The Last Zero Fighter
Firsthand Accounts from Japanese WWII Naval Pilots and Airmen
By Dan King
We are proud to announce the following institutions are offering their visitors the chance to make new discoveries about our former adversary in the Pacific War, by carrying "The Last Zero Fighter" in their bookstores.
• Alaska Aviation Museum, AK
• American Memorial Museum, Saipan
• Combat Air Museum, KS
• Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing
• Lyon Air Museum, CA
• National Museum of the Pacific War, TX (Nimitz)
• Pacific Aviation Museum, HI
• Planes of Fame Air Museum, CA
• San Diego Air & Space Museum
• Smithsonian, DC
• US Air Force Museum, OH
• USS Arizona Memorial Museum, HI
• USS Hornet
• USS Midway
• War in the Pacific Museum, Guam
This book is the cumulative work of six years of traveling to and from Japan to interview and document the accounts of WWII Japanese Naval aviators in their own language. Up until now, their accounts were often untold or misunderstood due to the complex nature of the Japanese written and spoken language. The author presents five WWII era naval combat veterans' personal experiences during training, and in direct combat with US and Allied forces. The veterans share their personal thoughts on the Pearl Harbor attack, the decision to use atomic bombs, and their own aircraft as well as that of the enemy. What did they really think about the Kamikaze? They openly answered all these questions and more.
Mr. Kaname Harada – worked his way out of the fleet Navy to become a fighter pilot. He is the last surviving member of the air group that bombed the USS Panay outside of Nanking in December 1937. He flew from the Soryu at the Battle of Wake Island, then at Midway claiming few U.S. Navy torpedo bombers, and was later shot down at Guadalcanal. He ended the war training future Kamikaze pilots who were slated to fly rocket fighters into US warships.
Mr. Haruo Yoshino – Joined the Navy as a teenager and was the commander of a torpedo plane from the Kaga that dropped a fish into the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. He was in the initial invasion of Rabaul and the attack on Port Darwin, Australia. He was later in one of the seven infamous search planes that failed to locate the Americans at the Battle of Midway and was aboard the Kaga when it was attacked and sunk. He went through Truk Lagoon, fought at Guadalcanal, Santa Cruz, in the air above Iwo Jima and Leyte Gulf in the Philippines.
Mr. Toshimitsu Imaizumi – joined the Navy's pre-flight academy as a teenager and became a fighter pilot stationed on Hainan Island where he fought against B-24s and P-38s before being sent to Taiwan and with the 254th Air Group to Mabalacat Airfield the Philippines. He witnessed the first official Kamikaze flight taken by Lt. Yukio Seki. He himself flew Kamikaze escort duty, and then eventually was assigned as a Kamikaze pilot himself in the defense of Okinawa.
Mr. Tomokazu Kasai – the youngest Japanese Naval ace of the war joined the Navy's pre-flight academy as a teenager and found himself thrust into combat over Iwo Jima, Guam, Saipan, Peleliu, Yap the Philippines as a Kamikaze escort pilot and finally with the squadron of aces, the 301st Fighter Squadron under Minoru Genda, the planner of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Mr. Isamu Miyazaki – served in the surface fleet where he traveled to Egypt and Paris before the war, later worked on a river boat in China before making it into the Naval Air Service in 1936. He was a wingman of Kanichi "One-Wing" Kashimura in the sky above Yokosuka on April 18, 1942 as the Doolittle Raiders attacked Japan. He fought US fighters in the 252nd Air Group under Lt Suganami and then Lt. Naoshi Kanno at Rabaul; then Guadalcanal; the reverse defense of Wake Island; then fought against B-24 bombers and then the US invasion of Tarawa from his base in the Marshall Islands; he fought as a member of the Hachiman Butai in the skies over Iwo Jima and then assigned to Minoru Genda's air group of Aces, the 343rd Air Group for the defense of the homelands. He witnessed the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.
About the Author
King obtained his bachelor's degree in Japanese language before working at Toyota Motor Corporation for fifteen years, ten of which he spent in Japan. While in Japan he was awarded the Japanese Ministry of Education's top level of written/spoken language certification for non-native speakers. In 2001 he left the company to put his Japanese historical knowledge, language skills, and research to use working on several Hollywood movies and documentaries. His first film job was Japanese Technical/Historical Consultant on director John Woo's WWII Saipan-based epic war film Windtalkers. He worked with retired Marine Corps Advisors and Public Affairs Office on the film set and has a cameo in the film. His next major film was director Ed Zwick's The Last Samurai, where he spent nearly six months in New Zealand working with Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, training and organizing the 1860s-era U.S. Civil War-style Imperial Army comprised of extras from Japan who spoke little or no English. He conducted historical research for the Clint Eastwood film Flags of Our Fathers. His list of movie credits includes Only the Brave and many others as a voice-over actor, including Japanese language consultant for the HBO series The Pacific. The author was the co-host of the Emmy-nominated two-hour documentary Wake Island, Alamo of the Pacific. In addition, he has worked as Japanese Technical/Historical/Language Consultant for a series of seven WWII-based video games from EA Games, including Pacific Assault and Rising Sun. He has appeared on-camera with former Marine and TV personality R. Lee Ermey in three episodes of the television show Mail Call, and then as an on-camera historian in the series Shootout from the History Channel. The author has worked on or appeared in over thirty documentaries for the History Channel and Discovery Channel. In 2003, he wrote a book, Japanese Military Sake Cups 1894–1945. The author has worked to locate and return WWII relics to the families of Japanese and American servicemen who died during the war. A two-year battle with lymphoma nearly took him out of circulation, but he is now working on a book series of interviews with Japanese WWII veterans. He resides with his wife in Orange County, California, with their shotai of rescued cats.