"The Last Zero Fighter" by Dan King

The Last Zero Fighter – Firsthand Accounts from WWII Japanese Naval Pilots
By Dan King
Pacific Press – 2012
ISBN 978-1468178807

[Image: lastzerofighter.jpg]

The book is 292 pages long, divided into 5 Chapters (each one devoted to one man) and contains 79 pictures and drawings.

The men featured are (summaries are from Historical Consulting | The Last Zero Figher):

1 - Kaname Harada: Worked his way out of the fleet Navy to become a fighter pilot. He is the last surviving member of the air group that bombed the USS Panay outside of Nanking in December 1937. He flew from the Soryu at the Battle of Wake Island, then at Midway claiming few U.S. Navy torpedo bombers, and was later shot down at Guadalcanal. He ended the war training future Kamikaze pilots who were slated to fly rocket fighters into US warships.

2 - Isamu Miyazaki: Served in the surface fleet where he traveled to Egypt and Paris before the war, later worked on a river boat in China before making it into the Naval Air Service in 1936. He was a wingman of Kanichi "One-Wing" Kashimura in the sky above Yokosuka on April 18, 1942 as the Doolittle Raiders attacked Japan. He fought US fighters in the 252nd Air Group under Lt Suganami and then Lt. Naoshi Kanno at Rabaul; then Guadalcanal; the reverse defense of Wake Island; then fought against B-24 bombers and then the US invasion of Tarawa from his base in the Marshall Islands; he fought as a member of the Hachiman Butai in the skies over Iwo Jima and then assigned to Minoru Genda's air group of Aces, the 343rd Air Group for the defense of the homelands. He witnessed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki

3 - Haruo Yoshino: Joined the Navy as a teenager and was the commander of a torpedo plane from the Kaga that dropped a fish into the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. He was in the initial invasion of Rabaul and the attack on Port Darwin, Australia. He was later in one of the seven infamous search planes that failed to locate the Americans at the Battle of Midway and was aboard the Kaga when it was attacked and sunk. He went through Truk Lagoon, fought at Guadalcanal, Santa Cruz, in the air above Iwo Jima and Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.

4 - Toshimitsu Imaizumi: Joined the Navy's pre-flight academy as a teenager and became a fighter pilot stationed on Hainan Island where he fought against B-24s and P-38s before being sent to Taiwan and with the 254th Air Group to Mabalacat Airfield the Philippines. He witnessed the first official Kamikaze flight taken by Lt. Yukio Seki. He himself flew Kamikaze escort duty, and then eventually was assigned as a Kamikaze pilot himself in the defense of Okinawa.

5 - Tomokazu Kasai: The youngest Japanese Naval ace of the war joined the Navy's pre-flight academy as a teenager and found himself thrust into combat over Iwo Jima, Guam, Saipan, Peleliu, Yap the Philippines as a Kamikaze escort pilot and finally with the squadron of aces, the 301st Fighter Squadron under Minoru Genda, the planner of the Pearl Harbor attack.


From an American perspective it was interesting to read the story from the other side of the war. Imo, The book is a little light on the "getting to know the men" side of the story but can't be beat from a detail "Where were you and when" side of the story. If you don't want to buy a copy I would definitely see if your local library has it.


Yes, cavu, sounds interesting indeed.

Everybody knows that the Japanese were well organized and industrious. The review by you hints at them also being spread thin in occupied areas.

Isn't it fascinating that in the middle and late war periods Japanese pilots would somehow survive most or all of the war against the great numerical superiority of USA air forces? Truly brave and skillful pilots they were.

Thank you for the review! Big Grin


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