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Restored Zero fighter flies over Japan

38 Comments
By MIKI TODA

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Wait, did I read that right? An American pilot flying a zero in Japan?? Must be more to that story!

1 ( +5 / -4 )

"Zero fighters....rivaling the British Spitfire."

Not really. The Spitfire was continually upgraded throughout the war with more powerful engines and better equipment, through to 12 marks The Zero was stuck with 1930s technology because its structure was too weak and limited to handle upgrades and advanced modifications.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

I was looking for some footage of this plane on Youtube and apparently a Zero flew over Ibaraki in the 90’s. That plane was also piloted by an American and reading the comments, it should have been a Japanese pilot. Sigh. You wouldn’t want to damage, or worse, crash this thing, so better have somebody with lots of experience with this plane behind the controls.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

An American pilot flying a zero in Japan?? Must be more to that story!

@tokyo

That was the first thing that popped into my mind as well, particularly given that it was the first time a Zero has flown over Japan since WWII.

Doubtlessly most readers are wondering why Holm was chosen as the pilot for this high-profile flight. It's an obviously key element of the story, and clearly should have been mentioned — Journalism 101.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"I study your country four years at UCRA!!!"

rat tat tat tat tat tat

0 ( +0 / -0 )

piloted by Skip Holm, a former U.S. Air Force pilot, prepares to take off at an air station in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture, on Wednesday.

This must've really angered the surviving victims of the Tokyo Firebombing Air Raids.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

JeffLeeJan. 28, 2016 - 08:16AM JST "Zero fighters....rivaling the British Spitfire." Not really. The Spitfire was continually upgraded throughout the war with more powerful engines and better equipment, >through to 12 marks The Zero was stuck with 1930s technology because its structure was too weak and limited to handle >upgrades and advanced modifications.

Yes not really is right. Spitfires were no match for the Zeroes through 1943. 28-32 Spitfires were shot down over Darwin with them taking down 3 Zeroes and KI-43s.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

There is another beautiful Zero fighter at Yasukuni shrine. Can that Zero fly? Maybe afther some repairs done. It looks good to be able to fly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The Japanese is noted for its technology, even today - robotics etc. Japan will continue to advance in the hi-tech field and perhaps fighter aircraft cooperating with its ally the US. It's not only the Zero fighters but also the daring pilots that put up robust fights during WW II. The present Japanese Defence Force including its Air Force today is a credible fighting arm to be reckon with. It will protect its homeland from adversaries, especially those who intrude and have diabolical intentions to take over their territories (Senkaku, Okinawa) and their airspace.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Oh man there has got to be more than a few right wingers not happy with who piloted this flight, wonder want abe thinks.......

All in all rather symbolic isn't it!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Weren't the Zeros made up largely of wood or something? I'd be pretty nervous hopping in that

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

GWJan. 28, 2016 - 09:47AM JST Oh man there has got to be more than a few right wingers not happy with who piloted this flight, wonder want abe >thinks....... All in all rather symbolic isn't it!

Right Wingers,,LOL. About as many Japanese are upset about an American pilot as there are Americans upset about Japanese astronauts on NASA flights, Get a clue.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Zero fighters were considered one of the most capable long-range fighter planes in World War II, rivaling the British Spitfire.

Untrue, the Spitfire had a range of only about 750 km whereas the Zero had a range of about 2300 km.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

What made the A6M Zero-sen great was its astonishing maneuverability and climb rate for its day. Unfortunately, the plane's design sacrificed armor protection to get that performance, and by 1943 the A6M was no match against the Grumman F6F Hellcat.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

With Bob Hope in the background singing, "Thanks for the memories! . . ."

My own personal favorite for a fighter plane of WWII goes to the P-51 Mustang. Not the fastest one up in the air at the time, but what a dangerous beast!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Raymond Chuang:

Exactly, thus the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot". Mitsubishi also did not have self-sealing fuel tanks (to lighten the wing load and make if more maneuverable but easier to shoot down). Combined with the lack of amour around the pilot led to a devastation loss of experienced pilots.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

the plane's design sacrificed armor protection to get that performance

It was because the steel was scarce. Japan couldn't afford armor protection.

-7 ( +3 / -10 )

Interestingly, the plane was flown by a U.S. pilot since no Japanese pilots have a license to fly a Zero. Not too surprising since none have been built for decades.

Video of the flight

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/videonews/fnn?a=20160127-00000760-fnn-soci

Backstory: Zero fighter plane being prepped for first flight since WWII

www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/13/national/zero-fighter-plane-prepped-first-flight-since-wwii/

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Very cool I'm sure there are Japanese pilots who are studying to be type certified.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Zero vs Spitfire…moot.

The man flying the machine is just as important.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The story title is ambiguous, but now I understand the meaning. It is not that no Zero has flown over Japan since WWII, just that THIS Zero hasn't flown since WWII.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The plane is owned by an American, so flown by an American is cool enough.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It would have had more of an impact had it been a Japanese pilot taking a turn at flying the ZERO. I'm sure the American pilot is well trained and versed on the ZERO but for national pride of history having one of our own fly is best especially in our young people. America and Japan are great allies and it is good to see our two countries work together for the same outcome. Better yet to have flown the ZERO to the Senkaku islands that would have made real headlines and pissed off China for old times sakes.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

While rented Zeroes have flown in Japan on occasion in the past

Yeah?? Where can I rent one!?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is another beautiful Zero fighter at Yasukuni shrine

No, it is at the revisionist museum next to Yasukuni shrine.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Interestingly, the Japanese by the end of World War II finally did field some great fighters, notably the Nakajima Ki. 84 Hayate (a great fighter hampered by the unreliable Homare engine) and the Kawasaki Ki. 100, the "accidental great fighter" (because replacing the unreliable Ha. 140 inline engine with the much more reliable Ha. 112-II radial engine turned the plane from an middling to awesome fighter).

Yet, the A6M Zero-sen will be the best-known Japanese fighter of World War II, especially its enormous success from its introduction in 1940 to 1943. The plane was designed by Mitsubishi aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi, whose story was fictionalized in the Studio Ghibli animated feature The Wind Rises.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Seeing old war warbirds in the air always brings a lump to my throat - the beauty of the lines and the power of the engine represent all that we can achieve, yet when they were used to inflict death, this is lowest we humans have sunk.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Zero, Spitfire, etc. All museum pieces once the Me-262 entered combat...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Spitfires were no match for the Zeroes through 1943. 28-32 Spitfires were shot down over Darwin with them taking down 3 Zeroes and KI-43s.

Below is another quote from the same source as your above comment Ossan...

They (Spitfires) were Mk Vcs- Mk II airframes bodged to incorporate a more powerful engine and part cannon armament. They were further bodged with a poorly developed desert filter. The whole airframe was a bit of a lash up. The Australian Spitfires were a second batch (their original 'planes were stolen when they arrived in North Africa! :eek:), new when they left the UK, but in a bit of a state when they finally reached Australia months later. The RAAF did well just getting them back into flying condition. Spares availability and the lack of manufacturer support were always going to be an issue. The aircraft was poorly suited to tropical environments and suffered additional maintenance problems because of it.

Might explain why these particular Spitfires didn't cope well.

Zero, Spitfire, etc. All museum pieces once the Me-262 entered combat...

Olrik, Spitfires were in active RAF service until the 1950s with their Griffin engines and sleeker airframes. Me 262s were countered by RAF Meteors... a British jet fighter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On the news broadcast last night, I saw many people get very emotional after watching the flight at the airfield (mostly the older individuals). I wonder if they knew there was an American pilot flying the aircraft. Maybe I overlooked that part of the last night's report, but I didn't know this until now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Couple of years ago I saw the two last flying Lancasters flying over and landing at the airshow and that was emotional, so I can well imagine what the sight of the Zero must have done to the people watching. So it had an American pilot... American pilots sometimes fly Spitfires and other classic British warbirds at airshows and I don't get uptight about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

An American pilot could be explained by a couple things: (1) it mitigates the nationalistic aspect of the event and thus blunts criticisms of a plane that's a dark reminder in Japanese history, and (2) it emphasizes that all is forgiven now between Japan and the US - that Japan would let an American pilot it, and an American pilot not minding piloting such a plane that was responsible for many Allies deaths.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Weren't the Zeros made up largely of wood or something?

No.

De Havilland Mosquito would be the most famous example of that, for the era. It was introduced in November 1941, already (for Britain) more than 2 years into the war. It was a very highly regarded aircraft, and exceptionally versatile.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A real pilot is beyond nationality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The plane is owned by an American, so flown by an American is cool enough.

It's owned by a nihonjin:

This particular plane was found decaying in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s. It was owned by an American until Japanese businessman Masahiro Ishizuka purchased it and brought it to Japan last September.

I would imagine that the reason Skip Holm was chosen to fly it is because he participates annually in the Reno Air Races using a race-modified P-51D Mustang - a high-performance "tail-dragger" like the A6M0 is. When you've spent thousands of man-hours taking a neglected vintage warbird and restoring her to airworthiness, you want someone with a high number of hours in a similar aircraft to be piloting it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've seen the Zero in the Ueno Science Museum... big bruiser of a plane.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My Japanese friends farther in law was a Kamakaze pilot, he joined the Japanese air force towards the end of the war, needless to say he never flew in anger (as far as I know) right at the end of WW11, Ive emailed this article over to him and I am awaiting his response, I am not to sure whether or not it brings back painful memories, but its nice to see these old war birds flying, its a testament to the skilled crafts men and woman that restore these aircraft.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

SIgn of the times we live in

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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