Did Northrop and Vought Help Design the Zero

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Sep 23, 2022
The wing structure of the A6M bears no commonality with Northrop and Vought's construction, and while the fuselage design is closer, the Mitsubishi elegance is far superior.

Any comparisons with the Hughes H-1 are laughable structurally.

At best, one may muse that Japanese designers took inspiration from the cigarette pack 3-views popular those days, and based development by copying some cards that came in smuggled packs of Chesterfields.


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Aug 23, 2008
new mexico
The other one I've heard a lot is that the Zero copied a lot from the Hughes H-1 racer despite that fact that Howard Hughes was well known for being secretive and never really showed the details of the H-1 to anyone outside a small group of Hughes employees and workers.

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Note, it has all the requisite parts of a small, radial-powered retractable low-wing monoplane, pretty much like all other small, radial-powered retractable low-wing monoplanes.

Howard Hughes no doubt stole the ideas from the drawing boards at Mitsubishi ...
Maybe the best looking piece of machinery of any sort ever? My favorite, anyway. I knew Dick Palmer, who designed it, pretty well.


Oct 7, 2010
Thank you, WAFU. Informational posts like your's are the reason I subscribe.


Feb 17, 2008
In the historical time line -

1. Zero designer Jiro Horikoshi completed the basic structure for A6M in 1936 when he designed A5M Claude.

2. 20 Seversky P-35s were imported to support Sino-Japanese War in 1937 but IJN confirmed A5M was superior in performance.

3. However, Nakajima Aircraft paid attention to P-35's retractable landing gear to adopt it for its B5N in 1937 to beat back old fashioned Mitsubishi B5M with fixed undercarriage in competition.

4. Jiro Horikoshi had no choice but to follow Nakajima with the retractable type for his A6M Zero in 1940.

Source: "Zero Fighter as Short History of IJN Aviation" by Masatake Okumiya and Jiro Horikoshi (1953)


Sep 23, 2022
It's a foolish designer or engineer who doesn't look around for ideas and solutions.

We're always in danger of underestimating our Japanese. Chinese, Russian, etc. economic or conflict opponents by concentrating on their design shortcuts and ignoring achievements.

Yes, Germany copied US variable pitch propellers between the wars, Japan relied on German and US aircraft engine designs for WWII powerplants, Russia co-opted B-29, RR Nene and Manhattan technology, but the US relied on V-2 engine designs through the Saturn, and took advantage of an overlooked Russian tech paper to develop our stealth leadership.

However, though Luft '46 zealots will insist we stole the Me262 swept wing, those benefits were well known as early as WWI era designs, discussed extensively in '30s NACA papers, and even tried by Bell in their P-59 and X-1 planform studies. Even the early 30s DC-1/2/3 uses a swept wing based on those studies.


Airman 1st Class
Nov 3, 2022
I thought that the DC-3 series used swept wings for the same reason as the original Me-262--to account for a CG/weight distribution shift due to the use of different engines?

Clayton Magnet

Staff Sergeant
Feb 16, 2013
However, though Luft '46 zealots will insist we stole the Me262 swept wing, those benefits were well known as early as WWI era designs
WWI era designers were concerned with critical mach numbers and wave drag in transonic flight?


Master Sergeant
Apr 17, 2017
midwest USA
:) From the NASA historians writing the official history of NASA:

". . . NACA also contributed to the development of the swept back wing. In January 1945, Robert T. Jones, a NACA aeronautical scientist, formulated a swept-back-wing concept to overcome shockwave effects at critical mach numbers. He verified it in wind-tunnel experiments in March and issued a technical note in June. His findings were confirmed when German files on swept-wing research were recovered and by German aerodynamicists who came to the United States at the close of the war."
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