Sunday, 24 January 2021

Kawanishi H8K "Emily" & H6K "Mavis" - video

A short clip today from the NHK Collection, dated May 1944, featuring Kawanishi H8K "Emily" and Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" flying boats.

According to the narrator:

"The sun has risen over our base in the South Seas. In the darkness of the dawn, the Navy's new flying boats reveal a giant body. An order is given. They escort our fleet to the southern front line in a hurry to replenish munitions. The commanding officer is explaining the meeting point with the fleet and various precautions for this escort mission. The enemy submarines that haunt our supply route should not be allowed any chance to attack the fleet. Escorting the fleet is a not a particularly The fleet escort, though lacking in splendor, has a very important mission, and the flying boat leaves the water dramatically.
At X hours X minutes, the fleet can be seen below. Immediately move in position to escort. Weapons and ammunition packed in the fleet are what our front-line soldiers have been waiting for..."

Although the video is of very low quality and the full tail markings are unfortunately not visible, these two stills... 

...reveal that it's "??2-020". The only unit equipped with "Emily" flying boats with the number 2 at the end of its tail marking is the 802 Kokutai.
The unit was organized when it changed name from 14Ku on November 1, 1942, with flying boats and seaplane fighters. At that time the "Mavis" flying boats of the unit were at Jaluit, Marshal Islands. The Nakajima A6M2-N seplane fighters, at Bougainville and Shortland.
The flying boats also used Makin as their base from where they flew patrol and reconnaissance missions. They also bombed Espiritu Santo and Kanton Island in night missions.
From January 1943 the first "Emily" flying boats started to arrive and by the summer of the same year they were the main aircraft the unit was equipped with.
On October 15, 1943, the seplane fighter unit was assigned to the 902Ku and flying boats used Jaluit as their main base. On January 29, 1944, most of the unit relocated to Saipan where they continued patrol and reconnaissance missions as well as bombing Roi-Namur Island. The unit was disbanded on April 1, 1944, and the remnants were assigned to the 801Ku. But the 801Ku was also assigned to the Takuma Ku by the end of April.
From November 1942 until February 1943 used the letter "W-" as its tail marking. The unit used "Y4-" from March 1943 until the end of the year. After that it used "802-".

We can see the cockpit of an "Emily" in the still below.
The crew member in the foreground is holding a Type2 bubble sextant.
Below is a photo of the instrument from here.

Another still shows a sign from the Awa Shrine.

And also a very short part featuring the cockpit of a "Mavis".

In the video we can also see the cruiser Yubari.

From here, we learn that Yubari on
22 March 1944:
Reassigned as flagship of ComDesRon 3, Rear Admiral Nakagawa Ko (42).
Tokyo Bay. Departs Kisarazu, escorting the Marianas troop reinforcement convoy Higashi Matsu No. 3, consisting of 11 transports, supply ship HAYASAKI, DesDiv 5's HATAKAZE, DesDiv 6's IKAZUCHI and DesDiv 32's TAMANAMI, torpedo boat OTORI, kaibokans HIRADO and NOMI, and subchasers CH-48, CH-51 and CH-54.
25 March 1944:
The convoy is attacked by LtCdr (later Rear Admiral-Ret) Bafford E. Lewellen's (USNA '31) old USS POLLACK (SS-180). Lewellen sinks subchaser CH-54 and claims damage to several transports.
30 March 1944:
Arrives at Saipan.
23 April 1944:
Embarks Army troops and supplies. Departs Saipan with light cruiser KINU and DesDiv 9's SAMIDARE and DesDiv 29's YUZUKI.
25 April 1944:
Arrives at Palau. Embarks 365 troops and supplies.

Another ship that appears in the video somewhere behind Yubari, is the destroyer Tamanami

This would confirm the date and events above, and therefore the most possible location of the clip is Saipan and the date some day after March 30, 1944.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Drop tank production - video

Thought I had posted this many years ago, but Tommy Vicard from France reminded us we haven't you go.

The narrator in this October 1944 clip from the NHK collection, explains:

"This is a school factory in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, which builds wooden auxiliary tanks, indispensable for modern air combat. 
First, cut the wood to make it thinner.
Then paste it on the crate.
Next, attach the cloth.
And finally, if you apply paint, you have a good auxiliary tank. 
With the effort of the female students, the number of auxiliary tanks built here is now higher than expected, and they are being sent out one after another aiming for the upcoming aviation decisive battle."

The school was the Girl's High School in Takayama which still exists today but, ofcourse, with a different name.
Merci Tommy.

Many years ago the late Owaki Katsushi gave me a piece of an IJAAF drop tank. An authentic relic showing the weaving patern of the wood with the paper on top and showcasing the IJAAF hairyokushoku

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Kasai Tomokazu

Another loss this year. Former IJNAF Ace Kasai Tomokazu passed away last weekend at the age of 94. 

Here's what Hata & Izawa say:

Born in Hyogo Prefecture in 1926, Kasai joined the Tsuchiura Air Group in 1942 as a student of the Ko 10th Flight Reserve Enlisted Trainee Class. In November 1943 he finished the 32nd Flight Training Course, was promoted to PO2c, and ordered to Air Group 263. Halfway through his training, in March 1944 he was ordered to advance to the Marianas; however, en route he had to make an emergency landing on Pagan Island because of poor weather. Arriving late in Saipan, he joined CPO Sho-ichi Sugita as one of his wingmen. In May, he advanced to Kau base on Halmahera Island. With the landing of American forces in the Marianas, Kasai returned to Palau and participated in attacks on enemy vessels off Saipan, using Yap and Guam as advanced bases. Kasai lost his own aircraft, but escaped from Guam in a land attack plane and went to Palau, and then on to Davao.
With the disbanding of Air Group 263 on 10 July, Kasai was next transferred to Fighter Hikotai 306, Air Group 201. Under the leadership of Lt Kanno, the unit advanced to Yap. For one week starting on the 16th, the unit was engaged in intercepting incoming B-24s. PO1c Kasai's aircraft received hits and he had to ditch, but was rescued. Next, Kasai withdrew to Cebu and concentrated on training activities in ship-bombing tactics. After the American invasion of Leyte in October, Kasai served as wingman for Kanno and for Sugita; he participated in attacks and intercept operations and provided direct support to special attack force units. After that, in December, Kasai returned to the homeland and was transferred to Fighter Hikotai 301, Air Group 343. He was with the latter unit until the war ended. Number of aircraft personally shot down, ten.

Arawasi had the privilege to meet Kasai-san a number of times. In the photo above he is standing on the right next to fellow Zero and seaplane pilot Saeki Masaaki. 
Always full of life, a very cheerful and friendly gentleman who freely shared his memories. We plan to feature a special on Kasai-san in the next issue of our magazine.    

Monday, 11 January 2021

Nakajima "Kikka", ATAIU by Dizzyfugu

1:72 Nakajima J9N1 “Kitsuka” (橘花, a.k.a. “Kikka”), aircraft “FE 269”, operated by the Royal Air Force, Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit - Southeast Asia (ATAIU-SEA); RAF Seletar (Singapore), January 1946

The kit and its assembly:
This was/is a submission for the “Captured!” group build at in late 2020. Loot from WWII certainly makes a good theme, and I remembered a real world J2M3 that I had built some time ago – in RAF markings and tested by the ATAIU-SEA in Singapore in late the 1945. For a more whiffy touch I delved through The Stash™ for options and found an AZ Models Nakajima “Kikka” single seater – as Japan’s first jet fighter, a suitable contender, even more so because no aircraft of this type made it in time to frontline units.
The AZ Models kit is a simple affair, but that's also its problem. In the box things looked quite good, detail level is on par with a classic Matchbox kit. But unlike a typical Matchbox kit, the AZ Models offering did not go together so well... I had to fight everywhere with poor fit, lack of locator pins, ejection marks - anything a short run kit can throw at you! PSR was necessary almost everywhere, especially around the wing/engine pod intersection and the area where the wings are inserted into the lower fuselage. What worked surprisingly well is the IP canopy, though.Personal additions are lowered flaps (easy to realize) and some additional struts for the landing gear.

Painting and markings:
The captured aircraft theme was settled from the start, but I wanted to offer more than just a “rebadge” with RAF roundels on an IJN green/grey airframe. In order to add some visual spice, my idea became to present an irregular "one-aircraft-made-from-wrecks-and-spares" finish, with parts in differing tones and even some primed or bare metal areas.
I initially gave the model an overall coat of aluminum and added cloudy shades of IJN Green (ModelMaster and Tamiya) and sections with RAF Dark Green to the upper surfaces, and light grey underneath, with the aluminum underneath shining through here and there. One engine was painted in a shaggy Japanese primer red brown. I furthermore added overpainted IJN markings with U.S. olive drab for some more contrast, even though these would later be partly hidden under decals.
The cockpit was painted in a greenish yellow primer, trying to simulate a typical “bamboo” shade that was used in some late-war IJN cockpits, while the landing gear and the flaps’ interior was painted in dull aluminum. A black ink washing was applied for more weathering and contrast. the yellow leading-edge markings were created with decal material. RAF roundels came from the scrap box, the “FE 269” code was created with single white 3mm letters. This is rather a code for captured aircraft in the European theatre, but it’s a fictional model, after all.  The “ATAIU-SEA” titles were painted free-handedly with a thin brush and white acrylic paint, and later wet-sanded down a bit for a weathered look.
Finally, the kit received a mixed coat of semi-gloss and matt acrylic varnish.

- Dizzyfugu - 

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Japanese aerial phosphorous bombs

In a couple recent posts we encountered the Type 99 Number 3 Mk3 30kg aerial bomb. Here's a short clip, from here, presenting that 30kg and another 250kg bomb designated Type 2 Number 25 Mk 3 aerial bomb model 1-kai (gotta love the tattoos).

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Peter Starkings

 Peter Starkings is no longer with us. Our good old friend passed away yesterday at the age of 95.

Peter will be missed a lot.

This year did not start well...

Monday, 4 January 2021

Kawanishi H8K "Emily" and more - video

A very short clip today, from this documentary, featuring a number of Kawanishi H8K "Emily" flying boats as well as some other types hidden from the camera.

From the white "Mavis" with the green crosses barely seen in the background, I'm confident the location is Yokohama; check the old post here.

Thursday, 31 December 2020


 2021, is, normally, the year of the cow but for this blog it's the year of the AMABIE

Amabie, is a legendary Japanese mermaid with three legs, who allegedly emerges from the sea and prophesies either an abundant harvest or an epidemic.
According to legend, an amabie appeared in Higo Province (Kumamoto Prefecture), around the middle of the fourth month, in the year Kōka-3 (mid-May 1846) in the Edo period. A glowing object had been spotted in the sea, almost on a nightly basis. The town's official went to the coast to investigate and witnessed the amabie. According to the sketch made by this official, it had long hair, a mouth like bird's bill, was covered in scales from the neck down and three-legged. Addressing the official, it identified itself as an amabie and told him that it lived in the open sea. It went on to deliver a prophecy: "Good harvest will continue for six years from the current year; if disease spreads, draw a picture of me and show the picture of me to those who fall ill." Afterward, it returned to the sea. The story was printed in the kawaraban (woodblock-printed bulletins), where its portrait was printed, and this is how the story disseminated in Japan. (from Wiki)

In other words, those who have seen even a depiction of an amabie will be protected from disease. I still think a vaccine is much better, but you never know, right?

I think this shopkeeper from Napoli best expressed our feelings towards 2020.

So, let's put behind us the terrible year that just ended and find some optimism to hope that 2021 will be better and most importantly healthier.

We hope our blog kept you company this year too.

A special thank-you to everybody who contributed this year: Jean Barby, Luigi Scarano, Jan Kanov, Paolo Sonego, Rodolfo Bräuer, Miloslav Hrabaň (I haven't forgotten), Michael Furry, Zbyszek Malicki, Alvaro Lino, Miro Herold, Vladimir Martinicky, BaronVonRob and Pat Donahue.
We hope everybody else who contributed in the past but not this year, is still a Japanese aviation fan but more importantly healthy.

And finally a HUGE "thank you" to our good friends:
Sinang Aribowo, James Boyd, Devlin Chouinard, Danilo Renzulli, Zygmunt Szeremeta and Eric Vogel.

The latest news of our very much anticipated Eagle Eye #3 on the Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" and the Fiat BR.20, is that it has reached a whopping 160 pages (!) with the most detailed and accurate drawings of the "Sally" ever produced. That's all I will say about the contents for the moment. We promised ourselves that it will come out some time during the first quarter of 2021.  

All the best for the new year to everybody out there. 

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Zero-sen Special #3 - 381 Kokutai

The 381 Kokutai was organized on October 1, 1943, as a fighter-bomber unit. On April 1, 1944, carrier aircraft types and night fighters were added and organized three hikotai, 602 Hikotai with 48 fighter-bombers, c/o Lt Kurosawa Takeo; 902 Hikotai with 24 night fighters, c/o Lt Matsumura Hideo; 311 Hikotai with 48 Zero Model 52 fighters, c/o Lt Kanzaki Kunio. 
The details below are from photos featured in various Japanese publications taken in March 1944, in Toyohashi base, Aichi Prefecture, before the unit was dispatched to Borneo.
And another photo from here.
All the Zeros are Model 52s fresh out of the Mitsubishi factories except for the Zero in the photo above "81-113" which was Nakajima built.
Let's see a few interesting details.
All the aircraft have NMF propellers and spinners and have the last two digits of the tail marking repeated on the lower cowling lip.

No numbers are repeated on the wheel covers and the interior of the landing gear and wheel wells are in hairyokushoku; same color as the undersides of the aircraft.

Note the bomb rack under each wing.
In the close-up below we can see the Type 99 Number 3 Mk3 30kg aerial bomb.
Here's an illustration of the bomb from here, with more details.
In case you're wondering, it's the same bomb Fine Molds includes in their "Babs" kit. 

Note the width of the IFF stripe and the cloth wrapped around the barrel of the 20mm wing cannon.

From the close-up below we can confirm that the wing top hinomaru are with a white surround. As are the fuselage hinomaru
Of interest are the ground crew members and their clothes (check older posts for more details).

AFAIK, noone has released any kit or decals of these aircraft. Leave a comment if you know something.
BTW, the Zero Model 52 displayed in Yushukan, has 381Ku markings. Photo: Arawasi

From Toyohashi to Borneo is more than 400km, a rather long distance for a single engine aircraft and the Zeros of the 381Ku had to make stops at Kyushu, Okinawa, Taiwan and the Philippines. Once in Borneo they spent their time training and patroling until about August 1944.
On September 1, 1944, the unit had 40 602 Hikotai Zeros in Balikpapan together with eight 902 Hikotai "Gekko" night fighters. 32 Zeros, nine "Raiden" and two 602 Hikotai "Gekko" were based in Kendari and two 902 Hikotai "Gekko" were in Surabaya.  

The publication "Nankai No Umiwashi-tachi" (The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Groups in the Southwest Pacific Theater) by DaiNipponKaiga, features 381Ku photos taken by photographer Abe Tetsuo when he visited Sorong base, West Papua in May 1944. Three Zeros stand out, let's see the details.

The "81-1183" was a Nakajima built A6M2 with cluster bombs under its wings. The hokoku inscription on the fuselage reads "Seram 1". It's highly unlikely the locals actually donated this a/c so the purpose of the ijnscription is unclear. Very unusually, the tail and about half the wing area had been painted in a lighter color and it looks exactly the same with the hairyokushoku of the lower surfaces.

The other photo close-up shows two more A6M2s also with lighter tails and wings.
Unfortunately the photo print is so full of noise that it's next to impossible to discern the tail markings, so we will just have to take the word of the authors; white "81-1146 with a red band under the marking and white "81-1142" with a half white band under the marking. The ends of the cowlings are also a lighter color. This could be either white or hairyokushoku.

Hasegawa has released kit no. 07411 in 1/48 with decal options for "81-1183" and "81-1146".

Rising Decals has released an extra in 1/72 with decals for all three aircraft and resin wing bombs.

 And Sweet has released a set in 1/144.

The book "Tatakau Zero-sen" by Watanabe Yoji, published by Bungeishunju features a number of 381Ku photos taken at Degos airfield, Mindanao, in the Philippines in April 1944. Among them there is one of particular interest, here's a close-up.
It's probably a Mitsubishi built A6M2 with the cowling edge in lighter color and two bands on the fuselage behind the hinomaru. Unfortunately the tail marking is not visible but, according to Watanabe, the particular aircraft was flown by c/o  Lt Kanzaki. The A6M2 looks intriguely similar to the Zeros we saw above based in Sorong and therefore I don't think the illustration below I found on the net is too accurate regarding the colors of the tail and the cowling edge.
As we saw before, the tail should be hairyokushoku and the cowling edge either white or hairyokushoku. I think the tail marking is a guess by the artist.
Behind the Kanzaki Zero is another the tail marking of which is partially visible. Again there is an illustration with some innacuracies.
There is again the problem with the tail color and since "81-163" was a tail number for a Model 52, I believe this aircraft's tail number should be "81-1163".
I would also suggest that both aircraft had about half of the wing areas in hairyokushoku. The radio antenna should be shorter too.
In August 1944, the 381Ku was based on Ambon Island.
The Combat Report of the unit for an action on August 4, 1944, mentions:

07:05 - five Zeros took off (pilots: Tsuchida Katsuya, Oyama Kunio, Yoshimura Kazuo, Kimura Yutaka, Ohigashi (?) Yoshimi) 
07:23 - a B-25 was spotted and was attacked. It emmited white smoke but managed to escape in the clouds
07:50 - returned to base
10:30 - received a report that enemy is apporaching the area and five Zeros took off again (pilots: Tsuchida Katsuya, Oyama Kunio, Yoshimura Kazuo, Kimura Yutaka, Kinoshita ?)
10:43 - attacked an enemy force of 28 P-38s and B-24s
Tsuchida Katsuya made a suicide attack crashed on an enemy aircraft and perished
Kimura Yutaka shot down one P-38
Yoshimura Kazuo was last seen evolved in air battle but failed to return
11:05 - three aircraft returned to base 

The unit claimed two P-38s shot down on that day.

The only reference to that raid I was able to spot was from the site of the USAAF 9th Fighter Squadron "The Flying Knights", here.  

On August 4th our planes again engaged in aerial combat. The 9th escorted B-24's to Liang on Ambon Island and encountered about six Zekes - the Jap (sic) navy's mainstay zero fighter. The enemy planes were flying above our bombers dropping phosphorus bombs on the formation but making no passes at our planes. The primary purpose of our planes being to protect the bombers, our pilots restrained their natural impulse and remained with the bombers rather than be lured away and leave our bombers open to attack by other Jap planes in the area. A P-38 from another squadron was seen at the mercy of a Zeke which was on its tail, so 2 of our pilots, Lts. McElroy and Hufford finally caught it in a steep chandelle, whereupon the Zeke exploded in mid-air. This is the 2nd plane shot down by McElroy; his first being a victory over Babo on 3 June.

This could be either the aircraft of Yoshimura or Tsuchida.

In September the unit had relocated to Menado and the Combat Report of September 2, 1944, mentions:

10:00 - a report arrived that an enemy force of seven B-24s,  two B-25s and two P-38 is approaching, and two Zeros took off (pilots: Kamidaira Teshu, Murabayashi Sadao)
10:25 - Spotted one B-24, the two Zeros launched a combined attack of bombs and machine gun fire. The enemy aircraft was shot down.  
11:20 - two Zeros returned to base
13:00 - four Zeros took off (pilots: Kutami Masayuki, Taura ?, Fukuyama Nobuyoshi, Sakaguchi Masahiro) 
13:20 - started patrol
14:45 - returned to base. No enemy was encountered.

This source mentions:

Having completed the missions against Mindanao, the Fifth Air Force turned its medium and heavy bombers to the Celebes. This strangely formed island, roughly the shape of a "K' with the vertical stroke looped over the whole letter, lies between the Moluccas and Borneo. Although a single island it had been given a plural designation by early explorers who were puzzled by its peculiar conformation. To reach its western extremities would tax the range of B-24's from either Biak or Darwin, but its most important installations were located in the northeastern and southeastern peninsulas where even B-25's, staged at Noemfoor, could attack them. On the long northeastern peninsula which curls over the whole island, centering around Menado, the Japanese had built Langoan, Mapanget, and Sidate airfields. Japanese garrisons and some industrial activity had been noted in the towns of Menado (also headquarters of the Second Area Army), Gorontalo, and Tomohon. At the extremity of the northeastern peninsula, Lembeh and Bangka straits provided shelter for shipping, and Amoerang Bay, on the north coast of the northeast peninsula, was a shipping center. Less was known about the southeastern peninsula, but in addition to the old airfields at Kendari and Pomelaa the Japanese had developed five new airfields in the area-Baroe, Boroboro, Tiworo, Ambesia, and Witicola. As of 1 September the Japanese were believed to have 177 planes in the Celebes.80
A few B-24's and PB4Y's had bombed the Celebes earlier in August, but the first large-scale effort against the area was flown on 24 August by thirty-six B-25's of the 345th Bombardment Group, staging through Noemfoor. This mission successfully attacked merchant shipping in the Bangka and Lembeh straits, damaged the mine-layer Itsukushirna with near misses, and strafed and bombed storage areas at Lembeh.81 Except for reconnaissance planes and night-flying B-q's, the Celebes went free until 2 September chiefly because weather held off scheduled 345th Group strikes. On that date thirteen B-25's from the group tried to attack Langoan airfield, but when their fighter cover did not appear on schedule, the B-25's once again attacked shipping in the Lembeh Strait. On this mission the AA positions along the straits, aided by gunners on the damaged mine-layer, put up a curtain of flak which veteran pilots said was the most intense seen since Rabaul; two B-25's were shot down and two others so badly damaged that they were forced to land at Middelburg. This mission showed that the Celebes were too well defended for medium bombers. 

This source mentions:

2 September 1944:
Lahbeh Strait, Celebes. Thirteen B-25s of the 345th BG attack Japanese installations along the strait. Six of the B-25s attack Lambeh Town and ITSUKUSHIMA. The minelayer throws up an intense barrage of AA fire that shoots down 2nd Lt Lloyd B. Bardwell's B-25D nicknamed the "Mexican Spitfire." ITSUKUSHIMA's AA fire also damages two other B-25's that later crash-land at Middleburg Island, NEI.
Bardwell ditches in the water about 7 miles from Lahbeh Island. Several survivors are seen. 2nd Lt Allan W. Lay flies top cover in B-25D "Hell's Fire". Soon, three Mitsubishi A6M "Zeke" fighters arrive. Two attack Lay's B-25 and the third strafes Bardwell's crew in the water. The Zekes shoot down Hell's Fire. The "Mexican Spitfire's" crew is never seen again.

According to other on-line sources, "Hell's Fire"crashed into the base of Mt. Tongkoko.
"Hell's Fire, #41-30278, 500th Bomber Squadron, 345th Bomber Group, Medium, U.S. Army Air Force. 
Crew on that day was: 
Burgess, James O ~ 2nd Lt, Co-Pilot, TN
Greger, Arthur L ~ 2nd Lt, Nav/Bmb, TX
LaBoy, Raymond A ~ S/Sgt, Radio Operator, NY
Lay, Allan W ~ 2nd Lt, Pilot, MO
Turner, John ~ S/Sgt, VA
Walker, Ray S ~ S/Sgt, AR
Photo from here.

More tommorow.