JAPANESE RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHT
OVER SYDNEY HARBOUR
ON 19 FEBRUARY 1943

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Japanese Pilot, Susumi Ito, made two flights in Australia. The first was over Sydney Harbour before the midget submarine attack in May 1942. The second was on 19 February 1943 when he flew very low right down the NSW coast and then returned to his submarine off the coast.

Susumi Ito, said that he flew low between the mountain peaks, so as to remain undetected. He did not go undetected after all. Jo Lehmann plotted him while on duty at 18 Radar Station, Kiama. But Susumi was able to take his photographs and went home.

Four RAAF Airacobras were sent up from Bankstown airfield to locate the Japanese floatplane. One of these aircraft was P-39 Airacobra A53-7 piloted by Lex Dwyer of 24 Squadron RAAF. At the time that they were scrambled by the Fighter Sector these men had been celebrating the successful bailout by Pilot Officer A. F. Tutt at 9.30am that morning. Lex Dywer was directed by the Fighter Controller to fly at 12,000 feet to look for the Japanese Float Plane. The Fighter Controller that night was Jack Kingsford Smith. Lex Dwyer flew out to sea and eventually ran low on fuel and headed back towards Bankstown Airfield. He eventually ran out of fuel. He asked the Fighter Sector to turn on a searchlight to help him establish his bearings to enable a safe glide back to Bankstown. They refused to turn on a searchlight. He was eventually able to locate the flare path at Bankstown and make a safe landing.

 

The Sydney Morning Herald
Wednesday 16 July 1947

ATTACK ON
SYDNEY

Japanese Story
Of 1942 Raid

AUCKLAND, Tuesday (A.A.P. Reuters). - Susumu Ito, proprietor of a little fishing tackle shop at Iwakuni, Japan, claims that he flew over Sydney Harbour the night before the Japanese midget submarine attack on May 30, 1942.

Ito, then a Japanese naval lieutenant, aged 24, told his story in Japan yesterday.

This is what he said:-

"I was pilot of a Zero float-plane carried by a Japanese ocean-going submarine of 3,300 tons.

"We arrived off Mayor Island, Bay of Plenty (New Zealand), in pitch dark one morning late in May, 1942. Our submarine carried midget submarines which were designed to be used to attack naval ships at Auckland and Sydney.

AUCKLAND SLEPT
"Our warplane was launched from the submarine and I quickly reached Auckland. While the city slept I cruised overhead unmolested and never climbing above 1,000 feet. I was never challenged or disturbed by intercepting fighters.

"I soon located Devonport Nava lBase and gave it special attention. For the better part of an hour I looked for warships, but found nothing that would warrant attack by one of our midget submarines.

"I flew back to the mother submarine and reported that there were no warships at Auckland.

"The submarine commander then decided to proceed to Sydney. We crossed the Tasman and surfaced off Sydney Heads on May 29.

FLIGHT OVER SYDNEY
"Unlike Auckland, I found the Sydney air rather crowded. There were Australian planes doing night flying exercises, but I was not molested.

"The Australian pilots did not appear to notice me, although the long streamlined single float of my Zero should have been conspicuous.

"I sighted what I considered to be suitable targets in Sydney Harbour and lost no time in returning to the submarine and making my report.

"Midget submarines were released. Later I left in the mother submarine for Rabaul,"

Ito said he spent about an hour over Auckland. His flight over Sydney was "very much briefer.

 

Susumi Ito went on to become the President of an office equipment and computer firm in Japan. He was interviewed by David Jenkins and the full report of this venture is to be found in David's  book, "Battle surface:- Japan's submarine War Against Australia, 1942-45".

 

Japanese Reconnaissance Flights
over Australia during WW2

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"More Radar Yarns"
Edited by Ed Simmonds

"Battle surface:- Japan's submarine War Against Australia, 1942-45"
by David Jenkins

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John Relph and Graeme Steinbeck for their assistance with this home page.

I'd also like to thank Lex Dwyer for his assistance with this web page. Lex rang me on 15 July 2005 for an interesting discussion about his time in the RAAF during WW2.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

I need your help

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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any information or photographs


"Australia @ War"
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This page first produced 28 April 2001

This page last updated 18 January 2016