Thursday 31 October 2013

Yokosuka E14Y "Glen"

A photo taken in 1944 at the Kure Seaplane base featuring a number of Navy Type 0 Small Reconnaissance Seaplanes or Yokosuka E14Y "Glen". They all belong to the flying unit of the 6 Fleet and have markings starting with "671-".
Note the fuel track. Good idea for a diorama, right?

Vintage magazine cover

"Seinen Yomiuri" (Yomiuri Youth), March 1945

Sunday 27 October 2013

Library - Nakajima B5N "Kate"


Title: "Kiseki no Raigekitai – Aru Raigekitai Sojuin no Seikan" (The wonders of Carrier Attack Bombers - The Carrier Attack pilot who came back alive)
Author: Mori Juzo
Publisher: Kojinsha 1st published in 1973.
Above left, cover of the 1976 publication. Cover of the 1994 publication on the right.

About the author:
Born February 1917 in Saitama pref.
June 1935 joined Yokosuka Marine Corpse
Nov 1935 KasumigauraKu
Nov 1937 graduated with the 38th Pilot Trainee class. Assigned to Tateyama ku, carrier attacker pilot training.
April 1938 12Ku
Jan 1939 KasumigauraKu
Sept 1941 OomuraKku and then assigned to Soryu carrier attack unit. Participated in Pearl Harbor, Indian Ocean, Midway.
July 1944 YatabeKu
Below is an extract from the book. Rough translation: Arawasi 
"The order to attack the enemy airfield on Guadalcanal the very next morning on October 17, 1942 came during dinner time. The planes in aircraft carrier Junyo's hangar were equipped with torpedoes and the crew worked frantically to change these to 800kg bombs. In the cramped space of the hangar and during high seas the crew was constantly thrown all over the place with occasionally somebody hitting his head on a prop and all shorts of accidents.
  Installation of the bombs was completed around midnight and everybody was soaked in sweat. In a ground unit the personnel would normally have the chance to take a shower but on a ship the only hot water is in the kitchen. During a meeting regarding next day’s operation it was decided Mori to fly plane No1 with No2 flown by PO3c Kawasima Koji, who had hit Utah with a torpedo during Pearl Harbor. No3 was flown by PO1c Sato Chosaku who was a new Junyo member. The other crew members of Mori’s plane were observer WO Yashiro Shichiro who was also section commander and radio operator PO1c Watanabe Yuzo.
  According to reports there were more than 100 enemy aircraft on Guadalcanal complemented by very accurate anti-aircraft artillery.
  The orders were very strict. Every plane was to stay in formation at all costs even when attacked by enemy fighters. They should not stray away from No1 plane until they had all dropped their bombs. The radio controllers should always be on the lookout for enemy a/c ready to drive them off with their machine guns and the observers should always be vigilant even after dropping the bombs. The meeting lasted until 1:00 in the morning and after only two hours of sound sleep the pilots were ordered to wake up, get suited and after breakfast went to their planes in the hangars. The maintenance crew were already carrying the planes on the deck. After having their engines checked and test started t was found that nine Zeros and nine Kates were in good condition to participate in the operation.
  All crew members scrambled for a morning call by Air Unit CO. The instructions were explicit, even if hit by enemy fire do not try suicide crashing but instead try to make an emergency landing on the beaches on the west side of Guadalcanal. At 4:15 all the aircraft started taking off with the Zeros first and the Kates next. It was 200miles to Guadalcanal and it would take them about 1h30min.

  A total of 18 Zeros and 18 Kates from the carriers Hiyo and Junyo participated in this operation with overall commander Zero pilot LCDR Shiga Yoshio. All the planes gathered at about 1000 meters above flagship Hiyo and headed towards Guadalcanal. At some point Mori raised his hand and using hand signal indicated to the other pilots to change to the main fuel tank. All communication between the planes was done by hand signal. Suddenly the No2 plane of the first shotai (section) fluttered its wings, lost altitude and returned back to the carrier possibly due to engine trouble. The flight continued uneventful with the all the planes positioning themselves to bomb from a Northern direction. It was the first day in combat for Commander Ito.

  Anti-aircraft guns start filling the sky. The observer of the Buntaicho (Division Officer) Ito raised his hand giving the clear skies of enemy planes signal and then proceeded to bomb. At exactly when they about to release their bombs, the buntaicho observer gave the signal to abort the bombing by waving his hand, then the plane turned left and started to correct the bombing position.
  Mori was particularly incensed. Ito was a nice person but without combat experience and it’s impossible to go to battle with commanders with only stripes. At that point they were able to spot two enemy cruisers, two destroyers and three large size transports, all apparently surprised by their presence and trying to leave the area in full speed. Mori changed course and positioned his plane again into a bombing course but looking around him saw no escort Zeros. The orders for the Zero pilots were to escort the Kates and stay with them, not to engage in any one-on-one air battles. So perhaps they thought the Kates had already dropped their bombs and so started leaving the area.

A Nakajima B5N "Kate belonging to the Kasumigaura Ku
  While Mori was still in a bomb course and ready to release his bomb he suddenly saw about 30 Grumman fighters filling the sky and ready to attack the Kates. A rain of bullets showered his plane. The enemy pilots knew the Kate didn’t have any forward-firing machine guns so they opted for frontal attacks. During all this time the Kates were still in formation but with the enemy planes attacking, Mori suddenly found himself completely alone flying at an altitude of about 4,500m. At that point he saw the Hiyo Kate unit in their bombing course and thought of joining them. When he turned to get into position, five Grumman fighters came down on him. In front of his windshield there was a red fire of bullets and thought that if he was going to die at least he could crash his plane against the Grumman in the middle and take with him as many as possible. With renewed determination and in full speed he started flying straight towards the enemy. Stubbornly courageous and fearless he disregarded the anti-aircraft fire and the rip-rip sound of the bullets hitting his plane and continued towards the enemy planes as long as his engine was still running. The trouble was when he was getting close to the Grummans, also flying at high speed, they were all getting out of his way. Perhaps the enemy pilots were surprised by his audacity but in any case it seemed he had escaped them. While trying to change course though the controls were unresponsive. Even though he pulled the stick the plane didn’t respond. Looking right in front of him the control panel were full of blood and all the instruments except a couple were destroyed by bullets. He thought he was shot, maybe in the belly, but it didn’t hurt…looking down he saw to his complete surprise that his right hand from the wrist was missing with blood spouting all over the cockpit. At that moment he thought he was done for and decided to crash his plane at the closest ship. He told the other crew members that he was injured and his decision. While in a dive towards the closest ship, his observer told him that if he was not seriously injured they should try to make an emergency landing at some beach. Yashiro said that after only one of Mori’s fingers had flown back to his seat and therefore thought that Mori was not seriously injured. Mori then levelled the plane, controlling it only with his left hand while the plane still carried the 800kg bomb (!!!), pull some rubber bands out of his trousers and by tying them around his hand and keeping it raised tried to stop the blood. Somehow he managed to ditch the plane near a beach where a group of 10 Japanese infantry soldiers rushed to pull them out and take them to the jungle. His radio man and observer were uninjured."

Mori Juzo
  After the end of the war, Mori-san run an izakaya called “bashaya” (horse-drawn carriage). Fighter pilots often teasingly called the Kates "carriages laden with bombs or torpedoes". The nickname the Kate pilots gave to fighter planes was “stanya” (carriages of stuntmen) and the pilots were called “kigurui okami” (crazy wolves).
Mori-san passed away in 1984.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Kawanishi E7K1 "Alf"

A lovely photo, from a vintage publication, this time of a Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplane Model 1 or Kawanishi E7K1 belonging to the Yokosuka Kokutai. It's a very early model with a Hiro Type 91 500hp engine and a two blade wooden propeller. Note the window on the fuselage sides.

Monday 21 October 2013

Kawanishi E7K2 "Alf" & Nakajima E8N "Dave"

A set of stills today from, I hope you will agree, a most interesting short NHK news clip featuring at least two Navy Type 94 Reconnaissance Seaplanes or Kawanishi E7K2 "Alf" and a Navy Type 95 Reconnaissance Seaplane or Nakajima E8N "Dave". The clip is HERE.
All the seaplanes belong to the seaplane tender Notoro which was operating in the Central China area at the time.

The "Dave" in the film is "hokoku", no 146 donated by citizens of Shiga prefecture.
Ed DeKiep kindly sent us a postcard of Hokoku#146. Thank you Ed.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Nakajima E4N2

Two photos from a vintage publication of a Navy Type 90-2-2 Reconnaisance Seaplane or Nakajima E4N2 belonging to the Yokosuka Kokutai. For more on the type take a look HERE.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien"

Two photos today of Type 3 Army Fighters or Kawasaki Ki-61-I Ko "Hien" belonging to the Akeno school. A set of photos from the same sequence are featured in FAOW#17, July 1989. The captions mention that after nine test-production Ki-61-I Ko were delivered, mass production commenced with the first one completed in August 1943. The bulge under the wing was installed only during training to collect the spent cartridges of the wing Type 89 7.7mm machine-guns.
The aircraft in the top photo has the Akeno school marking on the tail with the number 34 written in kanji while the aircraft in the foreground in the bottom photo has the number 89.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

"KAZE TACHINU" - "The Wind Rises"

  We finally found time last weekend to watch the latest Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film in a movie theatre. "Kaze Tachinu" - "The Wind Rises".

  “Otaku” in Japanese is a term that can be translated in English as “nerd” although it doesn’t describe exactly the idiosyncrasy and the temperamental way of thinking that is the characteristic of all “otaku”. The main character of the movie, a combination of the famous Mitsubishi designer Horikoshi Jiro and writer Hori Tatsuo, is portrayed as an “otaku” obsessed with two things, airplanes and from some time onwards a particular girl and the movie chronicles his life in a world seen through the tunnel vision of his two obsessions. It has been hailed as “a visually sumptuous celebration of an unspoiled prewar Japan” but I beg to differ. Since nothing else matters in our hero’s perception of the world, Japan in the ‘30s has been portrayed as mystical, dreamlike and basically dull, ignoring all the fun people had at the time, the entertainment and the cool places as well as the hardships of the era. The voice of Horikoshi, lent by Anno Hideaki, is typical “otaku”, with a particularly annoying tone, constantly using extremely formal Japanese resulting in a totally emotionless voice that makes it very difficult to connect with. Having said that, I was not taken aback by the love story even though the girl is basically the same as in other Miyazaki movies. As an animated film I found it technically simply beautiful.

  Airplanes. While this was a movie I went to see for Horikoshi and his aircraft, there were more German and Italian planes than actual Japanese. So, boo there. The Army Mitsubishi Hayabusa Experimental Fighter was somewhere for a few seconds, Horikoshi’s Navy 7-shi Carrier Fighter was given some coverage, with the Mitsubishi 8-shi Reconnaissance or G1M1 making an appearance but the movie basically ended with the development of the Navy Mitsubishi 9-shi Single-seat Fighter. In Japan there is still the perception that Japanese planes of that era are all “war planes” and therefore “bad”. When I mention my passion for the history of Japanese aviation to Japanese, sometimes I’m naively asked “so, you like war?” and I can understand why Miyazaki tried to avoid showing combat types. Nevertheless there could have been more scenes with actual Japanese planes getting designed, built and flown than the endless boring minutes staring paper and Italian planes.
  If you want to really enjoy planes then the other Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli film “Kurenai no Buta” (or Porco Rosso) is an unparallel masterpiece that should not be missed. “Kaze tachinu” is good for the small screen.

Friday 11 October 2013

Nakajima Ki-4 by Suzuki Gyosui

Brilliant artwork by Suzuki Gyosui (check HERE for more about the artist) depicting Army Type 94 Reconnaissance Aircraft or Nakajima Ki-4 on October 16, 1938 during the Battle of Wuhan in a coordinated attack of ground and air forces.  Note the very Italian 3-colour, green-yellow-brown, top camouflage of the Ki-4s.

Aikoku #10, #11, #12

Aikoku #10 was a Type 88 Reconnaissance Aircraft or Kawasaki KDA-2 donated April 7, 1932 by Korean officials and people

Aikoku#11 was also Type 88 Reconnaissance Aircraft donated on April 10, 1932 by citizens of Nagaoka city, Niigata prefecture.

Aikoku#12 was a Type88 Light Bomber or Kawasaki KDA-2 donated also on April 10, 1932 by citizens of the Toyama prefecture.

Monday 7 October 2013

Nakajima A6M2-N by Verena Wirnig

I built the 1/48 kit from Tamiya.  It was an old kit, in a 5 boxed-set. My Rufe is the A6M2-N 802 Kokutai NI-118.
I added to this old kit a new resin motor from vector, which is superb. Vector has not only the Sakae 21, but also most Japanese aero engines. (
The gunsight (Type 98) was also replaced by one from Fine Molds. The Seatbelts arefrom Fine Molds, too. The masks are from Montex. This company has also a wide range of masks for Japanese Aircrafts. (
Verena Wirnig - Vienna, Austria

Sunday 6 October 2013

Visitors - The U.S. Connection

  Van Lear Black (1875-1930) was a Baltimore banker and businessman turned civil aviation pioneer.
  In 1927, Black undertook a plane journey around the world to prove the viability of civil air flight, with a Fokker plane chartered from the Royal Dutch Airline, K.L.M. His crew consisted of K.L.M. staff: chief pilot G.J. Geysendorffer, copilot J.B. Sholte, and mechanic Peter Bunk, as well as Black's personal secretary, J. Leo Bayline. Additional trips were made over several years time, some combining air and ship travel. In February 1930, Black commissioned a Fokker VIIb trimotor aircraft G-AADZ "The Maryland Free State" to fly from London to Tokyo to Java. He created his own company for the flight, VLB ltd. The flight included stops in Venice, Italy, and Athens, Greece, landing in Tachikawa, Tokyo (photo above) on 7 April 1930. The aircraft was disassembled for the Pacific voyage to San Francisco, then reassembled for the final flight to Baltimore on 18 May, a 16,000-mile (26,000 km) trip.
  Traveling a total of 200,000 miles in five years, Black's trips were the first intercontinental flights of such length for purely civilian purposes.
  Black died suddenly in 1930, apparently falling from the afterdeck of his yacht Sabala in rough water enroute to Baltimore following an excursion to New York.

Nakajima A4N1 by Koike Shigeo

(If the artist feels uncomfortable having his artwork featured on our blog,
it only takes an email and we'll remove it immediately)
 From HERE

Thursday 3 October 2013

Nakajima A4N

A couple of photos today from a vintage publication of Navy Type 95 Carrier Fighters or Nakajima A4N belonging to the Yokosuka Kokutai. In flight photos of pre-war aircraft are pretty rare due to the technical limitations of photography of the time so we hope you find these interesting.
Note how hair-raising close the trio is flying!
More about the type HERE.


Wednesday 2 October 2013

Aikoku #8 & #9

Aikoku #8 (sn 121) was a Type 91 Fighter or Nakajima NC donated April 3, 1932 by Kawakita Hisataya (photo below) who, at the time, was president of the local for Mie Prefecture Hyakugo Bank, Ltd. 

Aikoku #9 (sn 126) was also a Nakajima NC and was donated by a Kawano or Kono Yoshi (no further details available) one week later during a ceremony that took place in the Yoyogi Parade Ground in Tokyo.
Thanks to Yokokawa Yuichi and his Aikokuki site.