Material of the Zero fuselage

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Jul 11, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I did a beat with a friend that the fuselage of the Zero was all metal. He told me it was partially bamboo.

    So, who was correct?
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    I have worked on a couple and don't recall seeing any bamboo in one.
     
  3. baclightning

    baclightning New Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    #3 baclightning, Jul 11, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
    The Zero was all metal. It had fabric-covered control surfaces, but aside from that was metal. It should be noted that much of the metal structure was made of Extra Super Duralumin, an advanced alloy that was lighter and stronger than other alloys, and top secret at the time.

    The designer of the Zero, Jiro Horikoshi, wrote an excellent book, Eagles of Mitsubishi, about how he designed the Zero, and the obstacles he had to overcome in reaching the seemingly impossible design goals he was given.

    http://www.amazon.com/Eagles-Mitsubishi-Story-Zero-Fighter/dp/0295971681
     
  4. proton45

    proton45 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2007
    Messages:
    676
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I remember seeing a TV show once that talked about bamboo being used in the canopy framing or the runners (or something like that). I dont know if that's true...but maybe your friend saw that show.
     
  5. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
    Messages:
    1,048
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    If there was something in the canopy it doesn't matter, he was talking about the fuselage construction. I knew this was a myth!

    I just need a reliable source to show him. Some people in my flight school and myself and gonna have a beer paid! :D
     
  6. Rick65

    Rick65 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    853
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Aircraft Restoration
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonga, California, U.S.A.
    #7 GregP, Jul 11, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2012
    As far as I know, the only wood in the Zero is the hoop for the wingtips. Everything else of a structural variety is metal. Of course, there is rubber hose,. hose clamps, etc. ... but you get the idea. The chief culript in its fragility was the use of .032" Aluminum skin where the western powers used .040" or even .050" or even heavier.

    When everything is intact, the Zero is as strong as any western fighter. Once it gets battle damage it gets fragile, and the lack of self-sealing tanks and armor add to the perception of fragility.
     
  8. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,934
    Likes Received:
    105
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    retired avionics engineer
    Location:
    Southern California

    And he should know. All he has to do is go into the hanger an look!
     
  9. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,281
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    none
    Location:
    Lazio
    from "Design Analysis of the Zeke 32"
    "Skin. on both fore and aft fuselage sections is of lighter alloy than is customarily used on occidental planes, that on the fore fuselage being .048 gage on the lower portion and .035 near the top, and .018 for all the aft section. It is flush riveted throughout, with all fore-and-aft joints being lapped, others butted. Also throughout Hamp, small rivets are used, few being larger than 1/8-in., some being only 1/32-in. Despite the rivet sizes, there is no evidence on the craft studied to indicate a lack of strength, nor were there any indications of sloppy workmanship."
     
  10. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,820
    Likes Received:
    1,020
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    CGI Creator
    Location:
    Osaka
    This could have been a top secret.
    How did your friend know that?

    There were life size dummy zeros and bombers made of wood or bamboo to cheat US air attackers on the ground.

    04otori_S.JPG
     
  11. boeing299

    boeing299 New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3
    I think that this was a myth that got it's start from American fighter pilots. The Zero was designed on the premise that fighter planes should be very light and nimble. That was what proved to be effective for the Japanese in China in the 1930's. Japan had no high powered engine program to rely on, so they built the Zero to be light and very manouverable given the engine power they had available. To save weight, they omitted armor and self sealing fuel tanks. As a result the Zero was easily set aflame when hit. Allied pilots made claims that to ignite that easily, the plane must be made of bamboo. I think in part it was a lot of people trying to deny that a country with limited industrial "know-how" could have built something that advanced for the time. Certainly they must have cut corners somewhere, like using bamboo. A Japanes pilot was supposed to have said that he could tell whether wreckage on the ocean was an American plane or Japanese. If American, it had an oil slick, if Japanese it had a sheet of flame from the gasoline.
     
  12. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    853
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Aircraft Restoration
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonga, California, U.S.A.
    Hi Vincenzo,

    I believe your quote about the skin thickness comes from the Hamp Design Analysis report, which you clearly identify as a model 32. In that model, there are also some small 3-ply wood backing reinforcements along the lower canopy frame rail, along with the wingtip hoops, but no wood in the canopy frames themselves.

    Our Zero is an A6M5 Model 52, and I believe the .035" Aluminum turned into .032" Aluminim ... I could be wrong. There is still some .048" and also some .018" in the tail cone. In our Zero, I believe it is all metal, with even the wingtip hoops not being wood. To be sure, I'll check next time I am there and Steve Hinton is around.

    I love the general lines and looks of the Zero and think it is one of the best-looking WWII fighters ever made. Of course, that is just a personal opinion, and other opinions may vary and very probably do. Beauty is, after all, in the eye of the beholder.
     
  13. baclightning

    baclightning New Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    No argument there. It's a gorgeous looking aircraft!
     
  14. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    48
    The way they zipped around it wouldn't surprise me if they were made of balsa wood. But yeah, they traded strength and protection for speed and maneuverability. Overall, these were pretty impressive aircraft. Those cowling guns synched with the prop was in and of itself an innovation that baffled us for quite some time, from what I understand. Also how that light aircraft was able to absorb the shock from the those 20mm cannons on the wings without ripping the aircraft apart was pretty darn impressive.
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    Guns firing through the prop was nothing unusual, aircraft had been doing that since WW1.
     
  16. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    48
    The bi-plane machine guns mounted in front of the cockpits on the nose did synch with the two-blade props.
     
  17. krieghund

    krieghund Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Avionics Engineer Advisor to RSAF
    Location:
    Riyadh
    Right on!! imagine what would have happened if the Kinsei was installed from the beginning and the Kinsei 62 installed in late 1942.

    Pretty impressive aircraft....remarkable if one considers that it was designed from a country just emerging from an agrarian culture to industrial one. it is often said it was a copy of a western one.....Ok, which one designed as a carrier fighter could fly at 340+ on 950HP, out maneuver any land based aircraft oh and yeah, fly over 1100 miles on 138 gals internal, 1900+ with external, haven't been able to find that aircraft yet!
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    Some WW1 aircraft had 4 bladed props, such as a SE 5, and the Zero was far from the first aircraft with a 3 bladed prop, and guns that had a interuptor gear, or sychronizer mechanism to enabled it to fire through it.
     
  19. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    48
    So the rounds were actually geared to fire with the turn of the prop once the trigger was pressed?
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,773
    Likes Received:
    802
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    As has been said, the cowl guns were old hat, getting guns that work out in the wings without a pilot to beat on them or yank the charging handle a dozen times per belt was the real trick :)

    One reason the British switched from the Vickers gun to the Browning, the VIckers could not be relied upon to keep firing without "attention".

    the 20mm guns may recoil a lot less than you think. the gun "fired" as the heavy bolt/bolt carrier was still moving forward. the recoil had to first stop the forward motion of the bolt before it could blow it backwards against the main spring. the trunnion load ( force transmitted to the aircraft structure) was actually rather low and spread out over time rather than being a sharp blow.
     
Loading...

Share This Page