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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 5356 Tail EII-102
IJN
? Kōkūtai

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CAF 1985
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CAF 2002
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Via Yuki Onishi, 2002
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Allan Gaynor 2004
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Justin Taylan 2005
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KT Budde-Jones 2007

Aircraft History
Built by Nakajima, estimated date of assembly October 1942. It is unclear if 5356 was this aircraft's actual manufacture number, or if it was noted on a component dataplate and therefore, may not have been the manufacture number of the entire aircraft. Assigned to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the ? Kokutai.

Wartime History
Abandoned at Ballale Airfield.

Recovery
Cut into components, and recovered by Robert Diemert in 1968, along with two other Zeros: A6M2 5451 , A6M2 5450 and a D3A2 3178, in addition to other Zero parts from other wrecks. These relics were transported to Port Moresby where they were stored for a month, before being transported to Canada in January 1969.

Restoration
The restored airplane uses parts of many wrecks. Robert Diemert restored it to flying condition during the early 1980s with a 1200hp P&W R-1830 engine.

This aircraft was then sold to the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) in Midland, Texas. It made its first flight August 12, 1985. Assigned civilian registration, N58245, this Zero became the centerpiece of the CAF's air shows and displays for many years.

Re-Restoration
Grounded in 2002 for additional restoration work, the plane was transferred to CAF Camarillo. Re-restoration reveals a new insight: this Zero was actually restored from major components of at least two Zeros.

Alan Gaynor adds:
"The c/n's that Diemert applied to both his restored Zeros are wrong. He got these numbers by reading the data plates from the same component from different aircraft. The problem with this was that the same coding procedure was used by the part manufacturers as was used by Nakajima and Mitsubishi. Ryan Toews reckons that the front section of our Zero came from A6M2 5451 recovered at the same time. By a system of deduction, we reason that the rear section came from A6M2 Houkoku 1045, with the wings and both horizontal and vertical stabilizers being built up from other suitable parts recovered at that same time. The covers for the 7.7mm guns are from A6M2 7830 and A6M2 2985, The stencils on these parts in the original paint are visible to this day.

Today
In late 2005, the CAF sold this aircraft to the Pacific Aviation Museum (Ford Island Museum), and was transported to Hawaii. The aircraft is repainted in the markings of A6M2 Zero 2266 Tail BII-120 piloted by PO1 Shigenori Nishikaichi that force landed on Niihau Island after attacking Oahu on December 7, 1941. Displayed indoors on a replica flight deck.

References
The Defender shows Diemert's initial restoration of this airplane for its unveiling flight with the CAF in mid 1980s
The Dispatch (Volume 18, No 2) Summer 1993 "Zero Recovery & Restoration" pages 14 - 22 by Jeff Ethell
Aeroplane March 2006 Issue, page 7 (Sale to Ford Island Museum)
Flypast Magazine, March 2007 pages 40-42, 55
Thanks to Jim Lansdale, Jim Long, Alan Gaynor, Ryan Toews for additional information

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Last Updated
January 14, 2014

 

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