Pacific Wrecks
Pacific Wrecks   Donate Now  
Search Chronology Locations Aircraft Vessels Missing In Action (MIA)

Japanese Side of Neel Kearby Mission
Research by Richard Dunn

American Air Activity March 5, 1944
According to a mission summary in an intel report the 3 P-47s were over Wewak at 1715L (means L time zone not "local"). They encountered 3 NELLS, 8 TONYS and 4 OSCARS. They shot down 3 NELLS and only one OSCAR engaged and that was also shot down. In addition to Kearby's flight there was an earlier sweep by 2 P-38s (Lynch and Bong) around 1330. They claimed two Oscars plus two others damaged. They shot down Lt. Hakao Miyamoto and damaged two other Type 1 fighters of 77th FR. The Japanese recorded this combat as around 1110 (would be Tokyo time zone I). There were two P-40 sweeps in the morning and afternoon. They reported encountering singles or small formations that did not engage.
 
Japanese Air Activity March 5, 1944
On the Japanese side the day started with a big effort involving all fighter formations (except the 248th). They flew a patrol Wewak-Hansa-Umboi Island. Alexishafen and back to But. It was the tail end of this mission in which the P-38 combat occurred. Around 1120 4 Type 3 fighters engaged and claimed 2 P-38s (probably an encounter with Bong and Lynch). Four other Type 3 fighters flew and air patrol 1600-1800 apparently without incident. This covers all the Japanese air activity as recorded by the 4th Air Army intelligence report for the period except for Kearby's action.

Kearby Action, Japanese Side
Kearby's action occurred at 1524 (=1724L) and according to the Japanese involved four P-47s. [In fact, there were only three P-47s, with Kearby piloting P-47D "Fiery Ginger IV" 42-22668 ] The Japanese had 4 Type 99 light bombers of 208 Sentai and 5 Type 1 fighters of "33 FR." They claimed 2 P-47s and lost 2 bombers shot down and 1 "sank."

Checking the translated ops record of the 77th FR the translated operations record shows that in their third mission of the day they launched 5 fighters and claimed 2 P-47s. Unfortunately there is no op order to show why this mission was launched nor its exact time and the mission report says no more than what I've related. Still it suggests "33FR" in the 4th Air Army intel summary is a typo.
 
While I have a pretty detailed translation of 33rd Sentai ops record unfortunately it does not start until March 8th despite the fact that they were flying missions (per 4th Air Army) at least by March 1st (probably an advanced echelon at Wewak). However, that first entry for the 8th contains a very intriguing entry: "The other day [presumably some day prior to the 8th] Sgt-Maj Kumagaya of 3 Squadron sighted one P-47 at 4,500 m on a westerly course and pursued it. He definitely shot it down with one burst." I cannot identify this combat or claim in the 4th Air Army summary. Was Kumagaya involved in the Kearby combat of the 5th which 4th Air Army says involved the 33rd? 

Return to Kearby's P-47 Main Page

Contribute Information
Do you have photos or additional information to add?

Last Updated
May 3, 2016

    All rights reserved.  
  Pacific Wrecks Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to bringing home those Missing In Action (MIA) and leveraging new technologies in the study of World War II Pacific and the Korean War.  
Facebook Twitter YouTube Google Plus Instagram
 
Forum Updates People Museums Reviews Submit Info How You Can Help