Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" Royal Thai Airforce

In the summer of 1943 the Japanese Army gave "Hayabusa" to the Royal Thai Airforce to help in the defence of the area. 24 of them were given to the 1st Hikodan. Upon arrival the 15th Hiko Chutai was organised equipped exclusively with these aircraft and was based at Don Muang airfield (now Don Mueang) of Bangkok responsible for the air defence of the capital.
A number of "Hayabusa" were also given to the 16th Hiko Chutai based at Lampang in the North of Thailand as replacements to their older Nakajima Ki-27 (Nates).

A photo from a vintage publication showing a Japanese (left) and a Thai pilot discussing their flight route. Note the camouflage pattern.

Bellow are captions from a short vintage news-clip showing the arrival of the new fighters at Don Muang and how the Thai markings were applied. HERE you can see the whole clip.

Note the different camouflage pattern with the aircraft in the top photo. The aircraft in the captions does not seem to have any previous unit markings. 

A line-up of new "Hayabusa" getting inspected by Japanese and Thai pilots. Note that the aircraft in the foreground seems to have a centrally attached drop tank.

The exhaust indicates that this is a Nakajima Ki-43 Model II and from the camouflage pattern this is probably the same aircraft in the two captions at the top. Question: what is the thing that covers the machine gun muzzle at the edge of the cowling???

I think this is the same "Hayabusa" with the one in the above caption. As you will notice in the clip, it has hinomaru on the wings. These were later erased and the Thai markings were applied together with camouflage.

2 comments:

Harold K said...

Excellent photos. I am a great small air forces enthusiast but I have never seen these photos of Thai Oscars.

Ronnie Olsthoorn said...

Very cool.
Curious... have you ever come across a wartime photo of a Thai Ki-27?