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Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete'

Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete'

Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete'

The Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete' was designed as an observation float plane, but saw service as an impromptu fighter, diver bomber and patrol aircraft. The F1M had a rather long development period. It was produced in response to a 10-Shi specification of 1934 for a catapult launched short-range observation sea plane, which was to replace the Nakajima E8N1 on units of the Japanese fleet. Aichi, Kawanishi and Mitsubishi were each asked to produce a design. Aichi responded with the AB-13 and Mitsubishi with their Ka-17, designed by Joji Hattori.

The Ka-17 was a biplane, with a single large central float and stabilising floats at the end of the lower wing. The prototype was powered by the 820hp Nakajima Hikari 1 nine-cylinder radial engine. It had an aerodynamically clean fuselage and a minimum number of struts and wing bracing, and was thus rather faster than the Aichi aircraft. The Ka-17 was the basis of four F1M1 prototypes, each with the same engine, overall design and elliptical wings. Unfortunately the F1M1 also suffered from poor directional stability in flight, and was prone to 'porpoise' when on the water.

These problems were solved in the F1M2. This used a more powerful 875hp Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 fourteen-cylinder radial engine, which required a longer cowling. The elliptical wings of the F1M1 were replaced with straight edged wings and the dihedral on the wings was increased, improving stability. The vertical fin and rudder was made larger. This version was much better, and was accepted for service. Mitsubishi built 524 aircraft, and the Dai Nijuichi Kaigun Kokusho (21st Naval Air Arsenal) at Sasebo produced 590, for a total of 1,124 aircraft.

Service Record

The F1M entered service in 1940 as the Navy Type 0 Observation Seaplane Model 11. It was used on eight battleships (including the Nagato and Yamato), nine cruisers and six aircraft tenders, as well as by a number of shore based units. The battleship and cruiser borne aircraft were used for their original purpose, as an observation and scouting aircraft.

Although the F1M's comparatively low speed made it vulnerable to the best Allied fighters, it could successfully be used as a front line aircraft in secondary theatres (of which there were many in the Pacific), and served as a fighter, a dive bomber in support of amphibious landings, a convoy escort aircraft (although its short range was a limit here) and for coastal patrols. Its main strength here was its manoeuvrability, which allowed it to escape the attentions of any second-line Allied aircraft it met.



This was the designation given to the first prototype and the early development versions, with the 820hp Nakajima Hikari engine and elliptical wings.

F1M2 (Navy Type 0 Observation Seaplane Model 11)

The F1M2 was the only production version of the aircraft, with a more powerful Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 radial engine, a modified wing and much better handling and characteristics on the water.


F1M2-K was the designation given to a number of F1M2s that were converted into advanced two-seat training aircraft.

Specifications (F1M2)
Engine: Mitsubishi Zuisei 13 radial engine
Power: 875hp
Crew: 2
Wing span: 36ft 1in
Length: 31ft 2in
Height: 13ft 1.5in
Empty Weight: 4,251lb
Maxiumum take-off weight: 5,662lb
Max Speed: 230mph at 11,285ft
Cruising Speed:
Service Ceiling: 30,970ft
Range: 460 miles
Armament: Two fixed forward firing 0.303in machine gun, one flexibly mounted 0.303in machine gun
Bomb-load: Two 132lb bombs

Mitsubishi Nainenki had been established in Nagoya in 1920, and signed a technology agreement with Junkers in 1925. By 1926, it had become one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in Japan with an output of 69 aircraft and 70 engines.

In 1932, Mitsubishi Aircraft was among the companies that involved in a consolidation process catalysed by the Imperial Japanese Navy's Aviation Arsenal. The Navy launched a three-year program to have the manufacturers develop certain types of aircraft under competition. Most important of them were the Mitsubishi A5M (96-Shiki) Carrier Fighter and Mitsubishi G3M (96-Shiki) Attack Bomber developed by Mitsubishi with engines made by Nakajima Aircraft Company. Introduced in 1936, it had a maximum speed of 450 km/h (279.617 mph). The famous Mitsubishi A6M ("Zero") fighter was an improvement of the A5M and had a maximum speed of 500 km/h (310.686 mph). Also well known was the Mitsubishi Ki-46 (100-Shiki) reconnaissance plane with a maximum speed of 540 km/h (335.54 mph). [2]

In 1934, the company was merged with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding to become Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Mitsubishi Jukogyo). It had a prominent role to play in the upsurge of aircraft production in Japan, which shot up from 400 in 1931, to 4,800 in 1941 and peaked at 24,000 in 1944. [2]

Operational history

The F1M was originally built as a catapult-launched reconnaissance float plane, specializing in gunnery spotting. The "Pete" took on a number of local roles including area-defense fighter, convoy escort, bomber, anti-submarine, maritime patrol, rescue and transport. The type fought dogfights in the Aleutians, the Solomons and several other theaters. In the New Guinea front, often used in aerial combat with the Allied bombers and Allied fighters. See also PT 34 sunk 9 April 1942 by "Petes".

Operational history [ edit | edit source ]

The F1M was originally built as a catapult-launched reconnaissance float plane, specializing in gunnery spotting. The "Pete" took on a number of local roles including convoy escort, bomber, anti-submarine, maritime patrol, rescue, transport, and anti-shipping strike for example sinking Motor Torpedo Boat PT-34 on 9 April 1942. The type was also used as an area-defense fighter and engaged in aerial combat in the Aleutians, the Solomons and several other theaters. In the New Guinea front, it was often used in aerial combat with the Allied bombers and Allied fighters.

In 1945, at the war's end, Indonesians had took some F1M2s to fight against the Dutch during the Indonesian National Revolution.

Tag Archives: Mitsubishi F1M

By the end of the war, the Japanese were using any aircraft that they could find to use as kamikazes. As author Robert Stern points out in his fascinating book “Fire from the Sky”, this was the moment when the Japanese accidentally invented the stealth aircraft. They were forced to go right to the back of the disused hangar and dig out some of the oldest and most infrequently used training aircraft to use as kamikazes. These included the “Spruce” and “Willow” trainers, which were biplanes apparently made from bits of wood, canvas, knotted string and bits of old wallpaper. For this reason they did not show up on radar very much at all, something which puzzled the Americans enormously and which the Japanese never found out about.

Here is a “Willow” aka a Yokosuka K5Y :

And here is a “Spruce” aka a Tachikawa Ki 9 :

The Japanese used a variety of aircraft for kamikaze attacks. The single engined ones were mainly the naval “Zeke” or the army’s “Oscar”, the two often being misidentified. Here’s the “Zeke” aka the Mitsubishi A6M Zero:

And here is the “Oscar” aka the Nakajima Ki 43 :

Use was also made of the “Tony”, the “Frank” and the twin engined “Dinah”.

Here’s the “Tony” aka the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Swallow). When it first came into service, Allied pilots thought they were Messerschmitt Bf 109s, perhaps built under licence.:

And here is a “Frank” aka the Nakajima Ki 84 Hayate. This photograph is by yours truly, taken at Hendon. Can you see the Mosquito, about to shoot it down?:

And this is my even more splendid photograph of a backlit “Dinah” aka Mitsubishi Ki-46 :

There was a welter of single engined torpedo bombers used by the Japanese as kamikaze planes. They included the “Jill” aka the Nakajima B6N Tenzan. “Tenzan” means “Heavenly Mountain”, and is under no circumstances ever to be used as a term of endearment for the woman in your life. Perhaps worth trying with the man, though:

The “Kate” was aka the Nakajima B5N. It seems to have been painted on occasion in the most vomit provoking luminous green ever used:

The “Judy” was aka the Yokosuka D4Y Suisei (Comet):

Perhaps the most frequent mount for the would-be suicide jockey was the Aichi “Val” or the Aichi D3A. This photograph is the one most frequently used:

I first saw it in the “Hippo Book of Aircraft of the Second World War” when I was nine or ten :

The list goes on. Twin engined bombers were mainly the “Betty” and the “Sally”. Here’s a “Betty” which the Japanese called the Mitsubishi G4M1 :

And this is a “Sally” or a Mitsubishi Ki 21. It was actually possible to cultivate a decent crop of tomato plants in the long greenhouse behind the cockpit :

That’s enough photographs for now. Other aircraft types to be used, but much less frequently, are listed below:

“Claude”, Mitsubishi A5M, carrier based fighter

“Frances”, Yokosuka P1Y, navy land-based bomber

“Hamp”, Mitsubishi A6M3, navy carrier fighter

“Irving”, Nakajima J1N, navy land reconnaissance aircraft

“Jake”, Aichi E13A, navy reconnaissance seaplane

“Myrt”, Nakajima C6, navy carrier reconnaissance aircraft

“Nate”, Nakajima Ki-27, army fighter

“Nick”, Kawasaki Ki-45, army two-seat fighter

“Pete”, Mitsubishi F1M, navy observation seaplane

“Sonia”, Mitsubishi Ki-51, army light/dive bomber

Here’s a “Pete”, but its very easy to find the rest on “Google Images” :

Mitsubishi F1M Type 0 “Pete”

In 1934 the Japanese Navy issued request for a new observation seaplane, to fly from battleships and cruisers and perform gunfire spotting duties. Existing seaplanes were primarily reconnaissance types, tasked with finding the enemy in were not well suited for flying in contested airspace near enemy ships, so the new aircraft was to have a fighter-like armament. In due course the Mitsubishi F1M was selected as the winner of the contract.

The F1M was a relatively compact design, which was an advantage given the limited space available on Japanese battleships and cruisers. It was mainly of metal construction but had fabric-covered control surfaces. Initial models demonstrated poor handling on the water, and were less than stable in flight, but the subsequent F1M2 with an uprated Zuisei engine proved to be a much more capable aircraft.

F1Ms were assigned to many of the warships that pushed south into the Philippines, Malaya and Indochina in the weeks after Pearl Harbour. They flew from seaplane tenders that covered landings throughout the southern campaign. The biplanes were most evident during the Solomons campaign, where they augmented the more capable fighters flying down ‘the Slot’ from Rabaul. In the hands of a capable pilot the F1M was still a threat, but it was largely unable to counter the faster Allied fighters like the F4F and P-40.

As the fighting moved across the Pacific, the F1M was used more as a convoy escort role than as a fighter. However, late in the war, despite being thoroughly outclassed, the F1M was stationed in the Home Islands and used as a point defence fighter where it was of marginal use at best.

In 1942 Allied intelligence assigned the reporting name “Pete” to the F1M.


In 1934, the Imperial Japanese Navy issued a specification to Mitsubishi, Aichi and Kawanishi for a replacement for its Nakajima E8N floatplanes, which were used for short-ranged reconnaissance and observation missions from the Navy's warships. Ώ] Mitsubishi's design, the Ka-17, given the short system designation F1M1 by the Japanese Navy, was a small all-metal biplane powered by a single Nakajima Hikari 1 radial engine rated at 610 kilowatts (820 hp), the same engine as used by Aichi's competing F1A. It had elliptical wings and great care had been taken to reduce drag, with the number of interplane struts and bracing wires minimised. The first of four F1M1s flew in June 1936. ΐ] Α]

While the F1M1 had better performance than the Aichi aircraft, it had poor stability both on the water and in the air, so the aircraft was redesigned to resolve these problems. The wings were redesigned, with straight tapered leading and training edges and rigged with greater dihedral, and the vertical fin and rudder were enlarged. The aircraft's floats were enlarged to increase buoyancy, and the Hikari engine was replaced by a 652 kilowatts (875 hp) Mitsubishi Zuisei 14-cylinder radial, giving better forward visibility. As modified, the aircraft's handling characteristics were greatly improved, and the modified aircraft was ordered into production as the Navy Type 0 observation seaplane Model 11 (rei-shiki kansokuki ichi-ichi-gata, Reikan in short), with the short designation F1M2. Β] Γ] 940 series aircraft were built in total (342 by Mitsubishi and 598 by Sasebo Arsenal and 21st Arsenal) in addition to 4 prototypes (older publications present higher production figures, i.e., 1,016 or 1,118). [notes 1]

The F1M2 had a maximum speed of 368 km/h (230 mph) and operating range of up to 1,072 km (670 mi) without external stores. It provided the Imperial Japanese Navy with a very versatile operations platform.

The F1M was armed with a maximum of three 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine guns (two fixed forward-firing and one flexible rear-firing) with provision for two 60 kg (132 lb) bombs.

Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete' - History

Mitsubishi Type 0 Observation Seaplane / Mitsubishi F1M2 "Pete"
Technical Information

The Mitsubishi Type 0 Observation Seaplane (零式水上観測機) entered service in 1941 as a high performance biplane powered by a nine cylinder radial engine. At the center was a large float with two small outboard stabilizing floats. Powered by a Nakajima Hikari nine-cylinder air-cooled radial driving a two or three bladed propeller. Armament included 2 x 7.7mm machine guns fixed in the nose cowling plus a single flexible 7.7mm machine gun operated by the rear gunner. Under each wing on bomb racks could be carried 2 x 60 kg bombs.

F1M1: 4 prototypes.
F1M1: Two-seat reconnaissance floatplane.
F1M2-K: Two-seat training version.

Wartime History
Used for the duration of the the Pacific War, it earned a commendable war record as an interceptor, dive-bomber, convoy escort, coastal patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.

Code Name: Pete
Allied code named "Pete". Often dubbed "Washing Machine Charlie" by Americans, flying around bases at night and kept personnel awake occasionally droppings or flares, or firing machine gun bursts.

A total of 1,118 were built.

Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete' - History

The Mitsubishi F1M saw duty as a seaplane carrier-based reconnaissance plane throughout World War II and was in fact the reconnaissance plane most widely used by the Imperial Navy. Although it was not modern in design, this small seaplane remained in production well into the war years. The F1M, known as "Pete" in the Allied code, had a long and highly active career and performed well in a variety of roles for which it was not designed, including coastal patrol, convoy escort, dive-bomber, and even interceptor. The Mitsubishi F1M project was begun late in 1934 at the request of the Japanese Navy, and saw the first prototype complete its initial tests in June of 1936. The F1M2 gradually equipped most of the larger units of the Japanese Navy - eight battleships, nine cruisers, and six seaplane-support ships - and was also used at a host of small bases scattered throughout the islands of the Pacific. The plane proved to be structurally tough, easy to maintain, and highly versatile. Although the Pete was rather lightly armed, it was also used successfully to provide air cover for amphibious operations.

Mitsubishi F1M2 Type 0

Additional information on this aircraft can be found at Wikipedia HERE .

For a very nice scale color drawing of this aircraft, see here .

Additional color schemes for this aircraft can be found here.

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Mitsubishi F1M 'Pete' - History

This is another right out of the box build even using the kit decals. It is of a “Pete” that was in the Solomon Islands about January 1943. I have no information on the specific Senti but the kit lists the crewmen. They were NAP 4/C Ryoji Asanuma and NAP 1/C Michiho Takarada. I will take them at their word. I built this because I like the airplane and it looked like it would be fun to build. It was an absolute pleasure to put together. The fit was excellent and it is very precisely engineered. I would highly recommend this to anyone that likes Japanese airplanes.

I put the last picture in just to see if it comes out. It is of the Hasagawa 1/48 “Rufe” I built this for a gentleman and this is the only photo I have of it.

A very Happy New Year to all and a well earned “shout out” to Martin for all the work he is doing to bring like minded modelers from all over the World together. This is one fabulous site. Thank you.

Watch the video: 日本軍 零式観測機 Mitsubishi F1M Pete (January 2022).