PORT HEDLAND: The wreckage of the only Japanese aircraft believed to have been shot down over Western Australia has been located near Kalumburu mission, in the far north of the State.
Two Port Hedland men, John Hardie and Stan Gajda, have just returned here after positively identifying the scattered wreckage of what is usually termed a "Dinah" aircraft, more technically described as a KI 46 Mark II twin-engine reconnaissance machine. [Ki-46-II Number 1059]
They plan to recover as many pieces as possible and present them to the Air Force Museum at Benningfield Road, Bull Creek. Mr Gajda is a voluntary representative of the museum.
The wreckage was originally found in October last year by Mr Hardie, who was unaware of the exact identity of the find. He led Mr Gajda and others back to the bush location three weeks ago.
"From records I obtained from England a few years ago, we are sure it is the aircraft shot down on July 20, 1944, by two Royal Air Force Spitfires flying out of Drysdale airstrip," Mr Gajda said.
"The (No 54 Squadron) records note that Flight Lieuts Gossland and Meakin collectively shot down a high-flying Dinah aircraft on the morning of that day, jumping it from the port quarter.
"There are bullet holes in the upper part of the port wing of the wreck we found that tally exactly with the 54 Squadron report.
"The part of the wing that was holed came down in a different place from the rest and we found it only on July 20 this year, 36 years to the day when it was shot down.
"We brought it back to Derby with us on the back of a semi-trailer and it is on its way to the museum right now," he said.
He said that the aircraft originally came down in the sea about eight kilometres north of Drysdale airstrip but was winched ashore by barge.
Much of the wreckage was dismantled at the time and sent to the Eastern States for examination. But Mr Gajda said that one part of the fuselage, weighing more than a tonne, was still very recognisable.