Saturday 10 August 2013

Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" in detail

Today we present a set of stills from the 1943 propaganda film "Kaigun Senki" (Navy War Record) featuring in full detail an all-around view of a Mitsubishi G4M1 belonging to the 752 Kokutai.   
The 752Ku used the unit marking "W2" on the tails of their "Betty" from May 1943 until the beginning of 1944. The letter "W" signified the 24th Koku Sentai while the letter "2" indicated that it was the second unit in the sentai. The unit was originally the 1Ku and changed its designation to 752Ku on November 1st, 1942. 

On May 12, 1943 US Forces landed on the Aleutian island of Attu. The IJNAF immediately reacted by giving orders to the 752 and 801Ku to relocate to Paramushir island in the northern Kuril Islands. The very next day 21 "Betty" of the 752Ku took-off from Kisarazu base and landed in Paramushir with one bomber having to make a forced sea landing.
On May 23, 19 "Betty" raided the Attu locating an enemy cruiser and two destroyers but due to bad weather their bombing runs were not successful and what's worse one plane didn't manage to get back to the base.
On May 24, 17 planes took-off for a massive bombing mission but again due to bad weather missed their bombing point and instead encountered ten P38s. The planes immediately got rid of their bomb loads and in the ensuing aerial battle claimed no less than eight P38s shot down with two losses of their own. One more "Betty" had to ditch in the sea and the crew, minus three members, was rescued by the Submarine Chaser Kunashiri.
By the end of May the whole 752Ku, 45 planes in all, had moved to Paramushir but there wasn't much they could accomplish since the temperamental Aleutian weather hampered all operations.
In November the situation in southern Pacific was becoming critical so initially two chutai relocated to Chitose in Hokkaido and then to Rabaul.


The "Betty" featured in this series is "W2-365" with two white bands, possibly the plane of a chutai leader or an indication of different chutai (one band-1st chutai, two bands-2nd chutai etc). Other planes with their tail marking visible are "W2-306" and possibly "W2-332". Note the cut down rear gunner's position in the last still.
The exact date and location are unknown but our guess is either Paramushir or Chitose. 


Anonymous said...

Great piece on the G4M Betty. A think a lot of readers would like to see more on Bombers and their crews.

It would be interesting to read an analysis using Japanese source documents (if they survived the war) on just why the IJN and Japanese Industry failed to realize a successful four engine long ranged land based heavy bomber.

I say that knowing that in 1939 Nippon Koku K. K. had secretly purchased the DC-4E for the IJN who had hopes that Nakajima could could make something of it. Douglas was happy to be rid of an unsuccesful design and there were no objections from the U.S. Government over a technology transfer.

It would be interesting to have insight into just what the Japanese thought they were getting. Are there any Japanese language books on this subject? All I've found in the U.S. are post war assessments of the captured types which shed little light on the challenges Japanese engineers and IJN planners faced.

J Godwin

Anonymous said...

Thanks for great collection of pictures and text, they have been really impressive. Slightly offtopic - why most Japan aircraft (for example G4M) is so scratched? Most parts of aircraft have large absecense of paint.

Arawasi said...

some J. types are more prone to weathering due to the absence of primer under the paint.

Boris Ilchenko said...

"By the end of May the whole 752Ku, 45 planes in all, had moved to Paramushir but there wasn't much they could accomplish since the temperamental Aleutian weather hampered all operations."

The raid of 13 October (US time) was likely to be performed by the 752nd Ku. Was Capt. Goro Nonaka leading this mission, too?

13 Ten Bettys at 19:50 made a high level bombing attack on the Massacre Bay area of Attu. NAS or AWS did not notify the FAW-4 about the impending raid. Most of the bombs fall in the bay, without damage to equipment or personnel. 11 AF fighters were airborne, but could not intercept.

Radar on Attu picked up two unidentified blips 140 miles out on a course of 240 degrees from Alexai Point Army Air Base at 19:21. An estimated eight Japanese Navy Mitsubishi G4M1 twin-engine medium “Betty” bombers arrived over Attu at approximately 19:55, flying at around 15,000 feet over Temnac Valley. The bombers, flying in a two-element V formation at the same altitude, dropped nine bombs in the Massacre Bay area. Two fell into the water near the west end of the east-west runway at Alexia Point. A train of four landed in Massacre Bay near a cargo vessel. One landed on the road between Casco Cove and Alexia Point severing communications cables. Another landed in the 66th Seabee Battalion area and another in the 1st Battalion, 159th Infantry area. One bomb landed, but failed to explode and had to be disposed of later. Three men were slightly wounded, two aboard the cargo vessel and one in the Seabee area.
The 344th Fighter Squadron scrambled eleven P-40s in three elements. While others reported sighting the bombers flying in V formation, only 1st Lt Robert Vavra in the first element, scrambled at 19:37, managed to make contact with the bombers at the 16,000 to 18,000 foot level. He followed the bombers for 80 miles and attempted to make head on passes without success, but observed tracers from his guns striking a bomber. The 54th Fighter Squadron scrambled six P-38s from Shemya, but failed to make contact. Anti-aircraft damaged the tail of a P-40 flown by Captain Newbauer, who landed safely. The other fighter pilots landed safely in the dark. (Mission Report, 344th Fighter Sq, subj: Interception by Eleven P-40s, 344th Fighter Squadron, Attu Detachment, 13 Oct 1943; Ransohoff, Hist, 11AF, p. 323; 1/Lt. Clair E. Ewing, Hist., 344th Fighter Squadron, 10 Oct 1942-1 Jan 1944, pp. 36-37.)

Although a token raid, the Japanese publicized it as a major media event. Tokyo’s Nippon Times 7 December 1943 edition featured a long story with large headlines, “Attu Island Is Blasted Under Showers Of Japanese Bombs,” and “Navy ‘Wild Eagles’ Defy Thick Fog and Bitter Cold In Alaska on October 14.” The article described the bombers flying from an undisclosed base with one crew dropping a “spirit appeasing wreath,” given to it by an army unit for the souls of the men who had died on Attu. The article announced that all the men had returned safely to their base. (Hays, Alaska’s Hidden Wars, p. 68.)

Arawasi said...

@Boris Ilchenko: Thank you for your contribution.