History[edit | edit source]
Built by Nakajima, as the 303rd Model 52 assembled by Nakajima. Assigned to the 261 Kōkūtai, gaining tail code 61-121. In March 1944, this Zero operated from Aslito Airfield on Saipan.
During June 1944, this Zero was captured by U. S. Marines intact at Aslito Field. One of twelve captured aircraft, plus spare engines that were loaded aboard USS Copahee including A6M5 1303 (this aircraft), A6M5 4340, A6M5 5350, A6M2 5352, A6M5 5356 and A6M5 5357. All were transported to the United States for technical evaluation.
In the United States, designated "TAIC 11" stenciled on the tail with "Technical Air Intelligence" on the right side of the cockpit and "Zeke 52" on the right side of the nose cowling. Tested in the United States. One of the test pilots was W. D. Blocher. At one point the airframe was stripped to bare natural metal and RAF roundels were applied.
During 1945, this Zero ground looped at NAS Atlanta and suffered landing gear damage and was left resting on the lower fuselage. Postwar, the aircraft was sold as scrap.
Purchased as surplus by John Elliot, Sr. Later, his son, John H. Elliot, Jr. acquired it and displayed it at J. H. Elliot Antiques along with the pilot's seat, a 7.7mm machine gun and a 20mm cannon that were supposed from this same Zero. Visitors were allowed to see the Zero for $2.00 admission. It was displayed until at least the middle 1980s.
During 1991-1992, this Zero was purchased by R. D. Whittington / World Jet Inc. During 1993, transported to Fort Lauderdale, FL and stored in their hanger with the tail section removed. Originally, Whittington intended to restore the Zero, but found the Zero had been previously cut into pieces and spliced back together with screws and galvanized tin sheets. The interior was held together with pieces of welded iron re-bar. The main spar was crystallized. The Sakae engine could be restored. Missing was the tail cone, landing gear legs and all instruments.
During 2001, it was sold to Paul Allen / Flying Heritage Collection. Registered with the FAA registered as N1303 by Vulcan Warbirds, Inc on August 27, 2001. Today, Zero is in storage at Flying Heritage Collection in Arlington, WA. The museum plans to restore it to fly. Presently, it is unrestored and not on public display.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- This Zero is sometimes misidentified as either A6M2 Zero 4593 (aka Alaska Zero) or A6M5 Zero 5350.