On May 2, 1942 the 2nd Kōkūtai (2nd Air Group) was established under Commander Sakae Yamamoto. The air group was a composite air group which operated D3A dive bombers and A6M fighters. All aircraft bore tail code Q-??? (three digit). The unit first operated under the Combined Fleet then under the 8th Fleet at Rabaul and finally under the 26 Koku Sentai (26 Air Flotilla).
The fighter unit operated the Zero fighter and was the first unit equipped with the A6M3 Model 32 Zero.
On August 6, 1942 the Yawata Maru (Unyō) delivers fifteen A6M3 Model 32 Zeros to Lakunai Airfield for assigment to the 2nd Kokutai. On August 7, 1942 they participated in their first interception against B-17 Flying Fortresses over Rabaul.
On August 22, 1942 a detachment flew to Buna Airfield on New Guinea.
On November 1, 1942 redesignated the 582 Kokutai (582 Air Group).
Several 2nd Kokutai aircraft were captured by the Allies during 1942–1943.
Abandoned at Buna Airfield was D3A1 Val Tail Q-276 tail section captured by the U.S. Army in January 1943.
Abandoned at Munda Airfield was D3A1 Val 3470 Tail T3-261 largely intact, D3A2 Val 3029 Tail T2-222 and D3A2 Val 3106 Tail T3-260 were captured by U.S. forces in September 1943.
Abandoned at Lae Airfield were D3A2 Val 3023 Tail 82-227, D3A2 Val 3030 and D3A2 Val 3033. These Vals were among the Japanese aircraft captured by the Allies in the middle of September 1943.
Abandoned at Hoskins Airfield was D3A2 Val Tail 82-224 largely intact, captured by U.S. Marine Corps in May 1944.
Abandoned at Gasmata Airfield was D3A2 Val 3357 Tail 82-248 tail section only, salvaged and displayed at National Museum of the Pacific War (Nimitz Museum).
The First Team And the Guadalcanal Campaign page 44
Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units of WWII page 158
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1932-1945 (2011) pages 57 (June 30, 1943) 231-232
Do you have photos or additional information to add?