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Heinkle's over Guadalcanal 1942


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Hello Gents

Whilst reading Robert Lawrence Ferguson's book on the 347th FG titled Guadalcanal, The Island of Fire

Reflections of the 347th Fighter Group, I found a most intriguing passage from his diary located on page 154, paragraph 1. In this passage he describes seeing a Heinkle He 111 which he describes as "a two engined Heinkle bomber which had markings that looked like III-K." He further goes on to state that "it crossed the field (Henderson field where he was attached to the 347th FG at the time) at about 10,000 feet, from east to west, circling to look everything over." At that time it was 13th of October 1942 and the Japanese had thought that Hendeson had been recaptured and both Zero's and the supposed Heinkle were gtting ready to land. In paragraph 2, Ferguson further states "the two engined Heinkle bomber came back across the field flying about 1000 feet to get a closer look at the airfield that was supposed to be in Japanese hands. It got a good look at about 0945, when heavy fire from .05-caliber anti-aircraft machne guns hit the plane. It started smoking and crashed in a flaming explosion betwern Henderson field and the Matanikau River"

So gentlemen, any ideas on this? We are no doubt familiar with the mistaken identity regarding the Ki-61 Tony when it first appeared in the Pacific. Often mistaken for a Messerschmit 109  (actually closer in resemblance to the He 100) The Tony initially created quite a sensation. As for the He-111, now that is a curiosity. I can't think of any Japanese aircraft that had the same appearance or planform as the Heinkel, can any of you? Could he have mistaken a Betty Bomber for a Heinkel? Similar nose to the early version of the the He-111 to a degree.  Either way, it would make a great version for my 1/48 He-111 in Japanese markings. Any comments of historical enlightenment/support for the topic would be welcome.

Cheers

Edited by Spitfires Forever
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The Japanese did get a number of various German aircraft supplied to them for possible building and use and afair they got some of the early He.III with the full glazed nose (P2 series?)

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If you put "Heinkles over Japan" into a search engine you get a load of rubbish but if you put "Heinkels over Japan" it comes up with a list of aircraft tested in Japan. This list does not include the He111. Even if it is wrong and they did evaluate the He111, Guadalcanal seems an unlikely place to do it!

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I figure that if the author never saw a G4M Betty bomber before ( perhaps Japanese rcords will show that the G4M was used during the campaign since most of the aircraft came from IJN bases in Truk or Rabaul) it would make sone sense as to the confusion. My guess is that he mistook the Betty for a Heinkel but who knows? Some really weird stuff came out of the war and truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Cheers

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I have not seen the original reference although it is usually reported that the Heinkel 111 was evaluated by the Japanese Army as the Type 98 and was not adopted and this was well before 1942. Alternatively, did the Japanese capture any of the few He111 K's in Chinese service? Interesting to see if out of this small pool of 111's - test aircraft and possible Chinese capture - if any were then pressed into service. I suppose it is a case of never say never unless more information comes to light even though confusion with the G4M is possible. 

 

Image here but I can't vouch for validity.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Aichi-Heinkel_Type_98.jpg

 

It made me wonder about the comparative performance and range of  the Heinkel 111 vs G4M - Bess vs Betty?

 

Ray

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I can say with 99.9% certainty that is was a case of mistaken identity, especially if the book was written during or shortly after the war.  In my collection I have a book called, "They Fought With What They Had", about the early days of the war in the Pacific.  It was originally written during the war.  The copy I have is from the late 90s as part of the USAF 50th anniversary celebration.  In the book they report sighting and shooting down BF 109s and BF 110s.  While the Japanese had some for test and evaluation, they were never used for combat operations.  Mistaken identity was not just an American problem.  IIRC during the Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese strike group looking for the Lexington and Yorktown spotted what they took to be F4F Wildcats.  Figuring they had bigger fish to fry they ignored them and continued on their way.  What they actually saw were SBDs looking for the Japanese carriers.  The Japanese strike group realized their mistake when they got back to their ships.

Later,

Dave

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I agree misidentification is most likely in this case.  Given that G4Ms were active in the area from 1942 onwards, it would be odd for the author to misidentify such a well-known type.  I wonder if the aircraft might have been a Ki-49?  

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Medcalf, "Ju88, The Bomber at War Vol. 2", p. 608, has the reproduction of a Luftwaffe chart showing tactical range for various Luftwaffe bomber types. The data for the He111H-6 is 930 km, carrying a 2000kg bomb load and a mere 650km with 2800kg.

The distance Rabaul - Guadalcanal is 1 064km.

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19 hours ago, Spitfires Forever said:

Some really weird stuff came out of the war and truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

And the Zero is a copy of the Gloster 5/34.  Or the Vought V-143.  Riiiight.

 

Keep in mind that when reading those kind of reports that from the 1920s-1930s onward, popular misconceptions were that Japanese couldn't fly because they had either bad eyesight and all wore glasses*, all Japanese had a bad sense of equilibrium, they could only copy stuff, etc etc.

*remember those propaganda drawings of the time?

 

What the Japanese did do in reality, was a crash course in modern aviation development.

Take up licenses to produce and develop engines and aircraft  

Hiring German aeronautical engineers from Junkers and Heinkel (including Richard Vogt) to teach them how to design their own aircraft.**

**ever taken a closer look at the trailing edge of a G3M? 

G3M-37.jpg

 

The British only wanted to sell to them, not teach them.

Buying one or two foreign aircraft and study them, to improve their own knowledge or find other solutions.

Or even to compare, and check if they're doing it right themselves.

 

Even today, the Japanese attitude is preferring home-grown, indigenous designs where possible, see for instance the Kawasaki C-2 / P-1 development.

 

Required reading: 
Wings for the Rising Sun, by Jurgen Melzer.

 

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I'm reading (again) Flying Tigers by Daniel Ford. An epic book which is rife with mis-identifications by both sides.

if it had a radial engine it was probably Japanese. Which is probably why a C-47 was shot down by airfield defences.

In the air single engined radials either had fixed gear, Yep Japanese. or retractable in which case they were apparently, all Zeros.

 

The Japanese kept reporting being shot at by Spitfires. Oh, and they thought the shark mouth made no sense. It is not a fish!

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I think Mitsubishi Ki 57 Topsy looks the closest to He 111

mitsubishi-ki-57-topsy-005-jpg.178275

Ki-57_topsy_transport_Lands_Chihkia-678x

Who told that it must be a bomber?

Regards

J-W

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I repeat go to "Pacific Wrecks" site. Read the chronology first.

On the 13/14 October Japanese battleships shelled Henderson Field; repeated by cruisers 14/15. Japanese Army reinforcements followed. (The main body, at least, of the 347 FG was still in Tonga on this date)

Go to the ' Aircraft" section. read the loss of Ki-46-II of Captain Kurita Hideo of the 76 Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai,  on 25 October which closely follows Ferguson's account.

Presumably. Kurita was trying to find out where the Japanese Army had got to.

Incidentally, Guadalcanal is not the end of the Earth. Henderson Field is the site of the international airport of the Solomon Islands. The area is not as well researched as the Somme battlefields but at least adequately.

Any crashed aircraft in the area described will have been found and documented  by now.

Suggest the date 13 October is the result of mis-reading or mis-remembering,

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14 hours ago, dalea said:

I repeat go to "Pacific Wrecks" site. Read the chronology first.

On the 13/14 October Japanese battleships shelled Henderson Field; repeated by cruisers 14/15. Japanese Army reinforcements followed. (The main body, at least, of the 347 FG was still in Tonga on this date)

Go to the ' Aircraft" section. read the loss of Ki-46-II of Captain Kurita Hideo of the 76 Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai,  on 25 October which closely follows Ferguson's account.

Presumably. Kurita was trying to find out where the Japanese Army had got to.

Incidentally, Guadalcanal is not the end of the Earth. Henderson Field is the site of the international airport of the Solomon Islands. The area is not as well researched as the Somme battlefields but at least adequately.

Any crashed aircraft in the area described will have been found and documented  by now.

Suggest the date 13 October is the result of mis-reading or mis-remembering,

Hello, i quoted the author verbatim and double checked for accuracy so the dates may have indeed been "misremembered," after all, when all is said and done history is nothing but here say. I too am sure that the wreckage of an He 111, even snall pieces of it would have been found years ago, but a topic like this is always worth exploring 

Edited by Spitfires Forever
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2 minutes ago, Spitfires Forever said:

but a topic like this is always worth exploring

Sure, as long as you don't mind being very skeptical when dealing with eyewitness reports of German aircraft in PTO :) 
A lot of useful information has been lost because of racially prejudiced views, even after the war. 

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1 minute ago, alt-92 said:

Sure, as long as you don't mind being very skeptical when dealing with eyewitness reports of German aircraft in PTO :) 
A lot of useful information has been lost because of racially prejudiced views, even after the war. 

Yes, I would agree, a pinch or two of salt must always go with the information. Had the Japanese not had their facilities bombed they would have produced aircraft in larger numbers and as good or even better than what we were flying. The N1K2 Shiden was considered the equal to the Hellcat and the A7M2 Reppu had it been produced in numbers would have been a difficult foe, then again, without competent pilots the point is moot.  And according to Martin Caidin the Japanese superior duraluninum formula would not be duplicated until the late 1950's, just in time to be used on the Boeing 707. The Japanese were very underrated due to racist stereotyping. Jiro Horikoshi was a genius of the first order, to be equated with Mitchell, Messershmitt, Camm, DeHavilland, Tank, Northrup, Hinemann, Johnson, etc. I'm sure I missed a few but you get my meaning.

Cheers

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