"The MV Malabar is a reminder of an historic Sydney event"
Mitsubishi G4M "Betty"
Michael McFadyen's Scuba Diving - "Betty" Bomber
In 1938 the Japanese Navy put out a specification for a new bomber. The result was the Mitsubishi G4M, nicknamed Betty by the Allies. (Note: The Japanese designation G4M means G=Attack Bomber, 4=4th in the attack bomber series, M=Mitusbishi). This was the premier Japanese bomber of the Second World War with 2,479 being built by Mitsubishi Jukogyo KK.
The plane was powered by two 1,850hp Mitsubishi Kasei 22 14 cylinder two-row radial engines (the company tried to talk the Navy into four engines) with a wing of 24.9 metres and a length of 19.6 metres. The plane was armed with one 7.7 mm gun in the nose, one 20 mm gun in dorsal turret and additional 20 mm guns in the tail and each beam window. It carried up two and 1,000 kg of bombs.
Mitsubishi G4M2 "Betty"
The Betty was capable of a maximum speed of 455 km/h with a range of up to 5,000km, depending on actual model. Unfortunately, as the plane was totally strained by the load being carried and only powered by two engines, the aircraft was almost totally without protection. This meant that when hit by flak or bullets, the plane inevitably caught fire and crashed. This led to another unofficial Allied nickname of one-shot lighter or Flying Cigar.
When the Japanese started fortifying Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they almost demolished the island of Eten by bulldozing one half of it into the lagoon and building a runway. When completed, Eten Island resembled a giant aircraft carrier, with the runway looking like the deck of the ship and the remaining hill looking like the bridge of the carrier (there are some really interesting buildings on Eten and you used to be able to examine them during your lunch break on the island - not sure about now).
The Mitsubishi G4M2 "Betty" from above
One of the Betty's engine
The other engine of the Betty Note the tip is not bent
Dive guide Keran and the two engines
The nose of the Betty From video taken 1997
There is a wreck of a Betty bomber right off the end of the Eten Island runway in 15 metres of water. The plane is located at GPS Reading of N7° 21, 6.6" E151° 52' 42.1" using WGS84 as the datum. This will put you on a mooring which is right on the wreck.
The plane is about 300 to 400 metres from the island. The plane appears to have crashed on take off, possibly from engine failure or during a very aborted landing, possibly running out of fuel. I came to this conclusion because of the following reasons:
The port wing of the Betty
The nose of the Betty Taken 2011
The dorsal gun turret (left) and observation hatch (right)
The observation hatch
The plane is almost intact, but the nose is quite damaged, with the window frames badly bent. In fact, between 1997 and 2011 the whole nose has totally broken away from the main fuselage. The wings are in one piece apart from the tip of the starboard wing being broken off and as mentioned, the two engines are missing. In fact, as indicated above, they are located about 75 metres away between the plane and the runway.
In addition, the tail of the plane has broken off and is lying on the sand behind the plane.
The only obvious damage from being shot down are a number of holes on the main fuselage which appear to be bullet holes as they come from inside (see the attached photograph).
One thing I noticed is that the tail elevators are slightly up. This means that at the time the plane crashed, the pilot was attempting to climb. The flaps on the main wings though are not down, meaning that the plane was not attempting to land or take-off.
Inside the forward section of the fuselage looking towards the waist gunner positions
Looking forward inside the fuselage towards the cockpit
Kelly inside the rear section of the fuselage
I am pretty sure that this bullet hole is one of a number on the top of the fuselage
The fuselage of the plane can be entered from the front or either of the gunners' bays towards the rear. Swim along from the rear and you will see the side gunners' positions, the radio compartment and then the cockpit. You can exit through the cockpit windows if you are careful.
Once outside, an interesting thing to do is open the observation window behind the cockpit. Amazingly, after more than 65 years it still opens easily.
There is one gun lying on the port wing (it is from one of the side gunners' bay) and there are some items like radios, batteries, oxygen cylinders, the pilot's seat and other bits on the sand around the wreck. There is even a toilet here.
The rear of the plane - note the tail on the bottom
The tail elevator is up a little
A toilet, oxygen cylinder or extinguisher and other items
The pilot's seat on the sand
This is an interesting dive. It is usually done as a pair with the nearby "Emily" Flying Boat. You do the first half of a tank on this plane (about 20 minutes) and then travel the short distance to the "Emily" where you use the rest of your cylinder. It is usually done as the fourth dive of the day if you are diving from the SS Thorfinn. If this is your first trip to Chuuk (and/or you only have a few days there), I would not give up a dive on one of the shipwrecks to dive this plane.
Video shot by Kelly McFadyen during our 2011 trip to Chuuk.
16 November 1991
14 November 1997
31 October 2011
Photos by Shaun Reynolds taken March 2013.
Looking forward from behind the tail on the port side