At the beginning of the war, A6M series planes were among the best fighter planes, not only in Japan but also in the world.
However, over time, better Japanese aircraft were needed to effectively counter such enemies as the American F6F Hellcat and the F4U Corsair. The Japanese Navy needed a carrier-based fighter with better speed than the A6Ms could offer. Japan had no engine more powerful than the Sakae 21 (used for the A6M3), so to create the A6M5 Model 52 they had to come up with a number of tricks to coax the best performance they could out of it. The plane’s non-folding wings had rounded wingtips, and their span was reduced to 11 meters (one meter shorter than the A6M2 Model 21). The exhaust system was improved by replacing the common exhaust system with separate exhaust nozzles for each pair of cylinders.
All of these changes reduced mobility but increased speed, making the model 52 the fastest of all the Zeros. A diving A6M5 model 52 could reach speeds of up to 657 kilometers per hour.
A total of 747 A6M5 model 52s were produced.