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  Ki-51 Sonia Manufacture Number ?  
73rd Dokuritsu
Dai Shijugo Chutai

Pilot ¬†Captain Kenji Shimada, C. O. 73rd IFR (MIA / KIA)
Observer  ? (MIA / KIA)
Crashed  July 28, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi. Unknown if this aircraft was a Ki-51A reconnaissance version or Ki-51B assault version. Assigned to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as Type 99 Assault/Recon Plane / Ki-51 Sonia manufacture number unknown.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 73rd Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai (73rd Independent Flying Regiment). This aircraft was painted with mottled green upper surfaces and gray lower surfaces. No known markings or tail code.

Mission History
On July 28, 1944 took off with another Ki-51 Sonia pilot Sgt Yokogi to search for a downed aircraft after escorting a convoy of ships transporting the Japanese Army 35th Division to Sorong. While returning to Amahai Airfield on Amahai Island near Ceram (Seram), the pair were intercepted by P-38 Lightnings from the 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron.

Attacked by the P-38s, both Sonias evaded their attacks until P-38 piloted by Lt Wade D. Lewis scored hits on the Ki-51 pilot Sgt Yokogi causing a fire and P-38 piloted by Lt. J. C. Haslip fired from the rear causing it to smoke and crash into the sea.

Alone, Ki-51 Sonia piloted by Shimada continue to evade the P-38 for thirty minutes. Meanwhile, P-38s from the 475th Fighter Group, 433rd Fighter Squadron heard the interception over the radio and searched for the Japanese plane to join the combat at 10:45am near Amahai Airfield. As they made a diving turn from 3,000' the P-38s scored hits that caused it to smoke.

Although hit, this Sonia made a violent left turn and was fired on by P-38 piloted by Captain Danforth "Danny" Miller who missed. Completing the turn, this Sonia dove towards P-38J piloted by Charles A. Lindbergh.

Flying head on, Lindbergh opened fire for six seconds and observed hits on the engine but it did not break off the attack forcing him to pull upward. Smoking, the Sonia performed a half roll and P-38 piloted by Lt. Joseph E. "Fishkiller" Miller opened fire scoring hits on one wing before it was observed to crash into the sea. Afterwads, this Sonia was credited to Lindbergh, his first and only aerial victory credit.

Note, other sources list the pilot's name as Saburo Shimada incorrectly.
Charles Lindbergh and the 475th Fighter Group

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Last Updated
July 28, 2019


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