Pen & Sword's Mitsubishi A6M Zero

Author/Artists: Robert Jackson


Pen & Sword


$28.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 84 pages, softcover, 11.5 x 8.5 inches, 200 illustrations. ISBN: 978-1-526759942

Undoubtedly the most widely known Japanese aircraft of the Pacific War is the Mitsubishi A6M. The aircraft was a major switch from the previous A5M. Here the Japanese Navy had a modern retractable landing gear monoplane fighter with an enclosed canopy. It was fast, had superb maneuverability and was able to fly ranges that were unheard of in Western nations. All of this came with a price. There was no armor plating to protect the pilot. The light airframe precluded sealed fuel tanks, and limited its diving speed. It was fairly well armed with dual rifle calibre machine guns and two 20mm cannon.

For much of the first year of the war, the Japanese Navy ran roughshod over the Allies. It had highly experienced pilots who knew their planes and took full advantage of those features. It wasn't until late in 1942 that American pilots were able to develop tactics to combat the advantages of the A6M. By mid 1943 the Zero was showing its age. Despite constant upgrading of engines, armament and protection, the Japanese never regained the experience lost when its well trained pilots were killed. The type flew from the first to the last days of the war. Some have survived in museums and very few are still flying.

This book is written by an author who is no stranger to many as he's written a lot in the past. In line with other books in this series, we are provided with the background and development of the aircraft along with a brief look at its combat record as the war progressed. Also part of this series is a modelers section. In this case it is fair extensive taking up half of the book. There are a variety of kits featured as well as a number of modelers. One thing that really struck me when looking at the images of the completed kits was how many got the shade of paint used on the A6M2 and A6M3 so wrong. The aircraft were painted in a light 'concrete' color as shown in the accompanying image of a kit I built several years ago, yet some have it almost brown while others went with the light grey that was shown to be incorrect 20 years ago. Still, the builds are well done and several provide a number of in work images.

In all, it is a book well worth picking up. It reads well and has a nice choice of period photos as well as those of museum aircraft and warbirds. 

February 2021

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link

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