A6M2 Zero manual

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A6M2 Reisen "Zero" Fighter Aircraft

A Little History

A6M2 Zero in a light left bank over the Pacific

The A6M-series aircraft developed during the Second World War were exceptional warplanes employed by the Imperial Japanese forces, namely the Imperial Navy. The A6M2 Reisen, nicknamed the "Zero", was by far the most used and most recognizable Japanese fighter. The A6M5 and A6M8 were power-packed fighters decked out with 20mm cannon and 7.7mm machine guns. The A6M2 was the easiest to handle, more maneuverable, and had decent range. Above all, it was carrier-capable, and this aided the Imperial cause during the Pacific War.

The Reisen's most problematic issue was survivability. The Zero was known to the Americans as the "paper tube", due to its lack of armour and structural defenses. The aircraft lit up easily, and practically any gun in the Allied arsenal could shoot down one of these fighters.

The A6M2 was remarkable in its abilities as a turning fighter. The American tactic was centered around speed, armour, and heavy armament, and the Japanese exploited this to the limit. The Zero was initially turned down by many manufacturers after the military specified how spectacular the requirements would have to be, but a company called Mitsubishi took up the challenge and developed one of the most successful fighters of World War II. The Reisen was incredibly difficult to line up in a gunsight at low speeds; however, at higher velocities the aircraft's controls would start to be sluggish or even seize up altogether. The Allies countered this frightening aspect with their "Cat" series. These included the Navy variants of the Bearcat, Hellcat, Tigercat, and the Wildcat. The Hellcat was by far the best answer to the growing problem of the enemy over the horizon.

Zeroes continued to fight till they breathed their last in 1945. The Allies were victorious after bloody wars in the Pacific and the European theatre. The wars in Africa and China were all but over, and the Americans began their search for a surviving Reisen.

Only one airworthy A6M2 remains today, and the other two known about lie at the bottom of the Pacific, where teams of divers and historians have probed the depths, searching for answers to the legendary fighter, the A6M2 Reisen "Zero".

The Manual

A6M2 Controls

  • CTRL-B: Toggle Engine Boost (2 stages)
  • CTRL-D: Open / Close Canopy
  • CTRL-L: Toggle Tailwheel Lock
  • SHIFT-C: Catapult Launch
  • O/o: Down/up Hook
  • L: Engage Launch bar
  • l: Open Livery Dialog


This manual is intended for use in FlightGear, and is not related to any flight dynamics in the real world. Please note, the Zero's FDM is not very accurate, but this manual will serve mainly to help with engine procedures and dogfighting readiness. Also, for information on the tailwheel and basic ground maneuvering, visit the FG Forum topic--A6M2 Zero Ground Maneuvering.

Ground Start-up and Take-off

To start the A6M2 in FlightGear isn't difficult in the least. Based solely on the simulator and not real procedures, here is how to work the engine on start-up.

Cold morning? Give the throttle around 15%. If it's any old day (or night), go over the review check.

As follows:

  • Assuming you are on a runway, and if not then scroll down for a link to ground maneuvering in the Zero:
  • Check any lights (the Zero currently has none, so night flight is near suicidal unless you are flawless in IFR).
  • Raise throttle to 10%. (For a snappy start, which is terrible for the engine life but may be necessary if you have to get away from the airfield in a hurry will be best, raise the throttle to around 50% and lever it around till the starter ignites.)
  • Check fuel. This is just a reminder as you should have already.
  • Check battery (not currently a problem; the Reisen is really an out-of-the-box fighter). On?
  • Primer (same issue)? 5x?
  • Now make sure your canopy is thoroughly latched. If it isn't the dust and whatnot that gets kicked up from the propeller will hit you in the face.
  • Look over your shoulders (you should have approximately two shoulders, if I recall correctly) and throw your stick around to assure your control surfaces are in working order. Twist the stick if it is capable for rudder. If you are a keyboard and mouse user, apply these techniques as needed. (K&M users: rudder is usually the Enter key and the Insert key. On occasion it is the 0 key. Control surfaces such as ailerons and elevators are triggered by your mouse whilst in Control Mode [right-click once].) Go to the limit to make sure your aircraft is in peak condition. This is required of any pilot regardless of occupation, even to today.
  • Now make sure your parking brake is set to ON.
  • Flaps one notch. If your strip is short, two is OK. No more than two notches, as the final ones are for landing ONLY.
  • Throttle 90% military power AFTER releasing brake.
  • The Zero will lurch to the left and nose down after about 60 knots (could be wrong about the speed there), so be ready to give it a little right rudder to balance it out. The fighter likes to josh around on the takeoff, so just be ready to counter its humor with rudder and watch your speed.
  • The Zero is remarkable in its minimum rotation speed. After the plane has nosed down and is level, pull back on the stick and rotate around 60-80 KIAS.
  • Retract gear ASAP.
  • Retract flaps one notch after reaching 90 KIAS.
  • Retract final notch of flaps after 100 KIAS.
  • The Zero will sink after retracting flaps. No worries. Just counter with elevator.
  • IMPORTANT: When at slower speeds the Zero is influenced heavily by the prop torque. To counter this, tap the right aileron trim. (T16000M Thrustmaster users: tap twice on the button assigned.)
  • When reaching high speeds in a dive or just as a result of speed gain, trim it out left to level the aeroplane.

Congratulations, pilot! You have successfully taken off in the famous A6M2 Reisen! Now for some real fun!

In-flight Operations


  • Ctrl+b: Engine Boost. This activates a compressor under the central manifold that revs the engine to high RPMs. Can be hit twice. On the third hit it will go back to normal mode. Observe the RPM increase in the little meter to the lower right of the cockpit dash, filled in halfway in red. The needle will jump forward when Ctrl+b is hit.
  • Be wary of overheating. Although it isn't implemented in FGFS, the engine will overheat. To counter this problem, observe your speed meter and adjust engine throttle/boost as needed.

To be continued...! Questions? Comments? Feel free to send a request to me Send a request to Friend.

---Hello, all! This is Friend here to remind you about the upcoming air combat e-book, Intercept at 11,000. The book will be on dogfighting, maneuvering, and smart choices during aerial engagements. Targeted audience: FlightGear and War Thunder community, but can be applied elsewhere.

For more information, please contact HSOTF at helldiversquadron.wordpress.com. Thanks!