The L.O.O.T.M. Archive

Lust Object of the Month

March 2007

This example is an of the earlier A6M2 "Zero" that is on display at the recently opened Pacific Aviation Museum at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.  The A6M2 was the type used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I met Zero ace Saburo Sakai (62 confirmed victories) in the late 80s up in Yakima.  This is how his aircraft, another A6M2, was marked. 

This A6M5 Zero is from Camarillo and flies fairly often.  Its original Sakae engine has been replaced with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial to allow for a little easier maintenance/replacement.

A photo of a captured Mitsubishi A6M5 "Zero" that was used post W.W.II to evaluate the technology.  You can see the modification to the fuselage Hinomaru ("meat ball") by applying an American Star over it.  (Note the difference in exhaust between this original example and the Camarillo Zero.)

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.