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Challenger DS Pack
This page is about the Japanese fighter A6M2. For other versions, see A6M (Family).
GarageImage A6M2.jpg
ArtImage A6M2.png
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The A6M2 Mod. 21, designated as the Type 0 Carrier-based Fighter Model 21 (零式艦上戦闘機二一型), was the most common version of the Zero encountered by Allied pilots. The A6M2 had excellent manoeuvrability and long range, making it a formidable carrier-borne dogfighter in the early stages of the war. It participated in several major battles, such as Pearl Harbor, Midway, and the Aleutian Islands campaign. However, it also had some weaknesses, such as lack of armour, self-sealing fuel tanks, or hydraulic boosters. As the war progressed, the A6M2 Model 21 became outmatched by newer and more powerful Allied fighters, such as the F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair.

It has been in the game since the start of the Open Beta Test prior to Update 1.27. As the first proper production model of the A6M series, the A6M2 mod. 21 comes with the full package for carrier operations over the A6M2 mod. 11: tail hook, external fuel tank mountings, and foldable wing tips. Despite the different wings, the Model 21 will fly on par with the earlier model. It has near unprecedented manoeuvrability, and deadly but limited and low-velocity 20 mm cannons. The A6M2 can dominate any dogfight at its own or lower altitude, depending on the pilot's skill, but it can be easily outrun by faster enemies. In that case, the pilot has to decide whether to take a final shot or break off the engagement, as pursuing the enemy may expose the Zero to interception by other fighters. If faced with a Boom-N-Zoom attack, the pilot must avoid the enemy's fire by using the Zero's agility, as the plane has no armour, self-sealing fuel tanks, or robust airframe. Although the A6M2 is not the fastest plane in its tier, it can keep up with its opponents better than the later A6M5s, which encounter proportionally much faster aircraft more often.

  • IJN Pilot nickname: Reisen (零戦) / Zerosen (ゼロ戦) (Abbreviation of 0 - ).
  • Allied reporting name: Zeke / Zero.

General info

Flight performance

Arrestor gear
Accelerates braking by grabbing the brake cable on the deck of the aircraft carrier
Max speed
at 4 400 m510 km/h
Turn time17 s
Max altitude10 300 m
EngineNakajima Sakae 12
Cooling systemAir
Take-off weight2 t

One thing many players note when fighting the Zero is its immense manoeuvrability and turn rate. It is incredibly nimble and has an amazing climb rate, which allows you to run literal rings around many opponents. Even fighters renowned for manoeuvrability, like the mighty Spitfire, will think twice before engaging in a turnfight with the Zero. The Zero's lightly loaded, high lift wing and low weight make it a dream to fly at speeds below 400 km/h, with an ability to execute wild gyrations and zoom climbs at the whim of the pilot. However, the Zero is hard to handle as it approaches speeds of 480 km/h.

Characteristics Max Speed
(km/h at 4,400 m)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
Stock 491 475 10300 17.7 18.2 10.2 10.2 175
Upgraded 532 510 16.8 17.0 17.4 13.3


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
0 310 484 451 280 ~13 ~7
Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< 270 < 420 < 410 > 324

Survivability and armour

Crew1 person
Speed of destruction
Structural0 km/h
Gear310 km/h
  • No armour protection
  • Not self-sealing fuel tanks

Modifications and economy

Repair costBasic → Reference
AB599 → 814 Sl icon.png
RB1 290 → 1 754 Sl icon.png
SB1 818 → 2 472 Sl icon.png
Total cost of modifications10 290 Rp icon.png
13 750 Sl icon.png
Talisman cost750 Ge icon.png
Crew training6 300 Sl icon.png
Experts22 000 Sl icon.png
Aces250 Ge icon.png
Research Aces220 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
40 / 90 / 200 % Sl icon.png
124 / 124 / 124 % Rp icon.png
Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
Mods aerodinamic fuse.png
Fuselage repair
690 Rp icon.png
910 Sl icon.png
110 Ge icon.png
Mods radiator.png
690 Rp icon.png
910 Sl icon.png
110 Ge icon.png
Mods compressor.png
580 Rp icon.png
770 Sl icon.png
95 Ge icon.png
Mods aerodinamic wing.png
Wings repair
650 Rp icon.png
860 Sl icon.png
105 Ge icon.png
Mods new engine.png
650 Rp icon.png
860 Sl icon.png
105 Ge icon.png
Mods metanol.png
Engine injection
1 100 Rp icon.png
1 500 Sl icon.png
180 Ge icon.png
Mods armor frame.png
580 Rp icon.png
770 Sl icon.png
95 Ge icon.png
Mods engine extinguisher.png
650 Rp icon.png
860 Sl icon.png
105 Ge icon.png
Mods armor cover.png
1 100 Rp icon.png
1 500 Sl icon.png
180 Ge icon.png
Mods ammo.png
690 Rp icon.png
910 Sl icon.png
110 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png
580 Rp icon.png
770 Sl icon.png
95 Ge icon.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
9 in (mod30)
580 Rp icon.png
770 Sl icon.png
95 Ge icon.png
Mods ammo.png
650 Rp icon.png
860 Sl icon.png
105 Ge icon.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods weapon.png
1 100 Rp icon.png
1 500 Sl icon.png
180 Ge icon.png

The low top speed is a severe issue when stock. "Compressor" and "New Engine" greatly help. Having access to new 20 mm belts is helpful as well.


Offensive armament

Ammunition120 rounds
Fire rate516 shots/min
Ammunition1 360 rounds
Fire rate900 shots/min

The A6M2 is armed with:

  • 2 x 20 mm Type 99 Model 1 cannons, wing-mounted (60 rpg = 120 total)
  • 2 x 7.7 mm Type 97 navy machine guns, nose-mounted (680 rpg = 1,360 total)

Suspended armament

List of setups (1)
Setup 12 x 60 kg Navy Type 97 Number 6 ground bomb

The A6M2 can be outfitted with the following ordnance:

  • Without load
  • 2 x 60 kg Navy Type 97 Number 6 bombs (120 kg total)

Usage in battles

The A6M2 Reisen is a very manoeuvrable plane, so note that when battling it, do not engage in low manoeuvres. Try to force it into high-speed manoeuvres, as it's prone to ripping/compressing at high speeds. Apply boom and zoom tactics on this plane as it will be easily cornered.

Force an enemy pilot into a dogfight at 370 - 400 km/h and below 6,000 m. At this speed and altitude, no enemy fighter can out-manoeuvre or out-climb you except for early Spitfires. Jump on cruising enemy aircraft from above. Fasten onto the tail of the bandit, use your superior manoeuvrability to match his evasive moves, and put enough rounds into him to bring him down. Use your machine guns first to "bore-sight" the enemy - once you get hits on him, finish him off with your cannons. Below 480 km/h you can fling the Zero all over the sky to get on an enemy's tail or to shake off all but the most determined attacker. Climb away from most enemy aircraft, hanging on your prop in a near-vertical climb. Manoeuvres like the Immelmann are easy, and heavier fighters can't stay with you. The Zero rolls faster to the left than to the right. Roll left to tighten your turn and get onto the enemy's six. Don't dive away from attackers - your plane doesn't have the power or weight to out-run most fighters. To exploit your plane's best performance, force the enemy lower and slow down the pace of the engagement.

The Zero can be easily set on fire which can cause catastrophic damage. If you are on fire, immediately press "I" (or you own engine keybind) to turn off your engine. This has a chance of extinguishing the fire after a few seconds of switching the engine off, but at the same time it may not. If luckily the fire does go out, press "I" again to turn the engine back on. If the damage is controlled, the A6M2 might still be able to join another fight or to fly back to base in one piece.

Realistic Battles

The A6M2 is the most fragile version of the Zero, with a long wingspan and light construction. It is the slowest and worst rolling Zero of all the Zero family. It also can rip in extremely high G turns (13+ G). Furthermore, this Zero has trouble with energy retention and high speed dives, and also has poor armament and low ammo count.

Turn & Burn

The Zero will engage targets in all sorts of ways, and is capable of wiggling out of sticky situations time and time again. The Zero excels and destroying planes with a low energy state, planes in a climb, and planes currently in an inward turn towards the Zero. All of these targets won't have gun solutions on the Zero because they are distracted. To destroy these targets, fire your 7.7 mm machine guns at 600 m away, and then engage with your cannons at 400 m or less. These targets shouldn't be a problem.

Evading and engaging diving enemies

An enemy diving on a Zero is one of the most dangerous scenarios for the Zero. If you are above 2 km, dive at a medium angle (40 degrees). When the enemy is in gun range, make an extremely hard turn towards the enemy, and wiggle around its gunsights. DO NOT cross within the plane's line of fire. Now, the enemy will make a key move that determines if you will be able to engage. If the enemy decides to turn after the climb, give chase and complete an inner loop and finish the enemy. The enemy will lose a lot of speed if they decide to turnfight you. HOWEVER, If the enemy decides to climb away with the excess energy, pull another hard turn to get one good burst with your machine guns. DO NOT stall out while trying to climb with the enemy. Make sure to stop climbing for the enemy and turn away and begin to dive again. The enemy WILL attempt another dive attack. Dive to the deck if you have lost altitude and if you are below 1.5 km. Get really close to the ground, and if there are cliffs to hide in, fly between them. When the enemy dives, keep turning to avoid their bullets, and STAY LOW and FAST. This will put the enemy in a tough situation, as you are so close to the ground that they need to pull up extremely early due to their high speed dive. If the enemy gets too greedy, they might try to engage you but end up crashing into the ground.

Head-on engagements

Going head on in a Zero is the worst thing possible to execute. As such, you need to take precaution. Face head on with the enemy, but just as they fire, wiggle around their bullets by waving your cursor around their target marker. "Make a square." After they pass, turn around immediately, and if you are in firing range of cannons and machine guns, fire away.

Armament tactics

A Zero has little ammo for its cannons. To make the best of your cannons, fire while an enemy is turning, aiming for the wings. If the enemy is further than 400 m, don't use your cannons. Instead, use your machine guns to scare the enemy into turning around to engage.

Ammo selection

The belts for the 20 mm Type 99 Model 1 cannons are fairly poor. The Universal belt is recommended for the cannons. The tracer belt may look appealing, however they contain barely half the explosive mass as a shell in the Universal belt. They may both be HEF, but HEF-T has less explosive mass than plain HEF. For the 7.7 mm machine guns, Stealth or Universal will be your best bet. Set your guns targeting to no more than 400 m. Turn on vertical targeting to ensure your shots line up.

Simulator Battles

In Simulator, the A6M Zero is overall a great plane to fly. Its advantages include the extremely smooth handling, impressive turn rate, low stall speed, the ability to not enter spins in extreme manoeuvres, and decent rear visibility. It is able to pull really tight turns or barrel rolls without losing control or going into a spin, allowing the player to use this stability to their advantage. Its disadvantages, however, are the fragile protection, wing-mounted guns with very little ammo, and the cockpit scattered with frames. Although not thick, these frames can still be obstructions in a fight. Also the gunsight is small and mounted very low, resulting in inadequate visibility over the nose. This can limit the player's ability to see the target in a turn fight since to lead the target, the player must cut inside its turn, meaning the nose will now block the target. The A6M can perform dogfighting, some ground pounding and some intercepting.

You can bring the minimum amount of fuel (29 minutes) since this model of the Zero only has a 60-round drum per cannon, as a result you might need to constantly return to airfield to reload so there is no need to bring more fuel. Set the convergence to 150-300 m. When taking off, the A6M will shift severely to the left so it is best to set separate keybind for left and right brakes to counter the torque.

For dogfighting, it is better to engage with an altitude advantage so climb to around 2,500 m. Track the opponent using lead or pure pursuit, as with lag pursuit you will eventually end up at the 6'o clock of the target aircraft whose fuselage will soak up most of your MG bullets, and your wing mounted cannons will become really awkward to aim. With the amazing stableness the aim should be easy. Target their wings or nose and avoid the back half of the fuselage as there is usually nothing in there. You can turn with most planes with your combat/takeoff flaps deployed. Note that it is best to fire in 5-round/half-second bursts to avoid wasting cannon rounds. Once the cannons are out, the leftover 7.7 mm MGs can only effectively damage single engine fighters.

For ground pounding with bombs, look for tanks and pillboxes. First you need some separation between you and the target so you have enough time to line-up the drop. Dive at the target at a rather shallow angle, and release the 60 kg bombs when you are very close, with the target below the gunsight and filling up around half of it. If you only use the MGs, your targets are trucks, AAA and howitzers. Dive at it and stabilise the plane so the gunsight stays overall still at the target. Then, once the target fills out around 1/6 of the gunsight, open fire. If your aim is accurate you can destroy one target in a single pass. However, it is very recommended to set keybind for firing MG only as you can definitely not waste the valuable cannon rounds. Save them for any unexpected dogfights.

Landing is easy thanks to the low stall speed and lovely handling. Line up and approach the airstrip at treetop, decrease speed to at most 210 km/h and deploy combat, takeoff and landing flaps in order. Further decelerate so the touchdown speed is no more than 180 km/h to avoid bouncing up. Keep braking until the plane reaches a full stop, you don't have to worry about the nose dipping down and causing a propeller strike.

Enemies worth noting

  • P-61C-1: this plane is one tough nut to crack. It is quite fast, packs a fatal punch, has a searching radar, and a deadly turret on top. The turret consists of 4 x 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns that cover the upper half of the plane, and most P-61 players tend to fly low or get you into their upper half to target you with the turret. Avoid being above them at all costs, utilize the Zero's manoeuvrability and sneak under their belly. Its appearance resembles a P-38: a center fuselage with two engine nacelles extending backwards and forming the twin tail like a frame, you will know it is a Black Widow and not a Lightning when red tracer bullets start shooting out from it.
  • I-16: the late I-16s are equipped with ShVAK cannons that can be pretty dangerous to your fragile airframe. They can turn equally well as the Zero, have superior roll rate but the stability is so terrible that as soon as they pull a little more on the stick, they will enter spins. Therefore it is quite easy to counter them: engage a turnfight with them and turn tighter and tighter, or do a few barrel rolls. They will quickly lose control and start spinning and it is quite hard to recover. Then simply get some separation, turn around and put some solid shots into them. They have an I-15's short and fat fuselage, a flat radial engine and triangular stabilisers located right after the low-mounted mono wings, all covered in olive green paint.
  • P-47D/P-51D: these bulky aircraft do not climb as well, but they pack some heavy punches with their numerous .50 cal MGs. They are also faster in level flight and dives, so you may usually see them roaming through the battlefield at high speeds. Do not attempt to catch them when they are fast, wait until they are on the deck. Against their possible BnZ attacks, perform the conventional evasive manoeuvre of rolling under the diver. Dodging again and again may cause them to lose patience and start chasing after you, rather than zooming away. The A6M2 can then easily unleash its superior manoeuvrability and get on their tail. In general, when facing these planes, try not to get hit. Their bullets deal significant damage to the Zero's fragile body.

Countering the Zero

The Zero is a vulnerable aircraft when you expose its weaknesses. It can be set ablaze with just one .50 cal round, and it has poor energy retention, and horrendous dive speed. To counter the Zero, use energy fighting tactics only. Do not turn with a Zero. Engage with lighting fast dive attacks. Don't turn around when you have a Zero on your tail. Instead, outrun it. ignore its 7.7 mm machine guns, as they do negligible damage.

Manual Engine Control

MEC elements
Mixer Pitch Radiator Supercharger Turbocharger
Oil Water Type
Controllable Controllable
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Not auto controlled
Separate Not controllable
1 gear
Not controllable

The propeller pitch should be kept at 98% when climbing, and 92% when at max speed. Keep both radiators at 14-19%. Adjust the mixture at the following ranges:

  • Sea Level: 103%
  • 2 km: 75%
  • 4 km: 60%

Pros and cons


  • A6M for Carrier-based fighter:
    • Strictly air-to-air role
    • Decent cannon armament
    • Extremely manoeuvrable
      • Excellent turn rate
      • Excellent roll rate
    • Very short takeoff distance
  • Common Navy plane construction:
    • Excellent manoeuvrability
    • Nose-mounted armament
    • Small radiator drag


  • A6M for Carrier-based fighter:
    • Strictly air-to-air role
    • Limited ammo
    • Slow
    • Low dive speed, and easily compressed in a dive
  • Common Navy plane construction:
  • Can be out-turned by early Spitfires
  • Very low wing rip speed, making diving hard


In 1937, the Imperial Japanese Navy's Koku Hombu (Aviation Bureau) issued the "Planning Requirements for the Prototype 12-shi Carrier Fighter" to the Mitsubishi Kokuki K.K. (Mitsubishi Aircraft Company Ltd.) and the Nakajima Hikooki K.K. (Nakajima Aeroplane Company Ltd.), requiring designs for a new fighter to replace the Mitsubishi Type 96 Carrier Fighter (A5M). The requirements were extremely challenging: manoeuvrability equal to or better than the Type 96 fighter, heavier armament including 20 mm cannons, exceptional climb rate to intercept bombers, a range of at least 1,010 miles with a normal fuel load to escort bombers, a take-off distance of less than 230 ft into a 30 mph wind, landing speed of less than 67 mph, and a top speed better than 310 mph.

Nakajima soon bowed out in the face of such seemingly impossible requirements, but Jiro Horikoshi, who had previously designed the A5M, and his design team at Mitsubishi were undeterred. In addition to the already demanding requirements of the IJN, Horikoshi was also limited by the relatively weak engines that the Japanese aviation industry had to offer at the time. Selecting the lighter but less powerful Mitsubishi Zuisei-13 ("Holy Star"), which had a rating of less than 900 hp, the Mitsubishi team strove to design the lightest possible airframe around the engine, but that was still strong enough to withstand carrier operations and carry enough fuel and weapons to be an effective fighter. To this end, they were fortunate that the Sumitomo Metal Company had just finished developing a new strong zinc-aluminium alloy known as Extra Super Duralumin (ESD), allowing thinner sheets to be used for the skin of the fighter without loss of strength. However, they also had to dispense with self-sealing fuel tanks and any sort of armour for the pilot. The relatively light but less powerful Oerlikon FF 20 mm cannon was chosen as the fighter's main armament, produced in Japan as the 20 mm Type 99. A large wing ensured a low wing loading to ensure manoeuvrability but limited the diving and level speeds.

The first flight of the Prototype 12-shi carrier fighter (later designated A6M1) took place on 1 April 1939. The next month, the IJNAF expressed its intentions to switch from the Zuisei-13 to the more powerful Nakajima Sakae-12 ("Prosperity") 14-cylinder radial engine, and it was first installed on the third prototype. This prototype would be designated as the A6M2, and it was with the Sakae radial engine that almost every model of the A6M fighter family would go to war. Testing of the first three A6M prototypes took place later that year. The A6M1 was able to meet all but the maximum speed requirements, but the Sakae-equipped A6M2 exceeded them at 331 mph. On 31 July 1940, the Mitsubishi A6M2 was formally accepted by the IJNAF as the Type 0 Carrier Fighter Model 11.

The A6M2 proved itself during combat in China. The aircraft also performed well during its carrier trials. One problem that did quickly arise was its ability to fit on carrier's elevators. The solution was to have the A6M2 fold its wing tips to avoid damage. This reduced the total wingspan by 20 inches. This change required it to have a new designation. The aircraft was put into production in November of 1941 and a total of 740 were constructed. This particular variant was code-named "Zeke 21" by Allies.

Archive of the in-game description

At its launch, the A6M2 model 11 knew no equal.

This single-seater carrier-based fighter was designed to replace the aging A5M. To reduce its weight, duralumin was widely used, and its propeller was made of a lightweight aluminum alloy. The A6M2 did not have high survivability due to its lack of armour and self-sealing fuel tanks, but in the first half of World War II, it had a considerable advantage in manoeuvrability and speed when compared to the Allies (which had nothing to oppose the Zero until the arrival of aircraft such as the F4U and F6F).

The first prototype of this series, the A6M1, first flew on April 1, 1939. During the test, a more powerful engine was proposed, and the Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 (780 hp) was replaced with the Nakajima Sakae 12 (940 hp). After a successful test flight, the new engine was adopted for serial production and the plane was designated the A6M2 Model 11. Its main drawback was that it could not be used on aircraft carriers due to its large wingspan, which was not designed for carrier-based operations. To circumvent this limitation, the A6M2 model 21 was designed with folding 500 mm wing panels.

The Zero had no equal in the sky until the end of 1942, and even when it was finally made obsolete, its production continued until the end of the war, making it the most popular fighter in Japan. Like many other Japanese aircraft, the Zero was used in the last months of the war to attack bombers.

A total of 740 A6M2 model 21s were built in Mitsubishi plants; 326 were built in Nakajima plants.

Notable pilots

Iwamoto flew sorties throughout the Pacific Theater in a A6M2.



See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

External links

Mitsubishi Company (三菱商会)
Fighters  A5M4 · Hagiri's A5M4
  A6M2 mod. 11 · A6M2 · A6M3 · A6M3 mod. 22 · A6M3 mod. 22Ko · A6M5 · A6M5 Ko · A6M5 otsu · A6M5 Hei · A6M6c
  A7M1 (NK9H) · A7M2
  J2M2 · J2M3 · J2M4 Kai · J2M5 · J2M5 (30 mm)
Hydroplanes  F1M2
Interceptors  Ki-83 · Ki-109
Bombers  G4M1
  Ki-21-Ia · Ki-21-I hei · Ki-67-I Ko · Ki-67-I otsu
Jet Fighters  Ki-200
Captured  ▃A6M2 · ␗A6M2
See also  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (Post-War)

Japan fighters
Carrier-based fighter 
A5M  A5M4 · Hagiri's A5M4
A6M  A6M2 mod. 11 · A6M2 · A6M3 · A6M3 mod. 22 · A6M3 mod. 22Ko · A6M5 · A6M5 Ko · A6M5 otsu · A6M5 Hei · A6M6c
A7He  A7He1*
A7M  A7M1 (NK9H) · A7M2
Land-based Fighter 
J2M  J2M2 · J2M3 · J2M4 Kai · J2M5 · J2M5 (30 mm)
J6K  J6K1
J7W  J7W1
N1K-J  N1K1-Ja · N1K2-J · N1K2-Ja
Fighter seaplane 
N1K  N1K1
A6M-N  A6M2-N
Ki-10  Ki-10-I · Ki-10-I C · Ki-10-II · Ki-10-II C
Ki-27  Ki-27 otsu · Ki-27 otsu Tachiarai
Ki-43  Ki-43-I · Ki-43-II · Ki-43-III otsu
Ki-44  Ki-44-I · Ki-44-I 34 · Ki-44-II otsu · Ki-44-II hei
Ki-61  Ki-61-I ko · Ki-61-I otsu · Ki-61-I hei · Tada's Ki-61-I hei · Ki-61-I tei · Ki-61-II Otsu Kai
Ki-84  Ki-84 ko · Ki-84 otsu · Ki-84 hei
Ki-87  Ki-87
Ki-94  Ki-94-II
Ki-100  Ki-100 · Ki-100-II
Other countries  ▅F4U-1A · ▅P-51C-11-NT · ▅Bf 109 E-7 · ▅Fw 190 A-5
  *Imported designation of the He 112 (A6M was in development - A7M would take A7 designation after the cancelation of the A7He)