Wednesday 31 October 2012

Question for aircraft and owner identification

Mirek Kárník of Rising Decals from Czech Republic sent us the following photos and questions:

I would like to ask for help with identification of the two aircraft.

"J-APAE" is DH-82A, but who was its owner? I read, that it was Police in Dalian, Manchuria (China). Also, any ideas about the marking on the fuselage side?

The aircraft above looks like Ishikawajima R-5 "J-BAAG". Is it correct?

1. According to THIS site the "J-APAE" is a DH-82A Tiger Moth and I can confirm that it belonged to the Kwantung Provincial police.
A more clear photo below from the Arawasi collection showing their two aircraft during the ceremony where they were delivered to the Kwantung Police. The DH-82A J-APAE is on the right possibly nicknamed "Hayabusa". The other aircraft is a DeHavilland DH83 Fox Moth possibly nicknamed "Shirataka" (white hawk); the vintage caption is not clear which nickname corresponded to each aircraft). I'm afraid I can't confirm the crash date.
 A close up (insert) of the marking on the fuselage side reveals that it's a more round version of the marking of the Japanese police (below).

This marking called "Nisho" (rising sun) or "Asahikage" (the shadow of the morning sun) was officially adopted in 1882 and was based ofcourse on the rising sun. There were variations but the Kempei (military police) also had the same marking but with six main rays. As you can see it's yellow (golden).
In your photo there seems to be some more small markings on the tail. I'm not sure what these could be.
Below, although not aircraft related, a couple more photos, from the Arawasi collection, of the Kwantung Police showing their uniforms. 
2. Yes, it's a very rare photo of Ishikawajima's R-5 J-BAAG. After the Sino-Japanese War erupted it became obligatory all Japanese aircraft to have hinomaru on all six positions (wings up/underneath and fuselage sides). As a result some civilian aircraft instead of undergoing a careful and time consuming overpaint, they had the hinomaru on the fuselage side painted over the civilian registration removing some of the letters. When the ground crews had more time in their hands painted the hinomaru on the fuselage sides but kept the civilian registration letters. Most newspaper aircraft chose to have the hinomaru either applied wherever there was space or had the civilian registration repainted. 
In the case J-BAAG the hinomaru hid the registration.
Below is a photo of the second R-5 prototype J-BISB.
Thank you Mirek for sharing these very interesting photos with our blog.

Extensive detailed coverage on Tiger Moths and Fox Moths in various Air Britain Archive Historical Quarterly magazines confirms the Tiger Moth as J-APAE Hayabusa, written off after a crash in June 1935, and the Fox Moth as J-APBE Shirato. The Fox Moth was photographed in May 1933 with a canopy fitted over the pilot’s cockpit and changes to the cabin door; from February 1937 to May 1939 it was transferred to the Financial Section of the Administration Department, but its eventual fate is unknown.
Peter Starkings

Tuesday 30 October 2012

BREAKING NEWS - Unexploded WWII bomb closes Sendai airport

From BBC:

"A major airport in northern Japan was closed after an unexploded bomb believed to be from WWII was found near a runway during construction work.
Flights in and out of Sendai airport were cancelled and a military bomb disposal unit called in.
The 250kg (550lb) bomb has been identified as one made in the US.
The airport was a Japanese military flight school during the war. It was closed for months due to damage from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The city of Sendai, with a population of more than a million, was very close to the epicentre of the devastating quake.
Parts of the airport - a major hub for travel in northern Japan - is still being reconstructed [sic].
Sendai police official Hiroshi Ouchi said evacuations of nearby homes may be considered.
The bomb disposal team is exploring options to either move the bomb or explode it on site.
It is common for bombs that are duds to be uncovered at constructions sites in Japan - many of its cities were bombed during WWII."

Check also here.

The airport of Sendai after the devastating tsunami of March 11, 2011

On August 1st, 1943 the Mito Rikugun Hiko Gakko (Mito Army Aviation School) located in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, moved to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture and changed it's name to Sendai Rikugun Hiko Gakko (Sendai Army Aviation School). 
Originally Mito taught radio communications and training for machine gunners. In August 1940 the communication department of Mito became independent receiving the name Rikugun Koku Tsusin Gakko (Army Aviation Communications School). In Sendai the courses included anti-aircraft, vehicle and transportation but also aircraft maintenance focusing mainly in the training of Army officers.

The main entrance of the Sendai Rikugun Hiko Gakko

The Luigi Scarano Collection Pt. 3

Here are some pictures of my Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki", Hasegawa 1/48 model, 85 Sentai, Lieutenant Colonel Wakamatsu Yukiyoshi. - Luigi Scarano


Sunday 28 October 2012

Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (Oscar) - Akeno Army Aviation School

A line up of Akeno "Hayabusa" warming up their engines just before take-off. They are all Model 2Koh early. The serial number of the falcon in the foreground is partially visible; "38" something. The one in the background has the Akeno school tail marking and the number "48" right above it. The wheel wells look unpainted.
Note their different camouflage patterns directly over the NMF surfaces. 

Friday 26 October 2012

The Luigi Scarano Collection Pt. 2

Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" (Frank). Hasegawa 1/48 scale, decals Sky Model, Captain Ogawa Tomojiro, 103 Sentai.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory"

A vintage photo from a September 1944 magazine. 
"Wild Eagles reading letters from home under the wing of their beloved plane".
Actually we are not 100% sure about the type of the aircraft. We believe it's a "Hickory", possibly Ki-54Hei transport, with the wheel covers removed. The landing gear of the Ki-54 is very similar with the one Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" had but the lack of cowling gills points to a Ki-54. Feel free to send us your thoughts.

Vintage ads

Two vintage fountain pen ads today. Don't forget to visit the links for more interesting information about the companies.

Hoe and sword - Pen and sword
Ideal for giving consolation at the front
From 2.00Yen
More about the "Pilot" company, here.

Superior domestic product
Modern technology. Good writing. Excellent materials. Long life.
Avialable at stationary and department stores
Tokyo, Co. Ltd, Ishikawa fountain pen points manufacturer
Check here for more about the "Zebra" pen company.  

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Sopwith 2 Reconnaissance

In March 1918 two Sopwith Strutter Model 1 built in France by Lioré et Olivier were imported by Japan. They were tested as reconnaissance or twin-seat fighter showing exceptional performance in multiple roles. The IJAAF immediately made plans to have them produced locally so the Balloon Research Group based in Tokorozawa imported engines and started building them. The first was completed in November 1918 and by next year ten more were built. In March 1920 the Tokorozawa brunch of the Army depot started building the type and by the end of the year they had built five more. In total, two were imported and 15 were built in Japan.
 The photo from a vintage postcard bellow was taken in Mikatahara airfield.

I don't think the guy in the middle could have chosen a more inappropriate moment to scratch his balls!

Tuesday 23 October 2012

The Luigi Scarano Collection Pt. 1

Luigi Scarano, from Cava de' Tirreni - Italy, shared with us photos of his beautiful models. First up his 1/48 Hasegawa Nakajima Ki-43-IIKo "Hayabusa" with Fine Molds decals belonging to the 50th Sentai and piloted by 2nd Chutai leader Capt. Miyamaru Masao, August 1943, Sungai Petani airfield, Malaya.
The kanji on the tail of the 50th Sentai Hayabusa did not follow any particular pattern. Some had bird names, others had weather related or spiritual subjects and some even the names of the pilots' wives. In the case of Capt Miyamaru's Hayabusa the kanji can be read as "Myo" or "Tae" and could mean "exquisite" or more probably it's just a female name. 
Grazie mille Luigi!

Monday 22 October 2012


After a few days of silence it is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that we announce that as of today our move to the new Arawasi headquarters, in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, Kanto region, is finally completed. All our friends who would like to contact us by post should first get in touch by email to get our new snail address.
Please note that the email address for this blog is: 
After more than a year and 200+ posts we continue stronger and more organised than ever. The average of 19 posts per month will continue but we would like to ask for your support by at least leaving the occasional comment; helps us to feel you closer!
Stay tuned for even more interesting photos, translations, research, articles, artwork, modeling subjects and more. And don't forget that this blog is open to any Japanese aviation (until the end of WWII) related contribution: photos of your models, material or even just questions.
Thank you all for your support, comments or just visits this past year.

A photo today from a vintage magazine showing a line-up of 97Sens, probably belonging to a training school, having their engines started.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory"

More Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory" photos today, all from a vintage publication.

A Ki-54Ko belonging to the "Rikugun Koku Tsushin Gakko" (Army Aviation Communication School) just before taking off on another training flight. The school was located in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. The katakana "ロ" (RO) above the unit marking indicates that this is probably the second aircraft of the school or the second aircraft of the type belonging to the school. It was very common for IJAAF schools to use the more traditional "I-RO-HA" numbering system for their aircraft.

This system was actually the older order of the 47 kana characters (Hiragana & Katakana, here) and its first usage dates back to the Edo period. Around 1720, the firefighter groups Tokyo neighbourhoods around Sumida river had named themselves after this system. There was for example the "I Gumi"  (1st group), "RO Gumi" (2nd group) etc.
The "I-RO-HA" numbering system was recited as a song to make it easier to memorise and goes like this:
I-1, RO-2, HA-3, NI-4, HO-5, HE-6, TO-7//CHI-8, RI-9, NU-10, RU-11, WO-12
WA-13, KA-14, YO-15, TA-16, RE-17, SO-18//TSU-19, NE-20, NA-21, RA-22, MU-23
U-24, YI-25, NO-26, O-27, KU-28, YA-29, MA-30//KE-31, FU-32, KO-33, E-34, TE-35
A-36, SA-37, KI-38, YU-39, ME-40, MI-41, SI-42//YE-43, HI-44, MO-45, SE-46, SU-47
Occasionally IJAAF units wrote on the tail the first kana of the pilot's name. In order to understand which of the two a kana on a tail is meant to signify, first the "I-RO-HA" system should be consulted. If the corresponding number is too high (over 20 for example) then it would mean that it probably comes from the pilot's name since units with a lot of aircraft didn't really bother with songs and prefered the Arabic numerals.

Inside the cabin of a "Hickory"

A Ki-54 belonging to the Mito Rikugun Hiko Gakko (Mito Army Aviation School) is just back from a shooting training flight for machine gunners.

Monday 15 October 2012

Visitors - The "Soviet" connection

"A Soviet aeroplane flew to Tokyo from Moskow, a distance of 10,000 kilometers in 12 days."

"Top-Left: Pilot Shestakov and Mechanic Fufaiev being given a hearty welcome at Tachikawa, September 1.
Top-Right: The airmen were presented with flowers.
Center-Left: Major Abe, hero of the Asahi European flight, welcome M. Shestakov.
Center-Right: The plane landing at Okayama, August 31."

"Right-in-Oval: A welcome dinner was given at the Tokyo Asahi Office, September 2. Dr. Shinomura, Director of the Asahi, addressing the guests. 
Lower-Left: The plane being led by an Asahi plane over Hakone mountain range.
Lower-Right: A welcome dinner at Heijo [Pyongyang]."

Photos from "Asahi Graph" September 14, 1927 issue. Original captions.

According to Wikipedia (here):
"In 1927, the British minister at the foreign office, Austin Chamberlain, brother of British Prime Minister Neville, severed diplomatic ties with the USSR. In response, the next journey by an ANT-3 was a flight from Moscow to Tokyo and back to Moscow, which took place between August 20 and September 1, 1927, and the plane was titled “Our Reply.” The flight was titled “The Great Eastern Overflight,” and was piloted by Semion Shestakov. The ANT-3 used was powered by a Mikulin M-5. The expedition covered about 22,140 km (13,500 mi) in 153 flying hours (today, it would take 18 hours), by going from Moscow- Sarapul- Omsk- Novosibirsk- Krasnoyarsk- Irkutsk- Chita- Blagovenshensk- Nanian- Yokohama- Tokyo, and then return. Though not the most direct possible, there were good propaganda opportunities."

From the net:
Registration was "RR-INT" Osoaviakhim SSSR Nash Otvet (Our Answer). Pilot S. A. Shestakov and mechanic D.V. Fufaev were awarded the Order of the Red Banner for their effort. 

One more photo from our collection:

Iskender sent the following:
I'd like to provide some information regarding the pilot. 
   Shestakov Semen Aleksandrovich (1898-1943). Test pilot, Colonel. Participated in Great October Revolution (1917), Russian Civil War (1917-1923), Great Patriotic War (1942-1943). 
   In 1920’s Shestakov worked as a test pilot at Scientific Research Institute of the Air Force (NII VVS). In spring 1927 he was also a member of commission accepting (in Leningrad) Junkers C.30 (Yug-1) bombers produced in Germany for VVS RKKA. 
   He participated in a number of long distance flights. Between August 20 and September 1, 1927 pilot Shestakov and flight mechanic Fufayev D.V. completed the long distance flight in ANT-3 (R-3) “Nash otvet” (Our Answer) between Moscow-Sarapul-Omsk-Novosibirsk-Krasnoyarsk-Irkutsk-Verkhneudinsk-Chita-Nerchinsk-Blagoveshensk-Spassk-Nanyan-Okayama-Tokyo and back (September 10-22), covering 21 700 km. in 153 flight hours. Shestakov was awarded the Red Banner order for this feat.
   Shestakov had approached Tupolev A.N. (aircraft designer) and Baranov P.I. (VVS RKKA commander in chief) with a suggestion for a transcontinental flight. Boris Sterligov – leading specialist at NII VVS (later to become chief navigator of VVS) and navy pilot Filipp Bolotov (commander of seaplane detachment) were invited to the crew. The first unsuccessful flight commenced on August 6, 1929 in TB-1 (ANT-4) named “Strana Sovetov” (Soviet Country). Engines stopped after the fuel has run out close to the city of Chita and the plane crashed in taiga. 
   The crew returned back to Moscow and took off on a second flight using a backup plane. First pilot Shestakov S.A., second pilot Bolotov F.Y., navigator Sterligov B.V. and flight mechanic Fufayev D.V. flew the path of Moscow- Chelyabinsk-Novosibirsk-Krasnoyarsk-Irkutsk-Chita-Blagoveshensk-Khabarovsk-Nikolayevsk on Amur-Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy-Attu-Unalaksha-Seward-Sitka-Waterfall-Seattle-Oakland-San-Fransisco-Chicago-Detroit-New York. The distance of 21 242 km. was covered under extremely unfavorable weather conditions (constant fog and storms along the whole course) in 141 hours 53 minutes of flight time. Wheels were changed for floats in Khabarovsk and back to wheels in Seattle. The distance of 8 000 km. was flown over the ocean in 50 hours and 30 minutes. The welcome party in Seattle on November 1, 1929 was triumphant. 
   Later in his career Shestakov commanded TB-1 bomber detachment in the Soviet Far East. In 1933 his detachment was reequipped with TB-3 bombers. On October 16, 1941 together with flight engineer Rozenfeld A.A. he took off in the experimental Pe-2M plane equipped with M-105TK (turbocharged) engines and flew it from Kazan to Moscow.
   Shestakov took part in the Great Patriotic War. In October 1942 he took command of 146th fighter regiment, which was at the time fighting on South-Western Front. He was shot down flying his Yak-7b fighter and wounded in both legs on August 1, 1943 during heavy fighting close to Lokno-Borilovo village at Orel salient (Battle for Kursk). According to a later research after bailing out over the enemy lines he became POW and perished in German captivity. His wingman was also shot down and captured in the same fight, but later managed to escape.
   Unfortunately Shestakov and his long distance flights were undeservedly forgotten in the USSR, unlike the pre war deeds of other famous Soviet flyers: Chkalov, Baidukov, Levanevskiy, Grizodubova, Kokkinaki etc. 
Link to Shestakov’s pre war picture (here).
Thank you very much Iskender for the most interesting information.

Sunday 14 October 2012

Vintage ad

A beautiful ad from a vintage, November 1943, magazine of the "Naikoku Chokin Ginko" (Domestic Savings Bank). The text is quite difficult to translate but the bank was founded in 1912 and in May 1945 merged with eight other banks to form "Nippon Chokin Ginko" (Japan Savings Bank) which in turn after various name changes and mergers became today's Resona Bank.

Friday 12 October 2012

Ministry of Railways Aircraft

The Ministry of Railways gave an order in 1935 for two survey aircraft to Mitsubishi and Nakajima to be used for geographical surveys of projected railway tracks and to monitor railway construction progress. Mitsubishi modified their Army Type 92 Reconnaissance by adding a closed canopy for the rear observer and wheel covers (although removed in the photo below), named it "Hato-gata" (Pigeon-type) and delivered it in May 1936. It received the civilian register J-AARA, the letter "A" after the J- registration indicating that it belonged to the government. It was also designated "Tetsudosho 1 go" (Ministry of Railways No. 1) and it had a pretty cool paint job.
Note the civilian registration J-AARA in black with white surround repeated above and under the wings and the "Tetsudosho 1go" inscription on the fuselage sides and on the tail. The other marking "" repeated on the ends of the wing and on the tail is the marking of the Ministry of Railways (HERE). The colour looks particularly dark for a gray and usually gray or silver aircraft did not have their registration with a white surround. Perhaps it was painted orange-yellow with the area in front of the cockpit in blue.
Choroszy Modelbud is the only company that has released a Type 92 Reconnaissance that could be modified to become a "Hato type". HERE

Data for Mitsubishi "Hato"
Span: 12.7m / Length: 8.515m / Height: 2.975m / Wing area: 26sqm / Weights empty: 1,060kg, fully equipped: 1,770kg / Max speed: 220km/h / Cruising speed: 180km/h / Flight time: 5.30hours

Nakajima delivered a modified Super Universal with a Kotobuki Model 2 engine, which received the civilian registration J-AARB and the designation "Tetsudosho 2 go" (Ministry of Railways No. 2). It could carry one pilot, one flight engineer and six passengers or, if cameras were installed, only a pilot and an observer. This would suggest that there were a number of fixed flight cameras installed on the cabin floor.

It has an extremely unusual for a Super Universal paint job. Although Supers as a rule had blue fuselage (see previous posting), this one seems to be painted in the same colour with the Mitsubishi "Hato" with similar markings.
Note the absence of hinomaru on both aircraft. Unfortunately the photos of Tachikawa KS-1 are not clear enough to show if it has the same paint job with the other two Ministry of Railways aircraft or if it is overall gray as the box art suggests. 
There is also an apparent mystery regarding the aircraft designations. Their first aircraft was J-AARA, their second J-AARB and their fifth was J-AARD! We were unable to locate any information about the other aircraft, J-AARC or "Tetsudosho" 3 & 4. 

Thursday 11 October 2012

Tachikawa KS-1

Amodels has also released the KS-1 version of the KKY (HERE).
This type was built following a request by the Ministry of Railways for a survey aircraft for the Shin Tokaido railway Line which was to be built from 1939. The KKY-2 version was modified with a large window in the rear of the cabin and another one in the cabin floor. Instead of stretchers and patients the cabin could accommodate three surveying passengers as well as equipment for mapping and aerial photography. A large automatic aerial camera was also installed and the Tachikawa designation KS meant Kogata Sokuryoki (Small Survey Aircraft).
Two were built, the maiden flight of the first was in May 1939 and received the registration J-AARD which is the subject of the Amodel kit. There is no information regarding the second KS-1. 
Below is a photo from a vintage publication of rather poor quality (our apologies) that shows the markings apart from the J- registration that seem to be missing from the box art of the kit.
The inscription on the side of the fuselage and on the tail read "Tetsudosho 5go" (Ministry of Railways No. 5) and looked very similar to this:

Tachikawa KS-1 Data:
Wing: wooden, fabric covered / Fuselage: welded steel tube, fabric covered. 
Engine: Jinpu Model 3 150hp air-cooled radial 7 cylinders / Propeller: Wooden, two blades Model Otsu fixed pitch, diameter 2.2m / Span: 9.996m / Weight, empty: 722kg,  full: 1,140kg, cargo: 358kg / Power loading: 7.6kg/hp / Fuel: 2 tanks 140+69lit / Fuel type: 62 Octane
Max speed: 185km/h @ 1,000m / Cruising speed: 135km/h @ 1,000m / Landing speed: 80km/h / Climb to 3,000m in 33.35min / Take-off distance: about 250m / Crew: 4

Tachikawa (Ishikawajima) KKY-1 & KKY-2

Our good friend Harold K sent us the following heads-up:
"A new release from Amodel (as shown on the Modelimex site HERE); two other variants as well. I have never even heard of this airplane; can you tell us something about it?"

First the KKY-1.

It was designed by Endo Ryokichi under the supervision of Nakagawa Moriyuki inspired by imported deHavilland D.H. 83 Fox Moth. The designation KKY stands for "Kogata Kei Kanja Yusoki" (Small Type Light Patient Transport). The first prototype was completed in the beginning of December 1933 with the first flight taking place on December 9. It was not built under orders of the Army so it didn't have any Ki or Shi registration but it was still an Army type. It could carry two patients on stretchers, one medical attendant and medical supplies. It could land and take off from short airstrips making it particularly useful for emergency evacuations. Total 25 were produced until 1940.
Originally the type was fitted with a Cirrus Hermes Mk.IV and was registered KKY-1 but due to vibration problems the engine was changed to Gasuden Jinpu Model 3, 150hp which solved the problems and increased the overall performance. With the Gasuden engine the designation became KKY-2. Originally the propeller was metal but later it was wooden. The type was widely used during the Sino-Japanese War in patient transport and communication duties until the beginning of the Pacific War.
Most of them were Aikoku (donated) aircraft. Three examples below.

Aikoku 97 "Osaka Yakushu Seiyaku" - Donated by drug manufacturing and retailer associations on April 22, 1934. Note the metal propeller.

Aikoku 127 "Katoriku" - Donated by Catholic groups of Nagasaki in May 1937. Wooden propeller.

Aikoku 136 "Shonen Sekijuji" - Donated by the Japanese Red Cross and their Youth Organisations on May 30, 1938.

Tachikawa KKY-1 Data (source - vintage publication):
Span: 10m / Length: 7.933m / Height: 2.932 / Wing area: 22 sqm / Weights Empty: 626kg / Cargo: 361kg (standard), 431kg (max) / Loaded weight: 987kg (standard), 1,057kg (max) / Wing Loading: 45 kg/sqm / Power loading: 8.2 kg/hp
Max speed: 182 km/h (at low altitude) / Landing speed: 85 km/h / Climb to 1000 in 5.55 mins, 3000m 26,30mins / Service ceiling: 3,600m (normal), 4,300(design) / Flight time: 4h / Take-off distance: 150m / Landing distance: 180m

Amodel has also released the KKY-2 version (HERE) which is very camera-shy with only a couple photos I know of. Very interesting releases by Amodel.

Thursday 4 October 2012

Tachikawa Ki-54 "Hickory"

A set of Tachikawa Ki-54 photos today.

Under construction 


A Ki-54 Otsu belonging to the Mito Rikugun Hiko Gakko (IJAAF Aviation School). A Kawasaki Ki-32 "Mary" in the background. All previous photos from vintage publications.

A Ki-54Ko of an unknown unit found after the end of the War in Itazuke airfield. "Itazuke" is another name of the Fukuoka airport. NARA