Mitsubishi A6M Zero
The Zero (also called the "Zeke" by the allies) was the best carrier fighter in the world at the beginning of the war. It had astonishing manueverability and tremendous range, and bested even land-based fighters of the day, a first for any carrier plane. Its legendary performance was the product of its lightweight construction, though, and once the allies fielded better planes, their pilots learned that the Zero lit up faster than a Duraflame log.
Cool stuff for Zero lovers:
Samurai! The memoirs of one of the highest scoring Japanese aces of WW2.
Zero: Combat and Development History of Japan's Legendary Mitsubishi A6M Zero Fighter Comprehensive history of the most famous Japanese aircraft of WWII.
A6M Zero in Action - Aircraft No. 59 Another one of Squadron Signal's excellent resources for model builders.
The Great Book Of World War II Airplanes Beautifully illustrated and increasingly hard to find book that covers several noteworthy aircraft of the war in detail, including the Zero. I mention it because it costs the same as the now scarce single volume on the Zero by the same author, yet still includes everything and more besides. This is an amazing book, largely owing to Watanabe's outstanding illustrations, and you won't regret buying it.
Check out this Zero T-shirt!