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  Ki-61 Tony Manufacture Number ???  
JAAF
78th Sentai

Pilot  Major Akira Takatsuki, C.O. 78th Sentai (MIA / KIA)
Crashed  December 22 1943

Pilot History
Major Akira Takatsuki commanded the 78th Sentai since it arrived in New Guinea during April 1943.

Aircraft History
Built by Kawasaki. Delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as a Type 3 Hein / Ki-61 Tony manufacture number unknown. Assigned to the 78th Sentai. No known markings.

Mission History
Took off from Boram Airfield near Wewak to provide aerial cover with the 68th Sentai Tonys plus 59th Sentai and 248th Sentai Oscars over three transports of the 15th Resupply Convoy were unloading in Wewak Harbor.

Spotting P-38 Lightnings from the 8th Fighter Group, 80th Fighter Squadron, the 78th Sentai Ki-61 Tonys intercepted. During the combat, Takatsuki was fired on by Major Edward "Porky" Cragg from about 200 yards with a deflection shot, but missed. Takatsuki attempted a tight loop to get onto the tail of his attacker, but was hit at the top of his loop by gunfire from the top cover P-38 piloted by Lt. Bert Reed or Lt. Delbert Furgason, as they joined the combat.

Reportedly, Takatsuki jettisoned his canopy and bailed out of the cockpit. Below, Cragg was unable to avoid hitting his parachute as it opened and his right propeller ripped it to shreds and witnessed the pilot fall into the jungle below. When he returned to base at Port Moresby, a portion of his parachute was wrapped around his right wing.

Search
A rescue party from the 78th Sentai Wewak was dispatched from to search for Major Akira Takatsuki, but instead found Sgt Iwao Tahata and returned him to Wewak on December 26.

References
Japanese Defense Archives Library booklet "A Desperate Struggle in the Jungle" by Tabata
Attack & Conquer pages 135-136
Death of Major Akira Takatsuki

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Last Updated
January 5, 2018

 

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Ki-61
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