Japanese Navy A6M2 Mod. 21 Zero 201st Kokutai, Rabaul 1943 by Ron Cole

This is my painting of my A6M2 Model 21 Zero, the aircraft now on display in our Zanesville, Ohio gallery.

This aircraft was built under license by Nakajima in April of 1943, and immediately assigned to the famous 201st Kokutai (Naval Air Group, Imperial Japanese Navy) based at Tobera (Rabaul), New Britain, Papua New Guinea, in the South Pacific. The aircraft's serial number was 7830, and its tail code was WI-129. Many 'Aces' flew this aircraft, as the 201st accumulated over 450 claimed 'victories' between June 1943 and January 1944, when it was withdrawn to Saipan, and Japanese pilots weren't assigned specific aircraft. In around October of 1943 this Zero received multiple .30 caliber hits to its main fuel tank, probably in combat over Torokina, and was forced to make an emergency landing on Balalae Island, then a bypassed Japanese garrison. It remained there until 2019, and arrived in Zanesville, Ohio from Australia in July 2022.

I've depicted this Zero intercepting another famous aircraft that I own parts of: B-17E Flying Fortress 'Naughty But Nice'. This aircraft was among the flight of Fortresses that arrived over Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack on December 7th, 1941, and was hastily camouflaged the following morning in a wild and unique paint scheme for fear of a Japanese invasion. Transferred to the South Pacific, she fought in just about every battle in that theater, being shot up several times. On the night of June 26th, 1943, she was shot down by Japanese night fighter 'Ace' Shigetoshi Kudo.
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