Friday 28 February 2014


Title: "ZEROSEN GEKITSUI O" (Zerosen Ace)                          
Author: Iwamoto Tetsuzo                                       
Published by: Konnichi no wadaisha, Nov. 1987, h/b            
Pages: 328, Size:14 X 20cm. 
 Iwamoto Tetsuzo is one of the most famous IJNAF Aces and this book follows in great detail his personal eight year long fighting history. The Wikipedia entry is HERE but we would like to add a few details after China.
In December 1938 he was appointed as a trainer in Oita Ku and from November 1939 to Suzuka Ku.
In 1941 he was assigned initially to the aircraft carrier Zuiho and then Zuikaku from which he participated in the Hawaii operation in patrol duties.
From 1942 he took part in operations in the Bismarck Archipelago, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Celebes (Sulawesi) in Indonesia, Taiwan, Solomon Islands and Truk (Chuuk) and then the Aleutians. In August 1942 he was transferred to Omura Ku as instructor, then in October to Yokosuka Ku and in December to Oppama Ku.
From March 1943 he was assigned to the Northern area with the 281 Ku and from November he was transferred to Rabaul. He was further assigned to the 204 Ku and then the 253 Ku until he ended up in Truk in February 1944. From June 1944 he returned to Japan and was assigned to the Kisarazu, Iwakuni and Mobara. From September he served with the 316 Fighter Hikotai of the 252 Ku and a month later he took part in the battles over Taiwan and then the Philippines.
1945 found him serving with the 203 Ku, in Iwakuni base, fighting over Okinawa until the end of the war.   
The book was published after his death largely based on his personal notes with the help of noted aviation historian Hata Ikuhiko. Of special interest are his notes, reproduced in the book, where he claims 202 kills!!!
Below is a rough translation of the account of his first Pacific War victory during the Easter Sunday Raid against Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
"On April 5, 1942 at 06:00 in the morning the order arrived for the bombing of Colombo. The Japanese fleet had in its strength 180 airplanes (36 fighters, 54 dive bombers and 90 torpedo bombers) but Iwamoto was on air patrol duties. An hour after the attack planes took-off, the Iwamoto shotai (section usually of 3-4 planes) was on stand-by on the deck of Zuikaku. A destroyer in front of the aircraft carrier gave the signal of the presence of an enemy plane. All 24 fighters on stand-by on the various carriers took-off immediately but Iwamoto’s shotai took-off faster than everybody else. Immediately after take-off Iwamoto got rid of his drop tank and started flyng in circles above the destroyer at an altitude of 2,000m. In the area in front of the destroyer at a height between 1,500~2,500m there were many small clouds obscuring vision and although the planes from the other ships tried to spot the enemy plane between the clouds, they failed to locate it. Iwamoto was about to give up and all fighters from other aircraft carriers started returning to their ships but he decided to make another round above the area.
  "Suddenly he saw the main cannons of the destroyed shooting and even though he found it odd he flew towards the direction the cannons were firing. Between two clouds below him he spotted an enemy plane and gave the order to his shotai planes to attack. At full speed he flew behind a cloud from where he was able to figure out that the enemy plane was a small size flying boat flying among the clouds trying to spot the Japanese fleet. The altitude was 1,500m and his shotai planes were at 3,000m. Although they were hiding between clouds the enemy flying boat was able to spot them and increased speed trying to hide between clouds. But it was too late and Iwamoto immediately from behind and above was the first to shoot the flying boat on its back. From the port engine smoke started coming out and the gradually the other four Japanese fighters attacked the plane. Iwamoto returned for a second passage and noticed that the plane was badly shot up, flying at very low speed barely managing to stay in the air. Nevertheless the rear gunners were still putting up a fight shooting at the Japanese planes. Iwamoto ignored the bullets and continued the attack from as close as 50 and even 20 meters using both his 20mm cannons and the 7.7 mm machine guns. In the end flames started coming out from the gasoline tank of the plane until it fell in the sea in a ball of flame. He noticed that from the flying boat crew 2-3 survivors were swimming by the plane. Looking around him he saw planes from Akagi, Soryu and Hiryu but none took part in the battle. 
  "On his way back to Zuikaku the engine of his plane started vibrating. When back on his the carrier the prop had a hole through and through, an engine cylinder was broken and there was a bullet stuck on his gunsight probably from the machine gunner during his second pass; a few cm and it would have hit his head. The flying boat, a Consolidated PBYa was his first victory in the Pacific War."

I tried to find more information about this engagement from on-line sources.
The Catalina that first spotted the Japanese force was flown by RCAF Leonard Birchall but although the conditions and the descriptions are very similar, all sources agree that his flying boat was shot down on April 4, one day before the bombing raid Iwamoto mentions. 
Then I tried to find more information about the Catalinas stationed in Colombo and whether they had any more casualties. This article in particular, which I found to be the best, seems to collaborate Iwamoto's account that a second Catalina was shot down on the morning of April 5:
" Unfortunately, Somerville did not receive accurate intelligence on Nagumo’s movements. Following Birchall’s sighting report on 4 April, which apparently did not indicate how many carriers Nagumo possessed, other Catalinas were dispatched to regain contact, and, starting at 0700 hours the following morning, Somerville launched air searches ahead of Force A. Numerous sightings were made, but the reports were incomplete, contradictory, often late, and, in some respects, just plain wrong. This is easily understood when one remembers that the search aircraft were highly vulnerable to the defending Zeros, which shot down an RAF Catalina in the morning and an Albacore from Indomitable in the afternoon. Consider this account from the second pilot of a RAF Catalina that found Nagumo on the morning of 5 April:"
"Bloody Sambles" Vol II by Shores, Cull & Izawa states on p. 405 that the Catalina was flown by Flt Lt J.R. Graham and belonged to the 205 Squadron.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Model Commentary #1

As you  have probably already noticed we avoid to make any negative criticism on the models featured on this blog, mostly because they are all really beautiful and wouldn't like to spoil the visual pleasure by nitpicking on small inaccuracies. Nevertheless our friend Cameron Lohmann was very open and positively receptive and therefore the purpose of the following comments is definitely not to put down his "Hayate" modelling effort but to help build better and more accurate models in the future. Feel free to leave a comment with your observations, questions or disagreements.
 1. According to Akimoto-sensei IJAAF units that were officially entrusted with the air defence of Japan sported hinomaru with white bands on the wings and fuselage sides. Aircraft belonging to air defence units like the 4th, 5th, 53rd, 70th, 244th Sentai, the Dokuritsu 17th Chutai and others carried hinomaru with white bands. It should be noted that only units that were designated as "air defence units" carried the white band, not units that occasionally contributed to the air defence. An example is the 5th Sentai which in the summer of 1943 relocated to South-East Asia and its aircraft stopped carrying the white band.
Below are some examples that show how the bands, actually "bandages", covered completely the areas and didn't form "squares". All photos are from Koku Fan Illustrated #42.   

Type 97 Fighter or Nakajima Ki-27 beloning to the Tachiarai Rikugun Hiko Gakko which had a small air defence group.

 Type 2 Fighter or Nakajima K-44 "Shoki" belonging to the 47th Sentai.

 Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter or Kawasaki Ki-45 "Toryu" belonging to the 53rd Sentai.

And finally a Type 4 Fighter or Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" belonging to the 47th Sentai also. Note how it seems to have a previously applied white ring around the fiselage hinomaru.
2. I would recommend to have the drop tanks painted the same colour as the lower surfaces (gray). Although yellow is a colour that has not yet been refuted beyond any doubt please visit THIS thread on Hyperscale regarding IJAAFdrop tanks. 
3. I would finally recommend some stains and dirt behind the exhausts since it's an aircraft that has seen action.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" by Cameron Lohmann

Our friend Cameron Lohmann "Fluffysmodels" built this very nice Nakajima Ki-84 "Hayate" (Frank) and explained:
"The base kit for the build is a Hasegawa 1/48 "Hayate" from the 520th Temporary Intercept Regiment in 1945.
It's sort of a strange build in that I wanted the left side of the plane to have panels open and the flap extended while the right side is ready with a drop tank hung. 
The idea to open up the panels came from looking through FAOW #19 and finding many photos of a Ki-84 with open compartments. Then, I discovered that CMK, a detail company from the Czech Republic, had the same idea. So I used their after-market resin kit instead of fabricating panels, compartments, and machine guns myself. The fowler flap is from Eduard. The ammo belt is a brass one made by Verlinden Productions and is for a German night fighter. The ammo belt was the correct 20mm but the casings were too long and I had to trim them short with tin snips."
- Cameron Lohmann "Fluffysmodels" - Florida, USA.

Check here for Cameron's amazing "Evalina".

Saturday 22 February 2014

Mitsubishi F1M "Pete"

A photo from a vintage magazine featuring Type 0 Observation Seaplanes or Mitsubishi F1M "Pete" or "Zerokan" as they were known in Japan at the time. The tail marking is censored so we are not sure of the unit but we hope you find this photo inspirational enough for your "Pacific island" dioramas.

Thursday 20 February 2014

IJNAF training & Mitsubishi K3M

Last November we put up a series of posts on the Kyushu K11W "Shiragiku" (here 1, 2, 3 and 4) and revealed some of the training details of the IJNAF.
So today we post a series of photos to help you visualise IJNAF training.
First up are photos from a vintage publication. All were taken in March 1944 in Oi Kokutai.
Note the huge number of students running around the airfield before breakfast in front of a Type 90 Crew Trainer or Mitsubishi K3M "Pine".

Training at the shooting range. The targets were moving in front of the students who were trying to hit them from inside the positions that resembled gunner mounts.

 In-door bombing training. Note the practise bombs in the foreground
A closeup of the the bomber student using a Type 90 Model 1 bombsight under the watchful eye of an instructor officer.
Above and below a Nakajima B5N Model 1 "Kate" is loaded with training bombs. The nose of the bomb was red and the rest was probably white.

The two photos abone and below are from a different publication. For in-flight shooting training a Type 15 gun camera is used on this "Pine".
 And finally a "Pine" belonging to the Suzuka Ku is "chased" by a Nakajima A2N fighter.

Saturday 15 February 2014

IJNAF & IJAAF pilot equipment

Recently three interesting items were on-sale on Japanese ebay. We hope you find the photos interesting.
First is an IJNAF life vest.
It's late production model first adopted in 1942.
The inscription in the back says that it was property of the Yokosuka Naval Destrict and belonged to Flight Petty Officer Otsuka.


The two other pieces of equipment were IJAAF.
First a Type 92 parachute for crew member (not pilot), manufactured by Fujikura Koku Kogyo. Serial number is 15129 and manufacture date is December 18, 1943.

And the harness for the above parachute. Manufacturer and date are the same.

The quite worn IJNAF life vest goes for $US2100. The IJAAF parachute was sold rather cheaply for about $US800 but the harness reached the incredible $US4400!  
Fujikura Parachute Co. Ltd. was founded in 1939 and is still manufacturing parachutes.

Thursday 13 February 2014

Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate" by Fabrice Fanton

These are some photos of my Nakajima Ki-27 in 1/48th scale from Hasegawa, finished in 2011. I have used Eduard photoetched brass parts to enhance the kit. The propeller has been scratched built from an Eduard Polikarpov I-16. The kit has been painted with Tamiya IJA grey, with Lifelike decals. The pilot comes from Model Kasten, and officer from Tamiya, as the Kurogane. The base is from Model Scene (steppe unwatered).
Fabrice Fanton - France

Merci beaucoup Fabrice for the photos of your excellent model!
The KyuNanaSen, as the "Nate" was usually called by the Japanese, belongs to the 59th Sentai, 1st Chutai. End of 1939, Hankou airfield. Pilot was Seargent Major Takahashi Katsutaro, an ace with seven victories who was killed in Timor while running to his plane during a strafing attack. Note the katakana "TA" on the tail from the first two letters of the pilot's name.