Mitsubishi A7M Sufa

After the Japanese surrender in 1945 US troops began to occupy the Japanese mainland. They inspected all militaru facilities and factories. One of the thing they found was an until then unkown factory where the Mitsubishi A7M Reppu (Strong Gale) was produced. In the factory they found 50 completed aircraft and a number of spare engines. The troops reported the find up the chain of command but because the confusion at the end of the war this report disappeared and no order were given regaring the aircraft.

After some months an entepreneuring US officer saw an opportunity to generate some profit and had the aircraft and spare engines crated and transprted to the port of Yokahama. He intended to sell the fighter on the black market but negotiations with the fledgling Indonesian and Thai government led to nothing. And so the planes we left in a warehouse.

When in 1948 the state of Isreal was formed the Israeli Armed forced looked everywhere to find weapons. Although officially the US government did not want to supply any arms to Israel, a former US Air Force officier remembered the A7Ms in Japan. he contacted the Israeli government and quickly a deal was made. The fighters were shipped to Israel and assembled there in June 1948.

After some test flights the fighters quickly entered combat and proved to be a nasty surprise for the Arab fighters opposing them. They outperformed the Egyptian Spitfire IXs with ease being faster and more manouverable. They were called "Sufa", a translation of their Japanese name.

The only problem with the Sufa was the engine. The Ha-43 engine, although powerful at 2200hp was not very reliable and there were a lot of problems with maintenance. The stock of available spare engines dwindled rapidly and by 1950 most of the Sufas were no longer operational.

One Sufa has been preserved and can be seen in the IAF museum at Hatzerim Airbase.

Last updated: 28/05/2017