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Illinois Institute of Technology

 Japanese Zero Schematic


Japanese naval aviators flew 328 combat-ready Zeros against American forces at Pearl Harbor and in the Philippines. The Zero totally outclassed all Allied fighter aircraft for the first six months of the war until American carrier forces stopped the Japanese in the Coral Sea and at Midway in May and June 1942.



Wright Air Development Center Digital Collection
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Aircraft - Zero (Japanese)

Japanese Zero

For the most part, American aerospace testing was done on American aircraft.  However, beginning with WWI, whenever the United States obtained examples of foreign aircraft - either from friendly countries through cooperative arrangements or from enemies via capture or defection- they were likely to wind up at McCook Field or Wright Field for a thorough evaluation which included flight testing if possible. 

"During WWII evaluations at Wright Field included allied aircraft like the Russian Yak-9 and the British Spitfire and Mosquito, and enemy aircraft including the German JU-88, ME-109, FW-190, ME-262, and the Japanese Zero.  The end of the war brought large numbers of captured aircraft for evaluation.  As with other test flight activities, much of the foreign aircraft evaluation moved to Muroc Air Base (later Edwards AFB) after the war, but even then the occasional foreign aircraft came to the Miami Valley for testing, as a MiG-15 (courtesy of a North Korean defector) at Patterson Field attests." (Source: Against the Wind)


Type - Interceptor fighter/fighter bomber

Powerplant - Type: One Nakajima Sakae 31 radial piston engine
Horsepower: 1,130

Performance - Max. Speed: 557 km/h (346 mph) at 6000m (19,685 ft.)

Armament - Two 20-mm cannon (in wings) Three 13.2-mm (0.52-in) machine guns -Two in wings and one in fuselage
Plus Launch rails for eight 10-kg (22-lb)
or Two 60-kg (132-lb) air-to-air rockets

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