Just a fantasy wish list about gearing up the A6M5 Zero, for late-war fights.
1) Kinsei 62 Engine
The Zero really needed an engine upgrade after two years. 1100 hp just wasn’t going to do it, and you can’t squeeze any more from the old Sakae engine. The Zero was very good at pulling its nose up, and was very light so that the initial climb seemed impressive, but the speed soon levelled off. Allied planes could run going up (eventually) or diving down.
It should have had the Kinsei 62 engine (1550 hp) for the A6M5 upgrade, like the engineers wanted.
2) Aileron servo tabs
Very important to improve the roll rate at high speeds. The Zero’s ailerons became very stiff at 300mph, barely moveable. Servo tabs increase leverage and will make them usable. Rolling well makes the plane’s movements less predictable and pilots can respond more quickly.
The Zero actually had them in the beginning, but pilots went wild and overstressed the wings doing high-speed roll and tight turns, risking break-up in mid-air. So Horikoshi removed them to get the pilots to slow down.
Put them back on. Late-war aces don’t do steep turns, they fly fast, barrel-roll and slide a lot.
3) IJAAF Ho-5 cannon
The Navy’s Type 99-1 autocannons had poor firing rate and muzzle velocity. You had to be close in to hit anything. The Type 99-2 had higher muzzle velocity but worse firing rate, you can shoot further out but tend to miss. You could install a bunch of them and compensate for the firing rate, if the plane could take it, like the Shiden-Kai and the Raiden. But the Zero is just too small. There’s just no room.
Meanwhile the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force had a good autocannon of their own, the Ho-5. Muzzle velocity like a Type 99-2, and firing rate like a machine gun.
A couple of hot Ho-5 on a Zero would be just nice. You turn your plane and rip your target at a shocking distance, just when he thinks he’s beyond range.
4) A Working Radio
Team tactics are hard to do without a working radio. Actually there was nothing wrong with the radio itself. The engine’s ignition system was interfering with it, every time a spark plug fired. Somehow it took them almost three years to realize it and shield the radio.
So… increased engine power, tabs for better high-speed roll, Army autocannons, and a shielded radio. Not too much ask for, Shirley?
Aww, forget the Zero. Put four hot Ho-5 in a Shiden-Kai please.