From: Los Angeles CA
An interview with Saburo Sakai
On the Zero
During the war, I was convinced the Zero Model 21 was the best fighter plane anywhere. It was always number one with me. Then a few years ago, at Champlin, I had the chance to fly in a Mustang and take the controls for a while. What an incredible plane! It could do anything the Zero could, and many things the Zero can't, like a high-speed, spiraling dive. In the Zero, the stick would be too heavy to control the plane at those speeds. The Mustang's number one with me now, and I'm afraid the Zero's number two!
More from that site about the Zero's maneuverability:
On the Zero's maneuverability
Oh yes, the Zero was incredibly maneuverable, but not over about 250 mph. Above that speed, the stick just gets too heavy because the plane's control surfaces are so huge. You've seen those films of kamikaze plunging straight down into the water far from any U.S. ships, right? The kids in those planes probably put their planes into a dive way too early, and before they realized their mistake, they had too much speed built up to pull out of their dive. They probably died pulling desperately on the stick with all their strength. When I coached those kids [kamikaze pilots], I'd tell them, "If you've gotta die, you at least want to hit your target, right? If so, then go in low, skimming the water. Don't dive on your target. You lose control in a dive. You risk getting picked off by a fighter, but you've got better chance of hitting your target."
< Message edited by Demosthenes -- 12/22/2005 12:00:06 AM >