Lt. Masao Satō, Zuikaku Fighter Squadron, Pearl Harbor first attack wave
The aircraft carrier Zuikaku sent in the first wave five Zeros under the command of Lt. Satō.
He escorted the bombers in the raid on Kaneohe Naval Air Station. As they met no resistance
in the air, his fighter pilots destroyed over 32 aircraft on the ground. During the 2nd attack
wave, Zuikaku fighters patrolled the carriers. Satō was a veteran of 12th Kōkūtai in China
and served on the board of Akagi. From September 1941 to January 1942, as the so-called
Buntaichō, he commanded fighters aboard the Zuikaku, and in May he began serving in that
capacity on the aircraft carrier Kaga until her sinking at the Battle of Midway. From June
1942 he took over fighters as Hikōtaichō on the carrier Zuihō. He participated in the Battle of
Santa Cruz, and in the 2nd phase Satō's formation shot down four aircraft. In April 1943, Zuihó
participated in Operation „I”-go in the New Guinea and Solomon Islands area. Satō was killed
during Operation „Ro”-go on November 11, 1943 in aerial combat over Bougainville.
Dramatic photo taken during the Battle of the Eastern Salomons on August 24, 1942 shows a Shōkaku “Val”
bomber shot down by anti-aircraft fire directly over the USS Enterprise (CV-6). Censor has deleted radar antenna from the photo.
(Photo: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation)
PO1c Tetsuzō Iwamoto, Zuikaku Fighter Squadron, patrol during the first attack wave,
During the first wave of the attack on Pearl Harbor Zuikaku launched six Zeros to patrol the
vicinity of the carriers. PO1c Iwamoto led the 2nd shōtai during this mission. At the time, he
was the most successful naval fighter ace with 14 victories from combats over China with
12th Kōkūtai. In 1942, he took part in battles in the Indian Ocean and Coral Sea with his plane
No. 102. From the summer of 1942 he served as an instructor in Japan. From March 1943,
he participated in patrolling in the Kuril Islands with Kōkūtai 281. In November he was transferred to Rabaul to Kōkūtai 204 and later to Kōkūtai 253. In February 1944 he participated
from Truk Atoll in the interceptions of B-24 bombers. In June 1944 he was transferred to
Japan and from the autumn of that year as member of Kōkūtai 252 he he took part in battles
from bases in Taiwan and the Philippines. By the end of the war, he was serving with Kōkūtai
203 and participated in the battle for Okinawa. He achieved rank Lieutenant (junior grade)
and passed away in 1955. Iwamoto is credited with 80 victories, but in his war diary, there
were 202 successful attacks on enemy aircraft recorded by him.
A “Val” dive bomber trails smoke as it dives toward the USS Hornet (CV-8), during the morning of October 26,
1942. This plane struck the ship's stack and then her flight deck. A “Kate” torpedo plane is flying over Hornet
after dropping its torpedo, and another “Val” is off her bow. Heavily damaged USS Hornet was later torpedoed by
Japanese destroyers and sunk on October 27.
(Photo: US Navy)
Lt. Saburō Shindō, Akagi Fighter Squadron, Pearl Harbor second attack wave
During the second wave, fighter escort of thirty-six Zeros was led by Lt. Shindō. Nine Akagi
Zeros met no resistance in the air and destroyed two aircraft at Hickam. Shindō was born in
1911 and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1929. He was assigned to the Omura Kōkūtai
in 1935 and a year later went to the aircraft carrier Kaga. In 1940, he served in China with the
12th Kōkūtai during combat trials of the A6M2 fighter. Under his command, the first combat
engagement occurred on September 13, resulting in 27 victories without loss. In November
1940, Shindō was transferred to the 14th Kōkūtai in Hanoi. From April to December 1941 he
was the Buntaichō of the Akagi fighters, but had to be hospitalized after the attack on Pearl
Harbor. After recovering, he was appointed commander of Tokushima Kōkūtai in April 1942.
From November 1942, as Hikōtaichō at Kōkūtai 582, he was involved in the fighting over
Guadalcanal. From July 1943, he was Hikōtaichō with the Kōkūtai 204 in the same area. In
late 1943 and early 1944, he led fighters of the aircraft carrier Ryūhō and later served with
Kōkūtai 653 and 203 in the defense of Taiwan, the Philippines, and Japan. At the end of the
war, he was Hikōtaichō at Tsukuba Kōkūtai. Shindó passed away in 2000.
Wrecks of A6M2 fighters photographed at Lae airfield, New Gunea, in September 1943. Airplane “F-151” from
the 4th Kōkūtai can be seen in the background. In the foreground lies an aircraft that bears the remnants of
the markings of several units. These were the Tainan Kōkūtai, the 22nd Kōkū Sentai and Kōkūtai 251. It was
apparently left over there in November 1942.
(Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)