PEARL HARBOR JAPANESE AIRCRAFT CRASH SITES: THE NI'IHAU ZERO (3): Part VII
by James Lansdale
The NISHIKAICHI/NI'IHAU Zero, Part 3: More NI'IHAU Zero Artifacts
After Shigenori NISHIKAICHI attempted to destroy his Zero on NI'IHAU Island the night of 12-13 December 1941, very little remained of the Sakae 12 engine aft of the cylinder bank, the center section of the fuselage, or any of the cockpit instruments.
The weapons and some of the parts were salvaged for analysis or souvenired by various military personnel who came to examine the NI'IHAU Zero crash site. Sixty-five years later, only the bare skeleton of the wings, small sections of the forward fuselage, and the Sakae 12 engine air-intake manifold still remained on NI'IHAU. These pieces were donated by Keith ROBINSON, one of the current owners of NI'IHAU, to the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island. The Pacific Aviation Museum has created a realistic display of the crash site as it appeared on NI'IHAU in 2006 using these few remaining airframe artifacts and the manifold.
Here below is a view of the Sakae 12 engine air-intake maniford as well as two views of the manifold from the NI'IHAU Zero as seen on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum.
A few of the other engine components were removed or souvenired. In 1981, one of the engine cylinders was donated to the Admiral Nimitz Museum in FREDERICKSBURG, Texas by a donor on KAUA'I. The propeller turned up at HICKAM Field after the war.
Above: "7th Air Force, Hickam Field, August 21, 1946. Lt. Peffer with propeller of 'Niihau' Zero."
Credit: University of Hawaii War Records Department via AAHS Journal:Summer 1970.
According to a posting on the "Pearl Harbor Attacked Message Board" for April 20, 2001: "The propeller was made into a display at Hickam HQ, later hung on a telephone pole, then stolen by historically interested folk and secreted in areas on the base until they approached the right General. Then it was put behind the bar at Queen Surf at Waikiki with a dedication song [sung by Author Godfrey] 'They Couldn’t Take Niihau No How'. Much later it was moved to the 'hangar. for Quiet Birdmen of Hawaii ...." It was announced last year that it was scheduled to be put on display at the Pacific Aviation Museum. As of December 2006, it had not yet reappeared.
From time to time, other artifacts from the NI'IHAU Zero surface. As they do, they will be added to this account. See "PEARL HARBOR JAPANESE AIRCRAFT CRASH SITES: PART 6" .
Another item souvenired from the NI'IHAU Zero was a piece of the rudder fabric (shown below). Two fragments of this artifact are known to exist, one is at the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, OHIO and one is a part of a private collection. The paint has likely darkened since having been collected due to darkening of the paint binder. However, today the color of the two relics from the rudder fabric are a close match to the colors of JPMA 2005C 29-50B or Munsell 10Y 5/1 (close to, but darker than, FS-16357).
Another fragment of a Zero recovered ca December 1941/January 1942, known as the "Aliamanu Crater Zero Relic," was souvenired by Robert Keith LEVENTON. A written account by LEVENTON, dated 25 October 2000, contained information which corrected the previous assumption that the "Aliamanu Crater Relic" had been recovered from the IIDA Zero that had crashed at KANEOHE Bay NAS. It now appears that this small relic (shown below) may have been a piece of the NI'IHAU Zero tail.
Credit: National Museum of the USAF, Pacific Aviation Museum, AAHS, Pearl Harbor Attacked Message Board, R. Keith Leventon/Leventon Family Collection, G-2 Report Fourteenth Naval District, and LRA