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Freeman July 1944
|Pilot PO1c Kosuke Ono (survived)
Co-Pilot 飛 Kenji Toyama (survived)
Observer PO3c Kiyoshi Mikuni (survived)
Radio PO2c ? Sato (survived)
Radio 飛 Kazuo Hirano (survived)
Mechanic PO2c Ginji Okamoto (survived)
Mechanic PO2c Yoshi Uenishi (survived)
Ditched February 20, 1942 at 4:25pm
Northeast of Rabaul, the bomber formation attacked U. S. Navy (USN) Task Force 11 (TF 11) including USS Lexington CV-2. The bomber formation was intercepted by Lexington's Combat Air Patrol (CAF) of F4F Wildcats piloted from VF-3 including Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare who claimed five bombers shot down, plus heavy anti-aircraft fire from the warships. This bomber dropped two 250kg bombs aimed at USS Lexington CV-2, but both missed.
Returning, this damaged bomber was followed by an SBD Dauntless piloted by Allen from SB-2. His rear gunner Rountee fired his .30 caliber machine gun at the bomber and chased it for forty-five minutes, 150 miles westward.
Aboard Ono's Betty, the right engine was damaged, fuel tanks holed causing a fuel to leak. Two of the crew were killed during the attack. Damaged, this Betty reached Nuguria Atoll and ditched off Nugava Island at 4:25pm local time. Other Betty bombers witness the Betty ditch and noted the location as "Sugaaba Island".
In total, eighteen Betty bombers were shot down and two others crash landed, including this bomber. A total of 88 Japanese airmen were Missing In Action / Killed In Action on this mission. Also lost was G4M1 Betty Tail F-348 commanded by Ito.
Fates of the Crew
Reporting the wreck, PT-124 "Who Me?" was sent there during July 1944 with intelligence personnel from Air Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU). The team recovered documents from inside the wreck and photographed it, and noted no identification of crew losses was present.
Today, only a few pieces of wreckage remain visible.
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