This year was especially hard for all of us living in Japan but also for Greece. We would like to express our gratitude to all those who stood beside us sending messages of friendship, care and support. We hope the new year of the dragon to be better in every way than the year before.
In a Manga series with the title "Gale over Rabaul - Air Battle History", released '99-'00 and written by Kawamata Chiaki, a Zero of quite interesting design is roaming the skies of South Pacific.
What if the all-well-known Zero design had a pair of engines on it's wings leaving the nose free to install different kinds of cannons and machine guns? It certainly looks cool to me and I wouldn't mind experimenting with a couple kits from the spare box.
Manga cover illustration by Takani Yoshiyuki (Born 1935)
The rumored IJNAF Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor with four 2000hp Homare engines borrowed from the Nakajima G8N "Renzan" (Rita) project. The Fw-200 so modified was used as an engine test bed. This particular aircraft was found damaged at the end of the war.
This is the first in a series of postings about Japanese X-planes, what-if and fantasy projects.
First up is the manga/VHS/DVD series "Konpeki no Kantai" (Deep Blue Fleet).
Story by: Aramaki Yoshio
Art by: Imura Shinji
Published by: Tokuma Shoten (1992-1996) 20 Vols.
"In Konpeki no Kantai's first episode, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's death on April 18, 1943, still proceeds exactly as in the real event. Just before his damaged plane crashes into Bougainville Island, Yamamoto blacks out, before awakening in a ship quarters. Unclear about what has just happened, Yamamoto speaks with a crewman, and discovers that he is aboard the Japanese cruiser Nisshin. He is then informed that the date is May 28, 1905 and that Battle of Tsushima has just ended. Yamamoto realizes that he has somehow been transported back in time (or to a parallel world).
After Yamamoto decides to revert to his old name of Isoroku Takano, he vows to use his advance-knowledge of the next 38 years to ensure that Japan does not make the same mistakes as before.
Yamamoto's first priority is to spearhead a massive naval construction program. It involves building a large fleet of advanced battleships and supercarriers, nuclear submarines based on the design of the real-life I-400 Sen Toku submarine, and advanced combat aircraft that were in prototype or concept form during the late stages of the actual Pacific War.
His plan for success begins with a coup d'état against the hardline government of Army General Hideki Tōjō in late 1941, on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack, and installing an ally, Lt Gen Yasaburo Otaka as prime minister. Otaka, who has also been transported back in time, agrees to work with Yamamoto to change history and ensure that the Japanese Empire emerges victorious against the United States in the Second World War."
The old model with the Hiro Type 91 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine and the four-blade wooden prop. Photo from a vintage magazine.
A dramatic shot showing the perils of lowering the floatplane from a warship. Note the guy at the far edge of the starboard wing tip releasing the attachment cable. I know I wouldn't like to be in his shoes.
One of the most famous cockpit photos of the Betty from a vintage publication, a very rare one taken at a time when the Army and Navy issued strict orders not to take photos of sensitive aircraft areas.
The lay-out of the instrument pannel indicates that this plane had a registration number of less than 222. The guy sitting on the foreground on the right is the plane commander, the one in front of him is the pilot. The one on the left side with the binoculars is the observer while the one sitting in front of him is the co-pilot.
A number of interesting details are visible in this photo. Notice that none of the crew members wears a parachute (at least I can't see one). The observer and the co-pilot wear a 1942 life vest which had a pocket on the right and lower side including a pencil and a small mirror in case of an emergency landing. Later type of this life vest didn't have that pocket. The vest was filled with cork for flotation.
The commander doesn't wear even the life vest but has a set of radio receivers on his helmet (if he wears one) produced by Toyo Tsushinki. The helmet of the observer is difficult to discern but is probably a winter version of the type produced early in the Pacific war. The lining was usually of rabbit fur. His gloves are probably Type 1940. The binoculars were produced by Tokyo Shibaura Denki but were commonly known as "Matsuda".
Notice that none of the crew members wears the well known pilot uniforms but white summer clothes. The cords behind the commander's seat fastened the radio receiver; the box with the piece of paper on it's side.
Under the reading lamp in front of the observer, was the navigator's table.
Finally notice the absolute lack of any form of armour protection giving the impression of a civilian passenger plane. Unless someone considers as protection the shades on the canopy...
A photo from a vintage publication dated October 8th, 1943, of a Nakajima Ki-43-II Ko.
Another photo taken a few seconds before this one is featured in Model Art #395, p. 79.
According to the caption the plane belonged to the 1st Chutai of the 25th Sentai and the boarding pilot is 1st Lt. Okumura Masao. On August 23, 1943 the 25th took off from their base in Hankou (Hubei province), made a stop in Yichang (Hubei province) and then proceeded attacking the then capital of Nationalist China, Chongqing.
The photo is retouched by the war-time censor and the air intake at the top of cowling as well as the machine gun muzzle ports are missing. Nevertheless, this angle still provides interesting information regarding the colour of the wheel wells (not aotake), the camouflage pattern and the brilliant tent that gives plenty of diorama ideas.
In this photo from a vintage publication, two Mitsubishi G3M2 Model 21 “Nell” bombers can be seen operating from mainland China before the beginning of the Pacific War. Note the hastily applied camouflage over NMF surfaces and the properly painted black engine cowling.
The three-bar rank insignia on the sleeve of the pilot on the left indicates that he is probably a commander (“chusa”); his colleague is probably a captain ("taisa", four bars). Some pilots chose not to wear these insignia, which were always on the left sleeve and became smaller in 1944.
The one-piece uniform is a winter version of the Type 9 (1934) featuring a rabbit fur-lined collar (the official colour was black) and zippers on the sleeves; the summer version lacked the fur and had buttons on the sleeves.
Last but not least, note that each pilot is carrying a Nambu pistol in a holster, which in the case of the pilot on the left carries his name in white.
The Kawanishi E7K was a very well liked floatplane by it's crew. During an interview with a floatplane instructor, the veteran pilot told me that it was his favorite floatplane, among the "Willow", the "Pete" and the "Jake". Very strong and sturdy but also very easy to fly, with light controls. Those who have built the Hasegawa kit have probably noticed how "crowded" is the section in front and around the pilot. Nevertheless the veteran assured me that the plane offered excellent forward and downward visibility.
The photo from a vintage publication was taken during the Hainan island operations.
According to Monograph #144:
Hainan Island Operation (10 February 1939)
The capture of Hainan Island was an operation conducted mainly by naval forces (including special naval landing forces) and supported by army forces.
Hainan Island lies midway between French Indo-China and Hongkong, occupying a position south of the Leichou Peninsula across the Strait of Hainan, It is also near Kwangchowan, a French-leased territory. It is a large island, having a population of 2,200,000. The island was guarded by the 152nd Division, approximately 25,000 strong, under the command of Yu Han-mou, who was in charge of peace preservation in Kwangtung Province.
The Japanese Navy, after the capture of Canton the previous year, had maintained a formidable blockade all along the coast of south, central and north China. However, loopholes were found in the southern end of the blockade line, examples being the supply route to Chiang Kai-shek with Hongkong and Northern trench Indo-China as relay points and the direct routes though Hainan Island and Kwangchowan areas. Because of these loopholes, as well as the necessity to conduct air operations deep into the interior as far as the Kunming area, the Navy came to feel the necessity for establishing air bases on Hainan Island. The Central Authorities of the Navy advocated this move. Operations were carried out by the special naval land combat units with Army elements supporting them.
Escorting a convoy, the South China Naval Force (Fifth Fleet) commanded by Vice Admiral Kondo Nobutake, entered and anchored in Tsinghai Bay on the northern shore of Hainan Island at midnight on 9 February 1939 and carried out a successful landing. In addition, Navy land combat units effected a landing at Haihow at 1200 on 10 February. Thereafter, the Army and Navy forces acted in concert to mop up the northern zone. On 11 February the land combat units landed at Samah at the southern extremity of Hainan Island and occupied the key positions of Yulin and Yai-Hsien. Thereafter, the units engaged in the occupation and subjugation of the entire island.
Later, Hainan Island became a naval administrative district with Hainan Guard District Headquarters established at Samah. Strategically, the island was built as a forward air base as well as an advance base for blockading Chiang. At the same time, the iron and copper resources of the island were exploited.