c/n 3032, Lt. Kiku-ichi Inano, Tainan Kōkūtai, Buna airfield, New Guinea, August 1942
This aircraft, released by Mitsubishi on July 3, 1942
was assigned to Lt. Inano, commander of Buna detachment of Tainan Kōkūtai. It was donated by citizens
of Chongpyong County in North Korea. At some point
between the mid August 1942 and early September
1943 this Zero sustained damage that tore off part
of the right wing, possibly from a landing error.
This Zero was captured by Allied units at Buna on
December 27, 1942 and selected for further evaluation and a rebuild. Allied personnel at Eagle Farm
Field built a flyable A6M3 Zero using parts of three
Zeros transported from Buna Airfield, including this
aircraft. Inano´s surname was originally Takabayashi, but he changed that before mid 1941. In late November 1941 smaller part of Tainan Kōkūtai under the
his command was transferred to French Indochina
and temporarily became part of 22. Kōkū Sentai HQ
fighter squadron. Lt. Inano returned to Tainan Kōkūtai
in July 1942, participated in combat over New Guinea
and Guadalcanal. From January 1943 he was involved
in evaluation of weapons used for new naval aircraft.
From October 1944 served as Hikōtaichō of Tainan
Kōkūtai (II) in Taiwan.
PO1c Kyoshi Itō, 3. Kōkūtai, Koepang airfield, Timor Island, September 1942
This aircraft was purchased by Electric Perm Machine
co., whose name (Daiichi Fuyo Dengami) is listed on the
patriotic donation inscription (Hōkoku) No. 984, usually
identified wrongly as 994. It was flown by Kyoshi Itō,
who used also Zero X-152 with Hōkoku No. 1000. Itō was
born in November 1921 in Murakami, Niigata Prefecture.
He served on the torpedo boat Ōtori in 1939, in late 1940
got flight training at Tsuchiura Kōkūtai and in November
1941 was assigned for combat duty to 3rd Kōkūtai. With
this unit he fought in the Philippines and Indonesia and
took part in raids on Australia. In September and October 1942, with most of the 3rd Kōkūtai, he was involved
in the fighting over Guadalcanal. In November his unit
was redesignated Kōkūtai 202 and returned to Koepang.
From the spring until September 1943, unit conducted
combat flights over Australia, also with Zero Type 32
fighters. In November 1943, Itō received a written command commendation stating that he had shot down 23
aircraft and destroyed 9 on the ground. He then served
as an instructor in Japan with the Ôita and Tsukuba Kō-
kūtai and joined the air combat in February 1945. After
the war, he married the eldest daughter of the owner of
the family construction company Katō in Murakami and
adopted the family name Katō. Under his leadership, the
company rose to the top position in Murakami, and he
received the Medal with Purple Ribbon and the Minister
of Construction Award. Kyoshi Katō retired in 1992 and
died in July 2012.
Kōkūtai 204, Vunakanau airfield, Rabaul, New Britain, April 1943
This machine wears green camouflage applied
in field conditions and has radio equipment removed
to reduce weight. Kōkūtai 204 appears to have been
the only unit in the area to apply with green field camoluflage also white outline of hinomaru on fuselage
and upper wing surface. This unit was formed in April
1942 and was designated the 6th Kōkūtai. It was to be
based at Midway Atoll after its capture. During the
attack on Midway and the Aleutians, its airmen participated in both combat operations. The unit made
its first combat flight on June 4, 1942 under the command of Lieutenant Zenjirō Miyano during the attack
on Dutch Harbor. In August, it moved with the Zeros
Type 32 to the Solomon Islands area, but its operational deployment was limited by the available bases
and the smaller range of this version of the Zero.
In early October, the unit moved to a new airfield at
Buin and was able to deploy in combat over Guadalcanal. In early November it was renamed Kōkūtai
204. It was the only unit to be deployed continuously
in the South Pacific for 16 months from August 1942.
During this period unit gained approximately 1,000