Friday, July 13, 2012

Derelict on Tinian

"RBC beside old Jap plane on Tinian - 1944"
In the waning days of World War II, as the Allies overran enemy bases, it wasn't at all unusual for GIs to pose next to destroyed aircraft (or other hardware, for that matter) for photos that were sent home. This resulted in a lasting photographic record of the battle damage. Today's photo is an unusually small print - not sure if this was a means of saving money, or a war-rationing method. On the reverse was hand-written, "RBC beside old Jap plane on Tinian - 1944".

Identifying the plane, however, has been a bit of a challenge. My first thought was that it had the general lines of a Nakajima  B6N Jill torpedo bomber. Only one Jill has survived, and is awaiting restoration at NASM, which can be seen here, on the website "Preserved Axis Aircraft". However, on closer examination, the cockpit canopies seem to better match the Nakajima C6N Saiun, or Painted Cloud (Allied codename "Myrt"). One of these has also been preserved at NASM, and can be seen here. The problem with the latter is that the Myrt didn't enter service until September 1944, and Tinian was overrun by the US Marines in July 1944. Thus, the only way that this could be a C6N was if this was one of the 19 pre-production prototypes.

This is one small snapshot!
Reader input on the identification of this plane is invited!

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