Built by Nakajima on August 21, 1942. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number 8224. Assigned to an unknown Kōkūtai. No known markings.
The wartime history of this Zeor is unknown. Likely, this Zero ditched on December 26, 1943 piloted by PO1c Tomiharu from the 204 Kōkūtai who took off from Rabaul on a mission to attack U. S. shipping then land at Tuluvu Airfield (Cape Glouschester Airfield). Instead, Honda ditched and likely survived the landing but failed to return to his unit and likely died elsewhere on New Britain.
This Zero ditched into Wangore Bay east of the Willaumez Peninsula and north of Kimbe Bay off Kimbe. When it ditched, there was still ammunition in the nose machine guns. In the cockpit, the throttle was in the off position, mixture control was off and pitch control to fine pitch. These indicate the plane was successfully ditched.
During January 2000, discovered by local resident Mr. William Nuli while free diving in Wangore Bay at a depth of 55' approximately
100m offshore. He then reported the find to the Walindi Resort. Since then, this Zero has been a popular SCUBA dive site.
This aircraft is nearly completely intact on a sandy bottom. The canopy is open with the glass missing. There is no evidence of fire. The landing broke the aileron cables. The propeller was feathered on landing in the water. A small glass
panel is shattered on the left of the pilot's wind screen leaving shattered
glass down the left side of the pilot's seat. The ring gun sight was illegally removed by a tourist then turned over to the Walindi Resort.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Paradise Live "Mystery Zero woken after 55 years in shallow waters" by John Rei photographs by Tammy Peluso, April 4, 2000 "'I was only out to collect enough sea cucumbers.' This
is how young William Nuli of Talasea described the discovery of
a WWII Japanese fighter plane."
Thanks to Cecilie Benjamin / Walindi Resort for additional information and photos.
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January 31, 2018