Built by Grumman. Delivered to the US Navy as a F6F-5 Hellcat, BuNo 71441. Assigned to the USS Langley (CVL-27). Assigned to squadron VF-44 with tail code "29". No known nickname or nose art.
US Operational History
On 4 January 1945 at 7:15am BuNo 71441 took off from the USS Langley (CLV-27) on a mission to escort six Grumman TBF Avengers attacking Kobi on Formosa. BuNo 71441 was leading the second division of Hellcats, tasked with strafing parked planes at Kobi Airfield. Over the target, this Hellcat suffered an engine failure and force landed near Kobi Airfield. When this aircraft failed to return, its pilot was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
In Japanese hands
The wreckage of this largely intact Hellcat was recovered by personnel from Kobi Airfield and displayed at Kobi Shrine for a time. Later, it was transported to Japan and operated from Yokosuka Airfield. A Japanese Hinomaru (rising sun) markings, over painting the American markings and applying tail number ヨ-801 (Yokosuka Kōkūtai). At the end of the war it was abandoned at Yokosuka Airfield on its belly, likely after making a force landing. The aircraft was partially stripped with the propeller, engine cowling and cockpit canopy removed and fabric surfaces missing. During September 1945, the wreckage was found by US forces. After capture, the wreckage was moved and subjected to a further removal of parts. The ultimate fate of BuNo 71441 is unknown, it was likely scrapped or has otherwise disappeared.