|Passenger Hiroyoshi Nishizawa (KIA)
Crashed October 26, 1944
There is some question over the type of aircraft lost on this mission. It was possibly one of three types: G4M2 Model 12 Betty, Ki-49 Helen or possibly another type of transport aircraft like the LD2 Tabby. Assigned to the 1021 Kokutai.
Tony Feredo adds:
"Nishizawa was a passenger in a Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu "Helen" and not in a G4M Betty. Some of the Ki-49s were used as transports. Its performance was not really far from the aircraft it replaced, the Ki-21 Sally. The Army relied more on the Sally and the new Ki-67 Peggy which also flew in the Philippines. The inter use of aircraft (especially transport) aircraft was a common sight at the latter part of the war. Photos taken at Mabalacat West revealled a revelry of IJN and IJA aircraft together and in some instances, IJA and IJN units were assigned in some bases. Bamban Airfield was one. Although predominantly a Navy base, there were a few IJA sentais that were on base and on transit as well. Same goes with Nicholls and moresover at Clark.
On October 26, 1944 took off from Opon Airfield near Cebu on a morning flight to transport Zero pilots from the 201 Kōkūtai bound for bound for Mabalacat East Airfield where they would ferry replacement Zeros back down to Opon Airfield. Among the passengers was Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, Japan's highest scoring ace.
Over Mindoro Island two F6F Hellcats from VF-14 from the USS Wasp attacked this aircraft and shot it down in flames. The aircraft was likely shot down by Lt(jg) Harold P. Newell, who was credited with a "Ki-49 Helen over northeast of Mindoro"
that morning. This aircraft crashed near Calapan on the northeastern tip of Mindoro Island.
Kodochosho, 1021 Kōkūtai, October 26, 1944
Winged Samurai by Henry Sakaida pages 94 - 96 Tells the story of Nishizawa's shoot down, including Newell's recollections of the combat written to the author in 1983
Thanks to Tony Feredo and Henry Sakaida for additional information
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February 4, 2018