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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 1309?  
? Kokutai

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Justin Taylan May 3, 2012

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Justin Taylan May 6, 2012

Aircraft History
Built by Nakajima during early September 1942. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture Number 1309? (last digit unknown). This Zero was the 300th to 309th Nakajima built A6M2 Zero. Painted overall gray at the factory with a black engine cowling. Assigned to an unknown Kokutai. No known tail code or markings.

Wartime History
Likely, this Zero arrived in the Rabaul area in late 1942. Sometime between late 1942 and early 1944, this Zero made a controlled ditching with the engine feathered into Wide Bay off the coast of New Britain. Most likely, the pilot survived and swam ashore.

On May 3, 2012 located by MV Barbarian using Side Scan Sonar (SSS) by Rod Pearce and Justin Taylan at 11:00am. First dive by Rod Pearce and Justin Taylan at 11:45am. Second dive by Justin Taylan at 2:30pm. Third and fourth dives by Justin Taylan on May 4. Fifth dive by Rod Pearce and Justin Taylan on May 6, 2012 to determine the manufacture number.

Justin Taylan adds:
"The unmistakable shape of an aircraft appeared on the side scan sonar prompting me to immediately mark it and yell out to Rod Peace to bring the boat around. We made several more passes recording beautiful imagery that suggested the target was a Zero fighter.

After anchoring, Rod Pearce and I geared up and descended the anchor chain. Together, we discovered a Zero perfectly intact and upright on a sandy bottom with a moderate current. We spent 4:45 on the wreck with roughly 10m visibility.

During the first dive, we easily determined the aircraft was a Japanese Navy A6M2 Model 21 Zero, due to the presence of nose gun slits and the shape of the wing tips. The wing spars were corroded with short barrel 20mm cannons. The access cover to the left wing cannon was missing. The wing control surfaces were rotted away.

The propellers were in a "Y" position, with two blades visible, neither bent indicating the plane likely ditched with the engine feathered. A large hole was present on the top of the nose, with aluminum bent upward, indicating an exit hole for a bullet or shrapnel.

Several large sea whips and soft corals grow near the cockpit. The cockpit canopy was open and a piece twisted to the left rear of the cockpit, none of the panels had perspex, aside for the left cockpit window. At least two pieces of perspex have fallen into the cockpit on impact. No radio aerial was present. The cockpit was in perfect condition with the control stick to the left side and rudder pedals kicked to the left. The gun site and 7.7mm machine guns were present. There is no doubt the pilot ditched the Zero and exited.

The fuselage is undamaged, aside from a cross shaped stress mark on the left side, likely from the ditching. There is a patch of soft coral on left stabilizer, the fabric on all control surfaces is rotted away. The tail section is elevated slightly off the bottom, only under the wings and engine.

On May 6, Rod was able to carefully clean the serial stencil area, revealing the "Nakajima" and Manufacture Number "130". Sadly, the last two digits are not readable because of a hole in the fuselage caused by corrosion or damage. Nakajima created "dummy" numbers in their codes, to deceive production totals. The first number and the second number from the right are "dummy" number that equal 10. Therefore, this Nakajima A6M2 Zero Manufacture number was 1309? with only the last digit unknown."

Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Thanks to Ryan Toews for additional information

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Last Updated
November 8, 2018


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