Built by either Mitsubishi or Nakajima during 1942. Manufacture Number unknown. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy. Assigned to the 252 Kokutai. Tail Number 1140. Painted with dark green upper surfaces and a vertical red stripe on the rear fuselage. Armed with short barrel 20mm cannons.
On January 25, 1943 took off on a mission to escort nine G4M1 Betty bombers with Zeros from 582 Kokutai and 204 Kokutai against Guadalcanal. This Zero either ditched or force landed on the beach at Verahue west of Cape Esperence on the northern coast of Guadalcanal.
On February 10, 1943, this Zero was located by U. S. Army soldiers occupying the Cape Esperence area. When photographed, several pieces of aluminum skin and fabric were already removed. Also, one propeller blade was cut off. During July or August 1943 investigated by Allied intelligence and photographed on the beach atop coconut logs, facing eastward.
The series of photos bore this wartime caption:
"One of the Japanese Zeros found when American Forces cleared the Japanese off Guadalcanal Island. February 10, 1943. This Zero is of a new production type being used and has some minor changes over the old type. Why these three Zeros were abandoned by the Japanese at Cape Esprance [sic] has not been determined. 14th Corps."
Crashed Enemy Air Craft Reports (CEAR) CEAR No. 5, April 22, 1943: Nakajima Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model 21
The 252 Kokutai Tail Code by Ryan Toews
Thanks to Jim Lansdale, Ryan Toews and Richard Dunn for additional information
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January 9, 2018