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Ensign Satoshi Yoshino
4th Kokutai and Tainan Kokutai Missing In Action June 9, 1942
Click For EnlargementSatoshi Yoshino was born in Chiba in 1918. At age 16, he passed the exam for Otsu Yokaren (Preparatory Flight Training Program) on June 16, 1934 and finished flight training in March 1938. Assigned to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) to Saiki Kōkūtai, Omura Kōkūtai and Soryu. In October 1940 assigned to the newly organized Chitose Kōkūtai as a fighter pilot flying the Type 96 Fighter / A5M4 Claude in the Marshal Islands and was promoted to Ensign by the start of the Pacific War.

Wartime History
During February 1942 began flying from Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul flying the Type 96 Fighter / A5M4 Claude and also flew missions from Gasmata Airfield.

On February 11, 1942 Yoshino took off from Gasmata Airfield leading a formation of four Claudes to intercept three Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Hudsons attacking ships off Gasmata (Surumi). They claimed all three shot down. In fact, only two bombers where shot down: Hudson A16-91 pilot W/Cdr John M. Lerew (1 survived, 3 KIA) and Hudson A16-126 pilot F/O Graham I. Gibson (4 MIA).

In the middle of February 1942 the Chitose Kokutai was redesignated as the 4th Kokutai and began flying the A6M2 Model 21 Zero. Next, Yoshino was assigned to the Tainan Kōkūtai (Tainan Air Group) flying from Lae Airfield.

Mission History
On June 9, 1942 Zero pilots including A6M2 piloted by Yoshino took off from Lae Airfield to intercept B-26 Marauders from the 22nd Bombardment Group (22nd BG) on a bombing mission against Lae. The Zeros following the bombers down the north coast of New Guinea towards Cape Ward Hunt, chasing them at 100' above the sea. Waiting in the area were eight Airacobras of the (3 x P-39 Airacobras and 5 x P-400 Airacobras) from the 39th Fighter Squadron (39th FS). Yoshino failed to return from the mission and was reported as missing. P-400 Airacobra piloted Lt. Curran 'Jack' Jones made a head-on attack against his Zero. After scoring hits, he observed the pilot to climb out onto the wing and look back before the Zero crashed into the sea. He also observed a diagonal stripe on the Zero, indicating it was assigned to shotai leader.

Yoshino is credited by the Japanese as having shot down 25 enemy planes in total. Other sources present his total as 15 enemy kills. According to Yasuho Izawa, who checked with Tainan and Chitose Kokutai records, Yoshino had 22 missions, destroyed 7 aircraft, shared 9, and shared/probable 2 before he was killed.

Kodochosho (action report) Chitose Kokutai February 6-11, 1942 states that between February 6, 1942 to February 11, 1942 Yoshino was credited with three shared aerial victories but does not list his specific claims each date.
Kodochosho, 4th Kōkūtai, February 6, 1942
Kodochosho, 4th Kōkūtai, February 11, 1942
Nihon Kaigun Sentokitai by Hata and Izawa
Revenge of the Red Raiders page 105 - 107
P-39 Airacobra Aces of World War 2 page 13
Thanks to Minoru Kamada, Henry Sakaida, Larry Hickey and Edward Rogers for additional information

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