Built by Mitsubishi. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M3 Model 22 Zero manufacture number unknown (four digits). This Zero is possibly A6M3 Zero 3753. Painted overall green with gray lower surfaces. The fuselage Hinomaru was outlined by a white square.
Assigned to an unknown Kokutai. No known tail code or markings. This Zero was abandoned at Ballale
Airfield on Ballale Island.
This Zero remained in situ on Ballale Island. Likely during 1968, the tail section was cut off at station 10 by Robert Diemert and salvaged. Afterwards, only the center section with the center section of the wings remained.
Ryan Toews adds:
"This Zero is definitely an A6M3, note the firewall is right in front of the front edge of the machine gun access covers. Cut at station 10, probably by Diemert, he had one rear fuselage section that was cut at station 10. Diemert salvaged at least two A6M3 3285 (Model 32) and A6M3 3753 (Model 22). 3285 was cut at station 13, thus this could be 3753. Note that this is very tentative."
During December 2005, this Zero was moved from the island to the beach area by locals acting under the direction of Craig Turner / Solomon National Museum Project. It was abandoned near the beach due to a dispute with locals.
On November 6, 2007 Craig Turner and Gary Spoors / GJD Services Ltd returned to complete the salvage. On November 8, 2007 this aircraft was loaded aboard Solomon Islands Government barge MV Tina plus other aircraft from the area. Footage of this Zero being salvaged appeared in OneNews: Shortland & Ballalae Aircraft Salvage" aired on November 20, 2007.
The salvage included at lease six aircraft including: A6M3 Zero (no. 1 - this aircraft), A6M3 Zero (no. 2), A6M2 Zero 2487, A6M2 Zero 7434 from Ballale Island plus F1M2 Pete 1250 and F1M2 Pete 5269 from Magusaiai
Island and Poporang Island. The salvaged aircraft were transported to Honiara and stored briefly before being exported overseas.
The salvaged aircraft were transported to Honiara and stored briefly before being exported overseas. Likely, this Zero was transported to Australia.
Since the end of 2007, the precise whereabouts of this aircraft are unknown but presumed to be owned by Craig Turner and placed into storage in Australia, likely in Austral, NSW or some other location in the Sydney area.
In July 2018, this Zero was offered for sale in Classic Wings Magazine for $195,000 USD as a
"substantial project provides an excellent basis for a Zero restoration".
YouTube "OneNews: Shortland & Ballalae Aircraft Salvage" November 20, 2007
GJD Services - Solomon's via WaybackMachine.org February 25, 2008
Classic Wings Magazine article about salvage
Classic Wings Issue 64 "Solomon Salvation" pages 48-49
Classic Wings (Issue 97) Vol 21, No 4, page 51 possibly relates to this aircraft
"Mitsubishi A6M Zero (P.O.A.)
Little known project. Excellent provenance, very good start to a Zero project. Something that comes up only rarely these days. Serious inquiries only please."
Classic Wings Issue ?? 2018 page ?? Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero' US$195,000
"This substantial project provides an excellent basis for a Zero restoration. The cockpit interior is very complete with very few items having been removed. An instrument panel and correct Japanese instruments have been sourced for the project. Includes the Sakae radial engine. We're not see many projects like this anymore."
Broken Wings of Ballale
- The Tragic Salvage history of the Last Undisturbed World War II Airfield
Thanks to Robert Diemert and Ryan Toews for additional information.
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October 23, 2019