The bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy: the Mitsubishi G3M

(To Francesco Sisto)

Il Mitsubishi G3M – the Type 96 Navy assault bomber – was one of the most important medium bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy in the years leading up to World War II, and also played an important role in the early part of the conflict in the Pacific theater. The Allies nicknamed the aircraft "Nell".

Il G3M took off for the first time in July 1935, taking off from an airport in Nagasaki and landing at Haneda airport (Tokyo). Overall, from 1935 to 1945, more than 1000 specimens were made.

According to the technicians of the period, the aircraft was from every point of view "an average bomber with sublime qualities". In this regard, Giorgio Bonacina writes: “Cantilever medium-wing monoplane, equipped with a double vertical drift and with an entirely metallic structure, it appeared to have an extreme modernity of lines and provided extraordinary performance in terms of maneuverability, the speed and range”1.

The primary user of the bomber was the Air Force Service of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The aircraft made its debut in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. In this theater the bombers were able to make the most of their long-range capabilities.

I G3M they carried out strategic bombing raids on many Chinese cities; they took part in the battle of Shanghai (August-November 1937) and on battle of Nanking (December 1-13, 1937). Later, after the fall of the city, the Japanese forces committed the terrifying massacre of Nanjing...

It is good to remember that there were many bombers G3M shot down in action by Chinese fighters. In this regard, i Curtiss HawkIII and Boeing P-26 it was the aircraft that put i seriously in difficulty G3M.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy were used - practically - on all war theaters and distinguished themselves.

I G3M they participated in battle of the Philippines and battle of singapore. It should be emphasized that the vehicles took part in the sinking of the cruiser Repulse and the battleship Prince of Wales on 10 December 1941 (see article The Japanese bombers in the Second world war: the “Rikko”).

I Nell - about twenty - contributed to the raid against Darwin in Australia on February 19, 1942; in that attack 30 aircraft were destroyed, 11 ships were sunk and 25 ships were damaged.

On January 29, 1943 the cruiser USS Chicago (CL-CA 29), During the battle of the island of Renel (Solomon Islands), was hit by two torpedoes launched by some G3M; the following day the bombers G4M they gave the coup de grace to the ship sinking it with 4 torpedoes. In that battle the Japanese Navy achieved a victory.

Later, i Mitsubishi G3M – especially since 1943 - were gradually replaced by more modern aircraft.

Il Mitsubishi G3M (version G3M2) had a wingspan of 25 m, height 3,68 m and length of 16,45 m. The empty weight was 4965 kg, while loaded 8000 kg.

Engine: 2 Mitsubishi Kinsei, power 1061 HP. The maximum speed was 375 km/h, the cruising speed was 280 km/h. The ceiling altitude was 9200 m.

Armament consisted of 1 x 99 mm Type 20 cannon and 92 mm Type 7,7 machine guns.

The bomber carried up to 800 kg of bombs or one torpedo.

He could count on a crew of 7 men.

1 G. Bonacina, The Japanese Mitsubishi G3M bomber, in Illustrated History n°218, 1976, p.107

Photo: web