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Built by Mitsubishi with an estimated date of assembly in November 1942. At the factory, this Zero was painted overall gray with a black cowling. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 0 Carrier Fighter / A6M3 Model 32 Zero manufacture number 3285.
Assigned to an unknown Kōkūtai (Air Group) with tail code 3-174 painted in white on both sides of the tail. In the South Pacific, painted with green upper surfaces as camouflage applied in the field for land based operations. Later, redesigned or assigned to another Kōkūtai (Air Group) with tail code 5-136 painted in yellow. During 1943, this Zero was damaged or abandoned at Ballale Airfield.
During 1943, this Zero was abandoned at Ballale Island and likely stripped for usable parts with the tail section removed. Until 1968, this Zero remained in situ on Ballale Island.
During 1968, this Zero was salvaged by Robert Diemert. When salvaged, the fuselage was cut between stations 12 and stations 13 and was in a truncated condition. Also recovered was the horizontal stabilizer fairings. Likely, the wings of this aircraft were also salvaged. The exterior skin had manufacture number 3285 and traces of tail code "5-136" in yellow and the prior "3-174" in white.
This Zero was loaded onto a barge with other salvaged aircraft then transported to Port Moresby and moved to a fenced area at Jackson Airport. During the middle of January 1969, a deal was made with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to airlift the wreckage aboard a C-130 Hercules and flown across the Pacific to Canada.
During 1969, delivered to Robert Diemert to Friendship Airfield near Carman in Manitoba Province. Between 1969 to 2000 this Zero was owned by Robert Diemert and stored at Friendship Airfield. Possibly, parts from this aircraft were used in his restoration of A6M2 Zero 5450 and A6M2 Zero 5356.
In 1990, the tail fin was sold to John Calverley and Earl Calverley / Blayd Corporation and placed into storage. The tail fin was missing the leading edge but was otherwise intact and has evidence of battle damage or shrapnel damage sustained on the ground. The tail fin had original paint including tail code 5-136 painted in yellow and original tail code 3-174 in white on the side of the tail.
Ryan Toews adds:
"The unit prefix 3- is indicated by Diemert’s notes. Neither this prefix, nor the 5- prefix that was painted over the earlier code, can be attributed to any particular formation. The paint is red primer / olive gray / sprayed green/hand painted white code 3-174 / hand painted yellow code 3-174 / hand painted green/sprayed yellow code 5-136. The cut marks on this fin at station 16 link this fin with the rear most section of an A6M3 fuselage. It is possible to establish this identification by the location of the tail cone fasteners aft of station 16. Because of a lack of an adjustable rudder trim tab inspection panel it can be assumed that this tail came from A6M3 Model 32 3285. The existence of two squared wing tips, a wing panel, a right flap and both left and right wing root skinning also point to the recovery of the wings from A6M3 3285."
Today, owned by John Fallis in Lafayette Louisiana and under restoration to flying status.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
A Brief History of the Blayd Zero and Its Markings by Ryan Toews June 15, 2014 page 1, 3
(Page 1) "Components of Mitsubishi-built A6M3 32 (s/n 3285) and A6M3 22 (s/n 3753) were also salvaged." "
(Page 3) "The evidence provided that at least six tail fins with tail codes had been recovered, but only three of these could be identified: ...what is believed to be an A6M3 32 tail with the code 3-174 over-painted with 5-136."
J-Aircraft "Zero Tail Relic" photos by Dave Pluth text by Ryan Toews
Thanks to Ryan Toews and John Fallis for additional information
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