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  G4M1 Model 11 Betty Manufacture Number ? Tail F-???
IJN
4th Kōkūtai
1st Chutai

Click For Enlargement
Click For Enlargement
Freeman July 1944

Pilot  PO1c Kosuke Ono (survived)
Co-Pilot  飛 Kenji Toyama (survived)
Observer  PO3c Kiyoshi Mikuni (survived)
Radio  PO2c ? Sato (survived)
Radio  飛 Kazuo Hirano (survived)
Mechanic  PO2c
Ginji Okamoto (survived)
Mechanic  PO2c Yoshi Uenishi (survived)

Ditched  February 20, 1942 at 4:25pm


Aircraft History
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Work. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Assigned to the 4th Kōkūtai, 1st Chutai.

Wartime History
On February 20, 1942 took off from Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul at approximately 11:20am armed with two 250kg bombs on a mission to attack the U. S. Navy (USN) Task Force 11 (TF-11) northeast of Rabaul. At 1:35pm, the 2nd Chutai located the enemy and began their attack. At 2:00pm the 1st Chutai locating the enemy and attacked. This bomber was flying in the 1st Chutai, 1st Shotai as the no. 3 bomber.

Northeast of Rabaul, the bomber formation attacked U. S. Navy (USN) Task Force 11 (TF 11) including USS Lexington CV-2. The bomber formation was intercepted by Lexington's Combat Air Patrol (CAF) of F4F Wildcats piloted from VF-3 including Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare who claimed five bombers shot down, plus heavy anti-aircraft fire from the warships. This bomber dropped two 250kg bombs aimed at USS Lexington CV-2, but both missed.

Returning, this damaged bomber was followed by an SBD Dauntless piloted by Allen from SB-2. His rear gunner Rountee fired his .30 caliber machine gun at the bomber and chased it for forty-five minutes, 150 miles westward.

Aboard Ono's Betty, the right engine was damaged, fuel tanks holed causing a fuel to leak. Two of the crew were killed during the attack. Damaged, this Betty reached Nuguria Atoll and ditched off Nugava Island at 4:25pm local time. Other Betty bombers witness the Betty ditch and noted the location as "Sugaaba Island".

In total, eighteen Betty bombers were shot down and two others crash landed, including this bomber. A total of 88 Japanese airmen were Missing In Action / Killed In Action on this mission. Also lost was G4M1 Betty Tail F-348 commanded by Ito.

Fates of the Crew
Later, three of the surviving crew were rescued by a Japanese barge and returned to Rabaul.

Wreckage
On April 9, 1944 the wreckage of this Betty discovered by a pair of U. S. Navy PT Boats from Nissan Island patrolling Nuguria Atoll. Locals reported three members of the crew were rescued by a Japanese barge, and were the only ones they ever met.

Reporting the wreck, PT-124 "Who Me?" was sent there during July 1944 with intelligence personnel from Air Technical Intelligence Unit (ATIU). The team recovered documents from inside the wreck and photographed it, and noted no identification of crew losses was present.

Today, only a few pieces of wreckage remain visible.

John Douglas adds:
"I made a visit to Nuguria several years ago and photographed the remains of a Betty near the shoreline. There were scraps of fuselage and wings buried, with obviously more under the sand."

References
Kodochosho, 4th Kōkūtai, February 20, 1942 (translation by Minoru Kamada)
"Japan Times & Advertiser" Ono's Account of the mission, March 9, 1942
Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko 'Betty' Units of World War 2 page 37
The First Team page 118, 130-131, 636
At Close Quarters, page 154
Behind Enemy Lines photos of this wreck and story of July 1944 visit
Airpower Magazine Volume 24, No. 4 July 1994 "Spying Behind Japanese Lines with the Coastwatchers in the South Pacific" by Michael Freeman
"The one to this downed Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber was made aboard an eight foot Elco PT boat [PT-124]. The Betty lay in shallow water off a remote coral atoll near Nuguria Island. The author took these photos and checked the inside, while an Air Force captain inspected the outside. During their investigation in April, 1944, they were strafed by a Japanese Zero."

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

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