Japanese Side of Neel Kearby Mission
Research by Richard Dunn
American Air Activity
March 5, 1944
to a mission summary in an intel report the 3 P-47s were
over Wewak at 1715L (means L time zone not "local").
They encountered 3 NELLS, 8 TONYS and 4 OSCARS. They
shot down 3 NELLS and only one OSCAR engaged and that
was also shot down. In addition to Kearby's flight there
was an earlier sweep by 2 P-38s (Lynch and Bong) around
1330. They claimed two Oscars plus two others damaged.
They shot down Lt. Hakao Miyamoto and damaged two other
Type 1 fighters of 77th FR. The Japanese recorded this
combat as around 1110 (would be Tokyo time zone
I). There were two P-40 sweeps in the morning and afternoon.
They reported encountering singles or small formations
that did not engage.
Japanese Air Activity March 5, 1944
On the Japanese side the day started with a big effort
involving all fighter formations (except the 248th).
They flew a patrol Wewak-Hansa-Umboi Island. Alexishafen
and back to But. It was the tail end of this mission
in which the P-38 combat occurred. Around 1120 4 Type
3 fighters engaged and claimed 2 P-38s (probably an
encounter with Bong and Lynch). Four other Type 3 fighters
flew and air patrol 1600-1800 apparently without incident. This covers all the
Japanese air activity as recorded by the 4th Air Army intelligence report for
the period except for Kearby's action.
Kearby Action, Japanese Side
Kearby's action occurred
at 1524 (=1724L) and according to the Japanese involved
four P-47s. [In fact, there were only three P-47s, with Kearby piloting P-47D "Fiery Ginger IV" 42-22668 ] The Japanese had 4 Type 99 light bombers of 208
Sentai and 5 Type 1 fighters of "33 FR." They
claimed 2 P-47s and lost 2 bombers shot down and 1 "sank."
the translated ops record of the 77th FR the translated
operations record shows that in their third mission
of the day they launched 5 fighters and claimed 2 P-47s.
Unfortunately there is no op order to show why this
mission was launched nor its exact time and the mission
report says no more than what I've related. Still it suggests "33FR" in
the 4th Air Army intel summary is a typo.
While I have a pretty detailed
translation of 33rd Sentai ops record unfortunately
it does not start until March 8th despite the fact that they
were flying missions (per 4th Air Army) at least by
March 1st (probably an advanced echelon at Wewak). However,
that first entry for the 8th contains a very intriguing
entry: "The other day [presumably some day prior
to the 8th] Sgt-Maj Kumagaya of 3 Squadron sighted one
P-47 at 4,500 m on a westerly course and pursued it.
He definitely shot it down with one burst." I cannot
identify this combat or claim in the 4th Air Army summary.
Was Kumagaya involved in the Kearby combat of the 5th
which 4th Air Army says involved the 33rd?
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