A few weeks ago, one day before this year's Shizuoka show we had the chance to visit KOKU JIETAI's Hamamatsu Air Park.
It is one of the best museums in Japan, established in 1999, and located next to Hamamatsu Air Base. Since 1933 the same area was occupied by the IJAAF's bomber school and as Wiki mentions: "After World War II, the base facilities were used as an emergency landing strip by the United States Air Force, and were returned to the Japanese government in 1952 for use as a flight training school for the nascent Japan Air Self-Defense Force."
In the museum collection there are a number of JIETAI aircraft and helicopters and a single restored Zero. There is also a flight simulator and Bernhard who tried it (twice) says:
The absolute MUST in Hamamatsu is the simulator. For me it was difficult, because the instructions were in Japanese only. The instruments in the cockpit look like a picture. I did not recognise at the beginning that these are new flat screen instruments. I flew only with the HUD. The program in the simulator uses an override system. If I remained passive, the a/c took over. It was fun, but I was killed several times.
Light conditions inside the hangar are perfect for photography, all the aircraft are easy to see from every possible angle, there is access to a couple cockpits and the staff is very friendly, informative and speak fairly good English. Some of them are JIETAI veteran pilots so it is highly recommended to chat with them.
|Lockheed F-104J Starfighter (76-8698)|
|North American F-86D Sabre (84-8104)|
Two engines, a General Electric J79 for the Starfighter and a General Electric J47 for the North American F-86 Sabre.
|Fuji T-1 (15-5825)|
|de Havilland DH.100 Vampire (63-5571)|
|Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (71-5239)|
|Beechcraft B-65 (03-3094)|
|Beechcraft T-34 Mentor|
|Boeing Vertol KV-107|
|North American T-6 Texan|
Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52, 43-188, built by Mitsubishi in March 1944. Retrieved from Guam in 1963. On display in Hamamatsu since 1999.
|Lockheed F-104J Starfighter|
|Piasecki H-21B (02-4756)|
|Curtiss C-46D (91-1138)|
The best of all was that the rear of the main hangar is covered in glass and you can see the runway with aircraft taking off and landing. Absolutely amazing! I managed to take a photo of a Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye belonging to the 601 JASDF Airborne Early Warning Hikotai based in Misawa.
To visit the place you need to take the bullet train (Shinkansen) from Tokyo for a 90min ride. Don't forget to visit the small but most enjoyable Hamamatsu Castle.
Hamamatsu is famous for its unagi (eel) but avoid such adventures and enjoy instead the best kushiage ever, made by chef Kurata at "Kushitomo", inside Big Camera, right next to the station.