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|Pilot Lt(jg) Genkichi Oishi (MIA / KIA)
Crashed March 14, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number unknown (four digits).
Assigned to the 4th Kokutai (4th Air Group). Tail code F-??? (three digits unknown).
On March 14, 1942 took off from Lae Airfield piloted by Lt(jg) Genkichi Oishi on an escort mission to protect G4M1 Bettys bombing Horn Island at 11:25am. This Zero was the third aircraft of the chutai, in a three plane formation, along with Tooru Oshima and Kazuichi Miya.
Over the target, the Zeros were engaged by four P-40E Warhawks. This Zero opened fire on a P-40E piloted by Captain Robert L. Morrissey and was attacked by P-40E "Poopy" piloted by 2nd Lt. A. T. House, whose guns failed to fire and deliberately rammed the Zero. Oishi began firing, then stopped and began pulling away before the collision. On impact, this Zero exploded and spiraled into the sea. The P-40 was damaged but managed to land safely at Horn Island Airfield after three landing attempts.
Lt. A. T. House report adds:
"I continued my course directly at the enemy aircraft, expecting to get his fuselage in the heavy part of my wing. He started firing, but must have observed my approach and changed course. I continued to dive and the leading edge of my right wing went through his fuselage approx. in the middle of the canopy. I went to ram the plane, the wing went through the canopy and blew it up. There were pieces on fire and falling everywhere. My plane started falling and flipping over. The oxygen mask had me blinded for a while."
The crash site of this Zero is unknown. On January 28, 1997 the Courier Mail (Brisbane) claimed a Zero was found by Arthur Seekee "relatively intact... near Thursday Island" and believed to be one of two shot down.
Courier Mail (Brisbane) "Relic Found Relic found: A Japanese fighter plane" January 28, 1997:
"Relic found: A Japanese fighter plane shot down in World War II in Torres Strait has been found relatively intact 55 years later. The Mitsubishi Zero was discovered near Thursday Island. Arthur Seekee, manager of a tourist resort on nearby Horn Island, said it appeared to be in good condition. Mr. Seekee, who dived on the aircraft, said there was no evidence of human remains in the cockpit area. The aircraft is believed to be one of two shot down by American P-40 Kittyhawks in 1942 during a Japanese raid on an airfield and military installations on Horn Island."
Horn Island (2002) pages 17, 19, 21
Thanks to A. T. House for additional information
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March 18, 2021
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