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Built by Mitsubishi on June 28, 1942. At the factory, painted overall gray with a black cowling. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Navy Type 0 / A6M3 Model 32 Zero manufacture number 3028.
This aircraft was assigned a Houkoku Gou (Navy Patriotic Presentation Number). Donated by by a civilian volunteer group in Japan. Assigned Houkoku Gou 870 (Patriotic Presentation Number 870) in black on both sides of the rear fuselage.
Assigned to the the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group). Tail code V-187 painted in black on the both sides of the tail. The rear fuselage had a yellow diagonal stripe behind the Hinomaru bisecting Houkoku Gou 870 (Patriotic Presentation Number 870).
Between the middle of August 1942 until early September 1942 this Zero operated from Buna Airfield (Old Strip) in New Guinea. At some point in that period, this Zero sustained damage and was abandoned on the side of the runway near A6M3 Zero Tail Q-1??. Afterwards, it sustained additional damage from the concision of nearby bomb blasts that caused ripples in the aluminum skin and strafing and bombing that added more bullet and shrapnel holes.
This Zero was abandoned at Buna Airfield (Old Strip) at the side of the runway near A6M3 Zero Tail Q-1??. The largely intact Zero had some shrapnel holes or bullet holes in the fuselage from damage sustained in the air or while parked on the ground. The left wingtip was bent upward and the pitot tube broken, possibly damage caused while taxiing or due to a ground loop. The cockpit canopy is open and several access panels were removed or missing including the propeller spinner. The length of the surrounding kunai grass indicated it was abandoned at that location for roughly four months.
On December 27, 1942 this Zero was captured by the U.S. Army. Afterwards, captured Japanese aircraft at Buna Airfield (Old Strip) were investigated by personnel from Allied Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU) and the more intact Zeros removed plus parts and engines were selected for recovered. The engine and cowling of this Zero was selected for recovery.
By early January 1943, the engine and cowling were removed, moved to the beach and loaded onto a barge then transported to Brisbane arriving on February 19, 1943 then trucked to Eagle Farm Field. The engine from this Zero was used for the rebuild of a single aircraft A6M3 Zero (Hybrid) Tail XJ001 / EB-201.
The rest of this Zero with the engine removed was abandoned at Buna Airfield (Old Strip). Afterwards, Allied personnel removed pieces of aluminum skin from the fuselage and tail as souvenirs. The ultimate fate of the rest of the wreckage is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Between February 1943 until July 1943 Allied personnel at Eagle Farm Field built a flyable A6M3 Zero (Hybrid) using from components of three Zeros salvaged from Buna Airfield, including this aircraft. For the rebuild, the engine from this Zero was used plus other components.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai, August 14, 1942–September 1942
Famous Aircraft of the World (FAOW) No. 56 page 25
J-Aircraft: The Saga of Hamp [V-187] January 9, 2009
J-Aircraft Buna Hamp [V-187 Update: Yet Another Relic Has Been Found! by Jim Lansdale February 7, 2010
Thanks to Jim Lansdale and Edward Rogers for additional information
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