JAPANESE RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHT
OVER HOBART, TASMANIA
ON 1 MARCH 1942
Warrant Flying Officer Nobuo Fujita and Shoji Okuda completed a recce flight in their "Glen" float plane over Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay from submarine I-25 on 26 February 1942.
Commander Tagami then pointed Japanese submarine I-25 back down the west coast of Tasmania travelling on the surface. They decided to initiate the reconnaissance flight from Great Oyster Bay, which is located about half way up the east coast of Tasmania. The bay is about 35 kms long by 15 kms wide and is proteced by the red granite cliffs and steep headlands of the Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island. Tagami brought I-25 into the large bay under a full moon.
Fujita decided to take off from the water rather than use the catapult on the front deck of the submarine. The "Glen" floatplane was withdrawn from the waterprrof hanger at the front of the submarine, assembled, and lifted into the water. Two hours before dawn, Fujita and Okuda were heading south for Hobart. Once he was well south of Cape Pillar, Fujita turned north west and went around the Tasman Peninsula. He then made another sharp turn and approached Hobart from a southerly direction.
With the full moon, they could easily spot all the fishing boats and coasters on the Derwent River. They spotted the glow of a furnace at a foundry and saw a white concrete road leading away from Hobart. They could see Mount Wellington looming over the beautiful city of Hobart. They saw 5 cargo ships at anchor but no warships.
Fujita retraced his course back to the submarine arriving back just after dawn. As they were preparing to lift the aircraft on to the deck of the submarine, Tsukudo spotted a small freighter steaming southwards. After some anxious moments it became apparent that the steamer had not seen the Japanese submarine.
As the "Glen" was being lifted, the submarine rolled in the rising swell causing the wingtip of the "Glen" to swing hard against the crane. The spruce formers and plywood wing ribs splintered under the impact. Fujita, who was still in the cockpit at the time, was devestated when he heard the cracking sound of the impact. Fujita was very concerned by the damage as there were no spare wings carried on I-25.
Tagami set out on the surface for their 4 day journey to New Zealand. The maintenance crews repaired the damaged wing tip but the adequacy of the repairs was disputed by Fujita.
They made recconaissance flights over Wellington in New Zealand on 8 March 1942 and then Auckland on 12 March 1942. They then travelled on to Suva for their last flight on 18 March 1942.
Japanese Recce flights over Australia during WW2
Jenkins, David, "Battle Surface - Japan's Submarine War against Australia 1942 - 44", Random House Australia, 1992
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 1 November 2000
This page last updated 08 September 2018