Built by Nakajima during November 1942. At the factory, this Zero was painted with green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces with the fuselage Hinomaru outlined with a 75mm white border. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number 5451.
Assigned Houkoku Gou
1053 (Patriotic presentation number 1053) painted in black on the right side of the rear fuselage. This indicated the aircraft was purchased by Zen-nan-nori-gou (All-South seaweed processing company).
Assigned to the 201 Kokutai with tail code W1-150. Possibly, assigned to 253 Kokutai and piloted by
Shibayama. This Zero operated from Kara Airfield or Kahilli
Airfield on southern Bougainville or Ballale Airfield.
This aircraft was abandoned at either Kara Airfield or Kahilli
Airfield on southern Bougainville or Ballale Airfield on Ballale Island. Likely, stripped of usable parts by the Japanese during the war.
Until the late 1960s, this Zero remained in situ on southern Bougainville or on Ballale Island. The wreckage still had manufacture number 5451, Houkoku Number 1053 and tail W1-150 visible.
In the late 1960s, the forward fuselage, wing center section and the tail section of this aircraft was recovered by either Australian expatriates or Robert
In late 1968, this Zero was and transported by barge to Port
Moresby. Also recovered was A6M2 Zero 3471, A6M2
Zero Houkoku 1045, D3A2
Val 3178 plus other Zero parts. The recovered wreckage was stored outdoors at Jackson Airport in a pile until the middle of January 1969 when Robert
Diemert setup an export deal with the Royal Canadian Air
Force (RCAF) to transport the wreckage aboard a C-130 Hercules to Canada.
During the 1970s during restoration by Robert
Diemert, this Zero was split into the center section and rear fuselage. The front cockpit and center section was used in A6M2 Zero 5356 sold to the Commemorative
Air Force (CAF).
The rear fuselage with Houkoku Number 1053 was sold to the Planes
of Fame Museum. Later, it was sold to Tsucasa Kai in exchange for Zero parts.
According to Kenji Miyazaki (via Ryan Towes):
"I saw Houkoku 1053 at Mr. Tsucasa Kai's house. It is now disassembled. Mr. Kai is planning to finish one A6M5 so those parts will be used for that Zero. He keeps panels but those characters have almost faded away."
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Gakken No. 33 confirms 5451 was Houkoku 1053
Yokoi Houkoku List - Houkoku Number
Thanks to Jim Lansdale, Jim Long, Ryan Towes, David Aiken, Allan Gaynor, Kenji Miyazaki and Edward Maloney for additional information.
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December 2, 2018