|Pilot NP Kihachi Ninomiya (KIA)
Crashed August 27, 1942
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.
On August 27, 1942 took off from Buna Airfield piloted by NP Kihachi Ninomiya as one of five Tainan Kokutai Zeros on a mission to escort D3A Vals from the 2nd Kokutai against Milne Bay but did not rendezvous with them until 8:20am over the target area as they were completing their dive bombing runs and departing the area.
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. After the attack, Ninomiya was flying with PO/1 Sadaô Yamashita and observed the ditching of A6M3 piloted by Kakimoto and thought his Zero had ditched in very shallow water because they could see it from the air in very clear water. The pair dove and strafed the water, in an attempt to destroy it to prevent it from being salvaged by the Allies.
While strafing, the were surprised by two P-40s from 75 Squadron piloted by CO Les Jackson and his wingman Sgt Roy Riddel who shot down both Zeros.
Thanks to Osamu Tagaya and Edward Rogers for additional information.
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April 11, 2018