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Mitsubishi A6M5 “ATAIU”

January 12, 2013 in Aviation

Technical Air Intelligence Units (TAIU) were joint Allied military intelligence units formed during World War II to recover Japanese aircraft to obtain data regarding their technical and tactical capabilities.
The first such unit, known later as Technical Air Intelligence Unit–South West Pacific (TAIU–SWPA), was formed in November 1942 by the United States Navy (USN), United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at Eagle Farm Airbase, Brisbane, Australia, in November 1942.
During 1943–44, three other TAIUs were formed in the other Allied theaters of the Pacific War.

South East Asia: ATAIU–SEA; British Royal Air Force (RAF)/USAAF
Pacific Ocean Areas: TAIU–POA; USN
China: Republic of China Air Force

Crashed and captured aircraft were located, identified, and evaluated (often in or near the front lines), before being recovered for further tests. Aircraft that were not too badly damaged were rebuilt for test flights that revealed vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Examination of the materials used in the construction of aircraft allowed the Allies to analyze Japanese war production. The unit also absorbed a small team who developed the code name system for Japanese aircraft, and produced aircraft recognition charts and photographs.
Originally assigned to Tainan Air Group, Kokutai in Taiwan this aircraft was captured at the end of the Pacific War and acquired by the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit for testing and evaluation: the ATAIU-SEA markings were applied by the RAF in Malaysia. This Zero, along with other captured Japanese aircraft ended up at Tebrau Airfield. It was transported by ship to the United Kingdom, arriving in 1947.
Stored by the RAF until 1961, it was then transferred to the Imperial War Museum for display. All that remains today is the center fuselage section and wing center section, with the landing gear partially deployed. The rest of the aircraft was lost or scrapped. The Sakae 21 engine reportedly from this Zero is displayed separately at the Aerospace Museum at Cosford.
This is the old, Tamiya 1/48 A6M2 “Zero” kit. For around $10.00, it’s still a great bargain, and an easy build. I decided to do this one as a captured machine being evaluated by the RAF’s Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit : Southeast Asia. Weathering was done by way of the “salt” technique, and I was happy with the results. Decals were from a Rising sheet. I didn’t do any mods to bring it up to “A6M5” specifications…I just had fun with it.

The model now resides as part of a private collection.


Technical Air Intelligence Unit. (n.d.). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved January 12, 2013, from

RAF ATAIU, Malaysia 1945 for A6M2 Zero by Mr3D – X-Plane.Org Forum. (n.d.). X-Plane.Org Forum – Unreal Portal. Retrieved from

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2 responses to Mitsubishi A6M5 “ATAIU”

  1. Nice to see you caught the detail differences between a Nakajima-built A6M (as this is) and a Mitsubishi product – the obvious being the more blueish IJN Green upper color and the use of Aotake for the geat wells and inner gear doors. Excellent weathering, most realistic.

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