Saturday, 9 April 2022

Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" - 59 & 77 Sentai pt.4

Let's return to the 77 Sentai "Hayabusa". I re-discovered today a photo (Haya20) in the old "Military Aircraft" of the same aircraft seen in the colour photo.
First of all, it is indeed the same aircraft; the camouflage patterns match (Haya20b).

We can clearly see on the tail that it has the katakana ""(WA) painted behind the unit marking. There are two possibilities, either it follows the i-ro-ha system of numbering, here, so this would make it aircraft number 13 in the unit, not a very high number, or it's the first kana of the pilot's family name; the most common Japanese family name starting with "wa" is Watanabe.
Note also the second white band on the fuselage. Chutai commander? The unit's 1st Chutai commanders in New Guinea were Capt Eto Toyoki and Lt Nakao Shizusada. None of the two family names start with a "wa". Which leaves the possibility that it was the aircraft of a hentai commander. Less probable, but not impossible. Unfortunately we couldn't find any names of hentai commanders of the unit.

The above brings us back to the other 77 Sentai "Hayabusa", that flown by 2nd Chutai commander Capt Matsuo Yoshihide, with the cobalt blue markings. His tail should also have a katakana. In this case either a "" (MA) or some random i-ro-ha number. We definitely need to find photos of his aircraft without the kana having been removed.


WK said...

Thanks George. I like the unique detail of the a/c tail number and the painted gear doors.


Michael Thurow said...

George, Devlin's artwork possibly (with all careful reservation) shows the aircraft of the 77th Sentai Executive Officer Capt Yoshiro Kuwabara. My assumption is based on two observations: (1) Sometimes the individual aircraft was marked with the Katakana of the 2nd syllable of the pilot's name, e.g. when the first one was already occupied by another pilot, and (2) the presumably blue border of the white tail symbol may point at a HQ assignment.