Thursday, January 9, 2014

American Mishima Looks at The Last Zero Fighter

Baseball! Certainly not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of WWII. But on that one Saturday morning of April 18th 1942, the war would take a backseat to the biggest day in Japanese Baseball for both players and fans alike for the entire year. Nagoya would be playing a double header against their Osaka Rivals at Nagoya Stadium while over at the Korakuen Stadium in Tokyo, the Tokyo Kyojin (Yomuri Giants) would play against the Blackhawks. This was also the day that would have the Japanese nation glued to their radios to hear the Japanese High School World Series taking place at Koshien near Kobe. It didn't matter that there was a war going on, this was the national obsession and indeed it was an exciting day for Baseball. But for Zero Pilot Isamu Miyazaki of the Imperial Japanese Navy assigned to fly the CAP (Combat Air Patrol) over the skies of Tokyo that morning, the day’s scores and highlights would have to wait. His duties were to protect the skies over Tokyo. But just before 9:30 AM when he was about to take off to his four hour CAP, Isamu Miyazaki and his two wingmen received an unusual set of orders that would haunt him for the rest of his life. 

In a little known incident that was nearly lost to history, something stranger than fiction took place that can now be revealed here. As history recalls on April 18th 1942 was the same day that America struck back at the Japanese Home Islands with the famous Doolittle Raid. Unbeknownst to the American bomber pilots who were expecting fierce resistance, the Imperial Japanese Army had informed the Navy that morning their intention to fly new experimental twin engine bombers that day. Miyazaki’s orders were to stay clear of the Army bombers and not approach them. The bombers were to be conducting radar and fuel tests. Miyazaki was further asked to “give them a wide berth.” But earlier that morning around 7:30 am, the Japanese picket boat Nittō Maru had spotted the USS Hornet and Task Force 18 some 650 nautical miles (1200 km) out from Japan. She had radioed in the American’s position before being sunk by the USS Nashville. After informing the Emperor of the impending attack, the Army assumed the Hornet would not launch its attack on the main islands until mid-day thus allowing two more hours to mount a proper defense. But as fate would have it or as Americans could call “a case of dumb luck”, no one in the Army bothered to tell the Navy or the men flying the CAP about the impending raid. As a result, Miyazaki and his men observed the twin engine bombers fly right past them as expected without firing a shot. But when Miyazaki noticed the brown paint and big white stars painted on the planes, he began to second guess his strange orders. Suddenly, a maelstrom of clutter jammed the radio frequency. It seemed everyone got on the radio at the same time making a report impossible thus forcing his CAP to land to make a report before returning to the air to give chase to the American B-25’s who were by then long gone. The rest you could say was history.

This is just one of the many and often never before heard exciting true stories featured in The Last Zero Fighter. Written by Daniel King, - An author who earned a degree in Japanese Language and later worked in Japan for the Toyota Motor Corporation. This book compiles the firsthand accounts from some of Japan’s top surviving Naval Aviators of the Pacific War who were interviewed by the author in their homes in their native language in some cases just weeks before they passed away. Discover the early days of Japanese Naval Aviation through the experiences of the young teenage cadets of the Yokaren Preparatory flight training program and the long road to the cockpit. Learn about the early War in China and what really happened in Nanking from the eyes of the men who were really there. You’ll also learn about the incident that nearly started a war with the United States in 1937. Learn firsthand from Kaname Harada what it was like launching off the Imperial Japanese Aircraft Carrier Soryu leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Learn about the forgotten attacks by the Japanese fleet on British forces in Sri Lanka. Oh wait! You didn’t know the same fleet that attacked Pear Harbor also assaulted the British in Sri Lanka just weeks later? Well neither did we! But wait! There’s more!

From the heroics of combat to the tragic losses at Midway, author Dan King (Seen above with Zero Pilot Kaname Harada) will share with you from the men who flew those nimble A6M Zero fighters what it was like to go toe to toe with the deadly F4F Wildcats and to ditch your plane in the middle of shark infested waters with little hope of rescue. Learn the tactics of the air combat in the hands of the nimble A6M Zero. From early bi-plane trainers to the German designed rocket craft, you get a sense of it all including one hilarious yet true scuffle aboard the cockpit of a doomed bomber between the pilot and his Zero Pilot passenger for the controls of the plane while it was being attacked by an American fighter. Learn the truth about the Kamikaze in a way that debunks the notions of crazed men hell bent on suicide that will make you rethink everything you have learned about the tragic pilots who were asked to die for those they loved.
This is such a rare collection of interviews now available to the western world that any WWII buff would be remiss to pass on. These stories will take you through the whole range of emotions from the incredible to the utterly heartbreaking moments of loss and those lost to the tragedy that is war. You will not find this stuff in history books in this country or in Japan! Author Daniel King spent many years interviewing these pilots. His work is a treasure trove of information that has won praise from high ranking military historians and wartime aviation enthusiasts alike. If you would like a read that will give you an exciting in depth perspective of the Japanese Naval aviators view of the war, then we highly recommend The Last Zero Fighter. This book will truly exemplify the old adage of what you think you knew only proved how much you didn’t know.

To get your copy visit: The Last Zero Fighter available on

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