|Pilot Lt(jg) Nobuhiro Iwasaki
Crashed March 14, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi in in late November or early December 1941. 443rd Mitsubishi-built Zero. That makes it the 441st A6M2 to have been assembled by Mitsubishi. Assigned to the 4th Kōkūtai with tail number F-14? (0-9).
Took off from Lae Airfield on an escort mission to protect 4th Kōkūtai G4M1 Betty bombers attacking Horn Island at at 11:25am.
Over the target, this Zero was leading the second squadron, first group of Zeros in a three plane formation, along with Lt(jg) Hiroyoshi Nishizawa and PO1c Ichirobei Yamazaki.
Attacked by a P-40 piloted by Morrissey that opened fire from from 200 yards, causing it to receive damage 'shooting off his left wing'. This Zero crashed on Hammond Island.
Examined sixteen days later by ATIU, and removed data plates and small pieces of wreckage for study. The remains of Iwasaki were found a year later in mangroves by the Australian 49th Garrison Battalion from Thursday Island, and his identification tags returned to authorities.
Jim Long adds:
Judging by the known dates of other aircraft close around the plane, No. 4443 should have been completed on or after 30 November 1941. According to records, A6M2 Zero 4438 was 30 November 1941, and if work on the assembly line had progressed more or less in a proper sequence, No. 4443 should have been completed on 30 November or in early December. This was one of those early inspection by the ATIU, and they were not too good at finding the date of manufacture in those early days. They may have taken the date of 20 November 1941 from a component nameplate that they took from the crashed plane, instead of getting the real date from the fuselage stencil or from the main maker's nameplate in the cockpit."
Horn Island, page 16, 19, 21
Thanks to Jim Long for manufacture details and additional information
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January 5, 2018