This is a replica Zero manufactured with new materials. Assigned the "historical identity" of A6M3 Zero 3869 and the markings and identity of A6M2 Zero Tail X-133. This Zero has folding wing tips of an Model 21 or Model 22 Zero. Although
recovered with its original Sakae engine, it was restored with
a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-75 engine.
One of three reproduction Zeros built in Russia between 1994-1997 for the Santa Monica Museum of Flying.
The restoration was based on wreckage recovered from Babo Airfield by Bruce
Fenstermaker. The owners claim the restoration uses original parts from the wreckage from Babo. But, the only original parts used was a dataplate, landing gear leg and stern post. Possibly, even these parts are not original.
Jim Long adds:
"That [P&W] engine made the rebuilders do just about the same thing that the Mitsubishi company had to do when they came up with the A6M8. Notice how the top of the accessory cowling bulges up at the forward end and notice how large the engine cowling is. It all reminds me of the A6M8, but without jet exhaust stacks and without an external air scoop atop the engine cowling. The rebuilders managed to position the intake scoop under the cowling, which is something that Mitsubishi could have done as well on the A6M8, instead of bringing it outside."
Purchased by David Price, first flight during September 1998. Assigned registration NX6582L. In 2002, it went up for auction for over $1 million USD, when the Santa
Monica Museum of Flying closed, but failed to sell at auction.
Next, purchased by the CAF and is now based at CAF
Camarillo. Registered as N712Z to American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum (Commemorative Air Force, CAF) in Midland, Texas.
FAA Registry N712Z incorrectly lists manufacture year as 1942
Air Classics, Volume 27, No 8 (August 1991) "Zero Starts Major Restoration Program" by Michael O'Leary. Pages 34-40
Warbirds International, Vol 14, No 8, November 1995. "Zero Exclusive! Flight Magic lets us take a look at its newly restored Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero by Michael O'Leary. Pages 8-11.
MotorSnipits Auction page offering Zero for sale (circa 2002, page missing)
Thanks to Jim Long, James Lansdale, Ryan Toews, Bruce
Fenstermaker and Alan Gaynor for additional
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January 9, 2018