Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Published: March 6th, 2021     
Product Image
Front Cover
Author: Robert Jackson
Reviewed by: James Kelley - IPMS# 42106
Company: Pen & Sword
ISBN #: 9781526759948
Other Publication Information: 96 pages, 11.5 X 8.25 inches, paperback, 200 color & black and white illustrations
Price: $28.95
Product / Stock #: Flight Craft 22
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

The quality of Japanese aircraft came as an unpleasant surprise to the Allies at the outbreak of the Pacific War, and it was personified in one type, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. One of the finest aircraft of all time, the Mitsubishi A6M Reisen (Zero fighter) first flew on 1 April 1939. It soon showed itself to be clearly superior to any fighter the Allies could put into the air in the early stages of the Pacific campaign. Armed with two 20mm cannon and two 7.7mm machine-guns, it was highly maneuverable and structurally very strong, despite being lightweight.

Instead of being built in several separate units, the Zero was revolutionary in that it was constructed in two pieces. The engine, cockpit and forward fuselage combined with the wings to form one rigid unit; the second part comprised the rear fuselage and the tail. The two units were joined by a ring of 80 bolts. Although the Mitsubishi Zero had some serious drawbacks in combat, the greatest of which was its inability to absorb punishment because of its lack of self-sealing fuel tanks and armor plating, its greatest assets were its maneuverability and its long range.

In 1942 the Americans allocated the code-name Zeke to the A6M, but as time went by the name Zero came into general use. During the first months of the Pacific War, the Zeros carved out an impressive combat record. For example, in the battle for Java alone, which ended on 8 March 1942, they destroyed 550 Allied aircraft. As the war progressed, however, the Zero gradually came to be outclassed by American fighters such as the Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought Corsair. In the latter months, many were fitted with bombs and expended in Kamikaze suicide attacks.

This book provides a perfect introduction to the design and combat career of a fighter that made history. Why was the Zero conceived? What was it like to fly in combat? How did it compare with Allied types? Who were the engineers and designers who brought it to fruition and the pilots who became aces while flying it? Here is a feast for the modeler, with a wealth of technical information, photographs and color profiles.

Chapters Include:

  • Introduction
  • Mitsubishi Zero: Design & Development
  • Combat Over China
  • Preparing for War
  • The Pacific Campaign: December 1941-January 1943
  • New Fighters, New Tactics
  • Pacific War: Final Phase: October 1944-August 1945
  • Mitsubishi Zero in Profile
  • Modeling the Mitsubishi Zero
  • Model Showcase

The book itself is interesting, in that the chapters are all relatively short, but cover the assigned topic adequately. Most pages are picture-heavy, a lot of which feature captured Japanese Zeroes. Some of the photos I'd seen before, but most are new to me. One, in fact, is a shot of a Zero launching from the carrier Akagi on December 7, 1941 to raid Pearl Harbor. Although of poor quality, it's one of very few surviving photos depicting this moment. All of the photos are useful modeling references, particularly for weathering and chipping. The color profile sections feature eight pages of colorful profiles.

The modeling chapter is probably my favorite, featuring Zero models all the way back to 1959's Airfix kit to the most current Tamiya releases. Most mainstream manufacturers in between are also discussed. Numerous kits are presented after being built by very competent modelers. I enjoyed reading about the various kits, and seeing the work of others. The Model Showcase chapter is a step-by-step build of the Trumpeter 1/24 including flaws and why the kit is good, but not great.

All in all, this book should be a useful reference for modelers and is definitely recommended. My thanks to Casemate Publishers and IPMS/USA for the review sample.

  • Back cover
    Back cover
  • Sample pages
    Sample pages
  • Sample pages
    Sample pages
  • Sample pages
    Sample pages
  • Sample color profiles
    Sample color profiles
  • Sampple pages
    Sampple pages
  • Sample color illustrations
    Sample color illustrations

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