Photo # TARAK_0089
Aerial view of Cogon Tarak Ridge on the southern flank of Mt. Mariveles Volcano, Bataan Peninsula, Philippines.
At approximately 3pm on February 9th 1942, a flight six Nakajima Ki-27 ("Nate") fighters of the Imperial Japanese Army’s 50th Senti, intercepted over the lower Bataan Peninsular (near Mariveles), five US Army Air Corps P40E "Warhawks" belonging to the 24th Pursuit Group, which were flying cover for a Philippine Army Air Corps Stearman 76D3 recon biplane. The US-Fil flight was returning from a photo reconnaissance mission conducted over concealed Japanese 105mm artillery positions located at Ternate, Cavite, on the south side of Manila Bay. During the closing phase of the ensuing chaotic, but indecisive aerial engagement, a Nakajima Ki-27 fighter, piloted by Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa (aged 20 years) was observed by ground based witnesses, to fire machine gun tracer bullets at a P40E "Warhawk" (piloted by 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone Jr.- aged 23 years), he was pursuing. Although the P40E was a more powerful aircraft, it lacked the maneuvering agility of the lighter, Nakajima Ki-27. Eye witnesses speculate that Lt. Stone, in a futile attempt to loose the pursuing “Nate”, deliberately flew into nearby cloud covered Mt. Mariveles. However, seconds after both planes had disappeared into the cloud in the vicinity of Cogon Tarak Ridge, a loud explosion was heard - followed by an ominous silence. Neither, Lt. Stone nor Sgt. Kurosawa returned to their respective bases and were presumed to have perished when their fighters collided with cloud enshrouded Cogon Tarak Ridge. At the time, the bodies of neither pilot were recovered.
Photo # 010908_D563_0118
Search tracks of the search and Recovery Expedition February 8 - 10, 2008. Western slope of Cogon Tarak Ridge, Mt. Mariveles, Bataan. Elevation: approx 3,700 ft. (Aerial photo taken January 9, 2008).
Please read Ryan Bach’s report for a detailed accounting of the search and recovery mission.
Photo # 090807_0169
The American Curtiss P40E “Warhawk” Fighter (Designed by Donovan R. Berlin)
(The above custom model was made by Esmeraldo "Ming" M. Gana of AIM HIGH, Angeles City, Philippines)
The paint scheme and markings shown are thought to closely approximate those featured on P40E’s flown by the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group, during the Battle of Bataan, in the early months of1942.
2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone Jr. (Serial No. 0-390872) US Army Air Corps 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group.
Born on October 16th 1918 in Los Angeles, California. Upon graduation from the University of California Los Angeles, where he was a ROTC Captain, Earl enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in September 1940. He trained at Ontario, California; Randolph Field and Kelly Field, Texas between November 9th 1940 and February 15th 1941; obtaining a fighter pilot’s rating as a member of the flying school class 41-C. He shipped to the Philippines in late 1941 and the time of his death was based at Bataan Field, on the Bataan Peninsula, during the “Battle of Bataan and Corregidor”.
Lt. Stone was credited with shooting down three Japanese planes on night of February 1st / 2nd 1942, over Agloloma Bay, Bataan, during the “Battle of The Points” and was awarded the Army Silver Star for gallantry by General Douglas MacArthur on February 7th.
Photo # 090807_029
The Japanese Nakajima Ki-27a or Type 97 Army Fighter (Allied name: “Nate”)
(Custom model made by by Esmeraldo "Ming" M. Gana of AIM HIGH Angeles City, Philippines)
The paint scheme and markings shown are thought to closely approximate those featured on the aircraft during the Battle of Bataan, in early 1942. The white lightning symbol painted on the fuselage, indicate Sgt. Kurosawa belonged to the 3rd Squadron of the Imperial Japanese Army’s (IJA) 50th Senti (Fighting Regiment).
Photo # 090807_027
Sgt. Kurosawa's rank and name are painted at the base of the vertical stabilizer. Traditionally, a Japanese pilot would have a good luck word or expression painted at the top of the vertical stabilizer. We do not know Sgt. Kurosawa’s favored expression, but have used (in Japanese characters) “Blowing Snow”, the expression used by his squadron mate, Cpl. Anabuki, during the fateful February 9th 1942 dogfight. Cpl. Anabuki survived the war and left an account of the aerial battle from the Japanese perspective.
Sgt. Kurosawa’s “Nate” was built in 1938 (2598 in the Japanese Imperial calendar) as confirmed by the serial number imprinted on the “Nate’s” recovered supercharger. (please see below photo # D523_042607_03). The Nakajima Ki-27 was an all metal with stressed skin fighter and was the first operational monoplane in the Japanese Army Air Force, entering service in 1937 (2597 in the Japanese Imperial calendar – hence it’s Japanese Army designation : “Type 97”). A fragile aircraft, it had no starter motor, a rear tailskid shock absorber instead of a wheel (please see below photo #020908ATARAK213), no self-sealing fuel tanks and static front landing wheels. There was no pilot armor, thus sacrificing the pilot’s chances of survivability for lightness and agility. Claire Chennault, of the famous “Flying Tigers”, described the “Nates” performance as “climbing like a rocket and maneuvering like a squirrel”. The P40E could not match the close-in maneuverability of a “Nate”. Toward the end of the war as the “Nate” was replaced by high performance fighters, it was assigned to homeland defense, training and when equipped with up to 500kg (1,100lb) of explosive, kamikaze use. A Nakajima Ki-27 has been restored and is on display at the Tachiarai Peace Memorial Museum at Miwa, Kukuoka Prefecture, Japan.(www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/ki-27/fukuoka/nate.html)
Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa was born in 1922 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. He graduated in October 1940 from the Gifu Branch of the Kumaga Army Flying School and was registered with the Imperial Japanese Army's 50th Sentai (Fighter Regiment). He flew with the Fukui Section on the February 9, 1942 mission - taking off from Japanese occupied Clark Field, Pampanga (approximately 100 km NE of Mariveles) at 1320 hours to intercept the returning five P40E's and Stearman 76D3 photo reconnaissance plane (piloted by Filipino Air Ace, Captain Jesus A. Villamor with recon photographer, M/Sgt. Juan V. Abanes in the forward seat).
In 1959, Sgt. Kurosawa’s name was enshrined in the Gokoku Jija Shrine in Sapporo. At that time, as the bereaved family member, his father, Setsusuke, resided at Nishi 5-home, 20 Kita 16 Jo, Sapporo. *The Kurosawa family no longer resides at this address and the search to locate them continues. If any person can be of assistance in this regard, please email me (email@example.com) or Mr. Kan Sugahara (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Japan.*N.B. Since this posting, Sgt. Kurosawa’s surviving family members were successfully located. Please go to “NEW IMAGES” May 2008 on this website for details.
Photo # 051408_8372
The announcement of the discovery of the wreckage of a Japanese WWII era Nakajima Ki-27, “Nate” fighter plane on Mt. Mariveles, Bataan, Philippines, together with the identity of the pilot, Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa, was published in a number of Japanese Newspapers (including the July 16th 2007 English edition of the THE DAILY YOMIURI) in the hopes of tracing his family. Please go to “NEW IMAGES” May 2008 on this website for the latest developments.
Photo # 020908ATARAK048
At dusk, search team leader, Ryan Bach- left, (a Fedex pilot based at nearby Subic Bay) and Col. Ralph Wetterhahn –right, (USAF retired), a forensic aircraft crash specialist, contemplate the scene directly above the location of the wreckage of Sgt. Kurosawa's Nakajima Ki-27. On February 10th 1942, the day following the aerial engagement, a team headed by Captain Hervey Whitfield, climbed Cogon Tarak Ridge in search of the missing 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone, Jr. As reported in Allison Ind's book "Bataan: The Judgement Seat" (page 24) “...wriggling out on the branch of a tree that was rooted in the rocky forehead of a deep gulch, they saw, scattered over hundreds of feet of the jungle below, remains of a Japanese Zero (actually a Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate" fighter)”. The old tree visible to the left of the photo is believed to be the tree referred to by Captain Whitfield.
Photo # 020908ATARAK0108
Aeta guide, Estepanio Bulatao rests on the "rocky forehead" with the tree referred to by search team leader, Captain Hervey Whitfield in the background. The February 10th 1942 search for the missing 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone, Jr. failed to locate either him or the wreckage of his P40E fighter. (Please see above photo caption # 020908ATARAK048).
Photo # 020908ATARAK0227
Forensic aircraft crash specialist, Col. Ralph Wetterhahn (USAF retired), carefully excavates the debris field of the Nakajima Ki-27 crash site. Assisting are Aeta guides Gary Duero (center) and his son, Noel. During a preliminary search of the site, several bone fragments and a single tooth were recovered. (Please see below photo # 022308_061).
Photo # 020908ATARAK0179
Col. Ralph Wetterhahn (USAF Retired), forensic aircraft crash specialist examines one of the two recovered Type-89 machine guns with aeta guides Gary Duero (left) and his son Noel (right). In the background lies the Nakajima Ha-1 Otsu 9 cylinder radial air-cooled, 650 hp (485 kW) engine block. Note the ruggedness and thickness of the surrounding jungle.
Photo # 020908ATARAK0184
Forensic aircraft crash specialist, Col. Ralph Wetterhahn (USAF retired) measures what is believed to be a .50” (12.7mm) caliber machine gun bullet hole in the Nakajima Ki-27's exhaust manifold. As witnessed that day (February 9th 1941) by Sgt. Kurosawa's squadron mate, Cpl. Anabuki, "….at that time, that friendly plane (Kurosawa's) had already been hit and trailing white smoke. In spite of his (Kurosawa's) damage, he bravely attempted to attack another enemy plane (Lt. Earl R. Stone's P40E). It is almost positive that the plane was Kurosawa's. In the chaos of battle, he disappeared without anyone knowing about it".( From the translation of Anabuki's book "Grave Markers of the Men who fly in the Vast Sky", kindly provided by Mr. Kan Sugahara - a former wartime student of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy). A bullet hole in the exhaust manifold would account for the observed "white smoke" trailing from the “Nate”.
Photo # 020908ATARAK0304
An unfired 7.7mm (.303") bullet jammed in the breach of one of two recovered Type-89 machine gun's (so named because it went into service in the Imperial Japanese Year 2589 -1929, by the Western calendar). Modeled upon the .303 caliber British Vickers air-cooled machine gun, it fired a 7.7 x 58mm semi-rim cartridge with a muzzle velocity of 820 m/sec at a rate of 900 rounds per minute. The forward fuselage mounted guns were fired between the two propeller blades by means of a synchronizing gear connected to the propeller transmission.
Photo # D523_042607_062
The fired 7.7mm (.303”) is from one of the two Type-89 machine guns that were mounted in the nose of the fuselage, either side of the Nakajima Ha-1 Otsu 9 cylinder radial engine. The cartridge was recovered from beneath the final rest position of the engine block. Given that spent cartridges were ejected through an exit chute, immediately after firing, this particular cartridge casing must have belonged to one of the last bullets fired at Lt. Stone’s P40E by Sgt. Kurosawa. The deformation of the cartridge case testifies to the high impact force resulting from the Nakajima Ki-27's collision with the mountain. Based upon an analysis of the overall impact damage of the wreckage, Col. Ralph Wetterhahn estimates that the “Nate” would have been traveling at a speed of approximately 200 km/hr at the moment of impact.
Photo # D523_042607_050
The recovered fragment of twisted aluminum aircraft skin from Sgt. Kurosawa’s Nakajima Ki-27 features the curved edge (right) of a probable inspection hatch opening, as well as remnants of red paint. Assuming the red paint is a partial segment of the “Rising Sun” (or “Meat Ball”, as it was called by the Allies) insignia, which identified Japanese aircraft, this particular piece of skin fragment probably came from the top of one of the two forward wings. Foreign based Japanese aircraft, at this point of time in the War, had the “Meat Ball” painted only at these two locations (personal communication from Mr. Kan Sugahara).
Photo # D523_042607_03
The recovered supercharger from Sgt. Kurosawa’s Nakajima Ki-27’s Ha-1 Otsu 9 cylinder radial air-cooled, 650 hp (485 kW) engine. This particular “Nate” supercharger was manufactured in 1938 (2598 in the Japanese Imperial calendar), as confirmed by the positioning of the number “98” in the imprinted serial number (No. 3180 98-1042).
Photo # 020908ATARAK213
The recovered tailskid shock absorber (N.B. the Nakajima Ki-27 was not fitted with a rear tail landing wheel). As per Col. Ralph Wetterhahn's analysis: “From the angle the tail skid was embedded between the rocks, I estimate he was in a left bank of about ten degrees. The bend at the top of the skid along with the down bend on the left MG and the up twist bend on the right MG tell me he was rolling right”.
Photo # 020908ATARAK0345
Aeta JEST (Jungle Environmental Survival Training) trainer and guide, Gary Duero, (from nearby Subic Bay, Zambales) rests at the rocky outcrop located directly above the Nakajima Ki-27 fighter's crash site. Note the steepness of the slope. Col. Ralph Wetterhahn’s analysis of the surviving wreckage (most had been removed earlier by metal scrappers!), indicates that the “Nate” impacted at an angle of about 10 degrees to the slope, while executing an upward roll to the right. Kurosawa failed to clear the top of Cogon Tarak Ridge by just under 90'. In the distance, the western rim of Mount Mariveles Volcano and 4,700 foot Mt. Bataan Peak. The volcanic crater lies to the right.
Photo # 021008BTARAK04
Search and recovery team members. Originally believing the found wreckage to be that of an American plane, Jessie Mendoza (wearing beige color sweater and standing at left), lead the first search team to the crash site in early 2007. As a member of a CAFGU (Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit) team seeking out NPA (National People's Army) communist guerillas, in the early 1990’s, Jessie accidentally stumbled upon the wreckage. In the intervening years, he has revisited the site several times, while in the more peaceful pursuit of rattan vine collecting. Jessie's knowledge of the wreck came to the search team's attention via local Mariveles businessman, Mr. Lito Rubia, As soon as the plane wreckage was identified as having a 9 cylinder, air-cooled radial engine the team realized that it was not from an American P40E fighter (which had a liquid-cooled, in-line V12 engine). Upon further investigation, it was quickly concluded that the engine actually belong to Lt. Stone’s Japanese adversary. The Nakajima Ki-27 fighter was powered by a 9 cylinder, air-cooled radial engine.
Photo # 020808TARAK064
At the search team’s campsite, spiritually sensitive Aeta guide Gary Duero, lights two candles in honor of the spirits of missing pilots 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone Jr. and Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa. The following day, February 9th 2008, the 66th anniversary of the aerial battle in which both pilots died, what are believed to the partial remains of Sgt. Kurosawa were recovered by Gary and his son, Noel. Sgt. Kurosawa's remains will be repatriated to his family in Japan.
Photo # 020908ATARAK386
Panoramic view of Mt. Mariveles Volcano, as viewed from Cogon Tarak Ridge, looking north. Tarak Peak (4,443’), the high point slightly right of center, marks the intersection of Cogon Tarak Ridge with the rim of Mt. Mariveles crater. The western (left) facing cliff visible immediately below the peak, was speculated to be the possible crash site of 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone Jr.'s P40E fighter and was the focus of intensive search efforts during the Feb. 8th to 10th expedition. No evidence of any debris was found at this location. The lower western facing cliff face and ravine (left) of the lower foreground peak, will be the focus of the next search and recovery attempt (Please see Ryan Bach’s Report).
Photo # 020908BTARAK0168A
Panoramic sunset view of the western flank of Mt. Mariveles Volcano, as viewed from the top of Cogon Tarak Ridge, immediately upslope from Sgt. Kurosawa's Nakajima's Ki-27 crash site. The high peak is Mt. Bataan, which at 4,700' is the highest point on Mt. Mariveles Volcano.
Photo # 021008TARAK029
Left to Right: Karl Welteke, Aldrin Camaclang, John Mar Denito, Gary Montemayor, Alex Tapado, Noel Duero, Estepanio Bulatao, Orlando Quiambao Jr., Jeff Calubhay, Jessie Mendoza, Diego Martirez, Ralph Wetterhahn Michael Rivera, Joel Bulanhigan, Oscar Tolentino, Eric Flores, Raslio Monares, Jaycie Doble, Ryan Bach and Kevin Hamdorf.
Members of the February 8th to 10th, 2008, Search and Recovery Team at the "helicopter landing pad" (elevation approximately 3,350') on Cogon Tarak Ridge, Mt. Mariveles, Bataan. The landing site was originally established in the late 1980’s to facilitate Philippine Army missions conducted against the communist guerillas of the New People's Army (NPA). All members of the search team and support personal performed an outstanding job, and I would personally like thank each an everyone of them for their selfless dedication to the project.
The search for 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone will continue!
Photo # 021008BTARAK0039
Left to Right: Col. Ralph Wetterhahn (USAF Retired), forensic aircraft crash specialist; Ryan Bach (Fedex Pilot), team leader and Brad (Fedex pilot) & Heather (school teacher) Blythe, team leaders.
Photo # 021008BTARAK087
The Project "Command Center", Yorkies Pub (Yorkie and Lorna Challinor, owners), Cabcaben Bataan (located approximately one mile from World War II era, Cabcaben Air Field). Col. Ralph Wetterhahn (USAF Retired), a forensic aircraft crash specialist examines one of the two Type-89 machine guns recovered from Sgt. Kurosawa’s Nakajima Ki-27 fighter. Note the spirally shaped deformation of the gun barrel, indicating that at the time of impact, the machine gun was extremely hot. The unfired bullet visible in Photo # 020908ATARAK0304 is lodged in the breech of this gun. In the foreground to the right, is the bullet (.50 cal.) pieced exhaust manifold (see Photo # 020908ATARAK0184). While selected items recovered from the wreckage may be returned to Japan, most will be donated for display at the Philippine Air Force's new Museum on Villamor Air Force Base, Manila.
Maj. Spike Nasmyth –left - (USAF Retired - former F4 Phantom pilot and POW of the North Vietnamese) provided logistics support during the Feb. 8th to 9th mission (please see Ryan Back’s Report). It was during a February 2006 talk to the Los Angeles Red Baron Club, that Spike made the acquaintance of Mr. Wes Stone, younger brother of 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone Jr. and became aware of the story of his disappearance during the WWII Battle of Bataan.
Photo # 022308_061
Dentist, Dr. Ana Maria Lorenzana, of the Lorenzana & Associates Dental Clinic in Olongapo City, Zambales, examines the single intact tooth recovered from the Sgt. Kurosawa's crash site. The tooth was positively identified as a human right upper canine. Growth and ware characteristics indicate that the tooth belonged to an individual in the 19-27 years age range. Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa was 20 years of age at the time of his death on February 9th 1942. Bone fragments also recovered from the site, have been tentatively identified as human. All recovered remains will be repatriated to Sgt. Kurosawa's family in Japan. Please click here to read Dr. Lorenzana’s full Specimen Description (Copyrighted). Special thanks to Dr. Lorenzana and her able staff for contributing their services and time.
Please go to “NEW IMAGES” May 2008 on this website for the latest developments.