|Pilot Captain Shunji Sasaki C. O. 70th Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai (KIA, 26 years old)
Observer Lt. Akira Eguchi (KIA, 20 years old)
Crashed July 18, 1943
Built by Mitsubishi at the Oe-machi plant during middle April 1943. This aircraft was painted
overall gray with camouflage with yellow wing leading edges. Assigned to the 70th Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai. The tail had the unit marking of a reversed white 'S' (denoting a river). This Dinah was virtually brand new, with only
30 hours on it prior to being shot down.
On July 18, 1943 took off piloted by Captain Shunji Sasaki with observer Lt Akira Eguchi on a reconnaissance mission over Darwin.
This Dinah was intercepted about 20 miles south of Stuart
Point, near Lake Finnis by a Spitfire piloted by RAAF Sqn/Ldr James. A two-second burst of
20mm and machine gun fire from 250yds shot it down. The crew went down
with their plane and were both killed in the crash.
Afterwards, C. O. Captain Shunji Sasaki was replaced by Captain Kuruyasu Ichikawa. After hearing of her son's death, Mrs. Sasaki offered 3,000 Yen to purchase a new aircraft for the unit, and later a ceramic doll to release over the site of her son's death which was incorrectly believed to have been over Fenton Airfield. Her offer was reported in the Japanese newspapers and the doll was flown aboard a G4M1 Betty bomber on August 17, 1943 but was shot down by the same pilot who had downed Captain Sasaki's aircraft a month earlier.
Crashed near Opium Creek east of Darwin. The crash site was located the next day by an Australians intelligence team led by F/L C. D. Pender. The remains of both crew were buried at
the crash site by the Australians.
Parts from the wreckage were recovered and are displayed at the Australian
Aviation Heritage Museum.
The description with the display reads:
"The remains of the nose code and landing light assembly recovered from the wreckage of Ki-45-II 'Dinah' Serial No. 2414 which was shot down by Spitfire of No 457 Squadron RAAF on 18 July 1943.
The pilot of the 'Dinah' was the commanding officer of 70 DCS on Timor, Captain Shunji Sasaki, whilst his observe was Lieutenant Akira Eguchi. Both were killed in the crash and it is believed they were interred at the site.
of her son's death, Mrs Sasaki offered 3,000 Yen to purchase a new aircraft for the unit, and later a ceramic doll to release over the site of her son's death, believed to have been over Fenton Airfield.
The offer was reported in the Japanese newspapers at the time, and through the doll was flown to Fenton on 17 August 1943, the aircraft in which it was carried was shot down by the same pilot who had downed Captain Sasaki's aircraft a month earlier."
During 1992, veterans from the 70th Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai Association visited the crash site and dedicated a memorial plaque at the site.
Production figures of the Mitsubishi Ki.46 by Jim Long
Darwin's Air War (Revised Edition) pages 79, 115
Thanks to Bob Alford and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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January 5, 2018