Mitsubishi J2M

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J2M Raiden
Mitsubishi J2M.JPG
Mitsubishi J2M Raiden (Allied code name "Jack")
Role Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
First flight 20 March 1942
Introduction December 1942
Retired August 1945
Primary user Imperial Japanese Navy
Number built 543 [1]

The Mitsubishi J2M Raiden (雷電, "Thunderbolt") was a single-engined land-based fighter aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service in World War II. The Allied reporting name was "Jack".

Design and development[edit]

The J2M was designed by Jiro Horikoshi, creator of the A6M Zero, to meet the 14-Shi (14th year of the Showa reign, or 1939) official specification. It was to be a strictly local-defense interceptor, intended to counter the threat of high-altitude bomber raids, and thus relied on speed, climb performance, and armament at the expense of manoeuvrability. The J2M was a sleek, but stubby craft with its over-sized Mitsubishi Kasei engine buried behind a long cowling, cooled by an intake fan and connected to the propeller with an extension shaft. Pilot visibility was poor, but a domed canopy introduced later in production partially alleviated this concern.

Teething development problems stemming from the Kasei engine, unreliable propeller pitch change mechanism and the main undercarriage members led to a slowdown in production. A continual set of modifications resulted in new variants being introduced with the ultimate high-altitude variant, the J2M4 Model 34 flying for the first time in August 1944. It had a 1,420 hp Kasei 23c engine equipped with a turbo supercharger (mounted in the side of the fuselage just behind the engine) that allowed the rated power to be maintained up to 9,100 m (29,900 ft) Two upward-aimed, oblique-firing (aimed at seventy degrees) 20 mm cannons, mounted in the German Schräge Musik style, were fitted behind the cockpit with the four wing cannons retained. Unresolved difficulties with the turbo supercharger caused the project to be terminated after only two experimental J2M4s were built.

Operational history[edit]

Two J2Ms of the 381 Kōkūtai in British Malaya being tested and evaluated by Japanese naval aviators under close supervision of RAF officers from Seletar Airfield in December 1945.

The first few produced J2M2s were delivered to the development units in December 1942 but severe problems were encountered with the engines. Trials and improvements took almost a year and the first batch of the serial built J2M2 Model 11 was delivered to 381st Kōkūtai in December 1943. Parallel with the J2M2, production of the J2M3 Raiden Model 21 started. The first J2M3s appeared in October 1943 but deliveries to combat units started at the beginning of February 1944.

The Raiden made its combat debut in June 1944 during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Several J2Ms operated from Guam and Saipan and a small number of aircraft were deployed to the Philippines. Later, some J2Ms were based in Chosen airfields, Genzan (Wonsan), Ranan (Nanam), Funei (Nuren), Rashin (Najin) and Konan under Genzan Ku, for defence of these areas and fighting against Soviet Naval Aviation units.

Primarily designed to defend against the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the lack of a turbocharger handicapped the aircraft at high altitude. However, its four-cannon armament supplied effective firepower and the use of dive and zoom tactics allowed it to score occasionally. Insufficient numbers and the American switch to night bombing in March 1945 limited its effectiveness.

Two captured J2Ms were U.S. Technical Air Intelligence Command (TAIC) tested using 92 octane fuel plus methanol, with the J2M2 (Jack11) achieving a speed of 655 km/h (407 mph) at 5,520 m (17,400 ft),[2] and J2M3 (Jack21) achieving a speed of 671 km/h (417 mph) at 4,980 m (16,600 ft).[2]


J2M Production: Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K [1]
Year Month Aircraft
1942 February 1
1942 April 1
1942 May 1
1942 June 2
1942 July 2
1942 August 1
1942 September 1
1942 October 1
1942 November 1
1942 December 2
1942 Annual Production 13 13
1943 February 0
1943 March 1
1943 April 2
1943 June 3
1943 July 4
1943 August 5
1943 September 16
1943 October 16
1943 November 21
1943 December 22
1943 Annual Production 90 142
1944 January 17
1944 February 26 35
1944 March 9
1944 April 22 60
1944 May 39 90
1944 June 44 125
1944 July 34 75
1944 August 22 101
1944 September 16 130
1944 October 20 30
1944 November 18 25
1944 December 7 30
1944 Annual Production 274 701
1945 January 17 20
1945 February 12 20
1945 March 29 20
1945 April 16 30
1945 May 0 30
1945 June 8 30
1945 July 7 30
1945 August 27 30
1945 Annual Production 116 210
Total 543 1066

  • J2M1 Prototype: fitted with the 1,044 kW (1,400 hp) Mitsubishi MK4C Kasei 13 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, and armed with two 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 97 machine guns in the upper fuselage and two wing-mounted 20 mm Type 99 Model II cannon. - Eight builds.
  • J2M2 Model 11: Powered by 1,379 kW (1,850 hp) Mitsubishi MK4R-A Kasei 23a 14-cylinder radial engine, same armament as the J2M1.
  • J2M3 Model 21: Armed with two wing-mounted 20 mm Type 99 Model II cannon and two wing-mounted 20 mm Type 99 Model I cannon.
  • J2M3a Model 21A: Armed with four wing-mounted 20 mm Type 99 Model II cannon.
  • J2M4 Model 32: Prototype fitted with the 1,357 kW (1,820 hp) Mitsubishi MK4R-C Kasei 23c engine. Many armament configurations have been reported, e.g., fuselage-mounted oblique-firing 20 mm Type 99 Model I cannon designed to fire upward as it passed underneath a bomber, two wing-mounted 20 mm Type 99 Model II cannon, and two wing-mounted 20 mm Type 99 Model I cannon.
  • J2M5 Model 33: High altitude variant powered by 1,357 kW (1,820 hp) Mitsubishi MK4U-A Kasei 26a engine with mechanically driven supercharger, giving increased speed at height at the expense of shorter range. Two 20 mm Type 99 cannon in fuselage, two 20 mm Type 99 Model II cannon in wings.[3]
  • J2M5a Model 33A: Armed with four wing-mounted 20 mm Type 99 Model II cannon. Wing cannon were harmonized in trajectory and ballistics with each 200 rpg.
  • J2M6 Model 31: Chronologically earlier than J2M4 and J2M5 this version was based on J2M3. Had wider cockpit and improved bubble canopy later used in J2M3 built since July 1943.
  • J2M6a Model 31A: Chronologically earlier than J2M4 and J2M5 this version was based on J2M3a.
    Had wider cockpit and improved bubble canopy later used in J2M3a built since July 1943. One J2M6a was built.
  • J2M7 Model 23A: J2M3 powered by Kasei 26a engine, none built.
  • J2M7a Model 23A: J2M3a powered by Kasei 26a engine, none built.


  • Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
    • 256th Kōkūtai November 1944 - December 1945
    • 301st Kōkūtai February 1944 - July 1945
    • 302nd Kōkūtai March 1945 - August 1945
    • 332nd Kōkūtai August 1944 - August 1945
    • 352nd Kōkūtai August 1944 - August 1945
    • 381st Kōkūtai End 1943 - April 1945
    • Yokosuka Kōkūtai
    • Yatabe Kōkūtai
    • Genzan Kōkūtai
    • Tainan Kōkūtai
    • Konoike Kōkūtai
    • Chushi Kōkūtai


J2M3 of the Planes of Fame in Chino, California

A surviving J2M is on display at the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, California.


Data from Mitsubishi J2M3-11 Raiden[2]

General characteristics



  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm Type 99-2 cannons in the wings, two in each wing, inboard guns having 190 rpg, outboard guns 210 rpg.
  • Ordnance: 2 × 60 kg (132 lb) bombs or 2 × 200 L (53 US gal) drop tanks.

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ a b USSBS Report No. 16 p.61
  2. ^ a b c "(TAIC) Manual." U.S. Technical Air Intelligence Command, May 1945.
  3. ^ Francillon 1970, pp. 394–395.
  • Air Enthusiast Magazine, July 1971.
  • The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft New York: Barnes & Noble, 1977. ISBN 0-7607-0592-5.
  • Francillon, Ph.D., René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970. ISBN 0-370-00033-1. (2nd edition 1979, ISBN 0-370-30251-6).
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Three: Fighters. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1973, First edition 1961. ISBN 0-356-01447-9.

External links[edit]