Legend Flyers Zero Getting Close to Airworthiness

A6M3 Zero gets some sun at Legend Flyers after the massive Pratt & Whitney R-1830 was installed for the final time. (Photo- Legend Flyers)

It has been a little over five years since we reported HERE on the rebuild of Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero 3148. Bob Hammer’s Legend Flyers, located at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, are finally nearing the end of this arduous restoration project.  “It’s taking a long time to do this restoration the right way, always keeping safety in mind first,” Bob Hammer noted. “There’s just so many damn parts,” he continued, while demonstrating the intricate array of hand-built cowl flaps that are now installed and ready to regulate heat in the Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 engine which Hammer has chosen to power the aircraft.

The Zero has come a long way since it was taken on by Legend Flyers. It’s easy to see why Bob Hammer says it is a complicated airplane to restore. (Photo- Gordon Page)

After nearly thirty years of waiting since John Sterling recovered the Imperial Japanese Navy fighter from the Pacific island of Taroa, the A6M3 Zero is in the final stages of systems installation. Landing gear swings have recently been completed, and Legend Flyers hopes to begin engine runs soon, which will then lead to flight tests for FAA Airworthiness Certification.

Legend Flyers has carefully researched and painted their Zero in authentic colors, with the aircraft code ‘S-112’ on her tail. Adding to her authenticity, stenciling on the fuselage sides reveals that this Zero received sponsorship in WWII from the children of the Manchurian Middle Schools.

A6M3 Zero is in the final stages of restoration at Legend Flyers, Everett, WA. Gear swings have been completed and final systems installations are nearing completion. (Photo- Gordon Page)

WarbirdsNews first reported on this aircraft, albeit tangentially, in 2014 with our wonderful story by aviation artist Ron Cole entitled ‘Tale of a Zero‘ describing his commission to create a painting of this Zero as she would have looked back in WWII.

“We’re doing this restoration to exacting standards, and that takes time,” said Hammer. “We could have built two flying Me 262s in the time it has taken to build the Zero,” he added. Legend Flyers, like the rest of the World, has faced the challenges associated with COVID-19, but they have found ways to keep the Zero restoration safely on track. “It’s close,” says Hammer. “It has taken way longer than we thought, but we don’t have an entire country to help us build one,” he added with a wink.

With a first flight expected to occur in the near future, this rare example of a Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero is now offered for sale. Interested parties should contact Gordon Page of Air Assets International (gpage@airassets.com) for more information, or to schedule a private showing.


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