Sunday 28 February 2021

IJAAF Paratroopers - Exhibition - video

Another NHK video today featuring IJAAF paratroopers and more.

Emperor Showa (a.k.a Hirohito) could not, ofcourse, see first hand the paratrooper op against Palembang so the Army had to put up a show for him. And so, on July 21, 1942, H.I.M. visited the Utsunomiya Aviation School in Tochigi Prefecture for a special exhibition. 
The bugler call at the beginning of the video is the Japanese equivalent to "to the colors" of sorts. It sounded when the IJNAF flag was raised.
The cleanest version I could find is here. A vintage version with mediocre sound is here. The Kaijo JIETAI still uses it. A rather poor execution can be heard here.

H.I.M. arrives at the airfield, greeted by cadets of the Shonen Hikohei (Youth Aviation Cadet) programme.

A paratrooper is standing in front of a "Sally" or a Ki-57.

The Emperor was introduced to a number of captured Allied aircraft like, Lockheed Hudson (not seen in the video), Hawker Hurricane, Martin B10 bomber and more.

A flight of Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia"is doing a low pass.

The Emperor's area. The Ki-21 can be seen in the background on the right.

The then-Prime Minister Tojo Hideki was naturally also there.

The still below illustrates what we described in the previous post regarding the chest parachute. In this case the paratrooper has untied it from his chest and has left it hanging underneath him as he descents.

Saturday 27 February 2021

IJAAF Paratroopers - "Palembang" - video

The video from the NHK collection, dated February 17, 1942, features IJAAF paratroopers during a training drop, even though the narator is talking about the attack against Palembang (Battle of Palembang). The reason for this is that no films survived the Palembang operation. The only reporter that was on board one of the transports had his equipment badly damaged. There is actually one very short clip shot during take off but that's all there is.

So, anyway, this is one of the very rare videos of IJAAF paratroopers.

Lining up before boarding the transports. Note the Kawasaki Ki-56 "Thalia" transport in the background on the left. The paratroopers have one Type 1 parachute on their backs and one, spare, on their chest. The spare parachute was carried only during training, never on combat missions. It was very awkwardly placed and when the paratroopers landed and they had to roll to dissipate the energy of the impact with the ground, the spare parachute often hit them in the face causing injuries. One solution to the problem was to release the spare parachute once the main one opened. But that way many parachutes were damaged when thrown from a high altitude. The other way, most often used, was to open the spare parachute from a fairly low altitude and release it before landing with the main one.
A line up of Nakajima Ki-34 "Thora" transports assigned to the paratroop unit. They carried 2-3 crew members and 7-8 paratroopers. They were used only during training, never in combat missions.

Boarding the "Thora". Note the badly weathered belly.

The tail marking of the Teishin Shudan on a "Thora".

A "Thora" in flight. The tail marking is not clearly visible due to the low quality of the video but most probably it was in red. Note the white stripe(s) on the fuselage. These were applied to assist with in-flight formation.

A paratrooper with a "Mona Lisa" smile. Is he having fun, is he scared, bored or is he showing determination for the camera?

Thursday 25 February 2021

IJNAF Paratroopers - Menado - video

An epic video from the NHK collection featuring the 1942 IJNAF paratroop attack against the Dutch held Menado (present-day Manado) in the Celebes Island (present-day Sulawesi Island).

For more info check the Wiki entry, here.

Monday 22 February 2021

Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonia" - 27 Sentai & Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" - 12 Sentai - video

Another video today from the NHK Collection, dated December 2, 1941, featuring Mitsubishi Ki-51 "Sonias" from the 27th Sentai and Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sallys" from the 12th Sentai.

According to the narrator, the "Kitajima butai" (12th Sentai, Col Kitajima Kumao was the unit commander) and the "Sakurai butai" (27 Sentai, Col Sakurai Hajime) attacked Fengchuan (present-day Fengkai County) and Nanxiong on November 28.

It's a rather obscure operation, I couldn't find anything about it in the unit histories. But Monograph #76 mentions:

"With the successful conclusion of the Chungyuan Operation, the Fifth Air Operation (also known as Operation No. 102) was launched at the beginning of August. During this operation the 1st Air Brigade attacked Chungking, Tzeliutsing as well as important areas in north China using Ani airfield while the 3rd Air Brigade attacked ships on the Yangtze River from Kingmen airfield and strategic areas in central China from bases at Hankou and Wuchang...
Although the results obtained during this operation were regarded as satisfactory, on 12 September it was necessary to halt the operation in order to prepare for the Pacific Area Operations."

While the 12 Sentai was under the 1st Air Brigade, the 27 Sentai is not mentioned under any of the two brigades.
The "Sonias" are getting ready for take-off. Note the blotches camouflage.
A 27 Sentai "Sonia", showing the tail marking of the 1st Chutai, indicated by the slanted white band on the tail.

In this "Sonia" the slanted line is not clearly visible suggesting that it's probably in red. An indication that this particular aircraft belonged to the 2nd Chutai.
The nose machine gunner of this "Sally" is climbing in his position.

A 12 Sentai Ki-21 Model II Koh "Sally" belonging to the 2nd Chutai. Note the complete absence of camouflage and no fuselage hinomaru. The aircraft is finished in overall hairyokushoku

Wednesday 17 February 2021

Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" - 16 Sentai - video

A short clip today from the NHK collection, dated May 25, 1944, featuring a bunch of Kawasaki Ki-48 "Lily" bombers of the 16 Sentai.

The commentator is talking about the bombing of the city of Luoyang, Henan Province and this, combined with the date of the video, lead us to conclude that this clip was taken during the massive Operation Ichi-Go.
There are not that many clips and photos of the biggest operation of the Japanese Army during the Sino-Japanese war and very few of "Lily" bombers. 

The 16 Sentai was equipped with 19 Ki-48s during the operation and according to Monograph #76:

"The 16th and 90th Bomber Units, using Anyang and Tungshan as their main bases of operation and Wuchang and Hankou as their staging bases, when the necessity arose carried out night bombings on enemy air bases. It was not possible to carry out daylight raids with the outmoded Type 99 light bombers with which these units were equipped. However, the highly trained pilots compensated to some degree for the inferiority of their planes and their night dive-bombing attacks achieved excellent results. These attacks were made on moonlight nights against enemy air bases which were thought to be the most threatening. Those bases most often attacked were Suichuan, Kanhsieng, Hengyang, Kweilin, Liuchowhsien, Chihkiang, Enshih, Liangshan and Laohokou. Although considerable damage was inflicted upon the enemy, continuous loss of planes and the tremendous build-up in enemy air strength, made it impossible to defeat them."