Wounded Samurai – Original Painting by Keith Ferris
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30″ x 40″ Oil on board
On 11 August 1942, Japanese ace Saburo Sakai led a flight of Mitsubishi A6M2 Zeroes to counter the U.S. invasion of Guadalcanal. Mistaking SBD Dauntless dive bombers, with their rear gunners, for American fighters, Sakai’s windshield and canopy were destroyed by gunners, striking him in the head, blinding him in the left eye, and paralyzing his left side. Sakai recovered control of his aircraft near the water, cleared blood from his face with his scarf, dodged anti-aircraft fire from the American iinvasion fleet and, with great difficulty, he was able to return to his base at Rabaul, New Britain, 500 miles to the North.
He was sent home to recuperate, then fought at Iwo Jima before being evacuated to Japan just before the Marine landings. Sakai lived to become the highest scoring surviving Japanese ace with 64 victories.
The painting is a study of Saburo and his aircraft in their struggle to return to Rabaul.
The Zero was the most famous Japanese fighter of the war. Its extreme maneuverability and exceptional range outclassed its opponents during the first six months of the war. However, the tide turned as newer Allied fighters entered combat in the Pacific. A total of 10,449 Zeros were produced by the Japanese.
Saburo Sakai died in September 2000 after a long career in publishing and motivational speaking. *