From Zero to hero

The WWII Japanese Zero fuel drop-tank now on display outside the Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-branch

The WWII Japanese Zero fuel drop-tank now on display outside the Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-branch

A FUEL drop-tank from a WWII Japanese fighter plane recovered from the bush near Darwin has been added to the Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-branch museum collection.

The battered tank, which is in exactly the same condition in which it was found, is displayed next to the Bofors anti-aircraft gun in front to of the sub-branch hall in York lane.

Museum curator Ken Hills said the tank, which gives the plane extra range but is dropped once it is empty, was generously donated to the sub-branch by a member of the community.

“It was found by the father of the man who donated it to us in the bush outside Darwin and the condition it is in now is exactly as it was found more than 60 years ago,” he said.

Japanese planes flying from land bases and aircraft carriers attacked northern Australia nearly 100 times between February 1942 and November 1943, including 64 raids on Darwin alone.

More than 900 military personnel and civilians were killed in the raids which cost the Japanese 131 aircraft lost.

Mr Hills said the tanks are not as rare as you might think.

“With so many raids on Darwin there were a lot of aircraft involved and a lot of tanks were dropped,’ he said.

“One of the reasons why there are a few around is the Japanese didn’t always attack Darwin from the sea which would have the tanks being dropped in the water, often they would circle around and mount a surprise attack from the south.

“This meant the tanks were dropped over land and a lot of them have been recovered.

“The museum in Darwin already has several and they didn’t want another one so we were lucky enough to get it.”

The sub-branch would like to thank H.F Hand engineering who fabricated all the brackets and fittings necessary to display the tank.

If anyone has any military memorabilia from any conflict involving any branch of the Australian Defence Force that they would like to donate to the Kempsey-Macleay RSL sub-branch please call the branch office on 6563 1010.

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