The Claude was designed in a time when biplanes ruled the sky. Conceived in the early 1930s, some doubted that the world’s first naval monoplane fighter would be a success.
Doubts faded as the Claude drew first blood over the turbulent skies of China in 1937. At that time, they faced opponents such as the Gloster Gladiator, Curtiss Hawk III, and Polikarpov I-15. The Claude proved itself a superior platform offering competitive maneuverability, a superior field of view, and faster speed. It also proved to be an effective escort fighter, often providing cover for Mitsubishi G3M ‘Nell’ formations.
As quick as the Claude came, it would soon be sidelined for its more famous successor, the Mitsubishi A6M. Nevertheless, several Claudes remained operational well into WWII.
This model represents an A5M2b that was operated by the Imperial Japanese Navy in China, in 1938. The A5M2b utilized a 640hp Kotobuki radial engine. It had two 7.7mm synchronized machine guns in the cowl, and could carry either a small bomb or drop tank. This model was assembled by Maksim Goyna.
Photo and text credit for Flight Line Media.