On April 14, 1943, the United States naval intelligence effort, decrypted a message containing specifics of Yamamoto’s tour, including arrival and departure times and locations, as well as the number and types of aircraft that would transport and accompany him on the journey. Yamamoto, would be flying from Rabaul to Balalae Airfield, on an island near Bougainville in the Solomon Islands, on the morning of April 18, 1943.
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz authorized a squadron of United States Army Air Forces Lockheed P-38 Lightning aircraft. On the morning of April 18, sixteen P-38s intercepted the Yamamoto’s two Mitsubishi G4M bombers, over Bougainville and a dogfight ensued between them and the six escorting Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes.
Lockheed fired on the aircraft until it began to spew smoke from its left engine. Yamamoto’s plane crashed into the jungle. Japanese Marshal Admiral, along with the crash site, was found the next day in the jungle of the island of Bougainville by a Japanese rescue party. Yamamoto’s body had been thrown clear of the plane’s wreckage.