We were contacted recently by reader of ours in Japan, Fumio Suga, about a Mitsubishi Model 21 Zero that has gone on display and is intended to be the cornerstone exhibit of a new museum in Usa* (that’s “oo-sa”, not “USA”), Japan. The plane is a faithful reproduction of the iconic World War II Imperial Japanese Navy fighter built for a movie Eien no zero, now in post-production and scheduled to open in theaters in Japan on December 21, 2013.
Eien no Zero tells the story of Saeki Kentaro, who after failing the National Bar Examination several times who feels like he was losing a grip on his life, and his sister, Keiko, a freelance writer. The pair begin looking into the story of their looking up their grandfather, Miyabe, who died in the Second World War as a Kamikaze pilot. Miyabe had tremendous ability as a fighter plane pilot, but was extraordinarily afraid of death. His two grandchildren started wondering why he applied for the kamikaze corps and end up discovering a surprising secret. When it was introduced early in World War II, the Zero was considered the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world, combining excellent maneuverability and very long range. In early combat operations, the Zero gained a legendary reputation as a dogfighter, achieving the outstanding kill ratio of 12 to 1, but by mid-1942 a combination of new tactics and the introduction of better equipment enabled the Allied pilots to engage the Zero on more equal terms. By 1943, inherent design weaknesses and the failure to develop more powerful aircraft engines meant that the Zero became less effective against newer allied fighters that possessed greater firepower, armor, and speed, and approached the Zero’s maneuverability. During the final years of the War in the Pacific, the Zero was used in kamikaze operations. In the course of the war, more Zeros were built than any other Japanese aircraft. The full scale replica depicts a Model 21 Zero from the 721st Kokutai Air Group and is accurate enough for museum display. The Usa City Peace Museum is currently collecting period photographs and artifacts for display from the equipment and materials left in the area by the military at the war’s end. At the moment the collection is temporally housed in a city-owned structure while planning for a permanent home that will seek to be a “place for the public to learn about the value of peace and horror of war,” according to museum officials.
* Before you light up the comments section with stories of the city being named Usa as a scam to import goods to the United States stamped “Made in USA,” we’ve heard the story before, and it’s completely false 🙂