J2M "Jack", Japanese Fighter

Photograph of captured J2M Raiden "Jack"

Captured J2M3 in American colors. U.S. Navy. Via Francillon (1979).

Mitsubishi J2M2 Raiden ("Thunderbolt") "Jack"





35’5” by 31'6" by 12'7"
10.8m by 9.695m by 3.875m
Wing area 216 square feet
20.1 square meters


5176-7077 lbs
2348-3210 kg

Maximum speed      

371 mph at 17,880 feet
597 km/h at 5300 meters

Cruising speed

219 mph
352 km/h

Climb rate

58 feet per second
17.7 meters per second

Service ceiling

36,090 feet
11,000 meters

Power plant

One 1800 hp (1342 kW) Mitsubishi MK4R-A Kasei 23a fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radial engine driving a four-blade constant-speed metal propeller.


Two wing-mounted 20mm Type 99 Model 2 cannon
Two 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns above the fuselage

External stores

Two 60 kg (132 lb) bombs or two 44 gallon (167 liter) drop tanks.

Normal range

1180 miles
1900 km


A total of 476 aircraft were built by Mitsubishi Jukogyo K.K. from December 1943.
In addition, a number of J2M5s were built by the Koza Kaigun Kokusho (Koza Naval Air Arsenal).
Production at Mitsubishi's Nagoya and Suzuka plants was as follows:

  3 J2M1 prototypes
  155 J2M2 production aircraft
  260 J2M3 production aircraft
  21 J2M3a production aircraft
  2 J2M4 prototypes
  34 J2M5 production aircraft
  1 J2M6 production aircraft


The J2M3 was armed with two Model 1 and two Model 2 wing cannon.

The J2M3a had four Model 2 wing cannon.

The J2M5 introduced an 1820 hp (1357 kW) MK4U-A Kasei 26a engine and was armed with only two wing cannon. Its engine was, however, much more reliable, and it performed well against B-29s.

Designed as a bomber interceptor, Jack was armored, had adequate firepower, and sacrificed some maneuverability for speed and climb rate. Like the Mustang, the Jack used small laminar-flow wings with combat flaps. The engine was given an unusually long shaft to allow the use of a tapered cowling with reduced drag. The initial canopy design, which was meant to reduce drag as much as possible, was replaced with a more conventional flat panel canopy after early test pilots complained of distorted vision on landing.

The design went back to 1938, but was put on the back shelf in favor of development of the A6M Zero. As a result, the first prototype was not completed until February 1942. Production was approved in October 1942, but the Kasei engine gave continuing difficulties, and this kept the production rate very low for the first six months. This was just as well, as it was only then discovered that a defect in the tail wheel strut sometimes jammed the tail surfaces in the dive position, usually with fatal consequences.

In spite of continuing technical problems, the Jack seems to have been liked by those who flew it, and it became the favorite bomber destroyer of Japanese pilots. Most were retained in the home islands, but a small number were sent to the Philippines. Production was planned at 500 a month, but actual production never came close to this figure.


Francillon (1979)

Wilson (1998)

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