Built by Nakajima. Assigned to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF). Assigned to the 63rd Sentai, 2nd Chutai. This aircraft had mottled green camouflage paint. The tail had the unit motif, a stylized triangle painted in red on both sides of the tail.
On January 18,
1944, the 63rd Sentai was engaged in combat air battles over
This wreck crashed near Wewak
is possibly that of Captain Tomio Matsumoto lost on that mission.
Or, this wreck could be a loss during February (no losses verified) or March 1944 when the 63rd Sentai was operating from Hollandia and flying over the Wewak area.
Shot down during a dogfight with American aircraft and crashed into the
hills south of Wewak. The pilot died in the crash or moments
after when locals arrived to the crash site.
Pieces of the tail were located and displayed at the village. Elders
in the village remember the plane crashing during a dogfight with American
fighter aircraft and that the pilot died in the crash.
Justin Taylan visited this site in 2004:
"The hillside was so overgrown and dense jungle even the villagers
were unable to relocate the crash site. They were only able
to show me the tail portion they had brought back to the village.
No manufacture number was visible, although the red of the 63rd
Sentai markings was visible on both sides of the tail. The elder
in the photograph remembered the dogfight when it crashed well, and
rushing to, but found the pilot was already dead."
Richard Dunn adds:
"The wreck at Wewak may be Capt. Tomio Matsumoto [lost January 18, 1944] but could possibly be a loss dating from a sortie from Hollandia to the Wewak area in March. They were in combat over Wewak at least once in February 1944 but I can't verify any loss."
Thanks to Richard Dunn for wartime history research
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January 16, 2019