Friday, February 27, 2015

A Japanese carrier pilot in World War II

The good people at Vintage Wings of Canada have published an excerpt from an e-book by Jūzõ Mori, a Japanese torpedo bomber pilot who fought in China and the Pacific before and during World War II.  Its English translation is titled 'The Miraculous Torpedo Squadron'.

The Vintage Wings article is an excerpt describing how he bombed Midway Island during the eponymous battle.  Here's part of it.

On we went, our engines purring contentedly. After about fifty minutes the island of Midway began to take shape on the horizon ahead of us. The Zeros dropped their external fuel tanks to ready themselves for action. Suddenly, one of the dive-bombers in front of me burst into flames and fell from formation. An enemy fighter had nailed him. Shit! They were up there waiting for us! Six of the Zeros behind us immediately shot to the front of the formation. In another ten minutes we would be over the island. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a vicious dogfight underway, but we kept right on going.

Looking over my shoulder I could see that Hosoda had a death-grip on his 7.7mm machine gun, ready to ward off enemy fighters.

“Here comes a Grumman!” he yelled. I looked back to see flame spitting from the fighter’s six guns. It looked like the leading edge of his wing was on fire. The Grumman seemed like a very small machine to be crossing swords with our imposing and stately attack planes. We tightened up our formation so as to be able to better concentrate our fire. Then all we could do was wait for the Zeros to come to our rescue. For some reason, none of them did. Hell, we still had to carry out our attack. If we got shot down now it would all be for nothing.

Suddenly a Grumman appeared in front of our formation. Crap, now we’re done for, was all I could think. They knew we didn’t have any forward-firing guns, so they made frontal attacks. When they couldn’t knock us down from the front they came at us from below. Before I knew it there was another one shooting at me from the left. Damn, I hated their guts but I had to give them credit, they came to fight. Now we’re finished, was all I could think.

That thought had no sooner formed than a Zero flashed over the top of us like a bullet. Yaré! Go get ’em!

Nakajima B5N 'Kate' torpedo bomber, the type flown by Jūzõ Mori

We now peeled off in our dive. There was a lot of anti-aircraft fire coming up at us but the shells were all exploding away from us. You’re never going to hit us with that lousy shooting, I thought.

At the center of the island was a single runway running east and west. To its right, on the island’s north side, were three hangars; to the left was a lot of greenery that looked like a pine forest. That’s where the AA emplacements seemed to be, as I could see the flash of gunfire between the trees.

Our six planes in the third section dove down from the east side of the island from an altitude of 12,000’. The dive bombers were dropping their 500-pounders on the hangars, causing huge fires to erupt.

Ichiro Tada, the rear gunner in the flight leader’s plane, raised his right hand straight up in the air. We were on our bomb run. It seemed to be taking forever but we only had about ten seconds to go before release.


On the signal from the lead plane we all released our bombs at once. Freed of the heavy load the engine suddenly began to run more easily. Looking down to see how we did I could see the first four bombs detonate in quick succession right on the runway. Number five went into the pine forest next to the runway, as did six and seven. Nuts, I thought, they missed. Just then a huge explosion erupted from the forest and all the AA fire stopped. Luck of the draw — sometimes you screw up and it works out in your favor.

There's more at the link.

The book looks interesting enough that I've bought my own copy.  It promises to provide a new perspective on Japanese carrier operations during the Second World War.



Old NFO said...

It is a good read, and gives a totally different perspective. Martin Caidin co wrote a book called Zero with a number of Japanese including the designer, a squadron leader and the leading ace.

Billll said...

As it happened, my father was on the island, presumably shooting back at Mr. Mori. Evidently they both missed.

Ed Stoutenburg said...

Martin Caidin also wrote 'The Ragged,Rugged Warrior's'about the Lead up tp WW2 in Europe And the Pacific and thru to Midway.Good source on Spanish Civil war mix of Aircraft and Claire Chennault helping advise the Nationalist in China in Mid-late '30's to organize some A/C and Tactics against Japanese.Covers the Debacle of Dec.8th in Phillipines and loss of Singapore and Dutch East Indies.The B-26 Marauders flying a torpedo mission from Midway during the Battle is Interesting.Don't know if its still in print .