Letter: Zero for timing

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The Independent Online
Sir: While agreeing with Alan Clark's rejoinder to your Spitfire article (8, 11 May) may I point out that even he doesn't get all the facts right? The Japanese Zero indeed had no American prototype, but it was also not "developed from Russian La-5s captured in Manchuria" after they gave the Japanese a "bad time" in the Khalkin Gol border war. Khalkin Gol took place over the summer of 1939, a few months after the Zero's first flight, and the La-5 first flew in early 1942, some three years later.

Semyon Lavochkin's La-5, like the Spitfire and the Zero, is an example of national "style" - in this case frantic and inspired improvisation - but that is another story.

Evan Mawdsley

Department of Modern History

University of Glasgow

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