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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number ???? Tail '33' (X-133, X2-133)
IJN
202nd Kōkūtai

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Roy Worchester 1973

PacificWrecks.com
B Fenstermaker 1991

Aircraft History
Nakajima built Model 21 Zero, likely during early June 1943. Assigned to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the 202 Kōkūtai. Tail code "33" (likely X-133 or X2-133). The tail had two horizontal blue lines above and below the code.

Ryan Toews adds:
"This A6M2 Zero must have been manufactured sometime just after 9 June 1943 and was therefore one of the first to incorporate aileron servo tabs. In my opinion, the tail code prefix of "X" actually should be "X2". This would fit much better into the dates at which the 202nd Kōkūtai changed their identifying tail code and the adoption of aileron servo tabs."

Jim Long adds:
"This Nakajima-built A6M2 Zero was one of those that had reintroduced the aileron servo tabs."

Wartime History
This Zero had the horizontal stabilizers of A6M3 Zero 3869 attached (presumably replacement parts or a repair). Abandoned at Babo Airfield.

Wreckage
Until 1990, this Zero remained 'in situ' at Babo Airfield.

Bruce Fenstermaker recalls:
"The aircraft was abandoned on barrels for work on the landing gear and engine. Its engine was in the progress of being changed or remounted because it was unbolted from the engine mounts and parts of the engine stand were under the engine itself."

Salvage
This Zero, with its engine and propeller was the first aircraft recovered by Bruce Fenstermaker in 1990. Placed into a container and shipped to Biak, then Jakarta where it was exported to the United States.

Arriving in San Pedro during November 1990 and sold to Santa Monica Museum of Flying in December 1990 and briefly displayed at the museum in a jig. In August 1991 this Zero, with other aircraft salvaged from Babo later were displayed at the museum and presented at a news conference. Later, moved to the museum's maintenance and storage facility at Mojave, CA in roughly 1993.

Restoration
Exported to Russia in 1993/1994 and restored from 1994-1997. The skin was removed and used in the restoration of a newly manufactured A6M3 Zero 3839 (reproduction) assigned this Zero's purported tail code "X-133". It is claimed that the landing gear legs and dataplates from this wreck were used in the replica aircraft.

References
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 19 (top, right) Roy Worchester collection
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.
Research Notes on A6M2 Model 21 Zero Tail '33' by Ryan Toews and Jim Long
Thanks to Bruce Fenstermaker, Jim Long, James Lansdale, Ryan Toews for additional information.

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Last Updated
January 1, 2014

 

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