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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 31870 Tail 53-122
IJN
105th Naval Base Unit

Former Assignment
253rd Kōkūtai

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Ray Fairfield 1972

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Rod Mountford 2005

Pilot  P.O. Kentaro Miyagoshi (survived)
Observer  ?
(survived)
Ditched  January 18, 1945


Aircraft History
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.

Mission History
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 near Cape Lambert. Both crew returned to base on the 20th, after walking through the jungle for two days.

Wreckage
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 Science Museum.

Display
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.

References
The Siege of Rabaul pages 62-63 (photo), 70 (photo)
Hostages to Freedom pages 442-443
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 30 - 31, 54 (lower)

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Last Updated
June 11, 2018

 

Tech Info
Zero

SCUBA
13m
(formally)

Photos
Photo Archive

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