Friday 30 October 2015

Japanese Spad 13C1

In 1919, Japan imported four Spad 13C1 from France. A year later and following the arrival of the French Mission Japan ordered 96 more aircraft from France which became "Type Su Model 13" while in Japanese service. The first Japanese fighter units were organised around these fighters which in December 1921 were renamed "Type Hei, Model 1 Fighters". Some were equipped with automatic aerial cameras to serve in the fast reconnaissance role. All the Spads arrived in Japan with their original French war camouflage paint. Below are two vintage post cards from our collection featuring Spad number "18970". These postcards were colourized but although their colour accuracy is highly in doubt, they nevertheless provide a very interesting glimpse of these vintage fighters in Japanese service. Note the very early uniforms of the maintenance crew members and the vintage car in the background. 

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Visitors - The "Soviet" connection (take #2)

On September 1, 1925 the Polikarpov R1-M5 registered R-RMPA flown by famous Soviet aviator Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gromov landed at Tokorozawa airfield. Information is very scant on the net but it seems that a group of seven Polikarpov R1s one Polikarpov PM-1 and one Polikarpov R-2 took off from Moscow on a friendship flight to Peking and Tokyo on June 10, 1925. One aircraft made an emergency landing in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture, the other reached successfully Tokyo. The crew members of these two aircraft were pilots Mikhail Gromov and Mikhail Volkovoinoff with engineers Evgenii Rodzewitch and Vasilii Kuznetsoff. They all received commemorative silver cups (ginpai).
The photos below are from a vintage publication.


The newspaper "Amsterdam NY Daily Democrat and Recorder" featured the following photo with a caption: 
"FLYER HOLDS DONOR INSTEAD OF GIFT - Michael Gromov flew from Moscow to Tokio where he was presented with a bouquet by Midori Motoori, Japanese singer. But as the crowd gave Michael an ovation, he mixed his signals and held up the singer instead of the flowers"
The same photo was featured in the October 4 issue of Chicago Tribune with the following caption:
"THE BRAVE DESERVE THE FAIR, said Michael Gromov after flying from Moscow to Tokio, whereupon he set on his shoulder a little Oriental admirer of his bravery, who came with an offering of flowers. The lady is Miss Midori Motoori, a Japanese singer who  has toured the United States. At the right is Victor Kopp, the Soviet ambassador at Tokio.
Motoori Midori was the first singer of children songs in Japan, was the daughter of Motoori Nagayo, a famous composer of children songs in Japan. 
On this UTube link you can hear two splendid children songs sang by her amazing voice accompanied by her father playing the piano. The first song she is singing is the very famous children's song "The Blue-eyed doll"
Lyrics (translation by Yamagishi Katsuei):
"The beautiful blue-eyed doll was born
In America and it is made of celluloid
When she arrived at the Japanese port
Her eyes had long been filled with tears
“I don't understand the language.
What should I do if I get lost here? ”
Kindhearted Japanese girls, Oh please
Be friendly and hold her near

Thursday 22 October 2015

Monday 19 October 2015

Nakajima E8N "Dave"

A photo from a vintage publication featuring a Nakajima E8N "Dave" which, according to the caption, is taking off from Yangtze River on another mission against Hankou. Unfortunately the tail marking has been censored. 

Sunday 18 October 2015

Mitsubishi G3M "Nell"

A photo from a vintage publication of a Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" taking off from a forward base in the Pacific. 

Friday 16 October 2015

Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" - video

A short news clip from the NHK collection featuring Mitsubishi G3M2-a Model 21 "Nell" bombers.
The commentator says:
"On July 7, 1941, exactly on the fourth anniversary of the China Incident, our Navy Wild Eagles flew through the clouds over Sichuan and bombed Chonqging. Thus achieved the feat of bombing the city for the 20th time. The enemy panicked during our attack and their anti-aircraft guns fired desperately but to no avail. Our Navy Wild Eagles bombed the enemy headquarters and other important targets with great success."     
Although the June raids against Chonqging and their horrible results against the civilian population are fairly well documented, unfortunately we have great difficulty to pinpoint the Navy bomber units that were involved.
The still below shows the tail marking of the "Nell" but only the "406" or "408" part is visible. Before the number there is probably a katakana but it's not clear at all. 

Wednesday 14 October 2015

2015 - 34th IPMS Hellas Nationals

The 34th show of IPMS Hellas took place from October 1st to 4th. Photos of some of the Japanese subject entries courtesy of Alexandros Angelopoulos.





Many more photos here and of all the models, here.                                                                     

Monday 12 October 2015

Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily"

Three photos from a vintage, January 1944, publication featuring a Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" maintained somewhere in the South Pacific, plus two photos of maintenance crew members servicing an engine and carrying bombs. Note the sandbag revetment protecting the bomber, the engine chain hoist hang from a tree and the clothes of the crew.  


Thursday 8 October 2015

Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" - 47 Sentai

The following is a translation we did from Maru Mechanic #33. An article written by 2nd Lt Oishi Sozo who flew Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" with the 47th Sentai.
I joined the 47th Sentai in the middle of October 1944. At that time I was still training with the "Shoki". The aircraft had a ridiculously large 1450hp engine on the nose and the main wing was so small it looked a duck's. No aircraft type built during the war had higher landing speed than the "Shoki". On top of that the elevator was way too sensitive. Just before landing if you pulled the elevator too much, the plane flew away leading to accidents. The plane could easily stall and crash on the ground. The fuselage section right behind the pilot could snap into two, the front half could roll over a few times hit the ground, and keep dragging itself upside down. This is what usually happened in case of an accident. It's amazing that pilots with only 200 hours flying time with a "Hayabusa" were required to fly the "Shoki" right after the "Hayabusa", expecting no accidents to happen.
I was trained with "Shoki" at Hitachi Hiko Shidan. The first time a landed a "Shoki" my eyes were bloodshot. Just after I touched the ground, I was asked to take off again, but the plane just couldn't leave the ground. I thought that was strange but I noticed the propeller pitch lever was on "cruising flight". I changed it to "low pitch" and finally took off. The first 2-3 times I took-off and landed with a "Shoki" was like stepping on a tiger's tail but once I got used to the aircraft, I was able to control it very well and easily make a 3-point landing. It was a nice plane, with no problems and good speed.
  But eventually I came to realise that the "Shoki" was not a good type to fight against B-29s flying at high altitude. On November 1, 1944 B-29s from Saipan came over the Kanto area on a reconnaissance mission. Maybe all the fighter aircraft in the Kanto area took-off. The three B-29 formation flying at 12,000 meters managed complete their mission and fly away. On that day I took-off too but gradually my oil pressure got lower and at 7,000 meters it was almost zero. The engine barely run. Exactly at that time I saw the three B-29s flying above me but I was not able to do something because the altitude difference was too high. But I just couldn't sit there and watch them go so I lifted the nose and was about to hit the machine cannon button. At exactly that moment my poor "aiki" (beloved plane) stalled.
  After that incident, when a young LTJG brought the combat report to the headquarters, the staff officer there shouted "why the hell didn't you ram the enemy bombers with your planes?" With such staff officers with next to no knowledge about aircraft there was virtually no way to win the war.
  The US planes with their superchargers were able to fly at very high altitude but our planes were lagging behind in technology. The maintenance crew did their best to fix the problem with the oil pressure during high altitude. They used a larger diameter oil pipe and we could fly as high as 9,500 meters.
  Contrary to reconnaissance missions, the B-29 formations flew at 9,000 meters during bombing missions and so were finally able to catch up with them. But when we reached the 9,000 meters, it was always individually, not as a group, so we had to deal with the rain of defencive fire a ten B-29 formation was throwing at each one of us.
  On November 24 the first air raid took place. In December and January there were air raids almost every second day. Corporal Mita of the "Shinten Seiku-tai", which originated from my 2nd Chutai (Fuji-tai), was the first to perish in a ramming attack in the Kanto area. The next year, on January 9, Sergeant Sachi was also lost during a ramming attack. He crashed head long with a B-29, his aircraft was completely destroyed but the B-29 lost only its starboard outward engine. With one less engine it flew out of formation and other aircraft of ours were able to attack and shoot it down. I was amazed that the bomber was still able to fly after suffering such damage. On the same day, our precious WO Awamura Takashi, passed away. He was my comrade with the 2nd Chutai of the 47th, was very smart and had trained all the young 2nd Lieutenants. On that day he attacked B-29s twice but on the third time realising he was out of ammunition, destroyed the elevator of a B-29 with the propeller of his aircraft downing the enemy bomber. He managed to bail out with his parachute but he fell in the sea 20km from the nearest coast. Although aircraft were sent to look for him, unfortunately he was not found. 

 Below are three in-action photos from a vintage publication featuring Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki" of the 47th Sentai in their Narimasu base.


Tuesday 6 October 2015

J Gliders in the Snow

A set of photos from a vintage publication featuring glider training of the Youth Group of the Fukumitsu city, Toyama Prefecture. According to the accompanying text, training started in the middle of January 1939 with a Type Ito Model A2 glider, numbered 198 under the auspices of 2nd class glider pilot Yoshida. Three months later members of the group were able to fly four meters straight ahead and they continued their hard glider training twice a week, pledging to protect the skies of Japan with all their strength! 
Of interest is the Type Ito Model A2 glider of which I was not able to find even the slightest of information. The company that designed and produced the glider was Ito Hikoki Seisakujo (Ito Aircraft Factory), later becoming Nippon Kokuki Kogyo KK (Japan Aircraft Industry co. Ltd), founded and run by Ito Otojiro, one of the most important Japanese civilian aviation pioneers (check Mikesh&Abe p.107).


Saturday 3 October 2015

Kawasaki Ki-48 "Sokei" (Lily) by Panagiotis Koubetsos FINISHED! Photo Set 2

And here's the second photo set of Panagioti's exquisite diorama with a different, more natural background. 

Panagiotis won the bronze medal in the recent Greek IPMS competition for the Lily diorama and understandably he is a bit disappointed after all the time and effort he invested in this most demanding project. From what you see in the photos, what do you think he could have done to make this diorama even better?