JAPANESE RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHT
OVER SYDNEY, NSW
ON 23 MAY 1942

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In the early hours of 23 May 1942, a Japanese Yokosuka E14Y1, Navy Type 0 "Glen" small float plane from Japanese submarine I-29 under the Command of Lieutenant Commander Izu, was launched from the deck of the submarine to carry out a reconnaissance flight over Sydney in New South Wales.

I-29 had arrived off Sydney on 13 May 1942. I-29 stalked two allied warships off Sydney at 3am on 14 May 1942. The two ships steamed unscathed into Sydney Harbour at 7am on 14 May 1942, not aware that I-29 was not able to get into a suitable attack position to sink them.

One source incorrectly states that the crew of the Floatplane were Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and Petty Officer Second Class Shoji Okuda. Fujita and Okuda had certainly flown an earlier recce flight over Sydney from a different submarine, I-25, on 17 February 1942. And on 26 Feb 1942, Nobuo Fujita flew from Submarine I-25 over Melbourne, and then he flew over Hobart on 1 March 1942, then Wellington, New Zealand on 8 March 1942, then Auckland, New Zealand on 13 March 1942, and Fiji on 19 March 1942. He then carried out a reconnaissance flight over Kodiak, Alaska, on 28 May 1942 gaining intelligence for the invasion of the Aleutian Islands.

 

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Yokosuka E14Y1, Navy Type 0 "Glen"

 

As the floatplane approached the entrance to Sydney Harbour on 23 May 1942, it was spotted by the Sydney Port War Signalling Station (RAN 281) located 1/3 of a mile SSE of the Hornby Light on South Head but ignored as it was assumed it was an allied aircraft. It was also tracked by a mobile radar station at Iron Cove in Sydney Harbour near the suburb of Rozelle. The radar detection was also ignored as it was considered an anomaly on the military's experimental radar station.

The Japanese Floatplane did a circuit of Sydney's eastern suburbs and Sydney Harbour.

 Lt. Cmdr. Izu reported on the Allied Naval shipping seen in Sydney Harbour to Headquarters, of Japanese Sixth Fleet at Kwajalein.

The following ships were in the harbour that evening:-

USS CHICAGO - heavy cruiser
HMAS CANBERRA - heavy cruiser
HMAS ADELAIDE - light cruiser
USS PERKINS - light cruiser
USS DOBBIN - tender
HMAS BUNGAREE - mine layer
KANIMBLA - armed  merchant cruiser
WESTRALIA - armed merchant cruiser
HMAS WHYALLA - corvette
HMAS GEELONG - corvette
HMAS BOMBAY - corvette
HMAS KUTTABUL depot ship
Dutch Submarine K-IX

 

REFERENCES

Sensuikan! - IJN I25 Tabular Record of Movement

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Richard Michalak and Graham McKenzie-Smith for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 25 March 2017

This page last updated 27 March 2017