The Mitsubishi A7M Reppū (烈風, "Strong Gale") was designed as the successor to the Imperial Japanese Navy's A6M Zero, with development beginning in 1942. Performance objectives were to achieve superior speed, climb, diving, and armament over the Zero, as well as better maneuverability. As a result, the wing area and overall size were significantly greater. The A7M's allied codename was "Sam".
Towards the end of 1940, the Imperial Japanese Navy asked Mitsubishi to start design on a 16-Shi carrier-based fighter, which would be the successor to the carrier-based Zero. At that time, however, there were no viable high-output, compact engines to use for a new fighter. In addition, Jiro Horikoshi's team was preoccupied with addressing early production issues with the A6M2b as well as starting development on the A6M3 and the 14-Shi interceptor (which would later become the Mitsubishi J2M Raiden, a land-based interceptor built to counter high-altitude bombers). As a result, work on the Zero successor was halted in January 1941.
Length: 10.99 m
Wingspan: 14.00 m
Height: 4.28 m
Wing area: 30.86 m²
Empty weight: 3,226 kg
Loaded weight: 4,720 kg
Powerplant: 1 × Mitsubishi Ha-43, 1,640 kW (2,200 hp)
Maximum speed: 630 km/h at 6,600 m
Cruise speed: 417 km/h
Range: 1,240 km
Service ceiling: 10,900 m
Endurance: 2.5 hr cruise + 30 min combat
Climb: to 6,000 m 6 min 7 sec
Armament: 2 × 13.2 mm Type 3 machine guns in the wings
2 × 20 mm Type 99 cannons in the wings or
4 × 20 mm Type 99 cannons in the wings
Mitsubishi A7M Reppū (suom. hurrikaani) oli japanilainen yksimoottorinen hävittäjälentokone. Liittoutuneet antoivat sille kutsutunnuksen "Sam". Se lensi ensilentonsa 6. toukokuuta 1944.Konetyyppi suunniteltiin Mitsubishi Zeron eli Reisenin seuraajaksi.
Japanilaisilla oli ollut suuria vaikeuksia saada kehitettyä riittävän voimakkaita lentokonemoottoreita, kun toinen maailmansota alkoi kallistua Japanin tappioksi. Japanilaisten valmistamissa uudemmissa lentokonemoottoreissa, kuten kaksirivisessä ja 14-sylinterisessä Nakajima NK9 Homaressa, oli ollut pahoja "lastentauteja" eli kehitysongelmia ja toimintavaikeuksia.
Kun A7M Reppū -hävittäjän olisi pitänyt edetä tuotantoasteelle, vuoden 1944 joulukuun maanjäristys tuhosi pahoin sekä Mitsubishin että Nakajiman lentokonetehtaita, jotka sijaitsivat Nagoyassa. Hävitystä täydensivät ensimmäiset Japaniin suuntautuneet raskaat pommitusoffensiivit. Näiden tuotannon kohtaamien vastoinkäymisten seurauksena Reppū-hävittäjiä valmistui korkeintaan yhdeksän kappaletta.
Reppū-tyyppi oli hävittäjälentokoneeksi huomattavan kookas. Sen siipien pinta-ala ylitti 30 m², pituus oli 10 m ja siipien kärkiväli 14 m. Mittava kone vaati myös voimakkaan moottorin, joka pyöritti nelilapaista kiintopotkuria. Tehoksi saavutettiin 2 200 hv, jolloin epäluotettava Homare-moottori oli vaihdettu Mitsubishi Ha-43:een. A7M2-pääversion huippunopeus oli 630 km/h ja lakikorkeus 10 900 m.
Aseistus oli 4x 20 mm tykkejä tai 2x 13,2 mm kk ja 2x 20 mm tykkejä sekä pommeja 2x 250 kg.
In April 1942, the development of the A6M3 and the 14-Shi interceptor was complete, and the Japanese Navy once again tasked Mitsubishi and Horikoshi's team with designing a new Zero successor to become the Navy Experimental 17-shi Ko (A) Type Carrier Fighter Reppu. In July 1942 the Navy issued specifications for the fighter: it had to fly faster than 345 kn (639 km/h; 397 mph) above 6,000 m (20,000 ft), climb to 6,000 m (20,000 ft) in less than 6 minutes, be armed with two 20 mm cannon and two 13 mm (0.51 in) machine guns, and retain the maneuverability of the A6M3.
As before, one of the main hurdles was engine selection. To meet the specifications the engine would need to produce at least 2,000 hp (1,500 kW), which narrowed choices down to Nakajima's NK9 (Ha-45) under development (later becoming Homare), or Mitsubishi's MK9 (Ha-43), which was also still being developed. Both engines were based on 14-cylinder (Nakajima Sakae and Mitsubishi Kinsei, respectively) engines converted to 18-cylinder powerplants. The early NK9 had less output but was already approved by the Navy for use on the Yokosuka P1Y Ginga, while the larger MK9 promised more horsepower.
With the larger, more powerful engine, wing loading became an issue. The Navy requested at most 150 kg/m², but wanted 130 kg/m² which complicated design considerations further. With the NK9 it could achieve 150 kg/m², but with the less power it would not meet the specifications for maximum speed. With the MK9 the engineers concluded it could fulfill the requirements; however, production of the MK9 was delayed compared to the NK9, and the Japanese Navy instructed Mitsubishi to use the NK9.
Work on the 17-Shi was further delayed by factories prioritizing A6M and Mitsubishi G4M production as well as further work on A6M variants and addressing Raiden issues. As a result, the 17-Shi, which became the A7M1, officially flew for the first time on 6 May 1944, four years after development started. The aircraft demonstrated excellent handling and maneuverability, but was underpowered as Mitsubishi engineers feared, and with a top speed similar to the A6M5 Zero.
It was a disappointment, and the Navy ordered development to stop on 30 July 1944, but Mitsubishi obtained permission for development to continue using the Ha-43 engine, flying with the completed Ha-43 on 13 October 1944. The A7M2 now achieved a top speed of 628 km/h (339 kn; 390 mph), while climb and other areas of performance surpassed the Zero, leading the Navy to change its mind and adopt the craft. The A7M2 was also equipped with automatic combat flaps, used earlier on the Kawanishi N1K-J, significantly improving maneuverability.
On June 1945, ace pilot Saburo Sakai was ordered to Nagoya to test the airplane. He declared it to be the fastest fighter he had ever seen, able to surpass anything on the air, Japanese or American. He claimed it could fly in circles, while ascending, around a Hellcat or a Mustang, and that engineers stated it could fight at up to 12,000 meters.
First prototype powered by a 2,000 hp (1,500 kW) Nakajima Homare 22 engine, with a maximum speed of 574 km/h (356 mph). The armament consisted of two 13.2 mm Type 3 machine guns and two 20 mm Type 99 cannons in the wings. Harbouring excellent manoeuvrability, the aircraft's Homare engine was deemed underpowered which resulted in its cancellation. Two built.
Revised version powered by a 2,200 hp (1,600 kW) Mitsubishi Ha-43 engine, with a maximum speed of 627 km/h. Armament the same as previous model, or four 20 mm Type 99 cannons. The A7M2 was to be the main production aircraft of the A7M series. Eight built.