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U.S. Army ATIU
February 10, 1944
|Pilot Lt. Yatuka Iizuka (POW)
Co-Pilot A2C Junichiro Nakagawa (POW)
Reconnaissance PO1C Nakaichi Kato (POW)
Reconnaissance A2C Syuji Asada (POW)
Radio PO2C Kenzo Ysuke (POW)
Radio A1C Hiroshi Minamidate (POW)
Engineer PO2 Eijiro Kamibayashi (POW)
Force Landed September 10, 1942 at 12:00pm
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works completed July 9, 1942. At the factory, painted with dark green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces with the upper portion of the nose and inside of each engine cowling painted black. The leading edge of the wing was painted with a yellow identification stripe. The fuselage Hinomaru (Rising Sun) was outline with a white border. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 1 Attack Bomber Hamaki / G4M Betty manufacture number 1365. Assigned to the Misawa Kōkūtai (Misawa Air Group). Tail code H-352. This Betty operated from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.
On September 10, 1942 at 7:40am took off from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul piloted by Lt. Yatuka Iizuka as one of eleven Bettys on a bombing mission against Guadalcanal. At 9:20am the formation passed Shortland and went on alert at 10:40am over the Russel Islands.
At roughly 11:10am over Guadalcanal, the formation dropped their bombs. Five minutes later, intercepted by F4F Wildcats from Marine Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF-223). During the combat, this bomber was damaged in the left engine, causing it to loose power.
At roughly noon, ditched or force landed into the shallow water of a mangrove swamp near Menakasapa village on the northwestern coast of New Georgia. 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 surviving crew members were captured by locals with a patrol from Gizo. The Japanese were captured with two 7.7 machine guns from the aircraft, four ammunition drums, equipment and papers. The prisoners were turned over to a coastwatcher then transported to Guadalcanal where they were detained and interrogated. Ultimate fate unknown, but presumed to to have survived the Pacific War in captivity then were repatriated to Japan. Postwar, none of the crew members are known to have enrolled in the Cyu-ko Kai (medium bomber association).
This Betty force ditched or force landed into the shallow water of a mangrove swamp near Menakasapa village on the northwestern coast of New Georgia. The presence of this bomber was known when the crew were captured. After the American occupation of New Georgia, this bomber was investigated by Allied Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU) and dataplates were removed for identification purposes.
On February 10, 1944 a team from Allied Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU) including Sgt Frank Kubo disassembled the fuselage into the forward and rear halves and removed the tail and empennage. Both wings were removed and the engines from the nacelles. With local laborers, each piece was floated on improvised rafts made of logs and floated along the coast. Afterwards, the fuselage and engines were loaded onto a landing barge and shipped to Munda.
Sometime afterwards, this Betty was crated for shipment to the United States for further analysis. Information gleaned from this bomber revealed an improved Betty with four 20mm cannons and a single 13mm machine gun, improved engines, revised seating in the nose for a navigator and radar operator or bombardier. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Air'Tell Research Report "G4M Serial Numbers" by Jim Long
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
Behind Enemy Lines (1997) includes photos of the salvage of this aircraft
Thanks to Yoji Sakaida, Richard Dunn and Jim Long for additional information
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July 6, 2021
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