A6M2 Model 21 Zero -Cape Lambert, NEW BRITAIN

Information about Pacific Theatre aircraft currently flying or under restoration.

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A6M2 Model 21 Zero -Cape Lambert, NEW BRITAIN

Post by glitchfield »

In 1972, commanding a Fokker F-27 Friendship on a flight from Lae, New Guinea to Rabaul, New Britain, I invited two men to the cockpit where they informed me that they were members of the "Spitfire Recovery Association" in Adelaide, South Australia. Since they proclaimed an interest in all wrecked aircraft en route of which I might be aware, I pointed out what I then believed to be the submerged wreck of a Corsair fighter near Cape Lambert, approximately 30 miles east of Rabaul.
This wreck had previously been shown to me by another Captain during my locality endorsement and did appear to have cranked wings. A group of other Rabaul residents and I had been entertaining the idea of forming a convoy of boats to proceed to this area and dive on the wreck.
Within a matter of days and on another similar flight to Rabaul, I saw a barge apparently anchored in the area of this wreck and was soon to learn that my brief acquaintances had rapidly made the appropriate arrangements to raise the wrecked aircraft, which was soon on display on a wharf in Rabaul, where native assistants were busily hosing it down with fresh water and removing marine growth from this Japanese Zero. I do not recall it having an additional seat behind the pilot, but was amazed at the relatively good condition of the aircraft. The undercarriage was retracted and tyres still on the rims, the propeller blades were NOT bent, the only obvious damage being to the fin, which I heard had occurred during the removal of the wreckage from its inverted state, the fin having been immersed in sand. I understood the port main spar was fractured, but found it difficult to understand how the aircaft could have been ditched without bending the propeller blades.
This, I now believe, to be the aircraft salvaged by Bob Scott in August, 1972, as recorded on this website under "A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture No. 31870, Tail 53-122".

Justin Taylan
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Joined: Mon Dec 16, 2002 11:29 pm

Re: A6M2 Model 21 Zero -Cape Lambert, NEW BRITAIN

Post by Justin Taylan »

Thank you for your email and interesting story. Here are details on Zero you mentioned. That is very interesting, were you able to see this wreck from the air, or did you dive it before it was salvage? Today, it is displayed at Tokyo Science Museum.
A6M5 Zero 31870 Tail 53-122

Regarding the Spitfire Recovery Association, I am not sure about that group, but presume it was associated with Mr. Langdon Badger who salvaged a Spitfire from PNG during August 1972. Was he the man you dealt with?

I was not aware that his group was interested in salvaging other planes, and would be interested to hear more about your experiences flying and exploring in PNG.
- Justin Taylan
Founder & Director

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