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|Pilot CPO1c Takeo Harada (KIA, BR)
Co-Pilot Hidetoshi Tokuda (KIA, BR)
Observer Yoshitaka Shirai (KIA, BR)
Observer Toshiho Nishida (KIA, BR)
Radio Kanichi Shudoh (KIA, BR)
Radio Sadakane Watanabe (KIA, BR)
Mechanic Goro Seino (KIA, BR)
Mechanic Asakichi Miura (KIA, BR)
Crashed March 31, 1942 at 12:45pm
On December 12, 1941 one of eighteen G3M2 bombers that took off on a bombing mission against Clark Field. Bombing from lower altitude due to cloud cover, this Nell was hit in its left engine by anti-aircraft fire and force landed near the target.
Back at their base, they were listed as missing in action and according to naval custom given a one rank promotion and listed as killed in action. Instead, the crew had all survived the landing. As the Japanese Army overran the Philippines, the crew were liberated. It is unclear if they were captured, or lived with Filipino people during that period.
Officially, the men were dead, but here they were back with their promoted rank. They represented a bad example to the other services and 'no surrender' doctrine. Segregated from other air crews for morale purposes, this crew was continually placed in the most vulnerable position on missions against Australian targets. But, despite the fury and danger of the battles in which it participated, the crew just kept coming back to base alive.
Osamu Tagaya adds:
On March 30, 1942, this bomber and crew were ordered to take off from Lae Airfield and fly over Port Moresby at low altitude without escort. Amazingly, they returned without a scratch and managed to take excellent photographs of 7-Mile Drome.
Admiral Takajiro Onishi ordered them to return to Port Moresby the next day and were told “do not return”. The crew shared cigarettes and drinks together before their final mission.
Over the target at 12:45pm (local time) a message was received from the bomber back at Rabaul: “Finished bombing. All bombs hit mark”. Fifteen minutes later, another message came on the radio: “We will go in. All around is clear. Thank you for your kindnesses during our lifetime. Banzai for the Emperor (Tenno heika banzai).”
Japanese sources report that this bomber made a suicide dive and crash into the enemy after a successful bombing mission.
Many Australians and Americans on the ground witnessed this bomber's demise. Some claimed the bomber's wing broke off midair, causing it to crash about a mile from 7-Mile Drome. Others observed one bomb was jettisoned before the plane crashed and other bombs exploded on impact. Regardless, no damage was caused to any Allied installation by the bomb or crash.
Osamu Tagaya adds:
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