Built by Mitsubishi, likely in the range of 4551 - 4650 between the start of February 1944 until the first week of March 1944. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the 202 Kokutai, 603rd Hikotai. Tail Code "0????".
Ryan Toews adds:
"This is a Mitsubishi built A6M5. I have based this on the 'shadow' of the left-side fuselage identification stencil. Mitsubishi applied this stencil onto a light coloured rectangle that was surrounded by the darker upper surface dark green camo paint. Furthermore, the rear left bulkhead has the mounting brackets for the gas tanks fire extinguisher system. Mitsubishi began to install this system starting in early December 1943 with A6M5 s/n 4274 . Mitsubishi's production of the A6M5a began in early March 1944 so that also gives us a cut-off date for this machine's manufacture. After s/n 4550 the lower exhaust were shortened by 80mm and looking at the photos it appears that the exhaust are indeed of the shorter type. That means this Zero has a s/n between 4551 and 4650. It also means that the plane was built by Mitsubishi between the beginning of February 1944 and the 1st week of March 1944. I think I can see a partial tail code of 0xxxx. 202 Kokutai was split into 301 and 603 Hikotai on 4 March 1944. 603 Hikotai used the tail code 02-xxx(x). I think what we have here is a 603 Hikotai/202 Kokutai Zero."
This Zero was abandoned in a revetment at Babo
This Zero remained in on its landing gear. The cowl was removed and resting nearby. The left fuselage hinomaru was cut out likely by a souvenir collector (as of 1972). One of the propeller blades was cut off, likely by locals.
During his 1973 visit, collector Roy Worcester painted his name on the left side of the fuselage, it read: "Roy Worcester Wewak N.G.", likely to claim the wreckage. This wreck was until at least the early 1990s, whereabouts
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 65
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January 9, 2018