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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 4593 Tail D1-108
IJN
Ryūjō

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USN July 1942
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USN July 1942
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July 1942 Gayla Burns
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July 1942
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circa 1942
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circa 1942

Pilot  P.O. Tadayoshi Koga (KIA)
Crashed  June 4, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi on February 19, 1942 at Nagoya. Assigned to Ryūjō with tail code D1-108.

Mission History
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 Island, with the landing gear extended. On landing, the Zero flipped over in the soft marsh and killed the pilot on impact.

Wreckage
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.

Salvage
It was carefully lifted and transported aboard a barge to Dutch Harbor then to NAS North Island near San Diego arriving in August 1942.

Repair
The aircraft's tail and canopy were repaired without any technical documentation. The damaged propeller was replaced 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.

References
Thanks to Robert Rocker, Jim Lansdale, Jim Long and Richard Dunn for additional information
Setting Suns page 80

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Last Updated
January 1, 2014

 

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