Built by Mitsubishi with an estimated date of assembly in June 1943. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M3 Model 22 Zero manufacture number 3753. Painted overall gray at the factory.
Assigned to the 204 Kokutai with Tail 103. During the middle of 1943 operated from Ballale Airfield. Sometime in the middle or late 1943 this Zero was abandoned or damaged. Likely stripped for usable parts during the war.
Until 1968, this Zero remained in situ on Ballale Island. The wreckage had manufacture number 3753 and tail code 103 visible.
During 1968, salvaged by Robert Diemert. During the salvage, this Zero's fuselage was cut between station 9 and station 10 and the horizontal stabalizers were recovered. At the time of recovery no markings were noted on the tail.
This Zero was
loaded onto a barge and transported to Port Moresby and stored in a fenced area at Jackson Airport. During the middle of January 1969, a deal was made with the Royal Canadian Air
Force (RCAF) to airlift the wreckage aboard a C-130 Hercules to Canada and delivered to Robert Diemert at Frendship Airfield.
In 1990, parts of this Zero were sold to
John Calverley and Earl Calverley / Blayd Corporation and placed into storage.
Ryan Toews adds:
"A black and white photo in Diemert’s collection showed tail numbers to be light coloured on a darker background. The leading edge of the fin had been already removed. The small size of the numbers 03, again almost certainly preceded by a 1, are similar in size and location to the style of tail code used by 204 Ku. If this is the case this fin may have been part of A6M3 Model 22 3753 [this aircraft] since the 204 Ku was known to have had the Zero 22 as part of their inventory."
Possibly, A6M3 Zero center section cut between station 9 and station 10 that was illegally exported in November 2007 was the rest of this aircraft.
Note, this Zero has been reported with tail code T2-103. By July 1943 the use of T2 as a prefix was no longer used and would have been simply 103.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
A Brief History of the Blayd Zero and Its Markings by Ryan Toews June 15, 2014 page 1
"Components of Mitsubishi-built A6M3 32 (s/n 3285) and A6M3 22 (s/n 3753) were also salvaged."
Thanks to Jim Long and Ryan Toews for additional information
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October 16, 2018