Operation: Western USA
Wing Span: 39' 4"
Length: 29' 9"
Height: 10' 0"
Max Speed: 388 mph
Gross Weight: 6,047 lbs
Power Plant: Nakajima Sakae 31
Fuel Capacity: N/A
Armament: 2 × 7.7 mm machine guns in the
engine cowling, 2 × 20 mm cannons in the wings.
2 × 66 lb and 1 x 132 lb bombs or 2 × fixed 550
lb bombs for kamikaze attacks.
Mitsubishi A6M5 Zeke "Zero"
Planes of Fame Air Museum is the owner and
operator of this extremely rare and authentic Mitsubishi
A6M5 Zeke "Zero" which is on display in Chino, CA. and is
only available for film or specially arranged events.
Although there are about ten complete World War Two
Japanese Mitsubishi Zero fighters still intact around
the world, two of them airworthy, The Air Museum at
Chino Airport in Southern California boasts that
Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero No 61-120 in its "Planes of Fame"
collection is the only fully authentic flyable example
in the world. Restored to flying condition in June 1978,
this Zero fighter is still powered by its original
Nakajima Sakae 31 engine, a 14-cylinder radial that
produces 1,200 h.p. Except for the absence of armament
and a few minor equipment changes, this aircraft is
essentially the same as it was when operated by the
Imperial Japanese Navy during the war; it even carries
the same colour scheme (right down to the precise shade
of green camouflage which varied in tone from factory to
factory in Japan) and markings that it bore in combat.
Between March 1939 and August 1945, a grand total of
10,936 Zero fighters was produced in Japan, with 6,215
examples of the Mitsubishi design actually being
produced under license by Nakajima. Completed in May
1943, Zero No 61-120 was the 2,357th aircraft of its
type to come off the Nakajima production line and was
first assigned to the 261st Japanese Naval Air Corps (JNAC)
under the command of LtCdr Takatora Ueda on the Japanese
home island of Honshu. Within a few months the unit
moved to Iwo Jima Island for air defense duties and, in
March 1944, was reassigned to the air defense of the
islands of Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Palau.
Under the command of Capt Ibusuki, Zero No 61-120 and
the 261st JNAC operated from Asilito Airfield on Saipan
until the island was invaded by US Marines.
Under air cover from the US Navy's Task Force 58,
Marines swarmed ashore on Saipan on June 15, 1944 and
Asilito Airfield, with a number of intact Zero fighters,
was overrun on June 18. On July 12, a dozen intact
Zeros, together with a supply of spare engines and
miscellaneous equipment, were loaded abroad the escort
carrier USS Copahee (CVE-12) and shipped to the USA for
evaluation. All of the captured equipment was offloaded
at NAS North Island, San Diego, California and four of
the Zeros were put back into flying condition, with two
being turned over to the Army Air Force and two being
retained by the Navy.
No 61-120 was ferried to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland
on August 23, 1944 and subsequently flown by about 25
different USN, USMC, Royal Navy and civilian fighter and
test pilots, including Charles A. Lindbergh. The
aircraft was ferried back to San Diego on January 11,
1945, where frontline combat pilots were also given a
chance to check out the Zero. Altogether, Zero No 61-120
logged over 190hr of flight time in the USA before being
declared surplus after the war.
Originally intended to become a gate guardian at an
American military airfield, No 61-120 actually wound up
being sold for scrap. It was obtained by Mr. Ed Maloney
and kept in storage in his backyard pending eventual
display in his proposed museum.
In 1958, Maloney opened the Air Museum in Claremont,
California with the Zero as one of the static exhibits.
The aircraft stayed on display in Maloney's collection
when it moved to the Ontario International Airport,
California, then to Buena Park in the same state (where
the collection picked up the "Planes of Fame" name) and
finally to Chino Airport, where it is based today.
Embarking on what many called an impossible task, the
museum staff began the process of restoring Zero No
61-120 to flying condition in 1973. After 4˝yr of
intensive work, the aircraft took to the air once again
on June 28, 1978 under the civilian registration number
NX46770. After a successful flight-test program the Zero
was shipped to Japan for a six-month tour, during which
a number of demonstration flights were made over its
Zero No 61-120 is now one of the star attractions in
Planes of Fame Air Museum collection. Not surprisingly, in
light of the scarcity of spare parts, the aircraft is
flown judiciously and generally only in the Chino area.
However, it does put on rousing demonstrations every
year during the annual
Planes of Fame Air Museum Air Display
which takes place in mid-May, and it is sometimes flown
for other special occasions, It even spent a few hours
in mock combat against the museum's Grumman F6F-5
Hellcat for the benefit of a Grumman Aircraft Co camera
crew who produced a film for the National Air and Space
Museum in Washington.
Planes of Fame Air Museum
7000 Merrill Avenue #17
Chino, CA 91710-9084
Phone: (909) 597-3722
Fax: (909) 597-4755
Please fill out your contact information
below if you are interested in contacting
the operator, or representative,
of this Warbird and you require more information for booking this
aircraft at your Airshow