- Japanese Shipboard
Fighter A5M2 - Update
- Samolety Mira
(Airplanes of the World) No. 3-4 March-April 1997
- transl. By
George Mellinger, Twin Cities Aero Historians
After publication in the previous article of the journal, additional
information has appeared about the testing of the Japanese shipboard
fighter. Lost in an accident,
the A5M2 was delivered to the NII-VVS (Scientific Research Institute of the
Air Forces) on October 28, 1938, which disproves the previously given theory
about the capture of this machine in the course of military action at
Khalkin Gol. Most likely the
aircraft came from China, but it is impossible to rule out the military
conflict with Japan at Lake Khasan.
As was already stated, the motor was
assembled from motors from three crashes.
Also, two blades of the standard propeller, had to be replaced by
blades specially prepared at Factory No. 28 Soviet specialists were able to
determine the remaining service life of the motor at 20 hours, and this did
not permit completion of a complete flight testing regimen.
Jumping forward, I note
that during testing the motor supercooled, particularly during
gliding, even with the cowling opening completely shielded.
Attempting to improve the temperature conditions, the
upward deflectors were removed from the cylinders, and at the front of the
cowling and on the main cylinder heads were installed individual winter
cowlings from an I-5 aircraft.
The first flight of the A5M2 was completed
by the pilot G. P. Kravchenko
on May 13, 1939. Also flying the machine was A. I. Filin, the Chief of the
NII-VVS. In all, they completed
28 flights totaling 15 hours and 15 minutes.
Servicing the aircraft seemed very simple,
but preparing the aircraft for flight required no fewer than three people.
From the evaluations of the results of
flight testing it was noted that “the recorded data may be considered as
approximations as the motor was not conditioned for the changed width of the
blades of the propeller and profile.
The flight characteristics of the aircraft
were extraordinarily simple and accessible even for pilots of below average
Stability of the aircraft was good relative
to all axes, thanks to the forward center of gravity (23.4% SAKh),
the great angle of the wings (7%), and a fortunate ratio of the area of the
tail unit and the length of the fuselage.
Aerial maneuverability was good.
At the same time “...according
to our flight data, in maneuverability and armament... the I-96 is less than
the new maneuvering fighters of the VVS-RKKA
(Red Air Forces).”
Attention of the specialists studying the
machine is drawn to the suspended (supplementary) fuel tank.
Development of an analogous mechanism for the I-16 should give
Not long ago found documents permit the
supplement of performance characteristics of the fighter, attained during
testing.: Time to achieve altitude of 3000 meters - 4.3 minutes; take off
and landing runs did not exceed 200m & 300 m respectively.
Time for a for a serial turn at a height of 1000 meters - 15 seconds,
which was 0.5 seconds less than for an I-16 aircraft
In addition to the A5M2, other Japanese
aircraft were tested in the Soviet Union, But more about that later.
Note: Yes it is possible to rule out Lake Khasan which, like Khalkin Gol,
was an area of JAAF responsibility.
Further, all evidence, including other Russian sources, shows
that while the Soviet air units were active at Lake Khasan, the
Japanese, for unknown reasons, declined
to commit their air units.
Panteleevich Kravchenko, twice Hero of the Soviet Union, flew as a
volunteer in China in 1938 scoring 5 victories.
Over Khalkin Gol in 1939 he scored 10 more victories.
During WWII, in spite of assignment as a senior commander, he
scored 5 victories against the Germans before being shot down and killed