|Pilot PO3c Ichirōbei Yamazaki (wounded, survived)
Crashed March 22, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima. Assigned to 4th Kokutai. Painted overall gray with a black cowling. Tail number F-??? painted in black. A red fuselage stripe was painted on the rear fuselage.
On March 22, 1942 took off from Lae Airfield in the morning on a CAP over the airfield along with A6M2 piloted by Kikuchii. Spotting Hudson A16-134 and Hudson A16-169 both Zeros attacked between 8:40-9:00. Gunners aboard the Hudsons claimed both shot down. This Zero was hit but 7.7mm machine gun fire, possibly in the forward fuel tank damaging it and wounded Yamazaki. Damaged, this Zero crash landed at the junction of Watut River and Markham River. Also shot down was A6M2 piloted by Kikuchii.
Richard Dunn adds:
"He was wounded and Zero damaged and according to one account '80 miles from his base.' In another account he chased the Lockheeds in a direction of 360 degrees from his base and pursued for 20 minutes (wouldn't 180 deg be more likely?). He was hit in the forward fuel tank."
Fate of the Pilot
The next day, Yamazaki was found by natives and with their assistance returned to Lae on March 27, four days later and recovered from his wounds, then returned to duty on April 12, 1942.
Kodochosho, 4th Kōkūtai, March 22, 1942
Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units of WWII page 288
"In February 1942 Yamazaki was posted to the 4th Air Group and advanced to Rabaul after having served with the Ōita Air Group. In April, he was transferred to the Tainan Air Group. Until August, Yamazaki used Rabaul and Lae as bases and was active in the eastern New Guinea and Solomons battlefronts. During the same period, the following incident occurred. After Yamazaki had pursued a Lockheed [Hudson] bomber by himself, his aircraft received hits and he had to make an emergency landing deep in the mountains [of New Guinea]. He was helped by local natives, built a log raft, floated downstream and returned to base safely. In May Yamazaki was wounded during air combat over Moresby."
Flightpath Magazine "Yamazaki" by Michael Claringbould, 2010
Thanks to Richard Dunn and Michael Claringbould for additional
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February 4, 2018