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or 78th Sentai
Built by Kawasaki at Kagamigahara during July 1943. Uncoded serial number 279. Delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as Type 3 Fighter Hein / Ki-61-II Tony manufacture number 379. Armament configuration "Ko" with with 2 x 12.7mm Ho-103 machine cannons in the nose with 2 x 7.7mm Type 89 machine guns in the wings.
During the middle of 1943 flown from Japan to Boram Airfield near Wewak. Assigned to either the 68th Sentai or 78th Sentai. While operating in New Guinea, a green "snake weave" pattern was applied by spray gun to quickly camouflage the aircraft. The spinner was brown propeller blades with yellow stripes at the tip. The rear fuselage had a white vertical band for identification. No known tail code or aircraft number.
During late 1943 or early 1944, this Tony force landed into a mangrove swamp near Cape Wom (Wom Point). The landing causing only only minor damage to the starboard outer wing panel but was abandoned. Likely, the pilot survived the landing unhurt.
Until 1972, this aircraft remained in situ partially submerged in a mangrove swamp near Cape Wom (Wom Point).
During 1972, recovered by Roy Worcester by lifting the aircraft then floating it on a log raft then to Wewak where it was displayed at the Roy Worcester Historical Centre. Later, it was moved to the PNG War Museum.
Export & Display
During the early 1980s, this aircraft was purchased by Justin Hoisington and shipped to the United States and stored in a hanger at Chino Airport.
Bruce Hoy adds:
"The Worcester Tony was bought by Justin Hoisington in Chino, California. Hoisington is reported to also been the individual who disassembled Ki-61 Tony 640, and was only able to retrieve the tail section. While in the United States in 1985, I saw in Hoisington's hangar [at Chino Airport], the Worcester Tony and two tail units, one of which I am sure was off the Nuku Tony [Ki-61 Tony 640]."
Later, acquired by Kermit Weeks / Fantasy of Flight the fuselage was displayed at his Miami location, then moved to the new facility at Polk City and placed into storage. According to the museum website: "It will eventually be restored to flying condition".
Since 2005, the fuselage was transported to Precision Aerospace to use as a reference and to copy fittings to assist with the restoration of Ki-61 640. Presumably, the fuselage will be returned to Week afterwards. The wings remain at Fantasy of Flight in off site storage.
Production figures of the Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony by Jim Long
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks (1979) pages 11 (upper, middle, lower), 42 (lower)
Progress Bulletin Local News "Man Tries to Restore Japanese fighter" by Steve Adams September 4, 1984
Papua New Guinea (PNG) Public Accounts Committee (PAC) "Inquiry into the National Museum and Art Gallery and the Sale and Export of the Swamp Ghost Aircraft" Final Report, page 86 (Ki-61 Tony 379) 2006
Flight Journal "Return of the Swallow (Hein)" August 2013
"From the various 'Tony' airframes distributed around the PAP facility, the author was able to identify Kermit Weeks' Ki-61-1a (c/n 379)... Ki-61-1a (c/n 379) was manufactured during the first week of July 1943 and was also dispatched to New Guinea, where it force landed near Wom Point. It was recovered by Roy Worcester in 1973 and displayed as part of the Roy Worcester Historical Centre near Wewak before being donated to the PNG Museum. C/n 379 was subsequently sold to Kermit Weeks, who has supplied his airframe to assist in the restoration project."
Thanks to Fantasy of Flight and Jim Long for additional information
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