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You are here: Home | Sept 2006 Search Trip | Japanese P1Y Ginga "Frances" Crash Site
Japanese P1Y Ginga "Frances" Crash Site, Rumung, Yap Island
Since returning from our September 2005 Yap search trip we have received information from Yukitoshi in Japan that has helped us identify this crash site. The site is "very likely" the wreckage of a Japanese P1Y Ginga plane from the Azusa Special Attack Unit that flew a "tokko" (suicide) mission to Ulithi in March 1945. Information about the Ginga's mission and Yap crash sites can be found at http://www.combinedfleet.com/Tan%20No.%202.htm.
Excerpt Describing the March 1945 Azusa Special Attack Unit:
At 1852, the sun set. Only two P1Ys, instead of the original 24 bombers, reached Ulithi, both well after dark. The Gingas approached Ulithi at high altitude. They dropped tin foil chaff to deceive the American’s radars. then dove and flew in low over the water. The two Gingas flew into Ulithi's anchorage undetected. They wanted one of the large fast carriers. The pilot of the first Ginga radioed "Successful attack!” before crashing. No alert had been sounded. The islets and ships were all well lit, the ships' crews relaxed and movies were being shown. At 2007, a P1Y slammed into the starboard side of the USS RANDOLPH (CV-15), a 27,100-ton TICONDEROGA-class carrier, anchored off Sorlen Islet. The bomber hit aft just below the flight deck, but had so little fuel left in its tanks that it did not burst into flames. The explosion of its bomb destroyed planes in the vicinity of the flight and hangar decks. The RANDOLPH was badly damaged and 26 men were killed and another 105 wounded. The other Ginga mistook Sorlen Islet for another aircraft carrier and plowed into it. The RANDOLPH was repaired locally and returned to action in early April 1945. She served as flagship of Task Force 58 during the latter part of the Okinawa campaign.
Results of the twenty-four P1Ys that took off on a one-way "tokko" (suicide) mission to Ulithi and the three planes that reached Yap Island:
The aircraft which has landed at Yap was flown by WO Ochiai. Tail number "762-24", http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~cocoro/sub56.htm. The aircraft damaged in landing at the Yap airfield was likley the plane that included Capt. Kuromaru's P1Y ("762-T25"). Capt. Kuromaru was the Unit Commander and his pilot was PO1/C Fujii.
The tail number of P1Y that ditched was "762-T22". Three crew members were on each airplane. Two crew members were shot by the garrison of Yap at Rumung when the P1Y's arrived at night and the soldiers of Rumung, Yap thought the aircraft was American. The survivor was PO1 YOSHIDA Toshio (Otsu 17) in aircraft 762-T22. He was the observer in the aircraft.
The P1Y that was damaged on landing and the P1Y that landed in the water off Rumung were not able to take off. Several days after landing P1Y "762-24" took off from Yap with seven crew members. The seven crew members included three crew of "762-24", three crew of "762-T25" and observer of "762-T22". "762-24" returned to their airbase at Kanoya.
Matching up historic pictures with the crash sites we found: The following historic picture of a plane in the water off of Yap and the pictures we took of the engine wreckage located off of the Forbidden Island of Rumung seem to line up regarding the location and general direction of the engines (plane) and the distance from the shore. Click on the pictures below to view enlarged pictures.
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