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4th Southsea Garrison Unit
RNZAF March 3, 1945
Josh McDade 1999
John Douglas 2008
Built by Mitsubishi built between 1931-1939. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) as Type 89B Otsu Yi-Go serial number unknown. Assigned to the 4th South Sea Garrison Unit formed at Wakayama on June 26, 1943.
This tank was transported from Japan via Truk to Rabaul then loaded aboard the Bunsan Maru as one of four tanks unloaded at Tarlena on northwest Bougainville in September 1943. After the American landing at Torokina on November 1, 1943 the tanks were carefully concealed. In July 1944, the tanks were assigned to the 38th Independent Mixed Brigade. After the American landing at Torokina, this tank was carefully concealed to avoid detection from the air.
In early March 1945 the Japanese attempted to move their tanks along the north coast road. On March 3, 1945 at 10:50am spotted by a pair of RNZAF No. 18 Squadron Corsairs patrolling the Ruri Bay area. Without bombs, the pair strafed the tanks, and reported them, returinging with another Corsair that droped 1,000 pound bombs and discovered a third tank. Later in the day, seven more Corsairs from Piva bombed the tanks and left one on fire and strafed the third tank which had not moved. When it was hit and its ammunition exploded and cause a fire that "completely wrecking it".
During the morning of March 4, 1945 tanks in the jungle had been moved, but one of them was discovered by a RAAF Boomerang in the late afternoon, heavily camouflaged under trees. As soon as it was reported, three Corsairs from RNZAF No. 18 Squadron took off to bomb it. It was dark when they reached it, but the reconnaissance pilot marked the target with tracer fire.
On March 5, 1945 during the morning the last tank was attacked by nine Corsairs from No. 18 Squadron. Two of the bombs were almost direct hits and blew off the tank's turret and two doors.
In fact, only one tank was lost in the attacks, likely this tank. Abandoned during May 1945 when the unit withdrew to Numa Numa. Further to the south is Type 89B (No. 1).
This tank is located on the west side of the north coast road on the west of Ruri Bay to the souheast of Bonis. The main gun has been missing since at least 1975.
Official History Royal New Zealand Air Force pages 299-300 (Destruction of Japanese Tanks Near Ruri Bay)
Rust in Peace page 207
Pacific Aircraft Wrecks page 62 (upper)
Senshi Sosho Vol. 58, Page 164-165
After The Battle Issue 147 "The Japanese Tanks of Bougainville" by Justin Taylan
Thanks to Akira “Taki” Takizawa for additional information
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