From: email@example.com (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: New Info - Zeros over China
Date: 23 Nov 1997
Regarding how the Japanese recorded their aircraft losses, there is an
interesting passage in "Zero" by Masatake Okumiya and Jiro Horikoshi in which
the Jan. 25, 1944, raid on Rabaul is recounted:
"Admiral Jojima threw into the interception every available Zero fighter,
totalling 92 planes. The Americans exacted a heavy toll.... The exorbitant
losses did not permit us merely to record the dead pilots has having 'crash
It would appear that the authors are admitting that the Japanese military
falsified records-- perhaps in order to "save face."
Incidentally, elsewhere in the book, the authors describe Darwin in the spring
of 1942 as an "allied bastion," which is a laugh: shanty town would be more
Speaking of Darwin, during the third week of June, 1942, the Japanese bombed
Darwin four times. They were intercepted by the P-40Es of the 49FG. The 49ers
were awarded kills for 16 Zeros and two Betty bombers. Japanese records do not
confirm this. The Japanese claim they shot down 43 P-40s during these raids.
In actuality, only 9 were lost.
In the first raid, by 27 bombers escorted by 45 fighters, 8 P-40s intercepted.
2Lt. Pierre Alford of the 8FS was shot down and bailed out. As he floated
down, he was straffed by a Zero. 2Lt. Earl Kingsly, Alford's element leader,
dove on the Zero and shot it down. It crashed on Gunn Point. Japanese records
do not confirm this Zero being lost.
In the second raid, by 27 Zeros and 9 Betty bombers, Capt. Nate Blanton, 7FS, a
veteran of the fighting in Java, shot down two Zeros above the Darwin RAAF
airfield. They crashed just south of the strip. His wingman, 2Lt. Keith Brown
was shot down in flames during this same engagement.
One flight of the 9FS also engaged, bouncing Zeros intent on doing in Blanton
and Brown. All four pilots were combat veterans and they dropped three Zeros
immediately; they crashed near Livingston Field. One of the wrecks started a
large brush fire which threatened the Field for a time. Japanese records do
not indicate any Zeros were lost on this date.
In the third raid, by 21 Zeros and 27 bombers, 9FS hit the escorts directly
above Darwin's docks, providing a good show for those on the ground. Three
Zeros plunged in flames from the melee and crashed in the harbor. As the
bombers finished their run and turned west, they were hit by the 7FS. In turn,
the 7FS was hit by the Zero escort and a terrific battle ensued. 2Lt. C.T.
Johnson was shot down, making a successful bail out at 18,000 ft. Squadron CO
Capt. George Prentice shot down a Zero, as did his wingman, 2Lt. Claude
Burtnette. One crashed near the docks and the other in the sea just offshore.
Burtnette was then himself shot down. 2Lt. Gil Portmore also shot down a Zero
which was observed to crash in the harbor. Japanese records make no mention of
On the fouth raid, by 27 Zeros and 27 Bettys, the 8FS intercepted with eight
Warhawks at 26,000 ft. but were bounced by Zeros diving from several thousand
feet higher. Three P-40s fell, one pilot, 2Lt. Chester Namola, being killed.
The remaining P-40s were forced to dive away, making no claims against the
Eight P-40s of the 9FS intercepted as the Bettys began their escape descent
after dropping their bombs. They dove from 5,000 ft. above the bombers. Each
flight, in line astern formation, attacked a single Betty. Both bombers fell
out of formation and crashed on the Cox Penninsula. One P-40, piloted by 2Lt.
Reynolds, was shot down by a bomber gunner. Zeros intercepted one of the
flights of P-40s. The P-40 piloted by 2Lt. Bob McComsey, was shot down, but
2Lts. Donalson and Sauber each shot down a Zero. These planes crashed on the
artillery range west of the Track, 20 miles south of Livingston Field, not far
from where McComsey bellied in. Japanese records make no mention of any losses
on this date.
A summary report of the four raids by the Japanese indicates the loss of two
fighters plus one damaged. It also mentions that 9 bombers were damaged. The
report also claims the 43 P-40s shot down in aerial combat, and it states that
the Darwin port area was heavily damaged and several airfields put out of
action. The Darwin port area did suffer damage, but no airfield was hit.
The Japanese didn't bomb Darwin again for over a month. And when they did come
back, they came back at night.
Why would they have done that if they had suffered practically no losses in
four daylight raids? It would seem that the official record was written for
higher ups who wouldn't want to hear that the raids accomplished little and
cost much, while those actually planning future attacks knew the truth and
switched to night raids to avoid fighter interception.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: New Info - Zeros over China
Date: 24 Nov 1997
>"Crash dived" is almost certainly a bad
>translation of jibbaku, meaning ramming your a/c into another plane or a
>target on the ground (or sea).
Looking into Kenkyusha's Japanese-English dictionary, I find "jibaku" defined
as "crash one's plane against the target, scuttle oneself." The two kanji that
make up the word are "ji" self, and "baku" explode. So the literal translation
would be to self-explode, but obviously it was a world created to describe a
pilot's death in a heroic but obfuscatory fashion. Gives us an interesting
take on Japanese wartime psychology.
Re Caiden et al's "Zero": Agree it is not a solid primary source, but it does
provide an interesting look into the Japanese side of things. Noticed some
glitches that made me wonder how deeply Caiden was involved. In the Pearl
Harbor chapter, Wheeler Field is called "Hoiler" (obviously a direct
transliteration of the Japanese katakana phonetic script rendering of
"Wheeler"), and later in the book, New Britain Island is referred to as "New
England" island, another obvious translation glitch. If Caiden went through
the manuscript, he must have done it at 60mph.
I found it intersting, when the authors talk about the New Guinea air war, that
they kept saying the Japanese air forces (both navy and army) were overwhelmed
by large numbers of American fighters. Not the case. When the fighting was at
its fiercest, Kenney had three FGs--8, 35, 49, each with three squadrons
equipped with P-39s, P-40s and a precious handful of P-38s. Later he got the
all-P-38 475FG and then Kearby's P-47 outfit.
P-39s were kept in service until July 1943 (replaced by P-40s) and P-40s until
Sept. 1944. The P-39s were of no use above about 17,000 ft., so they flew low
cover and ground attack. P-40s were in such short supply that E models that
had arrived in Australia in Feb. 1942 were still being used in combat in the
summer of 1943. Even when replacement Ks arrived, they were few in number and
used up pretty quickly. (The Ks were able to lift a 1,000 lb. bomb or three 300
lbers, so they got tapped for ground attack, while the Es flew escort.) Ns,
when they finally arrived, were few in number, too. Usually only a handful of
fighters were available for combat. In one typical scramble in late 1943, the
7FS was only able to launch 5 P-40Ns, one of which got off about three minutes
behind the rest because the engine wouldn't start. Two immediately aborted with
mechanical probems leaving one element of two, trailed far behind by a single
P-40. They encountered 30-plus Oscars and Tonys. The resulting battle resulted
in one P-40 and one Oscar shot down and one P-40 damaged plus maybe some other
Japanese planes damaged. This kind of action was fairly routine. Usually the
Japanese wouldn't sortie unless they had a large number of planes available.
The Americans would throw up whatever would fly. The New Guinea air war was
won through a long series of skirmishes between relatively small numbers of
airplanes in which, over the long haul, the Americans prevailed. If anyone
should be credited with winning the air war, it should be the ground crews, who
kept those old wrecks in flying condition (more or less) while their Japanese
counterparts weren't able to do the same. From what I've read, the Solomons
air campaign (excluding the carrier actions) was about the same, and probably
the CBI situation was, too. The Japanese weren't overwhelmed by vast numbers.
They were beaten by small numbers of pilots who outfought them and just kept
coming back at them again and again. By the time the "overwhelming numbers" of
aircraft and pilots became available, the Japanese had already beaten.
From: email@example.com (CDB100620)
Subject: Re: Flying Tigers /P40
Date: 17 Apr 1998
>I am not saying Galland was lying; I think he mis-identified the plane he
>hit. It happens.
While comparing surviving (or reconstructed) records of combats, some totalling
inexplicable things show up. For example, in July, 1943, the 80FS with about a
dozen P-38s at 11,000 ft. was escorting B-25s to support the invasion of
Nassau Bay (the one in New Guinea). They ran into a bunch of Japanese bombers
and their escort of 60-plus fighters coming in at 14,000 ft. intent on
repelling the invasion. A hell of a fight broke out. The 80th claimed 11
Japanese fighters destroyed and 4 probably destroyed. The Japanese claimed 8
US fighters destroyed. The 80th actually lost only one pilot, a kid on his
first mission who successfully bailed out but was machinegunned in his chute.
A couple of other Lockheeds came home on one engine and several more had
ventilated tail feathers. Japanese records report two pilots killed and seven
"not yet returned" (ie., missing).
But the weird thing is, the 80th pilots all indicated they encountered Ki-43
Oscars, radial engined little nasties they were quite familiar with. Combat
reports decribe the twin drop tanks characteristic of the Oscar, note hits just
behind the cockpit striking the high-pressure oxygen system, with the resulting
familiar explosion breaking the airplane in two, etc. Yet the Japanese reports
indicate the aircraft lost were Ki-61 Tonys! From the 68th and 78th Groups.
Oscars from the 1st and 24th Groups were also involved in the fight, but they
apparently reported no losses and made no claims. On the U.S. side the 39FS
was also involved in a different fight nearby about the same time, claiming
three--but also Oscars. (There may well have been 200 or more fighters and
bombers from both sides in the air in the vicinity of Nassau Bay at this time.)
The 80th (and 39th) boys were familiar with the Tony. In fact, it was a major
topic of conversation at the time, having recently appeared in the theater.
George Welch, hero of Pearl Harbor, had almost gotten his ticket well and truly
punched by one shortly before this fight (he was finally able to shake it after
about a 15 minute struggle by outpacing it in a tight spiral climb). It seems
hard to believe they would all misidentify Tonys for Oscars.
The B-25 crews, interestingly, reported being attacked by in-line (V-12)
engined fighters. Could it have been that the two Oscar groups went after the
B-25's P-38 escort, ensnarling them in an aerial dogknot and keeping them away
from their own bombers, while some, at least, of the Ki-61s, being more heavily
armed than the Oscars, peeled off after the Yankee bombers? But then, do we
credit the B-25 gunners with downing nine Tonys while the P-38s down no Oscars?
It's a possibility. Yet the Japanese records recount a battle with P-38s.
Were they misidentifying B-25s for P-38s (both have two engines and twin tails
[American pilots were constantly misidentifying the Lilly bomber as the Nick
twin-engined fighter and vice versa])? Obviously something is screwy with the
records. Since the Japanese records are the most incomplete, or are
recreations done some time after the fact....