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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero    
IJN
? Kōkūtai

Click Fo Enlargement
Andrew Wright 1995

Click Fo Enlargement
H. Sawyer 2002

Click Fo Enlargement
Rod Pearce 2006

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the ? Kōkūtai. No known markings.

Wartime History
This Zero likely took off from Rabaul before ditching into Blanche Bay off Malapau, west of Kokopo, east of Raluana Point and south of Rabaul. This Zero has bullet holes in the starboard side, and appears to have ditched tail first, damaging the fuselage during the impact. According to locals, the pilot survived the ditching and swam to shore.

Wreckage
Discovered during the early 1970s. The Zero is upright on a flat slit bottom. The propellers are unbend, and canopy missing. All of the machine guns are still present. Fire coral surround the cockpit and wings. This aircraft is a popular dive site.

References
National Geographic "Ghosts of War" page 430-431
Winged Ghosts of the South Pacific footage of the Zero underwater
Lonely Planet Dive & Snorkel PNG, page 112
"Another excellent wreck is that of the classic Zero fighter off a beach south of Rabaul on the way to Kokopo. The wreck is at 27m, intact & upright. It's wings are flush with the sand bottom & the propeller is still in place. The open cockpit is usually full of bait fish. The water is clear."

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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