Thursday, 5 July 2012

Aleutians 1942 - アリューシャン 昭和17年

In May 1942, the Toko Kokutai, a front line flying boat patrol unit, participated in the campaign to capture the Aleutians with four aircraft.
By June 8 the islands of Attu and Kiska were captured by the Japanese and since there were no airfields, seaplane tenders Kimikawa and Kamikawa Maru arrived to offer air cover. The next day six Toko-ku flying boats arrived in Kiska.
On July 5 a small seaplane fighter unit was organised within Yokosuka-ku by Lt Yamada with six A6M2-Ns. The unit advanced to the Aleutians on board seaplane tender Chiyoda and became part of the Toko-ku, which in the meantime had taken over patrols over Kiska from the Kimikawa & Kamikawa Maru aircraft.
On August 5, 1942 the six seaplane fighters led by Lt Yamada became independent forming the 5th Kokutai.
On August 14 and again on the 31st, Kimikawa Maru brought five+five Aichi E13A1 "Sanzasuitei" (Jake) which from September 4 started patrols in the area.
On September 25, Kimikawa Maru brought more reinforcements, five A6M2-N and two E13A1.
On November 1, 1942 5th Kokutai changed its name to 452-Ku.

The photos below, from vintage magazines, were taken between August and December 1942.

An excellent photo showing an A6M2-N under maintenance. The tail marking is censored but the letter "R" is visible. Before becoming independent the A6M2-Ns of the 5th Kokutai carried the tail marking "D" denoting the Toko-ku. From August 5, the marking changed to "R". From the beginning of 1943 the tail marking changed again to "MI". Note the Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" in the background.

 Two more "Rufe" of the 5th under canvas covers protecting the more sensitive parts of the aircraft from the elements.

 "Umi no Arawasitachi" (Sea Wild Eagles), as the original caption calls them, spend their time playing quoits, "wanage" in Japanese. In the background is a "Rufe" and a "Jake". Note the twin binoculars made by "Nippon Kogaku Kogyo" (present day "Nikon") and what looks like a bullhorn on the left.
憩いのひと時、手製の輪投げ遊びに我を忘れる海の荒鷲達

Final instructions before taking off from Kiska island on another patrol mission.

低くたれ込めた雲をつき今朝も哨戒に出発する戦友を見送る地上勤務員は、やはり元気で帰れと叫ばずにはいられない。

Lunch time in Kiska. The pilots are wearing winter Type 17 (1942) one-piece flying suit and although the kanji are not clear enough the pot in the foreground is probably a "hango" (here). 

4 comments:

Panagiotis said...

WWWWWWWild ideaa about my next 'Pete on the beach' dio George!!!BTW, I'd like to know if the Japanese pilots carried their sword on their planes in every mission or this is just for the sake of this specific photo! Thanks Giorgos-san!

Arawasi said...

Thanks Panos. Glad you like it.
You are talking about the magazine cover photo, right? The sword was not obligatory. Most pilots avoided it because it was cumbersome but some carried it. In most magazine photos the pilots are shown with it purely for propaganda purposes.

AJay said...

Love these photos! Excellent blog by the way - thanks for the hard work :)

Arawasi said...

Thanks a lot AJay. Your support and good words are greatly appreciated.