Wednesday 27 July 2016

Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" - 60 Sentai - video

The NHK video dated June 18, 1940 talks about the bombing raids against Chongqing, the nationalist capital, without mentioning exact dates and ofcourse which bombing unit is featured. There were five raids during that month; June 6, 10, 12, 16 and 28. The video mentions that the aircraft for the bombing attacks gathered on June 10, so the footage should be either of the June 12 or the June 16 raids. The video also mentions that during the bombing raid the Japanese forces faced 30 enemy aircraft downing about 10. In any case the "Sally" unit responsible is the 60th Sentai with commander Ltn Colonel Ogawa Kojiro. The unit relocated to Yuncheng on June 3 with 51 Type 97 Heavy Bombers or Mitsubishi Ki-21 and 582 members to participate in the raids.    
The "Senshi Sosho #74: Chugoku Homen Rikugun Koku Sakusen" (Army Air Operations in the China Area) mentions that on June 12 Command Reconnaissance aircraft (most probably Ki-15s) took off from Yuncheng and Hankow airfields to reconnoitre the area over Chongqing. Upon their return and after reporting the weather and enemy airfield conditions, 36 bombers of the 60th Sentai took off.
Above Xanxian County two "Sally" bombers grazed eachother and crashed around that area. A few minutes before starting their bombing runs the 60 Sentai aircraft were jumped by 28 enemy airplanes but continued their mission and bombed the city at 14:16 from an altitude of 4000m. The Japanese claimed 13 enemy planes shot down and seven probables. The port wing of one of the Chinese aircraft hit the port wing of one of the "Sally" bombers resulting in the disintegration of the former and little damage to the latter which return to base with pieces of cloth of the enemy fighter streaming. The Japanese had 18 aircraft with bullet holes and four crew members injured.
On the 16th, 36 bombers from the 60th Sentai bombed the city from 5000m and were jumped by 37 enemy fighters, claiming nine shot down while loosing two bombers, one damaged and 22 shot at. 
During both raids IJNAF aircraft also participated but in this posting we are focusing on the video and information regarding the aircraft and units featured in it.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 001 - CALIN UNGUREANU

My name is Calin Ungureanu, I'm 47, married, father of a 10-year-old son, living in Bucharest - Romania.
I build models from 1995. I started like everybody else with WWII Germans, continued with all kind of nations and era examples. In the same time I modeled also terrestrial vehicles, navy subjects, science fiction and figures.
Apart from that I'm a painter - restorer by formation.
After my son was born, time became more and more limited and I settled for japanese 1/72 airplanes and bigger scale white metal and resin figurines. You can see my works HERE.
I'd like to take part in the contest with three models in 1/72:
1. a Mitsubishi Ki-83 from the Special Hobby kit,
2. a Kugisho R2Y1 "Keiun" from the Finemolds kit and
3. an Aichi M6A1-K "Nanzan" from Tamiya.
Thank's for the opportunity !


Sunday 17 July 2016

Mitsubishi Ki-46 Model II "Dinah" - video - follow-up

Since the previous posting we've been doing research trying to find more about the aircraft in the video, the marking and the unit it belonged to. We mentioned the 106th Sentai as a possible candidate. Wind Swords, very kindly forwarded a short piece in pdf form by "Jim Lansdale" claiming that the marking as it appears in the "Dinah" photo below (photo credit: NARA) belongs to the 106Sentai
The piece (badly in need of serious editing) features a more extensive history of the unit but there is no proof or justification as to why the author believes the marking is of that particular sentai, not another. As we saw in the previous posting, Peter Scott identified the marking on the "Dinah" in the video as belonging to the 106Sentai. If the author of the 106Sentai pdf disagrees with the P. Scott and claims that the 106th used a different marking, the natural thing would have been to offer some kind of proof. But it's more of a cause-I-say-so presentation typical of the certain "researcher". The particular marking above is not included in any publication I know of (feel free to let me know if you do). Not in the Akimoto Koku Fan series of articles, not in the "Dinah" FAOW, not in KFI#42 or any Model Art. Therefore at this stage I would have to say that it belonged to an un-identified unit. Having said that, tail markings with bombs similar to the one in the photo above are usually attributed to Shimbu-tai. But instead of going on in that direction allow me to thank Wind Swords for forwarding the piece and to get back to the "Dinah" video.
As we saw in the previous posting, the video talks about the November 7, 1944 attack against US bases on Saipan island. We saw that at that time the bigger unit responsible for these attacks was not yet the 6th Army but the "Kyodo Kokugun".
We found that on October 31, 1944 (very close to the attack date) "Kyodo Kukugun" included in its strength the following:
1. HQ flight,
2. Shimoshizu Kyodo Hikoshidan (recce),
3. Akeno KH (fighter),
4. Hitachi KH (fighter),
5. Hokota KH (light bomber),
6. Hamamatsu KH (heavy bomber),
7. Utsunomiya KH (navigation),
8. 2nd Dokuritsu Hikotai (heavy bomber),
9. 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai (command recconaissance),
10. 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai (command recconaissance) 
Only the marking of the 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai has appeared in publications or unit marking lists so far.  
A few words about the Dokuritsu Hikotai (Independent Wings).
On July 12, 1941 the reconnaissance sections of  various Sentai were re-organized as Dokuritsu Hikotai, for example the 29th Sentai (recce) became the 29 Dokuritsu Hikotai with HQ, the 66th Dokuritsu Chutai and the 87th Dokuritsu Chutai both with "Sonia".
At the beginning of the Pacific War the Dokuritsu Hikotai were quite large in size but gradually became smaller and more flexible to use. The Dokuritsu Hikotai were not assigned to certain Hikodan (Air Brigades) but were directly assigned to the Commander of Kokugun (Air Army) or Hikoshidan (Air Division). 
Simply put, initially the IJAAF had sentai equipped with Ki-36 "Ida" and/or Ki-51 "Sonia" that were in direct cooperation with ground units performing reconnaissance, light bombing and communication missions. During the war in China, it was realized that such units of sentai strength were too cumbersome and so various smaller units like Dokuritsu Chutai (Independent Companies) were organized and fanctioned in very close cooperation with ground units. During the Pacific War, some direct cooperation units changed their aircraft to "Dinah" and became exclusive reconnaissance units but instead of cooperating with ground forces they were assigned to the HQ or directly to the CO of higher formations like Air Armies who wanted to have information about enemy positions in order to send their bomber and fighter units.
The Dokuritsu Hikotai of the "Kyodo Kokugun" were put together on July 20, 1944 with the best pilots of various schools. The 2nd from Hamamatsu, the 3rd from Hokota and the 4th from Shimoshizu. The 2nd had nine heavy bombers, the 3rd and 4th from nine "Dinah" each but in November 1944 (exact date unknown) the 3rd changed its "Dinah" to "Sally" becoming the famous "Giretsu Kuteitai" that attacked the Okinawa airfields with paratroops. 
Returning to the video and the attacks on Saipan, on November 2 the first attack took place. From the "Kyodo Kokugun" participated the 2nd Dokuritsu Hikotai with nine "Sally" taking off from Hamamatsu and the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai with unknown number of aircraft. The nine "Sally" reached Iwojima but after refueling, one of them broke down and as a result eight bombers attacked Aslito Airfield on Saipan. The raid included Ta-Dan bombs (probably from the "Dinah") and strafing attacks causing fires at six locations but although all aircraft begun to return to base only three "Sally" actually did.  
On November 6, seven Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers together with five (un-identified) aircraft and six "Dinah" from the "Kyodo Kokugun" advanced to Okinawa and attacked the Marianas on the 7th.  Unfortunately we have not found any clear reference as to which unit these six "Dinah" belonged to. It is very possible though that it was a repetition of the November 2 raid i.e. five "Sally" from the 2nd Dokuritsu Hikotai and six "Dinah" from the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai. If that's the case then the "Dinah" in the video definitely belonged to the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai.
In other words. The "Dinah" in the video either belonged to the 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai or the 4th. Did the 3rd contribute aircraft in the November 7 raid or was it preparing for the "Giretsu Kuteitai" raid? The marking for the 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai that appears in most publications is the one as shown on the "Sally" transports of the "Giretsu Kuteitai"; the three red/white bars which is the number "3" in kanji. Could the marking of the "Dinah" in the video be an early 3rd Dokuritsu Hikotai marking? I believe it's unlikely and since the marking does look like a "4" on its side and nothing like a "3", the conclusion of this research, although not beyond any doubt, is that the marking on the "Dinah" in the video is not of the 106 Sentai but of the 4th Dokuritsu Hikotai.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Mitsubishi Ki-46 Model II "Dinah" - video

Another video from the NHK collection dated November 1944. According to the narrator:
"On the early dawn of November 7, 1944 our air units bombed heavily enemy air bases on Saipan and Tinian islands. The Wild Eagle units crossed the Pacific and attacked the enemy before they could attack our mainland. The noise of the engines of each plane can be heard in the background as the aircraft return to base. Captain Kato and 1st Ltd Nojima with other brave airmen report the incredible (bombing) results to the unit commander without showing any fatigue even after such a long distance flight."

The exact unit this Mitsubishi Ki-46II belongs to is not confirmed beyond any doubt but here's what we unearthed.
1. FAOW#38, p.57 upper and p.77 lower, identifies the two "Dinah" Model III with the same marking as the one in the video, plus a number "105" (p.57) and "125" (p.77), as belonging to a reconnaissance unit under the "6 Kokugun" (6th Air Army).

2. In June 1944 all the IJAAF schools were re-designated as "Kyodo Hikoshidan" (Instructional Air Divisions) and from July 1944 the Headquarters of all these divisions was created and named "Kyodo Kokugun" (Instructional Air Army or Air Training Army), its organization completed on August 8. The next day an order arrived to get ready for the battle of the mainland and on December 21, 1944, the "Kyodo Kokugun" was re-designated "6 Kokugun" with its headquarters in Fukuoka, Kyushu and mission the defense of Kyushu and Okinawa.

3.  Wikipedia here mentions:
On November 3 the Imperial General Headquarters issued a statement which falsely claimed that Japanese aircraft had bombed and destroyed fifteen locations in Saipan and Tinian. A further attack by either five or ten G4Ms with fighter escorts took place at 1:30 am on November 7, but also caused little damage. The USAAF official history states that three G4Ms were downed in this raid while another source states there were no Japanese losses. Imperial General Headquarters claimed that 20 B-29s out of 40 located were destroyed in the November 7 raid. These and all subsequent Japanese air attacks on the Marianas were overseen by the Air Training Army.

4. The video narration closely matches the above information but the exact unit under the "Kyodo Kokugun" or the "6th Air Army" is still unconfirmed.

5. "Emblems of the Rising Sun" p.36, identifies the marking as belonging to the 106 Sentai. The unit was organized in Kakamigahara, Gifu Pref. on October 24, 1944 with one HQ and one chutai in its strength but later reaching three chutai equipped with "Dinah". On November 28 took off from Kakamighara to relocate to the Philippines arriving in Taiwan on November 30 and Manila on December 8. Although there is not extensive information on the unit, none of the sources mention anything about participating in reconnaissance missions in Kyushu, which is far from Gifu anyway, but the unit is indeed mentioned as belonging to the HQ of the 6th Air Army. The marking of the 106th Sentai is not included in any of the known Japanese sources (Akimoto, FAOW etc).

6. Confusingly on p.4 of FAOW#38, the top illustration shows "Dinah" "125" and the caption mentions that it belonged to the "Dokuritsu 82 Hiko Chutai" (82nd Independent Company) but the date is April 1945. There were two 82 Dokuritsu Chutai. The first was organized in 1939 as a light bomber unit and became 34 Sentai on October 15, 1942. The second was organized on February 28, 1945 as a high altitude fighter unit with "Dinah" interceptors based in Taisho airfield in Osaka (here). A photo with the marking is on p. 84 middle of FAOW#38 and is not the same as the one in the video or the artwork. This leads me to believe that the caption of the artwork is not correct. 

From the above my conclusion is that it cannot belong to the 82 Dokuritsu Chutai, definitely belonged to the "Kyodo Kokugun" that predated the 6th Air Army and that it could belong to the 106 Sentai. Plus, the shape of the marking can be interpreted as a stylized "106".
Your thoughts?

Friday 8 July 2016

Showa L2D (Douglas DC-3) - video

A very clear video clip from the NHK collection offering plenty of details for the Navy Type Zero Transport-plane or Showa L2D.
The propaganda script heard in the video says:

Announcement from the Air Defense HQ: air raid warning is over. Everybody, start work
After one enemy aircraft was shot down, the rest run away. A wave of mass production warriors come out of the shelters to their workspace. Have to make up for the minutes lost in the shelter. The mass production fight starts immediately. They all tie around their heads the white hachimaki with the two kanji for “kamikaze”. Build! Send to the Philippine battlefield. Send wings to the heavenly eagles that can defeat the American enemy. Our duty is to build many wings with our spirit in them. The enemy attacks against the mainland including this factory have multiplied. The mainland is also a battlefield. The workers' battle is to fight the enemy aircraft and send wings to skies of the Philippines as soon as possible. University students and volunteer unit members work together wearing the kanji for “kamikaze”.