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  A6M5 Model 52 Zero Manufacture Number 4043 Tail 3-108
IJN
? Kōkūtai

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Fantasy of Flight 1990s

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Jim Lansdale 1990s

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Justin Taylan 2011

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi, estimated date of assembly September 1943. Painted with dark green upper and gray lower surfaces.

Wartime History
This Zero was based at Rabaul, and likely assigned to several Kōkūtai. Painted with tail code 3-108. Evidence of battle damage and repairs are evident on the fin. Assigned to the 105th Naval Base Air Unit at the end of the war. One of the only aircraft in flying condtion to survive the war at Rabaul.

After Japan's surrender on August 15, 1945, this aircraft was painted in surrender markings: overall white with green crosses. When the Australian Army occupied Rabaul, the Japanese requested permission to surrender their remaining aircraft to the Air Force. Their request was granted and Japanese pilots were allowed to fly the aircraft to the nearest Allied airfield.

On September 18, 1945 one of three Zeros that took off from Vunakanau Airfield piloted by P.O. Gensaku Aoki, P. O. Yoshio Otsuki and P. O. Yasushi Shimbo flying this Zero plus A6M3 Zero 3479, A6M5 Zero 4444 along with Ki-46 Dinah 2783. The Japanese aircraft were escorted by RAAF fighters to Jacquinot Bay Airfield. After landing, the pilots saluted, made a report then were flown back to Rabaul aboard a RNZAF Catalina.

A group of aircraft including this Zero, Ki-46 2783, A6M3 3479 and A6M5 Zero 4444 were all painted in surrender markings to hand them over to New Zealand personnel. Flown by Japanese crews, the aircraft took off on its final flight as a Japanese aircraft on September 18, 1945 from Vunakanau Airfield to Jacquinot Bay Airfield. After landing, the pilots saluted, made a report and were flown back to Rabaul aboard a RNZAF PBY Catalina.

Wreckage
The wreckage remained in situ at Jacquinot Bay Airfield until the late 1970s.

Salvage
In the late 1970s, this Zero was transported to Australia. Stored at the Australian War Memorial and portions of this airframe were used for the restoration of A6M2 Zero 5784.

During the 1980s, the remaining Zero parts and wreckage were sold / traded to Robert Greinert who sold them to Kermit Weeks / Fantasy Of Flight in exchange for a MiG-15 and a Beaufort. This Zero was transported to the United States.

Display
Displayed at Fantasy of Flight at Tamiami Airport, re-painted in green paint with hinomaru markings. After 1992, transported to Polk City location and stored off site at Fantasy of Flight.

The tail cone only of this aircraft, including the manufacture number 4043 stencil is displayed at Hamamatsu-Minami AFB. It is unclear how this tail portion only ended up in Japan, likely traded or donated by AWM after their Zero restoration, or recovered from the wreckage prior to its salvage.

References
The Siege of Rabaul page 87 - 89
Arawasi Issue 8, 1-3 2008 "Relic Rarities" by Shima Chiaki p44 - 45
Fantasy of Flight - Zero Page valued at $250,000
"After the Australian Museum restored one of the recovered Zeros [A6M2 5784], the balance of the aircraft and parts were traded off to Robert Greinert from Sydney. Kermit purchased the aircraft from him in the late 1980’s where it was eventually made up for display in Fightertown [ Weeks Air Museum] as a crashed aircraft."
J-Aircraft "The Dismembered Zero: A Mystery of Missing Body Parts From Reisen 4043" by Jim Lansdale
Thanks to Jim Lansdale and Jim Long for additional information

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

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