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

Former Assignment
253 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. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number 31870.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 253 Kokutai with tail code 53-122 and operated from 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 near Turub on West New Britain. Returning, this Zero ran short of fuel and ditched near Cape Lambert. Both crew survived and trekked through the jungle for two days before returning to base on January 20, 1945.

Until August 1972, this Zero remained in situ underwater at a depth of 43' / 13m near Cape Lambert.

During August 1972, this Zero was recovered by Bob Scott, after his successful recovery of A6M5 Zero 4323 the previous year. At the time of recovery, the 20mm cannons still had their blueing, the cockpit instruments were intact, even the remains of a parachute and binoculars were found inside the cockpit.

This Zero was briefly displayed atop empty fuel drums adjacent to a shed at Rabaul. Afterwards, 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 (AWM). The Zero was seized by police until the lawsuit was settled.  Later, sold to the Tokyo Science Museum.

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.

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
December 4, 2018


Tech Info

43' / 13m
Former Depth

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