|Pilot P.O. Kentaro Miyagoshi
Ditched January 18, 1945
Built by Nakajima, estimated date of assembly October 1943. Assigned to the 253rd Kokutai based at Rabaul.
During October 1944, this Zero was field modified at Rabaul into a two seat configuration conceived by commander Tomoyoshi
Hori. A rear facing seat for an observer was installed behind
the pilot with a telegraph for transmitting long range communications during reconnaissance missions. Assigned to the 105th Naval Base Unit.
The exact history of this aircraft's final mission is unknown, but it
is speculated that the aircraft was lost on a reconnaissance mission
to western New Britain, near Turub. They ran short of fuel and ditched
Lambert. Both crew returned to base on the 20th, after
walking through the jungle for two days.
Remained underwater at 13 meters until 1972. During August 1972, this Zero was recovered by Bob Scott, after his successful recovery of A6M5
4323 the previous
year. At the time of recovery, the 20mm cannons still had their blueing,
instruments intact, even a parachute remains and binoculars were found
inside the cockpit.
Export & Sale
Shipped to Melbourne for
display and restoration with parts from several wrecked Zeros from
the Rabaul area. A legal battle occurred over this aircraft after it
was offered for sale to the Australian
War Memorial. The Zero was seized by
police until the lawsuit settled. Later, it was sold to the Tokyo
Displayed at the Tokyo
Science Museum. Around 2000, the Zero was moved to "Tsukuba" where it was stored, or underwent additional preservation. Returned
to public display at the museum. The engine cowl is removed, missing as the original was corroded.
Siege of Rabaul pages 62-63 (photo), 70 (photo)
to Freedom pages 442-443
Aircraft Wrecks page 30 - 31, 54 (lower)
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February 4, 2018