Mitsubishi G3M2 'Nell'

The Mitsubishi G3M2 was the main production version of the G3M Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber. It was produced in two models – the Model 21, which differed from the G3M1 mainly in having more powerful engines, and the Model 22 which also carried heavier defensive armament. At least half of the total production of G3Ms consisted of Mitsubishi and Nakajima produced G3M2s.

G3M2 Type 96 Model 21

Early G3M2 Type 96 Model 21s differed from the G3M1 by being powered by two Mitsubishi Kensei 41 engines, each providing 1,075hp. Later aircraft used the Kinsei 42 or the Kinsei 45, which produced its power at a higher altitude than the earlier engines. Some sources suggest that aircraft with this latter engine were designated as the G3M2b. The G3M2 Model 21 carried the same three 7.7mm guns as the G3M1, although the dorsal turrets were modified in an attempt to reduce drag. Fuel capacity was increased from 837 to 852 Imperial gallons. The Model 21 was the first version of the G3M to be equipped with license built Sperry automatic pilots and radio direction finders, but they did not become standard equipment until the introduction of the Model 22. Mitsubishi built 343 G3M2 Model 21s.

G3M2 Type 96 Model 22

Plans of Mitsubishi G3M
Plans of
Mitsubishi G3M
Mitsubishi G3M 'Nell' from above
Mitsubishi G3M 'Nell' from above

The G3M2 Type 96 Model 22 was more heavily armed than the Model 21. The ventral and rear dorsal turrets were removed, leaving only the forward dorsal turret of the original three turrets. Blister positions were added on each side of the rear fuselage, carrying flexible 7.7mm guns. Most importantly a large “turtle back” turret was added, housing a manually operated flexibly mounted 20mm Type 99 Model 1 Cannon. Later aircraft also carried a fourth flexible 7.7mm gun which could be fired from either side of the cockpit. The Sperry automatic pilots and radio direction finder units become standard on this version. Mitsubishi produced 238 G3M2 Model 22s. Najakima produced a total of 412 aircraft, but sources do not distinguish between their production of the G3M2 Model 22 and the G3M3. 

Those G3M2s that were converted into L3Y2 transport aircraft were also given the designation G3M2d.

G3M2 Kai high-altitude reconnaissance plane

The G3M2 Kai was a high-altitude reconnaissance version of the G3M produced just before the Japanese entry into the Second World War. It was given a power operated aerial camera with a 50cm lens, which took a picture every 15 seconds. They were designed to operate at altitudes between 25,000 and 30,000 feet, which made them very difficult to intercept. The first G3M2 Kai conversions were carried out in February 1941, and by April enough aircraft had been produced to equip three reconnaissance squadrons. These squadrons operated from Peleliu, Truk, Tinian and Hainan Islands, and were used to fly reconnaissance missions over British, French and American territories in the Pacific, starting with the Philippines.

G3M2-K trainer

A number of G3M2s were converted to act as training aircraft, starting in 1938. They were used for Advanced Combat Training of bomber crews from then until late in 1943, and then again from the spring of 1944. 

Mitsubishi G3M over icy landscape
Mitsubishi G3M over icy landscape

G3M2 Model 22
Engines: Two Mitsubishi Kinsei 41, 42 or 45 fourteen-cylinder air cooled radial engines
Power: 1,076hp at take off (all), 990hp at 9,185ft (41 and 42) or 1,000hp at 13,715ft (45)
Crew: 7
Span: 83ft 1/4in
Length: 53ft 11 5/8in
Height: 12ft 1/16in
Empty Weight: 10,936lb
Loaded Weight: 17,637lb
Maximum Speed: 232mph at 13,715ft
Cruising Speed: 173mph at 13,125ft
Climb to 9,845ft: 8min 19sec
Service Ceiling: 29,950ft
Range: 2,722 statute miles (maximum)
Armaments: One 20mm Type 99 Model 1 cannon in dorsal turret, one 7.7mm Type 92 machine in each lateral blister and in a retractable dorsal turret, plus one flexible gun fired from cockpit windows.
Bomb load: One 1,764lb torpedo or the same weight in bombs carried under the fuselage

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 December 2008), Mitsubishi G3M2 ‘Nell’,

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