|Pilot PO1c Tooru Oshima (KIA)
Crashed May 14, 1942
Built by either Mitsubishi or Nakajima. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the Tainan Kōkūtai. Tail code V-???, last three digits unknown.
On May 14, 1942 took off from Lakunai Airfield at Rabaul on a mission against Port Moresby. Over Port Moresby, the Zeros were engaged by P-39 Airacobras from the 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron.
This Zero was intercepted by P-39 Airacobra piloted by Brown who opened fire for for a second before his left wing collided with this Zero's tail. The collision damaged the tail, rudder and stabilizer causing the Zero to go into a tight spiral to the right and crashed into the ground, killing pilot Oshima in the crash.
This Zero crashed into jungle somewhere near 7-Mile Drome. Later, Australian Army soldiers took a piece of the Zero embedded into the left wingtip of P-39 Airacobra piloted by Brown into a match box and presented to 1st Lt. Paul G. Brown as a souvenir.
This aircraft might have been A6M2 Zero 641 crashed at "Wirraway Valley" and investigated by Allied Technical Inteligence Unit (ATIU) and designated "AD 7" estimated to have crashed May 12, 1942. This estimated date of crash is incorrect, as the Japanese lost no Zeros over Port Moresby. Two Zero losses over Port Moresby are possibilities: A6M2 Zero piloted by Honda crashed May 13, 1942 or this aircraft. Both aircraft were lost during that timeframe.
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai, May 14, 1942
36th Figher Squadron Diary - May 14, 1942
Winged Samurai "Tainan Kōkūtai Pilot Casualties" page 88
"Zero Lost - Zero Found" by Robert Piper April 2017 pages 34-35
"Latter-day Japanese records, copies of which are held in (of all places) Australia and the United States, have confirmed that Petty Officer Oshima was the only Zero airman lost that day. Both the American and Australian air forces have considerable interest in this incident as they are keen to assess the strength of the legendary light Zero against their frontline and heavier, less-nimble American-made fighters. However, there is more to this story. Newly-promoted American Captain Brown from Chicago – who had the mid- air collision with Petty Officer Oshima’s Zero – also became a tragedy of war. He disappeared on a lone and short ferry flight in another Airacobra between Townsville and Mareeba, inland from Cairns, on September 25, 1942. His aircraft is yet to be found. It is a rare coincidence that I have photos of both airmen to provide with this story. Oshima’s photo was provided many years ago by his pilot school classmate in Japan, Kuzuyoshi Toyota."
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis
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February 14, 2020