Legendary Zero pilot Saburo Sakai was Japan’s most recognized ace, but few knew the man behind the legend
By Barrett Tillman @ Aviation History Magazine
Saburo Sakai is probably Japan’s best-known pilot of World War II, with the possible exception of Captain Mitsuo Fuchida of Pearl Harbor infamy. In a seven-year combat career, Sakai survived horrible injuries and impossible odds, and almost got a chance to kill Lyndon Baines Johnson. The fact that Sakai never made a combat launch from an aircraft carrier in no way detracts from his significance as a naval aviator and Japan’s third-ranking fighter ace.