10th FEBRUARY 2011

I don’t think Ralph’s missed a day out on Rods boat yet…..even with an infected coral cut that he doesn’t want to get wet he’s been on-board operating the dredger while others have been below water.

Rod has a little extra help right at the moment… and we have new neighbours. A young French couple Michael and Marie with their 2 young children on the yacht Ilo, have joined the race to free the Zero from its muddy grave. Well actually, more Michael than Marie as Marie is the babysitter whilst Michael is playing with Japanese plane wrecks.

They are a fascinating couple. They have been sailing for the last 7 years, leaving France for Africa, then South America, sailing 2000 miles down the Amazon River, whilst having children along the way…one in Columbia and the other in New Caledonia…quite the adventurers. Michael is an artist and photographer so he’s got some amazing images of his travels preserved for commercial posterity. I believe he occasionally returns to France for an exhibition and sells quite a bit of his work…what a life eh!

But I digress…. I should return to the Zero and explain a little of what has been going on.

The primary task at hand is to clear enough silt and ash from around the plane to aid in its identification. Once identified it is likely to be moved and potentially even raised and restored, however this depends on its condition and whether the Japanese government consider it of significant importance to finance it. To identify it, it must be cleared a little, as it is upside down, which means that many of the serial numbers etc. are sitting in the silt and as such require a little hard yakka to clear it all away.

So far we have managed to establish that it is a 1942 model 32 Zero ACM6, serial chassis number 3013, however this doesn’t give the identity of the pilot or the squadron he flew with so currently we’re dredging away at the tail to see if we can uncover any identifying marks there.

As of today it looks as if the tail is free (bit hard to tell when the water is full of silt) and the wings are almost free enough to swim under, but the cockpit remains submerged in mud…. Now we’ll simply wait for the silt to settle and a suitable camera to be able to see if any tail numbers remain.