Mitsubishi Zero Crashed on display at Darwin Aviation Museum

Darwin Aviation Museum


Mitsubishi A6M2 Type1 Zero B11-124
Construction number 5349

General characteristics:
Crew: 1
Length: 9.06m (29ft 9in)
Wingspan: 12.0m (39ft 4in)
Height: 3.05m (10ft 0in)
Empty weight: 1,680kg (3,704lb)
Loaded weight: 2,410kg (5,313lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Nakajima Sakae 12 radial engine, 709kW (950hp)

Maximum speed: 533km/h (331mph) at 4,550m (14,930ft)
Range: 3,105km (1,929mi)
Service ceiling: 10,000m (33,000ft)
Rate of climb: 15.7m/s (3,100ft/min)
Wing loading: 107.4kg/m² (22.0lb/ft²)

Guns: 2x 7.7mm (0.303 in) Type 97 machine guns in the engine cowling, with 500 rounds per gun.
2x 20mm Type 99 cannon in the wings, with 60 rounds per gun.
Bombs: 2× 60kg (132lb) bombs or
1x fixed 250kg (551lb) bomb for kamikaze attacks

This Zero was a A6M2 Type 1 Naval Fighter, Model 11 with the maker’s number 5349. It carried the tail number BII-124. This Zero was fitted with a Nakajima Sakae NK1 engine of 940hp (700kw). It was delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy on 4 October 1941.

It was launched from the Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier Hiryu on 19 February, 1942 flown by Petty Officer Hajime Toyoshima to participate in the first air raid on Australian home territory. During the raid the engine oil tank was holed by a .303 inch bullet. Whilst trying to return to the carrier the engine seized and Toyoshima crash landed on at Snake Bay on Melville Island.

Toyoshima was disarmed and captured by local Tiwi Aboriginals and was taken to Bathurst Island and was handed over to Sergeant Leslie Powell, 23rd Field Company, Australian Engineers. Powell was unarmed having been sent to the island to maintain demolition installations. He used Toyoshima’s service pistol to escort him into captivity.

When captured, Toyoshima gave the fictitious name ‘Todao Minami’ and was transferred to the Cowra Prisoner of War camp. He was the first Japanese prisoner of war to be captured on Australian soil. Toyoshima was one of the camp leaders and blew the bugle to start the attempted break out on 5 August 1944. Toyoshima died in the infamous breakout and is buried in the Japanese Cemetery at Cowra, NSW as Todao Minami. The bugle he blew to signal the start of the breakout is held in the Australian War Memorial Collection.

This aircraft is thought to have taken part in the carrier task force that attacked Pearl Harbor being flown by a flight leader.

Some components of the aircraft including the engine, canopy and tail were recovered for intelligence purposes in 1942 and the remainder was left at the crash site. The aircraft is on display courtesy of the former Milikapiti Council on Melville Island. Zero B11-124, was not the first aircraft shot down during the Darwin raids on 19 February 1942 but it is the first that had the pilot captured on Australian soil. The first downed Japanese aircraft was credited to a machine gunner firing from a site at Winnellie near the Aviation Heritage Centre. Also on display with this aircraft is its belly drop tank (an external fuel tank used to extend the aircraft’s range) and two other examples (one of which has been restored back to original type condition.