A rather well-known photo of the 244 Sentai leader, Captain Kobayashi, made in the Chofu base (30 km west of Tokyo) at the beginning of February 1945. The airplane (Ki-61-I Tei, red ’24’ s/n 4424) does not yet have the distinguishing green spot camouflage however, that was corrected soon after. Painted (also in red) victory markings, symbolize five confirmed shutdowns and one ‘body attack’ (black silhouette of a Ki-61 over a B-29). The runover took place during a dogfight on the 27 January 1945, with a B-San formation from the 73’rd Bomber Wing, which was heading towards the Nakajima engine factory in Musashino on the outskirts of Tokyo. After depleting his ammunition supply during attacks on Fortresses (without visible effects) Kobayashi sighted Sargent Masao Itagaki during a runover attempt on a B-29. Itagaki’s attack resulted in substantial damage to the left wing (behind engine number 1) however, the damage did not force the B-San to reduce altitude or speed. Kobayashi flew his Ki-61 (supposedly it was the red ‘295’, s/n 3295) into the left vertical stabilizer of the enemy airplane, completely destroying it. His Hien lost its entire engine compartment and right wing, however, Captain Kobayashi managed to bail out of the spiraling down remains of the airplane and land on his parachute without any major injuries. His only scar (bruised nose) was caused by the collision with the enemy airplane. Sargent Itagaki also survived his encounter with the B-29 and safely landed on his parachute. However, the impact of the collision made him lose his consciousness which he regained only while falling through the cold sky. The lucky B-29 with dozens of shoot-throughs and 2 deliberate mid-air crashes safely made it back to it’s Saipan base.
In the end, its repairs at the base were confirmed to be economically unproductive no as much caused by the critical damage to the airframe itself but due to the fact that the factories in the US were providing a constant stream of new B-San’s for the Airforce.