P-40E KITTYHAWK AND
A JAPANESE KAWANISHI H6K "MAVIS" FLYING BOAT
BOTH CRASHED BETWEEN DARWIN AND TIMOR
AFTER AN AIR BATTLE
ON 15 FEBRUARY 1942

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Lt. Robert G. Oestreicher and Lt. Robert J. Buel had been left behind in Darwin in the Northern Territory with their 2 unserviceable aircraft when the rest of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron left for Java on 10 February 1942.

On 15 February 1942, the USS Houston broke radio silence to advise that its convoy was being followed by a Japanese Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" flying boat of the 21st Air Flotilla based at Ceram. The flying boat followed the convoy for about 3 hours before it eventually dropped a number of 60 kg bombs from 3,000 metres. Lt. Buel and Lt. Oestreicher were both on patrol at the time, but only Lt. Buel could be contacted by radio. He was ordered to intercept the Japanese flying boat. Buel attacked the Flying Boat from the rear but was shot down by the rear gunner in the flying boat. Buel's smoking aircraft crashed into the sea.

Buel however was also successful in hitting the Japanese flying Boat. It crashed into the sea with a fire at the front of the fuselage. The radio operator was killed in the crash. The rest of the crew of the flying boat escaped the wrecked "Mavis" flying boat and clambered into a life raft. The rest of the crew were as follows:-

Lt. Takahara
Amamoto
Okimoto
Sichishima.

Sichishima died from his injuries in the raft two days later. The rest of the crew were captured and after being interrogated they were sent to the Cowra POW Camp in New south Wales.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Darwin's Air War - 1942-1945. An Illustrated History"
By the Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory (Bob Alford)

 

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This page first produced 10 February 2002

This page last updated 08 December 2017