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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.
During 2008, a single Type 92 machine gun is displayed at Alola in their museum, reportedly from this crash site.
Justin Taylan adds:
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
Air'Tell Research Report "G4M Serial Numbers" by Jim Long
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