Thursday 21 January 2016

Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" - Rabaul - pt3. - video stills

First part of the video stills.
The caption says "Kaigunsho kenetsu dai 17go" (Navy Ministry Censorship No. 17). It's an approval seal that the film has been checked by the Navy censor. Note the general shape of the building and the 4-engine US bomber model on the side of the stairs. 

Another building in worse condition is standing next to the one in the previous still and in front of it is placed a plane without engine and tail. It is an old A6M2, note the folded wing tips. This one was probably used to train new pilots. 

A line-up of more than a dozen Zeros. The visible cowlings indicate most, if not all, of them are A6M5 Model 52s. Note also the clothes of the ground crew members. The big mountain in the background means that this is Rabaul East airfield, aka Lakunai airfield, next to Tavurvur volcano. Rabaul had five airfields, three of them for fighters, the main being the Lakunai airfield where the headquarters of the 11th Air Fleet was located.  

The first A6M5 taking off has a hinomaru with its white surround darkened and a white band on the fuselage. Unfortunately the tail marking is not clearly visible but most probably it's a "9-155".  

The second Zero taking off is also an A6M5 with a similar paint job with the previous one, minus the fuselage band. The straight to the tail green top camo shows this are Mitsubishi built Zeros. The tail marking is very clearly visible; "9-159". There is an issue with the unit. Researchers/authors like Watanabe and Nohara believe these planes belonged to the 204Ku but this has not been confirmed beyond any doubt.   

Two more tail markings are clearly visible, "9-166" & "9-169", and possibly "9-164".

Again note the clothes of the ground crew members.

More A6M5s taking off. The tail marking of one of them is not very clear, either "9-109" or "9-169".


This one has the lower part of the wheel covers removed.

One of the most interesting Zeros is this A6M2 with the lower part of the wheel covers and wheel well doors removed but also note that it carries one No 3 Mark 3 rocket. The tail number is very difficult to discern. Probably "9-123".

In these stills note the revetments made of empty fuel drums protecting two aircraft between them, again on Rabaul East Airfield. Each revetment has a number in white on the top drum, the one on the left has a "3", the one on the right a "2".



Calin Ungureanu said...

Great stills. Thank you for posting them.
In the last picture it can be seen the difference of shine between the hinomaru paint and the rest of the plane.

F_IV said...

Very interesting photos. I noticed this zero appears to have the Model 21 cowl flaps, but protruding cannon muzzles in the wings.

I wonder if it was one of the hybrid rebuilds that was put together after the bulk of the fighter force withdrew to Truk.

Laurent said...

Great Footage !

Concerning the A6M2 Zero :

Excuses me for my Ignorance - What is a "No 3 Mark 3 rocket" ?? Is it a Ta-Dan air to air bomb or really a rocket ? Seems an asymetric configuration - Only one bomb under one wing - I've seen that too on 381 NAG Zero pictures in 1944 too. Very strange.


Harold K said...

The hospital ship is Tenno Maru, ex-RNethN Op ten Noort.
This NEI steamer was converted to a hospital ship by the Dutch in early 1942; just in time to be captured by the IJN. What I've read online states that there was indeed an incident in which it was strafed by USN fighters. Also that the ship was used by the IJN to transport mines while marked as a hospital ship. Tenno Maru survived the war only to be scuttled off the home islands by the IJN, setting off a legal battle with the Netherlands over compensation which was not settled until the 1970s.

Unknown said...

regarding A6M5 "9-155":
the fuselage band is clearly NOT white: the man just in front has a white pocket handkerchief and the tonal difference is obvious. I would say that the band is probably yellow?
Moreover, I have seen profiles and decals sheet of this same a/c which shows a crudely painted, unevenly tapered band, while it seems to me that the band is very neatly painted and has no taper at all.

Arawasi said...

Thanks for your input. Remember that the ground crew member often washed his handekerchief to keep it clean! The band could easily be a bit old and not exactly bright white. Or ofcourse it could be yellow.