Koga s Zero
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Found upside down in an Alaskan bog in the eighth month of our war with Japan, a Japanese fighter plane was retrieved and soon test flown by U.S. pilots. Knowledge gained from those flights ended the dominance of the Zero in the Pacific
“I was in real trouble, and I remembered the briefings we had had on how to escape from a following Zero. I did a split S, and with its nose down and full throttle my Corsair picked up speed fast. I wanted at least 240 knots, preferably 260. Then, as prescribed, I rolled hard right. As I did this, and continued my dive, tracers from the Zero zinged past my belly.
From information that came from Koga’s Zero, I knew the Zero rolled more slowly to the right than to the left. If I hadn’t known which way to turn or roll, I’d have probably rolled to my left. If I had done that, that Zero would have probably turned with me, locked on, and had me.”



Publié par
Date de parution 04 avril 2014
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9780882409368
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo

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Koga s Zero
The Fighter That Changed World War II
Koga s Zero
The Fighter That Changed World War II
COPYRIGHT 1995 by Jim Rearden
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher.
The print edition is available from Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Inc. pictorialhistoriespublishing.com
First Printing: May 1995 Second Printing: May 1996 Third Printing: June 1999 Fourth Printing: July 2007
This book was first published by Stackpole Books in 1990, in slightly different form, under the title Cracking the Zero Mystery.
Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 95-68965
ISBN 978-0-929521-56-5 ISBN (e-book) 978-0-88240-936-8
Cover Design Mike Egeler Typography Text Design Arrow Graphics Front Cover Painting of Koga s Zero by John Hume.
Published by Alaska Northwest Books An imprint of

P.O. Box 56118 Portland, Oregon 97238-6118 503-254-5591 www.graphicartsbooks.com
ONE An Aerodynamic Impossibility
TWO Designing the Zero
THREE The Long Lived Zero
FOUR The Zero at Pearl Harbor
FIVE The First Raid on Dutch Harbor
SIX The Zero at Midway
SEVEN Comedy of Errors: Finding the Japanese Fleet
EIGHT Loss of Koga s Zero
NINE Discovery and Retrieval of Koga s Zero
TEN Koga s Zero Flies Again
ELEVEN The Significance of Koga s Zero
APPENDIX I Koga s Zero vs. U.S. Fighter Planes
APPENDIX II Extent of Damage to the Downed Zero
I first met Jim Rearden on the Aleutian island of Adak. Adak lies about half way between the end of the Alaska Peninsula and the island of Attu at the outer, or western, end of the Aleutian chain of islands which stretch far out across the North Pacific Ocean.
Jim was returning from a writing assignment for National Geographic magazine at Kiska, 260 miles to the west of Adak. Kiska, American territory, was held by the Japanese in World War II for 14 months, and the carnage of war is very much in evidence there. Subjected to ever-increasing intensity of aerial bombardment, there is a litter of rusting hulks of ships, some grounded on the beaches and others on the bottom of Kiska Harbor. Ashore, guns-anti-aircraft and even coastal defense guns-rust in their emplacements. Tunnels, underground facilities, and trenches are everywhere.
Attu Island, 200 miles to the west of Kiska, was also occupied by the Japanese. Attu was retaken by an amphibious operation against the fanatical resistance of its 2,600-man garrison, 12-28 May 1943. Only 29 Japanese survived. Kiska was evacuated by the Japanese on 28 July 1943 by a force of two light cruisers and 10 destroyers under cover of dense fog. About two weeks later a force of 35,000 U.S. and Canadian troops landed on Kiska only to find no Japanese there.
Attu lies almost exacdy 1,000 statute miles west of Scotch Cap lighthouse at the tip of the Alaska Peninsula. The southern-most island of the Aleutian chain, Amchitka, is only 250 miles north of the latitude of Seatde. The Aleutian Islands are treeless, but constant moisture gives them a lush covering of deep grass hard to traverse on foot. In the spring the islands are a riot of colorful wild flowers. Flat spots in the terrain are usually bogs. Waterfalls are numerous and streams run thick with salmon during the spawning season. The climate is interesting. Since the colder water of the Bering Sea mixes with the warmer water of the North Pacific Ocean along the Aleutian Island chain there are persistent fogs in the summer.
In the winter the Aleutian low barometric pressure area spawns howling storms. There are good days, mostly in the spring and fall, when one can see for many miles. The scenery is magnificent. Flying along, one passes one volcano after another, many of them smoking. Interestingly, in flying from Adak to Kiska one crosses the 180th meridian and goes from west longitude to east longitude. Agreement among the nations, however, has moved the international dateline to the west of Attu so that the date remains that of Alaska.
The water does not freeze in Aleutian harbors-the surrounding seas are too deep for that. Going north from Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island, one does not encounter sea ice until the shallow water of the northern Bering Sea is reached.
Jim Rearden arrived at Adak from his visit to Kiska aboard an auxiliary-powered sailing schooner which served as a floating base for a camera party. Gear was unloaded at Adak and the party flew out the next day on a Reeve Aleutian Airway plane. During Jim s stay at Adak, I was privileged to have several long conversations with him. Traveling with the camera party was my old friend William Charles House. He, as a naval petty officer, commanded the 10-man weather station on Kiska when the Japanese occupied that island on 7 June 1942. House was awakened on that morning by machine gun bullets piercing the walls of their bunkhouse. He stayed behind with one of his men to go to the radio shack and burn the code books, then fled to the hills. ( AUTHOR S NOTE : In 1946 House was awarded the Bronze Star medal for burning communications ciphers while under fire at Kiska. Admiral Russell sponsored House for the medal.)
After fleeing into the hills, in clouds on the hilltops House became separated from his men. Subsequently he hid from the Japanese for 49 days, subsisting on sedges, earthworms, and whatever. Weakness from starvation Finally forced him to surrender. Charlie s experience and his hide-out were subjects of great interest to the camera crews.
Charlie House s ordeal was only one of the stories discussed with Jim Rearden. Eventually the conversation drifted to the two days of aircraft carrier attacks on Dutch Harbor. Thanks to an elaborate dispersion plan we had developed prior to the attacks, my squadron, VP-42, lost no planes at Dutch Harbor during the raids. However elsewhere we lost 3 of our 12 squadron planes to the carrier-based Zero fighters. Our sister squadron, VP-41, lost two. I believe. When the Japanese occupied Kiska some three or four days after the carrier attacks on Dutch Harbor, they brought with them, in Kimikawa Maru Zero float fighters which we code-named Rufe. A Catalinas (PBY) best defense against either variety of Zero was to get inside a cloud.
Upwards of 30 days after the carrier attack on Dutch Harbor, Bill Thies (Captain William Thies, USN, ret.) and his crew of VP-41 squadron discovered that the carriers had left behind on its back in an Akutan marsh one of their Zero fighters. The dead pilot was still in it.
This plane was salvaged, repaired at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, and flown in late September 1942. It was the first Zero to be flown in the United States. The knowledge gained in flying this plane was of utmost value in developing tactics to defeat it.
We are delighted that Jim Rearden has undertaken to write the story of Koga s Zero, and its importance in World War II.
J AMES S ARGENT R USSELL Admiral, U.S. Navy, ret.
Adm. James Russell retired from active duty in 1965, having served as commander-in-chief, Allied Forces, southern Europe, from 1962. During World War II he was commanding officer of VP-42, a PBY squadron stationed in the Aleutians. He served as director of military requirements in the Bureau of Aeronautics 1943-44; was a member of Air Technical Intelligence, Supreme Commander, Allied Powers, Japan 1945-46; and was a member of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey in Tokyo 1945-46. In 1951 to 1952 he was commanding officer of the USS Coral Sea. In 1955 he became chief of the U.S. Bureau of Aeronautics.
Admiral James S. Russell USN, ret., of Tacoma, Washington, set me off in quest for information on the Akutan Zero when he teased me with fascinating stories about that airplane when we first met.
When he had my appetite fully whetted, he opened his files and library and fed me every scrap of information he had. Further, he spent hours pouring over a draft of my manuscript carefully correcting my abundant errors. His memories of participating in the Aleutian Campaign are vivid and detailed and were most valuable in compiling the tiny segment of wartime history that this volume considers.
Rear Adm. William N. Leonard USN, ret., of Virginia Beach, Virginia, in the words of Barrett Tillman, WWII aviation historian, is a national treasure because he is so generous with his time and knowledge, records, and photos.
Like Russell, he was a part of history. He fought at the Battle of the Coral Sea, at Midway, at Guadalcanal, and in other major Pacific engagements. Virtually every written source I have consulted about Naval aviation in the Pacific during the first years of the war mentions Leonard. He too spent hours pouring over a draft of my manuscript, carefully correcting errors.
Capt. William N. Thies USN (ret.), Carmel, California pilot of the PBY that discovered the Akutan Zero, likewise has been generous with records and photos, in sharing memories, and opening his home to me and my wife.
Robert C. Mikesh, at the time senior curator of the Aeronautics Department of the National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D. C., not only was helpful with information from the museum, he was generous with his personal photos, time, and knowledge.
Comdr. Robert Larson, USNR, ret., Camano Island, Washington, second pilot of the PBY with Thies when Koga s Zero was found, was most generous in allowing use of his written recollections of the discovery of t

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