Blood Red Skies, Focus, Profiles

Aircraft Profile: Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero

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In this Aircraft Profile series, we’ll be looking at each of the aircraft released for Blood Red Skies, their history and their abilities in your games, continuing with Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero

Agile and fast the A6M5 Zero was a truly modern fighter. Severely underestimated by the Allies the Zero, in the hands of well trained and aggressive pilots, would dominate the skies and spearhead the Japanese invasion throughout the Pacific.

A6M3 Zuikaku prepare for takeoff from RabaulA6M3 Zuikaku prepare for takeoff from Rabaul

Unofficially referred to as both Rei-sen and Zero-sen. Japanese pilots most commonly called it Zero-sen (0 being the model number, and sen as it is the first syllable of sentōki, Japanese for “fighter plane”). Western pilots would eventually & most commonly refer to it as the ‘Zero’

By 1943 Western fighters were finding ways around the Zero’s dominance and whilst newer designs were being worked on the trusty airframe of the Zero went through yet another modification. The A6M5 Type 0 Model 52 could be considered as the most effective variant and the apex of the Zero’s dominance in the Pacific.

Although first produced by Mitsubishi, most Model 52s were made by Nakajima. The A6M5, first flown in August 1943, could reach 6,000 m (20,000 ft) in almost 7 minutes. At this altitude, it could maintain a maximum speed of 565 km/h (351 mph).

A6M5 52c KyushuA6M5 52c Kyushu

It proved a difficult opponent even for the Spitfire. Although not as fast as the Spitfire, the Zero could out-turn it with ease, sustain a climb at a very steep angle, and stay in the air for three times as long. Additionally, the RAF pilots were trained in methods that were excellent against German and Italian fighters but suicide against the more manurable Zero in the hands of an equally dedicated pilot.

The Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero in Blood Red Skies

Mount up for furious air combat in the agile and fast A6M5 Zero, Use tactics such as Tight Turn, Wall of Lead, and Poorly Trained Opponents to potentially devastating effect!

Zeros painted by Darek Wyrozebski

In the attack, pilots in the A6M5 Zero will find a tactical deck with some interesting options… Tight turn allows an aggressive Zero pilot to position more readily for the kill by allowing him to make a 45 degree turn at any point in his 7-inch movement. The Wall of Lead card can then be used, after you’ve rolled your dice for a shooting attack, to reroll any dice that failed to score a hit. Perfect to ensure that enemy ACE goes down in flames. Watch out though as to play this card will require you to take a boom chit.
In defence, The Poorly Trained Opponents card will allow you to force the opponent into passing a manoeuvre test to complete their chosen pilot action, potentially preventing them lining up for a shot or even for you to turn the tables on them next round.

A word of caution though, one major disadvantage to any pilot flying a Zero was that if hit they would almost always light up like a match. The Zero is therefore Vulnerable, any enemy about to fire on a Zero gains +1 to their firepower before they roll the dice.

A bonus in this set is the Tactical Wizard ACE card. It’s always advantageous to place your formation in the best possible position before an attack run. By playing this card during deployment you’ll get a +2 bonus on the dice roll for each aircraft in the ACE’s element. Perfect for getting the most out of an already superior aircraft.

By taking a Japanese Naval Squadron, you’ll instantly have an edge over your inferior enemies, and return to your base with many victories under your wings…

The Japanese Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero comes in a Squadron pack with:

  • 6x White injection moulded plastic A6M5 Zero
  • 6x Advantage Flying Base
  • 1x Aircraft card
  • 1x Ace trait card
  • 7x Aircraft Trait cards cards
  • 1x National emblem sticker sheet
  • 1x Squadron set of Double Sided Pilot Skill discs, Zoom & Boom chits, High Cover chit, and a Firepower range ruler.

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Lead your A6M5 Zero squadron into battle with their ACE, Saburō Sakai, discover more HERE, then report your exploits over at the Blood Red Skies Facebook page. See you in the air!

The Japanese Superiority force

Start your aerial campaign with the Blood Red Skies Japanese Superiority force. This offer gives you the Japanese ACE Saburō Sakai, 1 squadron of 6 A6M5 Zero’s (with all the counters, advantage flying bases, models and cards needed to field these advance, agile fighting machines) plus 10 dice!


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