Built by Nakajima during early June 1943 as a A6M2 Model 21 Zero. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 0 / A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number unknown.
Assigned to the 202 Kōkūtai. Tail code "33" (likely X-133 or X2-133). The tail had two horizontal blue lines one above and one below the tail 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 202 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."
This Zero was abandoned at Babo Airfield. The horizontal stabilizers of A6M3 Zero 3869 attached (presumably a replacement part or a repair).
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."
During 1990, this Zero with the engine and propeller was the first aircraft recovered by Bruce
Fenstermaker. Placed into a container and shipped to Biak then shipped to Jakarta where it was exported to the United States.
During November 1990, this Zero arrived in San Pedro transported 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, around 1993 moved to the museum's maintenance and storage facility at Mojave, CA.
During 1993-1994, this Zero was shipped to Russia and restored between 1994 to 1997. During the restoration, 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.
Aircraft Wrecks page 19 (top, right) Roy Worcester 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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February 28, 2020