When the first Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighters or Mitsubishi A6M “Zero-sen” arrived in China in 1940, they quickly established uncontested dominance in the sky. The new fighter’s performance was a tremendous boost to the morale of the Japanese pilots who quickly became frisky and reckless. One episode that best described the esprit de corps of the Japanese pilots at the time happened on October 4, 1940.
The events of the day are brilliantly described in Håkan Gustavsson’s site (HERE) and are quoted below with the kind permission of the author:
4 October 1940
On the 4 October 27 bombers escorted by eight Zeros from 12th Kokutai led by Lieutenant Tamotsu Yokoyama and Lieutenant (junior grade) Aya-o Shirane made a massive attack on Chengdu. The air staff of 3 Army ordered all aircraft to disperse. Six Hawk 75s of the 18th PS flew off to Guanxian. But on the way they were intercepted by Japanese Zeros which shot down Shi Ganzhen (Hawk no. 5044) in flames. Shi managed to bale out, but his parachute failed to open. Two more pilots were wounded and returned, and one Hawk 75 was burned on the ground at Taipingsi. The Japanese claimed that they destroyed five I-16s and one SB in the air. 19 more aircraft were claimed destroyed on the ground and one more damaged. Then four Zeros (Warrant Officer Ichiro Higayashima, PO1c Matsuo Hagiri, Masayuki Nakase, and PO2c Hideo Oishi) supposedly landed on Taipingsi airfield and the pilots set fire to the command post “by hand”!
It seems that the claimed SB in fact was a DB-3 of the 6th BS with a Chinese crew, which had taken off to disperse but out of impatience returned too early to base at Taipingsi and was shot down over the aerodrome.
Håkan also sent us the following additional information:
Having been warned about 54 Japanese planes (bombers + fighters), all planes were dispersed.
Japanese repeatedly strafed the Taipingsi airfield, destroying 12 planes on the ground (I-16 no. 5355, I-16, no. 564, Dewoitine no. 5914, SB3 no. 6535, Hawk 75 no. 5021, I-15 no. 7170, I-15 no. 7780, Hawk III no. 5616, Hawk III no. 5615, three other trainers).
At 1240, one of the DB3 (from 6th BS) used for training purpose had to return to the airfield due to mechanical failure and was promptly shot down, killing the crew of three. Another I-15 returning too early to the airfield was badly damaged by two pursuing Japanese planes as it attempted to land, seriously damaged the plane and wounding the pilot 金偉 Chin Wei [Jin Wei]. Another Gladiator attempting to do the same managed to escape to another airfield. Another I-15 (no. 7160) crashed due to engine failure, the pilot 梁鎮生Liang Chen-sheng [Liang Zhen-sheng] was able to bail out but was wounded.
The October 1964 issue of the Japanese magazine “MARU” features an article written by non-other than Yokoyama Tamotsu himself giving an account of the events of the day from the Japanese side.
Yokoyama-san describes that the Chengdu area in autumn was usually cloudy and the Japanese air units had to wait for a day with good weather and this was decided to be October 4. The previous day there was a meeting with all eight Zero fighter pilots of the 12th Kokutai during which intelligence was shared that the enemy had retreated to Chengdu for reorganisation and that there were about 30 enemy fighters in the area. The pilots also reflected on the way the pilots had fought until now and various air combat tactics were discussed but also how to destroy enemy aircraft on the ground. One way was to provoke the enemy aircraft to take-off and fight in the air where the Japanese planes had the clear advantage. If the enemy did not took to the air, strafing attacks were considered the best course of action and for those aircraft that escaped these attacks it was suggested a number of Japanese planes to land on the enemy airfield and burn them on the ground. In this case the 1st Hentai (flight) led by Yokoyama would provide air support, while the 2nd Hentai would try the daring undertaking.
Yokoyama-san mentions that the pilots equipped themselves with pieces of cloth, matches and pistols.
The next day, the sky was cloud free and after the bombers attacked Chengdu it was the turn of the fighters to get into the action. First the Zero pilots spotted a number of I-16 which they attacked shooting down and dispersing them. When there were no more enemy aircraft in the vicinity they turned to strafing attacks, one hentai after the other setting enemy planes on fire all over the place. They were able to tell the difference between the real and hack aircraft and were careful to attack only the first. While strafing was going on the four aircraft of the 2nd Hentai proceeded to land and follow the plan but due to heavy fire from the enemy they took off again and strafed the enemy positions.
The result of the combat of the day was five I-16s and one SB shot down, 19 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground and four damaged.
A newspaper article later wrote: “Our Umiwasi (sea eagles) flew great distances and fighting with absolute frenzy attacked Chengdu, landed on the ground and burned enemy airplanes.”
Next Yokoyama-san includes in the article descriptions by the four pilots that participated in the attack although the source of these is not mentioned.
Warrant Officer Higashiyama Ichiro briefly describes that when they landed, enemy soldiers started shooting at them. They shot back and got ready to follow the plan. (end of Higashiyama’s description).
PO1c Hagiri Matsuo does not mention the events on the ground at all but describes he shot down three enemy fighters alone after he took-off from the airfield and lost his unit.
PO2c Oishi Hideo mentions that he was the first to land on the airfield casually looking around from inside the cockpit until he came to a stop. A hail of bullets “welcomed” him but he stayed relaxed and even thought of planting a Japanese flag in the middle of the airfield. His pistol was jammed and he tried to fix it with the help of the second pilot who had landed, Nakase Masayuki. After fixing his gun they started returning fire and crawled towards enemy fighters. From an embankment about 20 meters away, 30 enemy soldiers started shooting but they didn’t hit them. (end of Oishi’s description).
PO1c Nakase Masayuki explains that it was his very first combat experience. He landed after Oishi who took out his matches and pieces of cloth but just when he was about to light them up they got under fire from an enemy near a tree and had to fall on the ground returning fire. Enemy fire was very intense and they had to run back to their airplanes (aiki). When they took off they saw an SB on fire loosing altitude and just missing Nakase’s plane which had its starboard fuel tank shot by AA fire. (end of Nakase’s description).
None of the pilots mention explicitly that they set enemy aircraft on fire while on the ground or that they saw others successfully doing it. So I believe that although the whole endeavour was incredibly audacious, it is safe to assume that the claim that they actually set planes on fire "by hand" was created by the wartime newspaper reporter for propaganda purposes. Rather unfortunately the “Maru” article has the unnecessarily boastful title “We destroyed the Chinese air force with one match!!!” that I suspect was the magazine’s choice.
Interestingly Hata & Izawa in their “Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units in World War II” do not also mention any enemy aircraft set on fire “by hand” but add on p 352 that “Higashiyama and Nakase then set the command post on fire.” Something that remains to be verified by this author.
Special thanks to Håkan for allowing us to quote from his excellent site which we cannot recommend strongly enough to visit.
Monday, 29 April 2013
Sunday, 28 April 2013
|"Sina Jihen Gaho", December 21, 1937 issue|
The photo caption reads: "A memory photo of fallen comrades-in-arms. The two pilots with their back in the camera are Sgt Okabe and Sgt Major Moriyama who passed away during combat in North China."
The aircraft in the background is a Type 88 Reconnaissance Model 1 or Kawasaki KDA-2.
Friday, 26 April 2013
A Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber Model 22 or Aichi D3A2 flying over Sakurajima of Kagoshima prefecture, Kyushu in December 1943.
The full tail marking is not visible but the unit is suggested to be Kanoya-Ku (the second). If that was the case the tail marking would have been "カヤ-204" (KAYA-204) but the little part visible next to the 204 does not look like a katakana YA. As a result the unit cannot be confirmed beyond any doubt.
The typical for the "Val" marking on the spats (front part green as shown on the Fujimi box) which looks much darker than the fuselage hinomaru, is an indication of a carrier unit but at that time the air units of the Dai 1 Koku Sentai were in Rabaul and Truk while those of the Dai 2 Koku Sentai were in Singapore (FAOW #33).
Kanoya-Ku the second was organized on October 1, 1942 as a training unit for Navy land based bomber and torpedo bomber pilots, part of the Dai 3 Kantai. On January 15, 1943 became part of the 50 Koku Sentai of the Dai 3 Kantai until January 1, 1944 when the 50 Koku Sentai was disbanded and training of carrier bombers and torpedo bombers ceased. From February 1, 1944 became part of the 12 Rengo Kokutai and became again a training kokutai for Navy bombers. On July 10, 1944 the unit moved to Toyohashi, Aichi prefecture and was disbanded becoming part of the second Toyohashi Kokutai.
The only D3A2 kit I know of is by Fujimi in 1:72.
And HERE is a lovely conversion built in 1:48 by Georg Draese.
Wednesday, 24 April 2013
On May 11, 1929 at 10:05 in the morning a sole Klemm L20 named "Kamerad" took off from Osaka's Kizugawa airport. The weather was bad but the "mame hikoki" (pea airplane) as it was nicknamed by the Japanese arrived safely in Tachikawa at 15:40. The pilot was Friedrich Karl von Koenig-Warthausen who had arrived on April 28 in Kobe by the German cargo ship Vogtland as part of his successful attempt to fly solo around the world. Nobody expected him in Kobe and the Japanese public was pretty surprised by his sudden arrival without prior notice. The Klemm L20 was transported to Osaka by car and assembled there.
After staying in Tokyo for a few days, on May 22, at 10:30 the German aviator took off from Tachikawa and at 11:08 arrived in Negishi horse-race track on his way to Yokohama. On May 25, at 15:00 left Yokohama with Siberia Maru that would take him to San Francisco.
HERE is a link to a very interesting discussion about the aviator and the aircraft.
And HERE is a page with some rather interesting information in connection with the German ship Vogtland.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
This was a commercially available radio controlled kit of a Ki-61 produced by Kyosho. The kit is sold as a 50 Size Sport Scale ARF (almost ready to fly), needing addition of radio receiver, servos, engine and fuel tank. An updated version is still available from Kyosho.
The model was built in the color scheme shown with some cockpit details and pilot figure added in the assembly.
It is powered by a Saito .72 c.i. four stroke engine and features operable flaps and retractable landing gear. Although not completely accurate in scale, it is quite convincing in flight. Wing span is 55.25" (1405mm). Oh, and it flies well.
Steve Diederich - Arkansas, USA
Thank you very much Steve for sharing photos of your excellent looking model.
Monday, 22 April 2013
The show took place at the European University, Nicosia, Cyprus, 13-14 April 2013.
A few photos of Japanese subject entries courtesy of IPMS CYPRUS member, Kiriakos.
Another 1:32 Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" of the 22nd Sentai. Note the discreet weathering. There might be some objection to the black IJNAF cowling though.
And a very nice Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha.
Friday, 19 April 2013
We conclude this presentation dedicated to the Flying Boats of the IJNAF and especially the Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" with a film and we hope you enjoy the rare Mavis cockpit shot.
Title: "Nankai no Hanataba" (Flower bouquet of the South Seas)
Released by: Toho Eiga
Premiered: May 21, 1942
Length: 106min. b/w
Director: Abe Yutaka
Staring: Obinata Den, Okawa "Henry" Heihachiro & Kawazu Seizaburo
Supported by Dai Nippon Koku KK.
Story: The branch of airline "Koa Koku" in the South Seas sees the arrival of new director Igarashi (Obinata Den) who is bound to raise the spirits and expand the air lines beyond the equator. Starting his undertaking with vigorous medical tests strict rules including no drinking during flight, the pilots of the company show their displeasure since the airline worked perfectly with no accidents...
In the above two photos movie actors receive a walkaround from a Dai Nippon Koku pilot before the shooting of the film begins.
Actors Obinata Den (left) and Tsukita Ichiro (right) in the cockpit of a Mavis.
The movie was released again on DVD in 2007 by Toho, check HERE, and is available in Japan.
Okawa "Henry" Heihachiro was born 9/9/1905 in Saitama, moved to the US in 1925 and lived first in Gainesville, then in Atlanda where he worked first in a Chinese restaurant then as a dishwasher in New York when he decided to join the actor's school of Paramount, becoming classmate with Gary Cooper. To pay for the school he had to work in a Japanese owned pet shop but the school closed after only a year. Entered Columbia University to study economics but changed his mind and decided to pursue an acting career. Went to Hollywood and found employment with Fox appearing as a stunt flier in the Howard Hawks movie The Air Circus of 1928.
He returned to Japan in 1933 for family reasons and acted in many movies during the War. He continued his acting career after 1945 and changed his name to "Henry" Okawa in 1957 the year he starred in the most famous movie of his career "The Bridge on the River Kwai". His role was of Captain Kanematsu but he was also assistant director. Passed away in 1971.
With US Navy Commander Sears (William Holden) in the begining of the movie.
With Colonel Saito (Hayakawa Sessue) and Major Clipton (James Donald).
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Artwork by artist Kabashima Katsuichi (here) from childrens' publication "Kodansha Ehon - Sora No Mamori" (Kodansha picture book - Defenders of the Sky), October 1941. The ship in the background is probably the light cruiser Kuma.
The poem on the top right corner reads:
"Kaigun no Daihikotei
Ookina karada ni
Sora to Umi wo
Mamoru tanomoshii sugata"
(The Navy's big flying boat
Protector of the
Wide sky and sea
A reliable/promising figure)
Monday, 15 April 2013
The 934 Kokutai was formed on November 1, 1942 when it changed its name from 36Ku. It was a seaplane reconnaissance and interceptor unit mostly equipped with Mitsubishi F1M “Pete”, Aichi E13A “Jake” but also with Mitsubishi A6M2-N “Rufe”. On July 4, 1942 the unit advanced to Ambon island in Indonesia and on May 1, 1943 a single Kawanishi H6K “Mavis” was attached to the unit for transport duties. Pilot of this "Mavis" was Kitaide Daita.
During his time in Ambon with the 934Ku Kitaide-san usually flew transport missions with his “Mavis” which was purely a transport flying boat and didn’t carry any offensive equipment; not even bomb racks. So when occasionally enemy submarines were spotted, there was very little for the crew and plane to do. Following a request to the unit commander it was decided for the flying boat to carry one small size, 60kg, bomb during these transport missions with the fuse removed to avoid accidents. In order to “bomb” an enemy target two observers would have to carry the bomb to the tail gunner’s position, install the fuse and drop the bomb when the pilot would give them the sign with a buzzer.
One such occasion was on the 18th of June 1943 when Kitaide-san received orders to transport cargo from Ambon to Surabaya in Java, a route which was not often visited by enemy planes and was a relatively safe one. While enjoying a cup of hot coffee with the auto-pilot having taken over, the crew noticed a beautiful rainbow. At the edge of the rainbow near the Kangean island the waves of a ship were visible. Flying at an altitude of a few thousand meters, Kitaide-san grubbed his binoculars and saw that it was actually an enemy submarine, confirmed by information that no friendly submarines were located in the area. He immediately gave an order for the two observers located in the front of the flying boat to gather and rush to the rear end. His instructions were to prepare the bomb and press the buzzer twice when they were ready, while he would hit the buzzer once to give them the signal to drop the bomb. And to be extra careful how to handle the fuse!
Kitaide-san brought his “Mavis” to a dive with the enemy submarine becoming gradually bigger in the windscreen. The submarine crew suddenly realising the enemy flying boat started for a crash dive the whole situation turning into a contest who would dive faster... At about 300 meters and when the coning tower of the submarine was clearly visible he pressed the buzzer and the rear crew released the bomb. At the same time he swiftly banked to the starboard gaining altitude and getting out of the dive he watched the bomb falling towards the submarine from his side window. The bomb could explode only on impact and exactly when the conning tower was about to get underwater, it hit it. A big explosion with a huge fireball and black smoke were clear indications that it was a direct hit. A few seconds later the dark rear end of the submarine appeared out of the water and slowly the submarine started sinking leaving only the calm emerald waters behind while the "Mavis" crew were wondering if what they had seen was actually true. A dark oil spot was all that was left to indicate the sunk submarine…
Extract from the book: ""Kiseki No Hikotei" (The Miracle Flying Boat)
Sunday, 14 April 2013
The June 5, 1940 issue of the magazine "Asahi Graph" featured an ad of the forthcoming civilian passenger flights by "Dai Nippon Koku" from Japan to South Pacific with the new "Mavis" flying boat:
"Kuroshio" in the sky of the South Sea
Very soon the flying connection to South Pacific will be serviced by two 17-passenger flying boats. Initial test flights were very satisfactory and the forthcoming flights will be on the Yokohama-Saipan-Palau route.
The Kawanishi Flying Boats have a max speed of 280km/h and are the first civilian 4-engine flying boats of Japan. There are beds for four passengers and seats for 17 while there is a crew of eight members including an "air-boy". An amazing flying boat built in Japan. Together with the forthcoming Mitsubishi MC-20 11-passenger airplane, the transportation capacity of our country over the air and the sea will receive an excellent representation.
The new flying boat of "Nippon Koku", photo above, received the name "Kuroshio" and the registration J-BFOR. In the photos below on the left we can see the luxurious beds for four passengers while in the photo on the right we can see that the passengers can enjoy the outside view from every seat.
There are not many interior photos of the Kawanishi H6K "Mavis". Here we present two of the interior of one of the 16 H6K2-L, the civilian version that was operated by the airline Dai Nippon Koku.
The name "Kuroshio" comes from the ocean current, HERE.
Saturday, 13 April 2013
"Encyclopedia of Japanese Aircraft" vol. 3 indicates that this particular flying boat was a Navy Type 97 Transport Flying Boat or Kawanishi H6K2-L. I'm not 100% sure because the windows in the nose are too few and square, not round, shaped which is indeed an indication of an H6K2-L but no windows are visible in front of the fuselage side door; if they were there they would fallen on the hinomaru. Perhaps the wing float is covering them. Note the absence of side blisters, another transport indication.
Friday, 12 April 2013
Publications useful for modelers with plenty of photos, artwork and illustrations.
Title: Maru Mechanic Extra #2 - Kawanishi Type 2 Flying boot (sic) (H8K)
Published by: Ushio Shobo, 1984 pb, out-of-print
Pages: 170, Size: 19X26cm
A Special Maru Mechanic publication combining MM#19 and #24 full of photos and technical illustrations of the Kawanishi H8K "Emily". Old but recommended.--------------------
Title: Famous Airplanes of the World #49 - Type 2 Flying Boat
Author/artwork: Nohara Shigeru
Published by: Bunrindo, 1994 pb, out-of-print
Pages: 88, Size: 18X26cm Photos: 149 (21 in color)
FAOWs are best for their collection of photographs. Good but now outdated.--------------------
Title: Aero Detail #31 - Kawanishi H8K "Emily" Type 2 Flying Boat
Author/artwork: Nohara Shigeru, Iinuma Kazuo
Published by: Dainippon Kaiga, 2003 pb, in-print
Pages: 104, Size: 21X30cm Photos: 315 (most in color)
Although it includes parts of the maintenance manual and not all the FAOW photos, this is the best overall publication on the "Emily" and is highly recommended to all modelers interested in an in-depth coverage of the plane. The text is in Japanese and English. There are two most helpful pages with sample pieces of the original paints found on the last surviving "Emily".--------------------
Title: Model Art #541 - Type 2 Flying Boat & IJNAF Flying Boats
Author/artwork: Nohara Shigeru
Published by: Model Art, 1999 pb, out-of-print
Pages: 200, Size: 18X26cm
MA#541 includes all the maintenance manual of the "Emily" with plenty of photos but also (and more importantly) the maintenance manual of the H6K "Mavis" also with a good number of photos. There is also brief coverage of the earlier types of flying boats and a modeling guide in the back pages. All the text is in Japanese but if you are looking only one publication for the Flying Boats of the IJNAF, this is the one.--------------------
Title: "Nippon No Hikotei"
(Imperial Japanese Navy Flying Boat [sic])
Author/artwork: Nohara Shigeru
Published by: Kojinsha, 2007 pb, in-print
Pages: 233, Size: 15X21cm, Photos: 200 (26 in color)
Nohara-san re-released the out-of-print MA#541 with Kojinsha in smaller size and expanded it to include whatever has survived of the blueprints of the Type 98 Reconnaissance Seaplane or Aichi E11A1. Cheaper, convenient and more readily available but of smaller size, this publication is highly recommended.--------------------
Title: "Ni-shiki Taitei To Hikotei"
(Type 2 Flying Boat & IJNAF Flying Boats)
Author: Nohara Shigeru, Fukushima Iwao, Horiba Wataru, Saito Yoshiro
artwork: Kobayashi Katsumi
3DCG: Harada Keiji
Published by: Gakken, 2008 pb, out-of-print
Pages: 161, Size: 18X26cm
A very good publication by Gakken in their "Rekishi Gunzo Sirizu" on the Japanese flying boats including those employed by the JIETAI (Japanese Self Defence Force). Excellent 3DCG illustrations detailing the "Emily" and a good selection of photographs. Recomended as supplementary to the above books but out-of-print and quite difficult to be located.
ALL publications are available through our on-line store HERE but note that availability of FAOW#49 and the Gakken is erratic.
Thursday, 11 April 2013
Following a request by a reader of our blog, we present here a selective bibliography of Japanese titles on the undoubtedly elegant Flying Boats (hikotei) of the IJNAF.
Title: "Saigo No Hikotei"
(The Last Flying Boat)
Author: Hitsuji Tsuneo
Published by: Konnichi No Wadaisha, 1988 h/b, Out-of-print
Pages: 246, Size: 14X20cm, Photos: 61 b/w
Hitsuji-san was a seaplane and flying boat specialist flying with the Tateyama, Maizuru and Sasebo Kokutai among others. During the Sino-Japanese War, he served on board Kamikawa Maru then took part in most of the major operation theatres in the Pacific. Became unit commander (hikotaicho) of the 851Ku and then of the Takuma Ku finally serving with the test team of the Naval Aviation Arsenal in Davao. After the War he flew the last surviving "Emily" from Takuma to Yokohama to be evaluated by the US Forces and later became adviser with the Sinmeiwa Co.--------------------
Title: "Kiseki No Hikotei"
(The Miracle Flying Boat)
Author: Kitaide Daita
Published by: Kojinsha, 1969 pb, Out-of-print
Pages: 237, Size: 14X20cm, Photos: 34 b/w
Title: "Kiseki No Hikotei"
(The Last Flying Boat)
Author: Kitaide Daita
Published by: Kojinsha, 2005 pb, in-print
Pages: 388, Size: 11X15cm, Photos: 35 b/w
Kitaide-san served with the Tateyama and Yokohama Sugita Kokutai. At the time of the Sino-Japanese War he was serving with Kojo Ku becoming a test pilot with Kugisho. At the beginning of the Pacific War he was serving with the 934Ku. The end of the War found him in Jawa with 7,000 flying hours (!!!) to his credit mostly with "Mavis".--------------------
Title: "Yokaren No Sora"
(The Skies of Yokaren)
Author: Honma Takeshi
Published by: Kojinsha, 1981 hb, out-of-print
Pages: 275, Size: 14X20cm
Title: "Yokaren No Sora"
(The Skies of Yokaren)
Author: Honma Takeshi
Published by: Kojinsha, 2002 pb, in-print
Pages: 364, Size: 11X15cm, Photos: 19
Honma-san served in the beginning with Yokosuka, Tsuchiura, Suzuka, Sasebo and Yokohama Ku. Flew "Emily" and "Mavis" in the South Pacific from Makin in the Gilbert Islands and Jaluit in the Marshalls. Became an instructor with the TakumaKu, served on the heavy Cruiser Tone flying "Jake" during the battle of Leyte, later flying "Saiun" with the 171Ku over Okinawa. Total flying time: 2,500 hours.--------------------
Title: "Testo Pairoto"
Author: Minamihori Eiji
Published by: Kojinsha, 2007 pb, in-print
Pages: 693, Size: 11X15cm, Photos: 35
Author Minamihori has dedicated this book in the personal history of Kawanishi test pilot Morikawa Isamu who was the main pilot of the "Emily" prototypes and had a very long and colorful career.
All the above biographies are in Japanese and none has been translated into English.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Here's the "Mavis". Hasegawa 1:72. Built OOB a few years ago, I can't remember anything special other than the rear turret glass was broken, so I glued it back together and used it as a pattern to heat smash a new one from clear acetate. Model Master paint, the hinomarus are painted, the only decals are the tail codes. Even in 1:72 this is a big model!