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D3A2 Val crew members lost December 15-27, 1943
Research by Justin Taylan

Between December 15–31, 1943, twenty D3A2 Val dive bombers from 582 Kokutai and the 552 Kokutai were lost attacking the Arawe (Cape Mercus) area during dive bombing missions. On land and in the sea at Arawe, many D3A2 Val wrecks have been found on land and in the sea. The crews of these crashed aircraft are one of these losses. Sadly, the Kodochosho (action report) for both units do not list the manufacture number or tail number of any of the dive bombers, only the crew names. Therefore, it is impossible to link these known wrecks with a specific crew.

Known D3A2 Val Crash Sites
At least eight D3A2 Val crash sites have been located in the sea or on land in the vicinity of Arawe

1) D3A2 Val off Arawe  discovered 2001, remains of the crew recovered 2010
2) D3A2 Val crashed Wako
3) D3A2 Val crashed Angap Island
4) D3A2 Val 1520
5) D3A2 Val 3487
6) D3A2 Val 3450
7) D3A2 Val 3373
8) D3A2 Val 3179

Known D3A2 Val Missions and Losses
List of missions flown by D3A2 Vals againt Arawe and losses according to Kodochosho (action report):

December 15, 1943
Mission #1: 7 x D3A2 Vals from the 582 Kokutai attack Mercus at 7:30am local time.

582nd Kokutai
Val MIA (PO1 ?, PO2 Hotta)
Val MIA (LS Nishiki Ori, PO1 Saito)
Total = 2

December 17, 1943
Mission #2: 12 x D3A2 Vals from the 582nd Kokutai plus D3A2 Vals from the 552 Kokutai bomb Mercus at 7:06am local time, claiming damage to one small cargo ship, 1 sea tiger and an LVCP sunk. Plus, one small and one sea tiger burning. Also, one "P-43" [sic] shot down. Over the target, three Vals are lost. They report the American forces as APC 21, YMS 50, SC743 and 4 LSTs.

582nd Kokutai
Val MIA (PO1 Okata, PO1 Kitaso)
Val MIA (PO1 Matsuo, PO1 Hadno)
Val MIA (PO1 Kai, PO1 Oshikiki (?)
Total = 3

December 21, 1943 (first sortie)
Mission #3: 32 x D3A2 Vals (12 x 582nd Kokutai plus 20 x 552nd Koktuai) attack Mercus between 10:55am until 11:08 and are intercepted by P-38 Lightnings.

552nd Kokutai: 3 Vals MIA
D3A2 Val pilot PO1 Ternuma, PO1 Daicku
D3A2 Val pilot PO1 Yoshida, PO1 Monita
D3A2 Val pilot CPO Muro, PO1 Yasumori
582nd Kokutai: 1 Val MIA
D3A2 Val pilot Val PO2 Onishi, LS Wakamitsu
Total = 4

December 21, 1943 (second sortie)
Mission #4: 18 x D3A2 Vals (9 x 552nd Kokutai and 9 x 582nd Kokutai) attack Mercus at 3:45pm and calim 3 small transports sunk, 2 x LCT sea tigers sunk and ten small vessels burned, one large transport and part of the base destroyed. 20 x "F6F" and P-40s intercept.

552nd Kokutai
D3A2 Val pilot PO1 Honda, PO1 Tashiro
Total = 1

December 26, 1943
Mission #5: Japanese D3A2 Vals (15 x 582 Kokutai and 12 x 552 Kokutai) attack shipping off Mercus.
552nd Kokutai Vals attacked a small vessel near Piriu Island
582nd Kokutai Vals claim 2 big cargo ships, 2 cruisers, 3 large cargo ships burning

552nd Kokutai
D3A2 Val pilot LS Numao, PO1 Saruwairi **
582nd Kokutai
Val MIA (WO Okita, Lt Shimizu)
Val MIA ( PO1 Taniguchi, PO1 Ogawa)
Val MIA (PO1 Maeda, PO1 Sugimoto)
Val MIA (PO2 Uchida, LS Sato)
Total losses = 5

December 27, 1943
Mission #6: 17 D3A2 Vals (8 x 582 Kokutai, two abort plus 9 x 552 Kokutai) attack shipping off Mercus escorted by 40+ Zeros. Over the target, three Vals are lost.

552nd Kokutai
D3A2 Val pilot Ishisugi
582nd Kokutai
D3A2 Val pilot FPO 1/C NISHIGAMI Juro, obs FPO 1/c SAITO Yoshio)
D3A2 Val pilot CF NAKAJIMA Saburo, obs FPO 1/c NADA Hideo)
Total = 3

At Close Quarters
page 217 might describe one of these three Val losses:
"[December 27, 1943 Aboard PT-100 TM3C Stephen P.] LeFebver scrambled back to his gun and opened fire on a plane off the port quarter, following it around to the starboard bow. The plane caught fire, and crashed ashore."

December 29, 1943
Mission #7: 17 Vals attack (9 x 582nd Kokutai, 8 x 552nd Kokutai) attack Mercus and claim two PT Boats sunk and enemy base on island burned, attacking at 7:50pm.

**** CHECK 552 and 582 and losses ****

Val observed to crash (PO1 Nishigayhira, PO1 Saito) ***
Val MIA (LS Nakashima, PO1 Harada)
Total = 2

Decemeber 31, 1943
Mission #8: 9 x Val attack Mercus at 13:15 and meet 30 fighters and claim cargo ships sunk.

**** CHECK how many planes from 552 and 582 and losses ****

Val MIA (PO1 Nishihaka, WO Tajima)
Val MIA (PO1 Shimizu, PO1 Yamano)
Val MIA (PO1 Nada, PO1 Mikuno)
Val MIA (Shainya (?), CPO Fukime
Total = 4


** These two losses have probablily of being lost in the sea, but any of these losses could have crashed into the sea.
Kodochosho, 552nd Kōkūtai, December 17-31, 1943
Kodochosho, 582nd Kōkūtai, December 15-31, 1943
Thanks to Minoru Kamada and Osamu Tagaya for additional information

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