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Navy warship tested against 10,pound explosive. Fighter pilot passes out, jet goes into free fall. F fighter jet fires 55 rounds per second. Navy tests new warship. New fighter jet to train top pilots. Air Force's high-speed stealth fighter. See the stealth fighter that's bombing ISIS. That small airplane buzzing thousands of feet up was a Japanese Zero, once the most feared fighter plane in the world.
Model Airplane News Cover for January,
The World War II-era plane made two test flights after a restoration project funded by a Japanese businessman. Photos: Feared suicide warplane flies again.
It became one of the first of its kind to fly since Japan surrendered more than 70 years ago. During the war, the Zero was the most feared plane in the Japanese military. Click through the gallery for more photos of the historic flight. Hide Caption.
The Zero -- flown by legendary former U. Holm flew twice for about 20 minutes, according to a spokesman for the restoration project. This particular plane was discovered rusting away in Papua, New Guinea, in the s. The airfield was the same base used by Japanese Kamikaze suicide pilots who flew these feared fighter planes.
Kamikaze pilots flew Zeroes more than any other aircraft, according to the U. Air Force.
World War II Database
Thousands of Kamikazes intentionally crashed their aircraft into enemy ships during the war. The Zero's air-to-air combat abilities were second to none during much of the war, making it the most famous symbol of Japanese air power. Made by Mitsubishi and officially called the "A6M," these killing machines were used in the infamous attack on the U. Navy and Army pilots avoided the turning and looping dogfight and began to engage the Zeros only when they could surprise the Japanese pilots by attacking with a height or speed advantage. This type of attack consisted of a single, straight pass with guns blazing.
The American pilot then continued away from the Zero using his superior speed to zoom to safety or circle around at a distance and attack again. This idea and other tactics transformed pilots flying the Grumman F4F Wildcat once considered totally obsolete against the Zero into formidable opponents more than capable of destroying the Japanese fighter.
The Allies began fielding aircraft superior to the Zero in Lockheed chief designer, Kelly Johnson, crafted the airplane that eventually destroyed more Japanese aircraft than any other, the Lockheed P Lightning. Army Air Forces Lightning pilots downed the first Zeros late in , using their superior speed and climbing performance.
Japan's aviation industry continued to develop advanced fighters, but a number of problems plagued the complex process of perfecting and fielding these new airplanes and only limited numbers saw action. Consequently, the Zero remained in production throughout the war. The Japanese built a total of 11, Zeros and sub-variants related to it, more than any other Japanese warplane. Navy personnel removed the Zeros from the island and sent them to the United States for evaluation in July.
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The following movement history was taken from the AAF Form 61, Propeller Historical Record, and miscellaneous correspondence found in the Aeronautics Division curatorial file:. As of July 13, , this Zero had flown for 93 hours and 15 minutes in Allied hands. While in U. Navy and Army Air Forces custody, the aircraft was stripped of all markings and colors. Today, the only remaining clue to the original identity of the airplane is the manufacturer's serial number , etched and painted on major components.
To prepare artifacts for exhibit in the new National Air and Space Museum building on the national Mall, technicians restored the Zero from August to July They discovered several Japanese messages scribed inside the metal skin of the aft fuselage: "Pray for absolute victory; Win the air war; Devastation of the American and the British; New Years Day, Navy flashlight were also discovered inside the left wing.
Curators selected the markings of an aircraft from the st Naval Air Corps because an aircraft of this unit was captured at Saipan. It was activated on June 1, , and was soon assigned to the newly organized 1st Air Fleet. The Tiger Corps moved to the Marianas on February 16, , and participated in some of the fiercest fighting of the war.
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