The Search & Recovery Expedition for Missing WWII pilots continues:

 Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawas family found!

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A boyish looking Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa stands before his Nakijima Ki-27 fighter.  Photo kindly provided by the Kurosawa Family. (Please refer to earlier report hosted under NEW IMAGES  Feruary 2008, on this website)

Photo # Sgt_Kurosawa_while_young
A boyish looking Sgt. Toshisada Kurosawa stands before his Nakijima Ki-27 fighter.  Photo kindly provided by the Kurosawa Family.

(For background details on the project, please refer to NEW IMAGES  February 2008, on this website)

Cpl. Anabuki was Sgt. Kurosawas fellow pilot and flew with the Kanamura Section of the 50th Senti, on the Feb. 9th 1942 interception mission. He survived the war and left an account of the aerial engagement from the Japanese perspective. In it, he made the below poignant observations about Sgt. Kurosawa, following his failure to return to base from the mission:

Sgt. Kurosawa was a handsome, baby-faced young man. He had fair skin and his face looked pale after shaving. In the barracks (Clark Field, Pampanga  occupied by the Japanese in early January 1942), he always slept in a cot next to mine. Ever since that day, the cot was empty and I miss him a lot. At night, out of character, I often thought of the severe and relentless war, and of the mortality of men fighting in the vast sky.

Translation kindly provided by Mr. Kan Sugahara, from Cpl. Anabukis book A River in the Deep Blue Sky: Records of Aerial Battle of Sgt. Anabuki in Hayabusa, published  by Kojinsha, 1984, Tokyo. The original was published in MARU Magazine in a series from July 1980 to April 1983.

 

The Project

At the request of Mr. Wescot B. Stone, the original goal of the project was to locate the P40E crash site of his elder brother, 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone, Jr., with the purpose of recovering his remains for repatriation and burial in the family crypt in his home town of Los Angeles, California.

By chance, the wreckage of Lt. Stones hapless Japanese opponent of that fateful day, was discovered first. The search team (Spike Nasmyth, Ryan Bach, Brad & Heather Blythe and Kevin Hamdorf), then decided to expand the original missions goal to include the search for possible surviving members of Sgt. Kurosawas family.

The search for the P40E fighter plane of 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone, Jr. began in February 2006.  Based upon contemporary WWII reports, it was clearly demonstrated that Lt. Stone was lost during a dog fight with a Japanese fighter over Mt. Mariveles (at the lower end of the Bataan Peninsula). The aerial battle concluded when both the American and Japanese fighters were seen to disappear into cloud-enshrouded Mt. Mariveles.

As recounted by eyewitness, Captain Allison Ind (Air Intelligence Officer on the staff of General Douglas McArthur) in his book Bataan: The Judgment Seat, page 292:

Mariveles reported a dog fight. But there was something wrong A P40, streaking in pursuit of a Zero (actually a Nakajima Ki-27 Nate fighter), had lost him in a cloud. The American (2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone, Jr.) then had searched at reduced speed, swinging in low beneath the cloud a dangerous move, for the wily enemy (Sgt. Kurosawa) might have been waiting within that cloud for just that. Watchers below held their breath while the P40 made its dangerous circuit. But nothing happened. Then, to their amazement, the P40 pilot repeated the maneuver as though endeavoring to entice his enemy to come out and fight.

He did. Screaming out of the cloud from superior altitude, he cut in on the P40s tail with red streaming tracers. Together they zoomed into the cloud-obscured fastness of Mariveles mountain.

With a suddenness that left the excited watchers paralyzed, all sounds of straining motors ceased.

Days later a laboring expedition painfully made its way through the most difficult country on the peninsular, and found part of the answer. 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 jungle below, remnants of a Japanese Zero. Closer inspection after a dangerous descent into the gulch proved that the pilot was dead; but they were unable to reach him to bury him..

The wildness of the country prevented further search. Captain Whitfield, the party leader, was certain that in the next gulch lay the likewise shattered remains of the P40 and the Ace Pilot of Bataan Field, Lieutenant Earl R. Stone, Jr; officially credited with three Japanese planes.

With the rediscovery of the Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 Nate crash site, a search of  WWII Battle of Bataan literature was initiated to identify the Japanese pilot.

A review of Japanese records by Mr. William H. Bartsch (during research for his definitive book on American Pursuit pilots in the Philippines, 1941 1942, Doomed From The Start), revealed the identity of the Japanese pilot to be that of 20 year old  Toshisada Kurosawa (born in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan in 1922), a fighter pilot assigned to the 50th Senti of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. With the very able and  persistant efforts of Mr. Kan Sugahara in Japan (a WWII historian and former cadet in the Imperial Japanese Navy), the team succeeded in tracing the surviving family members of Sgt. Kurosawa (a younger brother and sister). Thus, after 66 long years, peace of mind concerning the fate of their missing elder brother Toshisada, was finally brought to his surviving siblings.

Mr. Kan Sugaharas email of April 7th 2008 :

Dear Kevin
Good news! With the good offices of Mr. Daisuke NAKAGAWA, a reporter of the Hokkaido Newspapers and a collaborator Mr. Shoji ITOH, the whereabouts of Sgt. Kurosawa's family is found. His brother lives in Sapporo with his son, but he is now in hospital. Mr. NAKAGAWA,  who lives in the eastern end of Hokkaido, asked his colleague in Sapporo to visit them and confirm that they are the real Sgt. Kurosawa's family, which was done today and found OK.
 
Since his brother is in hospital, and this was quite a surprise for them . I just heard they may want to visit the site some day.
 
This is one big step forward with this project. I do hope you will find the wreckage of LT. Stone's P-40 in the next expedition.
 
Kan.

 

 

Photo # kurosawa-article
In Japan, the successful tracing of Sgt. Kurosawas family was announced in the April 8th 2008 edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun (Nationwide Newspaper). Featured in the article was a photograph of Sgt. Kurosawas younger brother viewing images of the Nakajima Ki-27 crash site. The articles translation below was kindly provided by Mr. Tetsuo Saito.

 

"Bereaved family of Pilot Found in Sapporo!"


As per our report in January last year, the wreckage of "97 Fighter" commanded by Sgt. Kurosawa during World War the 2nd was found in Luzon island, Philippines.  The bereaved family member of Kurosawa was finally found in Sapporo City this month and his news was brought to his family member for the first time in 66 years.

According to Sgt. Kurosawa's younger brother (76 years old), who lives in Chuou-ku, Sapporo City, Sgt. Kurosawa used to visit old Sapporo Airport when he was still in his high school days and also do part-time job to assist scattering the leaflets from the airplane. Such things triggered him to become a fighter pilot.

After the crash, the white wooden box was delivered to his family but it contained only one stone. At that time, this younger brother remembers still in his childish mind to have made up his mind to search his brother when he became an adult.

Unfortunately this younger brother is now being hospitalized due to brain infarct, he is saying that he wishes to visit the site of crash.

According to various information in US and Japan, Sgt. Kurosawa's plane crashed into the hillside close to Mariveles summit on Feb. 9, 1942 after dog-fight with US plane and since then  he was missing and feared dead.  The found wreckage was said to be the parts of engines and Kan Sugawara, war historian has been trying to identify the bereaved family.  Sugawara said that he strongly wishes to extend his help so that this younger brother can visit the site. <END>

 

 

The search for 2nd Lt. Earl R. Stone, Jrs P40E crash site continues:

 

Photo # earlstone_young

Lt. Earl Reynolds Stone, Jr. - UCLA Graduation Photo. Photo courtesy of Los Angeles newspaper

Photo # 020908ATARAK0182
Forensic aircraft crash specialist, Col. Ralph Wetterhahn (USAF Retired) pictured at the Nakajima Ki-27 crash site - provided the following updated analysis of the Nate wreckage to assist in narrowing down the area most likely to contain the P40E impact site.

 

April 21st 2008

 In looking through the material I have, the following conclusions come to mind:

The Nate was on a heading of 080 degrees +/- five degrees, in about a ten-degree left bank, rolling right, and under several g's at impact.  The nose of the aircraft was just above level with the lower part of the radial engine just beneath the prop hub making contact first (along with the props), against something solid, a rock.  The fuselage pancaked into the ridge with the tail skid slamming between two boulders.  The gun barrels were very hot, indicating they had been fired within seconds of impact.

    If the above is close to the actual facts of the incident, then we can move back along the flight path and propose the following:

    The Nate was trailing the P-40 in a left hand turn around the volcano.  Firing of the Nate's  7.7 machine guns had occurred shortly before impact.  This means the P-40 was also in a left turn and either the Nate was inside the P-40's turn, pulling lead to fire or sliding in trail after completing a firing pass.  In any case the Nate pilot then observed one of two things, (1) He saw the P-40 impact the ridge, or (2) He spotted the ridge itself.  Thus, he began his maneuver to avoid impact, that being a right roll and pull-up to align himself with the top of the ridge. Then, BAM.

    If this is close to the facts, then the P-40 has to be located below and close to the Nate crash site.  If you look at the attch pic of the western face of Cogon Tarak Ridge

 

Photo # 010908_0118

 I'm predicting the P-40 is beneath the second small peak from the right.  You can see a tilted "Y" shaped grassy area beginning at the top of the peak.  Follow that down to a point about 100 feet below where the grassy area ends and begin searching both left, right, and below that point.  Since the P-40 was seen back in 1942, sticking into the hillside, I'm assuming that Earl Stone never saw the ridge.  In other words he plowed straight into the hill.  He therefore has to be below the level we found the Nate.  All we need to find is a few small pieces of wreckage and we've got the goods.

Regards,

Ralph

Photo # 010908_0089

An aerial overview of Cogon Tarak Ridge (center) and Mt. Mariveles volcanic crater - looking north.

 

Photo # 010908_0128
This aerial view (January 9th 2008) along the western slope of Cogon Tarak Ridge, looking south from directly above the Mt Mariveles volcanic crater,  demonstrates the steep terrain and dense jungle conspiring to make the task of locating Lt. Stones P40 crash site an arduous one.

Well into the third year of the project, the team remain confident of eventual success. The search will resume in November, following the current wet season.

Many thanks to all involved!!!

N.B. Should any reader have additional information or suggestions that will assist in the search, please email me at: kevinhamdorf@photographer.net Thank you.

TO BE CONTINUED.

 

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