The Indispensable Kate

80 Years Ago Today: Japanese Type 97 Shipboard Attack Aircraft (Nakajima B5N “Kate” torpedo bomber) wrecked on Indispensable Reef in the Soloman Islands, at the time it was inspected by a Patrol Squadron 71 (VP-71) PBY Catalina crew, on 9 June 1942.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-7661

The plane is from the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku and bears the tail marking EI-306. It went down during a Battle of the Coral Sea search mission a month earlier and has its cockpit area burned out. Possibly, the wreckage was recovered by the seaplane tender USS Tangier (AV-8). Regardless, it added to the ONI’s knowledge base of such aircraft.

As noted by Pacific Wrecks, the crew EI-306 and its wingman, EI-302, survived ditching and were rescued by a Japanese destroyer Ariake.

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