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Military Aviation Museum Proud New Owners of A6M3 Zero

Infamous WWII Fighter Joins the Fleet In Original Livery

The Military Aviation Museum announced its acquisition of a rare, well-kept Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero restored by Legend Flyers in Everett, Washington.

The particular Zero, c/n 3148, sports a khaki paint scheme just like it had during its wartime release in 1942. Most particular is the unusually wordy subheading underneath its tail number, which indicated that the aircraft was sponsored by middle schoolers in occupied Manchuria before deploying to the 252nd Kokutai. The fighter flew from Rabaul, Ballale, and Munda throughout the Solomon Islands during the Pacific campaign. Ultimately the Zero was stationed at Tarawa in 1943, where it was knocked out of commission by shrapnel and abandoned by the runway until its recovery in 1991. Once salvaged by an enterprising John Sterling, the plane wound its way through the usual rounds of horse trading and sales before restoration in 2011. To date, the aircraft has not yet flown wearing its fresh new livery, no surprise given the rarity of surviving Zeroes today. 

Museum Director, Keegan Chetwynd said it's an exciting time to acquire one of the most infamous fighters of WWII.“The Museum has a collection plan that has identified airplanes that are key to sharing the narrative of World War II with a modern audience, and the Zero was one of the Museum’s highest priority targets." Of course, as any aircraft owner knows, finding the right plane is more important than finding a plane to begin with. 

“Aircraft acquisitions by the Museum are always a carefully thought out endeavor. Restorations represent a significant investment of time, and of funding, requiring that they be planned out long in advance,” Chetwynd said.

Curator Zack Baughman explained: “It is an aircraft our visitors are always asking about. As one of our chief adversaries in World War II, there is a fascination with the Zero that is hard to explain. It really is amazing to see a restored aircraft from World War II in person, knowing that it has been rescued from a battlefield, it brings history to life in an important way.”


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