FAR EAST THUNDER

WORLD WAR TWO

ALTHOUGH TROUBLESOME AND MAKING LITTLE IMPACT ON THE JAPANESE WAR EFFORT, THE PORTLY MITSUBISHI J2M3 RAIDEN STILL PROVED A WORTHY DESIGN, AS BARRY WHEELER EXPLAINS

MITSUBISHI RAIDEN

A J2M3 Raiden of the 302nd Koku- tai scrambles from Yokosuka, central Japan, to intercept a US bomber stream towards the end of the war. On December 3 the type contributed to the downing of six B-29s. ALL VIA BARRY WHEELER UNLESS STATED

Dewey Boulevard, now Roxas Blvd in the Philippines’ capital Manila, runs for more than a mile alongside the blue waters of its bay. In February 1945, the US Army arrived at its former embassy on Dewey under the echoes of General MacArthur’s promise: “I shall return!” following the Americans’ hasty withdrawal in 1942. Not only did they find the residence, which had been taken over by the Nipponese military, intact, but also a rather motley collection of Japanese Naval Air Force (JNAF) aircraft parked under the tropical palms. Among them were two of the latest Mitsubishi J2M3 Raiden (Thunderbolt) fighters. Given the Allied codename Jack, the type was high on the priority list for assessment by the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit (ATAIU).

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