During WWII, the IJN’s Combined Fleet had moved its headquarters to Truk. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who commanded the Pearl Harbor Attack, arrived at Truk on April 3, 1943 and planned a visit to the forward bases at Balalae, Buin, and the Shortland Islands to boost the morale of the frontline units. However, the Americans had deciphered Japanese communications on April 13th which mentioned the details of the visit and the U.S. Army Air Force arranged an interception mission. At 6:05AM on April 18th, the two G4M1 bombers departed Rabaul for Balalae. The first aircraft, No.323, had eleven people on board, including Yamamoto. The second aircraft, No.326, had twelve people on board, including Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki. At 8:00AM, a group of P-38 Lightning fighters attacked the bombers and Yamamoto’s aircraft turned left toward Buin while Ugaki’s aircraft turned right toward the sea. Both aircraft were hit and Ugaki survived a crash-landing on the water, but Yamamoto’s aircraft crashed into the jungle. A search party reached Yamamoto’s aircraft on the evening of the 19th and his body was found outside the aircraft, still seated and with his sword in his hands. The Tamiya model faithfully captures the history of this last flight and the personnel on board.
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