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USAAF August 19, 1945
USAAF August 20, 1945
USAAF August 20, 1945
Sakaida August 21, 2018
|Co-Pilot Rinpei Komai (survived)
Ditched August 21, 1945 after midnight
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as G6M1-L Betty manufacture number unknown. Assigned to the Yokosuka Kokutai (Yokosuka Air Group) at Yokosuka Airfield. No known tail code or markings.
On August 15, 1945 after the surrender of Japan, General MacArthur instructed the Japanese to send emissaries to Manila for a meeting scheduled for August 17, 1945 to arrange the official surrender of Japan and bring all defensive plans. Japanese Army Chief of Staff Yoshijirō Umezu refused to participate and delegated the task to Lt. General Torashirō Kawabe who then picked fifteen of his staff staff to accompany him. Due to delays, the meeting was rescheduled to August 19, 1945.
After the capitulation of Japan, this aircraft was painted in accordance with the terms of surrender for aircraft overall white with green crosses. Initially, larger crosses were painted on the upper surfaces of the wings and each side of the tail, mistakenly painted too large. These were over painted (but visible through the white paint). Two slightly smaller green crosses were painted over top on the upper wings and tail.
On August 19, 1945 took off from Yokosuka Airfield for a brief flight to the northeast landing at Kisarazu Airfield where it embarked the Japanese surrender delegation and took off again with G4M1 Betty "Bataan 2" with the pair flying southwest to Ie Shima Airfield. The pair were to rendezvoused with U. S. aircraft at 11:00am over Sata Misaki on the southern tip of Kyūshū between 6,000' to 9,000'.
Meanwhile, at Ie Shima Airfield six B-25J Mitchells from the 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) "Air Apaches" took off in pairs to meet them. The lead pair included B-25J "Betty's Dream" 44-30934 pilot Lt. Col. Doolittle and B-25J piloted by Major Thomas R. Bazzel but failed to spot them. The next pair B-25J pilot Major Jack C. McClure, Jr. and B-25 pilot Major Wendell D. Decker loitered over Suwanosejima and were the spot the Bettys. The last pair B-25J pilot Major Robert F. Todd and B-25J pilot Major Thomas D. Giese remained over Ie Shima.
After spotting the Bettys, the B-25s were able to hail them over the radio and joined formation. Top cover was provided by P-38L Lightnings from the 80th Fighter Squadron (80th FS) "The Headhunters". At one point, the Bettys were flying slightly off course and B-25J pilot Major Jack C. McClure, Jr. took the lead to direct to guide them back to the correct course.
At 12:40pm the first Betty landed at Ie Shima Airfield but had not fully lower its flaps causing it to bounce hard followed by the second Betty. On the ground, a large group of American personnel including press had gathered to witness their arrival. The Japanese delegation were escorted by Military Police (M.P.) to a waiting C-54E Skymaster 44-9045 and flown to Manila to meet with with General Douglas MacArthur's staff. Meanwhile, both Bettys were parked at Ie Shima Airfield and their air crews waited for the delegation to return.
On August 20, 1945 after the meeting, the Japanese delegation returned to Ie Shima Airfield in the afternoon and boarded the Bettys for the return flight back to Japan. While taxiing, G4M1 Betty "Bataan 2" slipped off the runway damaging a wheel and required minor repairs. Five air crew with Col. Masao Matsuda remained behind to make the repairs that were completed while the other boarded this Betty for the return flight.
At 6:40pm took off from Ie Shima Airfield for flight back to Tokyo. Outbound, this Betty was again escorted by a pair of B-25J Mitchells from the 345th Bombardment Group (345th BG) to a point 55 miles to the north then departed. During the return flight, this Betty developed a fuel shortage due to a fuel leak or because of an error in the conversion of U. S. gallon to liter when U. S. personnel provided fuel for the return leg of the journey.
On August 21, 1945 after midnight, low on fuel ditched into shallow water at Low on fuel, this bomber ditched off Samejima on the southern coast of Honshu roughly 130 miles southwest of Tokyo. Everyone aboard survived the ditching unhurt.
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, the crew and passengers waded ashore assisted by local fisherman. Next, they boarded a passenger train to Tokyo arriving later in the morning to deliver the surrender information.
A historical marker is located near the ditching location at Samejima that describes the ditching with a rendering of the Betty ditched with the crew and passengers aided ashore.
Co-pilot Rinpei Komai was alive in 2000 living in retirement then moved to a elder care facility.
The call sign of this Betty is listed as both "Bataan 1" and "Bataan I" (Roman numeral I) in some sources.
Warpath Across the Pacific (1996) pages 355-358
The Eight Ballers Eyes of the Fifth Air Force (1999) page 183 (photo)
Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko 'Betty' Units of WWII (2001) pages 98-100
Thanks to Yoji Sakaida for additional information
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September 12, 2020
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