History[edit | edit source]
This Mitsubishi A6M7 was built by Nakajima Hikoki as their 43rd Model 62 aircraft with C/n 23186. It was assigned to the Yokosuka Kōkūtai with tail code ヨ-143.
After the war it was captured at Misawa, a testing facility operated by the First Naval Air Technical Bureau (Dai-Ichi Kaigun Koku Gijitsusho, or in short Kugisho in Japanese, equivalent to the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics BuAer) at Yokosuka Airfield and transported on USS Barnes (CVE-20) on 3 November 1945 along with other Japanese aircraft captured in the Yokosuka area to the United States , where it was tested as aircraft FE-322 and later as T2-N322. After tests were carried out in the United States the US Navy exhibited the airplane outdoors at Naval Air Station (NAS) Willow Grove, Pennsylvania from 1946 to 1962 in natural aluminum finish with tail code ヨ-1 (though at one time it did read as 1-E).
The NASM acquired the aircraft from NAS Willow Grove on 3 March 1962 and in 1979 lent it to the Bradley Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut for restoration. Bradley technicians did not complete the project (due to hurricane damage) before the aircraft was transferred in 1981 to the San Diego Aerospace Museum, where a volunteer crew spent more than 8,500 man-hours over a three-year period restoring the airplane. It currently remains on exhibit in San Diego.