Sunday 30 September 2018

Japanese Airfields, Equipment & stuff #4

The first Japanese company to locally build bicycles was "Miyata" around 1890. Apart from "Miyata", various other bicycle manufacturers built thems for the Army including "Yamaguchi", "Okamoto", "Hidori" and "Zebra". During the Pacific War most of them were taken over by the Army and "Miyata" for example built landing gear and tires for the Zero.  
Bicycles were a very efficient and cheap way to move around the airfield and they were used extensively as you can see in the photos below.
I could find very very little documentation on the net about the various bicycle manufacturers and bicycle designs but in THIS link the guy has an original Yamaguchi IJA bicycle . Note the color.
It is one of the most common transport vehicles around Asia and is still widely used in Japan. The name comes from the English "rear car" and it was very popular around airfields to carry quantities of stuff or heavier equipment. It could be attached to the rear of a bicycle.
In the photo below the spokes are made of wood but bicycle tires were also very common. Check the photo of a JIETAI guy with a riyaka

Saturday 29 September 2018

Japanese Airfields, Equipment & stuff #3

Tarps & covers
IJAAF ground crew used tarpaulins to protect their planes from the elements, especially the engine area. When the planes were maintained or were ready for take off, these were removed and discarded on the ground near the a/c. Sometimes the ground crew were more tidy and neatly folded them, sometimes just casually threw them around. In the top photo the number painted on the tarp cover is the number on the tail of the "Shoki".
When tarps were not available other fabric covers were incorporated as the last photo of the "Nate" testifies. But these really depended on the theatre and the time. Home based units, for example, are never seen without proper tarps. Finally I included a couple tarp images from the net.  

Jack stands
The most common jack stand used by the IJAAF is the metal tripod seen in the top photo which could collapse or had the legs permanently attached. Wooden jack stands are a lot less common in combat units. These were used by the aircraft manufacturers and are seen supporting prototypes. I discovered a rarely seen double stand found near a Ki-100 and in the last photo a "Hien" is having her guns calibrated. Note the special stand.
Except for the last one all stands had a wooden top and above that I'm almost certain they had some rubber or alternatively a piece of cloth for smoother attachment to the plane surface. These stands can be seen in all units even at the front in the Pacific or in the CBI.
I also attach a photo of a vintage jack stand from the net to give you an idea of the design in color. 


Thursday 27 September 2018

Japanese Airfields, Equipment & stuff #2

IJAAF ground crew usually used 3-step ladders to reach to the engines of the single-seat fighters and shorter aircraft but needed taller ladders for aircraft like the "Babs" or bombers like the "Sally". All these ladders were made of wood but "Lilly" bomber crews used a small three-step ladder made of metal for the bombardier to enter the plane from the front hatch. 
In the front, any kind of ladder substitutes were used including stools or small tables.  

Oil drums
Although cumbersome, more popular than ladders were empty oil drums that presumably provided a more stable platform to work from. And so, an oil drum on its side near the tail of a combat aircraft, as seen in the bottom photo, wouldn't look as if the aircraft was abandoned but simply that it waited maintenance.