Friday 30 November 2012

Mitsubishi G4M1 (Betty) - 705Ku

In December 1943 a part of the 705 Kokutai advanced to Tongu* in Burma (Myanmar) and on the 5th, in cooperation with IJAAF units, bombed the Indian city of Calcutta (present-day Kolkata).
The captions below are from a short news film of this raid offering excellent interior views of the Mitsubishi G4M1. You can see the film HERE.
Originally called Misawa Ku with the letter "H" as their tail marking, the unit became 705 Ku on November 1st, 1942. Until about March 1943 it continued to use the "H" but at around that time and until September 1943 changed to "TI" (or T1). From September 1943 until March 1944, the time of the Calcutta raid, the unit used only numerals on the aircraft tails.

In the above series of captions notice the Army officers on board a Navy aircraft.

Rare view of the dorsal blister

A very young looking radio operator

And finally two captions of the tail gunner with the 20mm cannon. 

Searching the net I located this quite interesting site that offers some vivid descriptions of those in the receiving end, although I must admit I was not comfortable with the shortened version of the word Japanese. 

*I was not able to pinpoint "Tongu" (Japanese pronunciation) in Burma but did find Tongue Island. Any help?

It is Taungoo or Toungoo. In 1940 the Royal Air Force built an airfield north of the town, which from August 1941 through February 1942 served as a training and support base for the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers). Later it was also used by Japanese Air Forces.


Thank you LAW

Thursday 29 November 2012

Visitors - The German Connection

Perhaps you noticed the phrase regarding a "Condor" visit to Japan in our previous post. Here's the story with some info from the net and extras from Japanese sources. All photos are from Japanese vintage publications.

Three months after the remarkable for the time non-stop flight from Berlin to New York, Fw200 registered D-ACON and carrying the name "Brandenburg" decided this time to to visit Japan.  On November 28, 1938 Flugkapitane Alfred Henke, Capt. Rudolf von Moreau (2nd pilot), Paul Dierberg (wireless operator-engineer) and Walter Kober (radio operator) together with crew chief Georg Kohne (Focke Wulf) and Consul Heinz Young (Director of Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH Berlin) took-off from Berlin's Tempellhof airport and after stops in Basra, Karachi and Hanoi finally landed in Tachikawa, Tokyo (Haneda was undergoing repairs). The time was 46 hours, 15 minutes and 52 seconds corresponding to an average speed of 192 km/h, including ground time at the stops. 
The Condor arriving at Tachikawa airport, November 30, at exactly 22:34:24.

Crew and passengers are getting off.

An enthusiastic crowd had gathered, eagerly waiting their arrival.

A welcome ceremony was held at a nearby hangar.
After that they were all driven to the Imperial Hotel
where they stayed for the rest of their visit.

A map showing the route and the distance covered.

The next day was really hectic. The schedule included visits to Meiji and Yasukuni shrines, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of the Navy, Army Aviation Headquarters, Army Ministry and Foreign Ministry followed by a tea party at the house of Transportation Minister at 16:00. The photo above was taken somewhere along this route. The "X" indicates the German Ambassador to Japan Eugen Ott.  

On December 2 (or 4) the schedule included a party at Kabuki-za (HERE) sponsored by Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shinbun. In the above photo Captain Henke is shaking hands with one of the most famous Kabuki actors of all time Onoe Kikugoro the 6th.

On November 5 at 6:00am Prince Chichibu-no-miya visited Tachikawa airfield and was given a tour by Capt. Henke. 

Unfortunately the return flight of the next day, Nov. 6 did not have a happy ending. The aircraft took-off at 5:37 from Tachikawa, flew over Okinawa without any problem at 11:00 but had to make an emergency landing at 16:40 (Japan time) in Rosario beach, Cavite, Manila Bay due to a malfuction of the fuel pomp that resulted in three engines shutting down.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Mitsubishi Ki-90

Old "blue" FAOW #50, Bunrindo June 1974, on the Mitsubishi Ki-67 "Hiryu", included a short article on the "Ki-90" project. Here's the translation:

Around February 1938, there were discussions between the Army and Mitsubishi on the subject of building the Ki-90. The Army planned to cooperate with the Junkers company in redesigning the Ju 90, a four-engine, 40 passenger, aircraft. Their goal was to produce ten aircraft in an effort to establish a fleet/formation of transports. For the redesign, 30 technicians from the Army and 20 from Mitsubishi were to be selected and dispatched. In an effort to cover the necessary expenses of this venture, soy beans from Manchukuo were to be exported to Germany. Personnel were sent to Germany with urgency to begin negotiations. Only the best electronic equipment was to be installed.
There were no joint examination meetings between the Army and Mitsubishi and some people had misgivings about the project. Nevertheless Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Army's consultants gave a very urgent go-ahead without any investigation or study because the departure date of the group bound for Germany was so close at hand.
On May 27, 1938 the Yasukuni Maru departed from Kobe with the head office's business section chief, Takeda Jiro and other official personnel to begin the advance of the project. On July 25, five people from Mitsubishi visited Junkers in Dessau. During the conference, various types of aircraft, including the Ju 90, were displayed in flight. All negotiations proceeded verbally. Many topics were discussed, such as the possibility of installing a U.S. made air cooled engine, armament, bomb load etc. A general design and performance statement was requested by the Junkers designers. After providing them with this information, we returned to Berlin and awaited a reply.
Since after some time, no answer was forthcoming, we sent a reminder. Still not having received a response, we went to the Japanese embassy and visited ambassador Osima in an effort to expedite receiving the necessary documents from the German executives.
On September 9, people concerned from both Japan and Germany gathered in Dessau at the Junkers plant; hopes were high. During the meeting, the Junkers representatives showed us what their research had come up with, presenting a simple general design of the Ki-90. However, they went on to say that because of the seriousness of the European situation they would be unable to tie Junkers factories up with a Japanese bomber design. They also asked us to try to understand their situation.
Reluctantly, we gave up on Junkers and moved to negotiate with Focke-Wulf in an effort to turn the "Condor" into a Ki-90. The people at Focke-Wulf were eager to cooperate and flew a Condor to Japan to show us [Mitsubishi] and the Army the performance of the aircraft. The Army didn't like it. When we later realised what the "Condor" was to become, the "Devil of the Atlantic," we had regrets about the Army's decision.
So, another plan was made to negotiate with the American company Boeing and I left for America from Germany. In March 1939, I spoke with executives of the company at their Seattle factory. I was told that designing a Japanese bomber inside the company would not be possible but that cooperation in creating a joint design could be done in a hotel room or office used by the Japanese. I was told that after the aircraft's design was completed, it would be possible for Boeing to get government permission to manufacture it. As the Army continued considering the issue, the world situation worsened, and as a consequence the Ki-90 plan came to nothing.
(Author: Former Mitsubishi Heavy industries engineer)

Akimoto Minoru-sensei in his magnum opus "Nihon Rikugun Shisakuki Taikan" (All the Experimental Aircraft in Japanese Army), Kantosha 2008, has two entries for the Mitsubishi Ki-90 and explains that "Ki-90" was only a tentative name for the joint Japanese-German project.
 Details about the actual Mitsubishi Ki-90 project were included in a 1943 plan for future aircraft. The Ki-90 was to be a short range bomber able to 1. attack enemy airfields and aircraft on the ground, 2. liaise with ground forces and 3. attack naval vessels. Although horizontal bombing would be it's main role, the dive bombing option could also be possible. Halfway range was 1,500km plus two hours of extra flight. Normally the aircraft was to opperate between 4,000 and 10,000meters. Armament would consist of two 20mm and two to three 13mm cannons. Normal bombload is mentioned as 500kg but for short distances this could be augmented to 1,000kg and the aircraft should also be capable of carrying a torpedo.
March 1946 was the date for completion of all testing but the whole project remained only a plan.
Although the publication is pricy ($US57), all in Japanese, with not that many or big photos I have no qualms whatsoever to recommend this book to any Japanese X-plane fan. E-mail us if you want a copy.  

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Yokosuka K2Y2 & Kaigun Yobi Kokudan

Following yesterday's post, three more photos from the same publication. This time the photos were taken at the Nagoya branch of the "Kaigun Yobi Kokudan" and feature Yokosuka K2Y2s or Navy Type 3 Land-based Primary Trainers. The type was based on the Avro 504 with a 130-150hp Mitsubishi Mongoose five-cylinder air-cooled radial engine (K2Y1) or a 130-160hp Gasuden Jinpu 2 seven-cylinder air-cooled radial engine (K2Y2).

Even more interesting is the photo below. Although not mentioned in the article, the colourful marking on the fuselage side was possibly used specifically by the Nagoya branch of the "Kaigun Yobi Kokudan"; we are trying to confirm this beyond any doubt.

Monday 26 November 2012

Yokosuka K4Y1 & Kaigun Yobi Kokudan

The November 1940 issue of the vintage magazine "Koku Asahi" introduced the "Kaigun Yobi Kokudan" (Navy Reserve Air Group) of the IJNAF. 
The programme involved university students who wished to become Navy pilots upon graduation from their universities. The enrolment period started from the middle of April until the beginning of May with the main test in October. This included physical examinations and the candidates, among other requirements, had to be above 1.55m, over 48kg and had girth of over 78cm. The written part of the test included Japanese language, mathematics, English and general knowledge.
The candidates who passed the test flew with a flight instructor for a hands-on evaluation and only then they could become a member of the "Kaigun Yobi Kokudan".
With this programme university students could fly in the afternoon of every weekend, public holidays and in general whenever their university was closed. During the summer holiday they could stay for about two weeks in a nearby IJNAF kokutai base to get a taste of the military life. The whole programme was free and was sponsored by the state. 
Upon completion of the course the graduates had to take further tests before joining the Navy with a rank higher than kashikan (low rank officer) and move to one of the Renshu Kokutai (training units). The programme also offered the possibility of joining the civilian aviation sector.
Headquarters of the "Kaigun Yobi Kokudan" was in the "Shisei Kaikan" (Municipal Assembly Hall) in the Hibiya district of Tokyo. The building is still standing (photo below from Wikipedia). Branches were in Haneda Airport, lake Biwa (otsu), in Fukuoka's Dai 1 Hikojo, in the International Airport of Nagoya and the airport of Sapporo.

In the photos below "Kaigun Yobi Kokudan" members fly Yokosuka K4Y1 (or Navy Type 90) Seaplane Trainers over lake Biwa. The seaplane in the foreground has the civilian registration J-BBPZ and the one in the background J-BEHD. For more about the type HERE.
Two more photos in lake Biwa.

Thursday 22 November 2012

Pete resting on the beach...WIP #3 by Panagiotis Koubetsos

Hi all!
Well, some more progress has been made in my project.

I added the engine air intake which was missing from the Hasegawa kit..

I also added the cowling flaps..

The barrels are done too..

So the time came for the model to get painted..


dry fitted..

and (heavily) washed..

That was it. The model will be finished when I get the clear-vax canopy which should be added before gluing the upper wings.

The next step is to make several thin and tall palm trees found in the South Pacific..

and the pine tree small branches make quite convincing trunks I think..
..'ll be back with them finished. Thanks for looking,

Wednesday 21 November 2012


The sand dunes in Tottori Prefecture is one of the lesser known, outside Japan, locations of exceptional natural beauty (photo from Wikipedia).

The strong winds offer excellent glider flying conditions and from 1940 the Tottori Glider Club started using the place for training. From the Winter of 1942 members of various glider clubs like the "Osaka Koku Seishonen" (Osaka Air Youth) and the "Aozora Club" (Blue-Sky Club) also started enjoying gliding in the area.
Below are some photos from a vintage publication showing one of these gliding excursions in the sand dunes.

In the photos above and below notice the employment of ox to bring the glider at the top of the dunes.
All the gliders in the photos are "Secondary" and the one in the photo above is ready to be released. The tail marking consisting of an eagle with the Japanese flag in the middle is probably the one used by the Tottori Glider Club.

The glider has just been released and is soaring in the cold winter sky of Tottori.
Japanese gliders is unfortunately a vastly overlooked subject so stay tuned for more postings.