|Pilot Lt. Jôji Yamashita (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 Lt. Jôji Yamashita 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. Over the airfield, two of the Zeros including Kakimoto were hit by anti-aircraft fire.
Yamashita reported over his radio that he was leaving the area to gain altitude and encountered a flight of B-26 Mauraders from the 22nd Bombardment Group, HQ and 33rd Bombard Squadron searching for Japanese shipping. He made unsuccessful firing passes before going down. It is unknown if his was brought down by defensive fire from the B-26 or if it was the result of the damage from anti-aircraft fire, or a combination of both, and likely crashed on land.
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April 11, 2018