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L Spreadborough 1993
Christophe Rouziou 2006
|Pilot Lt(jg) Keizo Kondo (survived)
Co-Pilot PO1 Takeshi Takado (seriously wounded)
Observer CPO Kiyoshi Arai (survived)
Radio PO2 Morito Fujiwara (seriously wounded)
Mechanic CPO Toshinorii Irikura (slightly wounded)
Ditched December 28, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi, either a G3M2 Model 21, Model 22 or built by Nakajima as a G3M3. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the 701 Kōkūtai.
On December 28, 1942 at 7:30am took off from Vunakanau Airfield as the lead aircraft in a group of three bound for Munda Airfield to pickup fighter pilots of the 252nd Kōkūtai, and transport them back to their base at Kahili Airfield (Buin). Escorted by nine Zeros, the bombers flew over Buin at 9:45. Arriving at Munda Airfield at 10:45, the Nells began their landing course.
At the same time two P-39 Airacobras from the 70th Fighter Squadron led by Lt. Rex Barber with wingman 1st Lt. William Daggitt. They were flying a reconassiance patrol over the Munda at 9,000'. They observed Zeros orbiting at 13,000' and bombers below them at 1,000', prepairing to land.
While Daggitt made a feinting attack towards the Zeros, P-39 "Diabo" piloted by Lt. Rex Barber dove on the bombers and aimed at the leader. Barber began to fire, but found his Airacobra was sluggish, because he had forgoten to jettison his drop tank, and immediately released it. He observed hits and caused the engine to catch fire and crash into the sea off Munda Point. After only the one pass, the P-39s departed. Climbing away, Barber thought he saw F4U Corsairs, but they proved to be Zeros, but they did not intercept him. Returning to Henderson Field, Barber claimed one Nell shot down, his first victory. The shoot down had also been observed by a coastwatcher on Rendova and reported by radio.
During the attack, the engine was set on fire and three of the crew were wounded, two seriously. Pilot Kondo managed to successfully ditch, 30 meters from shore and the crew were able to exit the bomber and swim to shore.
Luke Spreadborough dove in 1993:
Justin Taylan dive this wreck in April 2006:
The nose and fuselage section are damaged from the ditching. No armament is present. The dive site has generally poor water visibility.
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