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  A6M3 Model 22 Zero Manufacture Number 3685 Tail Y2-176
IJN
252 Kōkūtai

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William Bartsch 1975

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Stan Gajda 1998

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Elliot Smock 2000

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Daynes July 10, 2010

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi, estimated date of assembly May 1943. Assigned to 252 Kokutai with tail code Y2-176.

Wartime History
Abandoned at Taroa Airfield.

Wreckage
Until 1991, remained 'in situ' at the airfield.

Stan Gajda adds:
"Y2-176 was sitting on its belly and the port center fuselage had been hacked right out, this appearing to be to provide access to the interior for pillagers. When I saw it in 1988 it looked a lot better but you will see that the wings were already in bad shape. This aircraft bears extensive evidence of a lot of combat with many field patches both large and small all over the airframe. All aircraft in this area have had engines removed although there are many engines scattered about most with propellers still attached."

Recovery
Recovered by John Sterling, in the 1990s. After a year of negotiation, including sleeping in the jungle for nearly 3 months to perform the recovery of this and other Zeros: A6M3 3318, A6M3 3148 and A6M2 31574 that were disassembled, crated and shipped back to his home in Boise, Idaho in May 1991.  He focused his efforts on restoring A6M3 Zero 3148 and using parts from the others to support this single project.

Sale
During 2000, acquired by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford. There were no plans to restore the aircraft at this stage, and it has been proposed to display it 'as is'. This Zero remained in storage until at least 2010. Today, displayed at Imperial War Museum.

References
Asahi Journal Vol 1 No 2 has an interview with John Sterling

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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