Saburo Sakai

Discussion in 'Stories' started by B-17engineer, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Wasn't Suburo Sakai shot up by a squadron of SBD's tail gunners? I heard he was hit in the eye and various other places. Right before he was shot to pieces didn't he shoot down a Wildcat? Am I correct ?
     
  2. <simon>

    <simon> Member

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    Haven't heard of that story.
    Know of one where a flight of hurricanes was attacked by 109's. One pilots head was cracked open by a bullet and his aircraft caught fire but he managed to shoot down the plane that hit him.
    Someone Jackson i THINK...

    :salute: to them both. That takes BALLS!!!!
     
  3. eddie_brunette

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    He was a fantastic pilot!

    During the air group's first missions of the battle of Guadalcanal, Sakai was seriously wounded in combat with Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers from USS Enterprise's Bombing Squadron Six (VB-6). Mistaking SBD Dauntless dive bombers, with their rear gunners, for American F4F fighters, near Tulagi Sakai attacked an SBD flown by Ensign Robert C. Shaw. Sakai fired 232 rounds at the SBD but with its armor, self-sealing fuel tanks and twin machine guns in the rear cockpit, the dive bomber proved a tough adversary. A blast from the SBD rear gunner, Harold L. Jones, shattered and blew away the canopy of Sakai's Zero.
    Sakai sustained grievous injuries from the return fire; he was struck in the head by a .30 caliber bullet, blinding him in the right eye. The Zero rolled over and headed upside down toward the sea. Unable to see out of his remaining good eye due to blood flowing from the head wound, Sakai's vision started to clear somewhat as tears cleared the blood from his eyes and he was able to pull his plane out of the steep seaward dive. He considered crashing into one of the American warships: "If I must die, at least I could go out as a Samurai. My death would take several of the enemy with me. A ship. I needed a ship." Finally the cold air blasting into the cockpit revived him enough to check his instruments, and he decided that by using a lean fuel mixture he might be able to make it back to the airfield at Rabaul.
    Although in agony from his injuries (he had a serious head wound [8] from a bullet that had passed through his skull and the left side of his brain, leaving the entire left side of his body paralyzed, and was left blind in one eye[9]) Sakai managed to fly his damaged Zero in a four-hour, 47-minute flight over 560 nautical miles (1,040 km) back to his base on Rabaul, using familiar volcanic peaks as guides. When he attempted to land at the airfield he nearly crashed into a line of parked Zeros but, after circling four times, and with the fuel gauge reading empty, he put his Zero down on the runway on his second attempt. After landing, he insisted on making his mission report to his superior officer before collapsing. His squadron mate Hiroyoshi Nishizawa drove him, as quickly but as gently as possible, to the surgeon. Sakai was evacuated to Japan on August 12, where he endured a long surgery without anesthesia. The surgery repaired some of the damage to his head, but was unable to restore full vision to his right eye. Nishizawa visited Saburo Sakai, while he was recuperating in the Yokosuka hospital in Japan.


    edd
     
  4. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    wow thanks a lot very interesting!!
     
  5. machine shop tom

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  6. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Alright Thanks a lot Tom
     
  7. Sakai-67

    Sakai-67 New Member

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    There is a book named "Zero" written by Masatake Okumiya and Jiro Horikoshi with Martin Caidin. In the book on pages 137-147 Sakai tells about this incindent in his own words.
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Are you thinking of the famous dogfight between Sakai and "pug" Southerland that happened on 7 August '42?
     
  9. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Yes i am!! Thanks
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    That was a great dogfight, and before that, "pug" Southerland was brawling with two zeros before Sakai jumped in...and Sakai was completely amazed at how the F4F was holding up against them all.

    From Sakai's biography:
    And the irony was that Southerland had jammed guns...they had been damaged by one of the Japanese bombers he had attacked before mixing it up with the fighters...Sakai had been wondering for years why the Wildcat never fired on him when it had him dead-to-rights a few times during that showdown.

    Had Southerland been able to open fire, Japan may have been minus one of it's top Aces!
     
  11. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Wow!!! Thanks for the info Grau!
     
  12. merlin

    merlin Member

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    According to the autobiography I have, it was the Avenger Torpedo Bomber.
    "The enemy group tightened formation; perfect! They appeared to be Wildcats, and tightening their formation meant that i had not been sighted.
    If they kept their positions I would be able to hit them without warning, coming up from their rear and below. Just another few seconds ... I'd be able to get in at least two on the first firing pass. I closed in as close as possible. The distance inthe range finder shrank to 200 yards - then 100 - 70 - 60 ...
    I was in a trap! The enemy planes are not fighters, but bombers, the new Avenger torpedo planes, types I had never seen before."
     
  13. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    The book 'Samurai' does say that...but it's not a reliable book. Not even reliable as to what Sakai said, even besides the usual problem of things looking different from the US and Japanese sides. The written combat report of the Tainan Kokutai of that action survived, and says the targets were SBD's, which they clearly were according to US accounts as well, no TBF's were attacked by Zeroes that day but SBD's were, in circumstance similar to what Sakai described. And Sakai later denied saying, or said he couldn't recall having said, a number of things in that book.

    An excellent alternative, though out of print now and hard to get, is "Winged Samurai" by Henry Sakaida. It's not as heavy on text, heavily illustrated, but follows Sakai's career checking carefully against opposing accounts. And, Sakaida interviewed Sakai a lot directly too, which Caiden apparently never did (he relied on notes on somebody else's interviews with Sakai, it's said). The August 7 case is covered in special detail, and based on what Sakai told Sakaida, his account matches the attack on the SBD's even more closely.

    Joe
     
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