ⓘ Iyōzō Fujita
Iyōzō Fujita was an officer and ace fighter pilot in the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Pacific War. He was officially credited with destroying 13 enemy aircraft. During the Battle of Midway alone, he claimed ten aircraft shot down in one day.
1. Early career
Iyōzō Fujita attened Kitsuki High School in Ōita Prefecture and then enrolled into Imperial Japanese Navy Academy. He graduated from the 66th class in September 1938. He was accepted for the navy pilot training program and completed it in June 1940. In September 1939 he was assigned to fighter squadron aboard the carrier Sōryū.
2. Pacific War
On 7 December 1941, Lieutenant jg Fujita participated in the Attack on Pearl Harbor, where he was assigned as a section shōtai leader of fighter escort in the second wave. while strafing Kaneohe Airfield, his division leader buntaichō, Lieutenant Fusata Iida, was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and Fujita took command over the remaining fighters and headed for Point Kaena, which was the rendezvous for the return to the carriers. On the way, they encountered a formation of Curtiss P-36 Hawk fighters and in the ensuing dogfight Fujita claimed to shoot down one of them. However, his own fighter was hit and he barely made it back to the carriers. Upon returning to Japan, he was promoted to full Lieutenant. In February 1942, he participated in the Bombing of Darwin. During the Indian Ocean Raid on 5 April, he and Petty Officer Kaname Harada attacked six British Fairey Fulmar and each claimed one of them shot down.
In February 1942, Lieutenant Fujita took part in the Battle of Midway, where he was assigned to Combat Air Patrol CAP to protect the carriers. He and his group intercepted the first wave of Grumman TBF Avenger and Martin B-26 Marauder bombers from Midway Island, where he claimed three bombers shot down two of them were shared. He and his section landed on the carrier for a quick rearming and refuelling and took off to intercept the second wave from Midway Island, which consisted of Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers led by Major Lofton R. Henderson. He and his section made another landing and then joined with a CAP group led by Lieutenant Ayao Shirane. They intercepted the successive attacks of the Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers from USS Enterprise VT-6 and from USS Yorktown VT-3, the latter were escorted by Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters of VF-3, led by Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Thach. In the air combat, Fujita managed to claim four torpedo-bombers three shared and three fighters two shared shot down. When he approached the carrier for another landing, he was hit by a friendly anti-aircraft fire that ignited his fuel tank. He had to bail out at 200 meters but survived the landing in the water and was picked up by the destroyer Nowaki. However, during the final engagement, Sōryū was attacked and mortally damaged by the dive bombers from Yorktown VB-3.
After the battle of Midway, Lieutenant Fujita was assigned to the carrier Hiyō as a buntaichō. In October 1942, the carrier was sent to the Solomon Islands, however, it soon experienced a mechanical failure and its air group was transferred to a land base at Buin through Rabaul. The group operated from Buin and made frequent missions against Guadalcanal until mid December. During this time, Lieutenant Fujita claimed two aircraft shot down. In April 1943, he was sent to Rabaul to take part in the Operation I-Go. Following the operation, he was then transferred to the Tsuiki Air group in June.
In November he was appointed as squadron leader hikōtaichō of the newly-formed 301st Air group. Between June and July 1944 his unit took part in the air defence of Iwo Jima. In July he was transferred to unit S402, which was equipped with the new Kawanishi N1K fighters. In October, the S402 was consolidated into 341st Air Group and participated in the air battles off Formosa. The unit lost much of its strength in intense air battles over the Philippines and was finally withdrawn to Japan in January 1945.
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