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      Mitsubishi F1M (Pete) Reconnaissance Biplane Floatplane Aircraft  

    Mitsubishi F1M (Pete) Reconnaissance Biplane Floatplane Aircraft

    The Mitsubishi F1M floatplane made exceptional use of aerodyanmic design to produce an elegant and useful military aircraft.

     Updated: 5/18/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The Empire of Japan's military aviation industry played catch up to the world on its path to World War 2 (1939-1945). This meant a period of purchasing foreign-originated products while also observing the changes undertaken by major military powers of the period with some being directly visited by Japanese representatives. All this occurred while attempting to grow a viable local aviation industry that would bring Japanese air power to the modern age. The commitment eventually proved fruitful for the early-war aircraft exhibited by the Empire were some of the best of their type anywhere in the world, serving the massive Japanese war machine well during its campaigns to conquer swathes of territory across the Pacific and Asia.

    The Mitsubishi concern became primarily recognized by war's end for its classic A6M "Zero" fighter but the company also produced several notable bombers and experimental aircraft. One of its seemingly lesser known - or largely forgotten - contributions became the popular F1M seaplane developed primarily for the over-water reconnaissance and warship gunfire direction roles. Work on the aircraft began in 1934 and first flight of this biplane was recorded during June of 1936 with service introduction following in 1941. Some 1,118 examples were operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) in the World War that followed.

    The F1M joined many other biplane floatplane reconnaissance types to emerged in the 1930s and 1940s. All were based on the same floatplane concept in which aircraft could be launched at sea from warships via catapults, land on water on the return trip, and be recovered by shipboard crane. These types of aircraft generally exhibited excellent handling and optimal operational ranges to cover the vast expanses often seen with ocean travel and hand to hold strong water handling characteristics to boot. Over-the-horizon reconnaissance was also an extremely valuable asset to have in-the-field during war as was an airborne spotting platform to help make shipborne guns more accurate at range.

    The F1M utilized a main float under its central mass with two smaller floats held outboard under the wings (one to a wing). The wings were of a biplane arrangement which added drag but made for excellent lift qualities and sound controlling. The choice was made to utilize single interplane struts with fine contouring for maximizing aerodynamics. The fuselage was well-streamlined itself, owing much to the research Japanese engineers delved into during the interwar years. A radial piston engine was fitted at front with the cockpit just aft (and below) the upper wing assembly. Metal construction was used throughout the design with fabric found only on the control surfaces. The fuselage used a traditional tail unit featuring a single vertical fin. The F1M showcased a standard crew complement of two consisting of a pilot in the front cockpit and a machine gunner/observer in the rear cockpit - both "open air" placements. One of the key design qualities of the F1M became its compact form which played well on the decks of space-strapped Japanese warships.

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    Mitsubishi F1M2 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1941
    Type: Reconnaissance Biplane Floatplane Aircraft
    National Origin: Imperial Japan
    Manufacturer(s): Mitsubishi - Imperial Japan
    Production Total: 1,118

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 2
    Length: 31.17 feet (9.5 meters)
    Width: 36.09 feet (11.00 meters)
    Height: 13.12 feet (4.00 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 4,255 lb (1,930 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 6,294 lb (2,855 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Mitsubishi Zuisei XIII 14-cylinder radial piston engine developing 875 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 230 mph (370 kph; 200 knots)
    Maximum Range: 460 miles (740 km)
    Service Ceiling: 30,971 feet (9,440 meters; 5.87 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 1,725 feet-per-minute (526 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts on the fuselage.
    1 x 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun on a trainable mount in the rear cockpit.

    2 x 132 lb conventional drop bombs under the wings (one per wing).

    Global Operators / Customers

    Imperial Japan; Indonesia; Thailand

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    F1M - Base Series Designation

    F1M1 - Initial mark covering four prototypes

    F1M2 - Improved mark for serial production

    F1M2-K - Two-seat trainer variant based on the F1M2 production model.