Category Archives: Axis Aircraft

The Mitsubishi Zero Fighter

Preface – Except for a few F4U’s arriving at Henderson Field in late 1942, and a very few P-38’s [whose first combat action was Dec 27th that year] it wasn’t until mid 1943 when F6F Hellcat fighters became operational for the Navy that we finally obtained the upper hand.  Prior to that time it was the under-powered and limited ranged F4F Wildcats holding the line against the highly maneuverable “Zekes”, our call sign for the Zero.  The USAAF had obsolescent P-40’s and P-39’s; the former, while almost equal to the Zero in speed, did not dare try to dogfight with them.  The lesser known P-39, a mid engined fighter with a 37mm cannon firing thru the propeller hub, was of mediocre performance, and was also easy prey.

Performance of these planes deteriorated at higher altitudes and they had a poor rate of climb.  Their brave pilots employed hit and run tactics, using speed and firepower to get away, or become the Zero’s victims.

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero - Carrier Akagi 3D Model .obj .fbx .c4d .lwo .lw .lws -

From Wikipedia; I kept only essential links:

The Mitsubishi A6MZero” is a long-range fighter aircraft manufactured by Mitsubishi Aircraft Company, a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1940 to 1945.  The A6M was designated as the Mitsubishi Navy Type 0 carrier fighter (零式艦上戦闘機 rei-shiki-kanjō-sentōki), or the Mitsubishi A6M Rei-sen.  The A6M was usually referred to by its pilots as the “Reisen” (zero fighter), “0” being the last digit of the imperial year 2600 (1940) when it entered service with the Imperial Navy. The official Allied reporting name was “Zeke“, although the use of the name “Zero” was later adopted by the Allies as well.

The Zero was considered the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world when it was introduced early in World War II, combining excellent maneuverability and very long range.  The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJNAS) also frequently used it as a land-based fighter.

In early combat operations, the Zero gained a legendary reputation as a dogfighter, achieving an outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1, but by mid-1942 a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled Allied pilots to engage the Zero on generally equal terms.  By 1943, the Zero became less effective against newer Allied fighters because of inherent design weaknesses and the failure to develop more powerful aircraft engines.  The Allied fighters gained greater firepower, armor, and speed, and approached the Zero’s maneuverability, and the Mitsubishi A6M was outdated by 1944. However, the Zero continued to serve in a front line role until the end of the war because design delays, and production difficulties, hampered the introduction of newer Japanese aircraft.  The Zero was also adapted for use in kamikaze operations during the final year of the war in the Pacific.  Japan produced more Zeros than any other model of combat aircraft during the course of the war.


By Unknown – Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units of WWII, Public Domain,



Violet Lightning – the Shiden Kai (“George”) Fighter

Courtesy of Wikipedia, and Wikipedia Commons.  Noted Wiki is “powered by YouTube”… and has a resource called Mashpedia, source of the video.  I make no claim to own these images, or other information. 

Photo from

Above video and below info from

Operational history

Kawanishi N1K2-J, probably N1K4-J Shiden Kai Model 32—only two prototypes were built.

The N1K1 entered service in early 1944 and proved highly effective against American fighters. The Kawanishi was among the few Japanese fighters that could stand up to the best enemy types, including Hellcats and Corsairs. In the hands of aces, the Shiden could even outfly its American opponents. In February 1945, Lieutenant Kaneyoshi Muto, flying a N1K2-J as part of a group of at least 10 expert Japanese pilots, faced seven U.S. Navy Hellcats of VF-82 in the sky over Japan. His group shot down four Hellcats with no loss to themselves. After the action, reporters fabricated a story in which Muto was the sole airman facing 12 enemy aircraft. However, a close friend of Lieutenant Kaneyoshi Muto, ace pilot Saburō Sakai, states in his autobiography that the one versus twelve combat did take place, but with Muto at the controls of a Zero fighter.

The N1K1-J aircraft were used very effectively over Formosa, the Philippines and later, Okinawa. Before production was switched to the improved N1K2-J, 1,007 aircraft were produced, including prototypes.

Problems resulted in very few N1K2-J aircraft being produced, but the Shiden-Kai proved to be one of the best “dogfighters” fielded by either side. Along with high speed, the fighters were very agile with a roll rate of 82°/sec at 386 km/h (240 mph). Their weaponry, comprising four 20 mm cannons in the wings, was highly effective. As a bomber interceptor, the N1K2-J was less successful, hampered by a poor rate of climb and reduced engine performance at high altitude.

Heinkel 177 / 277 Greif Bomber

Source –

The Heinkel 177 Greif (Griffin) was Germany’s only heavy bomber.  Designed in 1936, it was in point of fact, a four engine bomber; an unrealistic demand by the Luftwaffe High Command was placed upon its design.  The result was that instead of four engine nacelles, it had two engine nacelles using coupled engines.

These were inline engines but with front facing radiators, giving it a radial engine appearance. It proved to be a major problem; repeated overheating and engine fires plagued the design, and was never fully overcome.

From Wikipedia:

The Bomber A aircraft specification required the plane to carry a bomb-load of at least 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) over a range of 5,000 km (3,100 mi), with a maximum speed of not less than 500 km/h (311 mph) at altitude.[4]

This was a formidable specification, calling as it did for an aircraft able to outrun any modern fighter – as was expected with the top speeds of the main force Schnellbomber concept – and outperform, by a considerable margin, any bomber then in service. On 2 June 1937, Heinkel Flugzeugwerke received instructions to proceed with construction of a full-scale mock-up of its Projekt 1041 Bomber A. That was completed in November 1937, and on 5 November 1937 it was allocated the official RLM airframe type number “8-177”, the same day that the Luftwaffe High Command (OKL) stipulated that the new design should possess sufficient structural strength to enable it to undertake medium-degree diving attacks.[5] Heinkel Flugzeugwerke’s estimated performance figures for Projekt 1041 included a top speed of 550 km/h (342 mph) at 5,500 m (18,050 ft) and a loaded weight of 27,000 kg (59,500 lb). In order to achieve these estimates, Heinkel’s chief designer, Siegfried Günter, employed several revolutionary features.

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I prefer this video’s still shots; it shows more than one variant of this plane, such as one with remotely operated dorsal gun turrets, another with two types of unidentified guided rockets (another subject entirely)  and  maintenance of its coupled engines.  You might want to mute the soundtrack… (snark)

This one describes the coupled engine problems, as well as a 277 (with four engine nacelles) that ought to have been the original design, without the previously mentioned demands imposed:


Wings of the Luftwaffe: Ju-88 “Schnellbomber”

From its inception in 1936, this workhorse fought doggedly on until the wars end.  Its uses included level bomber, dive bomber, and night fighter.  Although a radial engined aircraft in appearance, it used inline engines with forward mounted radiators.  The sheer versatility of its air-frame was unmatched.

[why the He 111 is depicted in this thumbnail is unknown to me]

Focke-Wulf Ta 183

Despite the oft referred to term “Arsenal of Democracy”, regarding America’s ability to produce war materials, I would insist that it was the grace of God that we were able to overcome the obstacles posed by our unpreparedness at the outbreak of WW II.  In making this post, I had to refer to my memory of statistics found in long out of print books, and substantially more accurate accounts of events during WW II. Revisionist history is starting to unnerve me.

I made a post about the ME-262; In making this post, we have to make three suppositions. One, that the Germans in general, and Hitler in particular, had not been so arrogant, thinking that they would win the war before such advanced weapons would be needed.

Two, that they took into consideration America’s industrial ability to produce; unencumbered by any threat of attack to prevent them in their efforts.

Three, and crucial to the strategic aspects of winning, that Hitler would have not decided to invade Russia, but consolidated their conquered territories, regrouped the Wehrmacht, trained new pilots, and allowed his military to mount another assault against England with these fighters; in particular against the RAF airfields, and other tactical targets, not against the civilian population.

The terrible consequences toward our war effort would have been unthinkable.

The Me-262 was a pure interceptor.  It was over 100 mph faster then the P-51-B which first escorted bombers to Berlin in the spring of 1944.  Had its development, necessary refinements and production not been impeded, this interceptor, with already seasoned pilots, and its four 30mm cannon would have been available en masse by late 1942.  Catastrophe would have awaited any B-17 formations that dared to enter German airspace in 1943. This also presupposes that England would not have been invaded and taken out of the equation.

The Bendix gun turrets employed on the B-17’s couldn’t even track the 262; moreover, at the start of 1943 the formidable, but short ranged P-47’s were not yet available.  Consider that they suffered over 20 percent losses in two separate raids on Schweinfurt, in mid and late 1943.

These were made against the ball bearing works; we’re talking ten men to a Fort, so 10X the sixty plus bombers lost each time equals over 600 men on one mission.

But this grim possibility becomes even worse;  a little known swept wing jet designed by the makers of the Focke-Wulf 190, (I wonder whether the Soviets used this as a template for their Mig-15) might also have been made available; this was an adept, potentially deadly dogfighter, attributes the ME 262 lacked; it was far more suited to the hit and run tactics of fast interceptors, like the famed P-38 Lightning.

This aircraft never made it past the first designs; God’s grace again in play, when one contemplates the consequences if, in addition to the Me-262, this fighter had reached production in say, late 1943.  the videos below are of RC models of this aircraft, and just as a comparison, one of the ME 262.

More info on the TA 184 included after the videos.

From Wikipedia:

In early 1944, the Reich Air Ministry (RLM, for Reichsluftfahrtministerium) became aware of Allied jet developments, and were particularly concerned that they might have to face the Gloster Meteor over the continent. In response, they instituted the Emergency Fighter Program which took effect on July 3, 1944, ending production of most bomber and multi-role aircraft in favour of fighters, especially jet fighters. Additionally, they accelerated the development of experimental designs that would guarantee a performance edge over the Allied designs, designs that would replace the first German jet fighters, the Messerschmitt Me 262 and Heinkel He 162.

Development of the Ta 183 started as early as 1942 as Project VI, when the engineer Hans Multhopp assembled a team to design a new fighter, based on his understanding that previous Focke-Wulf design studies for jet fighters had no chance of reaching fruition because none had the potential for transonic speeds. The aircraft was intended to use the advanced Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet, although the first prototypes were to be powered by the Junkers Jumo 004B. Early studies also included an optional 1,000 kgf (10 kN) thrust rocket engine for takeoff and combat boost, much as the special “003R” version of the BMW 003 jet engine was meant to use, with fuel and oxidiser for up to 200 seconds of burn time stored in drop tanks under the wings.

The wings were swept back at 40° and were mounted in the mid-fuselage position. The wings appear to be mounted very far forward compared with most designs, a side-effect of attempting to keep the centre of pressure (CoP) of the wing as a whole as close to the middle of the fuselage as possible. Reflecting the dilemma of a shortage of strategic materials, the first option of using aluminum in the construction of the main spar consisting of two tapered I-beams attached together on the top and bottom with shear webs of thin steel sheeting, led to a reappraisal. Multhopp chose to use wood instead of metal throughout the wing structure, with wood structure ribs attached to the front and back of the I-beams to give the wing its overall shape, and then covered with plywood. The box-like structure contained six fuel cells, giving the aircraft a total fuel load of 1,565 l (413 US gal).[6]

The original design used a T-tail, with a notably long vertical stabilizer and a seemingly undersized horizontal stabilizer. The vertical tail was swept back at 60°, and the horizontal tail was swept back and slightly dihedralled. The horizontal surface’s small “elevator” surfaces were used only for trimming, the main pitching force being provided by the ailerons, which were well behind the center of gravity — their trailing edges’ tips virtually even, horizontally, with the intended HeS 011 jet engine’s exhaust orifice — and thus could provide both pitch and roll control, functioning as elevon control surfaces, as Messerschmittt’s Me 163 tailplane-less Komet rocket fighter already did. Many problems beset the project, including the chance of a Dutch roll. Work therefore concentrated on the much less problematical Focke-Wulf Project VII. However, when the RLM eventually rejected that design, Huckebein was again brought to the fore.

The Ta 183 had a short fuselage with the air intake passing under the cockpit and proceeding to the rear where the single engine was located. The pilot sat in a pressurized cockpit with a bubble canopy which provided excellent vision. The primary armament of the aircraft consisted of four 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons arranged around the air intake.

It was also possible to carry a bomb load of 500 kg (1,100 lb), consisting of one SD or SC 500 bomb, one BT 200 bomb, five SD or SC bombs or a Rb 20/30 reconnaissance camera. The weapons load would be carried in the equipment space in the bottom of the fuselage and thus partially protrude about halfway from the fuselage, possibly allowing for other armament packages such as the Ruhrstahl X-4 wire-guided missile.

Multhopp’s team also seriously explored a second version of the basic design, known as Design III, a modified Design II (it is unknown what Design I referred to). The first of these had only minor modifications, with slightly differently shaped wingtips and repositioning of the undercarriage. The second version had a reduced sweepback to 32°, allowing the wing and cockpit to be moved rearward. The tail was also redesigned, using a short horizontal boom to mount the control surfaces just above the line of the rear fuselage. This version looks considerably more “conventional” to the modern eye, although somewhat stubby due to the short overall length of the HeS 011.

The second of these two schemes was entered in the official competition ordered by the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe at the end of 1944. On 28 February 1945, the Luftwaffe High Command examined the various Emergency Fighter proposals and selected the Junkers EF 128 to be developed and produced; the Focke-Wulf team gained second place. However, in the last few weeks of the war, it was decided that the Huckebein was really the best design and, at a meeting in Bad Eilsen, Tank was told to arrange mockups and to plan for full production. It had a planned speed of about 1,000 km/h (620 mph) at 7,000 m (22,970 ft) and it was estimated that 300 aircraft per month would be delivered when production got into its stride, each aircraft being produced in 2,500 man hours.

A total of 16 prototypes were to be built, allowing the tail unit to be interchanged between the Design II and III variations. Of the Versuchs (experimental test series) aircraft, the Ta 183 V1-V3 were to be powered by the Jumo 004B turbojet with somewhat lengthened rear fuselages to accommodate them, pending delivery of the HeS 011 jet engine. The Ta 183 V4-V14 were intended to be A-0 series pre-production aircraft and V15-V16 were to be static test aircraft. The first flight of the aircraft was projected for May 1945, but none was completed by 8 April 1945, when British troops captured the Focke-Wulf facilities.

Specifications (Ta 183, as originally designed)

Creek, Eddie J.; Smith, J. Richard (1982). Jet Planes of the Third Reich. Boylston, MA USA: Monogram Aviation Publications. pp. 384–387. ISBN 0-914144-27-8. 

Focke-Wulf Ta 183.svg

General characteristics

  • Crew: one

  • Length: 9.40 m (30 ft 10-1/4 in)

  • Wingspan: 10.00 m (32 ft 9-3/4 in)

  • Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)

  • Wing area: 22.5 m² (242.2 ft²)

  • Empty weight: 2,830 kg (6,240 lb)

  • Loaded weight: 4,300 kg (9,481 lb)

  • Powerplant: 1 × Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet, 13 kN (2,700 lbf)



Henschel 129 – Profile Publications

This image is one of four Profile Publications I purchased in my teens, and still have.  Containing only 15 pages, but packed with detailed information:  The aircraft’s history, development, variants, color profile pictures showing unit markings, theater of war/ the year(s) used, camouflage, specifications, and weaponry; along with many original black and white photos of the aircraft.

I have never found this aircraft documented, or acknowledged in any WW II accounts apart from  the Eastern front.


Attempts to provide any documentary footage from YouTube was a futile effort; the examples were either short German propaganda films, or a plethora of FKG “War Thunder” videos (gamers) no History Channel or other legitimate sources.  Relevant information on this aircraft found on Wikipedia:

I reluctantly post this one example of the HS 129 from a model aircraft site, with the 37mm cannon in the under fuselage necelle; imagine the version with the 75mm artillery piece!:

This example courtesy of Wings Pallette – Use the link to view many more pics/info as would be found in a Profiles pamphlet:



Unit: 8./SchG 2
Serial: unknown

Aounnia, Tunisia, February 1943.

Artist: © Richard Ward
Source: “Henschel Hs.129” by J.R.Smith, Profile Publications Ltd, No.69

There is a site with detailed and accurate info on WW II aircraft; sadly, unlike Wings Pallette, they are like alpha dogs marking territory.  They won’t allow any reproduction in full or in part.  Jealous of their w.w.w. status I imagine, and unwilling to share.

Rather than link to their site, the following link to an ebay seller (I’M NOT advertising that site),  provides a disc containing  a collection of over 200 Profile Publications, for all interested in WW II aviation history:

Wings of the Luftwaffe – Me-262 – Swallow

Development of the ME-262; a fighter so advanced, that had Hitler not insisted on it being made into an offensive bomber, could have changed the course of WW II.  The ME-262 was finally operational in the summer of 1944, a full year later than it would have been without interference.  It is significant that the Schweinfurt raid, known as Black Thursday, with the loss of sixty plus B-17’s, causing the allies to cease further operations for several weeks, occurred in August 1943.