×
Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About
     

World War II Database

Sasai file photo [7144]

Junichi Sasai

SurnameSasai
Given NameJunichi
Born13 Feb 1918
Died26 Aug 1942
CountryJapan
CategoryMilitary-Air
GenderMale

Contributor:

ww2dbaseJunichi Sasai was born in Tokyo, Japan to a Navy captain. His childhood was marked by weak health, but his interest in Judo (in which he eventually achieved black belt). He attended Tokyo Municipal High School No. 1. He graduated from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1939, and then entered the 35th Aviation Student Course, which he completed in Nov 1941. On 10 Dec 1941, as a member of the Tainan Air Group based in Taiwan, he flew a fighter destined for American targets in the Philippine Islands, but had to abort mission due to engine trouble. on 2 Feb 1942, he achieved his first kill near the Maospati airfield, Java, when he downed a Dutch Buffalo fighter. Because of his skills as a fighter pilot and the tiger head belt buckle he always wore (a gift from his father), he earned the nickname "Flying Tiger". In Mar 1942, the Tainan Air Group was transferred to Lae, New Guinea, and became the squadron leader of the six-plane 3rd Squadron at the rank of lieutenant (jg). An experienced member of his squadron, Saburo Sakai, became a friend of his and taught him much about aerial combat. Sasai was well-respectived officer by his subordinates, largely due to his compassionate qualities. "The navy had a very rigid hierarchy and caste system; officers never made friends with enlisted men, it was not allowed. But Sasai was a different kind of officer", recalled Sakai. On 11 Apr, Sasai led nine A6M Zero fighters in a scouting mission over Port Moresby, New Guinea. On 4 May 1942, he became an ace after shooting down three P-39 Aircobra fighters within a 20-second time span. On 24 May, he shot down a B-25 Mitchell bomber of the 3rd Bomber Group of the US 13th Squadron. On 11 Jul, he led 12 A6M Zero fighters in an escort mission for 21 bombers targeting Port Moresby; en route, they encountered six B-17 Flying Fortress bombers of the 19th Bomb Group, but failed to down any while the Japanese bombers were attacked by interceptors, leading to a severe reprimand against Sasai. On 2 Aug, he flew head-on against a B-18 Flying Fortress bomber and downed the opposing aircraft. On 3 Aug, the Tainan Air Group transferred to Rabaul, New Britain, Solomon Islands. On 7 Aug, while attacking American targets at Guadalcanal, his comrade Saburo Sakai was seriously injured and must return to Japan for medical treatment; Sasai gave him the tiger head belt buckle, telling him "[P]lease go back to Japan and please come back to Rabaul!" Less than a month later, on 26 Aug 1942, he led eight A6M Zero fighters in a bomber escort mission against Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, and was hit by a F4F Wildcat fighter possibly piloted by United States Marine Corps' first fighter pilot ace Major Marion E. Carl. The fuel tank of Sasai's aircraft exploded, likely to have killed him instantly. He was posthumously promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Feb 2009

Photographs

Newly-commissioned Japanese Navy Ensign Junichi Sasai, May 1941Japanese Navy Lieutenant (jg) Junichi Sasai, 1942

Junichi Sasai Timeline

13 Feb 1918 Junichi Sasai was born.
26 Aug 1942 Junichi Sasai led eight Zero fighters escorting G4M bombers to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Over Guadalcanal, Sasai engaged an American F4F Wildcat fighter, probably that of US Marine Corps Captain Marion E. Carl of VMF-223 squadron, who surprised Sasai by turning upright, machine guns firing. Sasai's Zero fighter was hit and exploded, killing him.




Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:

 Facebook
 Reddit
 Twitter

Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds




Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
24 Apr 2023 04:38:44 PM

In the afternoon of August 26, 1942, Junichi Sasai's plane blew up over Henderson Field, killing Sasai, when a bullet fired by 2nd Lieutenant Eugene Trowbridge's F4F wildcat penetrated Sasai's wing tank.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
 

Notes:

1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB
More on Junichi Sasai
Event(s) Participated:
» Guadalcanal Campaign
» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3

Associated Aircraft:
» A6M Zero

Junichi Sasai Photo Gallery
Newly-commissioned Japanese Navy Ensign Junichi Sasai, May 1941Japanese Navy Lieutenant (jg) Junichi Sasai, 1942


Famous WW2 Quote
"All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us... they can't get away this time."

Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, at Guadalcanal


Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!