Mitsubishi F1M PETE


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Mitsubishi F1M PETE

Roughly equivalent to the American Curtiss SOC Seagull observation float biplane, the smaller Mitsubishi F1M was of more compact and neater design, its development starting about two years later in 1934. First flown in June 1936, the F1M1 embodied all the efforts of its designers to achieve an exceptionally clean aerodynamic shape, including low-drag float mountings, single interplane struts and all-metal construction, only the control surfaces being fabric-covered. The early aircraft displayed poor water handling and a lack of in-flight directional stability, however, but after fairly extensive alterations the production F1M2 emerged as a thoroughly efficient aircraft, acceptable in all respects.

Initial production by Mitsubishi, which got under way in 1938, amounted to 524 aircraft before it was transferred to the 21st Naval Air Arsenal (Dai-Nijuichi Kaigun Kokusho) at Sasebo, where a further 590 were built. In due course the F1M2 equipped all but one of the K-Maru (6,900-ton) and S-Maru (7,200/8,300-ton) classes of converted merchant seaplane tenders, as well as numerous battleships and cruisers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Codenamed 'Pete' by the Allies, FlM2s were present at the Battle of Midway, two aircraft being launched from the battleship Kirishima (but being lost when the Japanese scuttled the sorely-crippled ship at the end of the Battle of the Solomons). The giant superbattleships Musashi and Yamato each carried several 'Petes' to spot for their 460mm main gun armament at the time of the Marianas battles, but none was used in earnest; instead the Musashi succumbed to American bombs and torpedoes in the Sibuyan Sea; the Yamato, bent on a suicide mission to Okinawa, followed her to the bottom on 7 April 1945.

Nevertheless 'Pete' seaplanes were widely used throughout the Pacific war, accompanying every seaborne landing by Japanese forces, providing gunnery spotting during preliminary bombardment by supporting warships and subsequently serving as covering fighters (and even dive-bombers) once the assault forces were ashore. It was also flown on convoy escort duties with the many supply convoys sailed by the Japanese during the mid-war period. In the last stages of the war, the type was committed to the unequal task of defending the Japanese homeland from the devastating American raids, serving alongside 'Rex' and 'Rufe' seaplane fighters with the Otsu Kokutai in 1945.

Mitsubishi F1M PETE

 ENGINE1 x Mitsubishi "Tsuisei-13", 655kW
  Take-off weight2550 kg5622 lb
  Empty weight1928 kg4251 lb
  Wingspan11 m36 ft 1 in
  Length9.5 m31 ft 2 in
  Height4 m13 ft 1 in
  Wing area29.54 m2317.97 sq ft
  Max. speed365 km/h227 mph
  Ceiling9440 m30950 ft
  Range730 km454 miles
 ARMAMENT3 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 120kg of bombs

Mitsubishi F1M PETEA three-view drawing (752 x 1231)

L. B. Dorny, e-mail, 25.09.2014 11:26

Among others, F1M2s equipped the floatplane units in seaplane carriers Chitose and Mizuho during the East Indies Campaign through March 1942, providing both anti-air and anti-submarine defense for invasion convoys to Menado /Kema, Kendari, Ambon, and Timor. Over Kema, Celebes, on 11 Jan. they turned back seven PBY Catalinas in a level bombing formation, shooting down one Dutch and one USN PBY.


Patrick, e-mail, 13.04.2014 06:41

the Japanese stuff has some special mystique imo.
These things (as opposed to the Rufe float-zero) actually fought dogfights in the Solomons with US P39s...the P39 was so bad that it was actually a more even match than it might look on paper...not only the Japanese battleships, but the big cruisers in particular like Chokai, Mogami and Tone, would also have a mixed catapult group of up to 5 of these and the larger twin-flat "Jack" scouts.


Sultan, e-mail, 05.04.2013 04:56

This aircraft Provided the Yamato with gunnary spotting and Guidance in the battle off Samar, it operated as a reporter for outcomes of Salvos. during this battle the first salvo fired by the yamato hit the USS white plains, she also sunk another vessel and heavily damaged two others.


Joe, e-mail, 12.03.2013 17:00

Citations please.


Ken Robinson, e-mail, 29.01.2012 20:16

Submarine USS Grunion 216 July 30-31 1942 The Japanese Merchant ship Kano Maru took aboard a "Pete"( Mitsubishi F1M) who had ditched just off Kiska Alaska. 2 man crew was safe and plane was craned aboard. See Grunion web site. Ken


Bob Shelley, e-mail, 09.11.2010 20:51

There are documents available through the Smithsonian showing all of the dimensions and individual parts of the Pete. Unfortunately there are fees... but you might be able to select the images you want.


Jesper, e-mail, 22.03.2010 15:05

I am working on a R /C scale model in size 1:5 of this plane. It will be online here soon:


Mick, e-mail, 23.11.2008 04:22

One of my favourite Aircraft of all time! What a Warbird it would make!!!


Mike Belue, e-mail, 07.09.2007 08:01

Could you please help me with some cockpit photos of this plane? I've been searching for a while and haven't found anything at all.




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