The Zeros great speed, maneuverability, and long range initially made it seem invincible, but by the war's end it was usually defeated by the more numerous and powerful U.S. fighters. This scene portrays Japanese ace Saburo Sakai on June 24 1944, as he attempts to evade a force of U.S. Hellcats off of Iwo Jima. After an aerial battle in which ten Hellcats and forty Zeros and were shot down, Sakai found himself being engaged by a group of fifteen Hellcats. Using every trick that he knew, he managed to keep from being shot down, but found himself being hotly chased "down on the deck". With a towering and dangerous cumulus cloud in front of him, the Hellcats behind him, and the waves mere feet below him (three times a wingtip cut a wave), Sakai raced into the cloud, where his plane was violently tossed about. Emerging upside down and alone from the storm, the lucky Sakai righted his Zero and headed for home.
Note: like all Valiant Clan prints, the bottom of the print displays the aircraft name and a description of the action portrayed. (See the P-51B Mustang as an example.) The above scan does not show the text, and is merely meant to give you an idea of the image content.