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|Passenger Hiroyoshi Nishizawa (KIA)
Crashed October 26, 1944
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as G4M2 Model 12 Betty manufacture number unknown. Assigned to the 1021 Kōkūtai (1021 Air Group). No known markings or tail number.
On October 26, 1944 at 7:20am took off from Opon Airfield on Mactan Island off Cebu on a flight bound for Mabalacat East Airfield on Luzon. Aboard were pilots from the 201 Kōkūtai including that were flying being flown to the airfield then would fly replacement A6M5 Zeros back to Opon Airfield. Among the passengers was Hiroyoshi Nishizawa one of Japan's highest scoring ace.
Over Mindoro Island two F6F Hellcats from VF-14 aboard USS Wasp CV-18 intercepted this aircraft and Lt(jg) Harold P. Newell was credited with a "Ki-49 Helen over northeast of Mindoro". Damaged, this aircraft crashed into the sea off Calapan on the northeast tip of Mindoro Island.
There is a lingering question about the type of aircraft on this mission. Lt(jg) Harold P. Newell claimed the shoot down of a Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) Ki-49 Helen. Yet, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) 1021 Kokutai operated the G4M2 Model 12 Betty. Also it is possible this aircraft might have been a G6M1-L Betty (transport version). Also, there is a possibility their aircraft was an LD2 Tabby.
Henry Sakaida adds:
"Saburo Sakai writes in Samurai! that Nishizawa was in a DC-3 transport plane on 26 October 1944 and was shot down. This came from Cdr Tadashi Nakashima, who was there at Cebu. I checked for any DC-3 or transport plane claimed by USN on 26 October 1944 with Frank Olynyk’s USN, USMC, and USAAF Victory Credits book. Nothing! According to Japanese sources, Nishizawa’s plane went down around Calapan on the north end of Mindoro. Newell claimed a [Ki-49] Helen at the north end of Mindoro between 0800 - 0830. Another source says Nishizawa went down around Puerta Gallera, on the north end of Mindoro, not too far from Calapan. R.C. West and R.A. Taylor shot down a Helen at the middle of the east coast of Mindoro. So it looks like it was Newell and his wingman are the prime candidates for Nishizawa’s demise."
The wreckage of this aircraft has never been located. It is presumed to have crashed into deeper water off Calapan on the northeast tip of Mindoro Island.
There is some question over the type of aircraft lost on this mission.
Kodochosho, 1021 Kōkūtai, October 26, 1944 notes take off at 8:20am (Tokyo Time)
NARA Aircraft Action Report (AAR) VF-14 USS Wasp No. 146 October 26, 1944 pages 173-176
(Page 173) "V. Enemy aircraft destroyed or damaged in Air (by own aircraft listed in II only).
Type: HELEN / Type A/C: F6F-5 / Squadron: VF-14 / Pilot: Lt(jg) H. P. Newell / Guns used: 6 .50 cal. / where hit, angle: engs, wg rts., beam and astern / Damage claimed: Destroyed"
(Page 174) "X. Comparative Performance, Own And Enemy Aircraft: The Helens were not hard to catch. One was closed using 40" m.p., 2500 RPM, with 200 I.A.S. The other was chased for 4 miles and caught in 5 minutes, using 47" m.p., 2500 RPM, with 240 kn. I.A.S. (* at 5000') Their evasive maneuvers consisted of seeking cloud cover and making steep turns. Both burned quickly and no return fire was encountered."
Winged Samurai (1985) by Henry Sakaida pages 94-96 Tells the story of Nishizawa's shoot down, including Newell's recollections of the combat written to the author in 1983
Imperial Japanese Navy Aces 1937-45 (1998) by Henry Sakaida
Thanks to Tony Feredo and Henry Sakaida for additional information
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