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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number ? Tail 114?
IJN
252 Kōkūtai

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U. S. Army Signal Corps
February 10, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by either Mitsubishi or Nakajima during 1942. At the factory, painted overall gray with a black cowling. Armed with short barrel Type 99 20mm cannons. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 0 Carrier Fighter / A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number unknown (likely four digits).

Wartime History
Assigned to the 252 Kōkūtai (252 Air Group). Tail Number 114? last digit unknown, likely 1148 or 1146. Painted with dark green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces with a black cowling. The fuselage Hinomaru had a white border. The rear fuselage had a vertical red stripe around the entire fuselage located to the rear of the fuselage Hinomaru and tail horizontal stabilizers.

Mission History
On January 25, 1943 took off on an escort mission to escort nine G4M1 Bettys bombing Guadalcanal. The escort also included A6M Zeros from the 582 Kōkūtai and 204 Kōkūtai. This Zero either ditched or force landed on the beach at Verahue to the west of Cape Esperance on coast of Guadalcanal. The fate of the pilot is unknown but is presumed to have survived and likely linked up with Japanese forces and was evacuated from the island.

Wreckage
On February 1, 1943 this Zero was captured by U. S. Army when they advanced to Verahue. On February 10, 1943 the Zero was photographed with the engine panel removed and a circular hole or damage in right side of the tail rudder fabric and the upper propeller blade bent outward.

During July 1943 or August 1943 this Zero was investigated by Allied intelligence and photographed on the beach placed atop coconut logs with abandoned Japanese landing craft in the distance. At that time, the Zero was photographed with most of the tail rudder fabric removed and rectangular pieces of aluminum cut out of the rear fuselage and Hinomaru, likely pieces of metal cut out by American personnel as souvenirs. The the lower propeller blade was cut off halfway, canopy perspex missing. propeller spinner removed and likely the armament was removed.

The series of photographed had this wartime caption:
"One of the Japanese Zeros found when American Forces cleared the Japanese off Guadalcanal Island. February 10, 1943. This Zero is of a new production type being used and has some minor changes over the old type. Why these three Zeros were abandoned by the Japanese at Cape Esprance [sic Cape Esperence] has not been determined. 14th Corps."

References
Crashed Enemy Air Craft Reports No. 5 (CEAR #5) April 22, 1943
"Nakajima Type 0 Carrier Fighter, Model 21"
The 252 Kokutai Tail Code by Ryan Toews
Thanks to Jim Lansdale, Richard Dunn and Ryan Toews for additional information

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Last Updated
August 30, 2020

 

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