Monday, 30 April 2012


Last month, right after we put up on our blog our series of articles regarding the Hinomaru, the national marking of Japan, there was immediately a negative reaction in a certain message board. It seems that some did not read what we wrote but chose to troll and growl for omissions or "mistakes" that they think we made. Clearly some consider the internet as a big classroom, and themselves as teachers correcting other people's work. "The eyes are open the mouth moves, but Mr Brain has long since departed" - Blackadder

In the previous parts of the series we provided evidence of how and when the Hinomaru was adopted as the national marking. The photo below shows another accident involving a Maurice-Farman with hinomaru. It happened in March 1916 in Shiba, Tokyo and the pilots Tongu and Abe unfortunately did not survive. Another proof that the Hinomaru was adopted as the national marking as early as 1916.

We also tried to explain what the star and other markings might signify. Our main focus was to provide as much evidence as possible to disprove the earlier notion that the star was an early IJAAF marking. A new and rather ridiculous suggestion was made that the IJAAF was "trying" something. So let’s phrase what a certain "researcher" fantasizes: Japan had adopted the Hinomaru as a national marking by 1916. Quoting D. Thorpe: "The Hinomaru…has a deep-seated significance to the Japanese, being of divine origin and implications." But suddenly and for no apparent reason other than to stick it to the Navy or to "try something", they started painting some of the planes with a star in a white circular background. But then they realized that this marking was exactly the same with the one the Bolsheviks had adopted so they said  "chiksho / damn" and went back and painted their planes with the original Hinomaru. Sounds plausible?

It seems that in our previous article a significant detail went unnoticed so allow us this time to quote directly from Putnam’s "Japanese Aircraft, 1910-1941" p.10:
"The Army was the first to initiate a modernization programme with the purchase of war-surplus Nieuport and SPAD fighter aircraft in April 1918."
This means that the aircraft the Japanese imported from France were not all brand new and many of them already carried various markings, insignia and some even camouflage.
In part #2 we showed a photo of a Nieuport 81 with what looks like ex-White Russian roundels. Here we include a close-up in the serial number to help French aircraft experts identify it.

Here’s another photo, this time of a camouflaged Salmson 2A2 with French tail markings and colors (blue, white, red) . (Perhaps French national colors was something else the IJAAF tried!)

Before we move to the next part of this series we would like to include another extremely interesting photo. The Nieuports and other old Army aircraft, once they were replaced with new aircraft and modern types, were given to civilian schools. In this photo of a camouflaged Nieuport an Iron Cross is prominent under the top wing. Highly unlikely a civilian school to paint such an insignia so perhaps IJAAF was trying German markings too! More on this particular aircraft in the following part.

Our conclusion was that at least some of the aircraft imported from France were intended to be exported to Russia and were diverted to Japan. This was taken to mean the star marking aircraft. We were actually talking about the planes with the White Russia roundel. But ofcourse on message boards where there is constant censorship and whoever disagrees with the owner is banned, as the members of this blog are, serious discussion is wanting.
  As can be seen in pt#2 and #2b, the French aircraft that were exported to Japan, arrived with a variety of markings indicating previous owners. We believe that it's incorrect to isolate the star as an early IJAAF marking and we also believe that the definitive answer regarding all these markings is probably somewhere in the French archives where the origin of the aircraft exported to Japan is recorded.
  We still hope to hear criticism, suggestions and your thoughts and contributions to this very interesting subject in a friendly and constructive manner.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Questions #2

Our dedicated fan Harold K from the States sent us the following:

"Perhaps the Arawasi files or a blog reader can provide some information about the service record of the Aichi E10A (Hank) flying boat.
I have read that this type was taken out of service before the Pearl Harbor attack. I assume that means front line service (replaced by the E11A); but I would expect that some continued into the Pacific War period as trainers or on other second-line duties. Can anyone confirm that?
Is it know if the E10A saw any combat use against Chinese forces during the years (1936 to 1941) that it was a front line type?"

ARAWASIブログの読者 Harold K さんからメッセージを受け取りました。


Mitsubishi J2M3 "Raiden" (Jack) - 海軍局地戦闘機 「雷電」

A NARA photo of what looks like a Mitsubishi J2M3 found at the end of the War in Japan probably in the Mitsubishi factory in Suzuka, Mie prefecture, where Raiden production was concentrated after the Summer of 1944. Suzuka is famous for its F1 racing circuit.
Although revealing a lot of details of the Kasei 23a engine, this particular photo is surprisingly not often reproduced in books.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Questions #1

Our good friend from Croatia, Marko Soletic, sent us some very interesting questions that we thought would be worthwhile to reply in public. We also think that it would be wonderful if the hundreds of daily visitors to our blog could participate a little more by sending their comments and answers. Here they are:

1 - Mitsubishi Ki-71. It was allegedly a version of the Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Sonia), but I've never seen a photo of this plane. Do you know if there are any?

Answer: Only three prototypes of this Sonia version with retractable landing gear and a more powerful Ha-112, 1500hp engine were built but no known photos of them have ever surfaced.

2 - Mitsubishi K3M (Pine) and other versions. Is there any recommendable publication which could help me tell the differences between all the Pine versions? I purchased 4 AZ Models kits, one for each version but I'm lucking proper documentation to complete the project.

Answer: There are no publications dedicated to the Pine. It's a very camera-shy aircraft and there are very few photos around. We'll try to post some in a separate posting.

3 - Kawasaki Ki-61-IIKAI. RS Models recently released two kits of this version, razorback and bubbletop. To my surprise, their outline form is not the same as the Fine Molds kits and they appear to have larger wing span; Fine Molds kits have the same span as Ki-61.
Which is correct then? I know that Ki-61-II had larger span, but this was later brought back to standard Ki-61 wing in KAI version. Therefore, I am a bit puzzled now by these new kits. And also, I never saw a picture of Ki-61-II with large wing. Are there any?

4 - Kawasaki Ki-60. According to publications, all 3 prototypes were externally different in aspects of cowlings, wings and maybe something else too, but I can't tell any difference from the photos. Since I have RS models kits of Ki-61 and both boxing contents are the same, although they should represent 1st and 2nd prototype, I would like to ask you if there is some proper documentation that could help me modify the kits so I could have accurate representations of all prototypes?

Answer: Only three prototypes of the Ki-60 were built. The first was completed on March 6, 1941. The second on April 5, 1941 the third around May. One prototype was comparatively tested in Kagamigahara in June 1941 against an imported Bf 109E and a Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" by Army test pilot Kuroe. The Ki-60 was found easier to fly and land than Ki-44 but when "Shoki" used the "butterfly" combat flaps it had a clear advantage over the Ki-60 in combat. Without the "butterfly" flaps the Ki-60 was overall better than the "Shoki". Compared to the Bf 109E the Ki-60 was found equal if not slightly better during air battle. In the end Kuroe-san declared that the Ki-60 was his favourite airplane. The first and the third prototypes were given to the Independent 47 Chutai (Kawasemi butai) but they didn't see combat. At least one survived the war.
Neither Encyclopedia Vol. IV, nor Akimoto-sensei in his most recent "All the Experimental Aircraft in Japanese Army" or any other Japanese source I checked mention any differences between the prototypes. Only Francillon mentions them but his source is unknown.
Judging from the available photos I see no visible differences between the prototypes.

5 - Are there any photos of the Kawasaki Ki-102Hei (Ki-102c)?

Answer: Design of the Ki-102Hei was completed in May 1945. Completion of the first prototype was scheduled for July 1945; the second was due in August of the same year. On June 28 (or 26) during an air raid, the fuselage (of the first prototype?) was destroyed. The War ended while it was repaired. No known photos exist. 

Feel free to contribute your corrections, additions or comments.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Vintage magazine cover

Hikoshonen, July 1943

Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (Oscar) - 一式戦闘機 「隼」

In 1945 a propaganda movie dedicated to the Army Special Attack corpse was released with the auspices of the IJAAF. Among the various information a particular segment refered to a December 5, 1944 suicide attack carried by three pilots of the 5th Hakko Tesshin-tai (Iron Heart Unit) equipped with Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Sonia) and three pilots of the 2nd Hakko Ichyu-tai flying Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa".
We were unable to confirm whether the images in the movie actually corresponded to these two units or they were edited from various shots taken at different times and places but in any case we present below a few interesting captions from that segment.

During the battle for the Philippines in 1944, the IJAAF organised a number of special attack units among them the 1 to 12 Hakko-tai. Each Hakko tai-unit had a different name and the 2nd Hakko unit was named Ichyu. The names Hakko and Ichyu derive from the propaganda phrase "Hakko Ichyu" (universal brotherhood); further info here.
The Ichyu-tai was organised on November 5, 1944 with 12 officers led by 1st Lieutenant Kurihara from the Hitachi Kyodo Hikoshidan (Hitachi Instructional Air Unit). The unit received its official name five days later and arrived in the Philippines with brand new Ki-43-III Ko on November 19, first in Laoag airfield of Luzon island, then, the next day, in the Mabalacat airfield. Perhaps the caption below was taken during that time.

On the 23rd of November, 1944 the unit advanced to Silay airfield on Negros Island but five pilots including commander Kurihara were lost during the trip, presumably attacked by enemy aircraft.
As mentioned above on December 5, three aircraft took off from Bacolod base in Luzon and during the attack one large transport ship was sunk. The last pilot of the unit perished in a suicide attack on December 13.

The best reference ever released so far about the Army suicide units is the unfortunately out-of-print Model Art 451 (1995) written by Mr. Osuo Kazuhiko. Artist Nohara Shigeru features one Ichyu-tai profile of a Hayabusa belonging to 2nd Lt. Tanaka Joji, on November 10, 1944 when the unit was stationed in Maewatari airfield, Ibaraki prefecture. The publication was followed by another, Model Art #458, on the IJNAF Kamikaze units. (Both Model Art publications are occasionally available through our on-line shop).

 The katakana "TA" on the tail comes from the beginning of the pilot's name.

In 1996 Aeromaster & Create 301 released a fantastic set of decals accompanied by a pamphlet featuring markings and information of the most interesting aircraft from Model Art #451 and #458. Below is one profile from that pamphlet, this time illustrating the aircraft flown by commander Kurihara.

   Again the katakana "KU" on the tail comes from the pilot's name and the blue arrow is commander Kurihara's personal marking.

In the same section of the movie two more Hayabusa makes their appearance. They are older Ki-43-II with very weathered camouflage, no visible tail markings and bomb/fuel tank under the wings.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Breda Ba.33 J-BANC

On April 23, 1932, at Haneda airfield, there was a ceremony held by Osaka Mainichi Shimbun to present the two latest additions to the newspaper fleet; a Breda 33 and a Lockheed Altair. On that day pilot Okura flew with the Breda33 for the first time with Minister of Communication Mitsuchi Chuzo as passenger.
The Breda 33 became the 23rd plane in the newspaper’s fleet and received the registration J-BANC. It was destroyed in Hiroshima’s Army training field (date unknown).

昭和7年4月23日、羽田飛行場にて大阪毎日新聞社の新鋭機2機(ブレダ33とロッキード アルテア)の披露式が行われた。三土忠造逓信大臣は大蔵飛行士操縦のブレダ33に初めて同乗飛行を行った。

Note that in this in-flight photo the aircraft doesn't carry any hinomaru on the wings. These were added at some later date.

Japanese modeller "Avion Road" shared with us photos of his incredibly beautiful model in 1/72 by French resin maker Dujin. Don't forget to visit his site (HERE) for more civilian and pre-war Japanese aircraft models, more photos of which we hope to feature soon.

フランスのレジンキット「Dujin」 1/72 で作られた美しい作品です。

Thank you very much "Avion Road" for your contribution to our blog!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Nakajima A2N Carrier Fighter Hokoku #7- 九〇式艦上戦闘機

The donation ceremony for Hokoku #7 was scheduled to take place at Tokyo's Haneda airport on September 25, 1932. The previous day a Nakajima A2N carrier fighter was prepared and flown to Haneda to take part in the ceremony but during landing the wheel cover was damaged, so another airplane was flown in early the next day.
Although there was a little rain the ceremony started as scheduled at 10:00. Speeches by the attending dignitaries including Navy Minister Okada Keisuke were over by 11:30. It should be noted that the chief priest of Yasukuni shrine was also present offering prayer.

Navy Minister Okada in the middle of the photo during the donation ceremony.

Following this, Hokoku #7 with Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Funaki from Yokosuka Kokutai in the cockpit and seven other airplanes got ready for an exhibition flight. There were three Nakajima A1N carrier fighters from Yokosuka Kokutai with three Hirosho H1H and one Kawanishi H3K1 from Tateyama Kokutai. The exhibition flight including touch-and-go and mock air combat by the fighters as well as low passes from the flying boats was over at 12:00 after which the airplanes were prepared for a flight over Tokyo. During that flight 10,000 leaflets like the one below were dropped over Tokyo.

  The whole ceremony was covered by radio Tokyo under the auspices of the Navy. Although there were no problems with the radio announcer, two of the three microphones used in the ceremony to broadcast the speeches did not work properly much to the chagrin of the Navy.
  The amount for the donation of Hokoku #7 was collected by contributions made by teachers and students of 364 vocational schools from around Japan. 1,200 invitation cards were printed and sent to the principles of all donor schools. 5,800 postcards and photos including 800 larger size photos were also printed and handed to all those who attended the Sept 25 ceremony; the rest were used for promotion purposes. Last but not least 10,000 pamphlets were also printed giving details about the aircraft and the donors.

General view of the donation ceremony

On June 3, 1933 at 8:30 in the morning, pilot Shimizu of Tateyama Kokutai was flying Hokoku #7 during training. Unfortunately there was an engine problem and the airplane crashed near cape Taibusha, Chiba prefecture, killing the pilot.    

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Kawanishi H6K (Mavis) model by Mark Smith

Greetings from Texas,

Re your 22 January 2012 posting on the Mavis (here), the surrender aircraft you’ve posted has always been a source of interest. My 1/144 model of this airplane was based on the ramp photo, which first appeared via Bob Mikesh in the old profile on H6K and H8K aircraft. At the time I built it I did not have the other photo that showed the top surfaces. Your point is interesting when you wonder whether there are any green crosses at all on the upper wing hinomarus, or rather just a white outline. Hard to tell from the photo. I’ve thought about adding the white borders via decal strips, but thought I’d wait until I felt sufficiently ambitious. The day has yet to come! 

The subject of surrender-marked aircraft and their role is a subject for which it’s very tough to find good information, and I would love to see it addressed as an evolving subject on your website.     

I am attaching some photos of the model, built from the Trumpeter kit, along with an article on the build that appeared on the Roll Models website (here). 

Mark Smith
Dallas, Texas

Thank you very much Mark for your contribution to our blog. Rest assured we will come back on the subject of captured Allied and surrendered Japanese aircraft very soon.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Fokker Super Universal

A photo from a vintage publication dated June 15, 1940. On that day, at 14:00, Fokker Super Universal J-DFOH arrived in Tokyo's Haneda airport from Sapporo to celebrate the commencement of regular commercial flights between Tokyo and Sapporo by Dai Nippon Koku. For this celebrating event the J-DFOH Super Universal took off from Sapporo carrying plenty of Lilies of the Valley (suzuran in Japanese) to be handed to wounded soldiers in Tokyo's 1st and 2nd Army hospitals.

   Sapporo Lilies of the Valley

On the same day at 08:00 another Fokker Super Universal took off from Haneda loaded with Edomae Senbe (Tokyo Rice Crackers) for 200 persons to be handed at wounded soldiers at Sapporo's Tsukisamu hospital.

 Edomae Senbe

The lilies were handed by six "Air Girls", Misses Uematsu, Komuro, Yamada, Yamamoto, Mita and Kawano, three of which are featured in this photo. Note that J-DFOH has no engine cowling offering a splendid view of the Kotobuki Type 2 engine. The J- registration is most unusual but that's what the vintage publication clearly mentions.

別名、谷間の姫百合とも呼ぶ、この空の慰問花束は、早速エアガール 植松・小室・山田・山本・三田・河野の六嬢によって傷いえる日を待つ勇士の枕頭へ届けられた。

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Hokoku #1 - #10

Here's a follow up from the previous posting (here). All photos from the Arawasi collection but unfortunately it seems that photos of Hokoku #3 and #4 are quite rare so we would appreciate it if anyone has any to share.

Kawanishi E5K1 Hokoku #1 - 90式3号水上偵察機

 Kawanishi E5K1 Hokoku #2 - 90式3号水上偵察機
Donated by citizens of Hyogo Prefecture on April 17, 1932.

Nakajima A2N Carrier Fighter Hokoku #5- 九〇式艦上戦闘機
Donated by citizens of Ishikawa Prefecture on June 12, 1932.

Yokosho E1Y Hokoku #6 - 一四式水上偵察機
Donated by citizens of Aichi Prefecture on July 10, 1932.

Nakajima A2N Carrier Fighter Hokoku #7- 九〇式艦上戦闘機
Donated by vocational schools from all over Japan on September 23, 1932.

Nakajima E4N2 Reconnaissance Seaplane Hokoku #8 - 九〇式二号水上偵察機
Donated by citizens of Kagoshima Prefecture on October 2, 1932. 

Mitsubishi 3MT2 Hokoku#9 - 十三式三号艦上攻撃機改造水上機
Donated by volunteer group living in the Kure Naval District (呉鎮守府管下有志) on October 2, 1932
Note the very different style of the inscription.

Nakajima A2N Carrier Fighter Hokoku #10 - 九〇式艦上戦闘機
 Donated by citizens of Saga Prefecture on October 2, 1932 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

VIPs - Showa L2D (Douglas DC-3) - 零式輸送機 #4

In this photo from a vintage publication Maj General Nishihara (on the left) is ready to take off from Haneda airport with three other officers on June 26, 1940 to inspect whether the colonial authorities of French Indochina are enforcing the blockade of weapons towards Chiang Kai-shek that came into effect after the strong protests of the Japanese.


Monday, 9 April 2012

Showa L2D (Douglas DC-3) - 零式輸送機 #3

A Douglas L2D3 built by Showa on Clark Field, Philippines, May 1945 (NARA).
According to "Japanese Experimental Transport Aircraft of the Pacific War" by G. Picarella (did I mention how much recommended this book is?), this particular plane received the code S15 by the TAIU and the name "Tokyo Express".

Note the Mitsubishi Ki-46-II Dinah in the background belonging to the 15th Sentai. A very clear photo of the tail marking can be found on p. 81 of FAOW#38.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Artwork - "Demonslayer"

Excellent artwork by MakmunBaban found here. Small problems here and there but overall very nicely done.
According to the artist:
"Japanese fighter Nakajima Ki-44-IIb Shoki (codenamed Tojo) of the 23rd sentai in defence of Japan proper 1944."

(If the artist feels uncomfortable having his artwork featured on our blog, it only takes an email and we'll remove it immediately)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Mitsubishi G4M "Hamaki" (Betty) / 一式陸上攻撃機

Mitsubishi G4M2Ab (or Type 24 ko) of the 763ku.
This NARA photo clearly shows the way the fuselage mounted 20mm cannon was installed and locked. 

The original caption wrote:
"Sgt. H. W. Willis of Beckeley, West Virginia, a member of the Air Technical Intelligence Division of the Air Force, examines the 20 mm machine guns of a Japanese "Betty" which was captured intact on Clark Field, Luzon, Philippine Islands. The plane was very heavily armoured and had terrific hitting power."

Note the cannon magazine he's holding and the antenna of the type H6 radar.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Yokosuka E1Y3 / 一四式水上偵察機 3号

Photos from a vintage publication of a Navy Type 14-3 Reconnaissance seaplane, Yokosuka E1Y3, of which 102 were built by Aichi between 1931-1934. It has a 4-blade propeller, a 450hp Lorraine 3 engine and was carried aboard the battleship "Kongo" as indicated by the katakana on the tail and fuselage.
Note also the beautifully colourised photo.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Vintage Ad

All a good pilot needs is:

Vintage ad from the '30s