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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero    
IJN
Shoho or Zuikaku

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Justin Friend / Orion Expedition Cruises 2006

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Laurence Murphy 2007

Mission History
On May 7, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea took off from either Shoho or Zuikaku. Returning, this Zero ditched into Deboyne Lagoon off Nivani Island.

This Zero was either one of three possible Zeros known to have ditched at Deboyne Lagoon. Either one of two A6M2 Zeros led by Lt. Notomi that ditched after Shoho was sunk. Or, A6M2 piloted by PO2c Okura Shigeru from the 14th Shotai from Zuikaku.

Seaplane pilot W. O. K. Nemoto was at Deboyne and witnessed the ditching of A6M2 Zero piloted by P. O. Okura (possibly this aircraft). His noted in his diary: "At 3p.m. [May 7, 1942] a fighter pilot made a force landing. He [P. O. Okura] is from Zuikaku and they [he?] told us the vivid story of today's battle... He shot down [claimed] three enemies."

Wreckage
This Zero ditched into 2-4m of water and landed intact and upright on a sandy bottom off the northern tip of Nivani Island, in 2-4m of water.

On June 3, 1942 this Zero was investigated by Australian Army. This wreckage was identified in Allied reports as "AD4, Zeke, 8 [sic] May 42, Deboyne group" with only an asterisk where the serial number should be, possibly there is another report. The code AD identified airplanes inspected by the Advance Echelon, Fifth Air Force. The code letters were followed by a number which identified an individual wreck.

Lt Mac Rich, Lousiade Archipelago Patrol diary: June 3, 1942:
"spent the afternoon with Ivan [Champion] and a couple of the crew salvaging what we could from a crashed ZERO fighter on the bed of the lagoon in about 1—15ft of water. An attempt to raise this and move it into shallower water with empty oil drums found on the beach proved unsuccessful, so we had to be content with diving down with swimming goggles. We were able to get the radio transmitter and receiver suspended on rubber cords on one side of the cockpit. Ivan wanted the spherical faced compass set in the control panel, this proved quite a job trying to cut and price it out its mounting but we succeeded in the end. Being an amateur I was content with the morse key which I still have, though strange to relate it does not carry a brand of any description. It was strange to see through the prospect canopy behind the pilot’s seat an oblong box branded in big white letters 'Bandit Homing Compass' - we did not consider this worth salvaging as it was obviously an American product. Late in the afternoon two Panniet Island village Constables and Councilors arrived by sailing canoe and were duly questioned about any survivors in their area, but they had nothing to report."

Today, this Zero remains in situ. The wreckage includes the engine and three bladed propeller plus pieces of fuselage.

References
W. O. K. Nemoto diary May 7, 1943
"At 3 p.m. [May 7, 1942] a fighter pilot made a force landing. He [P. O. Okura] is from Zuikaku and they [he?] told us the vivid story of today's battle... He shot down [claimed] three enemies." On June 28, 1942 W. O. Nemoto was killed at Salamaua and this diary was captured and translated by the Allies.
SWPA Technical References to Inspected Enemy Airplanes" ATIU, September 27, 1943
"AD4, Zeke, 8 [sic] May 42"
Jim Sawruk adds: "I think [this Zero] is most likely the Zuikaku one as it is alone."
Thanks to John Douglas, Jim Sawruk, Richard Dunn for additional information.

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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