Kyoichi Yoshi'i (KIA)
Crashed March 23, 1942
Built by Mitsubishi or Nakajima.
Assigned to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) to the 4th Kōkūtai. Painted in overall gray, this aircraft was assigned tail code F-??? three digits unknown.
On March 23, 1942 took off from Lakunai Airfield near Rabaul on an escort mission for G4M1 Betty bombing Port Moresby. Over the target, a group of four Zeros dove down to strafe 7-Mile Drome. While strafing, this Zero was damaged by machine gun fire from the ground, causing it to crash into Morris Hill near Bootless Bay. Pilot Yoshi'i was killed on impact.
War Diary 1942, March 23, 1942:
"One Zero crashed on Morris Hill after being shot down by fire from machine gun post. Another A6M2 seen trailing white smoke at low level."
The crashed Zero scattered wreckage over a large area. ATIU did investigate the site, and assigned the wreckage SWPA Technical Reference AD 2, but failed to find any manufacture number in the wreckage. After the crash, Morris Hill was renamed "Zero Hill" by the Australian soldiers stationed in the vicinity.
Justin Taylan adds:
"Henry Mayer and I searched for any traces of this Zero atop "Zero Hill" during October 2007. We failed to find any trace, aside for observing the spectacular view of the area from the summit of the hill."
War Diary 1942, March 23, 1942
"SWPA Technical References to Inspected Enemy Airplanes" ATIU, September 27, 1943, p 2
Note, some sources list pilot's surname as "Yoshii"
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January 5, 2018