In the late 1960s the wreckage of a number of Zeros and a Val were recovered from Ballale Island by Robert Diemert of Carman, Manitoba. Over the next few years he rebuilt the Val and three of the A6Ms. The former is currently the property of the Planes of Fame Air Museum in California. Of the Zeros, one is now operated by the Confederate Air Force in Texas, the second is part of the collection of the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola and the third was wrecked on its maiden flight.
In the early 1990s the father and son team of John and Earl Calverley purchased whatever Zero remnants were still in the possession of Diemert. The identifiable artifacts came from aircraft s/ns 6345, 5459, 3471 (Houkoko 1033), 7830, 3285 (A6M3 32) and 3753 (A6M3 22). All the A6M2s were Nakajima built aircraft. Construction of a new A6M2 was then begun using these parts and pieces as a pattern along with plans obtained from Mitsubishi.
Over the course of the winter of 1998-1999 the writer was able to go through these artifacts and examine them. The objective of this exercise was to record information about the remnants of the original paint as well as take note of whatever details there might be that would be of interest to both aviation historians and modelers. It should be noted that this project was immeasurably aided by the information provided to me by Jim Lansdale and Jim Long as well as the kind help of both the Calverleys.
One of the major problems presented by the numerous artifacts was the impossibility to determine with absolute certainty which pieces came from which aircraft. Relatively few of the parts had serial numbers, for many the only identification that could be established was whether they had their origin with a Mitsubishi or Nakajima built aircraft. Nevertheless, even the pieces with no identifiable provenance are of importance as they offer some clues as to how these aircraft were painted. However, enough parts did have an aircraft serial number to allow the overall color of each airplane represented in the collection to be established. It should also be noted that serial numbers that were found on a number of sub-assembly data plates do not represent the serial number assigned to the aircraft by the manufacturer. These data plates will be the subject of a future article.
Several cockpit interior parts were assumed to have a particular origin according to the various green shades of their paint. FS4373 was taken to be the Nakajima interior color while FS4098 was accepted to be a Mitsubishi interior color. FS4583 has been cited as the value of one of the interior paints used by Nakajima but it was found that this paint, when the oxidization was removed, to in fact be FS4373.
Although not listed below mention should also be made of several other items of interest. A Wing Center Section similar to 4.1 was also examined. In this case the cockpit floor was found to be FS 4373 (Nakajima), the wheel well was finished in aotake, and the upper wing was painted with FS4201 over red primer. One tailhook well was examined and found to be painted in the same shade as the exterior of the other Zeros. In almost all cases steel parts were finished in semi-gloss black paint.
All the original paint that was examined to determine its FS595A value was wet sanded with 800 grain emery paper to remove oxidization. Although no degree of luster has been noted in the FS values given below all were in fact semigloss after buffing. It is assumed that this, or full gloss, was the original finish of the paint.
All location descriptions are from the perspective of the pilot.
Any questions or comments should be directed to the writer at email@example.com
1.1 The Blayd A6M2 Zero
- photo taken 28 June, 1999
- exterior is overcoated with an aotake like finish
1.2 Tail Section of the Blayd Zero
- fuselage mid-section in the foreground is also shown in 3.1
1.3 Blayds Collection of Parts.
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