Dreaded Zero fighter of World War 2 takes to skies over Japan | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Dreaded Zero fighter of World War 2 takes to skies over Japan

Almost four decades after it was salvaged from the jungles of Papua New Guinea, a restored Zero fighter from World War 2 has taken to the skies again.

world Updated: Jun 27, 2017 16:34 IST
Japanese pilot Kazuaki Yanagida in the restored World War 2-era Mitsubishi A6M Type 22 Zero fighter at an airfield in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Prefecture. Plucked from the Papua New Guinean jungle, the restored Zero fighter has taken to the skies over the land that gave birth to the once-feared warplane.
Japanese pilot Kazuaki Yanagida in the restored World War 2-era Mitsubishi A6M Type 22 Zero fighter at an airfield in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Prefecture. Plucked from the Papua New Guinean jungle, the restored Zero fighter has taken to the skies over the land that gave birth to the once-feared warplane. (AFP)

Salvaged from the Papua New Guinean jungle, a restored World War 2 Japanese Zero fighter has taken to the skies over the land that gave birth to the once-feared warplane.

The aircraft – emblazoned with tell-tale rising sun symbols – is one of just a few airworthy Zero fighters left in the world, nearly eight decades after they struck fear into the hearts of Allied pilots.

The Zero fighter - emblazoned with tell-tale rising sun symbols - is one of just a few airworthy Zero fighters left in the world, seven decades after they struck fear into the hearts of Allied pilots. (AFP)

The plane flew near Tokyo this month, watched by businessman and aviation buff Masahide Ishizuka who bought the plane for 350 million yen ($3.1 million) in 2008.

The badly damaged aircraft was originally found in the 1970s in dense jungle where it had crashed decades earlier. It later ended up in the United States – Japan’s chief World War 2 adversary.

The cockpit of the restored World War 2-era Mitsubishi A6M Type 22 Zero fighter at an airfield in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Prefecture. (AFP)

Developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Zero planes took part in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, while “kamikaze” suicide pilots crashed them into US ships in the later stages of the war.

“Since it was born in Japan 75 years ago, this baby has been travelling around the world,” Ishizuka told AFP after the recent flight.

“I wanted to bring it back to its home country and keep it flying in the sky.”

Japanese pilot Kazuaki Yanagida waves to well-wishers as he prepares to take off in the restored Mitsubishi A6M Type 22 Zero fighter at an airfield in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Prefecture. (AFP)

There are believed to be just four airworthy Zero fighters in the world today – more than 10,000 were made in all.

Kazuaki Yanagida, the first Japanese pilot to fly the plane, got a feeling for the wartime conditions in its cramped cockpit. “Sitting here, I felt as if the souls of dead pilots are looking over me,” he said.

Japanese pilot Kazuaki Yanagida prepares the restored Zero fighter for take off at an airfield in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki Prefecture. (AFP)

Despite its fearsome reputation, Yanagida and the plane’s owner said they don’t want the restored fighter to stir controversy.

“The sin doesn’t rest with the Zero – it was the people who fought each other,” Yanagida said.