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  G4M1 Model 11 Betty Manufacture Number 5194  
IJN
? Kōkūtai

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Phil Bradley 2003

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Walt Davis 2008

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Gary Traynor Nov 2008

Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works. Assigned to ? Kokutai.

Wartime History
Crashed in the Owen Stanley Mountains, northwest of Isurava (wartime village). Located on the western ridge, heading north on the western side of the Kokoda Trail.

Wreckage
This crash site includes the propeller, aluminum wreckage, olieo and the hinomaru. At least one piece of wreckage includes a painted stencil with "三菱5194号" (Mitsubishi 5194).

According to locals who witnessed the crash, the aircraft was "shot down by Australian gunners", but this is not historically feasible.

During October 2003, the site was scheduled for an investigation by the Japanese Minister of Health & Welfare. Their visit caused a landowner dispute, that placed the wreck off limits, and it is unclear if they actually visited the crash site or not.

In April 2010 a Type 92 machine gun ammunition drum with 7.7mm bullets was found at the crash site.

Display
A piece of the propeller and wingtip from this wreck are displayed at Isurava.

During 2008, a single Type 92 machine gun is displayed at Alola in their museum, reportedly from this crash site.

Justin Taylan adds:
"This wreck can not yet be identified with complete certainty. I have not visited this wreck myself but was aware of it since 2003. During 2008, two different trekkers, Mike Comola and Gary Traynor located Mitsubishi the manufacture number 5194.

Usually, locating a manufacture number is a key piece of evidence for identifying a wreck, but in this case it is not. Aside from the A6M Zero, Mitsubishi manufactured the G3M Nell, G4M Betty, Ki-46 Dinah, Ki-21 Sally and Ki-51 Sonia, that all operated in New Guinea.

Adding to the confusion, two separate bomb racks were photographed: bomb rack #1, bomb rack #2. This equipment was used on many types of Japanese aircraft, including the Zero (as optional equipment), D3A Val and inside internal bomb bay for the Nell, Betty and Sally! Also, a Type 92 machine gun and ammunition drum was found. This weapon was used aboard several different aircraft types.

Consulting with other experts, Ryan Toews and Brian Bennett both noted features inconsistent with the Zero, and suggested exploring other Mitsubishi types. I asked Jim Long to comment on the type of aircraft that could plausibly have Mitsubishi manufacture number 5194. His detailed report, Notes on Aircraft Type Mitsubishi 5194 concludes that this number is most likely associated with a G4M Betty , but also could be a prewar G3M Nell.

Adding to the confusion, G4M1 Betty 5194 was noted at Lae Airfield during September 1943 and is listed in Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report No. 17. This report does not note if this was the entire aircraft or only part of the aircraft. If captured at Lae, how could it have also crashed in the mountains? Possibility, parts from 5194 (access panels or components) were incorporated in this aircraft. This is plausible because other Mitsubishi aircraft sometimes had parts from other manufacture numbers incorporated at the factory, or during field repairs.

At present no definitive identification of this wreck can be made. The most likely candidate is a G4M1 Betty. It is unknown if other pieces of this wreck are in the area, but this is yet to be documented.

For any future visitor to this wreck, please take detailed photos of the landing gear leg. More photos of the wreckage with 5194 are necessary, to see if it is a removable panel or integral part. Also, I suggest a search of the wider area to determine if there is more wreckage in the vicinity. Finally, a search for any other stencils or dataplates is necessary. But, if already taken as souvenirs, it might be impossible to identify this wreck with complete certainty."

References
Air'Tell Research Report "G4M Serial Numbers" by Jim Long
Notes on Aircraft Type Mitsubishi 5194 by Jim Long
Notes on Wreckage by N. Umeshita
Field Guide to the Kokoda Track pages 365 describes this wreck as "most likely an Aichi D3A Val" (incorrect)
One article describes this wreck as a "Val", which is incorrect.
Medals Gone Missing - crash site of a Japanese aircraft September of 2008
Thanks to Phil Bradley, Gary Traynor, Jim Long and N. Umeshita for additional information

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Last Updated
January 9, 2018

 

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