Seafire vs. A6M Zero: Pacific Theater
ISBN: 978 1 84603 433 6
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 27 Dec 2009
As the author Donald Nijboer suggested, Seafire fighters and A6M Zero fighters were never meant to meet in combat. Spitfire fighters were designed for the Royal Air Force; the Seafire variant was only developed when the Royal Navy lacked an effective carrier fighter. Meanwhile, Zero fighters were designed for carrier operations from day one, specifically as offensive weapons, but by the time Seafire fighters arrived in the Pacific War, Zero fighters operated from airfields to defend Japan from the Allied invasion. In the 16th installment of Osprey's "Duel" series, Nijboer examined how the two fighters matched up.
The book began with the development and technical specifications of the two, providing historical context on how the two fighters, vastly different in design philosophy, came into play. Pilot training and the tactics were introduced next, detailing how pilots trained to fly the Seafire and Zero fighters attempted to leverage the strengths of their fighters in combat. Due to the lateness of the Pacific War when the two designs met, some of the clashes took place as the Zero fighters were either escorting or conducting kamikaze special attack missions, thus the book also explained in brief how an A6M Zero fighter might approach British carriers during the suicide attack. Finally, exciting narratives of Seafire vs. Zero dogfights occupied the last few pages of the main portion of the book, before the author dove into the concluding analysis. Throughout the entire book, photographs of the two fighter designs, accompanied by excellent paintings by Jim Laurier, provided readers imageries of the two fighters and dogfights between them.
Seafire vs. A6M Zero: Pacific Theater continued the tradition of the "Duel" series well, providing readers a nice primer for machines that fought each other during the great war. Although the book suffered the same "only wish the author provided just a bit more detail" problem as other books of the "Duel" series, Nijboer still did very well given the constraints of a small book (only 80 pages) that must also contain many beautiful photographs and paintings, which was a characteristic of an Osprey book. Having recently seen a Zero fighter on display at the Yushukan museum at Yasukuni in Tokyo, Japan, I looked forward to this book, and was certainly not disappointed.
Update: You can sample a number of pages of this book at Google Books.
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Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal