Book Review
The Last Zero Fighter
First Hand accounts from WWII Japanese Naval Pilots
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by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]

December 7, 1941 was our introduction to the Japanese Naval pilot and his formidable aircraft. Through out the next few years many allied pilots faced off with the guns of the enemy in the South Pacific theater.

The author
Dan King earned his bachelor's degree in Japanese in 1986 before moving to Japan for 10 years. He was later awarded the Japanese Ministry of Education's top level of language certification for non-native speakers. He has worked as a tech/language adviser on several movies and documentaries about the Pacific War. King has interviewed 97 WWII Japanese Army and Navy veterans, and met well over 250 of them in the past 30 years. He worked as a historical / technical / language / researcher adviser on several movies and documentaries: Windtalkers, Last Samurai, Flags of Our Fathers, Only the Brave, HBO's The Pacific, Wake Island Alamo of the Pacific, and others. He traveled to many of the WWII battle sites in search of firsthand knowledge of what the veterans experienced at: Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, Saipan, Guam, Rabaul, Singapore, Tinian, Peleliu, Midway, Wake Island, Peleliu, Ponape, Yap, Guadalcanal, Rabaul, Truk Lagoon, Okinawa, Nanking China, and many others.

The Book
Paperback: 348 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; Revised edition (June 26, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1468178807
Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches

Introduction Japanese Naval Aviation 101
The Imperial Japanese Naval Aviators
The paths to becoming an Aviator
Naval Officers
Enlisted men
High school boys and Yakaren (like our civil air patrol)

The men and their stories.
Chapter 1 Kaname Harada
Chapter 2 Isami Miyazaki
Chapter 3 Haruo Yoshino
Chapter 4.Toshimitsu Imaizumi
Chapter 5 Tomokazu Kasai

While the men have their own points of view their stories tend to put you in a day to day TDY. You see their view from the cockpit and hear their versions of the victories and losses they faced for Emperor and country. The stories of intemperate instructors and the beatings novices would face is an eye opener. From Wake Island through Okinawa, all of the island hopping and then the retreat back to the Japanese mainland is seen from their young eyes. Older now and haunted with their hard days of youth each man recalls his memories. The hardest for this reviewer are the topics surrounding Iwo Jima. Author Mr. King is currently writing his next book titled: "In the shadow of Suribachi". I look forward to it publishing.

For the enthusiast, modeler, devotee and research fiend each type of Japanese aircraft these men flew is covered with each pilot's notes on its operational characteristics. If you have an interest in the Pacific theater this book will more than adequately fill a void on your reference shelves.

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Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: A high degree of research is evident in the text. An easy read.
Lows: Needs more unit identifiers - tail marking characters. More photographs please!
Verdict: A very good collection of perspectives and personal histories that are not available anywhere else.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN- #978-1468178807
  Suggested Retail: $9.99 - 22.46
  Related Link: Amazon
  PUBLISHED: Nov 25, 2013
  NATIONALITY: Japan / 日本

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About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright 2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


When you right click on the thumbnails in the review, it will give you the name of the pilot from the book and sometimes the location of the photo.
NOV 25, 2013 - 07:47 AM
Here is an image of a Zero wreck at Tarawa.
JAN 12, 2014 - 02:40 PM

Click image to enlarge
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