The history of Japanese aviation offers countless stories of heroic achievements and dismal failures, passionate enthusiasm and sheer terror, brilliant ideas and fatally flawed strategies.
In Wings for the Rising Sun, scholar and former airline pilot Jürgen Melzer connects the intense drama of flight with a global history of international cooperation, competition, and conflict. He details how Japanese strategists, diplomats, and industrialists skillfully exploited a series of major geopolitical changes to expand Japanese airpower and develop a domestic aviation industry. At the same time, the military and media orchestrated air shows, transcontinental goodwill flights, and press campaigns to stir popular interest in the national aviation project. Melzer analyzes the French, British, German, and American influence on Japan’s aviation, revealing in unprecedented detail how Japanese aeronautical experts absorbed foreign technologies at breathtaking speed. Yet they also designed and built boldly original flying machines that, in many respects, surpassed those of their mentors.
Wings for the Rising Sun compellingly links Japan’s aeronautical advancement with public mobilization, international relations, and the transnational flow of people and ideas, offering a fresh perspective on modern Japanese history.