The Mitsubishi MU-2 is a Japanese high-wing, twin-engine turboprop aircraft with a pressurized cabin manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
It made its maiden flight in September 1963 and was produced until 1986.
It is one of post-war Japan’s most successful aircraft, with 704 manufactured in Japan and San Angelo, Texas, in the United States.
Work on the MU-2, Mitsubishi’s first post-war aircraft design, began in 1956.
Designed as a light twin turboprop transport suitable for a variety of civil and military roles, the MU-2 first flew on 14 September 1963.
This first MU-2, and the three MU-2As built, were powered by the Turbomeca Astazou turboprop.
Civil MU-2s powered by Garrett engines were certified as variants of the MU-2B, using the MU-2B type followed by a number.
For marketing purposes, each variant was given a suffix letter; the MU-2B-10, for example, was sold as the MU-2D, while the MU-2B-36A was marketed as the MU-2N.
The MU-2 has a high cruise speed coupled with a low landing speed.
This is accomplished by using over-wing spoilers instead of conventional ailerons for roll control, allowing the use of full-span double-slotted flaps on the trailing edge of the wing; the very large flaps give the MU-2 wing loading comparable to a Beechcraft King Air in landing configuration, while having wing loading comparable to a light jet in cruise.
The spoilers are highly effective, even when the MU-2 wing is stalled, and the lack of ailerons eliminates adverse yaw.
The Japan Self-Defence Forces are the only military operators to have flown the MU-2 in front-line service.
Japan Ground Self-Defence Force
The four C-model aircraft built, in addition to 16 MU-2Ks, entered service with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) with the designation LR-1; they were used as liaison and photo reconnaissance aircraft.
They were retired in 2016.
A number of them have been placed as gate guardians at JGSDF bases.
Japan Air Self-Defence Force
29 MU-2Es were purchased by the Japan Air Self-Defence Force as search-and-rescue aircraft and designated MU-2S.
Additional equipment consisted of a “thimble” nose radome, increased fuel capacity, bulged observation windows, and a sliding door for dropping rafts.
They were replaced in 2008 by the British Aerospace U-125A.
Some have been preserved.
Argentine Air Force
Four civilian MU-2 (LV-MCV, LV-MOP, LV-OAN and LV-ODZ) were acquired by the Argentine Air Force during the Falkland War.
These Mitsubishi were unarmed but used during combat operations by the Escuadrón Fénix as pathfinders, reconnaissance and comm-relay planes.
Among their missions were flying as guiding planes to the IA-58 Pucará replacements required after losses on the raid on Pebble Island.
Royal New Zealand Air Force
In late 2009 the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) took delivery of four Mitsubishi MU-2F fixed-wing training aircraft from the United States for use as training aids.
In New Zealand service they are known as the Mitsubishi MU-2 Sumo.
The aircraft were ferried to New Zealand and are located at the RNZAF’s Ground Training Wing (GTW) at RNZAF Base Woodbourne near Blenheim in New Zealand’s South Island.
United States Air Force
Since 1987 MU-2s have been flown by retired United States Air Force pilots working under government contract at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, where they provide U.S. Air Force undergraduate Air Battle Manager students at the U.S. Air Force Weapons Controller School with their initial experience controlling live aircraft.
In the tactical simulations, the aircraft usually represent F-15s and Mikoyan MiG-29s.
Students must control eight MU-2 missions before they can progress to controlling high-performance aircraft such as F-15s or F-22s.
Astazou-powered prototype, one built
Astazou-powered development aircraft, three built.
Production variant with Garrett TPE331 engines, 34 built.
Unpressurized variant for the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force, four built.
Improved MU-2B, higher operating altitude and bladder fuel tanks rather than wet-wings, 18 built.
MU-2D with 90-gallon tip tanks and upgraded engines, three built.
Unpressurized variant for the Japanese military designated MU-2S
Variant with improved engines and 90-gallon tip tanks as MU-2DP but certified at a higher gross weight and additional fuel tanks, 95 built.
Short fuselage variant of the MU-2J, 83 built.
Revised variant of the MU-2K with increased weight, and increased cabin pressure, 27 built.
Improved variant with four-bladed propellers and improvements as MU-2N, 31 built.
Variant with improved engines and increased fuel capacity, 57 built between 1979 and 1985.
Stretched variant with a 1.91m increase in length, larger cabin and change to landing gear configuration, first flown in January 1969, 46 built.
Variant with improved engines, eleven-inch increase in cabin length and increased gross weight, 108 built.
Revised variant of the MU-2L with increased weight, and increased cabin pressure.
Improved variant with four-bladed propellers and other improvements including an extra cabin window, 36 built.
Variant with improved engines, 139 built.
Freighter conversions of long fuselage MU-2 variants by Cavenaugh Aviation Inc. of Conroe, Texas, by addition of a crew door in place of a flight deck window and a large cargo door in the rear port fuselage.
Eleven aircraft had been converted by March 1987.
Japanese military designation for MU-2C and MU-2Ks operated by the JGSDF, 20 delivered.
Japanese military designation for a MU-2E search and rescue variant for the air force, 29 delivered.
1 or 2 pilots
12.01 m (39 ft 5 in)
11.94 m (39 ft 2 in) including tip tanks
4.17 m (13 ft 8 in)
16.55 m2 (178.1 sq ft)
3,433 kg (7,568 lb)
Max take-off weight
5,250 kg (11,574 lb)
1,388 L (367 US gal; 305 imp gal) maximum usable fuel