The Rotary Engine?

CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.  Mazda officially launched the oddball RX-8 in 2003, just one year after the great RX-7 officially died in Japan. But whereas the RX-7's stature has only grown to near-mythic status in the past few years, the RX-8 died a grisly death in 2012, and few people have seemed...

This Is What It's Like To Be Rescued After Your Plane Crashes In The Forest This Is What It's Like To Be Rescued After Your Plane Crashes In The Forest

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag.Click here to view original GIFLittle planes go down all the time, and it would really help people get into them if the occupants didn’t die every time one did. That’s what makes the Cirrus SR22 such a brilliant little aircraft, as it has a parachute not just for the pilot, or the...

The Big Strong Fast and Furious Men Have Very Fragile Egos: Report The Big Strong Fast and Furious Men Have Very Fragile Egos: Report

You would think, given the advanced state of musculature, experience, and career level of action stars like The Rock, Jason Statham, and Vin Diesel, that all three would feel very secure and self-actualized. You would, reportedly, be wrong! The Wall Street Journal hilariously says that all three top stars in the Fast and Furious cinematic universe have such massive...

What Was the Last Supercar Flop? What Was the Last Supercar Flop?

CountersteerYour true stories of good and bad things that happen in cars.  The Jaguar XJ220 is, in the year 2019, considered a classic of the early 1990s supercar era. It’s right up there in the Pantheon with the Ferrari F40s and the Bugatti EB110s. But when it finally went on sale in 1992, it was a total disaster. Why The...

Suggested posts

‘Women That Would Gladly Give Their Life’: How The Paramilitary Women's Emergency Brigade Battled GM At The UAW's First Big Strike ‘Women That Would Gladly Give Their Life’: How The Paramilitary Women's Emergency Brigade Battled GM At The UAW's First Big Strike

“We knew—if we didn’t win this time—the town would be a dead town,” a member of the Women’s Emergency Brigade said about her hometown of Flint, Mich. during the 1937 Sit-Down Strike on General Motors. “You know, there was just nothing to look forward to.”Many think of factory work, and therefore a strike in the automotive industry, as something primarily...

The Dream Of New York's Forgotten Elevated Subway The Dream Of New York's Forgotten Elevated Subway

Until 1969, you could go to the Myrtle Avenue-Broadway station in Brooklyn, walk upstairs, and go back in time, to a borderline-decrepit wooden platform served by an ancient wooden train car (the last ones in the system), and there you could continue your journey west on the Myrtle Avenue Elevated. “They had this seating made out of cane reeding, it...

People Once Wanted Their Cars To Spit Lit Cigarettes At Them People Once Wanted Their Cars To Spit Lit Cigarettes At Them

It’s easy to forget just how popular and widespread smoking once was. For much of the 20th century, smoking was not just an indulgence some people enjoyed every now and then, but the default vice of pretty much every adult. That’s why cars ended up with cigarette lighters and ashtrays crammed in every door, and why bonkers accessories like...

There Will Never Be A Cooler Overland Accessory Than The Flying Shogun There Will Never Be A Cooler Overland Accessory Than The Flying Shogun

Truck YeahThe trucks are good!  I’m on a campaign to convince you that the Mitsubishi Montero is the greatest SUV of the ’90s. It’s not a particularly popular opinion–people keep laughing at me and climbing back into their lame old Land Cruisers, squawking about solid axles. But what if I told you the Montero could launch a freaking airplane off...

These Color Photos From the New Deal Show What Life On The Road Once Was Like These Color Photos From the New Deal Show What Life On The Road Once Was Like

As part of the New Deal, the Farm Security Administration (FSI) was launched to help relieve crippling poverty in rural communities. As small part of that mission, the organization documented life in the the communities in which it worked. These photos naturally included many road scenes, as the Great Depression had plunged rural America into a great migratory frenzy....

This Deleted Scene From The Godfather Reveals A Strange Fact About WWII-Era Cars In America This Deleted Scene From The Godfather Reveals A Strange Fact About WWII-Era Cars In America

A while back I encountered a clip of a deleted scene from The Godfather that caught my attention because of what was being discussed. Sure, there was plenty of mob stuff being talked about, but I was interested in one detail: a new car that came with wooden bumpers. I was confused, but interested, and then promptly forgot about...

Citroën Sabotaged Wartime Nazi Truck Production in a Simple and Brilliant Way Citroën Sabotaged Wartime Nazi Truck Production in a Simple and Brilliant Way

In case you forgot to change the batteries in your calendar, you may not be aware that this year is the 100th anniversary of Citroën. We’ve been shooting a Jason Drives special mini-series for this centenary, and while doing some research I happened to stumble upon a fascinating bit of wartime Citroën lore. It involves screwing with Nazis in...

Time to Pay Your Respects to the Plywood Boat that Helped Win WWII Time to Pay Your Respects to the Plywood Boat that Helped Win WWII

Foxtrot AlphaTech and news from the world of modern defense.  As you likely know, it’s the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when 160,000 Allied troops invaded the beaches of Normandy, undertaking the largest from-the-sea invasion in the history of human warfare and marking the beginning of the end for the Axis. The actual business of getting over 100,000 soldiers and a...

The 'Funnies' Were The Wildly Modified Tanks That Protected The Allies on D-Day The 'Funnies' Were The Wildly Modified Tanks That Protected The Allies on D-Day

Foxtrot AlphaTech and news from the world of modern defense.  Of all the stories of the D-Day invasion, the most heroic—and tragic—involve the waves of Allied soldiers who waded ashore to face the enemy on the beach. Thousands of American, British, and Canadian troops, many simple riflemen, were hurled against beach defenses occupying German troops had spent years perfecting. One...

The U.S. Military Used to Operate Railroad-Mounted Superguns The U.S. Military Used to Operate Railroad-Mounted Superguns

Foxtrot AlphaTech and news from the world of modern defense.  There once was a time when the major armies of the world invested in superguns—gigantic cannons that were so large they could only be transported to the battlefield by railroad. Developed to bypass the gridlock of trench warfare, they were eventually retired in favor of bombers and missiles. Now, as...

Language