Mitsubishi A6M5c ‘Rei-sen’ (“Zero”, “Zeke”), (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Carrier-borne fighter, fighter-bomber


POWER PLANT: One Nakajima NK1F “Sakae 21” radial engine, rated at 1,100 hp at 9,350 ft

PERFORMANCE: 351 mph at 19,685 ft

COMMENT: The Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” was the best known Japanese warplane of WW II. A6M “Zeros” were predominantly used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJN) on aircraft carriers, and also by its land-based fighter units. At the start of the Pacific War in 1941, the A6M constituted about 60% of the IJN fighter force. It took part in carrier operations throughout much of the Pacific Ocean, as well as over the northeast Indian Ocean
The Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” is a long-range fighter aircraft formerly manufactured by Mitsubishi Aircraft Company. Officially, the A6M was designated as the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 carrier fighter (“Rei-shiki-kanjō-sentōki”), or the Mitsubishi A6M “Rei-sen”. The A6M was usually referred to by its pilots as the “Reisen” (Zero fighter), “0” being the last digit of the Imperial Year 2600 (1940) when it entered service with the Imperial Navy. The official Allied reporting name was “Zeke”, although the use of the name “Zero” was later adopted by the Allies as well.
The “Zero” was considered the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world when it was introduced early in WW II, combining excellent maneuverability and very long range. The IJN also frequently used it as a land-based fighter.
With its low-wing cantilever monoplane layout, retractable, wide-set conventional landing gear and enclosed cockpit, the “Zero” was one of the most modern carrier based aircraft in the world at the time of its introduction. It had a fairly high-lift, low-speed wing with very low wing loading. This, combined with its light weight, resulted in a very low stalling speed of well below 69 mph. This was the main reason for its phenomenal maneuverability, allowing it to out-turn any Allied fighter of the time.
The “Zero” quickly gained a fearsome reputation. Thanks to a combination of unsurpassed maneuverability — even when compared to other contemporary Axis fighters — and excellent firepower, it easily disposed the motley collection of Allied aircraft sent against it in the Pacific in 1941. It proved a difficult opponent even for the British Supermarine “Spitfire”.  Although not as fast as the British fighter, the “Zero” could out-turn the “Spitfire” with ease, sustain a climb at a very steep angle, and stay in the air for three times as long. In early combat operations, the “Zero” gained a legendary reputation as a dogfight achieving an outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1, but by mid-1942 a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled Allied pilots to engage the “Zero” on generally equal terms. By 1943, due to inherent design weaknesses and an inability to equip it with a more powerful aircraft engine, the “Zero” gradually became less effective against newer Allied fighters. By 1944, with opposing Allied fighters approaching its levels of maneuverability and consistently exceeding its firepower, armor, and speed, the A6M had largely become outdated as a fighter aircraft. However, due to design delays and production difficulties, which hampered the introduction of newer Japanese aircraft models, the “Zero” continued to serve in a front line role until the end of the war in the Pacific. During the final phases, it was also adapted for use in Kamikaze operations.
Japan produced more “Zeros” than any other model of combat aircraft during the war. When the war in the Pacific Area of Action ended, 10,939 aircraft have been built by Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. and Nakajima Hikoki K.K. in four major variants A6M2, A6M3, A6M5, and A6M8, each variant including several subtypes. Nakajima built a float-plane variant, the Nakajima A6M2-N, Allied reporting name “Rufe”.
The Mitsubishi A6M5c, Model 52 Hei, featured an armament change: One 13.2 mm Type 3 machine gun was added in each wing outboard of the cannon, and the 7.7 mm gun on the left side of the cowl was deleted. Four racks for rockets or small bombs were installed outboard of the 13 mm gun in each wing. Engine changed to a Nakajima NK1F “Sakae21” although some sources state that the A6M5c had a more powerful “Sakae 31” engine. In addition, a 55 mm thick piece of armored glass was installed at the headrest and an 8 mm thick plate of armor was installed behind the seat. The mounting of the central 300 l (79 US gal) drop tank changed to a four-post design. Wing skin was thickened further. The first of this variant was completed in September 1944 (Ref.: 24).

Consolidated PBY-6A ‘Catalina’ (Revell, Parts scratch-built))

TYPE: Patrol bomber flying-boat and amphibian

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of seven to nine

POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 “Twin-Wasp” radial engines, rated at 1,200 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 196 mph at 6.700 ft

COMMENT: The PBY was originally designed as a patrol bomber, an aircraft with a long operational range intended to locate and attack enemy transport ships at sea in order to disrupt enemy supply lines. With a mind to a potential conflict in the Pacific Ocean, where troops would require resupply over great distances, the US Navy in the 1930s invested millions of dollars in developing long-range flying boats for this purpose. Flying boats had the advantage of not requiring runways, in effect having the entire ocean available. Several different flying boats were adopted by the Navy, but the PBY was the most widely used and produced.
Although slow and ungainly, Consolidated PBY “Catalinas” distinguished themselves in World War II. Allied forces used them successfully in a wide variety of roles for which the aircraft was never intended. PBYs are remembered for their rescue role, in which they saved the lives of thousands of aircrew downed over water. “Catalina” airmen called their aircraft the “Cat” on combat missions and “Dumbo” in air-rescue service.
Consolidated and Douglas both delivered single prototypes of their new designs, the XP3Y-1 and XP3D-1, respectively. Consolidated’s XP3Y-1 was an evolution of the XPY-1 design that had originally competed unsuccessfully for the P3M contract two years earlier and of the XP2Y design that the Navy had authorized for a limited production run. Although the Douglas aircraft was a good design, the Navy opted for Consolidated because the projected cost was only $90,000 per aircraft.
Consolidated XP3Y-1 design (company Model 28) had a parasol wing with external bracing struts, mounted on a pylon over the fuselage. Wingtip stabilizing floats were retractable in flight to form streamlined wingtips and had been licensed from the British Saunders-Roe company. The two-step hull design was similar to that of the P2Y, but the Model 28 had a cantilever cruciform tail unit instead of a strut-braced twin tail. Cleaner aerodynamics gave the Model 28 better performance than earlier designs. Construction is all-metal, stressed-skin, of aluminum sheet, except the ailerons and wing trailing edge, which are fabric covered
The Consolidated XP3Y-1 had its maiden flight on March 1935, after which it was transferred to the US Navy for service trials. The XP3Y-1 was a significant performance improvement over previous patrol flying boats. The Navy requested further development in order to bring the aircraft into the category of patrol bomber, and in October 1935, the prototype was returned to Consolidated for further work, including installation of 900 hp R-1830-64 engines. For the redesignated XPBY-1, Consolidated introduced redesigned vertical tail surfaces which resolved a problem with the tail becoming submerged on takeoff, which had made lift-off impossible under some conditions. The XPBY-1 had its maiden flight on May 1936, during which a record non-stop distance flight of 3,443 miles was achieved.
Around 4.051 aircraft were built, and these operated in nearly all operational theatres of World War II. The “Catalina” served with distinction and played a prominent and invaluable role against the Japanese. This was especially true during the first year of the war in the Pacific, because the Consolidated PBY “Catalina” and the Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” were the only aircraft available with the range to be effective in the Pacific.
The Consolidated PBY “Catalina” was built in seven major variants, the last, PBY-6A, was equipped with search radar in a radome above the cockpit, a taller fin and rudder and amphibious undercarriage (Ref.: 24).

Blohm & Voss Bv P. 188.04-01 (Unicraft Models, Resin)

TYPE: High-speed bomber. Project


POWER PLANT: Four Junkers Jumo 004C turbojet engines, rated at 1,020 kp each


COMMENT:  With its Blohm & Voss Bv P.188 bomber projects the aircraft company proposed several different designs that would have been powered by four powerful turbojet engines. Most unusual was a long, specifically W-shaped wing design. The wings were placed –­ differing of project – from high to low on the fuselage side. Common to all projects was the layout of wings: their inner halves were swept back 20 degrees while the outer halves were swept 20 degrees forward. It was hoped that this arrangement would provide a better performance, both at high and low speeds.
The Blohm & Voss Bv P.188 bomber project had three different known variants. Blohm & Voss Bv P.188.01 was powered by four turbojets placed in separate nacelles under the wings. The W-shaped wing was placed high on the fuselage, the tail section was of a conventional type.
Very similar in design was the Blohm & Voss Bv P.188 02 except for a smaller, slightly raised cockpit, the wings were placed in mid-fuselage and a tail with a twin rudder arrangement.
The last design was the Blohm und Voss P.188.04 turbojet bomber. The fuselage center section was designed as an armored steel shell which was to hold the fuel supply, with the forward and rear sections being bays for the tandem twin main landing gear wheels. The W-shaped wing was place low on the fuselage and had a constant 3 degree dihedral. A crew of two sat in tandem in an extensively glazed, pressurized cockpit, which was flush with the fuselage. Four Junkers Jumo 004C turbojet engines were mounted in two nacelles, which were located beneath each wing, very similar to the Arado Ar 234C “Blitz” (“Lightning”) turbojet bomber. There were also an auxiliary ‘outrigger’ type landing gear outboard of the engine nacelles, these being more to steady the aircraft, and did not touch the ground when it was on an even keel. The tail was of a twin fin and rudder design, with a dihedral tail plane and the extreme tail had an airbrake. Armament consisted of two remote-controlled FDL 131 Z twin 13mm machine guns, guided by two PVE 11 periscopes aft of the cockpit, and firing to the rear. A bombload of 2000 kg could be carried externally. None of these futuristic projects were realized (Ref: 17, 24).