Japanese Aircraft from World War II Found off Coast of Kuril Islands

Stock image of a A6M-Zero
Stock image of a A6M-Zero

The  Russian Geographical Society (RGO) and the Russian Defense Ministry found a Japanese World War II aircraft during a joint expedition to the Kuril Islands. The plane was found off the coast of Dvoynaya Bay on Matua Island.

The expedition consisted of six vessels which left Vladivostok on May 7 and arrived at Matua Island on May 14. Besides the Defense Ministry and the RGO, members of the Eastern Military District and the Pacific Fleet participated.

“A fairly well-preserved fuselage with wings makes it possible to suggest that it was a WWII fighter Mitsubishi Zero that was part of a squadron located on the island. Hieroglyphs are clearly seen on the chassis components. The aircraft was manufactured in 1942 and has a serial number 1733,” said Colonel Alexander Gordeyev, head of the press service for the Eastern Military District.

When the Zero was introduced early in World War II, it was considered the most capable carrier-based fighter in the world, combining very long range with excellent maneuverability. The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service also often used the type as a land-based fighter.

The data found makes it possible to determine the crew and the plane’s route. The preparations for raising the aircraft and examining it are already underway.

The area is being prepared for the vessel’s arrival at the islands and the possibility of constructing mooring berths. Divers are exploring the gulfs, bays, and underwater objects near the islands.

During the final year of the War in the Pacific, the Zero was also adapted for use in kamikaze operations. During WW2 the Zero was the most-produced plane in Japan.

No pictures of the wreck have been released yet.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE