For the purposes of this profile, the component dataplate number 5450 is used to discribe this aircraft, but is the true manufacture number of this Zero, that was restored from parts of several wrecks.
Manufacture Number 5450 was built by Nakajima during November 1942. The fuselage section used to restore this aircraft had Houkoku Number 1045 (patriotic presentation number).
Diemert claimed the plane was assigned to the Zuikaku from the time of Pearl Harbor, but this is untrue from the date of construction of all parts used in the restoration, which were manufactured
in October 1942 or later.
It is unclear what is the origin of the tail code. None of the marked tail fins Diemert recovered had any Zuikaku markings. Tail code EII-140 would fit with the Zuikaku markings from December 1941 to November 1942, but would have two white fuselage bands instead of the one yellow band.
Operated from Ballale
Airfield, where it was abandoned, likely after sustaining damage in combat or on the ground during a bombing raid.
Wreckage remained in situ until 1968.
Recovered by Robert
Diemert in 1968,
along with A6M2 Zero 5356, A6M2
Zero 5451 and a D3A2 Val 3178, in addition
to other Zero parts. These relics were cut into pieces and transported
Moresby where they were stored for a month, before being flown by the RCAF
to Canada in January 1969.
Restored by Robert
Diemert at Carman, Canada. After the crash of the first aircraft he attempted to restore, A6M2 Zero 4461, this Zero was restored using
portions of several wrecks, including portions of A6M2 Zero 5459. According to Diemert, the restoration took 7,000 hours of labor, from 1973 - 1977. The finished Zero was painted in an overall green paint scheme with tail code 136, and two fuselage stripes.
Sold to the USMC Museum. It was disassembled into components and trucked to Quantico, Virginia in the middle of 1977.
Later went to the National
Museum of Naval Aviation (NMNA) at NAS Pensacola. In 1991, this Zero was loaned
to Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas. The paint scheme was bogus, green with white and yellow strips and tail 136.
Derek / Buffies Best adds:
"To actually see and touch
a Sakae 12 was mind bending. I ended up taking over 240 photos and imagined
for a moment what it was like to fly this wonderful airplane. As you can see
the plane was mostly intact, all the skin panels were pop-riveted to the
plane, the cockpit was about 40% complete,
the oil cooler scoop was mocked up, the folding wing tips had been skinned
over, the interesting paint scheme."
Returned to National
Museum of Naval Aviation (NMNA) additional restoration work was completed it to make it more presentable. The pop rivets were replaced
by flush rivets in the fuselage (but not in the wings) and the
plane was repainted in overall gray sceme with tail code EII-140. Displayed on the museum floor on its landing gear, with cockpit open.
This Zero was restored by the museum again, including making a fiberglass mold of the original aircraft in January 2006.
Justin Taylan adds:
"When I visited the museum in January 2006, this Zero was not on display, a fiberglass model was being made from the original aircraft."
Completed in 2008, the Zero is now painted in dark green paint scheme, consistent with a later built Nakajima A6M2 again with tail EII-140.
Control Column Vol 11 No 5 (July 1977) "Mitsubishi Move"
Gakken No. 33 claims that this aircraft carried Houkoku Number 1045. Thanks to Jim Landsdale and Ryan Toews for additional info
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January 9, 2018