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USN July 1942
July 1942 Gayla Burns
USN circa 1942
|Pilot P.O. Tadayoshi Koga (KIA)
Crashed June 4, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi on February 19, 1942 at Nagoya. At the factory painted overall gray with a black cowling. Delivered to the IJN (IJN) as Type 0 Carrier Fighter / A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number 4593.
Assigned to Ryūjō. Tail code D1-108.
On June 4, 1942 took off from Ryūjō piloted by P.O. Tadayoshi Koga on a mission against Dutch Harbor as part of a diversionary raid prior to the Battle of Midway. Over the target, hit by ground fire over and damaged. Returning, this Zero force landed with the landing gear extended on Akutan Island. After touching soft marsh ground, the Zero flipped upside down killing the pilot Koga inside the cockpit.
This Zero landed intact upside down. Five weeks later, the Zero was spotted by a PBY Catalina piloted by Lt. Williams "Bill" Thies and reported. On July 5, 1942 a team from the U.S. Navy (USN) reached the Zero and found it upside down and damaged but was deemed to be repairable. The drop tank was found nearby, indicating it was not released prior to the crash.
Recovery of Remains
When the Zero was lifted, the remains of the pilot were found in the cockpit wearing his flight suit and life jacket. His remains were buried with a simple cross on Akutan Island. The inscription read "Japanese Flyer killed in action" and a USAAF chaplain performed the burial ceremony.
After this Zero was located, it was carefully lifted and transported aboard a barge to Dutch Harbor then to NAS North Island near San Diego arriving in August 1942. This Zero became know to Americans as the "Aleutian Zero" or "Alaska Zero".
The aircraft's tail and canopy were repaired without any technical documentation. The damaged propeller was replaced with an American Hamilton-Standard propeller. By October 1942 this Zero was repaired and ready for flight evaluation.
This Zero was flight tested in the San Diego area, painted with U.S. markings and assigned number TAIC 1. During testing, the Zero was flown against American fighter aircraft including P-38F Lightning, P-39D-1 Airacobra, P-40F Warhawk, P-51 Mustang, and an F4U-1 Corsair Later, operated from Langley Field for additional flight performance test. Afterwards it was sent to the Pax River Naval Air Flight Test Center in Maryland.
The ultimate fate of this Zero is unknown. Postwar it was likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
YouTube "Recognition of the Japanese Zero Fighter (1943)"
Setting Suns page 80
Thanks to Robert Rocker, Jim Lansdale, Jim Long and Richard Dunn for additional information
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June 4, 2021
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