Mitsubishi A6M2 ‘Zero’
Mitsubishi A6M2 model 21 ‘Zero’ AI-155
IJN Carrier Akagi, Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941.
The carriers of the 1st Air Fleet (Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu, Soryu, Zuikaku and Shokaku) togther with fourteen other ships sailed on the 26th of November 1941, still prepared to turn back if diplomatic negotiations between Japan and the United States reached a satisfactory conclusion. They did not, and the coded signal Nitaka Yama Nobore (Climb Mount Nitaka), signifying that the Hawaiian operation was to go ahead, was transmitted to Vice-Admiral Nagumo on the 2nd of December. After refueling at sea, the fleet advanced to its flying-off position 370 km (200 nautical miles) north of Oahu the largest of the Hawaiian islands.
The first attack wave began leaving the carriers at 06.00 hours on the 7th of December, Hawaiian time. It was escorted by fourtythree Zero fighters of the first wave covering force under Lt-Cdr Shigeru Itaya, officer commanding the Akagi Fighter Squadron. Itaya’s Zeros arrived over Pearl Harbor at 07.50 Honolulu time; after shooting down a light aircraft and three trainers, they strafed Hickam and Ewa airfields, counting some twentyfive US aircraft burning on the ground. Itaya’s wingman, PO 1st Class Takashi Hirano, was shot down by American anti-aircraft fire.
Six Zeros from the Shokaku and six from the Zuikaku strafed Kaneohe and Bellows Fields, setting on fire thirtythree aircraft, many of them PBY amphibians. These two carriers did not take part in the second-wave attack on Pearl Harbor, their fighters instead flying combat air patrols (CAP) over the fleet in relays.
During the second attack, nine Zeros from the Akagi led by the highly experienced Lt Saburo Shindo were detailed to escort eighteen Aichi Type 99 (Val) dive-bombers. Arriving over the target about an hour after the first wave, and finding no opposition, the Zeros strafed Hickam Field, but only succeeded in destroying two aircraft on the ground.
The carrier Kaga despatched nine Zeros under Lt Nikaido, shooting down one aircraft and destroying about twenty more on the ground, but four of her Zeros were shot down by US fighters; it was the worst loss sustained by any of the carrier fighter squadrons.
Nine Zeros from the Soryu under Lt Fusato lida also encountered strong opposition from American fighters during the second attack, lida himself was shot down and killed in a strafing attack on Kaneohe, in which six PBYs were destroyed; Lt (Jg) lyozo Fujita took over and was leading the flight away from the target area when they were intercepted. The Japanese pilots claimed two US fighters, but lost two of their own in the action.
Eight Zeros from the Hiryu strafed Kaneohe and Bellows Fields, claiming two aircraft and a truck before becoming involved in an air battle with US fighters, two of which were shot down by PO 1st Class Tsugio Matsuyama. One Zero pilot, PO 1st Class Shigenori Nishikaichi, made a forced landing on the Hawaiian island of Niihau, and was killed by a Hawaiian. In all, the Zero squadrons lost fifteen aircraft out of a total of seventynine deployed during the Hawaiian operation. There were three hundred and eighty four US aircraft on the islands: one hundred and eighty eight were destroyed and another hundred and fifty nine damaged. Eighteen of the ninetyfour US warships in Pearl Harbor were sunk or suffered major damage; eight of those were battleships.
The aircraft shown here is featured on a section of deck from the Akagi and is painted overal in a colour called Ameiro, the ‘black’ nose was often discoloured to a purple due to the effects of engine heat and oil.
Scale 1:72 Wingspan 6.57″ (167 mm)
Base size 6.37″ (162 mm) square (No. 4)
Weight not including base 8.25 ozs (230 grams)
Total number of models produced 24