The scientific tourist #208 — A6M7 Zero fighter

Coming to you from the San Diego Air and Space Museum, it’s an A6M7 Zero fighter:

A6M7 Zero Fighter

The Zero (official model designation A6M — “A” for carrier-based planes, “6” as the sixth such model built for the Japanese Imperial Navy, and “M” for the manufacturer Mitsubishi) dominated the air war in the Pacific region early in WWII. While allied fighters were built with durability in mind (making them relatively heavy), the Zero was built to be light and highly streamlined, making it dramatically more maneuverable than many of its adversaries. Fully loaded, a Zero weighed about half as much as a contemporary allied fighter. It took years before improved tactics and more powerful engines allowed allied fighters to even the odds in dogfights with Zeros.

According to the placard, this is an A6M7 Model 63 and was probably used for home defense (vs. being carrier based). Over 11,000 Zero variant fighters were built during WWII, but surprisingly few of them survived the war. Only a handful of them are still in flyable condition (most “Zeros” in movies are actually modified T-6 Texan aircraft, standing in for the original), with the majority of survivors in museums.

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