On October 17, 1942 two Japanese aircraft carriers launch aircraft to attack Guadalcanal. The raid consisits of A6M2 Zero (18 x Hiyo, 9 x Junyo) along with B5N2 Kate ( 18 x Hiyo, 9 x Junyo) from Hiyo and Junyo attacked Henderson Field and shipping ofshore at Lunga Point.
The group from Hiyo attacked the destroyers USS Aaron Ward DD-483 and USS Lardner shelling Kokumbona area, loosing one Kate piloted by Sai Goro Kanko shot down by anti-aircraft fire in flames.
The Junyo group was intercepted by F4F Wildcats from VMF-121. Within two minutes, they shot down three Kates (mis-identified as Vals), B5N piloted by PO2c Abe Keiji, B5N2 piloted by Sasho Hisashi, B5N2 piloted by PO2c Konno Kiyoshi (all three into the sea) and two others were damaged. Three other Kates B5N2 piloted by Ito, B5N2 piloted by PO1c Shikakuma Kumekichi and B5N2 PO1c Okono Mitsuji were also shot down by the Wildcats.
Together, these losses account for seven Kates lost that mission, and three others that crash landed at Buin Airfield (Kahilli Airfield), plus ?? Zero losses (two claimed). The Japanese shot down one F4F Wildcat piloted by Wiley H. Craft.
Meeting In The Jungle
A6M2 Zero piloted by Harada was shot down after a head-on pass with a Wildcat, and crashed off Cape Esperence. In the jungle, alive he encountered a Japanese aviator, from a B5N2 Kate piloted by Setsuo Kuno. One of his crew died and the other was trapped in the aircraft but died. Harada-san and the sole survivor stayed with the bodies for one night before leaving. Harada and the pilot were finally rescued by a group of Japanese engineers who were building a submarine base Kamimbo Bay (Tambea).
Zero pilot Harada has been haunted by this incident ever since. He has always wanted to find the crash site of the Kate, and see that the remains of the two crew members left there are recovered to Japan.
There are several known wrecks in the Cape Esperance areas of Visale and Tambea area. During the war, a B5N2 9611 and A6M2 Zero Tail D1-158 were investigated by American forces during the war. Today, there are several known wartime aircraft wrecks, including Zeros and B-24 crashsite.
During January 2006, Justin Taylan searched for the crash sites of the A6M2 Zero and B5N2 Kate in the area on Guadalcanal. The aim of this search is to ideally find the wrecks, and report them to Harada and the Japanese government. Also, to retrace the path of the crewmen's escape to pay respect to this history.