Built by Mitsubishi estimated date of assembly December 1943. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M5 Model 52 Zero manufacture number 4340.
Assigned to the 261 Kōkūtai with tail code 61-???. Likely, tail code 61-108. During March of 1944, assigned to Aslito
Airfield on Saipan. Prior to capture, the right stabilizer was removed.
During June 1944, captured at Aslito Field on Saipan by US Marines. This Zero was one of twelve aircraft (plus spare engines) loaded aboard the USS Copahee including A6M5 1303, A6M5 4340 (this aircraft), A6M5 5350, A6M2 5352, A6M5 5356, A6M5 5357. All were transported to the United States for evaluation.
United States Testing
American intelligence coded this aircraft as TAIC 7, and later FE-130 and T2-130. In the United States, this Zero was transported to the U. S. Army Air Forces test organization at Wright Field, Ohio. During 1945, displayed at Eglin Field.
At one time it had the name "Tokyo Rose" on its engine cowling, the number 4340 in large numerals on the left side of the aft fuselage, a simple "V" shaped marking on its fin and T.I.A.C. 7 on its fin above the "V" shaped marking, and the number "12" on its rudder.
Later, the TAIC marking was removed and a large "V" marking somewhat resembling the emblem the 68th Hikou Sentai applied on the tail. The number "12" remained but was partially covered by the lower arm of the tail marking. A white band with red trim was added to the aft fuselage. The spinner and the cowling flaps were red.
Acquired by the National
Air & Space
Museum (NASM) and restored to static display during the late 1970s, as the first Japanese aircraft restored by the NASM. When restored in 1976, the correct tail marking for this Zero were unknown, and the museum chose the tail markings "61-131". At the time, this Zero was painted in the markings of A6M5 Zero 4361 Tail 61-131 captured at Aslito Field on Saipan. Later research indicated this Zero likely had tail code 61-108.
Displayed at the National
Air & Space
Museum hanging from the 2nd Floor, WWII gallery,.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi/Nakajima A6M Zero by Jim Long
"Airpower" March 1977 by Robert Mikesh provides a story of the capture, its trip to the States, some history of its activities with the TAIC and the Wright Field evaluation unit, and later restoration of the plane by NASM.
Setting Suns page 71, 83
NASM - Mitsubishi A6M5 Reisen (Zero Fighter) Model 52 ZEKE (incorrectly lists Nakajima built)
Thanks to Jim Lansdale and Jim Long for additional information
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October 23, 2019