View Full Version : The China Zero A6M2

12-04-2004, 12:11 PM

P-5016 at Kunming. €œJapanese Zero captured by Gen. Chennault and his Flying Tigers.€ (USAF Photo 23479 AC via Don Thorpe)

Zero 3372 V-172


Photograph taken during the summer of 1942 at Liuchow.
These photographs show the Zero 3372 after reconstruction by the Chinese engineers and mechanics. The first photograph shows the wing from the other crashed Zero in the background. (USAF I.D. 4721-A.C.)

The two Zeros had been captured €œnear the town of Teitsan on the southeastern coast of Luichow Peninsula after landing on the beach. The second Zero sustaained major damage in the landing attempt. It took several months to move them well inland for reconstruction of one to airworthy condition.


FLying Tiger Aces that flew the captured Zero.
The "Zero Club" Members:

The Zero Club. These famous members and aces of the 23rd Fighter
Group all test flew Zero 3372, alias P-5016. Standing, left to right: €œCasey€ Vincent; €œJohnny€ Alison, then C.O. of the 75th Fighter Squadron; and Bruce Holloway, C.O. of the 23rd Fighter Group. Front, left to right, €œAjax€ Baumler, 75th Fighter Squadron member and ex Spanish Civil War ace; and €œGrant€ Mahony, then 76th Fighter Squadron C.O. (Erma Baumler)

The Flying Tigers may not have faught aginst the A6M2 but they sure as he11 flew one http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/mockface.gif

12-05-2004, 07:57 PM
Sure got quiet out there! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/mockface.gif

12-05-2004, 09:24 PM
OK, you may have proved that there were *some* Zeros there, but not many. I think some other post showed a fairly small number of sorties for the time period.

And, it's a known fact that anything with wings and a meatball was called a "Zero" back then.

Mostly, they WERE Oscars and Army planes.

12-05-2004, 09:54 PM
OK, here are the facts. A6M2 were in China early in the war due to heavy Bomber losses. The A6M2 were able to escort the bombers deep into China. This worked and the A6M2s claimed 100 credits to no loss from Chinese fighters. As a matter of fact, the only A6M2 losses were from AAA and only two were lost. (It would appear that the next A6M2 losses would be from Pearl totaling 9 losses.)

The captured A6M2s featured were from a group of A6M2s repositoning to Saigon, November 1941, for the Philippine Islands conflict while the rest of the A6M2s were enroute to Pearl. Lost due to low clouds and fog, the two pilots ended up at Leichou Pantao (also known as Leizhou or Luichow Pennisula). The two pilots landed on the €œbeach opposite Hainan€ Island. American ace Bruce K. Holloway, ex 23rd Fighter Group commander, confirmed that the two Zeros had been captured €œnear the town of Teitsan on the southeastern coast of Luichow Peninsula. One A6M2 made a normal landed but the other one was badly damaged. It took months to transport the two Zero war prizes under the noses of the Japanese army units from the Leichou coast to the inland city of Liuchow (24.5N, 109W). Eventually one was made airworthy and flown by the Flying Tigers.

After long hours and days of once again rebuilding Zero 3372, alias P-5016, it was ready for more test flights. During this period, no less than five American aces with the 23rd Fighter Group test flew the Zero and formed a very exclusive group they called, €œThe Zero Club.€ The sole members of €œThe Zero Club€ were John R. €œJohnny€ Alison, six victories; Albert J. €œAjax€ Baumler, nine victories; Bruce K. Holloway, thirteen victories, Grant Mahony, five victories; and Clinton D. €œCasey€ Vincent, six victories. Soon the time drew short for Zero 3372€s stay in China. In early 1943 the Zero was flown to Karachi, India from Kunming with an escort flight of 23rd Fighter Group Curtiss P-40K Warhawks. One by one, all the Warhawks aborted their escort mission and Zero 3372 arrived in Karachi alone! There, Neumann supervised the crating of the Zero and it was placed aboard a ship bound for the United States as a war prize and for further testing.

The voyage to the United States was not uneventful. Historian Robert C. Mikesh reported that the forward fuselage and wings of Zero 3372 were damaged during a storm. Yet another account is that the Zero was damaged while being off-loaded in Havana, Cuba for a change of ship bound for a mainland port. In the event, the Curtiss Aircraft company volunteered to rebuild the damaged Zero once again. After its repair and reconstruction, but now bearing USAAF markings and the evaluation branch code EB-2 on the tail, Zero 3372 underwent further test flights at Wright Field, Ohio and the Army Proving Grounds at Eglin Field, Florida. At Eglin Field the tail number of the Zero was changed for the final time from EB-2 to EB-200.

During the last year of the war, the airframe was photographed in California on a War Bond tour. Then, just as mysteriously as the Zero had disappeared from the Japanese military inventory in 1941, the Zero vanished into the mists of time. Who knows? Perhaps Zero 3372, €œThe Mystery Zero,€ also known as €œThe China Zero€ or €œThe Tiger Zero,€ will again reappear!

So although the Flying Tigers may not have faught against the A6M2, it looks like they may have been ready to fight it.

12-05-2004, 11:21 PM
Let me clarify an often bastardized point of histoy.

The AVG were the Flying Tigers. The 23rd Fighter Group were not. They came in late and stole the Flying Tiger name from the AVG.

The REAL AVG never faced Zeros.

12-06-2004, 04:21 AM


12-06-2004, 11:07 AM
The A.V.G. was disbanded on July 4, 1942 and the A6M2 landed in Novemeber 41' and wasn't test flown until the summer of 42'. The months are close but I caint find an exact date so I dont really know if the A.V.G. was still active when the A6M2 was flown. Either way remember that this is the FIRST captured A6M2. The Flying Tigers, even the A.V.G., knew what they had and what they were up against. They knew the construction weakness of the A6M2 and that it was not a "super fighter". Thier findings were discarded by the allies and the allies still considered the A6M2 as a "super fighter".

So yes, The A.V.G. never flew aginst the A6M2. They still may not have known how to fight it but at least they knew it wasn't the "super fighter" that the allies claimed it was. After the A.V.G. was disbanded and after the allied pilots test flew it, I am confident that they could have delt with them if they had come across them in late summer 42' after thier test flight results.

Again, there is no need to reply to post in a snobish or disrespectful manor but I guess I was kinda fishing a little.

12-06-2004, 12:44 PM
One significant thing I wanted to point out for those interested: Notice the tail extension is missing on the chinese rebuild of the zero. This is an important contributing factor to why many hayabusas were identified as "zeroes".

Hmm. it may not be one of the aircraft above, but here's some info on the drawings the AVG received from the chinese.


12-06-2004, 02:58 PM

12-06-2004, 08:28 PM
Much clearer. Sorry, I spoke before verifying. The zero I was talking about was shot down over china in the spring of '41 - one of a couple downed by the chinese prior (all by ground fire). Definitely not this one.

The one in your picture took months to assemble - after the several months it took to get all the pieces from the chinese farmers who disassembled and hid them from the japanese. From what I've read (link below) it wasn't flyable before October of '42 and by that time, the AVG was no more.

Details on the intact zero that was captured by the chinese (serial number 3372 - AKA P-5016) here:

More information on Zeros over China:


12-07-2004, 06:14 AM
That certainly makes better sence. Now the exact dates fall in line and the info makes better since. The October, not dated with a year, escaped me. lol, at least the mechanic was an ex-A.V.G. (Neumann, Gerhard).

12-07-2004, 06:20 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by VBF-83_Hawk:
That certainly makes better sence. Now the exact dates fall in line and the info makes better since. The October, not dated with a year, escaped me. lol, at least the mechanic was an ex-A.V.G. (Neumann, Gerhard). <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

yes, a german in US service http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif


12-07-2004, 10:34 AM
very nice, very nice!