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Old 11th February 2022, 23:51
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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H6K loss on 31 December 1941

On 7 December 1941, the American seaplane tender AVP-2 Heron was stationed in Port Ciego, Philippines, but soon retired to the Moluccas and set up a base at Ambon. On 29 December, upon hearing that the destroyer USS Peary had been bombed and was in need of help, she got underway with oil and spare parts intending to rendezvous with the stricken destroyer at Ternate, but arrived too late to enter the port before dusk. Next morning, it was learned that Peary had left by another pass at the time Heron reached Ternate, so she headed back to Ambon.
The following morning, 31 December, an enemy aircraft identified as a 4-engine Kawasaki bomber came in on a bombing run at 0931 hrs. Heron opened fire with every gun on the ship, and apparently enough machine gun fire hit the plane to discourage a bomb drop on the first run. The bomber came in twice more to aim ' bombs at the twisting and turning seaplane tender, but the agile ship always managed to dodge in time.
Heron then made a run for a rain squall to the southwest. Some two hours later the weather cleared, and a Japanese flying boat was sighted on the water on Heron's starboard beam. The aircraft took off and circled Heron for almost four hours. About 1430 two sections of three four-engine Japanese patrol planes were sighted.
Half an hour later, one of the sections broke off and came in on a horizontal bombing attack. Although this section made three bombing attacks around 1520 hrs, in each case the ship was maneuvered to avoid the bombs. The second section came in next on a bombing attack, and, on their first run, Heron drew first blood by hitting one of the planes with a 3-inch shell. The plane started smoking, dropped out of formation, and retired to the north. Heron was again able to outmaneuver the bombs unleashed by the two remaining planes on a final pass.
About this time five twin-engine land-based bombers and three additional four-engine patrol bombers were sighted. The five bombers made a pass over the ship, but did not release any bombs until they had circled again. On the rerun they dropped about 20 bombs around 1550 hrs. One hit directly on the top of the mainmast, and three others hit just off the port bow. Pieces of shrapnel cut all the mainmast stays to the boat booms, injuring most of the gun crew there. The near misses off the port bow set the paint locker in the forward storeroom on fire, damaged the port 3-inch gun, killed one of the lookouts (Cox Michael Borodenko, who was hit in abdomen and whose right leg and thigh were almost torn off), and injured all the gun crew on the port 3-inch gun and the gun crews on the port machine guns.
Next, three four-engine patrol planes made torpedo attacks at 1615 hrs: one plane on the starboard bow; one on the port bow; and the other on the port quarter. Their timing was bad, allowing Heron to turn skillfully to meet each torpedo as it was released, and all three torpedoes missed. They then strafed the ship, doing considerable damage. However, the crew of single 3-inch (76 mm) gun shot down one of the planes as it came in to attack. The Japanese seaplane ditched on fire and the Japanese crew was seen in the water by the crew of the Heron. The American ship turned back to try to pick them up, stopped and threw them life lines. All Japanese airmen refused to use them, and since Heron was in dangerous waters, she left, after being sure all aircraft had departed and it was too dark for the Japanese to be rescued.
Heron had one dead (Borodenko) and 26 wounded, two seriously, as a result of these attacks. One of the seriously wounded, CQMP Dennis Allmond, died of his wounds at 2320 hrs.
During that night the fires were extinguished; the forward hold was pumped out to bring the ship back to an even keel; and the 3-inch gun was repaired. When the ship arrived back at Ambon, she resumed tending seaplanes and continued this duty until early 1942. For her "valiant action" during this period, Heron received the Navy Unit Commendation.

Navy Muster, AVP-2 Heron, December 1941 (
ComPatWing 10 War Diary, 31 December 1941 (
Narrative by LtCdr Kabler, Bombing of USS Heron in Java Sea (

I would like to identify at least the Japanese units involved in this action, and crew or pilot name of the shot down aircraft will be a bonus. My guess is that these airmen were lost at sea, but a confirmation will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance
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Old 13th February 2022, 17:59
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udf_00 udf_00 is offline
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Re: H6K loss on 31 December 1941

H6Ks were from the Toko Ku, the T/E bombers possibly from the Kanoya Ku (same 21st Air Flotilla)

While returning from attempting to aid destroyer Peary (DD-226) (see 28 December), small seaplane tender Heron (AVP-2) is damaged but fights off, over a seven-hour span, a series of attacks by Japanese reconnaissance flying boats (Toko Kokutai) and land attack planes off Ambon, N.E.I.

Q. Make a chart showing the disposition of forces of the Eleventh Air Fleet on 8 December 1941. Show number of aircraft by type as well as location?
A. As of 8 December 1941, the Eleventh Air Fleet under Vice Admiral TSUKAHARA, headquarters at TAKAO, was organized as indicated:

Vice Admiral TSUKAHARA


21st Air Flotilla
Rear Admiral TADA

72 VF (Zeke)
24 VF (Reserve)
6-9 VS (Recon.)

54 VB (2) (Betty)
18 VB (2) (Reserve)

12 VP (4) (Mavis)
4 VP (4) (Reserve)


23rd Air Flotilla
Rear Admiral TAKENAKA

54VB (2) (Betty)
18 VB (2) (Reserve)

72 VF (Zeke)
18 VF (Reserve)
6-9 VS (Recon.)


22nd Air Flotilla
Rear Admiral MATSUNAGA

27 VB (2) (Nell)
9 VB (2) (Reserve)

27 VB (2) (Nell)
9 VB (2) (Reserve)
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Old 15th February 2022, 05:40
Edward Edward is offline
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Re: H6K loss on 31 December 1941

I feel that the best published reference on the USS Heron is Dwight Messimer's In the Hands of Fate: The Story of Patrol Wing Ten: 8 December 1941 - 11 May 1942 (Naval Institute Press 1985). I believe that its story is also covered in Walter G. Winslow's, The Fleet the Gods Forgot: The U.S. Asiatic Fleet in World War II (1982).

However neither include the names of the Japanese pilot and crew.
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