This year was especially hard for all of us living in Japan but also for Greece. We would like to express our gratitude to all those who stood beside us sending messages of friendship, care and support. We hope the new year of the dragon to be better in every way than the year before.
In a Manga series with the title "Gale over Rabaul - Air Battle History", released '99-'00 and written by Kawamata Chiaki, a Zero of quite interesting design is roaming the skies of South Pacific.
What if the all-well-known Zero design had a pair of engines on it's wings leaving the nose free to install different kinds of cannons and machine guns? It certainly looks cool to me and I wouldn't mind experimenting with a couple kits from the spare box.
Manga cover illustration by Takani Yoshiyuki (Born 1935)
The rumored IJNAF Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor with four 2000hp Homare engines borrowed from the Nakajima G8N "Renzan" (Rita) project. The Fw-200 so modified was used as an engine test bed. This particular aircraft was found damaged at the end of the war.
This is the first in a series of postings about Japanese X-planes, what-if and fantasy projects.
We would love to hear your feedback and ideas as well as feature your models and artwork.
First up is the manga/VHS/DVD series "Konpeki no Kantai" (Deep Blue Fleet).
Story by: Aramaki Yoshio
Art by: Imura Shinji
Published by: Tokuma Shoten (1992-1996) 20 Vols.
"In Konpeki no Kantai's first episode, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's death on April 18, 1943, still proceeds exactly as in the real event. Just before his damaged plane crashes into Bougainville Island, Yamamoto blacks out, before awakening in a ship quarters. Unclear about what has just happened, Yamamoto speaks with a crewman, and discovers that he is aboard the Japanese cruiser Nisshin. He is then informed that the date is May 28, 1905 and that Battle of Tsushima has just ended. Yamamoto realizes that he has somehow been transported back in time (or to a parallel world).
After Yamamoto decides to revert to his old name of Isoroku Takano, he vows to use his advance-knowledge of the next 38 years to ensure that Japan does not make the same mistakes as before.
Yamamoto's first priority is to spearhead a massive naval construction program. It involves building a large fleet of advanced battleships and supercarriers, nuclear submarines based on the design of the real-life I-400 Sen Toku submarine, and advanced combat aircraft that were in prototype or concept form during the late stages of the actual Pacific War.
His plan for success begins with a coup d'état against the hardline government of Army General Hideki Tōjō in late 1941, on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack, and installing an ally, Lt Gen Yasaburo Otaka as prime minister. Otaka, who has also been transported back in time, agrees to work with Yamamoto to change history and ensure that the Japanese Empire emerges victorious against the United States in the Second World War."
First VHS of the series.
Cover of the 9th VHS.
Some sample pages from the manga.
Tomorrow we will post more scans and details about the various airplane types presented in the series.
The old model with the Hiro Type 91 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine and the four-blade wooden prop. Photo from a vintage magazine.
A dramatic shot showing the perils of lowering the floatplane from a warship. Note the guy at the far edge of the starboard wing tip releasing the attachment cable. I know I wouldn't like to be in his shoes.
Anyone interested to build a diorama out of this shot?
January 1945, Clark airfield, Luson, Philippines.
A Kawasaki Ki-48-IIa "99 shokei", belonging to the 208th Sentai has just been captured by advancing US forces and is put aside for evaluation.
The unit was decimated during the battle for New Guinea, was reduced to transport duties during the Philippine campaign and operated only a small number of Lilys. Considering this, the color of the simplified white tail marking didn't indicate any particular chutai.
Overall color is "hairyokushoku" (gray-green) with green "madara" (mottled) camo applied by airbrush. Brown prop & spinner.
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 107Sentai.
It also served in the anti-submarine role equipped with depth charges from the Army aircraft carrier (yes, the Army had some of those too) Akitsu Maru. The first in the world to do so.
A rare photo I'm sure X-plane lovers will like.
Those who have the Francillon volume will notice some differences with the text above.
Photo from a vintage magazine. Luzon February 1945.
At that time period the following Ginga units operated from Clark airfield of Luzon: 761Ku, 763ku and the Kogeki 401 and 405 Hikotai.
Personally I think it's a plane belonging to the 763ku but ofcourse I can't be sure without a visible tail marking.
One of the most famous cockpit photos of the Betty from a vintage publication, a very rare one taken at a time when the Army and Navy issued strict orders not to take photos of sensitive aircraft areas.
The lay-out of the instrument pannel indicates that this plane had a registration number of less than 222. The guy sitting on the foreground on the right is the plane commander, the one in front of him is the pilot. The one on the left side with the binoculars is the observer while the one sitting in front of him is the co-pilot.
A number of interesting details are visible in this photo. Notice that none of the crew members wears a parachute (at least I can't see one). The observer and the co-pilot wear a 1942 life vest which had a pocket on the right and lower side including a pencil and a small mirror in case of an emergency landing. Later type of this life vest didn't have that pocket. The vest was filled with cork for flotation.
The commander doesn't wear even the life vest but has a set of radio receivers on his helmet (if he wears one) produced by Toyo Tsushinki. The helmet of the observer is difficult to discern but is probably a winter version of the type produced early in the Pacific war. The lining was usually of rabbit fur. His gloves are probably Type 1940. The binoculars were produced by Tokyo Shibaura Denki but were commonly known as "Matsuda". Notice that none of the crew members wears the well known pilot uniforms but white summer clothes. The cords behind the commander's seat fastened the radio receiver; the box with the piece of paper on it's side.
Under the reading lamp in front of the observer, was the navigator's table. Finally notice the absolute lack of any form of armour protection giving the impression of a civilian passenger plane. Unless someone considers as protection the shades on the canopy...
Nick Millman has a great blog. Occasionally he shares his thoughts and grievances and I like it because that’s what blogs are for. Without the sharp moderators’ scissors or the all dismissive “move away if you don’t agree” or the even worse “you are banned” that certain forums practice only to wonder in amazement a year later what happened to the guy they kicked away. Nick put up a nice piece on Friday and I hope he doesn’t mind if I share my thoughts here.
In my eyes there are three kinds of modelers.
First - There are those who see modeling as a pastime and simply a way to have fun. To them models are toys you assemble, occasionally paint and that’s all. Today a plane, tomorrow a tank…whatever.
Second - There are those who like to take it up a notch. They focus on one subject, airplanes for example, and build whatever they fancy as long as it’s interesting. Most of the time their models are out-of-the-box with special attention to the paint job. The more interesting or unusual the better. Not really interested to learn more about their subject and they love quick answers and solutions. Historical accuracy is desirable but not absolutely necessary. Very often they have a certain theme they really like and occasionally move away from it for variety.
Third - And finally there are those who scratch-built to exhaustion and really like to investigate their modeling subject. These are the guys who like airplanes and aviation history, not just modeling.
There are of course many other factors to take into consideration such as personality, mood, age, nationality and more. One important thing that should not be forgotten is the anonymity of forums where most often nothing is known about the poster beyond the certain modeling question.
I love to research the history of Japanese aviation and build models whenever I have the time. Many years ago I used to closely follow discussions on forums and contribute as much as possible. This led me nowhere. At some point I felt I was wasting my time searching for answers to questions from people who didn’t really care. Most of them modelers of the first and second kind. I don’t have anything against any kind of modeler. Everybody’s doing their thing and want to enjoy themselves. I don’t think it’s complicated. Getting in touch and communicating with other people is complicated.
Let me be more clear. There are Japanese plane researchers who frequent forums and try to answer whatever question about Japanese planes. Sometimes, but certainly not always, it’s a matter of making a name, becoming popular and finding satisfaction in the thank-yous. Good for them. There are other researchers like Nick Millman who are serious and really care about what they do. I would like to quote Mathew 7:6 as a message to Nick:
“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them
under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”
Explaining Japanese colours to a modeler of the first kind is totally futile, me thinks. And answers like “paint your model any way you like” or “follow the instructions” are perfectly fine.
Modelers of the second kind are more interesting but can be equally frustrating to a researcher. A very common question is “I got this Japanese kit and I’m looking for an interesting and unusual paint scheme. Can you help?”. It’s obvious that this guy is only partially interested in Japanese planes so any attempt to “teach” him something is just a waste of your and his time. Just pass him some interesting artwork, give him the latest “commonly accepted” colour number and paint and he is perfectly happy. Isn’t this the purpose of the posting and the discussion? The modeler to be happy?
Things can get complicated when he asks “is this historically accurate?” and the answer could simply be “who cares as long you have fun with the model and you are satisfied”. I believe that it’s up to the researcher to move away from the discussion and do other things that are more interesting than spend hours or even days doing research and trying to explain things to someone who is not really interested in all this in the first place. My advice to the modeler is simple, Google the plane to see what paint schemes are out there, before you buy the X model.
I must admit though that there is the occasional modeler of the second kind who is really good and shows potential to become a Japanese plane fan. The modelers I really like to talk to are those of the third kind. Because they care and I feel they share the same passion I have.
If Japanese plane researchers were following the wishes of modelers and what they are interested in then the subjects would be extremely limited as they had been until recently. Zero-sen, Kate, Val, Pearl Harbor, Midway and the occasional Kamikaze. I believe the more researchers move away from modelers, of course not completely abandoning them, the more free they become to present their work and the history of Japanese aviation. And in the end the modelrs too understand this and appreciate it.
A photo from a vintage publication dated October 8th, 1943 of a Nakajima Ki-43-II Ko. Another photo taken a few seconds before this one is featured in Model Art #395, p. 79. According to the caption the plane belonged to the 1st Chutai of the 25th Sentai and the boarding pilot is 1st Lt. Okumura Masao*. On August 23, 1943 the 25th took off from their base in Hankou (Hubei province), made a stop in Yichang (Hubei province) and then proceeded attacking the then capital of Nationalist China, Chongqing. The photo is retouched by the war-time censored and the air intake at the top of cowling as well as the machine gun muzzle ports are missing. Nevertheless this angle still provides interesting information regarding the colour of the wheel wells (not aotake), the camouflage pattern and the brilliant tent that gives plenty of diorama ideas.
*As everywhere in this blog Japanese names appear in the traditional Japanese way with the family name first.
A6M5 Model 52, photo from a December 1944 vintage magazine. Note the barely visible multiple exhausts and the single 20mm cannon on the wing. The green paint line that curves and reaches the elevators, instead of the tail light, on the planes behind the ground crew guy, indicates that they are Nakajima built Zeros.
Location and unit unknown but the white overalls of the ground crew means it's somewhere in Japan mainland. Note that the empty drop tank is very light, most probably it's a 150litre (other sources state it's a 200litre) installed under the wings. This particular type could carry a bomb under it's fuselage therefore the underwing drop tanks which were the same used by IJAAF and IJNAF.
Of interest is also the fuselage Hinomaru with the white surround overpainted.
A while back there was a posting on HS requesting information regarding Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" that according to the Wikipedia entry were flown by Korea after WWII. This gave me the idea to start a thread spotting inaccuracies or plainly mistakes in Wikipedia entries regarding Japanese aviation without making any additions. Hopefully someone will make the appropriate corrections.
Since our latest publication is the book regarding the "Aviation history of Manchukuo", I will start with the Wikipedia entry about the "Manchukuo Air Force"
1. Wikipedia - "The official air force's predecessor was the Manchukuo Air Transport Company"
This is not correct. There was no initial connection between MAF and the MATC.
2. Wikipedia - "After 1940, the Japanese allowed native ethnic Manchusto receive pilot training."
This is inacurate. The Japanese occupiers of Manchuria didn't make any distinction between native Manchus and Han Chinese living in Manchukuo and at that time, called them all "Manshujin". There were indeed "Manshujin" pilots in MAF but there is no way to be certain whether they were of Manchu origin or Han Chinese.
3. Wikipedia - "On 30 August 1940, aflight schoolwas established in Fengtien to teach both military and civil pilots."
This is not correct. The school opened on April 1, 1940.
4. Wikipedia - "The training program received a severe setback in January 1941 when approximately 100 pilot cadets rebelled, and fled to join to anti-Japanese guerillas after killing their instructors."
This is dubious at best. In all Japanese primary and secondary sources there is not even a single mention of any such incident.
After august '45 some one hundred or more Ki79a/b trainers plus several Ki 27's were found at Andir airfield near Bandung/Java (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandung). Does anyone know which Training Units were based on that field and/or somewhere else on Java? Any info is highly appreciated. Jacob Terlouw / The Netherlands.
(Send you answers by email and we'll put them up for you or simply leave a comment)
In this photo from a vintage publication, two Mitsubishi G3M2 Model 21 “Nell” bombers can be seen operating from mainland China before the beginning of the Pacific War. Note the hastily applied camouflage over NMF surfaces and the properly painted black engine cowling.
The three-bar rank insignia on the sleeve of the pilot on the left indicates that he is probably a commander (“chusa”); his colleague is probably a captain ("taisa", four bars). Some pilots chose not to wear these insignia, which were always on the left sleeve and became smaller in 1944.
The one-piece uniform is a winter version of the Type 9 (1934) featuring a rabbit fur-lined collar (the official colour was black) and zippers on the sleeves; the summer version lacked the fur and had buttons on the sleeves.
Last but not least, note that each pilot is carrying a Nambu automatic pistol in a holster, which in the case of the pilot on the left carries his name in white.
Any ideas about the unit welcomed.
Note the 600hp liquid-cooled engine and the four blade wooden prop.
Top green-bottom gray.
The Kawanishi E7K was a very well liked floatplane by it's crew. During an interview with a floatplane instructor (among other things), the veteran pilot told me that it was his favorite floatplane, among the "Willow", the "Pete" and the "Jake". Very strong and sturdy but also very easy to fly, with light controls. Those who have built the Hasegawa kit have probably noticed how "crowded" is the section in front and around the pilot. Nevertheless the veteran assured me that the plane offered excellent forward and downward visibility.
The photo from a vintage publication was taken during the Hainan island operations that started on February 10, 1939 and ended a couple months later. Some details about the op here.
The tail marking is censored but perhaps a ship guy may know which cruisers or battleships or floatplane tenders operated in the area at the time.