|Pilot P.O. Tadayoshi Koga (KIA)
Crashed June 4, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi on February 19, 1942 at Nagoya. Assigned to Ryūjō with tail code D1-108.
Took off from Ryūjō on a mission against Dutch
Harbor as part of a diversionary raid prior to the Battle of Midway. Hit
by ground fire over the target, this Zero made a forced landing on Akutan
with the landing
gear extended. On landing, the Zero flipped over in the soft marsh and killed
the pilot on impact.
Five weeks later, the wreck was spotted by
a PBY Catalina piloted by Lt. Williams Thies. A US Navy team
visited the crash on July 5, 1942 and found the Zero upside down and damaged, but repairable. The drop tank was found at the crash site, indicating it was never released. This aircraft became know to Americans as the "Aleutian
Zero" or "Alaska Zero".
Recovery of Remains
When the wreck was lifted, the dead pilot still wearing his flight suit and life jacket was found in the cockpit. His remains were buried with a simple cross on Akutan
Island. The inscription read "Japanese Flyer killed in action" and a USAAF chaplain performed the burial ceremony.
It was carefully lifted and transported aboard a barge to Dutch
Harbor then to NAS
North Island near San Diego arriving in August 1942.
aircraft's tail and canopy were repaired without any technical
documentation. The damaged
with an American Hamilton-Standard propeller. By
October 1942 this Zero was repaired and ready for flight evaluation.
Tested in the San Diego area, with US markings applied
and assigned number TAIC 1. During testing, the Zero was flown against American fighters including a P-38F Lightning,
P-39D-1 Airacobra, P-40F Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, and an F4U-1 Corsair.
Later, this Zero was then sent to Langley Field for equipment instillation for flight performance. Afterwards it was sent to the Pax River Naval Air Flight Test Center, Maryland.
At some point at the end of the war or afterwards, this Zero was scrapped.
Thanks to Robert Rocker, Jim Lansdale, Jim Long and Richard Dunn for additional information
Setting Suns page 80
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January 1, 2014