THE “BETTY”

Mitsubishi Type 1 Attack Bomber Model 22 ‘Betty’ by Shigeo Koike

The G4M was a Japanese high-speed bomber-torpedo carrier. During World War II, it was in service with the naval aviation. In the system of codes of allies, this aircraft had the designation “Betty”.  The Mitsubishi G4M combines high speed, long range, and excellent aerodynamic shape. Due to these qualities, it was a symbol of Japanese naval aviation.

In all 2,416 Bettys were produced by Mitsubishi and saw action in almost every engagement in the South Pacific. They also served as transports and special-attack aircraft. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was aboard a Betty when it was shot down in 1943. Late in the war Bettys were used as Kamikaze aircraft. Indeed the Betty, which was there at the very start of the conflict, was also there at its end, being used as special transport aircraft for the Japanese delegation who arranged Japan’s surrender to the Allies in August 1945.

Betty bombers

The basis for the aircraft was a monoplane scheme with a mid-mounted wing and a large fuselage. The large fuselage of the oval section allowed to accommodate large loads and created comfortable working conditions for the crew. The wings of the aircraft had a trapezoidal shape, and the average position of the wings allowed even at high load to keep the centering of the aircraft.

On the G4M, instead of hydraulic drives, electric drives were used. They seemed more reliable in conditions of low temperatures and high altitudes. The design was all metal with two spars and a retractable landing gear. The power plant consisted of two, star-shaped two-row 14-cylinder air-cooled “Kasey” 11 engines. The maximum power of the engine was about 1530 hp (take-off). The engines were additionally equipped with a single-stage supercharger. The maximum speed was about 428 km/h. The G4M was equipped with screws with three blades and a diameter of 3.4 meters. Fuel equipment included eight fuel tanks with a total capacity of 4780 liters. They were located between the wing spars, electric gasoline pumps, and fuel lines. The maximum range was 6034 km, and an altitude of 9220 m.

Small arms included four 7.69mm “Type 92” machine guns and one 20mm cannon. Machine guns were placed in the cockpit of the navigator, in two lateral and upper blisters.  Type 92 Machine-guns were a copy of the English Vickers machine gun. The ammunition was from six to seven disc stores for each shooting point. On the ceiling between the blisters could be attached one spare machine gun.

Japanese Navy Type 1 land attack planes (Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty”) fly low through anti-aircraft gunfire during a torpedo attack on U.S. Navy ships maneuvering between Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the morning of 8 August 1942. The burning ship in the center distance is probably USS George F. Elliott (AP-13), which was hit by a crashing Japanese aircraft during this attack.

The G4M excellently showed itself at the initial stage of the Second World War. They bombed the territories of China and the Philippines, Port Moresby in New Guinea and Darwin in Australia. On December 10, 1941, near the coast of Malaysia, torpedoes of an G4M aircraft destroyed the British battleship Prince of Wales and the cruise liner Repulse.

In January 1942, 17 bombers (including GM4) took off from the Japanese military base in Rabaul and attempted to attack the US aircraft carrier Lexington. However, the American “Wildcat” fighters destroyed 15 of the Japanese bombers.

In the future, because of weak armor, G4M bombers became increasingly easy prey. They received the unofficial nickname “One-time lighter” or “Flying cigar“. During the war, the G4M was produced only at Mitsubishi plants, and 2,414 in all.

After the surrender of Japan, almost all Japanese aircraft were destroyed. The only surviving plane is a G4M1 located in the Museum of Aviation in Santa Monica, USA.

 

Guadalcanal-Tulagi Operation, 7-9 August 1942 Largely intact floating wreckage of a Japanese Navy Type 1 land attack plane (a type later code named “Betty”), which crashed during the aerial torpedo attack on the Allied invasion

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Aviation Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Moses Attaya – Picayune, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 waist gunner

Edward Corr – Lakeville, MA; USMC

Michael Ferazzi – Contoocook, NH; USMC / RI National Guard

Albert Mazza – Haverhill, NH; USMC

John Nock – St. Augustine, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Aaron Perry – Union, NH; USMC / NH Attorney General’s office

Daniel Pereira – Riverside, RI; USMC

Joseph Teriaca – Kansas, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Flight Engineer

Patsy Verrico – Brighten, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

Franco Zeffirelli – Florence, Italy; Italian partisan forces, WWII, POW / opera & film director

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on June 27, 2019, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 110 Comments.

  1. Sheds a lot of light on Mitsubishi. To think Yamamoto was trained in the U.S. The ambush proved Yamamoto was always on time, died lying on his Samurai sword.☕️😎☕️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do you know if the Japanese were able to continue building the planes during the war. It seems that if the food was short, everything else would be too

    Liked by 2 people

    • Everything was quite short. At first they did have the resources of the Pacific areas they had taken over. The islands and Indochina were quite rich in what they needed. But like everything else, transportation got harder as the Allies attacked their shipping routes and depots.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I didn’t realize that these bombers were also used as Kamikaze aircraft — always assumed they were all fighters. Excellent post GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks for the education on The “Betty”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good reading gp on the G4M and the role it played throughout the war, even to the finish, surprised its weak armor was only highlighted towards the finish.
    Cheers.

    Like

  6. have never liked warfare. But proud of the people who built great weapons to serve their country
    Love your blog. Keep going
    Do share the love and follow us at https://thestrongtraveller.com/
    Check out our new post on Business ideas that can help you build a 6 figure income https://thestrongtraveller.com/2019/06/27/top-4-business-ideas-to-6-figure-passive-income-from-anywhere-in-the-world/

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    • Very few people like war, but all history needs to be learned so we can try and stop humanity from constantly making the same mistakes over and over again.

      Your blog looks quite good.

      Like

  7. Off topic, but have you seen this?
    https://www.warhistoryonline.com/news/ww2-bomb.html
    I’ve heard that farmers in Belgium are still being killed, a couple a year, when they strike unexploded artillery while ploughing the fields.
    Are modern bombs still liable to blow up after decades lying dormant?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the ammunition in the older bombs often becomes even more volatile with age. WWII bombs and ammunition are still exploding around the globe today. Yes, I did see the article you mentioned and it is a quite common event.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, GP. I now know much more about the Betty. Surely the Americans dubbed the name after Betty Boop. See, these are the questions we need to ask our WWII veterans. So few remaining, and the time is precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I understand why it happened but what a shame that all the Japanese aircraft were destroyed. In the next century we would have appreciated the history.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I googled where the name for Japanese Betty came from and found the following info on Wikipedia:. During the first year of the Pacific War beginning on 7 December 1941, Allied personnel often struggled to quickly, succinctly, and accurately identify Japanese aircraft encountered in combat. They found the Japanese designation system bewildering and awkward, as it allocated two names to each aircraft. One was the manufacturer’s alphanumeric project code, and the other was the official military designation, which consisted of a description of the aircraft plus the year it entered service. For example, the military designation of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter was the “Navy Type 96 Carrier Fighter”. Type 96 meant that the aircraft had entered service in Imperial year 2596, equivalent to Gregorian calendar year 1936. Other aircraft, however, which had entered service the same year carried the same type number; aircraft such as the Type 96 Carrier Bomber and the Type 96 Land Attack Bomber.[1] Adding to the confusion, the US Army and US Navy each had their own different systems for identifying Japanese aircraft.[2]

    In mid-1942, Captain Frank T. McCoy, a United States Army Air Forces military intelligence officer from the 38th Bombardment Group assigned to the Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit in Australia, set out to devise a simpler method for identifying Japanese aircraft. Together with Technical Sergeant Francis M. Williams and Corporal Joseph Grattan, McCoy divided the Japanese aircraft into two categories; fighters and everything else. He gave boys’ names to the fighters, and the names of girls to the others. Later, training aircraft were named after trees,[3][4] single engine reconnaissance aircraft were given men’s names and multi-engine aircraft of the same type were given women’s names. Transports were given girls’ names that all began with the letter “T”. Gliders were given the names of birds.[2]
    A6M3-32 “Hamp” fighters

    McCoy’s system quickly caught on and spread to other US and Allied units throughout the Pacific theater. By the end of 1942, all American forces in the Pacific and east Asia had begun using McCoy’s system, and British Commonwealth nations adopted the system shortly thereafter. The list eventually included 122 names and was used until the end of World War II. To this day, many Western historical accounts of the Pacific War still use McCoy’s system to identify Japanese aircraft.[2][5]

    In an effort to make the names sound somewhat comical, McCoy gave many of the aircraft ‘hillbilly’ names, such as “Zeke” and “Rufe,” that he had encountered while growing up in Tennessee.[6] Others were given names of people the creators of the system knew personally; the Mitsubishi G4M bomber, with its large gun blisters was named “Betty” in homage to a busty female friend of Williams. The Aichi D3A “Val” got its name from an Australian Army sergeant.[7]

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  11. “Cruise liner” … is my education lacking?

    Like

  12. I know they are important, but I glaze over when I read about man’s ingenuity for creating weapons of war

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Unrelated but wanted to share with you GP:

    Excellent Tribute to LTG Hal Moore (We Were Soldiers fame)…Never knew he did Occupation Duty in Japan with the 11th Airborne!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. At least one of those commenting on today’s post made some comments about the B-29 that seem unfounded. The B-29 had a range of 5,830 miles. Its cruising speed was 220 mph and its top speed 365 mph. its ceiling was 31,850 feet. Its bomb load was 20,000 pounds. Check out https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2018/11/15/boeing-b-29-superfortress-1944/.

    The Mitsubishi G4M Betty isn’t a comparable aircraft with regard to its technical specifications or to its use.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I, Tamar, am a robot.

    Like

  16. I wonder if they will name something “Tamara”, but not a bomb, or anything like that… ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hello there. I’ve never thought about the number of planes, tanks, etc. that were manufactured for warfare. The exact number of Bettys that were built is known. I wonder if that’s true for other war machines, regardless of nation. I imagine it is.

    Neil Scheinin

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Excellent article, GP. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A nicely detailed explanation GP. The range of Japanese aircraft is, sad to say, a bit of a mystery to me, so posts like this are much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Fascinating. I know very little about Japanese aircraft. Thanks, GP. From HistoryNet: “We called her Betty. The American system of nicknaming World War II Japanese aircraft gave female names to bombers, male names to fighters. Betty was actually a waitress in Pennsylvania. A member of the three-man intelligence team that picked the names thus immortalized a one-night stand. “

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I have so involved with dealing with Medicare and SS for my wife and I (as well as three graduations – including my oldest son who became a doctor) that I have had little time to just read.

    Many folks are unaware that Admital Yamamoto – who Nimitz feared the most – was shot down in a Betty in a carefully planned shootdown. He was on his way to Rabaul to boost morale of his starving troops.

    Before departure, he donned on his ceremonial white uniform with a special belt to hold his family’s cherished short samurai sword. He put his pocket diary into a breast pocket and donned on his white gloves (to partially hide his two missing fingers sustained from a naval battle early in his career).

    As the P-38’s jumped his flight of two Betty’s, he was still in the pilot’s seat. Whether he was in command of the plane or not, his plane was quickly shot down as was the other.

    The Japanese went to the wreckage. His pilot’s seat had been ejected with him still in it. According to the Japanese report, he was found clenching his family’s samurai sword (highly suspect but the sword was indeed recovered). A coroner’s report disclosed two .50 caliber rounds had hit him – one in the jaw and one in his back. They concluded he died instantly. His body was immediately cremated.

    Upon the return of his ashes to Japan, the ashes were carried past his mistress’ house.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Admiral’s well-known punctuality wound up being his undoing. We knew exactly where he’s be and when.

      Congratulations on the 3 graduations, Koji!! Are you telling me that medical school is finished already? Yikes, time is going even faster than I thought!
      Oh, don’t you just love trying to deal with the Medicare and Social Security!! I kept wondering how everyone else seemed to breeze through it (I think they lied to me!!) You are certainly forgiven for not being around, (you’d be forgiven no matter what anyway!!)
      Have a great weekend, my friend

      Like

  22. “On the G4M, instead of hydraulic drives, electric drives were used”
    Maximum speed was about 428 km/h = 265.94687 Mile/Hour.
    Bomb load was One 800 kg (1760 lb) torpedo or up to 800 kg (1760 lbs) of bombs.
    The maximum range was 6034 km = 3749 miles [3258 Nautical miles].
    Much later, the B-29 max range: B-29 Operation Matterhorn missions from China were limited to about 1,800 miles with 500lb of bombs per aircraft.
    Smarter than we were… If, as in other aircraft, they’d had self sealing fuel tanks and better armor protection, they would have been harder to shoot down.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Excellent read as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Very interesting facts that you reveal for us to learn more from.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I learnt again! Thanks for a good read and the cartoons. 👍😀💕

    Liked by 1 person

  26. One thing I read with regards to G4M which you might like to add to your research. It was chosen to carry Ohka which was a very destructive power worst than the Kamikaze planes. You can delete this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Had a very modern shape, like a cigar. 😉 Never heared or read before. Thank you for the very interesting information, GP! Have a nice day! Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Very good rundown on the Betty. I first ran into the Betty when I read “The Big E: The Story of the USS Enterprise” by Edward P. Stafford—I understand still an excellent read BTW.

    The Japanese emphasis on speed, range and weapons over armor is partly explained by their samurai code that disdained any sort of defense. They also missed out on learning from their downed pilots who were too ashamed to live another day. Americans brought the pilots home to help educate the next generation of pilots. Learning from our errors was an important part of keeping down our casualties and winning.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. These navy torpedo-bombers were nicknamed “Isshiki” by the Japanese and “Betty” by the Americans.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Fascinating stuff, GP. How long does it take you to research and write a posting like this? Like Shoreacres, I also wondered where the name Betty came from. We saw a lot of Betty Boop cartoons in the 50s on TV. She was even a pop icon in the 80s or 90s.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Great article! If you want to build one look no further than Tamiya’s Betty in 48th scale. A real pleasure to build. When I built mine I couldn’t help notice how big it is. Compared to other twin engine planes, the Betty is a monster.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I wondered about the code name chosen by the Allies. The character of Betty Boop had been immensely popular in the years preceding WWII, and honestly — if you don’t look too closely, and have a little imagination, the profile of the plane (sort of plumpish) does bear some resemblance to Betty Boop. I tried to find information online, but a quick search didn’t reveal anything. Still, it wouldn’t surprise me if the name of the Betty wasn’t grounded in our popular culture.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Interesting to know how lightly armoured Japanese aircraft were in general. They obviously didn’t concern themselves that much about crew safety.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This was an interesting read, GP. We had to play catch up on plane design, but once we figured out what we needed, we were tough to beat.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Thank you for sharing. I hope your readers find this interesting.

    Like

  36. Thank you for linking to this post.

    Like

  1. Pingback: THE “BETTY” — Pacific Paratrooper – Truth Troubles

  2. Pingback: The Japanese “Betty” – Daydreaming

  3. Pingback: THE “BETTY” – Daydreaming

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