Sunday 31 March 2019

Genda Minoru Interview pt. 1

The February 1958 issue of "MARU" magazine featured an interview with Genda Minoru, taken by Asahi Shimbun journalist Kimura Noboru and Yomiuri Shimbun journalist Douba Hajime. Below are some extracts.
Q: How the Hawaii attack plan came to be?
A: Ten months before the beginning of the Pacific War, I think end of January or end of February 1941, I was a Commander Staff Officer with the First Carrier Division (Dai 1 Koku Sentai). I was called by Vice-Admiral Onishi who was at Kanoya base at the time and he showed me a letter by Fleet Admiral Yamamoto saying that if this situation continued, it is very probable there is going to be a war between the US and Japan. If such a war erupts, we will not be able to continue this war if we cannot inflict great damage to the US Combined fleet. For this, since the US fleet is based in Hawaii, we must attack using aircraft carriers. The letter concluded asking me to start thinking about such a plan.
Without showing that letter to anybody, I returned from Kanoya to my base and I started pondering about the plan while our aircraft units were training. That was the beginning of everything that followed.
Q: When exactly did training start?
A: We really started from September. Until that time nobody else knew about the plan. Not even the staff officers of the Combined Fleet.
Q: Did you really start from September in Kagoshima Bay, which it is said resembles Pearl Harbor? 
A: I incorporated the plan in the training from the moment I received the letter from Yamamoto. In April the organization of the Fleet changed and the First Carrier Division (Dai 1 Koku Kantai) was organized. Vice Admiral Nagumo became commander and the plan was revealed to him by the commander of the Combined Fleet. So from April started training.
Q: Were you aware of the various details like the depth and the condition of Pearly Harbor?
A: I wasn't sure if the information we had was 100% correct but we proceeded considering that the depth would be about 12 meters.
Q: Compared to Yokosuka or Sasebo, how deep is that?
A: It's very shallow.
Q: Did you search for other locations until making up your mind that Kagoshima best resembled Pearl Harbor?
A: Not that much. Actually although somebody said so, a reporter maybe, Kagoshima doesn't look like Pearl Harbor whatsoever.
We chose Kagoshima because there were many bases in the area for carrier aircraft. At that time, the training bases were Kanoya, Kasanohara (near Kagoshima), Izumi, Kagoshima, Tomitaka, Oita, Usa and Saiki. Each aircraft carrier's torpedo bomber unit gathered in Izumi and Kagoshima. The First Carrier Division (Dai 1 Koku Sentai) gathered in Kagoshima. The Second Carrier Division (Dai 2 Koku Sentai) in Izumi and the Fifth Carrier Division (Dai 5 Koku Sentai) in Usa. Special training for level bombing leaders was necessary, so all the leading aircraft from all the Carrier Divisions gathered in Kagoshima. So it's not that we trained in Kagoshima because it looked like Pearl Harbor.

Q: What was the power of the torpedo bomber units at the time?
A: All the so-called "carrier attackers" could carry a torpedo but we actually used only 40 torpedo bombers split between the 1 and 2 Koku Sentai. The rest of the carrier attackers carried bombs. We had a total of 144 carrier attackers, 40 of them carried torpedoes.

Q: Can "sentai" be translated as "wing"?
A: Yes, that's right.

Q: How big was it as a unit?
A: The "koku sentai" was an aircraft carrier unit. From one to three aircraft carriers plus destroyers. This became one "koku sentai". These days one carrier is one "wing" but back then there were more aircraft than today. Until recently the commander of a "wing" is a Rear Admiral ranking officer. But back then it was a Captain or the captain of the ship. So one aircraft carrier is similar to one "wing" of today.

Q: So, 2-3 aircraft carriers formed a "koku shidan" (carrier division)?
A: No, they were still called "koku sentai" regardless of the number of aircraft carriers.

Q: So, with these "koku sentai" the first and the second waves were carried out. Were there plans for a third wave?
A: Yes, we had planed a third wave. The organization of the units fluctuated depending on the mission and the conditions. So, depending on the conditions and the preparation we had made, we could change the way the ships performed with only one signal. There was a plan for a third wave, either against the enemy aircraft carriers or for landing support.

Q: So, was a third wave not launched because the enemy carriers were not there and the ships that were there were attacked sufficiently?
A: That's not the reason. If the results of the first and second wave attacks were not satisfactory we would launch more attacks. Actually we had planned to launch more attacks even if the results were very satisfactory. These decisions rest on the commander. Well, some people involved at the time have passed away but others are still alive and I'm not comfortable talking about this. So, to sum it up, yes there were plans for a third wave but due to complicated problems this didn't happen.

Q: Were the results as satisfactory as you had planned and expected?
A: Yes, they were more than satisfactory.

Q: You have met after the war Americans who were at Pearl Harbor. What have they told you?
A: Yes, I have met some. Well, if they don't start talking about Pearl Harbor, I don't start such a conversation. We both see these events as military professionals and the strategy involved, so there are really no problems.

Q: Could you elaborate on the complicated problems regarding the cancellation of the third wave?
A: Well, after all, it's the commander's thinking. I can't blame Vice Admiral Nagumo. Duty assignment is very important and I still think so. Nagumo was an expert in torpedo warfare. He is unrivalled commanding a torpedo unit from a torpedo ship. I have been a staff member of Nagumo and he is an excellent person. During Midway when the enemy torpedo bombers attacked and there were swarms of torpedoes coming in our direction, he took command of the ship from the captain and following his manoeuvre instructions we were able to perfectly avoid all of them. It was really amazing. That person with the incredible skills was assigned to command a "carrier sentai" for the first time. It's really problematic to assign the attack against Pearl Harbor, something that nobody had even done before, to a person that hadn't commanded torpedo bombers before. That's why he didn't order the third wave. In other words, any highly skilled person when assigned a mission they have no experience of, they will luck confidence. So, personnel assignment is really important.  

Q: Were there any other commanders with more skills for that mission?
A: For example, Vice Admiral Onishi. Although young he was capable of doing really incredible things.

Q: It's really a problem of seniority, isn't it?
A: At that time that was true. Senior officers were pushed to the front from behind but this system was terrible when it came to aircraft carriers and aircraft units.

Thursday 21 March 2019

Nakajima C6N1 "Saiun" 765 Kokutai by Jean Barby

Pictures of my Nakajima C6N1 "Saiun" from the 765 Kokutai wearing the famous « Z »flag; Katori base January 1945. No decals, except for the flags, as I use masks whenever I can. Paints are from Mr color and the weathering effects were achieved with oils.

- Jean Barby -

Monday 18 March 2019

NEW Model Art Release!

"Nihon Riku-Kaigunki Dai Zukan"
"Imperial Japanese Army & Navy Airplanes Illustrated Book #3"

The third publication in the series deals mostly with the "Zero" fighter and early IJNAF aircraft. There are many color illustrations detailing the Mitsubishi A5M "Claude, the experimental and prototypes Mitsubishi A3M1 & Nakajima A3N1, Mitsubishi ka-14 & Nakajima AN-1, Mitsubishi Ki-18, Mitsubishi 1MF, Vickers Viking, Supermarine Seal and Felixstow F.5 flying boats, a Hasegawa kit review and more on the Nakajima E8N1 "Dave"and a special on the Mitsubishi A6M1, the Zero prototype.
Published by Model Art, April. 2019 (?????), p/b Pages: 160
Size: 21X30cm
Available through our on-line store, HERE.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Mitsubishi G4M "Betty", 752 Kokutai & more - video

This new video today dated November 17, 1943 features Japanese Navy units in the Kuril Islands (or as the Japanese call them "Chishima Islands"). The video starts by mentioning that US forces attacked the islands and the Japanese forces are defending the territory. The remains of one shot down US aircraft are shown. Then, from 00:42, the narration continues by mentioning that around the same time the enemy also attacked in the Southern front, in Rabaul and close to Bougainville Island but the "torpedo units" are counter-attacking them. Then the narration changes and mentions the intensive training of torpedo bombers.
The tail of one "Betty" bomber is visible and the marking is yellow "52-872" with two white stripes.

The aircraft belongs to the 752Ku which was organized on November 1, 1942 with "Zeros" and "Nells". On December 26 of the same year the fighter compliment joined the 701Ku and around that time changed from "Nells" to "Bettys" in Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture. A part of the unit relocated to Rabaul in July 1943 and fought there suffering heavy losses until the end of August. Then returned to Chitose in Hokkaido to train, replenish and join the rest of the unit which until then was in Paramushir covering the evacuation of the Aleutians. 
This video was most probably shot during training of naval and land based units before their deployment to the South Pacific under the "Operation RO", the reinforcement of the Rabaul and New Britain from October 30 to November 13, 1943 . The cruiser we see from 00:42 until 01:30 is one of Takao Class cruisers (Atago, Chokai, Maya, Atago) all of which participated in the operation (note the three fore turrets on 01:27. The other cruiser class with the same turret arrangement, the Myokos, did not take part in the "RO operation"). The captain on the bridge looks like Aruga Kosaku, the captain of Chokai, who later commanded the battleship Yamato during its final mission.
The aircraft carrier we see at 02:27 is either Shokaku or Zuikaku both of which were assigned to attack the US forces during their attack in the Aleutians and then were part of the naval force in the "Ro Operation". The 752Ku was also assigned to the South Pacific first relocating to Roi-Namur Island in November 1943, taking part in the battles in the Gilberts and Marshalls.
Enjoy the "Jake" being catapulted, the "Kates" doing torpedo attacks and note also the two "Reikan" (Mitsubishi F1M "Pete") on 00:44.

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Mitsubishi G4M "Betty", 762 Kokutai and more - video

The video today from the NHK collection, dated October 26, 1944, features an assortment of aircraft but prominently Mitsubishi G4M2Aa or Ab belonging to the 762 Kokutai. The unit was organized on February 15, 1944 in Hsinchu, Taiwan as a "Betty" unit but it was reorganized on July 10 with four "kogegi hikotai" (attack air units). The 3rd Kogeki Hikotai was equipped with Yokosuka D4Y "Suisei", the  405 and 406 Kogeki Hikotai had Yokosuka P1Y "Ginga" and the 708 Kogeki Hikotai had "Betty" and "Ginga". On October 10 the "T Kogeki Butai" ("T" attack unit) was organized to take part in the Taiwan air battles from October 12 until 16 and later in the Philippines. October 12 is mentioned in the video narration as the date the "Betty" attack is beginning. Note the "Betty" with the "K 762-33" tail marking. The 762Ku used the "762" as the unit marking for their "Betty" bombers but also "62-".

Sunday 10 March 2019

Mitsubishi G3M "Nell" - video

Another video from the NHK collection dated April 23, 1941. Admiral Shimada Shigetaro, Commander-in-Chief of the China Area Fleet is visiting the base of "Umi no Arawasi" (Sea Wild Eagles) during operations against the cities of Kaihua and Jiangshan.
The interesting "Nell" bombers in the video and the stills below belong to the GenzanKu which together with MihoroKu constituted the 22 Koku Sentai. On April 10 they came under the China Area Fleet and participated in the "Operation F1", attack against the railway line that passed through the above mentioned cities and was transporting supplies to the coastal cities of Zhejiang Province which were under attack at the time. 

The tail marking of the Model 21 "Nell" above with the two retractable turrets, is most probably "G-141" or "G-341". Note the two- or three-tone camouflage, in contrast to the NMF bomber in the still above this one, and how "white" the wing hinomaru look. Finally note the difference in the pattern of the white lines on the tail compared to the plane in the third still from the top. These variations indicated the chutai and shotai in the unit.

Sunday 3 March 2019

Japanese Aircraft Online Model Contest 011

ARAWASI would like to invite you to our eleventh online model contest.
Theme: "Japanese Prototype & Experimental Aircraft in any scale (no what-ifs)"

Submissions: Send as many photos as you like of your model and accompanying information to or At the very least please send: your name and country, model scale and kit maker. Your entry will be posted within 24 hours. You can enter the contest with more than one model in any scale.
If you decide to start a model for our contest you can send work-in-progress photos.

Voting: you can vote for each model from 1 to 10 (no decimals) either by leaving a comment on each entry or by sending an email to the above addresses. No anonymous votes will be taken into account (nicknames are ok). The model with the most points wins.

Deadline: May 31 (but it can be extended) 

Prizes: The winner will receive a book and a kit from our on-line store, free of any charge, courtesy of Arawasi.
*The theme for the next online model contest is Japanese Bombers and will start from June 1.