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|Pilot PO2c Enji Kakimoto (POW, suicide August 5, 1944)
Ditched August 27, 1942
Kakimoto was born in 1921 in Hitachi, Oita-Ken, and prewar occupation as farmer and religion Buddhist. In captivity, he stated April 28, 1920.
Built by Mitsubishi. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as A6M3 Zero manufacture number unknown. Assigned to the Tainan Kōkūtai with tail code V-??? (three digits). It is unclear if this aircraft was an A6M3 Model 22 Zero or A6M3 Model 32 Zero.
Afterwards, the Tainan Kokutai Zeros dove down to strafe Gurney Airfield (No. 1 Strip, Fall River), firing at LB-30 Liberator AL-818 that was already destroyed and unservicable. Over the airfield, two of the Zeros including Kakimoto were hit by anti-aircraft fire.
Kakimoto was trying to rejoin the other Zeros when his oil pressure failed. He tried to find a target to crash into but found none and instead ditched in shallow water and landed unhurt.
Fates of the Pilot
Prisoner of War
Kakimoto was taken to Milne Bay, and was observed by RAAF pilots from 75 Squadron and 76 Squadron, including taking a posed photograph blindfolded with "Bluey" Truscott pointing a revolver at him. Flight Lieutenant Jeff Wilkinson of 75 Squadron remembered Kakimoto: 'He sat for most of the time with his head in his hands in disgrace an and he looked a very dejected person'.
Kakimoto was registered as prisoner of war PWJA.110007. Transported to Australia, he arrived on September 12, 1942 at Broadmeadows and was marched to Hay on September 14. Next marched to Cowra POW Camp arriving January 9, 1943 and assigned to Hut 7.
He became a ring leader and instigator for the "Cowra Breakout", remembered as a vocal orator with a bad temper. During the breakout, he ordered a lame subordinate to hang himself, then hung himself on the morning of August 5, 1944.
Kakimoto's Zero was nearly intact in 12-18 feet of water, 25 miles from the Marine wharf at Milne Bay. Located by the Allies, the wreck was inspected during October 1942 and deemed salvageable and described as the "Kanapope Zero" (location reference?) Later, an aborted attempt to salvage the wreck was undertaken by RAAF 10 Repair & Salvage Unit (RSU). With the capture of Buna Airfield and several intact Zeros at that location, the necessity for this Zero to be salvage diminished and no further work was undertaken.
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