|Pilot PO2c Hisao Komori (KIA May 30, 1942)
Crashed May 29, 1942 at 10:00am approximately
Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M2 Model 21 Zero manufacture number unknown (four digits).
Assigned to the Tainan Kōkūtai. Tail code V-??? (three digits). No known markings.
On May 29, 1942 took off from Lae Airfield at 8:30am piloted by PO2c Hisao Komori on a mission against Port Moresby. One of eighteen Zeros led by Lt. Masao Yamashita flying in two chutai formations of three shotai of three planes each. The 1st chutai was led by Lt. Masao Yamashita, 2nd chutai was led by Jun'ichi Sasai. Two Zeros from the 2nd chutai, 2nd shotai aborted the mission leaving only sixteen that proceeded to the target.
Arriving over Port Moresby at 9:30am, they encountered intercepted approximately ten P-39 Airacobras over the Hood Point area before departing the area at 10:00am. During the air combat, this Zero claimed a P-39 shot down and was apparently damaged but managed to reach the north coast of New Guinea before ditching off Iwaia south of Cape Ward Hunt at roughly 11:00 hours. When he failed to return from the mission, Komori was listed as "jibaku" [self-exploded]
in the action report.
Fate of the Pilot
In fact, Komori survived the ditching unhurt and reached the shore. On May 30, 1942 he was located in a native village and confronted by Australian Army forces including Sgt Robert Hugh "Ray" Hanna. Instead of surrendering, Komori fired his pistol three times and was subsequently shot resisting capture. On his body, he was carrying a maps of Truk showing operations of aircraft.
Kodochosho, Tainan Kōkūtai, May 29, 1942
New Guinea Force Intelligence Report No 30
"It is reported from AMBASI and BUNA that a Jap plane crashed at IWAIA. The plane was a single seater fighter which came down at 1000 Hrs 29 May. The pilot was trailed and fired three shots but was killed resisting arrest. Pilot was carrying a map showing operations of MEDIUM [?] plane from an island (TRUK) 152 E. 7 30 North."
Prisoners Base and Home Again, page 19 may relate to this pilot
"The only other casualty that I [Reverend James Benson] know of before the landing was a Japanese fighter pilot forced down on the beach a few miles from Ambasi. Corporal John Hannay [sic Sgt Robert Hugh Hanna], who was in charge of the signal station there, went off to capture the pilot, who, from the veranda of a native house, put up a fanatical fight, armed only with a small pistol; he refused to surrender, though wounded in several places, and in ally Hannay had to kill him."
WWI Nominal Roll - Robert Hugh Hanna, VX69754
Robert Hugh Hanna
Bishop Strong diary mentions this Zero pilot
Winged Samurai "Tainan Kōkūtai Pilot Casualties" page 88
Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units of World War II mentions this loss
J-Aircraft "Last Stand of PO2c KOMORI Hisao" by Edward Rogers April 24, 2007
Eagles of the Southern Sky mentions this loss
Thanks to Edward Rogers for research and analysis
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August 3, 2018