| Aces High II aircraft
| Variant of
|| Naval fighter/attacker
| Aces High II loadout options
| Package 1
|| 1x Type 97 7.7mm MG, 680 rounds|
1x Type 3 13.2mm MG, 250 rounds
2x Type 99 Mk II 20mm cannons, 125 rpg
|| 2x 50kg bombs, or 2x 150 liter drop tanks
|| 1x 250kg bomb, or 1x 300 liter drop tank
| Aces High II Main Arenas
| Earliest MA
|| Mid War
| Typical perk cost
|| 0 (Late War)
| ENY value
|| 20 (Late War)
| Available on carrier
|how to edit
The A6M5b in Aces High II
This model of Zero is a fairly late war variant. It has good firepower with both cannons and machine-guns. The turn rate is incredible, best of anything in the game except an A6M2 and a few other early war planes. Stacked with drop-tanks it gets an incredible 82 minutes of flight time. It handles at low speeds very well except for it's roll rate which is average at best. The handling quickly deteriorates with gains in speed though, both in roll rate and elevator authority, at speeds over 400mph it is nearly uncontrollable. It is lightly armored and really can't stand up to large caliber hits especially from cannon fire and is particularly known for it's fuel tanks catching on fire. It's pretty good at most altitudes below 23K. The A6M5b variant of Zero is actually a really dangerous plane when the speeds start to slow down. Base defense, low altitudes furballs, and places where there are a whole bunch of Spitfires and N1K's tend to be the locations where Zeros show up most often.
The A6M5b is slow, there is just no way about that, clocking a pathetic 288mph at sea-level. There is no WEP on the A6M5b which is both a blessing and a hindrance. Without WEP you never have to worry about it running out, or using up fuel too quickly, but you also don't get the extra power that tends to make a big difference in tactics and possibilities. Speed does improve with altitude, clocking 330mph at 10K and 352mph at 20K, both still low numbers but a whole lot better than 288mph. Be careful of your altitude though as between 10K and 17K the A6M5 actually has decreased performance as compared to at 10K. Climb rate is only fair at 3,300ft/minute dropping to around 3,000ft/minute at 16K. That's a pretty constant rate overall but still towards the middle of the pack. Fuel range is long, 41 minutes on 100% internal fuel, with the option of up to 3 drop tanks to extend range another 41 minutes. This is basically the same length of time a P-51 can stay airborne although the range of the P-51 is much better because of it's increased cruise speed.
Aces High II Performance Charts
Firepower on the A6M5b is pretty good with a cowl mounted 13.2mm and 7.7mm as well as twin 20mm cannons in the wings. The wing cannons have 125 rounds/gun which is a little light but still better than the pathetic 60 rounds/gun in the A6M2 version. The cannons seem to have a fair amount of drop and tend to take some time to get used to before you can easily aim them. The cowl guns are fair enough so long as you can get a concentrated hit. There are options for a centerline bomb but typically this is not taken.
Maneuverability is awesome, a hallmark of the Zeros. Even with full internal fuel and loaded with drop tanks you can probably still out-turn most of the plane set(though this amount of fuel is usually unneeded) at low speeds, in the game. Roll rate is only fair and you need to be careful with excess speed. One thing the A6M5b doesn't deal with well is speed, unlike almost everything else. At even mid-speeds around 350mph the A6M5b starts to really lose a lot of maneuverability and roll, to the point where it becomes almost uncontrollable. Try fighting at low fuel loads, usually 50% is tonnes since it provides more air-time than an La7 at full fuel(though it is worth noting that taking extra fuel can often get you home after the very common fuel leak). This also keeps the plane even lighter though the plane itself only comes in at 5,900lbs.
Fighting in the A6M5b
You really need to find, or create, turning fights where your enemy gives up on the opportunity to fight you with speed. You need to dictate a turn-fight either by baiting someone or by finding a way to force someone to turn-fight you. Look for planes that are lower that you can catch without excessive diving since this plane is one that doesn't like excess speed. Bogies that are already engaged against other friendlies, or ones that have just ended an engagement and have yet to rebuild lost E are prime targets. Low planes that are turning won't be able to run away and may be stuck with turn-fighting you, which means they are easy pickings. The reason that low targets are better is because the fight will typically have to be level or slightly nose high and thus the speeds will never increase. The A6M5 can pull such tight radius turns that most fighters can't afford to lighten up on their turns for fear that the Zero will be almost instantly behind them. Don't let yourself get into a descending fight unless you plan to run your prey down to the ground and out of options at the same time.
Defensively, you are likely to see a lot of slashing style attacks. BnZ'ing a Zero actually doesn't work all that well because the Zero tends to turn so sharply that any time the enemy makes a pass you can already detect it and have your nose pointed at him to meet him. Some opponents won't care and you can trade shots, but others will either misjudge the aim point or decide to break off. Try and get the fight to turn into a constant turn fight if you can as this will instantly change the situation in your favor. Even with an enemy on your tail, if you get him turning and unable to pull enough lead to shoot you are likely to slowly draw him into a turn-fight. The defensive circle, where you just turn endlessly, is a common tactic but is awfully predictable and doesn't lead you towards safety in the long term. It's pretty common though but makes extended situational awareness a problem and draws a lot of attention. Also, a predictable target is one that a good shot can usually land hits on, and the A6M5b isn't all that tough.
The best fight for the A6M5b is against Spits and N1K's who are trapped in a slow-turnfight near your airfield. You can often drop in at low altitude on a pack like that and clean them all out rather easily by simply out-turning them. The problem is, you need to make a good getaway and that can be tough. Chances are someone else will come in and look at you as a nice, low, and easy target.
Fighting against the A6M5b
Don't low-speed turn-fight with a Zero, you will lose. Some planes can briefly maintain a turn with a A6M5b but not be able to sustain it when the speeds drop off. BnZ it, stay fast, it can never catch you. If you miss a pass don't worry, you probably have 100+mph advantage and by the time it has a shot on you you will be out of range. If a Zero is above you and starts to dive on you, start a shallow dive away building up defensive speed as well as committing the Zero to have to build up more offensive speed to catch you. The Zero is a terribly diver, over 375mph the controls become very heavy and over 400mph almost completely unresponsive. If you can get the Zero pilot to over-speed his aircraft he will most likely have difficulties even recovering from the dive and will totally lose initiative. Any high speed maneuvering is also likely to defeat the Zero since it becomes vastly less effectively in roll and elevator authority.
Be careful of slow speed Zeros though, they typically are moving so slow that it is easy to collide with them or misjudge their turn rate. When pulling lead on a turning Zero you will find that it is able to get the nose pointed at you much faster than you will probably expect. If you over-lead him he will have a snapshot on you when you cross. A more pure-pursuit with a last second lead seems to be safer and more effective.
The last note is, there is almost no reason to actually stay and fight a Zero unless you decide you need to. They don't have the speed to catch most of the planes in the set and are typically found at lower altitudes where there performance is even more suspect. At sea-level the A6M5b can only pull 288mph which is below what 90% of the other aircraft in the set can produce at a similar altitude. There is, therefore, little reason to get caught fighting a A6M5b unless you want to. Even if one is above you, if you have any altitude to use to turn into speed, you should be able to easily dive away as long as you don't wait too long to commit to the dive.
Soda's Aircraft Evaluations