Abandoned Japanese fighter aircraft

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by watchkeeper, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper New Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm not a collector of military equipement but I thought someone might be interested in the info.

    During the 70-80's I was based on Bougainville Is then later relocated to PNG Southern, Central and Eastern Highlands regions to drive various projects.

    One week I chartered a plane, flew of to Madang for a few days R&R fishing etc. A mate that lived in Madang at the time and I went bush for several days in a 4 x4 to explore an inland range of mountains.
    We discovered a valley airstrip gone back to bush with 20 or more Japanese light fighter/bombers and other bigger aircraft, many with intact frames wings but some skin missing with ages/weather, other obviously straffed damaged.

    The fighters?? were single engine with a gunner facing rear in shared cockpit. My mate dissapeared in the outback several years later and to my knowledge no one else every came across the overgrown strip.

    I believe the place is as it was if anyone is interested in recovering the craft.
     
  2. Henk

    Henk Active Member

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    Interesting read mate. Any pics maybe mate?
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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  4. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper New Member

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    #4 watchkeeper, Oct 1, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2009
    I did have pics taken on a second trip in with my son then 10yrs old. At the time Dion (son) was fascinated by one fighter he sat in (after checking for snakes) that had several bullet holes thru the pilot seat. The seats had no armour plate the heavy calibre rounds probably 50 cals had punched in/out the engine cowling and cockpit.

    Pics are in storage in Brisbane, I'm currently in Dubai relocating to Singapore later this month. Once I get sorted I'll have my family do a search.

    Just a point of interest my father Ft Lt Alec Rowe served as combat crew with RNZAF 75 Squadron. Based in the UK early 1940 with Bomber Command he served two tours over Europe surviving the loss of two crews before being transferred to 205 Squadron to fight in the Pacific campaign for a third tour.
    We learnt just a few years back that his was the last recorded air action before the surrender when he shot down a Japanese fighter over Rabaul. He died several years back and will always be missed.
    Thirty years later I followed his WW II movements thru the New Hebredianes region in mining and construction.
     
  5. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    A Japanese fighter over Rabaul in Aug 1945?
     
  6. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Well, the Zero had long range...
     
  7. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    its possible. I've read that on occasion the crews trapped at Rabaul were able to cobble enough parts together from unservicable planes to get one operational enough to take to the air and look for some trouble. (like a unescorted bomber doing harrasement duty etc etc) He might have bagged one of those well worn clunkers.
     
  8. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    #8 Shinpachi, Oct 2, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2009
    Thanks for the fantastic information, watchkeeper.
    It's old Alexishafen Airfield.
    As long as I know 3 Ki-61 fighters were recovered by an American about ten years ago.
    Here is Google translation -
    Google –|–ó
    Original address:
    http://gunsight.jp/b/1/Ki-61 restora.htm

    As syscom3 advised, pacificwrecks knows more details -
    Pacific Wrecks - Alexishafen (Alexishafen I, Strip No. 2)
    Kawasaki Ki-61 Tony Manufacture Number 292

    Thanks!
     

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  9. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    You Rule Shinpachi...your always so quick with the information. Nice work.

    BTW, has their been any recent information on the Ki-61's that are being restored? Most of the pictures I find are about a year old or older...:thumbleft:
     
  10. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    I don't know of any Japanese fighters with rear gunners, were these possibly single-engined dive/torpedo bombers?

    Sorry to hear about your friend. I've heard some stories of the outback, it's not a place you underestimate
     
  11. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    Hi, proton45.

    A flyable Ki-61 is under restoration in Australia(Koku Fan 2009.9 issue).

    This is the latest news I have known about Hien.
     
  12. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Wow, to stumble across an entire WW2 airfield with aircraft.
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    There were plenty of airfields like that up to the 80's.
     
  14. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    I seem to recall an article about RNZAF occupation in the Solomons being charged with the relocation of Japanese fighters between the airfields during 1945. The problem was the controls and flight characteristics of many types were unfamiliar to Allied pilots and Japanese POW's were used to pilot the captured aircraft, which of course had their armament removed and were flanked by NZ fighter escorts.
    Could it be one of these "POW flights" which was shot down over Rabaul in 1945, perhaps the Japanese pilot decided to try to make a run for it?
    Otherwise AFAIK the final aerial combat in the SE Pacific was over the islands around Papua, towards Indonesia, engaged by RAAF MkVIII Spits. I mean the Solomons were a real non-event by then, occupied and under total Allied air supremacy with no Japanese airfields left in operation at all.
     
  15. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    According to "The Siege of Rabaul" by Henry Sakaida the bases's operational inventory as of the surrender consisted of 3 Zeroes (there's a picture of them togther in the book), a 'Kate', a 'Dinah' and two 'Jakes'. They were mainly remanufactured from wrecks as previously mentioned.

    Per the same book, the last RNZAF encounter with Rabail a/c was January 12, 1945 near Cape Lambert, New Britain, when 14 Sdn chased what it believed to be a Val, but no victory was claimed, notable because the RNZAF had 99 claimed victories in the Pacific and it would have been 100. The a/c may have been one of the 2 seat Zeroes manufatured from wrecks at Rabaul (they were not standard A6M2K training a/c), which were used for recon of Allied bases, since one was found underwater in the same general area in the 1970's; but it also may have been lost in a later operational accident, per the book.

    Joe
     
  16. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    Thanks, I'll have to see if I can dig up a copy... it would be nice if someone printed a book on the restoration. But I know this is wishful dreaming...:eating:
     
  17. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper New Member

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    #17 watchkeeper, Oct 3, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2009
    Thanks for all your replies

    Re. the fighter over Rabaul, my error it was 1944, according to my fathers flight log the fighter had attacked their aircraft as they were returning from a sea patrol.
    One of RNZAF 205 Squadron's tasks was also bombing any airstrip with reminant jap aircraft. 205 Sqd at that time were equiped with Ventura or B25 Mitchells where as in Europe with 75 Sqd he flew Lancasters and Wellingtons.

    A week previous to this action my fathers crew successfully sunk a Japanese sub caught on the surface.
    I have several good photos and docs in jpg, I'll try posting on a follow up.

    Once night my father with my son and I were having a few beers while night fishing. He started to talk about his night bombing runs over Germany. He described the experience of sitting feet away from unsilenced engines with flack bursts all around, night fighters stalking them and the friends missing from the pub on their stand downs.

    Amazing guys.

    Regards
     
  18. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper New Member

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    Following my previous post.

    In the informal pic with the bomber and car my father is third from right
     

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  19. watchkeeper

    watchkeeper New Member

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    Hi Shinpachi

    Thanks for the info. Pleased to learn the aircraft were recovered and I remember the Catholic mission buildings being there. It was an incredable sight seeing all those aircraft sitting there surrounded by jungle.

    I noted the reference to equipment left behind, on Bougainville Is I had to use an old D4 cat bulldozer fitted with plates over the cab to clear old jungle trails. We often came across tanks and half track vehicles, mobile guns etc, never were sure any of it was safe or bobby trapped untill I got shunted aside.

    Later in Goroka and Kundia I recovered from a US dump 50cal machine guns and cases of 50 rounds. Tried the 50 out in a quarry with an old landcruiser the target. Results made me glad I missed WWII.

    Thanks again
    Stewart Rowe
     
  20. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

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    You are welcome, Stewart.
    Your father had awesome experience in the war but your own experience looks incredible too in the jungle:shock: Looking forward to your more photos!
     
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