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|Co-Pilot Rinpei Komai (survived)
Ditched August 21, 1945 around midnight
Built by Mitsubishi at Nagoya No. 3 Works. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 1 Attack Bomber / G4M1 Betty manufacture number unknown. Assigned to the Yokosuka Kokutai. No known tail code or markings.
On August 15, 1945 after the surrender of Japan, U. S. Army General MacArthur instructed the Japanese to send emissaries to Manila for a meeting scheduled for August 17, 1945 to arrange the formal surrender and bring all of Japan's defensive plans. Japanese Army Chief of Staff General Umezu refused to participate and delegated the mission to General Torashiro Kawabe who choose fifteen staff to accompany him.
Sometime after the capitulation of Japan, this aircraft was painted in accordance with the terms of surrender for aircraft overall white with green crosses. Initially, larger crosses were painted on the upper surfaces of the wings and each side of the tail, mistakenly painted too large. These were over painted (but visible through the white paint). Two slightly smaller green crosses were painted over top on the upper wings and tail.
On August 19, 1945 took off from Tokyo as one of two Betty bombers with G4M1 Betty "Bataan 2" bound for Ie Shima Airfield to deliver the Japanese for the meeting with MacArthur's staff.
Inbound, the bombers were flying slightly off course when they rendezvoused with two B-25J Mitchells from the 345th Bombardment Group with two other B-25s flying as backup in case the first two missed the rendezvous point. Providing top cover were six P-38 Lighting from the 80th Fighter Squadron.
The Americans assigned the call signs "Bataan I" and "Bataan II" to the Japanese aircraft. This G4M1 Betty was assigned call sign "Bataan 1". Escorted by the American aircraft, both Japanese aircraft landed at Ie Shima Airfield at 12:40pm in front of a large crowd of Americans gathered to witness their arrival.
On the ground, the delegation boarded C-54E Skymaster 44-9045 and were flown to Manila to meet with General MacArthur's staff to establish the details for the surrender. Both Bettys and their air crews remained at Ie Shima Airfield.
After the meeting, the delegation returned to Ie Shima Airfield on August 20, 1945. While taxiing at Ie Shima Airfield the other aircraft G4M1 Betty "Bataan 2" slipped off the runway and required minor wheel repairs that required five to remain behind while the rest of the crew and passengers boarded "Bataan 1" instead.
On August 20, 1945 took off from Ie Shima Airfield at 6:40pm with the Japanese delegation aboard on the return flight to Tokyo. This bomber was escorted by B-25J Mitchells from the 345th Bombardment Group to a point 55 miles north Ie Shima then proceeded back to Japan.
On August 21, 1945 after midnight "Bataan 1" developed a fuel leak, reportedly due to the incorrect conversion from a gallon to a liter when the bombers were refueled. Low on fuel, this bomber ditched into shallow water off the east coast of Honshu roughly 130 miles short of Tokyo. Everyone aboard survived unhurt.
Fates of the Crew
After the ditching, the crew and passengers waded ashore and were assisted ashore by local fisherman then proceeded by train to Tokyo, arriving the morning of August 21 to deliver the surrender information. As 2000, co-pilot Rinpei Komai, was still alive.
Warpath Across the Pacific pages 355-358
Mitsubishi Type 1 Rikko 'Betty' Units of WWII pages 98-100
Thanks to Yoji Sakaida for additional information
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