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?


David Brizzard said...

Well you outdid yourself again. What a great find. Thanks.

How about some floatplanes now and then. An even bigger thanks.

Anonymous said...

Oh I hate you guys! :) You made go and dig out my copies of "Emblems of the Rising Sun" and FAOW No 38 - no mean feat since I just moved. I have to agree with you about the 106th Sentai - The Dinah color plate in FAOW is mislabeled. It can't be the 82nd Dokuritsu Chutai.

The info on the history of the 82nd Dokuritsu Chutai was new to me. I had no idea that chutai became a different sentai and then a brand new 82nd was formed later.

I have a an image of another tail marking labeled as belonging to the 106th Sentai. How can I send you that image to you?

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