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  M6A1  Seiran Manufacture Number 28 Tail 47
IJN

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USAAF 1945

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Justin Taylan 1995

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Justin Taylan 2004

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Justin Taylan 2008

Aircraft History
Built by Aichi. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) a M6A1 Seiran manufacture number 1600228 (28). This aircraft was likely the last Seiran before the end of the Pacific War.

Wartime History
On August 15, 1945 this aircraft was still at the Aichi factory.

Postwar
Captured by American forces and transported to the United States for technical analysis by the U. S. Navy (USN). Over the years, this aircraft was periodically displayed at NAS Alameda.

Later, transfered to the National Air & Space Museum and during November 1962 placed into storage at the NASM Paul E. Garber Facility and was initially stored outdoors for twelve years until indoor storage became available.

Restoration
The restoration of the Seiran was spearheaded by NASM curator Robert Mikesh plus a team of experts, volunteers and several Japanese that aided in the project. No production drawings survive and the team conducted exhaustive researches into how various aircraft systems operated in order accurately reconstruct a number of missing components. Restoration work spanned from June 1989 and continued until February 2000 when completed.

The aircraft revealed the difficult working conditions that plagued the Japanese aviation industry at the end of the war. Quality and workmanship were seriously lacking because of extensive damage to equipment and factories and the lack of skilled, professional workers instead relying on high school students.

During the restoration, many interesting things were noted including a metal flap bore damage-probably the result of a bombing raid that was hastily covered with fabric patches. They found the interior of fuel tanks contaminated with paper documents. Basic fit and alignment of parts was also poor in many places. Technicians found graffiti in various areas on the airframe. Someone, possibly a Japanese student, scratched a complete English alphabet inside one wing panel. Craftsmen were surprised to find no evidence that the pilot could jettison the floats in flight, contrary to claims by the designer. Possibly, this feature might have been deleted near the end of the M6A1 production run.

Display
In 2004 moved to NASM Udvar-Hazy Center and displayed with other Japanese World War II aircraft. The Seiran is displayed at roughly the center of the museum on the ground level. The center floats are on a dolly off the ground. This is the only surviving Seiran in the world.

References
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum - Aichi M6A1 Seiran (Clear Sky Storm)
I-400: Japan's Secret Aircraft-Carrying Strike Submarine: Objective Panama Canal
(2006) by Henry Sakiada, Gary Nila and Koji Takaki
Air & Space Magazine "All and Nothing" November 2001 Issue, pages 22-31

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Last Updated
June 29, 2019

 

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