This aircraft was likely part of a detachment of Zeros from either the Junyō or Zuihō, both briefly based at Wewak Airfield (Wirui Airfield) in January - February 1943. Or, a Zero ferried
through the area at some point later in the war.
Ditched into Wewak Harbor, to the east of Wewak.
Possibly, A6M2 Zero ditched January 20, 1943.
While based at Wewak Airfield, two Junyō pilots
were killed on January 23, 1943:
WO Saburo Kitahara during an interception of B-24s
CPO Taka-aki Sato, following
This wreck is listed on a post war RAN hydrographic survey of the harbor, but seems to have been forgotten since then. The wreckage consists of the cockpit section,
wings and engine. The tail is missing, broken off behind the cockpit.
Justin Taylan dove the wreck in 2003:
"I dove this wreck with John Douglas whose 'wreck tecs' located it . Initially, we believed it to be a
Ki-43 Oscar. At least one other person must have been to the site, as the
control stick was missing. Unfortunately, poor
water visibility made photography difficult. The wreck was noted in
only one source, a post war Australian harbor survey, but was unknown to
the local dive community today."
again dove the wreck in 2004:
"Diving this wreck a year later, in better visibility lead to a
new discovery. This
aircraft is not an Oscar, but rather a A6M2
Zero, after careful study of the cockpit canopy, seat, engine cowl
and other features, there is no doubt about this."
Luca Ruffato adds:
"The pilot for the tail-less reisen at Wewak could be Lt(jg) Watanabe Torio (67-ki) had a mishap during the very first morning routine CAP from Wewak; on landing he was seriously wounded (a/c written off?)."
Thanks to John Douglas and
Luca Ruffato for additional information
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Do you have photos or additional information to add?
January 31, 2018