Nightfighters at Rabaul.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Wildcat, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Can someone enlighten me to what aircraft and what nightfighter units the Japanese had based at Rabaul in the Oct '43 - Feb '44 timeframe. Any info welcome.
    Cheers.
     
  2. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I very vaguely recall somewhere that there was a small unit of J1N Geckos deployed there in 1943. I will see what I can dig up, but it might be pretty rough
     
  3. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    Right, the recon unit of the 251st Air Group operated night fighter Gekko's from Rabaul starting in May 1943. They operated in detachments at other Solomons/Bismark islands bases too. The planned strength was eventually 15 a/c (at all bases combined) but was usually a lot less, often only a plane or two, or none, available at Rabaul. The last two operational a/c were formally withdrawn in late Feb '44 when the IJN threw in towel on defending Rabaul, but resurrected wrecks did some interceptions after that.

    See "Moonlight Interceptor" (Famous a/c of the National Air and Space Museum no 8 ) and Sakaida "The Siege of Rabaul".

    Joe
     
  4. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys, A few more questions. Did the Gekko's have much or any success in this area? Did single engine day fighters ever attampt night interceptions over Rabaul? And finally in the big raids flown against Rabaul from Oct '43 onwards, did the USAAF fly any night missions or was this the domain of the RAAF Beaufort squadrons?
    Thanks for any help.
     
  5. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The Gekkos enjoyed considerable success. There was just a single conversion a J1Nc Kai model, which undergone some fields mods to make it suitable for Night Fighting (no radar, but modeifed armament in early 1943, which reportedly shot down two B17s of the 43rd BG on the 21 may 1943. IGHQ heard about it, and immediately gave orders for a fully developed conversion to be put into production. This was the J1Ns, and entered production from September. As Joe says, there were about 6 in total at rabaul, but when and in what strength they were available I dont know. I do know they were withdrawn about January 1944, as part of the IJNs general withdrawal of air assets from the base.

    I dont know how many J1NCs were present from 21 May to September, when the J1NS models began to be deployed.

    The J1NSs enjoyed some success later in the war, against the B-29, and reportedly enjoyed quite a bit of success against B-24s. It has to be said, however, that the B-29s were a handful for the Gekkos, because of their speed and altitude. Top scorer was Shigetoshi Kudo who enjoyed 9 victories apparently.

    I dont know of any day fighters used for night operations. I am doubtful that the Japanese used them, because it still takes a modicum of changes duch as flame dampeners and special interiro lighting, as well some decent radio equipment, before this sort of thing could be undertaken. The Germans that used this tactic suffered quite high attrition due to landing accidents, so maybe the Japs werent prepred to risk their day fighters to this extent. Anyway, I dont have any information about day fighters used for this purpose. maybe they did, i just am not sure
     
  6. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Hi Wildcat,

    I dont normally do this but to help answer some of the many questions you had I made you a small book from a variety of sources. Less to type up, hope this helps :oops:

    First source is a couple of pages on the 251st. Book is Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units of WWII by Ikuhiko Hata and Yasuho Izawa translated by Don Cyril Gorham

    Second source and break down of Gekko is Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War by Rene J Francillon.

    Profiles are from the book Revi Magazine #37 5/2001 to show different layouts of the Gekko
     

    Attached Files:

  7. maxs75

    maxs75 Member

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    Wildcat,
    in mid 1943:
    And in october
    Sorce: Maurer's The AAF in WW2

    Max
     
  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Guys thanks alot for the info! :) Paul that PDF file pretty much answered my questions (thanks mate, appreciate the effort!). Appears it was Gekko's from the 251st intercepting RAAF Beauforts over the Rabaul area in the Oct 43-Jan 44 time frame. I have four occasions in which interception was attempted (on the nights of 4th, 14th and 17th of Nov plus one on the 20th of Dec.), however in all cases the Beauforts were able to jettison their bomb loads and head for home. These unsuccessful interceptions fits in with the lack of success the 251st had in this period - as stated in the first half of your PDF.
     
  9. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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    Your welcome wildcat, some where I have some pictures of close ups of the installation of the upper looking cannons, I will see if I can dig them up.
     
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