Two airplane models that were hand-carved more than 60 years ago by the brother of an Imperial Japanese Navy fighter pilot have been presented to the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot.
Tim Alentiev, a pilot from Kent, Wash., and friend of Yukiko Tanakadate Howell, of Tacoma, Wash., who died Feb. 8, was in Minot this week for the July 4 activities at the air museum. He brought the models with him.
Howell, a native of Japan, was in Minot last summer and while here, visited the air museum where she climbed into the cockpit of the same model of the Zero fighter plane that her uncle flew with the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.
The plane, the only A6-M2 Model 21 still flying in the world, is owned by the Texas Flying Legends Museum based in Houston and displayed at the Minot musem for several weeks of the year.
One of the model planes that Alentiev presented to the museum is a Zero fighter plane similar to the one that Howell’s maternal uncle, Nobuo Konishi, was shot down in on June 30, 1943, over Rendova Island in the central Solomons and crashed. He was nearly 19 when he died.
The other model is a Mitsubishi J2M Raiden Thunderbolt, a plane also used by the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The models were carved in 1948 by Kazuo Konishi, who was eight years younger than his pilot brother, Alentiev said. He said Kazuo carved the models while in middle school as a hobby and with only pictures to go by.
Alentiev said the two models were shipped to Howell, who had a love for aviation, in the fall of 2012 by her uncle. She had accidentally dropped the box with the planes, resulting in some damage to the models but Doug Matuska, a Boeing engineer and friend of Howell’s, repaired them, Alentiev said.
After Howell’s death, Alentiev asked her uncle what he should do with the models.
“He wanted the Zero to go to the Dakota (Territory Air) Museum and offered me the other,” she said. But because the models are a set, Alentiev said they should go together and presented both to the air museum.
Howell had planned to visit Minot again this year. She also planned to represent the Zero plane during the air show at Oshkosh, Wis., this summer, said Warren Pietsch, a Minot pilot who is vice president of operations and chief pilot for the Texas Flying Legends Museum.
Glenn Blackaby, curator of of the air museum, said he plans to exhibit the models with the Zero plane in the new Flying Legends Wing, a new hangar that was dedicated July 4.