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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 5356  
IJN
? Kōkūtai

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CAF 1985
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CAF 2002
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Via Yuki Onishi, 2002

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Allan Gaynor 2004
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Justin Taylan 2005
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KT Budde-Jones 2007

Aircraft History
Built by Nakajima estimated date of assembly October 1942. It is unclear if 5356 was this aircraft's actual manufacture number, or if it was noted on a component dataplate and therefore, may not have been the manufacture number of the entire aircraft.

Wartime History
Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero. Assigned to an unknown Kōkūtai (Air Group). No known markings or tail code. This Zero operated from Ballale Airfield on Ballale Island and was abandoned.

Wreckage
The wreckage of this Zero remained in situ until 1968.

Recovery
During late 1968, this Zero was salvaged by Robert Diemert. During the recovery, this Zero was cut into several pieces and loaded onto a barge along with A6M2 Zero 5451, A6M2 Zero 5450 and a D3A2 Val 3178, plus other Zero parts.

Afterwards, the salvaged Japanese aircraft wreckage was transported to Port Moresby. In December 1968 stored outdoors at Jackson Airport. In January 1969 loaded aboard a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) C-130 Hercules and flown to Canada then transported to Robert Diemert and his private airport, Friendship Airfield.

Restoration
This was the second Zero Robert Diemert restored. After the 1973 crash of A6M2 Zero 4461, he began restoring this Zero between 1973–1985 at Friendship Airfield using parts and components of many different Zeros he recovered with a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engine.

In 1985, this restored Zero was sold to the Confederate Air Force (CAF). On August 12, 1985 this Zero made its first flight in Midland, Texas.

Registered in the United States as Mitsubishi model A6M2-21 serial number 807 with registration N58245. Painted overall gray, black cowling, tail code EII-102 with a white stripe above the tail code and two white bands on the rear fuselage.

During 1985–2002, the Zero was flown in air show by the Confederate Air Force / Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and based at Midland, Texas.

Re-Restoration
In 2002, the Zero was grounded for additional restoration work and transferred to Commemorative Air Force Camarillo (CAF Camarillo). The re-restoration process revealed this Zero was actually restored from major components of at least two Zeros.

Alan Gaynor adds:
"The c/n's that Diemert applied to both his restored Zeros are wrong. He got these numbers by reading the data plates from the same component from different aircraft. The problem with this was that the same coding procedure was used by the part manufacturers as was used by Nakajima and Mitsubishi. Ryan Toews reckons that the front section of our Zero came from A6M2 5451 recovered at the same time. By a system of deduction, we reason that the rear section came from A6M2 Houkoku 1045, with the wings and both horizontal and vertical stabilizers being built up from other suitable parts recovered at that same time. The covers for the 7.7mm guns are from A6M2 7830 and A6M2 2985, The stencils on these parts in the original paint are visible to this day.

Today
During late 2005, the CAF sold this aircraft to the Pacific Aviation Museum (Ford Island Museum), and was transported to Hawaii. The aircraft was repainted to represent A6M2 Zero 2266 Tail BII-120 piloted by PO1 Shigenori Nishikaichi that operated from Hiryū and participated in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Oahu on December 7, 1941 and returning from the mission force landed on Niihau Island (Niʻihau).

Today
In 2007 this Zero was placed on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum (Ford Island Museum) indoors on a replica flight deck. On February 22, 2017, the FAA registration was canceled but the N-Number remains on hold.

References
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
The Defender (1988) shows Diemert's initial restoration of this airplane and unveiling flight with the CAF
FAA Registry N58245 Mitsubishi A6M2-21 serial number 807 (registration cancel date 02/22/2017)
The Dispatch (Volume 18, No 2) Summer 1993 "Zero Recovery & Restoration" pages 14 - 22 by Jeff Ethell
Aeroplane March 2006 Issue, page 7 (Sale to Ford Island Museum)
Flypast Magazine March 2007 pages 40-42, 55
Thanks to Jim Lansdale, Jim Long, Alan Gaynor, Ryan Toews for additional information

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Last Updated
October 28, 2018

 

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