|Pilot Flying Petty Officer First Class Shimezoh Inoue (MIA / KIA)
Force Landed November 26, 1941
Built by Mitsubishi on October, 21 1941. This Zero was regularly assigned to Lt. Inano. The aircraft was painted gray and had a diagonal yellow strip on the fuselage, rear of the hinomaru. Also, two blue bands around the tail number, which was painted white and outlined in red.
On November 26, 1941 took off from Tainan Airfield on a predawn on a ferry flight via Hainan Island then to proceed to Saigon. During the flight, two Zero became separated and lost due to bad weather, this aircraft and another A6M2 Zero piloted by Shimohigashi. Over the coast near Qian Shan on the southeastern coast of Leichou Panto, both pilots force landed on the beach. Inoue was successful, but Shimohigashi’s Zero fighter was extensively damaged during the beach landing. The exact fate of the pilot is unknown. Reportedly, he were captured by Chinese forces and never returned.
This aircraft was the first very first intact Japanese A6M2 Zero captured as a prize of war. This Zero was pulled off the beach by the Chinese, along with the other Zero the force landed. Transported over several months to Liuchow. Chinese mechanics reassembled this Zero at Liuchow Airfield. During re-assembly it was found that the fuselage panels aft of the cowling had been lost on Zero 3372 during its trip north. Therefore, the Chinese mechanics replaced the missing parts.
Reportedly, Major General Nathan F. Twining, then Director of war Organization and Movement, went to China and was was shown the remains of this Zero, and informed General Chennault. Two 76th Fighter Squadron personnel later arrived at Liuchow and inspected the Zero, and Yank photographer documented the aircraft. The Zero had been repainted with Chinese Air Force markings and the Chinese serial, P-5016.
"The Zero Club" in China
75th FS C.O. pilot Alison was the first American to fly this Zero to Kweilin. It suffered a force landing due to failure of the landing gear to extend and was again repaired. Later, the Zero was flown by at least five other American pilots who called themselves “The Zero Club".
In early 1943 the Zero was flown from Kunming to Karachi, India with an escort flight of 23rd Fighter Group Curtiss P-40K Warhawks. One by one, all the Warhawks aborted their escort mission and Zero 3372 arrived in Karachi alone! There, Neumann supervised the crating of the Zero and it was placed aboard a ship bound for the United States as a war prize and for further testing.
Testing in USA
Although it sustained some damage during transport, Curtiss Aircraft volunteered to rebuild the damaged Zero once again. After its repair and reconstruction, but now bearing USAAF markings and evaluation code EB-2 on the tail. It underwent further test flights at Wright Field, Ohio and the Army Proving Grounds at Eglin Field where the tail number was changed to EB-200.
Richard Dunn adds:
"A report dated 10 March 44 says that Zeke EB-200 had arrived at Wright Field with 30 hrs flying time and had flown no additional hrs since arrival."
Fate of the Zero
Scrapped or otherwise disposed after the war. Today, apiece of tail fabric with the serial number 3372 shown in this photograph and a metal data plate are all the only known remains of this aircraft.
War Prize: The Capture Of The First Japanese Zero Fighter In 1941 by Jim Lansdale
Koku-Fan Magazine, May 1964, Vol. 13 No. 7, published by Bunrindo Co., Ltd., Tokyo, pages 28 and 30 via Jim Long
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February 4, 2018