Saturday 22 October 2022

Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" - "Tatsumaki" Unit pt.4

The B-29 raids against Kyushu airfields didn't let up and a new one was launched the next day, April 29, 1945.
Only 17 "Raiden" took to the air; ten from the 302Ku, six from the 332Ku and only one from the 352Ku.
On that day, the "Raiden" were flown by:

155 - LTJG Sato Noriyasu
156 - LdgSea Kurosu Rinji(?)
157 - Lt Ito
185 - LTJG Ueno Norio
1164 - PO1c Sasazawa
1180 - LdgSea Sakata
1190 - WO Baba
1193 - CPO Kobayashi Katsuji
1199 - CPO Kawai

Watanabe Yoji mentions that on that day, the second "Raiden" with tail marking 185 flown by LdgSea Kuroda was borrowed from the 332Ku. The "combat reports" do not include the unit tail markings (ヨD-, 32- or 352-) but, as we saw in previous posts, Kuroda flew the same aircraft on April 27 and 28, so it is safe to assume that the second "185" "Raiden" was borrowed or at least flown on an earlier date as well and therefore the tail marking should not be ヨD-185, but 32-185. Small mystery solved.

113 - LdgSea Kunimoto Goro
168 -  LdgSea Yahara Masayoshi
186 - LTJG Sato
187 - LTJG Watanabe ?
190 - LT Nakajima Kohei
195 - CPO Saito Eigoro

32 - LdgSea Wada Rokuro (Mutsuo?)

From the 302Ku, LdgSea Sakata attacked a B-29 formation northeast of Kanoya and claimed to have shot down two bombers but was hit by returning fire and was also shot down and killed.
PO1c Sasazawa damaged three B-29s, was also hit by returning fire and had to make an emergency landing at Miyazaki airfield. His plane caught fire and was badly damaged but he was only lightly injured. 
LTJG Ueno, damaged one B-29, was also hit and had to use the parachute to escape before his plane crashed on the ground. He suffered only light injuries. 
CPO Kawai and WO Baba attacked the B-29 formation over Kanoya and claimed to have damaged one bomber each.

LdgSea Kuroda's "Raiden" was not in optimum condition. Above 5,000 metres, the oil pressure was dropping sharply and he worried the engine might catch fire. He positioned himself at a lower altitude, under the plane of the formation leader, Lt Ito, but, eventually, he got isolated from the other aircraft. Suddenly he received a radio message to assemble over Kanoya and attack nine B-29 in the Kokubu area, flying in a southern direction. His was the only "Raiden" over Kanoya, so he decided to attack the US bombers alone. When he got close to the B-29 formation, he wanted to hit the leading bomber but they were all flying very fast and he opted for the last B-29 instead. He attacked from an altitude of 5,000m, head-on and from above and when he got behind and below the last bomber, he looked up and saw white smoke coming out from between the two engines of the port wing. Soon after, the B-29 nose-dived, the tail broke off, and the whole bomber started spinning crashing at Takakuma Mountain.

From the 332Ku, LTJG Sato attacked the B-29s over Kagoshima, damaged one and saw black smoke coming out of one of them.
LT Nakajima, LTJGs Saito and Watanabe attacked the B-29s over Kanoya with unknown results.
LdgSea Kunimoto attacked a B-29 formation over Sakurajima, and noticed that black smoke started coming out from one but it was quickly put out, so, it's unlikely the bomber received any serious damage.

Finally, from the 352Ku LdgSea Wada also attacked the B-29 formation over Sakurajima but with unknown results.

At the end of the day, three "Raiden" were seriously damaged (i.e. destroyed) and seven more were burned on the ground during the air raid. The "combat report" mentions only the numbers of the 332Ku aircraft that were burned; 168, 187, 189, 186 and 113.
The "Raiden" pilots claimed one bomber shot down, two probables and at least 13 damaged.

According to the "Tactical Mission Report" of the XXI Bomber Command, APO 234, on that day, two raids were conducted, one against Kanoya East airfield, Mission No. 123, and another against Kanoya airfield, Mission No.124. 
Mission 123 was undertaken by 15 B-29s (14 bombed the target) from the 504th Bomber Group of the 313 Bombardment Wing, and Mission 124 by 20 B-29s (18 hit the target) from the 19th and the 330th Bomber Groups of the 314 Bombardment Wing.

The report explains that during Mission 123:
"At least 8 phosphorous bombs were released against the 2 formations, the consensus being that these bombs were released by Tonys coming in above the formation in pairs from the front quarter. One report indicated that 2 phosphorous rockets were fired by an unidentified S/E plane coming in high at 9 o'clock. Rockets were reported as having been released about 100 yards off the left wing of the first formation. No coordinated attacks were reported other than stated above. Most breakaways were low. In many instances the breakaway was toward the second formation for another attack. A great majority of the attacks were from out of the sun. No rammings were reported and the type of E/A fire ranged from 7.7 to 20mm. No evasive action was taken by the aircraft of either formation."

During Mission 124:
"Enemy fighters made 9 attacks on the lead formation. Most of the attacks came from 1 to 5 o'clock, all from below. No enemy fighters pressed an attack closer than 400 yards. Eight enemy fighters attacked the second formation, usually coming in low from 9, 11, and 6 o'clock."

Four bombers were lightly damaged during Mission 123 and none during Mission 124. Mysteriously the report mentions in a note that "1 A/C left formation after fighter attack and was seen to crash. No chutes observed." but it doesn't explain during which mission of that day this happened.

The book "The B-29 Superfortress Chronology 1934-1960" by Robert A. Mann, mentions four B-29s as shot down that day.

During Mission No. 121 against Miyakonojo airfield, B-29 "24611, from the 73rd Bombardment Wing, 498 Bomber Group, "Little Jo". Damaged over target, abandoned, crashed in sea off Hosoda Village, Minaminaka County, Miyazaki Prefecture. Five KIA, one POW. S/Sgt Billy J. Brown captured by Japanese Navy sailors while drifting at sea. Moved to Seibu Army Headquarters and later executed. Five were saved by U.S. Navy submarine."

During the same mission, "42-65295", of the same unit, "Unnamed. Tail code T 12 (3rd), Crashed Karakama, Mobiki Village, Kimotsuki County, Kagoshima Prefecture due to air-to-air bomb."

Again during the same mission against Miyakonojo, "44-61623, 73BW/498BG/873BS, Sally Delle. Tail code T 12/T 16. Shot down over Miyakonojo."

The book under Mission 123 includes the following:
"44-69918, 313BW/504BG, Unnamed. Mission undefined; reported crashed from Shizuoka Airfields."

1 comment:

WK said...

Thank you for this ongoing series, it really fills in the gaps of my knowledge of J2M operations.