Rabaul Zeros

Tamiyas 1/48 A6M5 has markings for a bird based at Rabaul. Tail code is 9-. There are photos of the unit at Rabaul East (Lakunai) airfield , allegedly from 204th Kokutai. But from what I’ve found 204th’s tail code was "U-" (Nov.42 after 6th Kokutai was redesignated), “T2-" in 43 and "204-” in 1944. (204 Kokutai (II) was formed in Feb. 45 and used the “204-" also) Only Kokutai to use "9-” was 14 Kokutai, flying H6K from Shortland Harbor from April to Nov. 42. It then became 802 Kokutai , flying A6M2-Ns from Shortland, using tail codes "N1 and Y4 till disbanded in Oct. 43. Soooo… Any thoughts on the Rabaul based A6M5s (and M2s) with a “9” tail code?

I can’t answer your question directly however the following book will probably have the answer as Michael’s books are backed with loads of research which often overturn common thought.

1 Like

Photos from film of A6M5s at Rabaul with 9- tail code (including one with about a half-dozen .50 cal hit in a wing):

Some of the same:

Not with 9 tail code but others in this series:

1 Like

Seen all these. Confirms the “9” was a valid code. Trying to figure out what Kokutai or hikōtai it was. The link you gave, their research info is it was 204 Kokutai, but unconfirmed. May have found a “clue” on this. Painting instructions for 1/72 Hasegawa A6M3 (02077) shows markings for 201 Kokutai at Rabaul being 4-*** and 2-. They used W1-(1942) and 01-*** or 201-*** (1944). Possible units assigned to Rabaul were assigned temporary IDs to confuse the Allies? Or maybe indicate the airfield they were out of? There were 5 of them.) I know the carrier based Kokutai change codes on a regular basis. Soryu’s Kokutai used イ (I, September 1937)
W (1937–1939)
QI (15 November 1940)
VII (Early in 1941–31 March 1941)
BI (1 April 1941–13 July 1942)

1 Like

Timothy, I contacted a researcher and his reply:

Rabaul-based A6M5s (and M2s) with a “9” tail code were used in late 43 onwards when the Rabaul kokutai restructured and amalgamated in this timeframe. Its complex and you will need Vol5 of the Zero book to understand it. 14 Ku never used 9-

My copy of Pacific Profiles Zero book is in a moving box. I’ll try to dig it out tonight.

1 Like