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Tom Cleaver
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Planes of Fame A6M5a Zero Model 52

September 22, 2013 · in Show Reports · · 9 · 1.3K

Forgot I had these shots, taken way back in 1999. The PoF is the only original Zero left in the world, with a Sakae engine, the airframe was never torn down. This was one of about 14 that were captured on Saipan and returned to the US. It was flown at the Fighter Conference in 1944 where the XF8F-1 Bearcat made its first debut. Charles Lindbergh flew it once and has a comment "handles OK" in the logbook with his signature.

Further proof that Steve Hinton is the luckiest guy on the planet. Flying these things is the only "job" he's ever had, since age 18.

Reader reactions:

7 additional images. Click to enlarge.

9 responses

  1. Great Zero pictures Tom. A few years back, while running my LL teams baseball practice, this Zero zoomed bye at about 300 ft over head with a Hellcat right on its tail- What an awesome sight and sound! My other coach, who is also a model builder and AC enthusiast, turned to me and said dead panned, "Well ya don't see that every day!"...The Hellcat was in an all blue scheme with the markings for Minsi III. These two beauties where flying into HMB for the annual Dream Machines Air Show.

  2. Actually, this may be a different zero, the one I have photos for show slightly different marking X-133 with two blue horizontal stripes on the tail... It is, just found the pic of it with the wing folds, Type 32. Oh well still a cool sight.

    • X-133 is a Zero built from parts of crashed airframes taken to Russia in the 1990s and turned into an airplane, an A6M3 Model 22, not 32. It's powered by an R-1830. This is the only A5M5 with a Sakae engine. What you saw was this "restored" Zero and the Hellcat from the CAF at Santa Barbara.

  3. i really wish they wouldn't fly the only zero in the world...that's a little cavalier

    • It hasn't had enough time on the engine for a 50 hour overhaul since they put it back together. The only person who flies it is Steve Hinton. There's a lot of arguments to be made pro and con, but the fact is that if Planes of Fame hadn't begun restoring these things to fly and then flown them, there wouldn't be a single one restored in the past 40 years. Just sitting there safe in a museum, 99 out of 100 people don't care a fig about them, but put them in the air for 10 minutes and everything changes.

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