By Pierre Kosmidis
Rod Pearce has dedicated his time and efforts finding underwater aircraft wrecks and seeking closure to the families of hundreds -if not thousands- of Missing in Action (MIA) airmen from all nations that fought during World War Two.
Rod has been diving in Papua New Guinea for 40 years and is credited with discovering most of its best underwater wrecks, including B-17F “Black Jack” 41-24521 and co-finding s’Jacob, along with many other WW2 shipwrecks and aircraft.
One Japanese aircraft Rod explored is a Nakajima B5N2 Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber, code named “Kate” by the Allies.
“This particular aircraft is B5N2 single engine three seat carrier borne torpedo bomber of all metal construction with fabric covered control surfaces. “Kate” was found in the early 1960s, although the locals knew of its whereabouts and I first dived it about 1984.
Someone had previously tried to salvage the aircraft with the help of 44 gallon fuel drums but had done some structural damage to the tail section.
No known history of this aircraft is known and it probably flew out of Rabaul or Kavieng which is not far away. The plane is at Aua Island in about 6 meters of water.
These photos were taken in early 2002 and we haven’t yet managed to determine the aircraft wreck’s exact details that could lead us to its identification.”