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Mitsubishi A5M4 "Claude"
|36'1" by 24'11"
11m by 7.57m by 3.27m
17.8 square meters
|236 mph (380
km/h) at sea
248 mph (400 km/h) at 3280 feet (1000 meters)
270 mph (435 km/h) at 9845 feet (3000 meters)
265 mph (426 km/h) at 10,140 feet (3090 meters)
mph at 9845 feet
402 km/h at 3000 meters
|46 feet per second
||One 785hp (585 kW) Nakajima Kotobuki 41 or 41 KAI nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine driving a three-blade SS-22 two-pitch (ground adjustable) metal propeller|
|500 miles (805
746 miles (1200 km) with drop tank
|2 7.7mm Type 89 machine guns (cowling) with 500 rounds per gun.|
|2 30kg (66 lb) bombs or 1 160 liter (42 gallon) drop tank.|
|75 gallons (284 liter) internal|
|Variants:||The A5M1 used a 585hp 2-Kai-1 engine and the A5M2 a 610hp 2-Kai-3.|
"Claude", also known as the Type 96, was the first modern Japanese carrier fighter, though it retained such anachronisms as fixed landing gear. It was designed at a time when the Navy doctrine was beginning to emphasize the preemptive strike against enemy carriers. This led to a requirement for a fighter capable of escorting attack aircraft rather than merely providing local fleet defense. This new mission required unprecedented performance. The design team took great pains to reduce drag, introducing such innovations as flush rivets, and were so confident of their work that they felt free to retain the fixed landing gear to avoid the weight and complexity of retractable gear. The final aircraft exceeded the Navy speed requirement by 54 knots and it also had a better climb rate than required. However, the Navy insisted on the addition of split flaps to improve its maneuverability before adopting the aircraft in late 1936.
"Claude" was one of the best fighters in the world in its day. It proved that Japanese aircraft designers were as capable as any in the world and that Japan had entered a new era of self-sufficiency in aircraft design and construction. Its remarkable performance put an end to anti-fighter sentiment in the Japanese Navy. However, Bergerud believes that its successes in China masked its defects. The success of the "Claude" led the Japanese into the trap of believing that the turning fight was still the correct air tactical doctrine. As a result, maneuverability remained a prime performance characteristic in the minds of Japanese aircraft designers at a time when designers in other nations were coming to the opposite conclusion.
the standard Japanese
up until shortly before the outbreak of war, and it remained in
and land bases until
were available. Some were still assigned to Shoho's
air group when she was sunk at Coral
Sea in May 1942. However, by
1941, its performance and firepower
were entirely inadequate. Production
resumed in 1944 for kamikaze
One can only speculate what might have been had this remained the first line Japanese carrier fighter into 1942.
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