The first flight of the “Zero” fighter was April 1, 1939. Allied Intelligence applied the name “Zeke” to the A6M, but it was better known as the Zero, the name derived from its type designation after the year in which it was put into service – 1940. Mitsubishi and Nakajima built 10,449 “Zero” fighters (more than any other type of Japanese aircraft). The single-seat fighter has light-weight all-metal construction and fabric-covered control surfaces. As the fighting on Guadalcanal raged, the Zero 22s were rushed to Buna in New Guinea and Buka in the Solomon Islands to provide cover over the supply route to Guadalcanal.
Our Zero was delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Group #3. The aircraft was recovered from Babo in New Guinea in 1991, partially restored from several A6M3s in Russia, then brought to the United States for completion of restoral. In 1998 the aircraft was re-registered and displayed at the Santa Monica Museum of Flying. Currently, this aircraft has a Pratt & Whitney R1830 engine (compared to the original Sakai engine in the Planes of Fame Museum’s flyable A6M5 Zero). There is, nevertheless, the fact that Japan had a contract with Pratt & Whitney before WWII in which P&W provided engines for fighter planes and other aircraft. It is, therefore, conceivable that some of the planes participating in the Pearl Harbor attack could have been powered by American engines.
This Zero is currently one of only three flyable Zeros in the world.
Crew Chief: Yoshi Abe
Zero Crew: Ken Gottschall, Robert Blair..
THE ZERO GOES DOWN UNDER
That’s right the Zero took part in the Warbirds over Wanaka Airshowin New Zealand.
What an amazing feat! Shipping our Zero halfway around the world, flying it in the airshow Warbirds Over Wanaka, and then returning it safely home. In a word, amazing. This incredible effort was made possible by a small but mighty all volunteer force. All members of the Commemorative Air Force. All incredible individuals who understand the importance of going the extra mile so people worldwide can see the historically significant aircraft within our collection fly. A huge thanks to all those involved.
Check out this great filled with great updates about the Zero’s time down under.
Click over to KCLU’s website for a great interview with a few of our members about the Zero and its international trip.
OVER THE FENCE TO WANAKA
by Ron Fleishman
When the So Cal Wing had all the necessary paper work completed to send the ZERO to New Zealand, the next step of course was to put the plane on the boat. It sounds simple however it is a little more complicated.
On Tuesday, the 2nd of March a crew from Camarillo met the Airplane at AIRFLITE, an FBO at Long Beach Airport. During the day the plane was prepared for the trip. Wheel covers were removed, and the tanks were sumped. At dusk with the help and cooperation of the airport officials the ZERO was towed down the taxi way and put on it’s lifting fixtures. The lifting harness was attached. A large boom crane waited for us and after final strapping and hookups were finished the plane was lifted over the fence and placed on a waiting flat bed.
The Highway Patrol arrived around Midnight and off we went in convoy thru the streets of Long Beach to the docks,
We had to quit and leave the plane for the next few hours until 06:45. On the morning of the 3rd, the plane was then transferred to a shipping device called a “bomb cart” resucured, restrapped, then the dock workers towed it along side the ANNABELLE SCHULTE it’s ride to the other side of the world and we were told come back at 18:45(6:45 PM)
At this point the crew was working on less than three hours of sleep and had to find a way of spending the next ten hours and trying to stay awake. After dealing with an airplane for a day and a half want do you do? You go to an aircraft museum and look at more airplanes. We went to the LYONS AIRCRAFT MUSEUM. A new museum in Orange County. It’s a good place to visit and it has some neat displays and planes to see. We “killed” a few more hours than returned to the docks. The crew than went thru dock security and went on board the ship.
The dock and the cargo facilities are fascinating the speed and the presion that tons of cargo are moved and lifted are a marvel of engineering to watch.
At around seven the loading operation started and the plane was lifted into the air. Swung out and over the ship and precisely deposited in to the cargo bay of the ship. The two hatch covers weighing two tons apiece were dropped into place. A sigh of relief from all four of could be heard over the noise of the docks.
Now all we have to do is wait until April and we get to do it all over again in reverse.
At Long Beach for this experience, the So.Cal Wing/CAF crew was Lloyd McAfee, Yoshimi Abe, Vern Olson, Jason Somes, Shirley Murphy and Ron Fleishman
CAF’s Zero Traveling to New Zealand
by Dave Flood
On March 2, 2010, the CAF – Southern California Wing’s Zero fighter will fly to Long Beach, CA Airport and then will be transported via flatbed truck to the Port of Long Beach in preparation for its long journey by ship to New Zealand.
Our Zero will be a major participant in the “Warbirds Over Wanaka” air show to be held in Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island on April 2, 3, and 4, 2010. It is one of the premier warbirds air shows in the world, and our Zero will play a major part in the show.
Our pilots – Jason Somes and Steve Barber, Sr. are expected to join the Zero sometime in late March in New Zealand in order to fly her from the New Zealand port of entry to Wanaka, and then during the air show.
We expect the Zero to be away from Camarillo for about two months – and we look forward to having her back in April for participation in a number of air shows to be held throughout the western United States during the summer and fall.
The Zero will definitely be flying at the Camarillo Air Show on the weekend of August 21 and 22, 2010, and will probably team up with our Grumman F6F Hellcat for some heart-stopping dogfights in the sky during that show. We hope that you will join us for the festivities that weekend at the Camarillo Airport.
Click over to KCLU’s website for a great interview with a few of our members about the Zero and its international trip
Preparing the Zero for it’s trip to New Zealand
© Photo by Dave Flood
Cable attachment custom-made by lloyd McAffe from original Japanese drawings to enable the Zero to be lifted onto the ship at Port of Long Beach.
© Photo by Dan Newcomb
Lloyd hard at work fitting together the Zero’s gear “cradle”. Lloyd also made up a special hangar harness attachment for the crane at Long Beach Port to lift the Zero onto the freighter that will take her to NZ.
© Photo by Russ Drosendahl
Here’s the special crane attachment in operation, using a borrowed crane to test the lifting capability of the apparatus. The Zero is scheduled to fly to Long Beach Airport on Thursday, March 4; then be trucked to Port of Long Beach on March 5 for loading and eventual shipping to New Zealand.
Length: 29 ft., 9 in.
Wingspan: 39 ft., 4 in.
Height: 9 ft., 8 in.
Empty weight: 3,984 lbs.
Loaded weight: 5,609 lbs.
Powerplant: 1× Nakajima NKIF Sakae 14 cylinder, air-cooled radial engine, 1,130 hp
Note: Our aircraft has a Pratt & Whitney R1830 engine
Maximum speed: 388 mph at 19,690 ft.
Range: 1,929 mi.
Service ceiling: 36,250 ft.
Rate of climb: 3,100 ft/min.
o 2× 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Type 97 machine guns in the engine cowling
o 2× 20 mm (0.787 in) Type 99 cannons in the wings