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Scuba Diving in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
Dive Site: The Zero - Japanese fighter
Location: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
Description: Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane
Depth: 33 metres (108 feet)
Visibility: 30 metres + (100 feet)
The Mitsubishi A6M Zero Fighter is one of the best known aeroplane wreck dives done from Rabaul and is a Mitsubishi A6M3 Reisen aircraft, dived from Gazelle peninsula at Blanche bay beach to the north of Simpson Harbour. The beach itself is almost pure black sand and we reached our entry point by using a small truck to transport us and our gear right to the edge of the beach. There were local children playing on the beach who were intrigued by us and our equipment, particularly our dive torches. Once kitted up we walked into the ocean and slipped below the waves in no more than a metre of water and made our way down the dark sand slope.
Heading in a southerly direction the seabed was littered with blue starfish and the occasional sea cucumber. Further down the slope there was a marker rope which our guide followed no more than 100 metres to the zero fighter plane wreck in 33 metres of clear blue water. The plane was extremely intact with its starboard wing still attached and its port wing, although separated from the main fuselage still lying in perfect position (see attached drawing here on dive site directory). The three propeller blades are also intact and it would be easy to imagine firing up the engine and taxing up the sand slope before breaking through into the skies above. The open cockpit was home to sweepers and glassfish and a small white-lipped boxfish smiled back at me as I looked in at the instrumentation and the still intact control stick. Lots of small shrimps scurried about their business and a large moray near the tail section was peering out whilst having his mouth tended to by cleaner shrimp. The fuselage had orange and pink soft coral growing on it and the machine guns are clearly visible at the nose. With one final swim over the propeller we left the wreck we headed up a nearby section of reef and then back across the black sand slope until our heads broke the surface.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
A fantastic dive, look out for the porcupinefish who is blind in one eye and lives under the starboard wing. It is said that the pilot landed it on the seabed and walked to shore. Can be a shore or boat dive.
Mel Woolfe, dive supervisor
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