Friday, 12 October 2018

Japanese Airfields, Equipment & stuff #8

Ground crew pt.1
This part will not be about "equipment & stuff" but about the Japanese Army ground maintenance crew, their uniform and various poses often seen in photos (but rarely seen in dioramas).
The early uniforms of the ground crew were usually 2-piece, white, always with puttees. There were two kinds of uniforms worn during the Pacific War in the Japanese mainland, the most common was the "type 2". It was an one-piece, with a cloth belt and cloth straps on the legs but buttons on the torso and sleeves. Below are the official drawing and photos I found here (the guy is selling an original uniform) and here, with excellent explanation and details of this replica.
There were two kinds of field caps. The first is shown below.
The second kind started as a side cap in the early '30s but received a brim and started as "Type Otsu" in 1934, an experimental in 1936 with two holes on the side and the standard "simplified" in 1938 with three holes on the side. They were of many different shapes and with use the same kind of caps look completely different.
The maintenance crew wore at least two kinds of footwear. Very common were the "jika tabi" with or without split-toe but also the classic Army short boots and their variations made from pig, cow, horse or even shark skin. The soldier tied the bottom of his one-piece uniform, stuck them inside his white socks and tied the boots with the laces. Puttees were very rare for the ground crews except perhaps in the "Koku Shikan Gakko" (Army Officer's Academy) where things were more strict.
Again, this uniform was mostly worn at the airfields in mainland Japan, the Japanese collonies at the time (Korea, Taiwan), in Manchuria and occasionally in China depending on the unit and the location. As you can see in the photos the uniform became easily very dirty and the soldiers often unbuttoned the top and wraped it around their weist when the day was too hot leaving themselves half-naked or wearing undershirts. In the photos below note the different jika tabi, the Army boots and the different kinds of caps.
Note that the guy above is holding the drop tank attachment of a Nakajima Ki-44 "Shoki".
Climbing on the cowling, the wings or a ladder to service the engine.
The photos above are from servicing "Hien" with the 244 Sentai.
The photos below from "Hayabusa" showing also the kind of tools used.
The photos further below are from servicing "Hayate". 
Refueling the aircraft.

Loading fresh ammunition, on a "Hien" on the left on a "Shoki" on the right.


Starting the aircraft with a starter truck
or with a crank starter. A Tachikawa Ki-36 "Ida" on the left, a Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" on the right.

A close-up on a crank starter found on a Ki-100.

Waiting to pull away the chocks.
A few words before taking off.
Waving and wishing to the crew or running beside the aircraft to guide the pilot.
Taking a break.
Note the bicycles in the photos below. "Dinah" on the left, "Hayate" on the right. 


D. Chouinard said...

Excellent! Great presentation of the ground crews, very useful to modelers and artist alike. It's worth noting how the clothing fits, the creases and folds, also the stature of the people. (Sorry, the artist in me is coming out.)
And, there is no way to be clean when you are a mechanic!

Michael Thurow said...

Very informative, George. I built a few ground crew to compliment my models. There are some coming with my Shiden for the next contest. The various postures are very inspirational.
I thought that white working clothes were worn by IJN ground grew (white = traditional Navy colour), while the JAAF issued khaki dress for their maintenance guys??

Anonymous said...

I have not commented on this series yet but I wanted to say that it has been very enlightening and I have not seen anything like this before either in books or on the internet. Thank you and keep up the good work!

Wind Swords