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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number ???? Tail A1-1-1??

Pilot  PO2c Hitoshi Naito (MIA / KIA)
MIA  February 4, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima. At the factory, painted overall gray at the with a black cowling and yellow identification stripe on the leading edge of the wings.

Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number unknown (four digits). Assigned to Zuikaku. Tail code A1-1-1?? (last two digits unknown) painted in red on both sides of the tail. Possibly, this Zero had the Zuikaku identifier of a white fuselage stripe with red edges applied to rear fuselage.

Wartime History
On January 29, 1943 took off from Zuikaku as one of thirty-six Zeros led by Lt. Kenjiro Notomi and flown south to Rabaul then to Kahilli Airfield (Buin) on Bougainville to support "Operation Ke" the Japanese evacuation from Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal. Operating from Kahilli Airfield (Buin), Zuikaku Zeros participated in three aerial cover sorties over western Guadalcanal.

On February 1, 1943 took off from Kahilli Airfield (Buin) on Bougainville as one of nineteen Zeros led by Lt. Kenjiro Notomi plus twenty-one A6M Zeros from the 582 Kokutai led by Lt. Saburo Shindo on a mission to escort eighteen D3A Vals from the 582 Kokutai attacking US Navy warships off Cape Esperance that might interfere with "Operation KE" the Japanese evacuation from Guadalcanal.

Mission History
On February 4, 1943 took off from Kahilli Airfield (Buin) on Bougainville piloted by PO2c Hitoshi Naito on a mission to support the Japanese evacuation from Cape Esperance on Guadalcanal and was shot down northwest of New Georgia and failed to return from the mission. When this Zero failed to return, Shigemi was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was A6M2 Zero piloted by WO Katsuma Shigemi.

Kodochosho, Zuikaku, February 1–4, 1943
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1932-1945 pages 48 (Feb 4, 1943), 333 (biography WO Shigemi) and 391 (pilot losses Feb/4/43: WO Katsuma Shigemi and PO2c Hitoshi Naito), 416 (20th Class Shigemi)
Operation KE pages pages 184, 186, 188-190 (Zuikaku Zeros February 1, 1943), 229-230 (Zuikaku Zeros CAP February 4, 1943), 240-241 (Zuikaku Zeros February 4, 1943), 368 (index Shigemi)
A Brief History of the Blayd Zero and Its Markings by Ryan Toews June 15, 2014 pages 4
Fargo Air Museum - Legends of Aviation Historic Aircraft - Mitsubishi A6M2 Reisen Type Zero Carrier-Based Fighter Model 21 via Wayback Machine July 5, 2007
Thanks to Ryan Toews and Jim Lansdale for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


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