|Pilot Lt. Yatuka Iizuka (POW)
Co-Pilot A2C Junichiro Nakagawa
Reconnaissance PO1C Nakaichi Kato
Reconnaissance A2C Syuji Asada
Radio PO2C Kenzo Ysuke
Radio A1C Hiroshi Minamidate
Engineer PO2 Eijiro Kamibayashi
Force Landed September 10, 1942 at 12:00pm
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works, completed July 9, 1942. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the Misawa Kokutai. Tail code H-352. This aircraft operated from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.
On September 10, 1942 one of eleven Betty bombers from the Misawa Kokutai that took off from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul at 7:40am on a bombing mission against Guadalcanal. The formation passed Shortland at 9:20am and went on alert over the Russel Islands at 10:40am.
Over Guadalcanal, the formation released their bombs at roughly 11:10am. Five minutes later, the formation was intercepted by F4F Wildcats from VMF-223. During the combat, the left engine of this bomber was damaged, causing it to loose power.
At roughly noon, ditched or force landed into the shallow water of a mangrove swamp on the northwestern coast of New Georgia, near Menakasapa village. Six of the crew survived the force landing. The fate of the seventh crew member is unknown, he either died during the air combat over Guadalcanal or during the landing. When this bomber failed to return to base, it was officially declared missing and the crew listed as dead.
Fates of the Crew
The six surviving crew members were captured by local natives and a patrol from Gizo, along with two 7.7 machine guns from the aircraft, plus four ammunition drums, plus equipment and papers.
The prisoners were turned over to a coastwatcher and transported to Guadalcanal where they were detained and interrogated. Ultimate fate unknown, but presumed to to have survived the war in captivity and were repatriated to Japan after the war. Postwar, none of the crew members are known to have enrolled in the Cyu-ko Kai (medium bomber association).
The wreckage of this bomber was known since the crew were captured. After the American occupation of New Georgia, this bomber was investigated by U. S. Army Technical Air Intelligence Unit (ATIU) and dataplates were salvaged.
On February 10, 1944 a team from U. S. Army Technical Air Intelligence Unit (ATIU) including Sgt Frank Kubo disassembled the forward and rear fuselage, empennage and engines. With native laborers, the pieces were moved moved to shore. Each piece was loaded onto an improvised raft made of logs with the assistance of native people. Afterwards, the fuselage and engines were loaded onto a Landing Craft Tank (LCT) and shipped to Munda. Sometime afterwards, this aircraft crated for shipment to the United States for further analysis. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Kodochosho, Misawa Kōkūtai, September 10, 1942
ATIS report, Reserve Lt. Yatuka Iizuka May 1943
HQ 1st Marine Division, division intelligence section periodic report on enemy activity Solomons islands, less Guadalcanal 30 Sept 1942
"Gizo patrol assessed by local natives disarmed and captured six Japs, survivors of plane crash, taking two loaded MG's and four full drums, equipment and paper. Plane probably serial 10, stranded in shallow water near Menakasapa village, crew held by CW."
Japanese Aircraft Makers' Plates and Markings Report No. 68 "Life of Japanese Combat Airplanes," March 20 1945, page 15, 17
"No. 1365; date of assembly: 9 July 1942, Date of Crash: 10 Sep 1942 Months [of Life] 2; Place of Crash-Off NW Coast of New Georgia Is., Solomons."
Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report (CEAR) No. 48, "Information Based on Translations of Name Plates and Stencils from BETTY - Serial Number 1365,"
Reproductions and translations of about 44 nameplates and painted markings from No. 1365. None of the plates and markings are actually tied to airframe No. 1365, except for the nameplate from the fuselage fuel tank which bears the Manufacture Number 1365 with a date of completion of 7 June 1942.
Airpower Magazine Volume 24, No. 4 July 1994 "Spying Behind Japanese Lines with the Coastwatchers in the South Pacific"
by Michael Freeman
Air'Tell Research Report "G4M Serial Numbers" by Jim Long
Behind Enemy Lines includes photos of the salvage of this aircraft
Thanks to Yoji Sakaida, Richard Dunn and Jim Long for additional information
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June 29, 2019