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This aircraft page is in two sections:
World War II aircraft
Variant of A6M
Nicknames Zero, Zeke
Type Fighter/attacker
Country of origin Japan
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
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The A6M2 in World War II


Unit Deployment

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Aces High II aircraft
Variant of A6M
Type Fighter/attacker
Crew One
Aces High II loadout options
Package 1 2x Type 97 7.7mm machine guns, 680 rounds/gun
2x Type 99 Mark I 20mm cannons, 60 rounds/gun
Options 2x 50kg bombs
1x 300 liter drop tank
Aces High II Main Arenas
Earliest MA Early War
Typical perk cost 0 (Late War)
ENY value 40 (Late War)
Available on carrier yes
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The A6M2 in Aces High II

The early war Zero, the A6M2, was designed to dominate in a tight, turning, style fight, so tradeoffs were made to make the aircraft as light as possible with a good wing-area. The produced a very agile aircraft that can dominate at low to medium speed turning fights, but as with many early war designs, it didn’t take into account some of the very early lessons from WW2. Possessing outstanding maneuverability, the AH A6M2 has capable firepower, but suffers from a low speed, poor armour protection, and is mostly outclassed by comparable aircraft. With a good pilot at the helm, it can actually be fairly dangerous and a bit of surprise, but smart opponents can exploit the A6M2 and beat it fairly easily.

Engine Power

As with most of the early war aircraft, the A6M2 can’t really compare to the later war models in terms of engine performance. Sea-level top speed is only 269mph which adds up to long transit times and little chance to out-run opponents. Speed increases by about 3 mph/1K of altitude gain, which doesn’t help a lot, but against era aircraft it isn’t too bad though I wouldn’t waste a lot of time climbing to find a sweet spot in speed. Realistically, 20K should be the ultimate ceiling as even over 15K you will start to see performance start to drop off. Climb rate is actually good, really the result of a very light aircraft and large wing-area, starting at about 3,300ft/min at sea level and dropping by about 300ft/min per 5K of altitude gain. Fuel duration is excellent, a shame given the slow transit speeds which can make for long transits between fields, but even at military power you have around 47 minutes of flight time. That can extend to over an hour at low power settings. More typical, an internal fuel load of 50%, with a drop tank attached for the outbound leg, is more common and about the maximum you could ever need. Fuel burn rate remains constant up through 15K, then drops off by 30 gal/hr by 20K, in line with engine performance, so as you can see, excessive climbing is not really an advantage for performance reasons. Drop tank carriage is unusual, it adds 79 gallons, equivalent to more than 50% internal, but you’ll be out of ammo longer before you are out of fuel so unless you are glutton for punishment of flying around for hours I wouldn’t bother.

Aces High II Performance Charts

A6M2 speed chart A6M2 climb chart


Very good for an early war aircraft, the pair of wing-mounted 20mm Type 99 cannons is better than most aircraft of the era. The issue is more that the low ammo load (60 rpg) and poor ballistics. That’s only 7 seconds firing time and for anyone used to hispanos, or other later war cannons, the ballistics of the Type 99 are very poor. It’s essential to get very close and take quick, point-blank, type shots. If done properly, the cannons can get the job done and might last 2-3 enemy aircraft, but most people fire away everything with nary a hit. Also included are a pair of cowl mounted 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns with a whopping 680rpg. This is an insane 45 seconds of firing time, great for ranging or to spook a target, but fairly ineffective unless you can get a steady shot and hold it for a few seconds, or maybe more. I’d suggest that once the cannons are empty that the fight is considered mostly over and it’s time to head home. I’ve even seen people unload vast quantities of 7.7mm ammo while just sitting on the ground to lighten up even further before a fight. I don’t know that I find it that useful to do so, the total 7.7mm ammo load is only 90lbs but I guess it can’t hurt. The only external option is for a pair of 50kg (110lb) wing mounted bombs, token at best, and rarely carried.


Outstanding, the A6M2 is probably the leading turner in the game at low speeds. A combination of light weight and large wing-area makes for an excellent turn-rate and radius. This is one of the most dangerous knife fighters in the game. The Hurricane I may be close in performance but I think the A6M2 simply feels so stable and at-home in thses sorts of fights. With internal fuel and ammo, the A6M2 weighs in at only 4919lbs at 25% internal fuel, 5131lbs at 50%, and 5555lbs at 100% (which isn’t really necessary given how far it goes on 50%).. Roll rate is fair and holds up well at lower speeds where other notable rollers tend to start to suffer. I wouldn’t worry too much about roll at the speeds the A6M2 tends to fly. Dive performance is good, something that the later Zero doesn’t demonstrate and seems counter to what some people think. Dives to 350mph IAS are not a problem but issues begin to appear such that by 410mph IAS. Real trouble starts around 500mph IAS when you’ll start to shed aircraft parts.

Fighting in the A6M2

The A6M2 is most often used for short-range defense, especially where you think you might be cause at low level without time to climb or build much speed. It’s sometimes used on longer missions but given the low ammo load it runs out of ammo so quickly that most of your time will be in transit where faster aircraft would be more suitable. 25% internal fuel is most common as that gives enough for a one-way trip to almost anywhere.

Offensively, the A6M2 will be challenged against anything but an equal, early war, opponent. You have to remember that you will likely be at a disadvantage in most aspect, be it acceleration, speed or less measurable factors such as toughness (the A6M2 doesn’t seem all that “tough”). You will have a turn-radius and rate advantage at lower speeds (almost bordering on very low). They key tends to be to have a bit of altitude advantage to use to apply pressure to keep opponents around (i.e. don’t let them run away) when you slow the fight now to maximize your turn-rate disparity. The other tactic is to come in as a clean-up person, finding enemies who are low on energy after an engagement to pick on. If you can get in close and keep up pressure on an opponent, the A6M2 can knock out even the best enemy fighters. Extended turn-fights, or defensive maneuvers from the enemies perspective, suit the A6M2 well but of course also make you fairly vulnerable. Once in close, use your superior turn-radius to close in lead-turns and the effective firepower, at least at short range, to deliver the knock-out blow. Pick your fights carefully, you are likely to end up committed to fights to the death as you don’t have the exit speed you might need to disengage easily. Pick small groups of enemy fighters, 1-2, that you can engage and knock out one quickly, then work on the other. More than that and a smart enemy will break off one fighter to come back with speed/energy and put you on the defensive.

Defensively, the A6M2 can’t run so you can expect to usually have to stay and fight. Climb rate and acceleration aren’t that bad but your top-end speed is so low that what’s “high end” acceleration to a A6M2 is only mid-speed to most. Don’t even attempt to run and diving escapes are not really that good either, you’re typically better just to stay and fight. Use the A6M2’s excellent turn-rate and radius as your primary defense, making quick turns to either side, in darting and somewhat random acts. Don’t use the same break-turn lest the enemy predict your path, vary up the direction and those in some change in altitude just to complicate the shot-solution should the enemy try for a snap-shot. The A6M2 isn’t very strong so be careful of taking even light hits, medium fire in the .50 cal range will be bad and cannon hits are really bad news. Pick your place to fight, close to the friendly edge of the fight, so that you can get some help. A6M2’s do tend to attract attention and are sometimes used as bait, which can be an advantage because you’ll also tend to slow enemy aircraft down which tends to attract friendly help (who want to knock out the guys chasing you). Your key advantage is going to be in turn-rate and general handling at low speeds. Enemy aircraft packing speed tend to overshoot or have difficulty pulling enough lead angle to land hits, especially where they find themselves at high closing rates. You can also tend to sucker trailing enemies into very tight turns, far tighter than they should, where the bleed incredible amounts of speed/energy. The other surprise tends to come from how quickly the A6M2 can reverse, swinging the nose around to cause a Head-On (HO) situation. HO’s are not an A6M2 strength but they can cause the enemy to react to your advantage (I wouldn’t press a HO attack in a A6M2). Use darting and random maneuvers to avoid the enemy and slowly lure him in close and slow where your superiority in turn is likely to pay quick dividends.

Fighting against the A6M2

Don’t get kill fever when you see an A6M2 and treat it a little cautiously until you get a good feel for your situation and the quality of the enemy pilot. Some A6M2 are used as bait to attract attention so you don’t want to get caught in that trap and find what looks like an easy situation turn into one that is out of your control.

When attacking an A6M2, expect it to use a lot of turns and slow-speed maneuvers, reversing on you much faster than you may expect. The A6M2 can require a bit of an adjustment if you are used to dealing with faster, less maneuverable aircraft mostly, so your first couple of attacks may not be successful as you adjust. Be patient, unless the A6M2 is hiding a lot of energy, you should be able to use a superior starting position to stay out of harm while you execute multiple attacks. Don’t get suckered into a turn-fight or slow down too much, the A6M2 can make you regret that quickly. Keep the pressure on as best you can without being over-aggressive, you want to force the A6M2 to keep turning and slow, that’s when it presents the easiest target. Be careful of the quick vertical performance of the A6M2, looping style fights are no problem for an A6M2, as well as zoom-climbs to extreme low speeds. You don’t want to get caught thinking you can out-zoom an A6M2 only to find it climbing right behind you. Take any shot you can, the A6M2 is not well protected and tends to take damage easily. Be aware of the “Burning-Zero” as if you see one on fire then can continue for some time before exploding, longer than many other aircraft it seems. Draw less lead on the A6M2 than you might on other aircraft and if presented with a HO, take the shot at longer range and break off before you get too close to exploit the weakness in the cannon ballistics.

If attacked by an A6M2, typically it will be from above or co-alt, sometimes while or just after a fight. The A6M2 will frequently use your vulnerability during a fight to jump in and pick you off while you are slow. Don’t try and initially gain angles, evaluate your energy situation and see if you can build up a bit of separation. Diving maneuvers can be very useful if you have altitude, split-S type maneuvers can gain you speed and exploit some of the marginal high-speed performance if the A6M2. If you dive, make sure you actually get quick, over ~380mph IAS, because the A6M2 can tolerate more speed than the A6M5 without to many ill effects. Even using yo-yo’s to try and gain angles probably isn’t going to get you into a position with enough lead though if you can lag-turn to preserve energy you can sometimes build a snapshot after the A6M2 slows down. Be careful of the inside reversal, where the A6M2 turns such a tight radius it can actually reverse and still be inside you. Watch for the cannons, they are about all that can really hurt you in an immediate sense, the 7.7mm’s rarely cause quick damage so unless you see the wing guns (cannons) firing, don’t worry too much about the cowl guns. If you can build up some separation then you are probably out of immediate trouble and can start to turn the fight to your advantage.


The A6M2 used to be very out-matched but in an early-war arena should be able to cause a bit of havoc. By getting in close and getting the fight slow, the A6M2 typically can build a favorable fighting situation and win some fights. Be careful though, people tend to lick their chops when they see an A6M2 and get stupid. You never want to find yourself low and slow with a A6M2, even if it’s almost directly in front of you, because it’s hard to pull lead on something with such a small turn-radius. Before you get 2-3 circles into the fight, the A6M2 will be right behind you.

External Links

Soda's Aircraft Evaluations