Osprey's Seafire vs Zero


Donald Nijboer


Osprey Publishing


$17.95 MSRP


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, 7 x 9 inches, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-84603-433-6

Duel #16 is a rather uneven matchup as things go, pitting the Seafire F.III against the A6M Zero. I say uneven as there are several mitigating factors that made this so one-sided.

While the Zero was a newer design than the Spitfire derived Seafire, it had basically reached the end of any meaningful development a year or two before the types met in action. On the other hand, the Seafire had been steadily improving in terms of power, speed and agility. There is also the deal with the quality of the people in the cockpit. The FAA had extremely well-trained pilots operating in the Pacific during 1945, while Japan's IJN pilots were, for the most part, still not really qualified to be flying the aircraft, having very few hours in the air as compared to their opposition. The Japanese had also pretty well shot their naval aviation bolt at the Marianas in mid 1944 with what planes were remaining either being used in kamikaze attacks or being held back in reserve for the impending invasion of Japan. When they did venture into combat, they were, for the most part, quickly dispatched.

Needless to say, they were adversaries and did see combat against each other. The Zero was still a potent airframe when handled by an experienced pilot and a few Seafires were shot down by them. However, the greater power of the Seafire III meant that it was the British pilot who had the opportunity to engage or break off combat pretty much at will.

In this book, the author, Donald Nijboer, discusses the development of both aircraft as well as their technical specifications and  deployments. Pilot training and tactics are also part of the story and one will find quite a few 'I was there' stories to add some spice to the book. As part of the appendices, there is a section on stats and analysis as well as a listing of those FAA pilots whose scores included an A6M

In all, a superlative inclusion to this series. It is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and is one that I know you will find a delight as well.

July 2009

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