Built by Mitsubishi on June 30, 1942. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture Number 3030. Painted overall gray with a black cowling. Assigned Houkoku Number 872 (presentation number) on the left side of the fuselage, indicating the aircraft was donated by
a civilian volunteer group in Japan. Assigned to the 2nd Kokutai. Tail code Q-102.
On August 26, 1942 took off from Buna
Airfield during the early morning piloted by P. O. Kazuo Tsunoda to defend the area against fourteen P-400 Airacobras from the 35th Fighter Group escorting seven B-26 Marauders from the 19th Bombardment Squadron on a bombing mission against the airfield. Around 7:00am, a dogfight unfolded above the airfield. This Zero was damaged by gunfire from the Airacobras but managed to land safely back at Buna
This Zero was parked at the edge of the runway at Buna
Airfield and camouflaged with palm fronds and vegetation. No attempt was made by the Japanese to repair the Zero, strip it for spare parts or to destroy it before the Battle of Buna.
Likely, it was left near the runway to lure Allied fighters and bombers into bombing an already abandoned aircraft instead of targeting other area While parked, the tail section sustained damage from the concussion of an exploding
aerial bomb that warped the fuselage skin.
On December 27, 1942, captured by the U. S. Army largely intact with the kunai grass growing around the wings and fuselage. This Zero was extensively photographed and examined by American and Australian troops.
During early January 1943, the engine was removed using an a-frame made from three coconut logs. Afterwards, the Zero was moved along with A6M3
3032 to the coast and loaded onto a barge and transported to Brisbane, arriving on February 19, 1943.
At Eagle Farm Airfield, the main fuselage and wing sections of this aircraft was selected as the most intact to repair as a flyable A6M3 Hamp (Hybrid).
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Kodochosho, 2nd Kōkūtai, August 26, 1942
Technical Air Intelligence Report No. 163, Headquarters Allied Air Forces, Directorate of Intelligence, APO 925, Subject: Recovery and Reconstruction of Type 0 Mk 2 SSF HAP, 16 September 1943.
Yokoi Houkoku List
Revenge of the Red Raiders page 134 (photo)
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 12 (top photo)
Thanks to Jim Long for additional information
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January 9, 2018