Poland's Daughter


Sussing out the 'Chengdu Zero'

In the spring of 1941, the Chinese succeeded in shooting down an A6M Zero fighter over the city of Chengdu, north of Chongqing. From the wreckage, and from interrogating Japanese prisoners, they managed to assemble a very accurate data sheet and three-view drawings of the new Japanese fighter. The drawings were given to the U.S. naval attache, Marine Corps Major James McHugh, who passed them on to the Navy Department in Washington. He also gave a copy to Chennault when the latter returned to China in August 1941; Chennault in turn supplied them to the War Department and used them in his own training program. (The drawings had one flaw: the aircraft's tail section had been destroyed, so the Chinese rounded it off like the tail of a Nakajima Ki-27 fighter. Thus, when Chennault sketched the Zero on the blackboard at Toungoo that fall, he actually drew something very like the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa flown by the 64th Sentai of the Japanese army.) What appears below comes as close as I can to the data sheet as I found it in the Chennault Papers. I have used X where a Chinese character appears in the table.

Engine X KNI - HP 840 - Air-cooled, two row 14 Cylinders
Span 12 meter 39.36 feet
Length 8.65 meter 28.40 feet
Height 2.75 meter 9.02 feet
Surface Area 23.76 sq meter 256 sq feet
Weight, empty 1,684.3 kg 3,705 lb
Gross weight (normal) 2,334.6 kg 5,136 lb
Gross weight (overloaded
with outer tank)
2,608.6 kg 5,739 lb
Wing loading (normal) 9.84 kg/sq.m.6.12 lb/sq.ft.
Wing loading (overloaded) 3.10 kg/sq.m.6.83 lb/sq.ft.
Maximum horizontal flying speed (5 m. superpressure HP 925) 505 km/h 314 m/h (mph)
Maximum horizontal flying speed (max. rated HP 840) 491 km/h 305 m/h
Cruising speed (without outer tank)430 km/h 267 m/h
Cruising speed (with outer tank)420 km/h 261 m/h
Cruising height 4,000 meters 13,120 feet
Cruising range (without outer tank)1,120 km 698 miles
Cruising range (with outer tank)1,940 km 1,207 miles
Climbing rate at sea level921 m/min 3,022 ft/min
Time for climbing to 4,000 meters (13,120 feet)4.3 minutes 4.3 minutes
Practical ceiling10,930 meters 35,860 feet
Landing speed (normal load, using flap)101 km/h 62.7 m/h (mph)
Landing speed (overloaded, using flap)103.3 km/h 65.5 m/h
Getting off range [takeoff distance] (normal load)111 meters 364 feet
Getting off range (overloaded)128 meters 421 feet
These particulars are based upon the results of examiantions of the [w]reckages of the enemy plane shot down at Chengtu on May 20, 1941. They are made of actual measurements, except the shape and length of the fuselage and the relative position of the fuselage to the wings, which cannot be ascertained because of lack of parts and are, therefore, estimated by judging the 97 fighter and the two seated "Sen Feng" X


1. 2x7.7[mm] fixed machine guns Type X, each with about 600 rds of buls
2. 2x20mm fixed machine guns, Type X, each with 60 rds of bullets.