Built by Nakajima, estimated date of assembly October 1942. It is unclear if 5356 was this aircraft's actual manufacture number, rather it was observed from a components nameplate and, therefore, may not have been the manufacture number of the entire airplane.
Abandoned at Ballale
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.
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). 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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March 5, 2013