Interrogation Nav 23, Captain Sukemitsu Ito
ITO, Sukemitsu, Captain, I.J.N.
ITO was a regular officer of 26 years service and also a naval aviator of 3,000 hours flight time. As Commanding Officer of a 6-plane flying boat unit of the TOKYO Squadron he moved into KISKA the day following the initial landing, and conducted air searches and a few bombing missions during the early part of the KISKA occupation. His unit was withdrawn on 17 August 1942, after 3 planes were put out of commission by U.S. naval bombardment. He was well qualified to speak on conditions for the operation of flying boats in summer in the Western ALEUTIANS. His recollection of details was reasonably accurate.
|Staff Officer, 1st Naval Air Technical Arsenal||YOKOSUKA||December 1941-January 1942|
|Commanding Officer, TOKYO Seaplane Group||YOKOHAMA||February 1942-March 1943|
|Personnel Officer, Naval Air Headquarters||TOKYO||April 1943-June 1945|
|Commanding Officer, 724th Air Group||MISAWA||July 1945-September 1945|
INTERROGATION NAV NO. 23
USSBS NO. 100
JAPANESE FLYING BOAT OPERATION IN THE ALEUTIANS
9 October 1945
Interrogation of: Captain ITO, Sukemitsu, I.J.N.; from February 1942 to March 1943, commanding Officer of the TOKO Seaplane Squadron at YOKOHAMA.
Interrogated by: Captain J. S. RUSSELL, USN.
The operations of a six plane Japanese flying boat unit from KISKA Harbor, during the period 8 June to 17 August 1942, are given. Operational and combat losses and damage suffered by the unit are enumerated, and some of the early U.S. air raids against KISKA are described.
(Note: All dates and times are those of TOKYO, zone minus nine.)
Captain ITO, as commanding officer of a six-plane detachment of TOKO KOKUTAI Type, 97 Flying Boat (MAVIS) Squadron, flew to KISKA from PARAMUSHIRO, landing at KISKA on 8 June, the day after the initial occupation. His unit remained at KISKA until 17 August 1942. He stated that from the latter part of May to the first part of June 1942, a 300 to 400 miles search was made in the direction of KISKA from PARAMUSHIRO by naval land-based attack planes (BETTYS). The fuel, provisions and supplies for use by his six-plane unit were brought to KISKA on board the Kamitsu Maru. This ship carried 500 two hundred liter drums of gasoline. Captain ITO's group moved ashore in a camp on the northwest shore of KISKA Harbor and were supported by repeated trips of the Kamitsu Maru between KISKA and PARAMUSHIRO. The gasoline drums were dispersed behind the seaplane beach and in the surrounding hills. The six plane unit immediately engaged in reconnaissance flights searching to the east and southeast to a distance of 250 to 300 nautical miles. Captain ITO stated that the reconnaissance was very poor due to the prevalence of fog. Beginning on about 10 June, U.S. navy flying boats attacked KISKA. These attacks continued for two or three days and then stopped, he believed, due to fog. In his opinion, these U.S. flying boats came from DUTCH HARBOR.
When Captain ITO's unit arrived in KISKA, the Japanese cruiser Kiso and four or five miscellaneous ships, including a few destroyers, were present.
The first large attack against KISKA occurred, to the best of Captain ITO's memory, on 10 June. This was made by a formation of six Liberators. They came through the pass to the west of KISKA Harbor under an overcast which was at about 1500 feet. The leading plane of this attack was struck by anti-aircraft fire from the ships in the harbor and disintegrated in the air. The wreckage fell in the mountains just to the north of the pass. This attack came as a surprise and worried the Japanese considerably. No particular damage was done.
Captain ITO stated that the cruiser Kiso, which was present at KISKA on his arrival, was undamaged.
Captain ITO did not remember when his flying boats first bombed NAZAN Bay, but thought it was about the middle of July. Their mission was to bomb a seaplane tender, but she was absent and the village was bombed instead. Clouds interfered with the observation of the results of this bombing. On one bombing of NAZAN Bay, U.S. fighters, of an unidentified type, attacked the Japanese flying boats. No damage was done to the Jap planes except for 50 caliber bullet holes in the tail surfaces of one plane. The Jap plane under attack escaped into the clouds. Three planes of Captain ITO's unit bombed a U.S. seaplane tender in KULUK Bay, ADAK, about 20 July. One plane, of three outbound on daily search, sighted the tender. When each had finished his sector search, all concentrated on KULUK BAY, joined in section formation and bombed. Each plane carried two 250 kg. bombs. Planes were not sure but thought no damage was done to the tender. One plane had one small shrapnel hole in its tail surfaces as a result of AA fire.
When Captain ITO was based at KISKA the Japanese seaplane tender Kamikawa brought in some float seaplanes.
The total losses to Captain ITO's six-plane MAVIS unit were: (a) two operationally, and (b) three as a result of U.S. surface gunfire on about 8 August. Of the two planes lost operationally, one disappeared in the fog between OMINATO and PARAMUSHIRO; the other was weathered out after a reconnaissance flight to the eastward of KISKA. The latter plane eventually landed in the open sea off ATTU, and, although the plane sank, the crew were rescued by the Japanese Army forces on ATTU. Replacements were received for the two planes lost operationally. Of the three planes lost due to enemy action, i.e., bombardment on 8 August, one plane sank and the other two were damaged beyond repair and were left in KISKA. Captain ITO departed from KISKA on 17 August and returned to Japan with the three remaining planes.
Captain ITO considered seaplane operations from KISKA very difficult due to weather. Their searches were greatly reduced in radius, 250-300 nautical miles, due to the extreme uncertainty of weather at their base. Searches over the sea were flown "contact", those along the island chain were flown "on top". The ocean swell which set into KISKA Harbor from the northeast caused them considerable trouble, but, in spite of many close calls, no damage was caused to his planes due to rough landings on the swells. He stated that the four U.S. seaplane moorings found in the lee of NORTH HEAD were of excellent quality. During reconnaissance missions, Captain ITO's planes navigated by dead=reckoning and celestial navigation. Although they had radio direction finders in their planes, and radio beacons were in operation on KISKA and ATTU, reliance was not placed in radio bearings. Japanese forces were on only four islands: KISKA, ATTU, LITTLE KISKA, and AGATTU. Commander [sic] ITO's flying boat unit operated under orders of Commander Fifth Fleet whose headquarters were at OMINATO or PARAMUSHIRO. The officer in command ashore at KISKA was the Commanding Officer of No. 3 Special Naval Landing Force, Lieutenant Commander MUKAI. ww2dbase
Source: United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) Interrogation of Japanese Officials [OPNAV-P-03-100], courtesy of ibilio Hyperwar Project
Added By: C. Peter Chen
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Thomas Dodd, late 1945