Thursday 31 May 2012

Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" - 81 Sentai

The marking of the 81st Sentai was based on the numbers "8" in the middle and stylised "1". In the first chutai the 81 was white surrounded by red, in the second chutai the 81 was red surrounded by white as shown above and the third chutai had a yellow 81 surrounded by red. (Artwork: Devlin Chouinard)

On September 20, 1941 the 16 Dokuritsu Chutai (Independent Company) equipped with two chutai of reconnaissance aircraft was renamed the 81 Sentai (Regiment). 
Initially the 81st had six Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" and 20 Mitsubishi Ki-15 "Babs" in its strength and was based in Zhangde (present-day Anyang, Henan province) in North China.
In the middle of November, 1941, the unit left its base and arrived in Pnom Penh via Nanking and Canton to participate in the Malay Peninsula Operations with the 3rd Hiko Shudan (Joint Air Group).
From December 8, the unit was based either in Sungei Petani or Alor Setar in Malaysia performing reconnaissance flights keeping truck of the enemy movements.
By January "Dinah" of the unit were flying over Singapore reporting the status of the defences, helping the ground units in their attack preparations.
Their next contribution was helping the Army parachute units in their airborne operations in Sumatra and Palembang. Parachute unit officers flew with "Dinah" of the 81st over Palembang constantly reporting on the weather and enemy positions. During the actual operations on February 15, 1942 two "Dinah" of the 81st reconnoitre the area to observe the progress of the parashute landings.
On May 1st the unit was left with only six "Dinah" and one "Babs". Starting from that month one chutai was assigned to the Burma theatre to participate in the operations in that area. Aircraft of the chutai flew well inside India and as far as Kunming in Yunnan province, southwest China and also participating in the operations of the 7th Hikodan (Air Brigade).
In December a third chutai was organised and in January 1943, the 81st Sentai was based in Hlegu airfield in Burma (Hlegu).
On April 2 the 1st Chutai of the 81st Sentai became the 2nd Chutai of the 10th Sentai and relocated to Wewak in Papua/New Guinea.

In this most interesting NARA photo a Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" of the 81st Sentai is seen under a camouflage net on the left of the photo next to a 14th Sentai "Sally". The 81st mainly operated Ki-46s and Ki-15s so this "Sally" is either a liaison aircraft or perhaps modified for reconnaissance missions. Location is Lakunai airfield, Rabaul, New Britain, January 26, 1944. Note the harbor of Rabaul in the background full of ships but also the Nakajima J1N "Gekko" and the various installations.  

In January 1944 unit strength was 20 airplanes with equal number of pilots but from the beginning of March ten airplanes were in Hlegu, an unknown number in Heho airfield also in Burma (Heho) and from these two bases the 81st Sentai participated in the Imphal operations with the 5th Hiko Shidan (Air Division).
By the end of April, elements of the 8th Sentai were incorporated into the 81st bringing the total strength of the unit to 30 airplanes and 27 pilots.
From 1945 the 81st with its remaining airplanes and pilots performed reconnaissance missions over a very wide area covering Burma, the Andaman Islands and South-West China  until the end of the war.

This NARA photo the tail of a shot down "Dinah"  belonging to the 81st Sentai in the C.B.I. theatre in 1944 excellently shows the shape of the tail marking. Any more details about the location etc?

Luca Ruffato sent this most interesting comment (grazie tante):

Hi George, 
I have the following 81st Sentai losses for 1944:
16 January: Capt KURIYAMA shot down 70 miles east of Dohazari (India). I think this is the likely candidate for the NARA photo.
28 April: Capt OHATA shot down near Imphal.
6 July: WO TOMIZUKA shot down near Indaw.
22 July: Capt MORI failed to return from Myitkina-Bhamo area. 
Hope this helps,
Luca Ruffato

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Douglas DC-3

Civilian DC-3s were named after trees. This one with the J-BDOJ registry belonged to Dai Nippon Koku KK and was named "Tachibana". Check here for more on the tachibana tree which is not "orange" as this nevertheless most useful site mentions. 

Although not visible, the registration for this DC-3 was J-BDOL, belonged to Dai Nippon Koku and was named "Kashiwa". Again, take a look here for the kashiwa tree.

A dramatic forward view of an unidentified DC-3.

Douglas DC-3 interior lay-out as shown in this Japanese illustration.

 An "Air Girl", as the flight attendants were called at the time, at work. 

"Air Girls" of Dai Nippon Koku pose for the camera.

Friday 25 May 2012

SHIZUOKA 2012 #6 - Best of the best of the best

Fantastic Yokosuka P1Y "Ginga", 1/50, by Tokushima Modelers Club member Yokoyama-san. Scratch built, solid wood with vacform parts and hand paint.

Mitsubishi 3MT3 in 1/50, by Fukushima-ken Hamadori Mokei Seishaku Aikokai member Akatsuka-san

Akatsuka-san also built a Mitsubishi B2M2 in 1/50

BEAUTIFUL Type Ko Fighter (Nieuport 29C1) in 1/32
by Matsudo Meisaikai member Komuro-san.
All scratch built.

Komuro-san also built a Type Ko-3 fighter (Nieuport 24C) and an Otsu-1 Recce (Salmson 2A2) in 1/144. Also scratch built.   

My personal favorite, Nakajima J5N1 "Tenrai", Racoon Models 1/48, by Ikeda-san

The booth of All-Japan Solid Model Group (a get-together of solid model groups from around Japan) had some really spectacular models.

Kawasaki KD5 in 1/25 by Osaka Solid Model
Club "Saiun-kai" member Nishino-san

 BEST model of the show was the Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" by Ichioka-san.
In 1/32 ALL scratch built. Ichikoa-san had been working on the model for more than ten years!!!! The canopy is removable to show the super detailed cockpit. Engine and wheel wells are also super detailed.

Thursday 24 May 2012

SHIZUOKA 2012 #5 - What-if, X-planes & Others


Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden", Hasegawa 1/32, by Y.S HOBBY member Tanaka-san

A very realistic Raiden flotplane, Hasegawa 1/32,
by Okawa Mokei member Osugi-san

Kayaba "Katsuodori", MENG 1/72, by Osaka Pototype member Kondo-san

IJAAF Mitsubishi J8M "Shusui", Fine Molds 1/48,
by BLUE MAGIC member Sakaguchi-san


Kawasaki Ki-60, RS Model 1/72, by Sugisaki-san.

Nakajima G8N "Renzan", Hasegawa 1/72, by Rock River member Miyachi-san

Yokosuka R2Y "Keiun", Fine Molds 1/72,
by another Rock River member Ichikawa-san

Kyushu J7W "Shinden", Zokei Mura 1/48,
by AFV Modelers Club "Runners" member Osaki-san

"Shinzan" & "Renzan", Anigrand 1/144, no other data

Mitsubishi J2M4 "Raiden" turbosupercharged, Hasegawa 1/48(?), by Nomura-san

One more "Shinzan", Anigrand 1/144, by Fuse-san


Tachikawa Ki-36 "Kisaragi", Fujimi 1/72,
by @niftymokei forumOBkai member Takahashi-san

Me109E-7, Tamiya 1/48, no other data

Focke-Wulf FW190A5, no other data

A view of the Hanshin Flappy Modellers booth
with two Gekko and one Toryu in 1/48.

Tuesday 22 May 2012


In the Hasegawa booth there were a few models that won the anual "Joyful Modellers' Convention of Hasegawa". One of the most impressive was the Nakajima B5N in 1/48 by Mizuguchi-san. Crew and flight deck are scratch built and the whole project was completed in one month!!!!

Another model from the JMC contest was the Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" in 1/32 built by Furuno-san, in 60 working hours!!!

A very unusual "Raiden". Nichimo 1/72 (!!!) built by Blog Modelers member "hinomaru kokutai".

A really battered Hasegawa "Raiden" built by Tokushima Modelers Club member Yoshimoto-san. Excellent work on the engine.

Two "Raiden" in captured markings with no other data.

Aichi D3A1, Fujimi 1/48, by NonStock member Matsumura-san.
Hand paint markings.

One more (Val), Hasegawa 1/48, by Nomura-san.

A really very impressive (Val), Hasegawa 1/48, by Tokushima Modelers Club member Matsumoto-san.

Very clean Yokosuka D4Y2 "Suisei", Fine Molds 1/48, by Sugisaki-san

A lone D4Y2-S night fighter, Fine Molds 1/48, no other data.

Aichi B7A "Ryusei", Hasegawa 1/48, by DOGEN member Matsumoto-san.
Interesting paint job and very nice flight deck.

Lost in a huge presentation, a small Mitsubishi B5M, Hasegawa 1/72, no other data.

A turbosupercharged Nakajima C6N2 "Saiun", Fujimi 1/72,
by Museo 72 member "Paisuke"

Nakajima J1N "Gekko", Fujimi 1/72, by another Museo 72 member Iwao-san

Beautiful Mitsubishi G3M "Nell", Hasegawa 1/72, by Nasu-san.
Hand painted!!!

Aichi E11A1, Fujimi 1/72, by Oikawa-san

Yokosuka K5Y2, Otaki 1/48, no other data.

Too many "Ohka" this year.

Two Yokosuka MXY7 "Ohka", Fine Molds 1/48,
by Osaka Prototype member Kondo-san

Three "Ohka", Fine Molds 1/48, by Kato-san.
The cockpit of the twin seater is scratch built.

A dramatic diorama with a fantastic (considering the kit) Aichi E13A "Jake", Hasegawa 1/72 and a PT117, Revel 1/72 by "KCC Yoshioka Kazuya Mokei Club