Saturday, 29 August 2015

Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" - Raid against Mal Island - 75 Sentai

The translation we did below is from the book “Kyu Kyu Soke Kyusenki” (Type 99 Air Battle) by Doi Tsutomu, Kojinsha.

The US forces landed on Mal one of the Ninigo island group, New Guinea, on August 15, 1944 and the Japanese decided to try to intercept the advance of the US to the Philippines. The 75 Sentai based in Amahai on the island of Seram, in the Maluku, Indonesia flew missions on August 25 and 28.
The following is from the diary of 1st Lt Ishishi who first describes how bombing attacks were carried out by "Lily".

After taking off from the airfield we try to reach as soon as possible an altitude of 6000m and we are always prepared to confront enemy aircraft. About 100km before our target airfield, we start to make out the airfield lights. But since the enemy is using radar we know we are spotted when the airfield lights are turned off. At that time we break formation, start flying separately and commence evasive manoeuvres diving and gaining altitude or flying in a zigzag pattern. Flying that way we are able to escape enemy aircraft attacks and although we have encountered P-38s many times we were able to evade their attacks with these manoeuvres. When there are no enemy aircraft there is heavy anti-aircraft fire shaking heavily our plane. Fortunately, until now, they have never managed to hit us. When we are almost above the target we use the air brakes to dive at a 60 degree angle at a speed of 550km/h. When we reach an altitude of 2000m the enemy anti-aircraft guns start shooting at us. Although in high altitude they are inaccurate, at lower altitude there is no way for them to miss, scaring the shit out of us. At 700m the pilot presses the bomb release button, then lifts the nose slowly, retracts the air brakes and at an altitude between 200 and 300 meters escapes at full speed. From the beginning of the diving until the release of the bombs it takes between 40 to 50 seconds.
At that time during night attacks against enemy airfields we used “tadan” bombs with great success. The tadan have a very short fuse that explodes immediately and is basically a 50kg bomb including 76 smaller ones. The carrier bomb after released from the plane immediately breaks apart and the bomblets burst into flame. It is particularly effective to set fire to enemy aircraft lined up on an airfield. It was originally designed to be thrown from a high altitude to enemy bombers below. In the beginning of August together with Watanabe we used these bombs against Owi island with very good results. Although we use different weapons to attack enemy aircraft, the first time I saw enemy planes on fire was when I first saw tadan being used.

On August 28, Ishishi and one more "Lily" from the 3rd Chutai flown by Totsuka were ordered to take off on a mission against Mal island, 500km from their base in Amahai. Here's what Ishishi writes in his diary.

On that day, at 17:30 our two aircraft with eight crew members on board, took off from Amahai airfield. The moonlight was particularly bright and we approached the target from an altitude of 6000m. Right above the target there was a huge thundercloud at 7000m. We tried to find a break through the cloud but we couldn’t find our target so we couldn’t do any dive bombing. The searchlinghts of the airfield tried to spot our planes and we broke formation and started flying separately. We kept losing altitude trying to find an opening through the cloud. I decided to do a low altitude attack below the cloud at about 300m. When we were near Mal island one searchlight found us and immediately all of them were trained towards us. I thought “we've had it” and pushed the engine to full speed. The enemy machine gun bullets gathered against us like arrows sometimes hitting our fuselage. Eventually the enemy airfield appeared before our eyes. About a dozen enemy aircraft with silver wings were parked there, so I pressed the bomb release button and flew over the airfield at full speed at about 100-150m. Mori from the rear seat said “enemy planes on fire”. At that time both engines stopped. There was serious problem with the engine fuel preassure and I decided that there was no way we could make it back to Amahai. So, instead, decided to make an emergency landing at Babo airfield.
The 75 Sentai back in Amahai were informed that they did an emergency landing at Babo and a few days later the Sentai commander Doi Tsutomu (the author of the book) went to Babo on a "Lily", but the runway was full of bomb crates and had to return to base. The odyssey of Ishishi and his crew continued by travelling on land and it was not until December they managed to return to the base of their unit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story! I hope you can post more of these first hand accounts.