Friday 26 June 2020

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft #32 - Saipan Pt.4

Let's move to the 2nd Group.

Zero4 had a battered fuselage and a damaged fin tip. Tail number was "8-07". 

Right next to it, is Zero5 and the tail marking is very clear; "61-197". It belonged to 261Ku, known as "Tora Butai" (Tiger Unit). The 261Ku was another unit organized in Kagoshima on June 1, 1943. Relocated to Saipan at the end of February 1944 with mainly air defence duties. It was disbanded on July 10, 1944.
On the far right of the above photo we can see the warped tail of "8-07". Half a kanji is barely visible, but unfortunately we cannot identify it. 
It also looks like the "8" part is written in red with a white surround. 
Below is a photo showing "61-197" and the damaged fuselage of "8-07" on the left.

As you can see, the "61-197" has A6M2 cannons and folding wings! Note the traces of what looks to be a white band on the fuselage of "8-07", similar to the one "8-13" had.

Next to Zero5 "61-197", is Zero6, another "8" Zero on jack stands. The tail marking is clear, it's "8-34" and the kanji is "" (Mori).

It's time to see the first video.

The video starts with two Group 1 Zeros, "8-13" and "8-17". Note that the starboard wing of "8-13" has suffered only small damage. Probably just a few panels were removed.

Then we notice that the Zeros of Group 3 have not yet been placed in front of Group 2.

Moving on, we see Zero7, Zero8, Zero9 and maybe Zero10 is somewhere there. Zero7 has an engine mount, but nothing else on the nose and there are some dark "things" under the wings.

Finaly, we notice that there are three Zeros in Group 4.

At some point some of the Zeros were transported to the harbor to be sent to the U.S. Below is one such photo showing Zero "61-180"; another most interesting subject for a small diorama.

It has too many similarities with Zero7 to be a coincidence and the "things" under the wings seen in the video stills above, are actually bomb racks. Note that the wing cannons have been faired over (?). I'm not sure if it's an A6M2 or a modified A6M5.

We weren't able to find any information regarding the tail markings of Zeros 8 and 9. The aircraft can be seen in some videos but not their tail markings.

30/7 update
In the photo below from the "U.S. Naval Institute photo archive" we can see on the far left the tail of either Zero 8 or 9. 
It's "61-106" and I'm leaning towards Zero 9.

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