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Mitsubishi A5M Claude

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When it entered service at the beginning of 1937, the A5M 'Claude' represented a giant leap forwards in carrier-based fighters. Replacing antiquated biplane aircraft, it was the fastest naval fighter in the world and would remain so for almost two years. The A5M was the dominant fighter in the Sino-Japanese conflict and built up an enviable reputation for strength and agility. By 1942, however, A5Ms were relegated to training duties.

Despite decimating supposedly superior Chinese opposition in 1938, the A5M and the other rapid advances in Japanese aviation went largely unnoticed in the West. By the Japan entered World War II the 'Claude was being replaced by the superb A6M 'Zero', but it continued to serve in secondary roles throughout the war.

The strict 9-Shi specification of 1934 requested a fighter that was small enough to fit on an aircraft carrier, but which was fast and manoeuvrable. Mitsubishi proposed the Ka-14 and production commenced with the A5M1, which proved in operations that the Japanese had a world beating fighter. Development led to the more powerful A5M2 and A5M4 which were very impressive in the Sino-Japanese War.

Carrier based A5M4s saw action at the start of World War II in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. However, many A5Ms were used for last-ditch kamikaze raids in 1945.


Mitsubishi A5M Claude

Mitsubishi A5M Claude single-seat carrier-borne fighter Long-legged Mitsubishi A5M Claude  Mitsubishi A5M Claude on training
When the 12 and 13 Kokutais entered the Sino-Japanese war in 1937, the A5M2 quickly gained complete air superiority. To improve effective range the A5M4 was fitted with a 160-litre ventral drop-tank, which gave increased patrol endurance. With superior training and high morale, pilots flying A5M2s devastated the Chinese air force, including its faster Polikarpov l-16s.

Mitsubishi A5M Claude (Technical Specification)
Role Single-seat carrier-borne fighter
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Maximum Speed 440 kmh (270 mph)
Maximum Range 1,200 km (750 miles)
Ceiling 9,800 meters (32,200 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

1,216 kg (2,675 lbs)
1,705 kg (3,751 lbs)
Wing Area

11.00 meters (36 ft 1 in)
7.57 meters (24 ft 10 in)
3.27 meters (10 ft 9 in)
17.80 square meters (192 sq ft)
Engines One Nakajima Kotobuki 41 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine which provides 529-kW (710 hp)
Armament Two 7.7 mm (0.303 cal) Type 89 machine-guns fitted in the upper fuselage
Two 30 kgs (66 lbs) bombs

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