Shigetoshi Kudo was trained as a reconnaissance pilot and was assigned to the famous Tainan Kokutai in October 1941. When the Pacific War began he supported the Kokutai by performing reconnaissance and navigation duties over the Philippines and Dutch East Indies. The unit eventually moved to Rabaul, where Kudo was credited with his first aerial victories using air-to-air bombs. Kudo returned to Japan in the fall of 1942 where he trained to fly the Nakajima J1N1 Gekko (“Irving”) nightfighter.
The Tainan Kokutai was redesignated the 251st Kokutai in November 1942, Kudo rejoining the unit in May 1943. On strength were two J1N1 nightfighters which had been modified with the addition of oblique-firing 20mm cannon on the orders of the squadron commander, CDR Yasuna Kozono. These guns were angled to fire 30 degrees above and below the line of flight, similar to the Schräge Musik installation on German nightfighters. Kudo flew the J1N1 defending Rabaul against American B-17s, eventually claiming six plus an Australian Hudson and becoming the first nightfighter ace of the Pacific War. Japanese sources credited him with nine victories.
Kudo returned to Japan in February 1944 and was assigned to the Yokosuka Air Group. He was injured in a landing accident in May 1945. He survived the war but died in 1960.
This is a conversion of the Airfix B-17G Flying Fortress kit to represent B-17E 41-9244 “Honi Kuu Okole”, which served with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups in the Pacific. She was one of a group of four B-17Es requisitioned from a Royal Air Force order by the USAAF, the others being serial numbers 41-9196, 41-9234, and 41-9235. The aircraft were finished in the RAF Temperate Sea Scheme and British markings, the insignia were replaced with U.S. markings but the camouflage was retained.
There was a fad among U.S. aircrews in the Pacific to give their aircraft Hawaiian names. According to Lawrence J. Hickey’s “Kens Men Against the Empire”:
“Sometime during its combat service with the 19th and 43rd Bomb Groups the aircraft acquired the nickname HONI KUU OKOLE. Whoever named it thought the name meant “up your ass” or perhaps “kiss my ass” in Hawaiian; a more literal translation of the phrase would be “massage my buttock.”
The aircraft was in the thick of the action, racking up a total of 87 combat missions and an impressive scoreboard. Her luck ran out on the night of 21MAR43 over Rabaul when she was shot down by a J1N1 Gekko (Irving) nightfighter piloted by SFPO Shigetoshi Kudo of the 251st NAG. Only two of the crew survived the crash. Bombardier MSGT Gordon Manual evaded the Japanese until he was rescued by the USS Gato (SS-212) on 05FEB44, waist gunner SGT Robert Curry was captured and executed by the Japanese at Rabaul. SFPO Kudo would go on to become the first nightfighter ace of the Pacific War.
Photographs of HONI KUU OKOLE focus on her scoreboard. I have depicted her with replacement parts in U.S. colors and touch-ups in Olive Drab along the locations where the de-icer boots would have been removed, all probable but the specifics are speculative. Her U.S. insignia are in the sizes and locations of the RAF insignia they replaced. Decals are from Starfighter Decals #72-162 “Fortress of the Skies Part 3: E Models”.
Photographer Ralph Morse documented several Boeing B-17E Flying Fortresses operating from Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides in December 1942. Two of these aircraft would be lost before the end of the month. Two others were shot down by J1N1 Irving night fighters. Four were veterans of the Battle of Midway. At the time these aircraft were assigned to the 11th and 5th Bombardment Groups, but many had previously operated all across the Pacific. The following are a selection of named aircraft with their nose art and scoreboards at the time.