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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 5349 Tail BII-124
IJN
Hiryu

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RAAF 1942

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1960s

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Stan Gajda 1980s

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Pacific Ghosts 2001

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Daniel Leahy
2001

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Peter Flahavin 2004

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Goh Loon 2008

Pilot  Petty Officer Hajime Toyoshima (survived, POW, died August 5, 1944)
Force landed  February 19, 1942


Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi on October 4, 1941. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number 5349.

Wartime History
Assigned to Hiryu. Tail code BII-124.

Mission History
On February 19, 1942 took off from Hiryu piloted by Petty Officer Hajime Toyoshima as one of thirty-six Zeros on a fighter sweep over Darwin. The formation included other A6M2 Zeros from Soryu plus D3A1 Vals and B5N1 Kates from Kaga and Akagi.

Over the target, this Zero was hit by anti-aircraft fire and force landed on Melville Island. During the crash, pilot Toyoshima suffered injuries to his face from hitting the gun site during the landing.

Fate of the Pilot
Afterwards, Toyoshima wandered far from the crash site. Located by Aboriginal Matthias Ulungura from the Snake Bay Settlement who disarmed him of his pistol and took him to the nearest Australian forces. On Bathurst Island he was turned over to Sergeant Leslie J. Powell of the 23rd Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers.

Wreckage
The wings and tail were recovered from the crash site, and brought to Darwin Airfield for technical evaluation.  Their whereabouts today are unknown, possibly destroyed or scrapped during or after the war.

The center section remained where it crashed until the late 1960s, when it was recovered, and later became part of the Australian Aviation Heritage Center near Darwin.

Display
Toyoshima's flag and flight suit are displayed at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook. The bugle he used during the Cowra Breakout is displayed at the Australian War Memorial (AWM).

Prisoner of War
Toyoshima was the first Japanese captured on Australian soil. In the hopes that no one would look for his Zero, he used the alias "Tadao Minami" born March 20, 1919 in Kanagawa-ken. Assigned prisoner number (PWJ 910.1 - later number PWJA.110.001 or PWJA.110001).

During initial questioning, he tried to convince his captors that he was a Sergeant who was an aerial gunner from a bomber based at Ambon that bailed out and swam ashore. But, his uniform had the ideograph for "Hiryu" and was not stained with sea salt. Later when his Zero and parachute were found, a blood stain was tested and on April 17 Police matched it to his blood type.

He was taken to Redholme Manson in South Yarra, Victoria for further interogation. On March 23, 1942 taken to Lavcony (?) 14C compound, then on April 4, 1942 arrived at Nayport Setenton (?) Barracks. Next, on April 9, 1942 he was taken to Hay Camp. Hospitalized June 6-15, then returned to Hay Camp.

On January 8, 1943 transferred to Cowra POW Camp. Again hospitalized August 6-11 then returned to the camp, but again hospitalized on August 28 - September 4. Next, placed in detention, pending trial on September 19 - 23 (crime or charge unknown). Then again hospitalized as sick on October 4-11 and returned to camp. Hospitalized again May 13-15, then returned to camp.

Toyoshima signaled the start of "Cowra Breakout" at 2am on August 5, 1944 with a bugle and managed to reach a storm drain ditch, but was shot in the chest when trying to move. Wounded, he lit a cigarette, then cut his own throat and was found dead the next morning.

Memorials
Toyoshima was buried at Cowra Japanese War Cemetery at grave QC 18.

References
Mitsubishi T "0" Navy SSF Maker's No. 5349 Found Crashed on Melville Island 24.2.42
Australian Post "Where Japs got the third degree" by David Sissons, July 17, 1986, page 3, 5
The Hidden Chapters (1995) by Robert Piper
"War Comes To Australia" article by Robert Piper at display at RAAF Museum Point Cook
Pacific Ghosts CD-ROM (2002) profiles this Zero
Dariwn's Air War (Revised Edition) (2011) by Bob Alford page 38

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Last Updated
February 19, 2019

 

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