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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number ???? Tail D1-1??

Click For Enlargement
IJN c1941
Pilot  Lt(jg) Kaname Harada (WIA, survived)
Crashed  October 17, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 0 / A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number unknown. Assigned to Hiyo. Tail code D1-1?? (last two digits unknown) with a single yellow fuselage band.

Mission History
On October 17, 1942 at 7:15am took off from Hiyō piloted by Lt(jg) Kaname Harada as one of nine Zeros escorting nine B5N2 Kates on a mission to against Henderson Field and shipping off Lunga Point on Guadalcanal. Meanwhile another nine A6M2 Zeros and nine B5N2 Kates took off from Junyō. After take off, B5N2 Kate from Junyō experienced mechanical issues, aborted the mission and landed safely.

At 9:00am over Florida Island, the formation spots destroyers USS Aaron Ward (DD-483) and USS Lardner (DD-487) shelling Kokumbona on Guadalcanal and both air groups decide to strike the destroyers. At 9:27am the nine B5N2 Kates from Hiyō attack USS Aaron Ward (DD-483) but fail to score any bomb hits. Moments later, the eight B5N2 Kates from Junyō attack USS Lardner (DD-487) but fail to score any bomb hits.

The Junyo formation is engaged by F4F Wildcats from Marine Fighter Squadron 121 (VMF-121) that shoot down three Kates and damage two Kates. By 9:35am the Wildcats and anti-aircraft fire have either shot down or damaged every Kate in the formation. Meanwhile, the Zeros intercept and shot down F4F Wildcat pilot Craft. Returning, a damaged Kate ditched at Rekata Bay and two others land at Kahili Airfield (Buin).

Over Guadalcanal, the Zeros engage F4F Wildcats from Marine Fighter Squadron 121 (VMF-121). During the dogfight, Harada engaged in a head-on pass with F4F Wildcat piloted by William Freeman with both firing. Harada was hit by gunfire and damaged and wounded in the arm. Damaged, he attempted to crash land in what appeared to be a flat field near Cape Esperance, but while landing hit a palm tree that ripped off a wing and caused his Zero to crash upside down.

Fate of the Pilot
Harada survived the crash but was pinned inside his aircraft, Harada had to dig in the soil with fuel pouring onto him in order to escape the wreckage. Walking in the jungle, he met a wounded Japanese aviator, Hisao Sato, a crewmen of B5N2 Kate pilot Kuno that crashed nearby and said one of his crew had died and the other was trapped in the aircraft dead. Together, they stayed at the Kate crash site overnight.

Kaname Harada adds:
"I think the mountains were far away. I did not see a river, but I think there was one not far away. I crashed into a palm tree jungle. The other plane [Kate] crashed within 500 meters of my Zero. The [Kate] was wrapped around a palm tree [when it crashed]."

The next morning, Harada and Sato reached Kamimbo Bay (Tambea) where they met a group of Japanese engineers building a submarine base. Afterwards, both were rescued and returned to duty.

Kodochosho Hiyō - October 17, 1942
History of the Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (1952) pages 105-106
"The fresh squadrons (VMF-121 and VMF-212) sail into the Japanese bombers accompanied by Zeros with great effect: on the 17th [October 1942] Duke Davis led a flight 8 in an interception which accounted for 9 planes."
The First Team And the Guadalcanal Campaign (1994) pages 317-319 lists Harada's as ditching at Rekata Bay [sic]
Enemy Pilots Meet as Friends by Marcus Perkins April 2002 (via Wayback Machine)
Legacy of October 17, 1942 Mission (2006) by Justin Taylan
Beyond Pearl Harbor (2008) "Head-on Duel Over Guadalcanal"
Thanks to Kaname Harada for additional information

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Last Updated
October 16, 2021

Tech Info

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Oct 17, 1942

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