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Mitsubishi Zero (ePub)

Japan's Legendary Fighter

Aviation > Reference Aviation > WWII WWII

By Peter C Smith
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
File Size: 18.4 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781473846661
Published: 9th December 2014


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The Mitsubishi Zero is one of the great legendary fighter aircraft ever to have graced the skies. Symbolic of the might of Imperial Japan, she represented a peak of developmental prowess in the field of aviation during the early years of the Second World War. Engineered with manoeuvrability in mind, this light-weight, stripped-back aircraft had a performance that left her opponents totally outclassed. The dogfights she engaged in with the Chinese, British, Dutch and American warplanes in the 1941-42 period are the stuff of aviation legend. The Zero fighter had four major assets - agility, long-range, experienced and war-blooded pilots and, most importantly of all, a total inability of the Allies, particularly in the Pacific Theatre of operations, to believe that Japan could produce such a machine. Despite a whole series of eyewitness reports from China, where she had swept the skies clean of all opposition, western minds were closed, and remained so until the brutal facts imposed themselves on their biased mindsets. All aircraft designs are a compromise of course, and the Zero had faults as well as strengths, two of which were to finally doom her; one was her lack of armour protection and the other was the inability of the Japanese to match the overwhelming production strength and innovation of Allied aircraft construction. Even so, she remained a potent threat until the end of the war, not least in her final role, that of a Kamikaze aircraft, in which she created as much havoc on the sea as she had done earlier in the air.

Peter C. Smith takes the reader on a journey from inspired inception to the blazing termination of this unique aircraft, the first Naval fighter to be superior to land-based aircraft. It describes in detail the many victories that punctuated the early days of its operational career as well as the desperate dying days of the Second World War which witnessed her final demise. Smith also lists the preserved Zero aircraft on display today. This is a fast-paced and fascinating history of a fighter aircraft like no other.

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Amazon Review

This book is a well written volume on one of the most famous WW2 fighters: the tiny, nimble and effective Mitsubishi A6M “ZERO SEN” that spread terror and destruction during the first phase of the Pacific confrontation. The famed author Peter J. Smith correctly underlines how short sighted were the American and British powers in detecting the menace of this deadly combination: a very advanced fighter piloted by experienced warrior (the Japan fought successfully against China since 1937) among the most determined and trained in the world. Incredibly this short sightedness perpetrated till to the first bloodied duels in the Asian skies between the Zero Sen and the USAAC P-40, the USN/USMC F4F and also the RAF’s Hurricane, all of them inferior to the nimble fighter especially in the low speed dogfights.
However the smarter military officials during 1941 put full throttle to the development of the hugely more advanced F6F HELLCAT, F4U CORSAIR and P-47 THUNDERBOLT fighters in order to prepare the Allied’s power revenge against the Rising Sun empire. Another good addition to this text is the description of the Japanese military culture, forged in centuries of honour and tradition: this tradition brought to the most dramatic level the “kamikaze” phenomenon, indeed with hundreds of young Zero’s pilots determined to die for the Empire.

Author Smith bring also to life the troubled genesis of the Zero Sen’s project, with the Hiro Horikoshi team hard committed to satisfy the near impossible requirements of the IJ Navy.
In the following chapters the book describes the main Zero’s theatre of operation, trailing its career from the first epic triumphs to the tragic defeats during the period 1943 to 1945.

A good and thrilling book, that could have benefitted by the addition of a larger and better iconographic section.

Panorama Difesa/June 2016 – Marco de Montis

There has always been an amount of dispute as to the real place in aviation history for the famous Zero. The author has provided a flowing narrative, examining the strengths and weaknesses of the Mitsubishi Zero. He has considered its early career when the legend was built, and followed it through the end where the dropping of two nuclear bombs removed the need for the Allies to invade the Japanese home islands, where the Zero had been carefully husbanded to be available for mass suicide attacks on invasion forces. The text is supported by a well-selected photo plate section. This is a good review of a famous warplane and will appeal to any reader who has any interest in the Pacific battles and the use of the Zero to achieve the amazing early Japanese advances, followed by the slow death of their ambitions, as the tide of war turned and flowed relentlessly against Japan... The author has followed the fortunes of this famous warplane, providing a real flavour of how its strengths were initially used and then how a shortage of experienced pilots, a dramatic number of carrier sinking's, combined to reduce the effectiveness against the modern Allied aircraft flooding into the theatre

FIRE Project

A handy history of Mitsubishi's legendary Zero. Make it your launch pad to further study of this classic combatant!

Cybermodeler Online

This volume is a very detailed account of the A6M and its operational activity... A well researched history of an aircraft that ruled the skies of the Pacific until overwhelmed by massed production of planes and pilots.


I recommend this book to any aircraft enthusiast.

TRM Review Connect

An interesting and balanced account.

Military Modelling

It is illustrated by well reproduced black and white photographs with comprehensive captions. Extensive footnotes and a useful appendix complete a competent effort at describing the history of a difficult subject to cover.

Aviation News

Japan's most famous fighter has been the subject of many books, so this new one has to offer a good account, which it does admirably.
An interesting a well-researched look at the A6M Zero series.

Aeroplane Monthly
 Peter C Smith

About Peter C Smith

PETER CHARLES HORSTEAD SMITH was born in Norfolk in 1940. After living in London, Kent and Cambridge he and his wife Pat settled in the small Bedfordshire village of Riseley in 1982 where they currently still reside. Peter is a Member of The Society of Authors, London, and has worked as both a book and a magazine editor but has been a full-time historian and author since 1968. Peter is best known for his eighty-six meticulously researched factual history books on aviation, military and naval topics.Details of all Peter's books are to be found at: www.dive-bombers.co.uk

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