Friday 22 January 2016

Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" - Rabaul - pt4. - video stills

And the second part of the video stills.
Watanabe Yoji in his "Tatakau Zero-sen" explains that this newsreel, a 16mm film actually, was shot on January 17, 1944 by cameraman Nichiei. The enemy was detected at 10:00 and 43 Zeros from the 204Ku took off to intercept commanded by LT Yamaguchi. From Tobera airfield 36 Zeros of the 253Ku took off and all the planes from both units were in the air within about 10 minutes.
The "Chicago Daily Tribune" of January 20, 1944 featured a short article on their front page saying:
Allied Planes Sink 3 Ships in Rabaul Raid
Advanced HDQ., New Guinea, Jan. 20 [Thursday] - Thru more than 100 Japanese planes and a heavy curtain of anti-aircraft fire, torpedo and dive bombers pounced on 12 Japanese merchant ships at Rabaul Monday, hitting eight, sinking three, and probably sinking two others, which were left burning.
  During the raid, announced today by Gen. MacArthur's headquarters, at least 18 and probably 33 enemy interceptors were downed. The loss of 12 raiders was acknowledged.
  The bombers, flying from Solomon bases, found eight ships anchored on the west side of Simpson harbor and four more in Koravia bay. Three Japanese destroyers were circling the bay.
Use Guns on Barges.
  Barges set up at the mouth of the bay with anti-aircraft guns were used after the manner the Germans use "flak" ships in the English channel. The Japanese sent up more interceptors than they had done in other recent raids.
  Today's Japanese air losses raised the total to 152, with 42 more probables, as announced in bulletins this month. Allied losses were 32 planes. The sinkings raised to 11 the number of merchantmen sunk or probably sunk there so far in January.
  Gen. MacArthur's spokesman said the presence of such a large Japanese fighter force is a good reminder "that we can't be lulled into the false sense of security that the Jap is deteriorating. The loss of 12 of our planes, most of them fighters, also is a reminder that the skill of the Japanese pilot is not diminishing."
The attacking Allied forces managed to sink the repair ship Hakkai Maru, transport Kenshin Maru, and army cargo ship Kosei Maru. They also damaged the aircraft transport Lyon Maru. Unfortunately we were not able to identify the hospital ship in the video. Any ideas?
Anonymous Harold K said...
The hospital ship is Tenno Maru, ex-RNethN Op ten Noort.
This NEI steamer was converted to a hospital ship by the Dutch in early 1942; just in time to be captured by the IJN. What I've read online states that there was indeed an incident in which it was strafed by USN fighters. Also that the ship was used by the IJN to transport mines while marked as a hospital ship. Tenno Maru survived the war only to be scuttled off the home islands by the IJN, setting off a legal battle with the Netherlands over compensation which was not settled until the 1970s.
Thank you very much Harold! Excellent information.

Below are two stills showing an Allied 4-engine bomber getting hit by a Zero, perhaps a Consolidated B-24 Liberator but see lower for Allied forces.

The narrator identified this Allied aircraft as a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Again see lower.

 The air battle was over in about 30 minutes and the Zeros started returning from 11:30.

Zero pilots are equally divided between those who prefer the Model 52 due to the higher speed and those who prefer the Model 22 due to the balance in maneuverability and speed. Note the fuel truck in the background.

The tail number is visible; "9-112"

Excellent shots for a diorama showing how ground crew climbed on the Zero.

Bullet holes from enemy aircraft.

Immediately upon arrival the aircraft were rearmed and refueled.

The pilots have gathered in front of a rather dilapidated building. Note the score board on the right in front of water (?) drums.

Commanders and other high ranking officers discuss the results of the day with the pilots.

All pilots wear the same uniform, the summer model of 1942, and the Type 97 parachute except for the pilot on the left hand corner who is wearing a much brighter shirt (?) or maybe an older type of uniform. 

Note the difference in the clothes between the pilot and the ground crew member who nevertheless wears pilot's boots. The crew is wearing the typical white Hei (from heishi-soldier) cap. The crew climbing on the Zero wing in the previous stills wears a blue cap which was for officers. 

The tally board of the 204Ku. They claimed 69 enemy planes shot down including 17 probables.
P-38 Lightning X 34 (5 probables)
F4U Corsair X 14 (2)
F6F Hellcat X 5 (2)
TBF Avenger X 2 (1)
SB2C Helldiver X 14 (7)
Only eight 204Ku Zeros were hit by bullets but none was lost.

The 253Ku claimed 18 aircraft shot down.
P-38 Lightning X 7
F4U Corsair X 10
F6F Hellcat X 1
Four Zeros were hit by bullets, none was lost.

The Allied forces had:
P-38 Lightning X 20
F4U Corsair & F6F Hellcat X 51
SBD Dauntless X 29
TBF Avenger X 18
and claimed 32 Zeros shot down including 12 probables. They admitted losing eight P-38 Lightning and one each of all the other types; total 12. Note that no B-24 or other 4-engine bombers are mentioned although the video clearly shows that at least a few participated and one was damaged or shot down.
As you can see both sides highly overclaimed but the results show a clear aerial victory for the Japanese side alleviated ofcourse by the loss of ships. That would be the last "victory" of the Japanese before the evacuation of Rabaul. As Wiki mentions:
 In February, the Japanese command decided to pull all remaining Japanese airmen and their crews from Rabaul. Between 70 and 120 Japanese aircraft flew from Rabaul to Truk (which had recently been raided by US Navy carrier aircraft) on the morning of 19 February. Their valuable mechanics attempted to leave Rabaul by ship on 21 February, but their ship was sunk by Allied bombers. This marked the end of Japanese air resistance to Allied planes over Rabaul.

The Japanese pilots received a few bottles of sake from the headquarters as congratulatory presents.


Calin Ungureanu said...

From the picture with the battle damage one can say that at least the wing color might be grey. Or at least a very faded kind of green.
On the fuselage, the difference between the repainted border and the original color is also apparent but the lighting conditions make it hard to decide if it was gray or green.

F_IV said...

Ugh, my bad. On closer inspection I can see the cowl has an opening for the gun, rather than the trough of a model 21...