Marushin MARS025 Imperial Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A6M2 Riesen "Zero" Kamikaze Fighter - Captain Yukio Seki, First Kamikaze Shikishima Squadron, Mabalacat, Philippines, 1944 (1:48 Scale)
"We tried to live with 120 percent intensity, rather than waiting for death. We read and read, trying to understand why we had to die in our early twenties. We felt the clock ticking away towards our death, every sound of the clock shortening our lives."
- Irokawa Daikichi, Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers
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" Kamikaze Fighter that was piloted by Captain Yukio Seki, who was attached to the First Kamikaze Shikishima Squadron, then deployed to Mabalacat, Philippines, during 1944.
Wingspan: 9 inches
Length: 7-1/4 inches
Release Date: October 2008
Historical Account: "Divine Wind" - Kamikaze (literally: "God-wind", "god speed", "light wind", "spirit-wind" or "divinity-wind"; common translation: "divine wind") is a word of Japanese origin, which in English usually refers to the suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied shipping, in the closing stages of the Pacific campaigns of World War II, to destroy as many warships as possible.
The official Japanese term for these attacks was
tokubetsu kōgeki tai ("Special Attack Units"), but the word shinpū (also meaning "divine wind"; another reading of the kanji for kamikaze) was also used for the suicide units. Though the Japanese government did not use the pronunciation kamikaze, it was commonly used by ordinary people, to whom it was considerably more familiar.
Kamikaze pilots would attempt to intentionally crash their aircraft - often laden with explosives, bombs, torpedoes and full fuel tanks - into Allied ships. The aircraft's normal role was, essentially, converted to that of a manned missile in a desperate attempt to reap the benefits of greatly increased accuracy and payload over that of a normal bomb. The goal of crippling as many Allied capital ships as possible was considered critical enough to warrant the cost of an aviator and his aircraft.
These attacks, beginning in October 1944, followed several significant and critical military defeats for Japan. A combination of a decreasing capacity to wage war - along with the loss of experienced pilots - and rapidly declining industrial capacity, relative to the United States, as well as the Japanese government's reluctance to surrender, led to the use of kamikaze tactics as Allied forces advanced towards the Japanese home islands.
Kamikazes were the most common and best-known form of Japanese suicide attack during World War II. They were similar to the "banzai charge" used by Japanese soldiers. In addition, the Japanese military used or made plans for various suicide attacks, including submarines, human torpedoes, speedboats and divers.
The tradition of suicide instead of defeat and perceived shame is deeply entrenched in the Japanese military culture. For instance it is one of the main traditions in the Samurai life and the Bushido code, particularly loyalty and honor unto death. (courtesy: Wikipedia).