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  A6M2 Model 21 Zero Manufacture Number ? Tail V-1??
Tainan Kōkūtai

Pilot  PO1c Yoshisuke Arita (KIA)
Crashed  May 1, 1942

Pilot History
Arita graduated from flight training class Kō 3. Previously, Arita was assigned to the 12th Kokutai operating from Hankow in China. Next assigned to the 4th Kokutai and later transfered to the Tainan Kokutai. During December 1941, he participated in operations over Luzon, Philippines. During April 1942 arrived with the Tainan Kokutai at Rabaul.

His first combat mission in New Guinea was April 17, 1942 Arita took off from Lae Airfield as part of the 2nd Shotai on a mission to escort 4th Kokutai G4M1 Betty bombers on a bombing mission over Port Moresby. On April 22, 1942 Arita took off from Lae Airfield as part of the 2nd Shotaicho on a CAP mission over Lae and unsuccessfully intercepted a B-26 Marauder.

On April 25, 1942 Arita was one of fifteen Zeros that took off from Lae Airfield on a mission to strafe the airfield at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. Strafing, they destroyed a parked B-26 from the 22nd BG, 33rd BS. Ten minutes later, intercepted by four RAAF P-40 Kittyhawks from 75 Squadron and dispersed dogfights ensued. Arita returned with a single bullet hole in his aircraft.

On April 26, 1942 Arita took off from Lae Airfield on a mission to strafe the airfield at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. Strafing parked P-40s then were intercepted by five RAAF P-40E Kittyhawks, including P-40E A29-48 piloted by Butler. Arita returned with a single bullet hole in his aircraft.

On April 28, 1942 Arita took off from Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul on a mission to escort 4th Kokutai G4M1 Betty bombers on a mission against Port Moresby. Arita was one of seven Zeros that would intercept any enemy fighters. Later that day at 13:00, took off from Lae Airfield along with A6M2 Zero 1575 piloted by Maeda in pursuit of B-25C "Der Schpy" 41-12496 which was damaged. Arita claimed it as shot down, but Maeda did not return and was declared missing.

On April 29, 1942 Arita took off from Lae Airfield flying in the 3rd Shotai as one of eight Zeros that strafed 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. The strafing only caused minor shrapnel damage to one parked Lockheed Hudson. Arita returned with one hit from anti-aircraft fire.

On April 30, 1942 Arita took off from Lae Airfield one of eight Zeros on a fighter sweep over Port Moresby. Intercepted by P-39 Airacobras, Arita claimed one P-39 shot down.

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima. Assigned to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) to the Tainan Kokutai with tail code V-1??. This aircraft operated from Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul and Lae Airfield near Lae.

Mission History
On May 1, 1942 took off form Lae Airfield on a mission to strafe the airfield at 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby. While strafing the airfield, this Zero was Intercepted by P-39D Airacobra 41-6941 piloted by Don McGee of the 8th Fighter Group, 36th Fighter Squadron. Diving down from higher altitude, he missed in his first firing pass, because he was unfamiliar with his gun site. On the tail of the Zero, he fired again and hit it with a second burst that cause it to smoke and and crash in the jungle north of the airfield. McGee's Airacobra was damaged by other Zeros and he landed his P-39 with heavy damage.

This Zero crashed northeast of f Dokuna village. After the crash, Australian Army soldiers visited the crash site. Americans including pilot McGee and his squadron mates visited the crashed Zero reporting it to be "about a mile north of the runway at 7-Mile Drome."

P-39 Airacobra Aces of World War II page 10-11
Winged Samurai page 88 (Tainan Kōkūtai Pilot Casualties), 89 (photo)
Eagles of the Southern Sky pages 8, 17, 39, 61, 72, 76-78, 82, 85-86, 90, 92, 96, 283, 306, 310, 316, 340
page 96: "Arita fell in flames three miles north east of the village of Dokura"
Commando - Double Black page 37
"Early in the morning during another air raid, we watched a dogfight about 25,000 ft above us. A Japanese Zero came spiraling down-smoking. Almost in the same path was a burning Kittyhawk [sic], piloted by one of the Americans who had arrived to bolster the Jacksons Kittyhawk Sqn. They both crashed about 4 miles from our camp. At the last minute a parachute had blossomed out of the Kittyhawk.
We commandeered a vehicle and raced up the highway towards Rouna Falls. When we came to the edge of a [Laloki] river we estimated the planes had come down a half mile or so across the other side of the river. Diving into the water we waded across waist deep to the other side. Then we clambered up the opposite bank we hurried on, excited at the prospect of finding the American pilot alive.
One of our chaps discovered the Japanese Zero. It was a smoldering, smashed up wreck of scattered metal with a red hot engine. Several parts were lying on the ground still burning. It resembled a great tree which had burnt out in a bush fire. We found the remains of the Japanese pilot when he exploded with the plane. All that was left was his scalp, from the top of his forehead to the back of his neck. It looked like a half torn black rabbit skin. One dainty little hand with beautifully manicured fingers, remained.
Ironically we noted 'Pratt and Whitney' written on part of the engine. Later we discovered that the Japanese had brought a lot of American Pratt and Whitney engines prior to the Americans coming into the war, to put them into their Zeros.
Smoke was still billowing out from the Kittyhawk, enabling some of our other boys to locate it. We joined them. The engine block was white hot amongst the charred wreckage of the plane.
The American pilot was found strung up in his parachute about 50 yards away. he was hanging by his straps and badly wounded. Someone cut him down. An improvised stretcher was made out of his parachute and a couple of poles and gently we laid him on it. He had received one or two bullet-holes in his side, but was still conscious,His leg seemed to be smashed at the right knee. With the greatest care we started carrying the stretcher back to our cars. He had his flying gear over his pajamas, and must have woken up, been given the scramble warning, pulled his overalls over his pajamas and gone straight into action. He pleaded "Water! I want water guy" I explained "sorry Mate. You can't have water. It looks as if you have a stomach wound. The water will go to your bowels, cause peritonitis and you could die".
He was burning with thirst and protested"Ive got to have water!" I was carrying my water bottle and he snatched it from me, putting it to his lips. He hung onto it like grim death, and kept sipping it while we thrashed through the jungle.
Eventually we got him back to the river, his mates had come looking for him with an American ambulance. We placed him in their charge; and they thanked us profusely for saving him. Some tree years later in Borneo I asked two American pilots who had been in Port Moresby, if they remembered an American pilot being carried out by some Aussies. They responded; "Yes, Hes OK. We were able to save him with some sulfonamide. He lost half his leg and was repatriated home. It was great news, as I had always worried about those few sips of water."
Aces Against Japan page 54
"The following is an account by at 2d Lt Donald McGee assigned to the 36th Pursuit Squadron: The shooter's cowl guns had apparently straddled me. The Zero I shot down was the first confirmed victory for the 36th Pursuit Squadron. Confirmation was easy since the Zero had gone down only about a mile from the field. Later confirmations were a lot more difficult to come by, and several were lost entirely. The Zero shot down was that flown by Petty Officer First Class Yoshisuke Arita. It crashed on top of a hill, later named by the Americans as 'Bitsabishi Hill'."
Snake Road page 82
"Although none of the units along the Laloki valley were under threat of Japanese attack, their personnel were spellbound spectators of the dogfights that took place overhead between Allied and Japanese aircraft. On one occasion in May 1942, there was alarm at the 11th AAW [Australian Advance Workshops] when it looked as though a Zero was going to crash on their campsite. Fortunately, the plane survived for several more seconds and came down on the other side of the Laloki, a hundred metres to the north-west."

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Last Updated
October 31, 2018


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