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May 18, 1942
|Pilot FPO1c Chiharu Oyama (KIA)
Crashed May 18, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 1 Attack Bomber Hamaki / G4M1 Model 11 Betty manufacture number unknown.
Assigned to the 4th Kōkūtai (4th Air Group). Tail code F-??? (last three digits unknown) likely F-355.
On May 18, 1942 took off from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul piloted by FPO1c Chiharu Oyama armed with 60kg bombs as one of sixteen Bettys led by Lt. Commander Hatsuhiko Watanabe on a bombing mission against 7 Mile Drome near Port Moresby. This bomber was part of the 2nd Shotai, 2nd Chutai. The formation was escorted by A6M2 Zeros from the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group).
Over the target, the Bettys released their bombs over 7 Mile Drome hitting the northwest end of the runway and dispersal area damaging water supplies, telephone lines, tents, a mess hall and two trucks from the Australian Army 17th anti-tank regiment, C Troop.
After the bomb run, the bombers were intercepted by Airacobras from the 8th Fighter Group (8th FG), 35th Fighter Squadron (35th FS) and 36th Fighter Squadron (36th FS). This bomber was hit by gunfire causing it to catch fire and explode in mid air then crash near Port Moresby. Afterwards escorting A6M2 Zeros intercepted the Airacobras.
That same day, the crash site was investigated by soldiers from the Australian Army 53rd Militia Battalion. At the crash site, they salvaged radio equipment, the instrument panel and 20mm cannon. They also recovered the bodies of four of the crew and transported them to Port Moresby for burial, likely at Bomana Cemetery.
COIC Intell Resume to 1100K/19/5/42 May.
“One T99 heavy bomber [sic Type 1] shot down [by P-39's] and burnt in air.”
“Further to Raid 52 on 18.5.42. Two more Jap bodies were found by 53rd Bn. in vicinity where Jap bomber crashed in flames.”
Kodochosho, 4th Kōkūtai, May 18, 1942
AWM 52-1-5-51-014 pages 6-9
Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko 'Betty' Units of World War 2 page 41
Eagles of the Southern Sky pages 139-140
Thanks to Edward Rogers for additional information
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May 16, 2021
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