Pen & Sword Books ~ Mitsubishi Zero: Japan’s Legendary Fighter

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Written By Peter C Smith
Published By Pen & Sword Books
Copyright © Peter C Smith 2014
Pages – 225
ISBN 978 1 78159 319 6

MSRP – £19.99 UK / $34.99 US



With more than seventy-six books to his name, Peter C Smith is one of the most consummate authors in Britain today. His writing exploits span not only the aeronautical world but also Naval and Military History as well.  Keeping with his love for Japanese aircraft, Mr. Smith continues his literary journey with one of his more recent books; Mitsubishi Zero: Japan’s Legendary Fighter.

Mitsubishi Zero: Japan’s Legendary Fighter

The Japanese Zero, the long-range fighter aircraft known to the Allied forces during the Second World War as ‘Zeke’, was at the cutting edge of aeronautics for the time.  The Zero fighter’s development gave this plane a higher rate of maneuverability and long-range capabilities; arguably this carrier based fighter was unmatched in the skies prior to and into the Second World War.  It would not be until 1942 before the allied forces would catch up to the Zeke in development and be able to level the playing field in the skies above the Pacific.

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Peter C Smith has taken his vast knowledge of this astonishing aircraft and laid out its history from development to its final days in the fight for Imperial Japan in this 225 page book; Mitsubishi Zero: Japan’s Legendary Fighter. 


  • Introduction & Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1 – he Development of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Fighting Force
  • Chapter 2 – Striving for the Impossible
  • Chapter 3 – Trial and Error
  • Chapter 4 – Into Action
  • Chapter 5 – None so Blind
  • Chapter 6 – Preliminaries to War
  • Chapter 7 – Forging a Legend
  • Chapter 8 – Peak and Nair
  • Chapter 9 – Grim Attrition
  • Chapter 10 – On the Back Foot
  • Chapter 11 – Last Shout for the Little Warrior
  • Chapter 12 – Final Sacrifice
  • Appendix I: Basic Specifications of the A6M2
  • Appendix II: Principal Variations of the A6M
  • Appendix III: Production of the A6M
  • Noes
  • Index

Mitsubishi Zero: Japan’s Legendary Fighter is a comprehensive publication on the development and operational timeline of the A6M Zero Fighter.   The author has laid out the trial and error events leading up to the birth of this iconic war bird of the Pacific.  Japan was at the forefront of Naval aircraft development with origins stemming back to the early years of the 20th century, ironically with the aid form Great Britain and the United States.    From this point leading up to the Second World War, Imperial Japan would continue to be focused on the importance of both the land-based fighter as well as ocean-based aircraft.  The author goes on to explain the correlation of Japan’s war in China and the development of this long-rang fighter leading into WWII.

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A good deal of the book outlines Japan’s onslaught throughout the Pacific as the Allies tried to fend off and counter the offensive set forth by the Imperial Japanese Navy.  For the first couple years of the war, the Zero would remain unmatched in the skies over the Pacific Theater of Operations .  The Peter C. Smith gives and excellent accounting of the Zero as the IJN swept through the open seas placing its stronghold on the pacific island chins throughout the Pacific.  It wouldn’t be until 1942 before the Allies would catch up to the Japanese in aeronautics design and effectively leveling the playing field.

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I found Peter C. Smith’s book, Mitsubishi Zero: Japan’s Legendary Fighter, and amazing accounting of the history before during and final stages of the iconic Mitsubishi A6M and its variants.  The author covers the vast subject of the Japanese involvement, as it pertains to the Zero, throughout the Second World War and its developments from its swarming offensive to its inevitable crushing failure.  The author’s dialog throughout the book does seem a bit one-sided often and almost anti-allied forces at times as he glorifies Imperial Japan’s accomplishments while discrediting just about all of the accounting’s of the Allied forces throughout the Pacific Campaign.  I do feel that most of this “attitude” against the Allies, that I picked up on, is due to an immense respect the author has for the military genius, design and operational superiority of the Zero fighter for most of the Second World War.

While I don’t exactly agree with the author’s position and feelings towards the Allied forces, he has compiled an incredible amount of factual information regarding the development of amazing long-range fighter and its use throughout the Second World War and certainly gives a different perspective on the Pacific Campaign as it pertains to the Zero and its role.  And or this reason, I can recommend this book to any aircraft enthusiast.



Pen & Sword


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