The L.O.O.T.M. Archive
Lust Object of the Month
Every country that participated in W.W.II had at least one "signature" aircraft--a plane that embodied the national philosophy of what a fighter should be. For Japan, that airplane was the Mitsubishi A6M "Zero!" The type was the mainstay fighter from before Japan's entry into the war until the final surrender.
The Zero was fast and very maneuverable. Early in the war it seemed to be everywhere at once. These were due to the aircraft's light weight. By keeping the maximum weight around 6500 pounds, the 1130 HP Nakajima Sakae radial engine could provide both speed (346 mph) and range (1118 miles with internal fuel--even more with a drop tank). Armament consisted of two 7.7 mm (.30 caliber) machine guns in the wings and two 20 mm canon in the upper engine cowling.
The airplane's light weight, responsible for the dazzling performance, was also a weak point in the design. Lacking armor and self-sealing fuel tanks (as in the later US fighters), Zeros were unable to sustain much battle damage. Relatively light hits that many American fighters would absorb could cripple or destroy the Japanese fighter. (Moral: Keep it light for competition, but armor up when they start shooting at you!)
The classic lines, efficient design, and glistening performance make the Mitsubishi "Zero" the LOOTM for March.