Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21: Too Few and Too Late.

Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21: Too Few and Too Late.

Designed by Zero’s Jiro Horikoshi the Raiden was a diametrically opposed concept to that famous fighter. Built as a point interceptor the J2M was designed with speed and climb performance in mind instead of manoeuvrability and range. The result was a stubby, if racy-looking fuselage, with a quite tiny but not inelegant wing.
The Raiden had a complicated and troublesome development due to its severe engine problems.It achieved service quite late when it proved to be a worthy aircraft in good hands, but handicapped with lack of very high altitude performance…. and the American juggernaut was unstoppable by then.

Peaceful photo of a pair of them over the British Malaya’s wilderness after the end of WW2 when they were evaluated by the British at RAF Selectar.

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2 thoughts on “Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden Model 21: Too Few and Too Late.

  1. The 1,820 hp Kasei 26a was reportedly reliable in the J2M5 high altitude interceptor. Did this engine hold up?
    If so, how would it have done in the A6M7 Zero as well?
    The 1945 A6M7 basically had the same Kasei 21 as the obsolete 1,130 hp A6M3.
    The 1,560 hp Ha-112-II may have been the best engine for the A6M5 in 1943, but what about the Kasei 26a for the later Zero?
    I know the Brass was locking horns with Mitsubishi to keep W/L down. But after the Turkey shoot, they were chastised. Result was the A6M8 2 years too late. Had they been more like the IJAAF brass, I wonder if the A6M7 (perhaps others too) may have benefitted from the reliable and more powerful Kasei 26a, beyond the J2M5 of such limited numbers.
    The 337 mph A6M7 was not the only under-powered fighter in 1845. I also wonder how the 360 mph Ki 100 might have done with the 1,820 hp Kasei 26a? Even the Ki 43-IIIa was about as fast. The Kasei 26a sounds promising. The high altitude J2M5 proved it.

    • Yep, that’s about right. Not a bad high-altitude performer, but also not starling either. The Kasei 26a was a proved no-nonsense engine, but bulky and hard to adapt to the tiny fighter airframes produced by the Japanese…the Raiden, luckily, had a generous fuselage.
      Mitsubishi engineer Eitaro Sano from the very beginning wanted the household Kinsei for the late evolutions of the A6M, but the IJN were still in love with the Sakae and its 31 model derivative’s possibilities. Bad choice: both troublesome and weak. By the time, they realised their error only a few 1560 hp Kinsei 62 were available….and it was just too late.

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