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3rd Dokuritsu Chutai
Built by Mitsubishi. Delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as Type 97 Heavy Bomber / Ki-21 Sally manufacture number unknown. The fuselage Hinomaru (Rising Sun) had a 75mm white border. The rear fuselage had a white vertical stripe.
Assigned to the 3rd Dokuritsu Chutai (Independent Squadron) under the command of Captain Chuichi Suwabe. Tail Number 546 painted in white and above were three horizontal red stripes with white edges painted on the rudder. The upper surfaces of the fuselage and both wings had green splotches spray painted in a mottled pattern.
On May 24, 1945 took off on a night mission to crash land at Yontan Airfieyld on Okinawa. Aboard were Japanese Army soldiers from the Giretsu Special Attack Unit on a suicide mission to destroy parked American aircraft and cause as much damage as possible on a suicide commando raid.
Between 8:00pm to 10:00pm other Japanese aircraft made a diversionary bombing raid against Okinawa to confuse U. S. defenses. Meanwhile, this Ki-21 made a successful wheels up landing on the runway at Yontan Airfield. While skidding, the left engine nacelle tore off behind the bomber rear and the nose perspex fell off.
After skidding to a halt, approximately eight to ten commandos exited the bomber and began their suicide commando raid destroying nine parked aircraft and damaged twenty-nine others at Yontan Airfield. They also managed to set fire to 70,000 gallons of fuel causing a huge fire that was visible miles away. By dawn, each commando was killed by defending American personnel.
On May 25, 1945 the wreckage of this bomber was photographed where it crash landed on the runway at Yontan Airfield. Afterwards, the U. S. Navy 87th Naval Construction Battalion (87th NCB) "Seabees" personnel used a pair of cranes to lift the bomber and tow it off the runway. Afterwards, American personnel began removing pieces of aluminum from the wreckage as souvenirs. The ultimate fate of this bomber is unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
Production Record for the Type 97 Heavy Bomber (Ki-21) (Sally) by James Long
The Earthmovers 1943-1945 pages 266-267
Emblems of the Rising Sun page 61
Setting Suns page 13 (lower photo)
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