Side Dive Munda Operations Manager Belinda Botha relayed to Solomon Star Gizo via email and forwarded from associate Jack McKee who translated the Japanese characters said that the plane is an A6M2 Model 21 Zero Fighter with manufacturer number 5455 and patriotic presentation number 1049.
“It was manufactured by Nakajima. “Researching this Zero has been quite time consuming but enjoyable.” Mckee stated.
Sunga Boso of Dive Munda said the plane is located about 16 plus meters under water and 250 meters away from Vila Airstrip. The Airstrip was constructed by the Japanese Army on Kolobangara Island during WWII.
Boso said that a lot of Wrecks are lying around underwater but nobody knows where the planes are, and so he and Barbra were so excited when they found the name and number of the plane.
“I hope people can come and see who the pilot of the Plane was, as well as the Crew.” Boso said.
He said that the Japanese Zero adds to attraction for open water divers and the Wreckage sits on black sand and is still in good condition with the cockpit intact.
Ms Buchanan is an underwater Photographer and she writes for Wreck DIVING Magazine based in South Carolina in the United States of America. Ms Buchanan has been diving for 19 years and been Photographing for 17 years.
“This is a plane that obviously went down during the WWII either because it ran out of fuel or got shot.
However, that side of the story is yet to be determined but the lettering and the number on the side of the Plane were identified.
When this information is finalised and confirmed, then we can track the records to find out who the Pilot was and what happened,” Mr Boso said.
Mr Boso said that the dive probably took 45 minutes.
He added that his team went down and found the wreckage started clearing the sand away.
The current was helpful as it was just enough to clear the visibility around the wreckage in good time.
“I’m going to keep in touch with Dive Munda and hopefully they can help me figure out who the Pilot was and put the history together,” Boso said.
By MAENI COMFORT