Marushin MARS020 Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M2 Riesen "Zero" Fighter - Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, 251st Navy Squadron, Tainan Kokutai, Rabaul, 1944 (1:48 Scale)
"We have resolved to endure the unendurable and suffer what is insufferable."
- Japanese Emperor Hirohito speaking to the Japanese people after the atomic bombings, August 1945
The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a light-weight carrier-based fighter aircraft employed by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service from 1940 to 1945.
It is universally known as Zero from its Japanese Navy designation, Type 0 Carrier Fighter (Rei shiki Kanjo sentoki), taken from the last digit of the Imperial year 2600 (1940), when it entered service. In Japan it was unofficially referred to as both Rei-sen and Zero-sen. The official Allied code name was Zeke (Hamp for the A6M3 model 32 variant); while this was in keeping with standard practice of giving boys' names to fighters, it is not definitively known if this was chosen for its similarity to "Zero".
A combination of excellent maneuverability and very long range made it one of the best fighters of its era. In early service the Zero gained a legendary reputation, outclassing its contemporaries. Later, design weaknesses and the increasing scarcity of more powerful aircraft engines meant that the Zero became less effective against newer fighters.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of an Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M2 Riesen "Zero" fighter that was piloted by Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, who was attached to the 251st Navy Squadron, Tainan Kokutai, deployed to Rabaul during 1944. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 9 inches
Length: 7-1/4 inches
Release Date: June 2009
Historical Account: "Death is a Strange Mistress" - Hiroyoshi Nishizawa was born in a mountain village in the Nagano Prefecture, as the 5th son of Mikiji and Miyoshi Nishizawa. His father Mikiji was the manager of a sake brewery. Hiroyoshi graduated from higher elementary school and then began to work in a textile factory. In June 1936, a poster caught his eye, an appeal for volunteers to join the Yokaren (flight reserve enlistee training program). Hiroyoshi applied and qualified as a student pilot in Class Otsu No. 7 of the Japanese Navy Air Force (JNAF). He completed his flight training course in March 1939, graduating 16th out of a class of 71.
Before the war, he served with the Oita, Omura and Sakura air groups (Kokutai).
In October 1941, he was transferred to the Chitose Kokutai, with the rank of petty officer 1st class. After the outbreak of war with the United States Nishizawa's squadron (chutai) from the Chitose group, then flying the obsolescent Mitsubishi A5M, moved to Vunakanau airfield on the newly taken island of New Britain. The squadron received its first Mitsubishi Zeros (A6M2, Model 21) the same week.
Three years later, on October 26th, 1944, with his own Zero having been destroyed in a Kamikaze attack by a fellow pilot, Nishizawa and other pilots of the 201st Kokutai boarded a Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu ("Helen") transport plane and left Mabalacat on Cebu in the morning, to ferry replacement Zeros from Clark Field on Luzon.
Over Calapan on Mindoro Island, the Ki-49 transport was attacked by two F6F Hellcats of VF-14 squadron from the USS Wasp (CV-18) and was shot down in flames. Nishizawa died as a helpless passenger, probably the victim of Lt. j.g. Harold P. Newell, who was credited with a "Helen" northeast of Mindoro that morning.
Warrant Officer Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, Japan's leading ace, had been killed at the age of 24.