World War II Japanese Aircraft
at the Old Colonia Airport, Yap State
Federated States of Micronesia

Site #4
Plate 5: Site #4, Debris Field B, Empennage
This site lies south of the runway, a bit west of its midpoint (latitude 9° 29.132′ N, longitude 138° 04.621′ E), covering an area of some 850 square meters. It represents the remains of a Mitsubishi G4M Model 11 “Betty” bomber, mixed with pieces of one or more badly fragmented smaller aircraft, probably a single Zero.

The aircraft appears to have been blown apart by a bomb, which left a large crater and scattered pieces over a considerable area (some 850 square meters. This may be the “twin-engine bomber” that Dunn says USAF bomber pilots reported seeing “engulfed in a bomb blast as it took off” during the first American raid on June 22nd 1944, together with pieces of a fighter that either blew up on the same site or was disassembled and deposited there later. Conversely, we were told by a knowledgeable local authority that the wreckage had been bulldozed into its present location when the post-war runway was built. TIGHAR’s examination of the site has not resolved this uncertainty; further research would be needed to reach a certain conclusion.

The empennage of the Betty is well preserved, and lies on the edge of the apparent bomb crater in the midst of a debris field of fuselage and other parts (Debris Field B). The right wing is mostly buried in the same crater. The left wing, left engine, cockpit area, and the rest of the fuselage comprise a thick debris field (Debris Field A) some twenty meters away. On all skins the paint has deteriorated in the sun, leaving an orange primer. The exterior skins on the top of the fuselage are in good condition while those closer to the ground are more corroded.

The right side of the intact fuselage/empennage is buckled and pocked with shrapnel holes, probably resulting from the bomb blast. The tail gun turret is intact, though without Plexiglas in its openings. The remains of the 20 mm. cannon lie on the ground protruding from the turret, very badly deteriorated. The right wing is mostly buried, and what is exposed is highly corroded. The left wing and its engine are probably close to their original site, but many smaller pieces have been added to or relocated within its debris field. A number of smaller components are piled on top of the wing. The engine – a fourteen cylinder, two-row radial – is about two meters from its original mount, and retains its cowl and a three bladed propeller, badly twisted and corroded. The pattern of blade twisting – one blade severely curled backward, the next moderately bent, the third straight – is consistent with a sudden encounter with the ground while turning at relatively low power, as might happen if a taxiing plane were pitched up onto its nose by a bomb blast near its tail.

Figure 5: Site #4, Debris Field A. Figure 6: Site #4, Debris Field B.

Site 4

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