History[edit | edit source]

Built by Nakajima and delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as Army Type 1 Fighter / Ki-43-II Kō 'Hayabusa', with C/n 5388.[1]

Japanese Service[edit | edit source]

Assigned to the 59th Sentai, unknown which exact Chutai. Painted with green upper surfaces. The tail had the motif of the 59th Sentai, a diagonal line in Chutai color. After the fall of Hollandia the aircraft was abandoned in the trees near the Cyclops runway there.

In US Hands[edit | edit source]

The 8th Fighter Squadron was stationed in Hollandia between 3 May and 22 June 22 1944, as part of the 49th Fighter Group. It choose to restore C/n 5388 in their spare time. Fortunately for the group there was a veritable Japanese spare parts store in the form of other wrecks that were strewn throughout the field and surrounding jungle.[2] During the rebuilding the aircraft got new control surfaces, a rebuilt engine and had it’s landing gear completely reconstructed. Even the set of 12.7 mm guns was rebuilt and put into the Oscar before its reconstruction was complete. The 8th FS also had help from Air Technical Intelligence on their build when on June 10th a group from the Air Technical Intelligence center in Brisbane arrived to complete the aircraft after already having given the aircraft its XJ004 code on first inspection late April. The aircraft was stripped to bare metal and the tail code XJ004 was painted in black on both sides of the tail. Later, this code was overpainted with pre-war red, white and blue markings. Oversized stars and bars were painted on the fuselage and wings. The finishing touch was the name "Racoon Special!" (in some photographs looking like "Raccon Special!" due to chipping paint) on the fuselage. "Racoon Special" was the call sign of the 8th Fighter Squadron, the Blacksheep. The aircaft was not yet ready when the 8th FS got orders to move forward to the Philippines and leave their Oscar behind. The squadron was disappointed by this development and appealed to Brigadier General Donald Hutchinson, who was so moved by the group’s presentation that he ordered that 8th FS would finish the build.[3]

When the unit left Hollandia, the aircraft was left behind with T/Sgt Bruno Topik (who was in charge of the rebuild of the aircraft) as it’s crew chief. The aircraft was transferred, to Eagle Field, near Brisbane for further testing. The ultimate fate of this airframe is unknown.

References[edit | edit source]

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