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802 Kōkūtai (802 Air Group)
Imperial Japanese Navy Kokutai

On November 14, 1942 the 14th Kokutai (14th Ku) was redesignated 802 Kokutai (802 Ku) and was operating from Rekata Bay Seaplane Base on Santa Isabel and flying convoy protection and patrol missions over Guadalcanal.

During December 1942 to reconstitute the unit from losses, a new floatplane fighter unit was formed at Yokosuka operating the A6M2-N Rufe seaplane fighter and deployed to the South Pacific to Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base.

On December 10, 1942 A6M2-N Rufes claimed claimed one P-38 shot down and a second probable over Shortland.

By early January 1943 the 802 Kokutai had only two operative A6M2-N Rufes.

On January 5, 1943 the last two operative A6M2-N Rufes took off from Shortland Harbor Seaplane Base joining six A6M Zeros from the 204 Kokutai plus F1M2 Petes from the 11th Seaplane Tender Division on a mission to intercept a formation of B-17 Flying Fortress from the 11th BG on a bombing mission against Japanese ships off southern Bougainville escorted by six P-38G Lightnings from the 339th FS. During the interception, A6M2-N Rufe piloted by Leading Airman Matsuyama shot down shot down P-38G pilot Hiklen (MIA) and P-38G pilot Dinn (MIA).

On January 14, 1943 A6M2-N Rufe from the 802 Kokutai flew their first combat mission.

On January 18, 1943 nine A6M2-N Rufes took off on a mission and encountered a formation of six P-39s, claiming two shot down. Two Rufes were lost, both pilots bailed out but one was killed and the other rescued.

Afterwards, 802 Ku flew patrol and air defense missions over Shortland and the surrounding area, no enemy aircraft were encountered.

On February 14, 1943 eleven A6M2-N scrambled, with one aborting the mission to intercept a formation of U. S. aircraft including PB4Y-1 Liberators escorted by fighters. The ten A6M2-N claimed two "B-24s" and a "P-40" [sic].

On March 18, 1943 transfered to Jaluit Seaplane Base off Jaluit Island in the Marshall Islands, but encountered no enemy aircraft. On October 15, 1943 the floatplane fighter unit of the 802 Ku was disbaned.

802 Kokutai Tail Codes
Tail code N1 - until the middle of 1943
Tail code Y4 - used in Marshalls

Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1932-1945 pages 46, 50, 238-239 (802 Ku)
(Page 50) "Next day [14 February 1943] 253 Ku intercepted a raid on Buin [Kahili], 24 A6M taking part, pilots claiming a B-24, nine P-38s, a P-39 and two new Vought F4U Corsairs, for one loss. They also shared a further B-24, a P-38, two P-39s and an F4U and four P-38s, while ten A6M2N pilots of 802 Ku claimed two more B-24s and probably a P-40 [sic], without loss."
(Page 239) "Until 14 February [1943] the unit continued to fly patrols and air defence sorties over Shortland."
Operation KE (2012) by Roger & Dennis Letourneau pages 86
"After the Forts made their run on a 'cruiser,' the 11th's Rufes and Petes, in the company of the 204th Zeros, quickly moved in. One Rufe piloted by Leading Airman Matsuyama, pounced on Lt. Ron Hiklen at the outset. A Pete quickly joined in. Before they were driven off by Lt. Betsy Holmes and Lt. Emmett Noris, they had set Hilken's right engine on fire. He was last seen going down toward Vella Lavella. Matsuyama also shot out Lt. Wally Dinn's left engine with 20-mm fire, sending Dinn spinning into the water one final, fatal time."

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