Zero to hero did indeed occur during WW2. Aviatiors were dropping like flys. The life expectancy of a figher pilot was less than a week because the Japanese Zero's were more maneuverable and could out climb our current
fighters. There was a paticular occurrence with the introduction
of the Corsair
into the war and a new group of pilots just out of training were assigned Corsairs and one pilot became an ace his first time out hence the term zero to hero. He Unfortunately did not survive his required sorties.