Old Thailand Aircrash

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Yet another crash site in northern Thailand: at some point in the near future, we are hoping to locate the wreckage of a P-40 long ago reported to be in the mountains of northern Thailand and identify it. . . .
I withdraw that comment: after several trips over the mountains to the Mae Hong Son area, we've determined that two separate reports of P-40 yet-to-be-discovered crash sites from different sources actually describe Flying Tiger McGarry's P-40 crash site near Mok Cham Pae, but from widely separated towns. (His P-40 was hit during a 1942 attack on Chiang Mai Airport, then under the control of the IJAAF; he eventually had to bail out to become a POW. The crash site was discovered in 1991; shortly thereafter much of the wreckage was taken to Chiang Mai where it is now on display in a Tango hangar at the airport. That it took almost 50 years for hunters to come across the crash site indicates its remoteness.)
 
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Continuing with the theme, Old Thailand Aircrashes:

Japanese Railway Construction Division 2 was responsible for construction of the Thai-Burma Railway. Its first commander was Major General Shimoda Nobuo, 下田宣力. He and nine others were killed when the aircraft in which they were conducting an aerial inspection of the work crashed on the Thai side of the Thai-Burmese border on 26 Jan 1943.

The crash site was located after more than three weeks search near Mount Mayanthong [summit N14°50 E98°15] and then "lost to time", to be rediscovered about 40 years later. The wreckage was then brought out to be eventually exhibited at the Thailand Railway Hall of Fame, from perhaps approximately 1990 to 2012. The exhibit was written up on one of the 2bangkok forums in 1999, and can still be viewed in the site's archive at [note: link corrected] What Kind of Plane Is This?. (Item is on page 43). The aircraft was identified as a Ki-21, by a member of the Rao Lack Rotphai, an organization of railway enthusiasts in Japan.

As noted in the "afterwords" of the article, the museum closed in 2012 and the display is now unaccountably lost.

Some questions.

1: does anyone know where the display (if it still exists) might now be / might be stored / might be kept?

2: The aircraft wreckage had been identified for the museum as that of a Ki-21 by a Japanese of uncertain expertise. However, two other Japanese, also with uncertain expertise, subsequently viewed the exhibit and insisted that it was a Ki-48. It is not clear how that number of people could be accommodated on a Ki-48 and be able to view and to evaluate work on the ground. The Japanese Embassy in Bangkok is said to have investigated the crash site around 1980 (Micool Brooke, Captive of the River Kwae (Merman Books, Bangkok, 1995); p.83). Umemoto does not list the crash (梅本弘,ビルマ航空戦 (東京:大日本印刷株, 2002)). Hence this question: might the aircraft model designation be recorded and available in Japanese documentation somewhere, hopefully along with additional details?

3: Is anyone familiar with the Japanese organization, Rao Lack Rotphai? And, if so, can contact information be provided? Perhaps some members know where the display might be stored at present.

More questions may arise as we investigate further.

I thank you.

Hak Hakanson
Chiang Mai
 
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OldGeezer

Airman 1st Class
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Dec 11, 2020
Continuing with the theme, Old Thailand Aircrashes:

Japanese Railway Construction Division 2 was responsible for construction of the Thai-Burma Railway. Its first commander was Major General Shimoda Nobuo, 下田宣力. He and nine others were killed when the aircraft in which they were conducting an aerial inspection of the work crashed on the Thai side of the Thai-Burmese border on 26 Jan 1943.

The crash site was located after more than three weeks search near Mount Mayanthong [summit N14°50 E98°15] and then "lost to time", to be rediscovered about 40 years later. The wreckage was then brought out to be eventually exhibited at the Thailand Railway Hall of Fame, from perhaps approximately 1990 to 2012. The exhibit was written up on one of the 2bangkok forums in 1999, and can still be viewed in the site's archive at What Kind of Plane Is This?. The aircraft was identified as a Ki-21, by a member of the Rao Lack Rotphai, an organization of railway enthusiasts in Japan.

As noted in the "afterwords" of the article, the museum closed in 2012 and the display is now unaccountably lost.

Some questions.

1: does anyone know where the display (if it still exists) might now be / might be stored / might be kept?

2: The aircraft wreckage had been identified for the museum as that of a Ki-21 by a Japanese of uncertain expertise. However, two other Japanese, also with uncertain expertise, subsequently viewed the exhibit and insisted that it was a Ki-48. It is not clear how that number of people could be accommodated on a Ki-48 and be able to view and to evaluate work on the ground. The Japanese Embassy in Bangkok is said to have investigated the crash site around 1980 (Micool Brooke, Captive of the River Kwae (Merman Books, Bangkok, 1995); p.83). Umemoto does not list the crash (梅本弘,ビルマ航空戦 (東京:大日本印刷株, 2002)). Hence this question: might the aircraft model designation be recorded and available in Japanese documentation somewhere, hopefully along with additional details?

3: Is anyone familiar with the Japanese organization, Rao Lack Rotphai? And, if so, can contact information be provided? Perhaps some members know where the display might be stored at present.

More questions may arise as we investigate further.

I thank you.

Hak Hakanson
Chiang Mai
I get the dreaded "404" error when I try to follow the link for "What Kind of Plane Is This?"...
 
Thank you, Shinpachi.

Additional question: the practice of bringing back only the small finger of a dead person from an area difficult to access; for example, a dead soldier in a remote area --- is that a custom from ancient times or more recently evolved? Aketo Nakamura's memoir covers the crash of Shimoda: they had been close friends and Nakamura recorded that no remains were returned from the site for proper ceremony. Conversely, a Royal Thai Army log entry claimed the opposite; ie, that remains had been returned to Kanchanaburi and properly dealt with.
 
The following scenario seems impossible (and possibly a source of humor), but, just for the record, is it possible? In World War II, stricken IJAAF aircraft coming from Burma were supported on wingtips of accompanying aircraft, apparently assisting them in getting away from conflict in Burma to friendly Thailand, then an ally.

The scenario is offered by eye-witnesses for two different crash sites in very mountainous, isolated sections of western Thailand separated by about 200 km --- Mae Tuen and Mae La Luang. The crashes occurred about two years apart and involved very different aircraft: a Ki-27 and a Ki-45. I've written up the Mae Tuen crash at Details of Aircraft Losses by Date: 25 Dec 1941, and I omitted the detail in the scenario above because it seemed absurd, beyond the abilities of pilots and capabilities of aircraft. But I've just now encountered the same scenario in Mae La Luang, 200 km north in a different province, under otherwise different circumstances, and occurring in June-July 1943. Both witnesses seemed coherent and quite certain of the particular detail. The scene was even sketched up on a Japanese-language webpage: メーラルアン村に不時着した日本軍機1 (source for the webpage is given to a Thai source which I believe was not published). I've not found this second event listed by Umemoto, but it may have occurred on a very different date and escaped my notice. Any thoughts?
 

Shinpachi

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I have ever heard a similar story. So it would be possible because pilots tried to help/rescue friends even costing their own lives.
 
Thank you, Shinpachi. Sobering. The tactic, if accurately described, worked. As at Omkoi, skill, courage, dedication, in the extreme, were rewarded at Mae La Luang: the crew of two suffered only minor injuries.

I will include the detail, with your comment, on the webpages for both events. With apologies, for clarity, could I restate your response as:
I have heard a similar story. It is possible because pilots tried to help/rescue friends even at the risk of their own lives.
 

Shinpachi

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Thank you, Shinpachi. Sobering. The tactic, if accurately described, worked. As at Omkoi, skill, courage, dedication, in the extreme, were rewarded at Mae La Luang: the crew of two suffered only minor injuries.

I will include the detail, with your comment, on the webpages for both events. With apologies, for clarity, could I restate your response as:
I have heard a similar story. It is possible because pilots tried to help/rescue friends even at the risk of their own lives.
Yes, it will be my honour.
Thank you very much.
 
Continuing with the subject of a crash of a Ki-45 at Mae La Luang, Thailand: I believe that I've found a reference to the event in Umemoto (梅本弘,ビルマ航空戦・上).

Shores in his Air War for Burma states that the only Ki-45 exposure in Burma was with Sentai 21. Equipped with Ki-45kai fighters, it moved from Sumatra to Mingaladon (Rangoon) in March 1943, and left in January 1944 [p 425].

Umemoto lists four Sentai 21 losses, all during that period. Just one of those four did not involve a death, but did involve a riverbank. These details match interview contents summarized on a Japanese language website, メーラルアン村に不時着した日本軍機1 (which I mentioned before).

I am relying on OCRing Umemoto's Japanese text and plugging it into Google Translate and I would like to get a confirmation that what I have is 'in the ballpark'.

Umemoto's narrative is on p 317 of his volume 1: I've attached a copy of that page.
  • It seems to start on the evening of 12 Apr 1943, with the 21st Sentai providing cover for ships coming into Rangoon harbor. The date isn't so significant because dates in local versions vary from March to July 1943; but the time of day is relevant in that students in Mae La Luang witnessed the Ki-45 crash landing along a river on an afternoon, which would be inconsistent with the flight beginning in the evening.
  • At some point after covering the harbor, 21st Sentai aircraft attacked B-24s. A B-24 gunner hit a Ki-45 in the left engine and the plane went down, crash landing on a riverbank. There is no listing of a B-24 attack anywhere in Burma on 12-13 Apr 1943 in the USAAF Chrono; Umemoto may mention the lack of information about the action of RAF 159 Squadron on that date.
    • The USAAF Chrono does record that B-25s attacked Magwe on 12 Apr, and Myitnge and Monywa on 13 Apr.
    • Shores mentions action on 13 Apr by RAF 60 Squadron Blenheim bombers out of Dohazari, India, attacking Adwnbyhin (which is not located).
  • The name, Lt Yasushi Ushijima, is mentioned; but in this text, it is not clear if he was the commander of the 2nd Company of the 21st Sentai, or the pilot of the Ki-45 which was hit, or perhaps both. On a separate summary page, he is listed as the pilot.
  • Shores indicates that the 21st Sentai had been relocated to Mingaladon (Rangoon). Mae La Luang at 270 km northeast of Rangoon is well within the range of a patrolling Ki-45. In the spring of 1943, I believe that the Japanese viewed Burma as firmly in their control. So it seems odd that the crippled plane would have been helped over the border into Thailand rather than back towards Rangoon, or say, at least towards an airstrip near Mae La Luang, but in Burma, such as at Toungoo.
Thoughts?
 

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Shinpachi

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The article in the link says it was an incident in the daytime during June/July, 1943.
Umemoto writes Lt.Ushijima flew Ki-45-ko on April 12 and the event was taken place in the darkness.

I recommend you to contact with Umemoto directly as his true name is Hiroshi Ichimura at age 64.
Here is his twitter -

市村弘(梅本弘 または ローガン梅本)
 

Shinpachi

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Umemoto serves as editor of Model Graphix(モデルグラフィックス)as Hiroshi Ichimura since 1984.
Publisher is Dai Nihon Kaiga (大日本絵画).
 
Umemoto lists these two IJAAF aircraft models in events involving Sentai 21: ニ式複戦甲型 and ニ式複戦.. Sentai 21 was flying Ki-45s. What is the difference between these two?
 

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