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|Pilot Lt(jg) Nobuhiro Iwasaki
Crashed March 14, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi in in late November 1941 or early December 1941. This aircraft was the 443rd Mitsubishi-built Zero, the 441st A6M2 assembled by Mitsubishi. At the factory painted overall gray with a black cowling and Hinomaru markings on the wings and fuselage. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number 4443.
Likely, this Zero was loaded aboard aboard Shōhō at Truk and ferried to Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul in the middle of February 1942 or early March 1942. Assigned to the 4th Kōkūtai at Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul. Tail number F-14? last digit unknown (0-9). During March 1942, flown to Lae Airfield at Lae.
On March 14, 1942 took off from Lae Airfield pilot Lt(jg) Nobuhiro Iwasaki on mission to escort G4M1 Betty bombers from the 4th Kōkūtai over Horn Island. This Zero was leading the 2nd Chutai, 1st Shotai in a three plane formation with Lt(jg) Hiroyoshi Nishizawa and PO1c Ichirobei Yamazaki
Over the target at 11:25am, intercepted by a P-40 Warhawk piloted by Captain Morrissey opened fire from from 200 yards, causing damage. The pilot observed that his gunfire resulted in the "shooting off his left wing". Damaged, this Zero crashed on Hammond Island.
A year later, soldiers from the Australian Army 49th Garrison Battalion from Thursday Island located the remains of pilot Iwasaki were located in the mangroves. His identification tags were turned over to authorities.
Jim Long adds:
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