Sunday, 7 August 2022

Japanese aircraft in the Philippines pt.4 - Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" - 763 Kokutai

The video continues with the U.S. personnel landing and taking a closer look at one of the "Betty" bombers they found in pretty good condition.

It's a Mitsubishi G4M2Ab (or Model 24 Ko) of the 763 Kokutai, we first presented here and here.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Japanese aircraft in the Philippines pt.3 - Various Wrecked IJAAF & IJNAF Aircraft

The video continues with US personnel getting on a Stinson L-5 Sentinel and flying over several airfields. 

Here are some stills from the clip.

We will post more about the "Hamaki" and the "Toryu" in forthcoming posts. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Japanese aircraft in the Philippines pt.2 - Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" - 25 Hikodan Shireibu Hikohan

The video continues with US personnel inspecting three Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" bombers, all belonging to the 25 Hikodan Shireibu Hikohan. The rather obscure unit relocated to Clark Field on October 20, 1944, and took part in the Leyte campaign.

The first badly damaged bomber is a quite old Ki-21 Model 1 Ko, without a tail gun. It has been camouflaged with green paint over the original hairyokushoku and seems to sport a red and white band on the fuselage, behind the hinomaru with a white surround. The tail marking is in red with a white surround and, typical for all the aircraft of the unit, there would be a hiragana under it indicating the individual aircraft.

The second "Sally" is a Model 1 Otsu with a tail gun. The aircraft had a previous owner as indicated by the red angled band on the tail and the most unusual fuselage hinomaru crudely over-painted with white paint. The angled band is a tail marking usually associated with the 61st Sentai during its assignment to Nomonhan in 1939. A very old aircraft indeed.
Typical of all pre-Pacific War "Sallys", the bomber is finished in overall hairyokushoku without any camouflage. In our Eagle Eye publication, you can see "Sallys" of the unit with and without camouflage prior to their assignment to the Philippines. So, the uncamouflaged bit shouldn't come as a surprise. On the other hand, the wing top surfaces seem to have zebra bands in green. Perhaps the aircraft was destroyed before it received proper camouflage? 
Finally, note the two white bands on the fuselage in front of the tail. While the closer to the tail looks natural, the second seems to fall on the hinomaru with the white surround. Perhaps a remnant of the previous unit.
An overall VERY unusual and puzzling aircraft. 

A close-up of the Nakajima Ha-5 engine of the above aircraft.

A close-up of the tail. 

Our good friend Devlin Chouinard created artwork of this unusual "Sally".

The third "Sally in the video is also a Model 1 Otsu, uncamouflaged, finished in overall hairyokushoku.

Arawasi was the first to identify in print the unit marking on issue #11 of our magazine, and more about the unit can be found in our latest Eagle Eye #3, HERE

Monday, 1 August 2022

Japanese aircraft in the Philippines pt.1 - Nakajima Ki-49 "Donryu" (Helen) - 95 Sentai

Recently, we came upon a quite interesting video on UTube, featuring Japanese aircraft found destroyed and abandoned in the Philippines and more specifically, Clark Field. We have presented this subject before, HERE, but this video offers "new" information, at least to us. We will present the video in parts, and we will include a link to the source of the whole video in the last post of this series.

We begin with a Nakajima Ki-49 Model 2 Otsu found derelict in San Manuel airfield. 

It belonged to the 2nd Chutai of the 95th Sentai, as indicated by the red angled band on the fuselage, near the tail; a unique way for the unit to identify itself. 
For the history of the unit, there is a forthcoming publication that describes everything! Stay tuned.

The close-up reveals that the aircraft was first painted overall hairyokushoku (gray), and then its top surfaces were camouflaged with green paint and brown spots.   

Thursday, 28 July 2022

Heads-up! - Mitsubishi J4M "Senden by Mikromir

Ukrainian manufacturer Mikromir, has released in 1/72 two quite interesting kits of an obscure IJNAF X-fighter, the Mitsubishi J4M "Senden". 

The first kit is with the more conventional propeller.

The other kit has a "Sakae thermojet engine". 

Note that the box mentions that the kit was "Made during the russian-Ukrainian wartime".

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Questions - "Black" Japanese aircraft

 Baronvonrob asked: 
"All so very fascinating, but my question is, what actually is the probability of a Black or dark-colored Hayate as shown in Peter Scott's illustration? Years ago, Aeromaster produced a decal sheet depicting a "black" Ki84 of the 57th "Special Attack Company"…any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated"

For a long time, artists have toyed with the idea of "black" Japanese aircraft, especially night fighters, I guess based on the assumption that the Japanese copied the Germans or the US night fighters or something along this line. Black was not an official camouflage colour in the IJAAF or the IJNAF pallet. It was largely not available to the units. All anti-glare panels were very thoroughly painted at the factories before the aircraft were delivered to the depots and the units. Black tail markings (letters, numbers, kanji and kana) were indeed applied to Japanese aircraft but mostly early in the war, before they received overall camouflage. When the aircraft were camouflaged in green, the black numbers would not stand out enough and therefore the crews, in most cases, preferred to apply the markings in white, yellow or red (with a surround) paint.
There are very few eye-witness accounts of black Japanese aircraft, but it is almost certain these were aircraft painted in very dark green paint; not black.
Furthermore, for an aircraft to be painted "black", the process at the unit level would entail the stripping of the original paint and then the application of the black paint. Without a primer, the black would chip, fade and basically disappear after a few missions.
Finally, in one of our very early posts, dated 2013, HERE, we featured a well-known colour photo, where all the IJNAF aircraft including the "Gekko" night fighters, were painted green; not black.
And last but not least, the colour photo below, from the Ethel Collection, features "Hayate" painted green; not black.
Note that a few parts on the tail of the "Hayate" in the foreground, look darker. It's dirt or oils or they are wet from the rain or something. You can see similar dark streaks on the fuselage side. 

Issue #5556, published this year, of the beloved comic "Commando" features the story of the "Black Zero".
Although historical accuracy is not really expected, from the very first page we read of "the black Zero, personal aircraft of Captain Jirai Saito of the Japanese Army Air Force.
An IJAAF Zero?!?!?!? 
The dragon on the fuselage is a lovely and very colourful addition but unfortunately, it's a flame-spewing European dragon, VERY different from Asian dragons. 

Dragons in Japan and Taiwan.

"Jirai" in Japanese means mine (as in minefield), a possible but not common first name for a Japanese. 
Note that the aircraft are A6M5c and supposedly escort a raid against Darwin. A6M5cs started to be produced from September 1944, while raids against Australia were over by the end of 1943.

During one of these raids, a nicely depicted "Sally" is seen getting shot down.
Unfortunately, "Sallys" never raided Darwin or Australia, as we explained in our recent Eagle Eye publication.

The second part of the story, describes an attack against a Japanese "General Moto" carrying the plans for the invasion of Australia. A fictional story, loosely based on the shooting down of Admiral Yamamoto. The bomber carrying the General is a "Betty" on one page,

and a "Hiryu" on another.

As mentioned above, we don't expect the creators to be fanatical about historical accuracy and the Japanese aircraft featured in the story are much better than the yellow Zeros in older publications. But if the creators showed the same care and interest they show for the Allied or even German aircraft, things would look much better. 

So, allow me to end this post by clearly stating that, in my opinion, there were no overall black Japanese Army or Navy aircraft. Dark green yes, black no. Could they have been? Unless some very clear and well-supported evidence is presented to prove beyond any doubt that a particular unit had some of its aircraft painted in black, then I'm afraid the overall black Japanese "Hayate" or Zero fall within the realm of the "purple Rufe"; i.e. fictional.  

Friday, 15 July 2022

Questions - IJAAF 1 Sentai - Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" in the Philippines Pt.3

And now (drum roll), the biggest surprise of all. Are you ready?

The little-known outside Japan special hardback publication of "Maru" on the "Hayate", dated 2014, 
has a piece by Akimoto-sensei illustrating the unit's marking in the Hata-Izawa manner.

But also, a colour illustration by none other than Nohara Shigeru...hey, what do you know!..., showing a 1st Sentai Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" like this.

This artwork is based on the photo we first presented here,
and this aircraft was definitely captured at or around Clark Field. Until "Maru" came out, virtually all publications that feature this photograph or artwork of this aircraft, including those by Nohara, mention that it belonged to the 72nd Sentai and we followed suit. We should have known better.

The 72nd Sentai started to get organized from May 6, 1944, at Kita-Ise (Kameyama) airfield, Mie Prefecture. The organization was completed on September 1, and the unit relocated to Itami airfield in Osaka, and then to Sagamihara, Tokyo, assigned to air defence duties. The 72nd with the 73rd Sentai comprised the 21 Hikodan, and at around that time each sentai had about 40 aircraft in its strength. 
On November 21, the hikodan was re-assigned to the Philippines; the last unit to take part in the previously mentioned "Sho Operation".
On December 3, the move begun with about 30 fighters taking off from Sagamihara, reaching Taichu (present-day Taichung) airfield in Taiwan, in groups. During the relocation to the Philippines, the two sentai of the 21st Hikodan lost most of their fighters either due to mechanical failures or were shot down by US fighters. By December 14, only seven "Hayate" managed to reach Bamban airfield, on Leyte Island. The next day a mission against San Jose was planned but with only four aircraft in flyable condition, it was eventually cancelled.
During the following days, the U.S. forces landed on Mindanao Island, and the 21st Hikodan gathered all its available fighters, about 40 aircraft, from both sentai at Mabalacat airfield, Luzon. From December 18, the hikodan fought constantly against overwhelming numbers of U.S. fighters losing most of its "Hayate" fighters.    
From January 5, 1945, all operational aircraft from the hikodan and other sentai, formed tokko units and were assigned to suicide missions. Until January 12, fighters from the 72 Sentai in pairs attacked enemy ships in the Lingayen Gulf losing all operational aircraft. Three days later, the unit was disbanded.
For a much more detailed history of the 73rd Sentai, see our old Arawasi Magazine issue #10, Autumn 2008.

There is only one known photo featuring a 72 Sentai "Hayate". It was taken in Sagamihara, and the aircraft was one of those that had mechanical problems during the unit's relocation to Taiwan, and had to return to base.

It has been consistently depicted like this (Nohara "Maru").

According to Hata-Izawa, that tail marking consists of a band with surrounds and a number in the middle. Note the white band surrounding the fuselage hinomaru and the different number on the tail.

The overall colour seems to be small matter of debate since Katabuchi Sunao, in Gakken #46
depicts it like this.

Thorpe has shown a "Hayate" of the unit in a rather rough illustration, without and surrounds and with a nonsensical extra number on the bottom of the rudder, borrowed from the 73 Sentai "Hayate".

Let's return to "Hayate" "81".
Katabuchi has depicted it like this.
Note the painted cowling edge that probably inspired Nohara in his "US style" 1 Sentai "Hayate" illustration.

Peter Scott sees different colours.
So, could this Ki-84 belong to the 1st Sentai, not the 72nd, as had been claimed in the past? I think it's possible. The "32" has the individual aircraft number inside the tail marking, "81" doesn't, and I think this is not an insignificant difference. On the other hand, the band, as a tail marking pattern, looks exactly the same for both units. But, the single tail band is stylistically closer to the number "1" than to "72" and makes more practical sense for a 1st Sentai unit marking, than the single colour rudder with bands. 
I have a feeling, everybody made their minds on the 72nd Sentai marking based on the "32" photo, and the 1st Sentai marking based on the "Hayabusa" photos, without further proof to provide confirmation. 

More thoughts. The 1st Sentai was an older unit, the 72nd a very new one. Did the 72nd adopt the band for its tail marking only to realize that the 1st had already done so before them, so they painted the numbers in the middle to show the difference? Could the "32" "Hayate" also be a 1st Sentai aircraft and everybody has got it wrong? Has new information surfaced that indicates that the 1st Sentai changed its tail marking before moving to the Philippines? I'm afraid we don't know the answers to these questions but rest assured there will be an update if we find more.