Saturday, 19 September 2020

Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" - video

A video clip today featuring the production line of Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" seaplanes. The clip is split in two because of limitation by blogger.

The narrator explains:
"One of the systems to mass produce aircraft is the "takt system". It's a way to divide the production into several steps and move them forward all at once for a limited time, as is done in the Navy's aviation yard. This system assures that every day a certain production quantity will be achieved with increased efficiency. At 10:40, it is time to move forward all at once. The "takt system" comes to a halt if even one person shows slacking in their work. Therefore, each and every one of us must be aware of ourselves as a nation and work our machines with respect for our responsibilities. This is the Japanese "takt system"."

The narrator continues:
"However, it is not enough to produce aircraft in quantity. In terms of quality, it is necessary to surpass American aircraft. The Japanese "takt system" can destroy the enemy, the United States and Britain, both in quantity and quality. From parts to finish, the simultaneous progress is bound to show great results.
Far offshore, the day of distinguished military service is near and the observation aircraft are lined up."

The clips are a smorgasmatron of aircraft details following the various stages of production. I will stop only on the application of fuselage hinomaru.

Regarding the "takt system", I found that it reffers to "takt time", a manufacturing term that "was borrowed from the German word Taktzeit, meaning 'cycle time'. The word was likely introduced to Japan by German engineers in the 1930s." Check the wiki link for more details.

Also: "Takt time first was used as a production management tool in the German aircraft industry in the 1930s. It was the interval at which aircraft were moved ahead to the next production station. The concept was widely utilized within Toyota in the 1950s and was in widespread use throughout the Toyota supply base by the late 1960s."

Check also this link and you will understand the usage of the bugle.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Artwork - Twin "Raiden" by Jimbowyrick1 - Nipponki '46

 It's been quite some years since we last posted some "what-if" artwork, we call on this blog "Nipponki '46". I recently spotted on deviant art a nice idea by Jimbowyrick1, here

The project is part of a whole what-if war scenario and the artist explains:

Ve-Mi J33-33 Twin Raiden
Illustration for the up-coming KZK* 1/32nd scale Veeblefitzer-Mitsubishi Ve-Mi J33 "Twin Raiden" series.
Depicted, ascending outrageously fast, such as about 400 mph, going up, at a 30 deg' angle, is the ship belonging to Group Captain Tofu Maru, of the famous 8th Naval Kingdom of Japan Air Forces, based in Outdonesia, a small state of Indonesia, during those horrible years, of the War in the Pacific.
Professor Anton Veeblefitzer, seeing the potential of welding multiple engines and a couple of aircraft, together, dreamed up this insanity, the Veeblefitzer-Mitsubichi Twin Raiden!
The mad Prof' started by taking four Mitsubishi Kase-23 radial engines, each rated at 1,820 max hp. He welded two together, front-to-back, creating a single engine that could produce 3,640 max hp (!).  These two monsters were bolted to the fronts of two standard Mitsubishi J2M Raiden fuselages, and then a stout center-wing connected the two. This arrangement gave the prototype a total of 10,480 max hp (!!!!).
Maximum speed was, before disintegrating from extreme air stresses, 567 mph (!!!!).
Armament, for most production versions, titled Veeblefitzer-Mitsubishi J33 2-to-33 series, "Twin Raiden (Thunderbolt)" was 10 x Ho-7b 20 mm cannon. Six weapons were wing mounted, and four located above the forward fuselage. External stores could range from rockets to bombs, fuel cells. The small cylinder beneath the center wing is a sophisticated radar/computer that is able to automatically fire the cannon, and/or the rockets and bombs, when the aircraft is in a near-perfect position to score reliable hits.
This capability was essential in helping the KOJ, and her allies, keep the wicked BCE air forces at bay.  The rate of attrition, during the War in the Pacific, was horrific, for both sides.  The average life span, for ALL combatant air crews was usually 2.5 weeks ..., at Best.
The new aiming system improved successful results by 72.3 % and helped to result in the KOJ surviving that terrible slaughter: The Battle of Komodo Island.
Critical areas had armor plate and fire extinguishers were abundant.  
Ferry range, unloaded, was 3,000 miles. A set of tough rubber fuel bladders filled the area behind the engine on the left fuselage providing exhaustive amounts of pure-as-the-driven-snow, 280 Octane fuel!  
And the Japanese loved to decorate their craft, with Kabuki mask images, etc.

Although there are various details that don't sit well with historical Japanese aircraft, the whole idea is not that impossible. It reminds me a lot of a couple "Kogiken" plans for twin fighters or reconnaissance aircraft designs. A twin "Raiden" could perform as a heavy interceptor, with heavy cannon armament and even air-to-air rockets. Difficult to see it in the bomber role, though. 
I think I will try to build a kit. I'm inspired!

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Kayaba Ka-Go & IJAAF Autogyros

19 years ago (!!!) Keith Walker recommended a video in the comments section of a blog post and unfortunately it went overlooked. With the current overhaul I rediscovered it and I'm now presenting this fascinating video mix of various short clips featuring Kayaba Ka-Go and other IJAAF autogyros. Video source is HERE.

There are very very few books specifically on the Japanese autogyros. The classic is this one:

Title: "Rikugun Ka-Go Kansokuki" (Army Ka-Go Observation Plane)
Author: Tamate Eiji
Published by: Kojinsha 2002 h/b, in-print?
Pages: 356, Size: 20X14cm, Photos: 114 b/w, Illustrations: 19

A SUPERB book on the Kayaba Ka-Go. Fantastic photos, many never published anywhere else, detailed manufacturer's illustrations and a small section on the building of a model in 1/24. The best book on the type. Text is all in Japanese.

A few years ago, Dai Nippon Kaiga released this book:

Title: "Nihon Rikugun no Koku Bokan" (The Aircraft Carriers of The Imperial Japanese Army) 
Author: Okumoto Go
Published by: Dai Nippon Kaiga, 2011, p/b, in print
Pages: 128, Size: 30X21, Photos: 120, CG Illustrations: Watanabe Atsushi, Drawings: Okumoto Go 

It's a nice publication but the focus is exactly on what the title says: IJA Carriers. Very few autogyro photos, none new, and about a dozen very nice Ki-76 photos which unfortunately are presented more as an afterthought than a subject of main interest. The all-in-Japanese text doesn't help at all either. 

Below is our original 2011 post.
There are very few photos of this autogyro inspired by the Kellet KD-1A and built by Kayaba.
This one is the Kayaba Ka-go 2 with a Jakobs L-4 M A-7 air-cooled, seven-cylinder engine.
The story goes like this: the IJAAF imported a Kellet KD-1A from the States for evaluation. Unfortunately it was damaged during trials and the Army gave it to Kayaba to repair it. Kayaba installed a Jacobs engine and produced one more experimental test machine designated Ka-2. It was found to be very satisfactory and the Army decided to put it into mass production as the Ka-1 but with a different engine; an Argus As 10c eight-cylinder.
It served as artillery spotter and, according to a Japanese reference, with the 107 Sentai.
It also served in the anti-submarine role equipped with depth charges from the Army aircraft carrier Akitsu Maru. The first in the world to do so.
Those who have the Francillon volume will notice some differences with the text above.   

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Rising Decals - Donryu

Is it X-mas already?! I received this week a great box from Miroslav Kárník from "Rising Decals" with plenty of goodies. Thank you Mirek!!!

In the box there was a new decal set on the Nakajima Ki-49 "Donryu" (Helen), in 1/72, with markings for nine different camouflage schemes.
Here's the instruction sheet.

Of particular interest is the last "Donryu" with the Hamamatsu School marking.
There are two photos of this aircraft, from here.

It's a mysterious aircraft but I think there are four possibilities:
1. suicide aircraft. If that's the case there would be oppenings for the contact rods like "Lily" had. Or the nose would be solid like on the "Hiryu" of the "Fugaku Tokubetsu Kogekitai" with no need to paint the nose windows. Also, most probably the rear gunner positions would had been faired over to save weight.

2. decoy. If it was a decoy, the wheels, the whole landing gear and the engines would have been removed to be used as spares for other aircraft. It doesn't add up to leave so many precious reusable parts on a decoy.

3. night or anti-submarine missions. Perhaps some short of radar was installed in the nose and needed to have all the metal in the nose replaced. The nose cover doesn't look to be very hard. Francillon mentions that some "Donryu" had a search light on the nose but there is no reason to remove completely the windows, replace them with something more solid and then repaint them. 

4a. transport. This is a more probable suggestion but there would be no need to remove the nose windows and replace them with something solid then paint them again. "Donryu" as transports carried stuff in the fuselage, in the area from behind the pilot until (about) the tail. The nose gunner would be needed to protect the plane in such transport missions.

4b. transport for the "Giretsu" or other suicide paratroop mission. The "Giretsu" used specially modified aircraft for their mission, most of them from Hamamatsu. This is even more probable as the aircraft would need to carry as many troops as possible. Note that the dorsal cannon turret has added exterior metal protection to protect the gunner from shots fired from below, i.e. ground. Perhaps the nose was replaced with something that could be kicked out so that attack troops would be able to quickly get out from there. 

For me, 4b is the most possible.
A LOT more about the "Giretsu" mission and their aircraft in our forthcoming "Sally" Eagle Eye!

Another "Donryu" in the sheet is enitled:
"Ki-49-IIb, unknown unit  Marang airfield, Malaya, August 1945."
And it is speculated as belonging to 161 Yuso Hikotai.
One of the most famous Japanese aviation artists, Kaiho Hideichi, has created the following piece featuring a Tachikawa Ki-54b "Hickory" with the same tail marking.
And he says that the unit is the "16 Kyoiku Hikotai". So, there you have it. Another totally unknown and unrecorded unit marking has been identified. I'll try to find more about the unit and will post here.

Yet another interesting "Donryu" in the decal set is this one.
It's a fairly well known aircraft, but unfortunately when high resolution images are not available, inaccuracies are inevitable.
The overall tail marking of the aircraft is far more interesting and complex, with a red "sakura" (cherry blossom) with a white center, painted under the "51 Kyoiku Hikoshidan" "kaminari" (thunderbolt) marking.
I have asked the late Akimoto Minoru-sensei for his thoughts and he was genuinely puzzled. He had seen the photos of this aircraft many times before but not in high resolution and had never noticed the "sakura". He also had no idea about the possible unit with the "sakura" marking.

ALSO, this month the blog is undergoing a massive overhaul. More than 1400 posts are too difficult to cotrol and some posts will be deleted, others will be corrected, merged and expanded. Those with dead video links will be reposted. There will also be many more "labels" to make it easier to find things.
So, stay tunned!

Monday, 31 August 2020

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft #51 - Philippines pt. 8

The last post in the Philippines series is mainly about the shed used by the TAIU to restore the aircraft and their activities.

First we will start with a view of the Kawanishi "Shiden" being restored.

There are at least two "Shiden" in the still. The tail marking on the one on the right looks to me to be the same with this "Shiden", we discussed in an old post here

Another "Shiden" captured and restored was this Model 11 Koh, with tail marking "341S-23" and serial number #7102, that belonged to the Sento 402 Hikotai (Fighter 402 Air Unit) of the 341Ku...

...and became "S9" when restored by the TAIU. Note the number "23" still on the wheel cover.

In the following still we can see a "Hayate" in the foreground, and another "Shiden" being worked on by the TAIU in the basckground.
In the background on the left there is one with its camouflage paint removed and US flag colors applied on the rudder and next to it we can see the tail of another "Shiden". I believe it's "341-16/S. Photo below from MA#587.
It's a "Shiden" that belonged to the Sento 402 Hikotai of the 341Ku like the other "Shiden" above, it just has the tail marking applied differently.
Here are two more 341Ku "Shiden" captured in the Philippines, from the Jeff Ethel collection.

Various sources indicate that the "201-53" "Shiden" was restored as "7", photo below.
In the still above it seems that the restored "Shiden" on the left could have the number "7" on its tail.
As can be seen in the still further above, two "Hayate" were also undergoing restoration. Here's another still.
The one in the foreground with the darker pannels on the cowling, had its engine test started.

And finally here's a still showing a "Shoki" getting restored to flying condition.

As to what happened to all these aircraft in the Philippines, here's what Robert C. Mikesh mentions in his "Broken Wings of the Samurai":

"The plan for locating, identifying and safeguarding this equipment found in Japan started long before TAIU activities were moved to Japan.When rumours began that Japan had capitulated, this brought about renewed activity for the 129 team members of the TAIU at Clark AB in the Philippines, the unit that would have this task.
At Clark AB, the TAI Unit quickly organized their equipment and packed it for the move. Most of the heavy equipment at Clark was trucked to an awaiting LST for the move to Okinawa. The remaining equipment and advance teams were flown to Okinawa, leaving behind the many Japanese aircraft the unit had been working on for so many months, preparatory to further flight evaluation. Seemingly only one Japanese bomber and one fighter, a "Betty" and a "Frank", are known to have been sent to the United States of all the aircraft evaluated at Clark. At first glance, this eemed quite a loss of hundreds of man hours the mechanics had expended in making selcted aircraft flyable, but greater treaures were expected ahead.
Only one of these enemy aircraft left behind survived for any appreciable time. It was an "Oscar II" that was placed on a pylon and mounted outside Base Operations at Clark."

Erratum: In pt.2 I mentioned that there is no separate Wikipedia page for the ATAIU units. Actually, there is this one.

Sunday, 30 August 2020

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft #50 - Philippines pt. 7

The second Banpresto dvd starts with a walk-around of a well known Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden". 

Some most interesting cockpit shots.

And the aircraft's data plate...
...which reads:
Keisiki : Shisei Raiden Kai (Type : Test Built Raiden Kai)
Seizo Bango : Mitsubishi Dai 3008 Go (Serial Number : Mitsubishi 3008)
Shozoku : (Belonging to unit : ) 

The aircraft was found at Nickols Field. It originally belonged to the 381Ku and was a Model 21. According to MA#470, it had tail number "81-124". The serial number indicates that it's the 8th production J2M3 aircraft. It was probably sent first to the Philippines in October 1944, to be then sent to the 381Ku which was based in Indonesia.   

Here's how the aircraft looked when originally captured.

In the background on the left is a Zero with tail number "252-61", which means it belonged to 252Ku. The unit was organized on September 20, 1942, when the fighter unit of the GenzanKu became independent. It was based in Tateyama but from November 1942 until March 1943 was based in Rabaul, Balaille, Lae, Munda and took part in the Solomon and New Guinea campaigns. In October 1944 relocated to the Philippines with defence duties, but was almost completely obliterated. The remnants managed to return to Japan and were based in Mobara and Tateyama from where they flew interception missions against enemy aircraft.  

The tail on the right belongs to a Kokusai Ki-76 "Stella" but the tail marking is "954-?" indicates that it belonged to a Navy unit (!!!), perhaps the 954Ku which was originally named 31Ku and changed name on November1, 1942. Originally a carrier bomber unit, gradually changed to carrier attackers and even reconnaissance seaplanes. Their base was Manila, Davao, Cebu and Zamboanga among others. Their duties was patrol and reconnaissance and ship escort. The unit merged with 901Ku on January 1, 1945. 

Radek MARABU Pelican suggested that "the photo of the tail is most likely Willow, not Stela."
It's a valid and interesting suggestion, so let's compare the tails of the two types.

From the shape of the rudder I would say that MARABU is right in his suggestion and therefore I stand corrected. Thanks!

And two color photos from the Jeff Ethell colelction of two Zeros in the same area and setting with the "Raiden" above.

The "Raiden" was restored to flying condition by the TAIU and received the code "S12" but was scrapped in Clark Field.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft #49 - Philippines pt. 6

As you have noticed there are at least two versions of the same clip with small differences in the contents. These are edited versions.
In 2005, the Japanese toy company Banpresto released a series of eight dvds with aircraft captured by the Allies. Four were about Japanese aircraft (the rest were about German aircraft) and three of them included unedited original clips of the aircraft collected, restored and evaluated by the TAIU in the Philippines. 
They are of much better quality than those in the UTube videos and we will present some stills on this and two more posts. It is also a chance to include more relevant information and photos.  
We cannot include copies of the clips as they are copyright protected and impossible to copy anyway. The dvds, long sold-out and fairly difficult to find, were on sale through our on-line store when they first came out. 

The first clip featured in dvd #2, starts with some clear views of the "mo" "Shoki" we saw in an earlier post.

Followed by the 246 Sentai "Shoki" we also noticed in a older post.

A number of derelict 246 Sentai "Soki" fighters were also gathered. 
In the photo above from the Jeff Ethell collection, we can also barely make out the aircraft with blue hinomaru in the background on the right.
Here's another photo.
And a most interesting one I found here, minus the noise.

The next aircraft seen in the dvd are "Hien".

They are the same 19 Sentai "Hien" we first saw in Philippines pt.2, but this time we can see the tail marking of some of them. The one on the right has a crudely applied number "80" next to a white unit marking. The next "Hien" has a number "16" (probably) next to a yellow unit marking.
In the photo below, we can see that the rudders of these "Hien" suffered some damage around the numbers, perhaps by souvenir hunters.
Perhaps that's the reason why some "Hien" had these numbers overpainted, like the one below.
Ryan Boerema contributed a colorized version of his many years ago, here

A view of probably the same aircraft from the port side.

A better photo of the same "Hien".
Note in the background the "Hayate" on the left and the "Shiden" on the right. 
Here's yet another photo of the same aircraft.
Note the two "Hayate" in the background on the left.
The one we can see most of it and the tail marking is the one below, photo from Model Art #493.
A Model Koh, that belonged to the 72 Sentai, 3 Chutai. The tail marking is yellow with a white surround. The number "81" is in white and the cowling front edge with the spinner are also yellow. 

Another "Hayate" also captured in the Philippines was a well known belonging to the 11 Sentai which we covered quite extensively here
Note in the photo above the "mo" "Shoki" standing on the right and a "Toryu" on the left.
We saw in the previous post that one "Hayate" had a landing accident. The one "Hayate" that was flown in the Philippines was "S10".
Below is a photo of another "Hayate" shipped to the US, this one having the code "S17" on the tail.

But let's move on to the next aircraft in the dvd. They are the two "Toryu" we first spotted on Philippines pt. 2.

And finally the dvd features a short clip in color of a 27 Sentai "Toryu" numbered "86".

The aircraft was obviously moved around but in the photo below we can see it squeezed next to the 208 Sentai "Lily" we first saw in Philippines pt. 3

Compare if you like the color of the drop tank and the IFF stripe to the fuselage hinomaru.

Here's a photo of another 27 Sentai "Toryu" with the number "37" on its tail.
The aircraft looks in almost pristine condition in the photo above, but in the photo below it looks really bad. Note the darker rudder in both photos. Could it be red?

This one does not have a tail number though.