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11th Hiko Sentai
|Pilot W/O Tadashi Yoshitake (KIA, BR)
Crashed December 26, 1942
Built by Nakajima. Delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as Type 1 Fighter / Ki-43-I Oscar manufacture number unknown.
Assigned to the 11th Hiko Sentai (11th Flying Regiment). No known markings or tail code.
On December 26, 1942 took off from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul on a fighter sweep over Gona on the north coast of New Guinea. Over the target area, intercepted by Wirraway A20-103 piloted by P/O John S. Archer. This Oscar was hit by gunfire causing it to crash into the sea near shore. Yoshitake did not bail out and died on impact. This was the only incident when a Wirraway to managed to shoot down an enemy fighter, incorrectly claimed to be a "Zero".
After the crash, Australian Army troops reached the crash site and recovered the body of the pilot and intelligence material from the cockpit.
Recovery of Remains
Presumably, the pilot's body was buried at the Japanese cemetery at Gona.
NAA RAAF No. 4 Squadron Operations Record Book (ORB) - January 20, 1943 "20/1/43 – P/O J. S. Archer awarded the Silver Star (U.S.A.) for 'doing the impossible - shooting down a Zero [sic Ki-43] and brining home his observer and aircraft to tell the tale.'"
Army Signal message: "1145hrs RUSSEL and CARO observed Wirraway shoot down Zero. Zero fell in flames 600 yards east of CARO and 100 yards out from shore."
AWM "Extraordinary incident" by Roy Hodgkinson ART22743
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1932-1945 (2011) by Hata, Izawa and Shores pages 294 (Casualty List of JAAF Fighter Pilots - WO Tadashi Yoshitake 27/12/42 off Buna)
Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 85 Ki-43 'Oscar' Aces of World War 2 (2009) page 73
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February 18, 2020
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