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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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Text by Yoji Watanabe
Bunrindo Co. Ltd  2009
120 pages
Index, photos

Cover Price: 1333 ¥
Language: Japanese

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Famous Airplanes of the World No. 136
Navy Type Zero Observation Seaplane [F1M2]

The Famous Airplanes of the World series details a specific airplane type. Released in November 2009 is No. 136 covers the Mitsubishi F1M2 biplane known to the Allies as "Pete" used by the Japanese Navy during World War II.

This book opens with several pages of full color artwork by Rikyu Watanabe depicting a F1M2 Sanyo Maru and Tateyama Kokutai and a two page cutaway view of the type. The following pages are six half page paintings of Petes, spanning their operational life span beginning with a 1936 yellow painted trainer to 951st Kokutai Pete during August 1945. These are followed by a three-page pullout depicting F1M2 Pete ZI-6 of the Kamikawa Maru in markings of December 1941 operations over Malaya.

The book begins with the development of the Pete, including rare photos of the Pete being constructed at the No. 21 Navy Arsenal, including unskinned structural components and overall views of the assembly line and phases of production to completion. The text is a biography of Eitaro Sano, chief designer of the F1M2.

The next sections are photo studies and text titled "Enemies Fought, Tactics Used" and "Flying the Solomon Skies in a 'Reikan" by author and researcher Yoji Watanabe who draws from rare veteran collections for unpublished and unique photos. This portion of the book is breathtaking and remarkable because nearly all the photos are "new" to any enthusiast of the Pete.

Photos depict the F1M2 Pete seaplanes in flight, on the ground and being serviced as Pacific locations including Singora, Saigon, Shortlands, Surabaya, Truk, Kanoya, Nanito, Ramourek, Marshalls, Borneo, Mortlocks, Celebes, Kunikawa Maru, Aira Maru, Kavieng, Taiwan and Japan. All the photos are crystal clear in quality and most depict tail numbers and markings clearly, or ordinance and gun details. None are censored or altered. Other photos are unique and personal including Lieutenant Yamagata of the Kamikawa Maru holding a pet cat!

The last portion of the book includes detailed blueprint type drawings of the Pete, including all wing surfaces and structure. Plus views of the wings and floats in their folded position for transport. Also, instrument panels, gun sites, seats and aircraft systems and wiring. Finally, views of the power plant, the Nakajima Hikari nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine and other systems, plus side view blueprints of each prototype and production model of the F1M2 from first to final F1M2-K. Lastly, top view, upward view, left, right, front and rear views.

The text and captions of the book are in Japanese, but for the photos alone, this book is a must for anyone interested in the Pete or "new" photographs of this biplane floatplane. Kudos to author Watanabe for locating and publishing the amazing collection in this book.

Review by Justin Taylan thanks to IsamuM for additional information

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

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