This Day in 1944 – Japanese Fighters Attack the Huitong Bridge

On August 18, 1944, Major Toyoki Eto, commander of the 64th Sentai, led twelve Ki-43 “Oscars” in two attacks on the Huitong Bridge. The Allies had only recently rebuilt the bridge where the Burma Road crossed the Salween River. Major William Moore, the chief engineer, was actually hammering the last planks in place when the Japanese fighters arrived overhead. The first raid began at 0830 hours. The Oscars made a dive-bombing attack in the steep Salween gorge. Anti-aircraft fire brought down Warrant Officer Kazua Shake on his run. None of the bombs hit. Three P-40s from the 25th Fighter Squadron intercepted the raiders on their way back to Burma. After a sharp fight, one of the American fighters made an emergency landing at Baoshan. The Japanese were back that afternoon. Again, they failed to hit the bridge, but Sergeant Toshimi Ikezawa shot down a transport returning from an airdrop mission over the front, killing all seven aboard.

Fighter pilots of the 64th Sentai selected to carry out the attack on the Huitong Bridge. In the front row, from left to right, are Captain Nakamura, Major Toyoki Eto, the sentai commander, and Colonel Kuwazuka. In the back are Sergeant Okada, Corporal Yamazaki, Sergeant Yamamoto, and Sergeant Ikezawa. Courtesy of Hiroshi Ichimura.

Fighter pilots of the 64th Sentai selected to carry out the attack on the Huitong Bridge. In the front row, from left to right, are Captain Nakamura, Major Toyoki Eto, the sentai commander, and Colonel Kuwazuka. In the back are Sergeant Okada, Corporal Yamazaki, Sergeant Yamamoto, and Sergeant Ikezawa. Courtesy of Hiroshi Ichimura.

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