Built by Kawasaki, manufacture number unknown. This aircraft was either a Model I or Model II. Delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF). Assigned to the 68th Sentai or 78th Sentai. No known nickname or nose art.
This aircraft likely took off from Rabaul and crashed into coconut palm trees on Kalai Plantation.
Richard Dunn adds:
"There were no T.3 fighter [Ki-61 Tony] day combats over Rabaul in the early days April to July 1943 before the T.3 fighter units moved permanently to the Wewak area. However, Rabaul remained a rear area logistics base for the JAAF until early 1944 (apparently serviceable T.3 fighter show up in photos). I discount loss during the 5th Air Force day campaign (Oct-Nov 43) merely because I don't recall any evidence in JAAF fighter involvement in that period. During the day campaign against Rabaul by SoPac forces Dec 43-Feb 44 (and later) there were a couple days when Japanese press reports indicate JAAF fighters as well as JNAF fighters intercepted. So it is possible the loss dates from that era. In addition many Japanese derelict and semi-derelict a/c remained at Rabaul during and after March 1944 to include 1945 and some were repaired (Kawai for example). It is highly unlikely the loss occurred in mid-late 1944 or even 1945, but not impossible. This does not narrow it down very much. Moreover, the loss may have been a non-combat one."
This Ki-61 crashed upside down. The left wing, and center section of the fuselage. Missing is the engine, tail and right wing. According to locals, this aircraft might have crashed partly on land and partly into the sea. The oil tank was recovered to the plantation manager's house at Kalai Plantation.
Justin Taylan adds:
"This aircraft is upside down. The right wing is cleanly removed, possibly cut off or salvaged sometime afterwards. The center fuel tank has at least one bullet hole in it. All the instruments are missing, possibly removed during the war or afterwards. Some graffiti on the
wreckage, names and date of visit go back to 1953. Locals claim that parts of the aircraft landed in the sea."
Thanks to Brian Bennett and Richard Dunn for additional information
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January 16, 2019