“Pete” the Japanese nearly intact reconnaissance floatplane of Rabaul

WW2 Pacific Treasures

By Pierre Kosmidis

The Mitsubishi F1M (Allied reporting name “Pete”) was a Japanese reconnaissance floatplane of World War II.
It was the last biplane type of the Imperial Japanese Navy, with 1,118 built between 1936 and 1944.
The Navy designation was “Type Zero Observation Seaplane” (零式水上観測機), not to be confused with the Type Zero Carrier Fighter or the Type Zero Reconnaissance Seaplane.
This specific wreck was a reconnaissance plane sunk while at anchor.
She lies near the shore in 30 metres of water.
Her three-pronged front propeller is still intact and is one of Rabaul’s most iconic images.


While there are many WWII wrecks dotted around Papua New Guinea, the Rabaul area undoubtedly has the most.
Situated on the eastern tip of New Britain, Rabaul is a large natural harbour that was the main naval base of the Japanese during the war.

The area is also a very active volcanic region, sitting between 3 active volcanoes.
The last eruption was in 1994, which prompted the government to strip Rabaul of its title as regional capital.
The town harbour was covered in ash, to the detriment of the diving at the time.
Now, the area, if not the town is recovering well.