Armour Collection B11C974 Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Riesen Zero Fighter - Lt. Commander Shigeru Itaya, Aircraft Carrier Akagi, Pearl Harbor Raid, Hawaii, 1941 (1:48 Scale)
"We have resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable."
- Japanese Emperor Hirohito speaking to the Japanese people after the atomic bombings, August 1945
The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a light-weight carrier-based fighter aircraft employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945.
It is universally known as Zero from its Japanese Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter (Rei shiki Kanjo sentoki), taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940), when it entered service. In Japan it was unofficially referred to as both Rei-sen and Zero-sen. The official Allied code name was Zeke (Hamp for the A6M3 model 32 variant); while this was in keeping with standard practice of giving boys' names to fighters, it is not definitively known if this was chosen for its similarity to "Zero".
A combination of excellent maneuverability and very long range made it one of the best fighters of its era. In early service the Zero gained a legendary reputation, outclassing its contemporaries. Later, design weaknesses and the increasing scarcity of more powerful aircraft engines meant that the Zero became less effective against newer fighters.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of an A6M2 Model 21 variant of the Zero flown by Lt. Commander Shigeru Itaya from the aircraft carrier Akagi, which was used during the attack at Pearl Harbor.
Wingspan: 9 inches
Length: 7-1/4 inches
Historical Account: "Multiple Flight Decks" - The Akagi was an aircraft carrier serving with the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. The only ship in her class, Akagi played a major part in the Attack on Pearl Harbor, but was sunk along with three other large carriers by dive bombers from US carriers Enterprise and Yorktown in the Battle of Midway.
Akagi was laid down as an Amagi class battlecruiser at Kure, Japan. However, the Washington Naval Treaty, which Japan signed in 1922, prevented Japan from completing Akagi. Because the Treaty authorized conversion of two battleship or battlecruiser hulls into aircraft carriers of up to 33,000 tons displacement, the incomplete hulls of Amagi and Akagi were selected for completion as carriers.
Amagi's hull was damaged beyond economic repair in the Great Kanto earthquake of September 1st, 1923. The remaining battlecruisers of the class, Atago and Takao, were cancelled and scrapped in 1924, in accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.
Akagi, the only remaining member of her class, was launched on April 22nd, 1925 and completed at Kure Naval Arsenal on March 27th, 1927. As completed, the ship had two hangar decks with a capacity of 61 aircraft. The hangars opened onto two superimposed flying off decks at the bow. In theory, this permitted aircraft to take off directly from the hangars, while landing on the main flight deck above. Funnel gasses were discharged through a downturned starboard funnel. To compensate for the weight of the hangar structure, the horizontal armor was reduced from 3.8 to 3.1 inches and moved one deck lower. The belt armor was reduced from 10 to 6 inches and was also lowered by one deck.
In practice, the multiple flight deck arrangement proved unsuccessful. From 1935 to 1938, Akagi received a massive reconstruction at Sasebo Naval Arsenal. It extended the hangars forward, removed the flying off decks, and increased aircraft capacity to 91. The refit added an island superstructure on the port side of the ship, which was an unusual arrangement; the only other carrier to share this feature was a contemporary, the Hiryu. Akagi and the Hiryu were intended to work in a tactical formation with starboard-sided carriers, in order to improve the flight pattern around the formation, but the experiment was not continued beyond those two carriers.