The Mitsubishi A5M, also known in the Japanese Navy as the Type 96 carrier-based fighter was a single-seat single engine monoplane fighter with an open cockpit and fixed undercarriage. Designed for service on board the aircraft carriers of the Japanese Navy, it was the world's first monoplane carrier fighter when it entered service.
Codenamed "Claude" by the allies, the A5M saw extensive during the Sino-Japanese War from 1937 onwards and was still in frontline service when Japan attacked Pearl Harbour and began the invasion of Southeast Asia. Towards the end of 1941, it began to be replaced by its more famous successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. However it is entirely plausible that Claudes continued in service in rear areas such as Borneo where Biggles encountered it in Biggles in Borneo.
Biggles met a Claude while out on his first patrol from Lucky Strike with a formation of two Beaufighter. Biggles described it accurately as a "Mitsubishi Navy B.96" single-seat fighter. Being a carrier-borne fighter, Biggles suspected that there must be an aircraft carrier nearby, which turned out to be true.
Later in the book, in Chapter IV, Angus Mackail said that, coming back from Darwin, his Liberator had been attacked by some Mitsubishi fighters (most likely Claudes again) and that Ferocity Ferris had shot one down.
- Crew: One
- Length: 24 ft 9¼ in (7.55 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft 1 in (11.0 m)
- Max. takeoff weight: 4,017 lb (1,822 kg)
- Engine: 1 × Nakajima Kotobuki 41 9-cylinder radial engine, 785 hp
- Maximum speed: 273 mph (440 km/h)
- Range: 746 miles (1,200 km)
- Service ceiling: 32,150 ft (9,800 m)
- Guns: 2× 7.7 mm Type 97 aircraft machine guns