Built by Nakajima during November 1942. At the factory, this Zero was painted with green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces with each fuselage Hinomaru outlined with a 75mm white border. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 0 / A6M3 Model 32 Zero Manufacture Number 5451.
This aircraft was assigned a Houkoku Gou (Navy Patriotic Presentation Number). Donated by
Zen Nan Nori Gou (All-South Seaweed Processing Company). Assigned Houkoku Gou 1053 (Patriotic Presentation Number 1053) in black on both sides of the rear fuselage.
Assigned to the 201 Kokutai (201 Air Group). Tail code W1-150. Possibly, this Zero was also assigned to 253 Kōkūtai (253 Air Group) and piloted by
Shibayama. This Zero operated from Kara Airfield or Kahilli
Airfield on southern Bougainville and might have operated from Ballale Airfield on Ballale Island until damaged or disabled. Afterwards, the Japanese stripped the aircraft for usable parts.
This Zero remained in situ on southern Bougainville or Ballale Island. Until the late 1960s, the wreckage had manufacture number 5451, Houkoku Number 1053 and tail W1-150 visible.
In the late 1960s, the forward fuselage, wing center section and the tail section of this aircraft was recovered by either Australian expatriates or Robert
Diemert. In late 1968 removed by Robert
Diemert and loaded onto a barge with A6M2 Zero 3471, A6M2
Houkoku 1045 and D3A2 Val 3178 plus
other aircraft parts.
The salvaged aircraft were loaded aboard a barge to Port
Moresby then transported to Jackson Airport where they were stored in a pile until the middle of January 1969 when Robert
Diemert negotiated an export deal with the Royal Canadian Air
Force (RCAF) to transport the wreckage aboard a C-130 Hercules to Canada then trucked to Friendship Airfield in Carman.
During the early 1970s at Friendship Airfield this Zero was disassembled into the center section and rear fuselage by Robert
Diemert. The front cockpit and center section was used in A6M2 Zero 5356. Other parts might have been used in his restoration of A6M2 Zero 5450.
Afterwards, the rear fuselage with Houkoku Number 1053 was sold to the Planes
of Fame Museum. Later, it was sold to Tsucasa Kai in exchange for Zero parts.
According to Kenji Miyazaki via Ryan Towes:
"I saw Houkoku 1053 at Mr. Tsucasa Kai's house. It is now disassembled. Mr. Kai is planning to finish one A6M5 so those parts will be used for that Zero. He keeps panels but those characters have almost faded away."
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Gakken No. 33 confirms 5451 was Houkoku 1053
Yokoi Houkoku List - Houkoku Gou 1000-5887 (List 2) - Houkoku Gou 1053
Thanks to Jim Lansdale, Jim Long, Ryan Towes, David Aiken, Allan Gaynor, Kenji Miyazaki and Edward Maloney for additional information.
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November 18, 2019