Japanese Fighter

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Senior Airman
Jul 15, 2004
Nicholson, PA
I'm sure some or most of you have seen "The Flying Tigers" with John Wayne. Anyway, my question is about those Japanese Fighters in the first dogfight in the movie. (They might have been in more but I forget). The ones with the fixed landing gear and the constant chord wings (or a very slight difference from the root to the wingtip) I was wondering if anybody knows the make and model of it. I'd also like to know if theres any kits or plans available in any scale, any pics you might have would help too.
I haven't seen that movie in a while. I am tempted to say that whatever was used was most likely not authentic Japanese aircraft. Flyable Japanese planes were extremely rare immediately after the war. At the time of the Flying Tigers, there were only about 3 types of Japanese fighters in service. One was the Zero - clearly not the plane in the movie. The other was the A5M Claude which had fixed landing gear but an open cockpit. My guess is that the fighters presented in the movie were at least representing the Ki-27 'Nate.'


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Just last night I was watching the Tora Tora Tora DVD with director Richard Fleischer commentary, and he was saying that the Zeros in that film were US training planes extended in the nose by about 6 feet or so. He didn't say what the plane was though.
I've seen a picture of an AT-6 Texan modified to look remarkably like a Zero. I even thought it was a Zero until I read the caption. Only after looking much closer could I see it for what it really was. Interestingly, Saburo Sakai was posing in front of it.
there's one easy way to tell the differance between a texan and the zero, the texan will have very short stubby undercarage, the zero, much longer and thinner legs.......................
Looks like that could be it:


"After the war, the Texan has been used in Air shows, and in Movies. For example, in Tora! Tora! Tora! the Texan is painted in Japanese markings to represent a Mitsubishi Zero."
posted by: Lightning Guy Thu Jul 15, 2004 11:14 pm;

I am tempted to say that whatever was used was most likely not authentic Japanese aircraft.

I was thinking the same thing when I when I did a little searching for the KI-27. Although it does resemble the ones in the movie, I seem to remember a different tail. Probably a giveaway that it wasnt actually a Japanese plane.
There weren't a whole lot of Japanese aircraft to survive the war and most of the older types, like the Ki-27, became some of the first planes expended as Kamikazes since they were useless as anything else.
but lets face it, the japs were hardly gonna be interested in preserving planes for future generations when they've got the entire US navy and marines making their way towards the mainland......................
Gosh, what a shame though. It is very hard to see anything in museums etc here in Japan from the military side of the war. Mostly, I think, because (a) like LG said, everything got destroyed at the end of it and (b) there's a general sense of embarrassment about the whole thing, so no one except the right wing fringe wants to build museums about it (ie. the military side).

By far the best WW2 museum I have seen in Japan is the one attached to the Yasukuni shrine, (in)famous for enshrining Japanese war dead including leaders convicted in the war crimes trials such as Tojo. Once you get through the, err, slightly non-objective historical displays, there's a huge room with some very intersting stuff, including a tank (forgot what), and Ohka, one of the kamikaze subs and other stuff. There's also a nicely restored Zero in the lobby. Here's a pic my Dad took:


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I've only seen a very few Japanese aircraft but there was a B5N Kate an a local airshow several years ago. The Naval Air Museum in Pensacola has a Zero and a N1K2 Shiden.
Lightning Guy said:
There weren't a whole lot of Japanese aircraft to survive the war and most of the older types, like the Ki-27, became some of the first planes expended as Kamikazes since they were useless as anything else.

Actually, the Japanese had several thousand aircraft left, mostly older models, all set aside for use as kamikazes against the invasion that never came.

The party that actually disposed of nearly all Japanese military aircraft was the US occupation government that did not want these things sitting around and needing to be guarded or to fall into the hands of unfriendly folk.

Uncle Ted
Identifying the Zero replicas is fairly easy if you know the differences between a Zero and a T-6/SNJ. The landing gear is a quick look. Short and stubby on the T-6 The T-6 also has a slight bulge where the leading edge meets the fuselage for the tire. The T-6 also does not have gear doors and the wheels and tires are clearly visible.

Another good indicator is the "band" on the wing a few feet out from the wing root. It is actually a seam that the band covers for aerodynamics. I will try and get some comparison pictures together as we have both the Zero and several T-6/SNJs at our museum.
Here are some of my pics, merged with photoshop. The top in both shots is the real Zero and the bottom is the replica. There are some obvious things right off the bat:

-2 bladed vs three bladed prop.
-Landing gear distance apart
-Landing gear doors on the Zero
-Bigger tires on the T-6
-Wing gun sticks out much farther on the T-6 (They never stuck out that far on the Zero).
-Look at the orientation of the 20mm on the replica, the barrels are clearly visible, not so on the real thing.
-Deeper cowling and different cowl flap arrangement on the real zero.
-The band that I spoke of earlier is between the gun and the fuselage. Easier to spot in the shot of the Starboard side (pilot's right).
-Exhaust stack visible on Starboard side of T-6.
-Wing tips on the Zero are rounded (in this case. Some were more squared off). The T-6 has squared off wingtips.

That's just a few, but the visual helps. When you see them side by side, it seems alot more obvious.

Now you can amaze your friends with "Spot the fake Zero"! The movie Pearl Harbor was awful, but the real Zero in the pictures was used in the filming of it.


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One more thing. Sorry I left the copyright markings in the shots. I know that bothers Les. I want to make clear that the Zero is at our museum, but the replica belongs to another museum. It was visiting for a couple of air shows. If any of you all get out to the Camarillo area of California, let me know and I will give you a tour.
i've always found it east to tell, mainly because of the landing gear, but also due to the engine cowling and the texan always loks bigger i think...............
Got a question here... there is a Japanese bomber called Peggy or something. If anyone happens to know what it is, then please tell me, thanks.

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