Wednesday 19 October 2022

Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" - "Tatsumaki" Unit pt.3

The B-29s returned the next day, April 28, 1945. This time 26 "Raiden" took off, 11 from the 302Ku, nine from the 332Ku and six from the 352Ku.
On that day, the interceptors were flown by:

150 - CPO Kaneda
157 - Lt Ito
158 - CPO Yamakawa had engine trouble and returned to base
185 - LdgSea Kuroda (actually 32-185)
1163 - LTJG Tsukada
1164 - PO1c Sasazawa
1173 - CPO Kobayashi
1180 - LdgSea Sakata
1190 - WO Baba
1193 - PO2c Omine
1197 - LdgSea Oki
1199 - CPO Kawai

160 - LTJG Sato
168 - LdgSea Hara
175 -  LTJG Aizawa
178 - LdgSea Yahara
181 - PO2c Azuma
182 - PO2c Onaka
186 - PO1c Yamura
187 - CPO Matsumoto
190 - WO Ishihara

32 - LdgSea Iwaki
37 - LTJG Aoki
52 - ENS Kaneko
61 -  LTJG Okamoto
62 -  LTJG Yamamoto
67 - ENS Kikuchi

From the 302Ku, PO1c Sasazawa attacked a B-29 formation over Kanoya, hit one bomber and saw it emitting white smoke, while a second bomber was also hit, emitted black smoke and was seen falling out of the formation.
WO Baba claimed the same number of B-29s but was hit by returning fire and was forced to make an emergency landing at Shibushi.  
Lt Ito, CPO Kawai, LdgSea Kuroda and LdgSea Oki, attacked a B-29 formation over Kanoya and claimed to have hit at least one B-29. In all instances, the bombers emitted white smoke and trailed behind their formation. 
LdgSea Sakata, LTJG Tsukada and PO2c Omine, attacked the B-29 formation but with unknown results.

From the 332Ku, WO Ishihara attacked a group of three B-29s over Kanoya and claimed to have damaged two B-29s. LTJG Aizawa also attacked a group of B-29s and saw one emitting black smoke and trailing behind. CPO Matsumoto attacked two B-29s and again saw one of them leaving a trail of black smoke behind. Similarly, PO2c Onaka attacked a B-29 formation and claimed to have damaged one bomber. PO1c Yamura and LdgSea Yahara attacked the B-29 formation but with unknown results.

Finally, from the 352Ku, ENS Kikuchi attacked a B-29 formation over Kanoya and claimed to have damaged one bomber. ENS Kaneko attacked the same bomber formation over Kanoya, but his "Raiden" was hit by enemy return fire. The lubricant oil system was damaged, the engine seized and after gliding was forced to belly land on a rice field. The port wing of the aircraft hit an electricity pole and Kaneko was thrown out of the plane. Thankfully he had removed the bulletproof glass at the top of the canopy, otherwise, he wouldn't have survived the impact. When he regained consciousness he found himself getting carried away on a stretcher as he got seriously injured. He didn't use his parachute because he was absolutely certain that it wouldn't open following a rumour that parachutes that were put together by female volunteers didn't open. 
LTJGs Aoki and Yamamoto as well as LdgSea Iwaki attacked the B-29 formation over Kanoya but with unknown results.

At the end of the day, two "Raiden" were seriously damaged and the "Tatsumaki Butai" pilots claimed to have probably shot down two B-29s, damaged 13 while many enemy planes were seen emitting white smoke. 

According to the "Tactical Mission Report" of the XXI Bomber Command, APO 234, the raid against Kanoya was Mission No.118 and was undertaken by 19 B-29s from the 19th and 12 from the 330th Bomber Groups of the 314 Bombardment Wing.
Four bombers were damaged by Flak and two by enemy aircraft & Flak. One B-29s suffered serious damage and five bombers minor. Only one crew member was injured.

The report mentions:
"a. The fighter opposition against 1 formation was weak, with 2 Zekes attacking a B-29 singly and 2 unidentified single-engine fighters making a coordinated attack against another B-29.
b. Ten attacks were made against the second formation. One fighter made a head-on attack with phosphorous bombs and going through the formation. Four Tojos and 1 unidentified fighter made successive attacks on the formation."

The book "The B-29 Superfortress Chronology 1934-1960" by Robert A. Mann, mentions that 22 B-29s bombed the primary target and that one bomber was lost. 
The details of some of the 19BG B-29s that took part in the mission are also included:

44-69845, Unnamed. Tail code Black Square M 57. K-20 and Scope cameras.
42-93917, City of Memphis/Nip on Ese Nipper. Tail code Black Square M 50. K-20 & K-22 cameras.
44-94028, Unnamed. Tail code Black Square M 55. K-20 camera. 
42-65309, City of Richmond. Tail code Black Square M 43. K-20 & K-22 cameras.
44-69862, Unnamed. Tail code Black Square M 35. K-20 camera.
Serial and name not reported, Tail code Black Square M 50. K-22 cameras.
42-24906, Slick’s Chicks. Tail code Black Square M 42. K-20 & K-22 cameras.
44-69856, City of Buffalo. Tail code Black Square M 53. K-20 & K-22 cameras.
44-70000, Unnamed. Tail code Black Square M 59. K-20 & K-22 cameras.
44-69872, City of Oakland/White’s Cargo. Tail code Black Square M 36. K-20 camera.
Serial number and name not reported, Tail code Black Square M 55. K-20 and Scope cameras.

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