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Hiryu BII-124 Lost 19 February 1942

Posted: Thu May 22, 2014 7:53 am
by PF

Re: Hiryu BII-124 Lost 19 February 1942

Posted: Sun Jul 27, 2014 1:23 am
by Boba
In response to Peter Dunn's request on his Ozatwar site for assistance in clarifying the loss of A6M2 BII-124 perhaps the following may assist in confirming the Japanese losses over Darwin on 19 February 1942. The text below is an edited version of a manuscript I prepared based on a range of sources, including Japanese documentation.

Trust it helps.


Bob Alford
Lampang THailand

"Of the 188 Japanese aircraft involved in the initial raid, seven losses were admitted to by the attack leader, Cdr Mitsuo Fuchida. Only two Japanese aircraft have been confirmed as lost as a result of action over Darwin that day, whilst a further Val and a Zeke ditched on return to the carriers.

"From the claims made and subsequent investigations the losses were incurred as a result of ground fire including the two claimed by Lt. Robert Oestreicher and since disproved through reference to Allied and Japanese documents, interviews and research, including Oestreicher’s own confusing and inconsistent reports, along with log book and diary entries. In short Oestreicher downed no enemy aircraft that day despite being credited with one in a postwar assessment. It has been suggested but not confirmed that he may have damaged the Val that ditched on return to the task force (see below).

"The anti-aircraft gunners of 14 HAA Bty at the Oval and other sites at Fannie Bay and McMillans, 2 HAA Bty at Berrimah and numerous machine guns and small arms all put up such intense fire that many Val dive bombers were reported as wavering in their attacks, while one was reportedly hit by a 3.7-inch round from the Oval battery and crashed into the harbor.

"The incident is also in Peter C Smith's Fist from the sky, however the location described as 2,000m east of Darwin puts it at Ironstone Knob, the crash site of Val #3304. There is nothing to substantiate the crash of a Val in the harbour and it has been suggested the one Val dove very low over the water and was considered to have crashed.

"Far from sacrificing themselves as described in the Japanese documentation, the two confirmed losses over Darwin that day were caused by small arms fire from a number of sites in the vicinity of the RAAF Station. The first was Val No. 3304, tail number AII-254 from the Kaga. The crew comprising 3rd shotai leader and aircraft commander, FCPO Katsuyoshi Tsuru and pilot, Flyer 1c Takezo Uchikado, were killed when their aircraft crashed at Ironstone Knob after being hit by fire from the Winnellie camp on the eastern outskirts of Darwin. They were both buried in a grave adjacent to the crash site and following investigations two Australian soldiers, LCpl Fred Terrone and Sapper Dick Spedding, were credited with the downing of the aircraft and commended for their actions.

"The second Japanese loss was Zeke No. 5349, tail coded BII-124, from the carrier Hiryu. Flown by PO1c Hajime Toyoshima, the aircraft’s oil tank was holed by a .303-inch projectile over Darwin but the result came into play over Melville Island during his return flight when his engine seized and the propeller shaft sheared. Toyoshima landed wheels up in a grassy valley, hitting his head on the gun sight and suffering cuts to his face. After exiting the aircraft he tried to put as much distance between it and himself.

"Alerted to his predicament, the Japanese launched a floatplane to rescue him however he failed to appear and was effectively abandoned and classified as ‘self-destruction’. Toyoshima wandered through the bush for some days before stumbling upon a group of Aboriginal women and children who later abandoned him before he was captured by a group of young Aboriginal men including Matthias Ngapiatulawai (Ulungura). Transported across Apsley Strait to the Bathurst Island Mission, Toyoshima was accommodated there before being transported south for interrogation and was assigned POW No. PJW11001. Using the alias, Tadao Minami, Toyoshima became a leader at the Cowra POW camp and blew the bugle initiating the August 1944 breakout; he died by his own hand the following day.

"It was during interrogation by Private Joe Da Costa of Australian Army Intelligence, himself part Filipino and educated in Toyoshima’s home Prefecture, Kobe, that Toyoshima mentioned he’d been hit ‘over the big silver camp’. Investigations confirmed his aircraft was hit by small arms fire from the Winnellie Camp and specifically Sappers Tom Lamb and Len O’Shea of the 19th Machine Gun Battalion.

"Two other losses were also recorded though the crews were rescued. One, a Val from Soryu and lead aircraft in the 6th shotai ditched near a destroyer on its return to the carriers. The crew comprising pilot, Flyer 1c Takeshi Yamada and the aircraft commander, Flyer 1c Kinji Funazaki, were both recovered safely. The second was a Zeke from Kaga flown by Flyer 1c Yoshio Egawa as the 3rd aircraft in the 2nd shotai. Egawa suffered damage to his undercarriage in action over Darwin, reportedly as a result of hitting a tree, and elected to ditch near a destroyer on his return to the fleet. He too was successfully recovered.

"However, the possibility of a third aircraft, a B5N2 Kate being lost on return to the carriers exists. This follows a recent translation of the Kodochosho of the Kaga. In it is a tabular section on the ‘Carrier-based attack plane unit – 27 Type 97 attack planes’: “1035 [hours Japan time] 1C 3/2D [The 3rd plane of the second Flight, 1st Squadron] suffered to the left wheel due to a gunshot and was unable to put out the wheels. It crash-landed on the sea near a friendly destroyer. The crew were rescued by [the destroyer] Tanikaze.”

"Thus, the total losses suffered by the Japanese that day were four aircraft (and possibly a fifth) and two aircrew killed, while PO1c Hajime Toyoshima was captured."

Re: Hiryu BII-124 Lost 19 February 1942

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:59 pm
by PF

Re: Hiryu BII-124 Lost 19 February 1942

Posted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:08 pm
by PF