Mitsubishi A6M “Zero”

The classic Zero, one of WW2’s best carrier-based fighter aircraft, beat the American Navy/Army Airforce until the introduction of the Hellcat. You may be wondering how this infamous fighter works? In this article, I will answer that question and more.

By: Lucas Nguyen, Journalist

Its History

The Mitsubishi A6M a.k.a “Zero” was  a single-seater propeller-driven  fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Navy during WW2. It was designed by Horikoshi Jiro, produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries/Nakajima Aircraft Company (Now called Subaru) for the Imperial Japanese Navy and in 1937, it was designed to the specifications of the Imperial Japanese Navy, was tested in 1939, and was fielded in 1940 in China.

It was the first carrier-based fighter that can best land-based fighter aircraft. The reason it is known as the “Zero” is because the year that began production, 1940, it was the 2600th anniversary of the ascension of the first Japanese Emperor hence the nickname “Zero”.


How It Works

The Zero first ran on a 1,020 then a 1,130 horsepower engine. Its top speed is 320 mph (563 kph) at 20000 feet (6096 meters) in the sky and it was armed with 2 7mm machine guns and 2 20mm cannons. It could carry 2 132 lbs (60 kg) bombs under its wings. When it was first fielded, no other Allied fighter could match its speed and because of its 156 gallon (600 liters) integral fuel tank and 96 gallon ( 436.5 liters) external fuel tank that can be dropped, it allowed the Zero to travel farther than the Allies expected it to go. In fact, Allied aircraft could’t stand up to the Zero until  1943 with the introduction of the F6F Hellcat.

The Legacy of the Zero

It was one of the best made fighters of its time and the Zero may have be debatable better than the Messerschmitt Me 109, the best German Fighter Aircraft. Only 11,000 were made throughout the war and many variants of the Zero making them a very rare sight nowadays and insanely valuable in the collection of aircraft enthusiasts.


Related Articles:

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Zero”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 8 Sep. 2022, Accessed 20 October 2022.

Dwyer, Larry. “Mitsubishi A6M Reisen (Zero-Sen).” Aviation History Online Museum, 11 Oct. 1996,

“Mitsubishi A6M Zero – Specifications, Facts, Drawings, Blueprints.” History.Scale, 23 Apr. 2013,

Editor, Editor, and Ron Cole. “The Tale of a Zero Fighter.” Vintage Aviation News, 27 Feb. 2014,

Hickman, Kennedy. “Mitsubishi A6M Zero Fighter-World War II.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 3 Apr. 2020,

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