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Robert Diemert
First Warbird Restorer, Japanese Recoveries
Carman, Manitoba Province, Canada

In 2004, Mr. Diemert provided an outline of his work related to WWII aviation and Japanese aircraft.

Early Warbird Restorer
Arguably, Diemert is one of the first 'warbird' restorer in the world. He restored a Hawker Hurricane for use in the movie The Battle of Britain (released 1969) and flew as a stunt pilot in that film.  With the funds made from that project, he traveled to the South Pacific in 1968-69 to look for aircraft to recover.

South Pacific Recoveries
His travels brought him on three trips to the South Pacific, in search of rare aircraft, specifically a Zero and Val, to hopefully recover and restore for use in the forthcoming movie Tora Tora Tora! (1970). Although this plan never came to fruition, he met with aviation museum pioneer Bill Champman, he suggested an island with several wrecks. 

He recovered four airframes (3 Zeros and an Val) from several locations, and smaller parts from other wrecks. Using local help, they were cut into into pieces to facilitate loading them onto a barge. Shipped to Port Moresby to await export. Stored in a pile in a fenced area at Jackson Airport during December 1968 - January 1969. A deal was made with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to airlift the wreckage aboard a C-130 Hercules to Canada during the middle of January 1969.

Complete list of recovered and restored aircraft

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Warbird Restoration Activities
During the 1970 - 1980s, from his private airfield at Carman, and restoration shop, he was involved with the restoration of several warbirds, including a P-40, P-38 and owner of other warbirds including a Blenheim. Also, the restoration of the Japanese aircraft he had recovered.

Restoration of Japanese Aircraft
First, he restored the D3A2 Val 3178 using an American Wright R-2600 radial engine, and flew it to Ottawa where it was donated to the Canadian National Aviation Museum, in return for the transportation services of the Canadian Air Force (CAF). 

Diemert then restored two Zero fuselages at the same time in the 1970's. The first plane, given A6M2 4461, but crashed on its first test flight. He then used the rear fuselage of the second fuselage to rebuild a single Zero that was then sold to the USMC Museum.

A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture 5450 Tail EII-140
Restored for USMC Museum, today displayed at NAS Pensacola

The Canadian Film Board made a documentary The Defender (1988) about his hopes to build a fighter aircraft for Canada, and the restoration another Zeros for the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), using parts from at least two of the recovered airframes. Diemert and Chris Ball worked on the Zero restorations. with assistance from a Mitsubishi factory representative who joined them to work on the CAF Zero.

A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture 5356 Tail EII-102
Restored for CAF, today displayed at the Pacific Aviation Museum (Ford Island Museum)

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Legacy Today
Since Diemert's involvement with these restorations. The three restored aircraft have had several other paint schemes and owners and restoration work preformed over the years. Also many of his Zero parts went to the Blayd corporation also in Manitoba, Canada. The Val was traded to the Planes of Fame Museum at Chino, CA, for a helicopter.

Zero Parts Used in Another Project
In 1990 Diemert sold all of the remaining recovered wreckage to Blayd Corporation / John and Earl Calverley, in Carman Manitoba. They used the assortment of parts as templates to build a new Zero. The only original parts on this Zero are the landing gear. This is the plane now known as the Dakota Blayd Zero as it was purchased by a consortium based in ND and MN. These partners took the airframe made by Blayd and finished it (primarily engine, instruments, hydraulics) at Tri-State Aviation in Wahpeton ND (owned by Gerry Beck). This replica Zero was the identity of A6M2 6544. Today, Earl Calverley still has the parts Diemert sold them stored in a semi trailer next to his shop in Carman. The only large identifiable pieces in this collection is a deskinned left wing from A6M2 5459 and the deskinned front fuselage section from A6M2 3471.

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