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  A6M5 Model 52 Zero Manufacture Number 4444  
IJN
? Kōkūtai

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi, estimated date of assembly late December 1943.

Wartime History
This Zero was based at Rabaul, and likely assigned to several Kōkūtai. 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 A6M5 Zero 4043, A6M3 Zero 3479 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.

Wreckage
The center section of this Zero remained 'in situ' at Jacquinot Bay Airfield until the late 1970s.

During the the late 1970s, this Zero along with A6M5 Zero 4043 was salvaged by an unknown person and exported to Australia.

Imported into Japan by Light Aviation Co., Ltd, Japan. Auctioned at Ryugasaki during 1978 along with A6M5 Zero 4240 and a Sakai engine serial number 211486. Purchased by Tsucasa Kai and stored at his residence.

References
Thanks to Ryan Toews for additional information

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018

 

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