Built by Nakajima completed October 31, 1942. Uncoded serial number 346. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the Minhoro Kōkūtai. Markings included a pair of white vertical strips on the fuselage, and the tail marking M-325 with a single horizontal white stripe above it (indicating chutai/buntai). On November 1, 1942 redesignated 701 Kōkūtai and the "M" was painted over, leaving only the "325" tail code.
On December 30, 1942 one of four Nells that took off from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul piloted by FPO Juhsaku Sano and commanded by W. O. Takeo Yamada bound for Lae Airfield. Each bomber was transporting personnel of the 7th Base Unit Headquarters. While landing at Lae Airfield, this bomber sustained a medium amount of damage when it landed at 11:30am local time.
Osamu Tagaya adds:
"701's kodochosho indicates that the only recorded incident that seems to fit occurred on 30 December 1942 when four of the unit's Type 96 Rikko, under the command of Lt. Shirai Yoshimi, transported personnel of the 7th Base Unit HQ to Lae. One of the planes, commanded by W.O. Yamada Takeo (observer) and flown by Superior FPO Sano Juhsaku (Kazusa?) (senior pilot), is recorded as sustaining a medium level of damage at time of landing at Lae at 1030 JST, and only three Type 96s return to Rabaul. The unit's Type 96s are recorded as flying to Lae on a handful of occasions, but there is no other record of planes lost at Lae or of incidents such as damaged aircraft on missions over NG making an emergency landing at Lae, etc.
The large hole, no doubt eaten away by fire, in the trailing half of the port wing would seem to indicate a fire in the fuel tank there, perhaps at time of landing, or possibly later due to strafing."
This bomber was abandoned at Lae Airfield with damage to the rear of the left wing. During September 1943, captured by Allied forces relatively intact and studied by Allied intelligence that determined the horizontal and vertical tail and stabilizers were manufactured on October 8, 1942.
This bomber was extensively photographed by personnel in the area. Afterwards, repaired by personnel from the
5th Air Force and reportedly transported to the United States for technical evaluation. Ultimate fate unknown, likely scrapped or otherwise disappeared.
A wartime intelligence report notes this wreck as 6345 in error
Japanese Aircraft Makers Plates and Markings, Report No. 20, March 20, 1945, page 17
Kodochosho 701st Kokutai, December 30, 1942
G3M production statistics, table 4 by Jim Long
Thanks to Osamu Tagaya for additional information
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January 9, 2018