Any Japanese speakers here?

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Lieutenant Colonel
Feb 17, 2008
Sorry for my poor English as always but Saburo Sakai is telling his story like this.

"About Zero fighter -
One of the best features of Zero I want to tell you is her superior cruising ability. She could fly for a very long time.
No matter how excellent combat ability she may have, if no enough time for a pilot to fight, no better idea for his tactics will come up.
I think the cruising ability is the most important factor.

Another one is the excellent elevator which Dr Horikoshi designed from his hard work.
The elevator is designed to respond as pilot wants accurately in whichever low or high speed.
Thus Zero is so superior in vertical maneuverability in looping above all.
Once we captured opponent's back at distance about 100 to 120 feet, they were placed in a key-locked condition of wrestling and we never failed to shoot them down. They were unable to escape unless the pilot was a boy.

In rare case, even if we were captured in our back, we could recover taking their back after 3 or 4 times looping. Zero's vertical maneuverability was so superior and each our pilot developed each style called 'Twisting attack'.

When I was working hard as a fighter pilot at Rabaul, I could feel my Zero as a part of my body. In fact, I felt the spinner in my forehead and the wing tips in my middle fingers. It was easier for me to fly in the sky than to walk on the ground.

During flight, 90 percent of my attention was paid to my backward and downward. To watch the downward, I always flew swinging the airframe. I did not care about my forward so much as I knew my eyes were always checking forward unconsciously.
Those who did not check their backward and downward well were shot.

About weak points of Zero -
Firstly Zero was generally fragile as she was designed to be lightweight. Unlike American fighters ever, Zero was requested speed limits. She would have been broken easily if she had exceeded the limits. I always flew feeling such risk.

Secondly Zero had no bulletproof. It was improved in the cockpit and the fuel tank later but not enough.
Once shot, she flared up instantly.

We were taught not to be POW. Therefore, though this was not order, we brought parachute as a seat cushion but no harness for it.
Because of this, many pilots died even when they could survive. I miss them now.

About my miracle survive at Rabaul -
I was almost blind and could not see the compass well. (Showing his flight cap) One bullet hit here and passed through here. (Pointing his head) This is the scar then. The other hit passed through this side. In the dim consciousness, I did not even understand that my head was shot. This is the muffler I used to stop bl**ding.

As you see in this map, my homing route was irregular. I did not find any islands on the sea and guessed I might fly as far as to Hawaii.
I relyed on my characteristic as a pilot and also my Zero's characteristic to estimate where I was flying.
Intuition told me to turn to left here and I could arrived at Rabaul well.
See my face in the photo. He looks like a boxer who fought 15 rounds." lol

Last edited:
Feb 23, 2013
Yes, thanks Shinpachi, it was fascinating..:)


Lieutenant Colonel
Feb 17, 2008
You are welcome, Poor Old Spike and GG :)

The interviewer seems having lost his good chance to ask about Saburo Sakai's philanthropy.
He did not shoot boys but he said it so humbly in his short phrase like "unless a boy" that the interviewer did not understand what it meant well.

This has been a good opportunity for me to understand him better.
Thank you very much.

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