Tuesday 5 November 2019

IJAAF & IJNAF photos & more

A set of photos I recently discovered in the "Asahi Shimbun" collection.
According to the caption:
"KANOYA, JAPAN - MAY 01: A kamikaze attack aircraft carrying a torpedo under the body of the plane takes off at the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Base circa May 1945 in Kanoya, Kagoshima, Japan. The air base was the centre of the Japan's suicidal Kamikaze Attacks, along with the Imperial Army Air Force Chiran Air Base at the end of the Pacific War. (Photos by Yasuo Tomishige/The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images).

The Nakajima B6N "Tenzan" (Jill) belong to the 131 Kokutai as indicated by their tail marking.
The unit was organized on July 10, 1944 in Yokosuka by combining the Recce 11 Hikotai equipped with Nakajima C6N "Saiun" (MYRT) and Yokosuka D4Y reconnaissance with the Sento 851 Hikotai that was equipped with Nakajima J1N "Gekko". Their next base was Katori, Chiba Prefecture. From the end of July, the "Gekko" of the 851 flew air defence and patrol missions in the Okinawa area but the 131Ku was re-organized on November 15 and this time it was equipped with carrier bombers and attackers. The two previous hikotai were replaced by Kogeki 105 and 251 who now made up the kokutai. On December 1, 1944 the unit had 48 carrier bombers and 48 carrier attackers.
Early January 1945 the unit was organized with three hikotai; 3, 105 and 251.
On March 1, 1945, the Sento 804, 812, 901, all night fighter units, were attached to the 131Ku and the previously mentioned hikotai equipped with attack bombers and became: Kogeki 5, Kogeki 254 and Kogeki 256.
The night fighter units were very active during the Okinawa campaign together with the bombers.
On April 1, 1945 the unit had 48 carrier bombers, 48 carrier attackers and 96 night fighters.
The Kogeki 254 had aircraft numbers from 01 to 49 while the Kogeki 256 numbers from 50 to 99.
Throughout its history the 131Ku operated: Zero-sen, Zero night fighters, "Gekko", Val, "Suisei", "Suisei" night fighters, "Tenzan", "Ryusei" and "Saiun".

The 131Ku together with "Tenzan" from other kokutai, also organized Kamikaze groups based in Kushira base, Kagoshima Prefecture and participated in the "Kikusui" attacks.
The first group of  nine "Tenzan" from the 254 relocated to Kushira base on March 30 and were named "TenO-tai" (Heavenly Cherry Blossoms). On April 1 and 2 attacked enemy ships in the Okinawa area but only two survived.
The combined "Tenzan Unit" took part in the 1st Kikusui on April 6. Two "Tenzan" from the 131Ku, 254 named "Raifu Raigeki-tai" (Thunder Wind Torpedo Unit), three from the 256 named "Jinpu Raigeki-tai" (Squall Torpedo Unit) and four from the 701Ku.
Also participated in the 3rd Kikusui of April 16 but this time six "Tenzan" from 701Ku and  one from the 901Ku.
On May 11 it was the 6th Kikusui and ten "Tenzan" from the 931Ku took part.
All the above mentioned "Tenzan" that took part in Kikusui missions were equipped with 800kg bombs, not torpedoes.

Considering all the above information (from Akimoto Minoru, Model Art #458 and Japanese Wikipedia), the aircraft in the photos with tail number "131-64" belongs to the Kogeki 256 of the 131Ku and is NOT taking part in a suicide mission but rather a conventional torpedo attack.


Danilo said...

George, great and neat picture and interesting comment. Have you any idea of the symbol/character under 131-64 tail code or just a scratch? I tried to enlarge the detail but it doesn't return an intelligible image.

Arawasi said...

Thanks Danilo. No I don't think it says something on the tail apart from the unit marking. Probably a scratch.

Honza78 said...

I have to thank for a lot of information and great photos.
Thanks again.

George Bryant said...

I just noticed that the plane in the 2nd picture had radar. Fantastic detail in the pictures.

Ken said...

How does one get access to Asahi Shimbun’s historical photos?

Arawasi said...

Google them. "Asahi Shimbun Getty images"