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Built by Mitsubishi completed June 30, 1942 as the 30th Model 32 manufactured. At the factory, painted overall gray with a black cowling. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 0 / A6M3 Model 32 Zero / Hamp manufacture number 3030. In Japan, assigned a Houkoku Gou (Navy Patriotic Presentation Number) indicating it was paid for by a Japanese civilian volunteer group. Assigned Houkoku Gou 872 (Patriotic Presentation Number 872) in black on both sides of the rear fuselage. Afterwards, dissembled and shipped to the South Pacific and reassembled.
Assigned to the 2nd Kōkūtai (2nd Air Group). Tail code Q-102. During August 1942 operated from Buna Airfield on New Guinea.
On August 26, 1942 in the early morning took off from Buna Airfield piloted by P. O. Kazuo Tsunoda to defend the area against fourteen P-400 Airacobras from the 35th Fighter Group (35th FG) escorting seven B-26 Marauders from the 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG), 19th Bombardment Squadron (19th BS) on a bombing mission against Buna Airfield. Around 7:00am, this Zero engaged in a dogfight over Buna and was damaged by gunfire from the Airacobras but managed to land safely at Buna Airfield.
Afterwards, this Zero was abandoned at the edge of the runway of Buna Airfield (Old Strip) and camouflaged with palm fronds and vegetation. The Japanese made no attempt to repair this Zero or remove usable parts or disable it before the Battle of Buna. Likely, it was left near the runway to lure Allied fighters and bombers into strafing and bombing an already disabled aircraft.
While parked, the tail section sustained additional damage from the concussion of an exploding aerial bomb that caused ripples in the fuselage skin.
On December 27, 1942 captured by the U.S. Army when they occupied the Buna Airfield (Old Strip). This largely intact aircraft had some shrapnel holes or bullet holes in the fuselage from damage sustained in the air or while parked on the ground. Afterwards, this Zero was extensively photographed and examined by Allied personnel. This Zero was selected by Allied intelligence for further evaluation and to be rebuild.
By January 1943, the engine was removed using an "A" frame made from tree three coconut palm tree trunks. Afterwards, the airframe and engine were moved to the beach and loaded onto a barge then transported to Brisbane arriving on February 19, 1943 then trucked to Eagle Farm Field.
Between February 1943 to 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, main fuselage and wings of this Zero were deemed to be the most intact and were used for the rebuild, plus other components.
The rebuilt process disassembled this Zero and any surviving parts were likely discarded. The ultimate fate of any surviving parts is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
Kodochosho, 2nd Kōkūtai, August 26, 1942
Technical Air Intelligence Report No. 163, Headquarters Allied Air Forces, Directorate of Intelligence, APO 925, Subject: Recovery and Reconstruction of Type 0 Mk 2 SSF HAP, 16 September 1943.
Yokoi Houkoku List
Revenge of the Red Raiders (2006) page 134 (photo)
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks (1979) page 12 (top photo)
Thanks to Jim Long for additional information
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