Air Enthusiast 2006-03
M.Huggins - A 'Zero' by any other Name /World war two/
A6M3 Model 32 in Japanese surrender markings in August/September 1945. The aircraft is painted brilliant white with green surrender crosses. Note the anti-glare panel in front of the cockpit - essential in the tropical sunlight.
Rabaul, November 1943, during Operation 'RO-GO' designed to wrest air supremacy over the Solomons back from the Allies. These are A6M3 Model 22s from the IJN fleet carrier 'Zuikaku', flown in to reinforce the land-based units at the base. Note the copious use of fuselage chevrons/stripes on individual aircraft.
Fine portrait of IJN 'ace' Kiyoshi Ito mounting his Model 32. Ito flew this aircraft, tail code 'X-151', for the 3rd Kokutai, which later became the 202nd Kokutai, following the IJN's re-numbering in November 1942. Compare the fuselage markings with the Tainan Kokutai Model 32: they are remarkably similar. This photograph is often wrongly captioned as showing a Model 22.
A Model 22 taking off at Lakinai in front of IJN Fleet Commander Isoroku Yamamoto on April 18, 1943. just four days later, the Admiral was dead, the victim of an audacious aerial assassination by P-38s over Bougainville.
A6M3 "модель 32". Хорошо видны "обрубленные" законцовки крыла
Model 32 'Zeros' at an operational training unit somewhere in Japan. Following the arrival of the A6M5 Model 52a, many of the earlier models were relegated to the training role from late 1943 into early 1944. Note the clipped wings, unique to the 'Hamp'.
An A6M3 Model 22, belonging to the 251st Kokutai, one of the personal mounts of lJN ‘ace of aces' Hiroyoshi Nishizawa. The tail code reads 'Ul-105'. The unit coding could either have been removed by the censor or painted over in situ.
More typical 'Zero' paint finish on a Model 22, being wheeled into position by ground crew. Pictured from a refreshingly different angle, it was being loaded onto a ship and transported to the USA. The tail code cannot be read, apart from a white figure '2'. Note that the reverse of the propeller is black.
Air-to-air view of a pair of A6M3 'Zeros' of the 254th Kokutai. This Air Group was formed in October 1943 with both Model 32s and 22s on strength, flying in defence of Hong Kong and the Chinese coast. Note the use of two different shades of green (or black) circling the fuselage Hinomaru (national insignia), also the silver hub and propeller. Both fighters look factory-fresh.
A Model 22 getting airborne from Lakunai at Rabaul. Note the mottled dark green overspray, fairly commonplace on A6M3s. The wartime censor, or unit painter, has covered the unit identification code letter/number on the tail.
"Зеро", брошенный японцами в Рабауле
Proof that the famous Tainan Kokutai used some of the earliest A6M3 Model 32s seen on the South Pacific Front. This discarded wreck was found by the advancing Allies at Buna in New Guinea. Its discovery led to the realisation that this aircraft was just another ‘Zero’ and not a completely new fighter.