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204 Kōkūtai (204 Air Group)
Imperial Japanese Navy Kokutai
Background
On November 1, 1942 the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) renamed air groups with three digit identifiers. The 6th Kokutai was redesignated as the 204 Kokutai (204 Ku) under the 26th Koku Sentai.

During late 1942, the 204 Ku operated the A6M Zero from Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul and forward airfields including Kahili Airfield (Buin) on southern Bougainville.

On February 14, 1943 thirteen Zeros from 204 Kōkūtai took off from Kahili Airfield (Buin) as part of a group of 42 Japanese fighters intercepting including 18 A6M Zeros from 252 Kōkūtai and 11 A6M2-N Rufes from 802 Kōkūtai. The Japanese fighters intercepted a U. S. formation of nine PB4Y-1 Liberators escorted by ten P-38 Lightnings plus twelve F4U Corsairs from Marine Fighting Squadron 124 (VMF-124).

At dusk, Zero pilots from 204 Kokutai went to see the American Prisoner Of War (POW) P-38G Lightning pilot Huey who bailed out over their airfield and intended to rough him up. Meeting 2nd Lt. Wellman H. Huey, they were instead were struck by his friendliness and no one bothered him. Japanese Zero pilot Nakazawa noted in his diary that he was very impressed with the young American's spirit. He told them he was twenty-two years old and had attended the University of Michigan. Another Zero pilot, Ryoji Ohara also remembered meeting Huey. Afterwards, Huey's fate is unknown and was likely executed or died.

Tail Codes
T2-??? - used during middle 1943
9-??? - possibly this tail code was used by the 204 Ku.

References
Kodochosho 204 Kōkūtai - February 14, 1943
Pacific Air Combats WWII (1993) by Henry Sakaida Someone Remembered pages 40-43
A War to be Won "Lieutenant Wellman Huey was not forgotten" by Henry Sakaida July 25, 2016
Thanks to Ryoji Ohara and Henry Sakaida for additional information

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