Armour Collection B11E780 Imperial Japanese Navy Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe" Floatplane - "Takuma Naval Air Group" (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
Recognizing the possibility of a war with the United States, the Imperial Japanese Navy, in the autumn of 1940, saw the need for providing fighter cover for amphibious landings in situations where carriers would not be available. They also knew that the Japanese Army's Corps of Engineers was small and not up to the task of swiftly building airstrips on remote islands and that the IJN itself lacked the equivalent of the US Navy's Seabees construction battalions. As a result, a specification was issued for a fighter to be mounted on floats.
Kawanishi received the contract for an advanced floatplane fighter which became the N1K1 Kyofu ("Mighty Wind"), but it soon became obvious that this ambitious aircraft would not be ready in time for the upcoming war with the US. The Japanese therefore decided on a temporary measure whereby a floatplane fighter was to be created from the highly successful A6M2 Zero.
The IJN assigned development of the floatplane Zero to Nakajima which also performed second-source production of the Zero. Interestingly, Nakajima ended up building more Zeros than Mitsubishi, producing over 6,500 Zeros to Mitsubishi's 4,000 by war's end. The floatplane was given the designation A6M2-N or "Type 2 Floatplane Fighter Model 11" (the N does not stand for Nakajima but for floatplane fighter). The floatplane was basically a standard A6M2 with the undercarriage replaced by a centerline float, plus an outrigger float on each wing. A larger vertical tailplane was provided as was a small "strake" underneath the tail to compensate for aerodynamic interference of the float system. Although it couldn't carry a centerline drop tank, an additional fuel tank was installed in the central float itself.
The first prototype A6M2-N was flown on December 7th, 1941, the first day of the Pacific War and the first production A6M2-N was delivered in April 1942. The A6M2-N was given the Allied code name "Rufe" under Capt Frank McCoy's system of assigning hillbilly names to Japanese aircraft. It first appeared in combat in the Solomons and was initially deployed to Tulagi, but the floatplanes were caught in the raids leading up to the American landings on Guadalcanal. Although they inflicted some serious damage on the B-17s of the 11th Bombardment Group, the A6M2-Ns were soon destroyed by enemy attacks.
The A6M2-N was also used in the Aleutians campaign. In spite of the weight and drag of the float, the A6M2-N was actually quite fast and maneuverable, retaining many of the Zero's characteristics, and could deliver a nasty surprise to many Allied fighters if they were unwise enough to try and dog-fight with this floatplane.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a Nakajima A6M2-N floatplane fighter that was assigned to the Takuma Naval Air Group. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 9 inches
Length: 7-1/4 inches
Release Date: March 2008