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  B5N2 Kate Manufacture Number ?  
105th Naval Base Unit

Pilot  C.P.O. Jiro Nagai (MIA / KIA) Tokushima Prefecture
Observer  PO1C Yoshio Sakamoto (MIA / KIA)
Radio  PO2C Nobuo Miwata (MIA / KIA)

MIA  April 27, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Nakajima. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). During 1945, assigned to the 105th Naval Base Unit based at Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul.

Wartime History
On April 27, 1945 at 20:10 took off from Vunakanau Airfield with B5N2 Kate piloted by Takahashi as the No. 2 aircraft. The pair was to bomb two "aircraft carriers" (actually floating dry docks) and warships spotted on April 22 in Seelder Harbor.

Flying at 6,000' the pair decended to 300-600' through poor weather then reached Rambutyo Island and proceeded to the target at 150'. Spotting a searchlight from Momote Airfield as the clouds cleared over Seelder Harbor which was lit up. Commencing their attack at 2315, the pair became seporated and attacked seporate targets. This Kate released its aerial torpedo which hit and damaged ABSD-4 Floating Dry Dock. After the attack, this Kate failed to return to base. Its precise fate is unknown, either lost over the target or returning to Rabaul.

The Americans claimed this Kate crashed into Seelder Harbor. The US Navy combat report stated: "After dropping the torpedo, the plane [Kate piloted Nagai] by climbed sharply, making a steep right bank over the starboard sidway and barely missing the crane [aboard ABSD-4]. The pilot seemed to loose control, and the plane fell sidways into the harbor. Searching afterwards, US Navy divers failed to locate the torpedo plane.

Postwar, Ensign Chuhei Okubo aboard the other Kate claimed this Kate rejoined them after the attack for about thirty minutes until they entered bad weather, then was never seen again.

When this Kate failed to rejoin formation, the other Kate flashed a signal lamp, in hopes it was in the vicinity. At 0200 on April 28 when the surviving Kate landed, searchlights near Vunakanau Airfield were illuminated briefly in hopes the plane was nearby.

The Siege of Rabaul page 79-85

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


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