During September 1942, World War II Rear Admiral Eddie R. Sanders was a Lt. Commander at NAS Anacostia working as a test pilot. Early that month he received orders to precede to NAS San Diego to examine and test fly a recently capture Mitsubishi A6M2 fighter, the first to have been captured intact by US forces. His evaluation of the aircraft helped Allied forces develop tactics to overcome the “Zero,” as the A6M2 was called by the Allies.
As such, Sanders was the first Navy pilot to conduct extensive flight tests of a Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 fighter plane, doing so first on September 2, 1942.
The downed, “Zero”, was recovered by the U.S. Navy on June 4, 1942, in the Aleutian Islands Alaska. It was brought, largely intact, to the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego, California for inspection and repair. It was then put into operation and tested over San Diego’s air space. Eddie Sanders took less than one month to compile his significant findings.
Noteworthy contributions, discovered by Sanders, included the Zero’s capabilities in the areas of maneuverability, aileron control and sudden altitudes climbing limits, along with short turning radius noted within various given speeds and temperature ranges.
The implementation of Sanders’ combat recommendations are often described as an important turning point in the Pacific Theater.
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