Mitsubishi A7M2 “Reppū” (“Strong Gale”, “Sam”), (MPM Models)

TYPE: Carrier-borne and land-based fighter


POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi Ha-43 radial engine, rated at 2,200 hp

PERFORMANCE: 390 mph at 21,660 ft

COMMENT: Towards the end of 1940, the Imperial Japanese Navy asked Mitsubishi to start design on a 16-Shi carrier-based fighter, which would be the successor to the carrier-based Mitsubishi A6M “Rei-sen” (“Zeke”, Allied reporting code “Zero”). At that time, however, there were no viable high-output, compact engines to use for a new fighter. In addition, Mitsubishi’s design’s team was preoccupied with addressing early production issues with the A6M2b as well as starting development on the A6M3 and the 14-Shi interceptor which would later become the Mitsubishi J2M “Raiden” (Allied code “Jack”), a land-based interceptor built to counter high-altitude bombers). As a result, work on the “Rei-sen” successor was halted in January 1941.
In April 1942, the development of the A6M3 and the 14-Shi interceptor was complete, and the Japanese Navy once again tasked Mitsubishi with designing a new “Zero” successor to become the “Navy Experimental 17-Shi Ko (A) Type Carrier Fighter “Reppu” (“Strong Gale”, Allied reporting code “Sam”). In July 1942 the Navy issued specifications for the fighter: it had to fly faster than 397 mph above 20,000 ft, climb to 20,000 ft in less than 6 minutes, be armed with two 20 mm cannon and two 0.51 in machine guns, and retain the maneuverability of the A6M3 “Rei-sen”.
As before, one of the main hurdles was engine selection. To meet the specifications the engine would need to produce at least 2,000 hp, which narrowed choices down to Nakajima’s NK9 (Ha-45) under development (later becoming “Homare”), or Mitsubishi’s MK9 (Ha-43), which was also still being developed. Both engines were based on 14-cylinder Nakajima “Sakae” and Mitsubishi “Kinsei”, respectively) engines converted to 18-cylinder power plants. The early NK9 had less output but was already approved by the Navy for use on the Yokosuka P1Y “Ginga” (Allied code “Frances”), while the larger MK9 promised more horsepower.
With the larger, more powerful engine, wing loading became an issue. With the MK9 the engineers concluded it could fulfill the requirements; however, production of the MK9 was delayed compared to the NK9, and the Japanese Navy instructed Mitsubishi to use the NK9.
Work on the 17-Shi was further delayed by factories prioritizing Mitsubishi  A6M “Reisen” and Mitsubishi G4M (Allied code “Betty”) bomber production as well as further work on A6M variants and addressing Mitsubishi J2M “Raiden” issues. As a result, the 17-Shi, which became the A7M1, officially flew for the first time on 6 May 1944, four years after development started. The aircraft demonstrated excellent handling and maneuverability, but was underpowered as Mitsubishi engineers feared, and with a top speed similar to the A6M5 “Rei-sen”/”Zeke”. It was a disappointment, and the Navy ordered development to stop on 30 July 1944, but Mitsubishi obtained permission for development to continue using the Ha-43 engine, flying with the completed Ha-43 on 13 October 1944. The Mitsubishi A7M2 “Reppu” now achieved a top speed of 390 mph, while climb and other areas of performance surpassed the “Zero”, leading the Navy to change its mind and adopt the aircraft. The A7M2 “Reppu” was also equipped with automatic combat flaps, used earlier on the Kawanishi N1K-J “Shiden” (Allied code “George”), significantly improving maneuverability.
In June 1945, ace pilot Saburo Sakai was ordered to Nagoya to test the airplane. He declared it to be the fastest fighter he had ever seen, able to surpass anything on the air, Japanese or American. He claimed it could fly in circles, while ascending, around a Grumman F6F “Hellcat” or a North American P-51 “Mustang”, and that engineers stated it could fight at up to 39,370 ft.
When the war in the Pacific area ended a total of 10 Mitsubishi A7M “Reppu’s” were built including only one production aircraft A7M2 (Ref.: 24).

Convair XB-46 (Anigrand Models, Resin)

TYPE: High-speed medium bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: Four Allison J35A-3 turbojet engines, rated at 1.815 kp each

PERFORMANCE: 439 mph at 15,000 ft

COMMENT: In 1944, the US War department was aware of aviation advances in Germany and issued a requirement for a range of designs for medium bombers weighing from 36,287 kg to more than 90,718 kg. Designs from this competition, sometimes named the “Class of ’45”, included the Convair XB-46, the Martin XB-48, and the North American XB-45 “Tornado”.
In the fall of 1945, Convair found it was competing with itself with its XB-46 turbojet bomber when the USAAF became interested in an unorthodox forward-swept wing turbojet attack design, the Convair XA-44 that the company had also been working on. With the end of WW II severely curtailing budgets, the company considered canceling the XB-46 in favor of the other project as there was insufficient funding for both. Company officials argued that it made more sense to allow them to complete the XB-46 prototype as a stripped-down testbed omitting armament and other equipment and for the USAAF to allow them to proceed with two XA-44 airframes in lieu of the other two XB-46s on contract. In June 1946, the USAAF agreed to the substitution but that project was ultimately cancelled in December 1946 before the prototypes were completed. The XB-46 would be completed with only the equipment necessary to prove its airworthiness and handling characteristics.
The Convair XB-46 was a graceful design and had a long streamlined oval torpedo-shaped fuselage, long narrow straight shoulder-mounted wings with four Chevrolet-built Allison J35-C3 axial-flow eleven stage turbojets of 1.730 kp static thrust paired in an integral nacelle under each wing. The fuselage turned out to be a problem, as it distorted under flight loads. The pilots sat in tandem in a pressurized fighter-style cockpit under a single Plexiglas teardrop canopy with the bombardier-navigator-radio operator in a transparent Plexiglas nose section.
The straight wing had an aspect ratio of 11.6, and was equipped with Fowler flaps which extended over 90 percent of the span, in four sections. The flaps extended via electrical actuators, and had very small ailerons. Each wing had five spoilers made of perforated magnesium alloy. The engine air intakes were flat oval inlets, with a duct curving downward in a flat “S” to the engines, which were mounted behind the leading edge of the wing. The unusual flight control system utilized a system of pneumatic piping to transmit the pilots control inputs and actuate various systems, rather than the more typical hydraulic, manual or electrical control lines and systems of most aircraft of the era.
Production versions were to be equipped with a pair of .50 caliber Browning M2 machine guns in a tail turret designed by Emerson Electric Company and provision was made for an APG-27 remote control optics and sighting system, but no weaponry was fitted into the prototype.. Likewise, production aircraft were intended to be built with the General Electric J47 engines with 2.345 kp static thrust rather than the J35s used on the prototype
The XB-46’s first flight occurred 2 April 1947 after a month of taxi testing, and lasted ninety minutes. The pilot praised its handling qualities. Basic flight testing took place for five months, and by September 1947 it was concluded after 127 hours aloft on 64 flights by both the Convair Company and USAAF test pilots. Stability and control were excellent but there were engineering problems with engine de-icing, the cabin air system, and vertical oscillations caused by harmonic resonance between the wing and spoilers. There was also concern regarding the ability of the three man crew to exit the aircraft in case of an emergency, since the exit plan relied on the pneumatic system to hold the main door open against the airstream.
The B-46 program was cancelled in August 1947, even before flight testing had been completed, because it was already obsolete. The North American B-45 “Tornado” already had production orders, and even it would be eclipsed by the Boeing B-47 “Stratojet’s” superior performance (Ref.: 24).