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Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works during May 1943. At the factory, painted with green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as as Type 1 Attack Bomber / G4M1 Model 11 Betty manufacture number 2806.
Assigned to 705 Kōkūtai (705 Air Group). Tail code U-321. This Betty bomber flew missions in the Solomon Islands until abandoned at Ballale Airfield in a revetment on Ballale Island. A large bomb crater is present off the right wing. Neither engine is present, presumably removed during the war for repair or swap with another bomber.
This Betty remained in situ on at Ballale Airfield in a revetment on Ballale Island. This bomber was standing on its landing gear and rotted remains of the tires. Arguably, this Betty was one of the most impressive World War II wrecks that remained in the world. Pieces of the cowling of one engine are present, and the flap is still attached to the starboard wing. The wing lower Hinomaru (rising sun) is remarkably preserved on both wings. The top of the tail is missing with U-3?? (last two digits unknown). Sometime after 1977 a tree impacted the nose causing slight damage.
Justin Taylan visited in 2003:
"On the tail, only 'U-3' was visible, but previous visitors and records confirm this marking to be U-321 or U2-321."
During August 2018, this bomber was recovered by a foreign salvager and moved across Ballale Island to the beach to await export. Also salvaged was G4M1 Betty 1800 and G4M1 early model fuselage.
By late March 2020, the salvaged Japanese aircraft were shipped to Guadalcanal and unloaded at Renandi. Afterwards, moved to the Markwarth Collection / Solomon Islands War Museum (SIWM) at their storage area and former oil drum factory. The salvaged bomber was placed under partial cover and Kurt Markwarth and Anders (Jurgen) Markwarth instructed local laborers to wash the wreckage with high pressure water spray that likely removed any original paint and markings leaving a bare aluminum finish. The landing gear was serviced with new tires installed. Reportedly, this bomber is to be renovated for the Solomon Islands.
By late January 2021 the aircraft was displayed with a tail section attached, likely the tail of the G4M1 early model fuselage. Sometime prior, the bomber was repainted dark green but the paint failed to adhere properly and painted the leading edge of the wing yellow.
Air'Tell Research Report "G4M Serial Numbers" by Jim Long
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks (1979) pages 18 (lower), 39 (upper) 56 (upper)
Hostages To Freedom (1995) page 444
Charles Darby noted Manufacture Number and tail number in 1974
Thanks to William Bartsch, Charles Darby and Yoji Sakaida for additional information
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