Thursday 30 November 2023

IJNAF Aircraft - Oppama Base, Yokosuka pt.1 - stills - Yokosuka D4Y "Suisei" (Judy)

Next up is the Yokosuka D4Y "Suisei" (Judy) of which eight appear in the clip.

This NARA photo is our first reference.
The "Suisei" numbered.

This NARA photo I found in Gakken #66, is our second reference.
One more "Suisei" is clearly visible.

This is "Suisei" number #1 in the first reference photo as seen in the clip. Note the yellow bands at the top of the fin and the white tail marking.
This particular D4Y2 Model12 was experimentally fitted with a turbosupercharger, therefore the unusual shape of its belly.
Port side view of the same "Judy". Note the fairly unusual square white surround on the fuselage hinomaru, and the more conventional one on the wings.
A closeup of the tail clearly showing the tail marking "ヨ-257" (Yo-257) and indicating that it originally belonged to the Yokosuka Kokutai. Note the clamps on the tail and the wings to secure the control surfaces. If only the data plate was readable...
An extremely rare view of the same turbosupercharger "Suisei" I spotted in the Japanese Wiki. Note the air intakes on both wing roots and of course the turbo on the belly. Last but least, note that, taking into account all the photos of the aircraft, the underside surfaces were in IJNAF hairyokushoku, not NMF. If anyone has a full and better version of this photo, please leave a message.
Artwork of "Suisei" number #1 by Watanabe Rikyu, featured in FAOW #69.

These are probably "Judys" number #2 and #3 in the reference photos, although it's very difficult to be 100% sure.

"Judy" number #2 in the first reference photo. I think it's a D4Y2 Model 21, leave a comment if you disagree. Unfortunately, the tail marking is not clear. What do you think is written on the wheel cover? I can make out a "UN" (!!!).

Another view of "Judy" number #2. This side looks a lot more weathered than the starboard. Again, the tail marking is not clear, I can only make out a "3". Note the white lines on the tail that don't reach the elevators. According to FAOW #69 p.43, these were used to calculate drift (not for the gunners). According to official regulations, from the rear seat, the lines that were drawn at 5 degrees from the aircraft centre line were 5mm thick. Those lines that were drawn at 10 degrees were 10mm thick. These lines were called in Japanese "偏流測定線" (henryu sokutei sen - drift calculation lines).

This is "Judy" number #3. Interestingly it has some windows on the rear part of the canopy covered.
This more complete view of "Judy" number #3 shows that it was a D4Y2-S night fighter.

This is "Suisei" number #4 in the two reference photos, as seen in the clip.
This very clear closeup from the first reference photo shows that it's a D4Y3 Model 33, with the tail marking "601-07" indicating that it belonged to the 601 Kokutai. Note the three thin lines on the windscreen side to help the pilot calculate the angles during bombing runs.

"Judy" number #5 in the second reference photo.
A closeup of "Judy" number #5 from the second reference photo. This one is a very interesting aircraft. To begin with, the tail marking "コ-DY-42" (Ko-DY-42) indicates that it belonged to the Kugisho, the Aviation Test Department of the IJNAF that was located next to Oppama airfield. The number "2" in the tail marking is an indication that this particular aircraft was the second prototype of the D4Y4 Model 43. Note that rear canopy windows are only painted over, not replaced with solid covers. Of particular interest is the different shape of the fin to help with stability.
Note again the clamps on all the control surfaces. This is what Wiki has to say about the model:

D4Y4 Suisei Model 43 (彗星四三型, Suisei 43-Gata)
Final production variant. Bomb load increased to 800 kg (1,760 lb) with the main bomb semi-recessed in the bomb bay. It had 75 mm bullet-proof glass in front of the canopy, plus 5mm and 9mm thick armour plates fore and aft of the cockpit. The fuel tanks were also given added protection, and the movable rear machine gun was removed. The addition of five RATO boosters was considered: three in the lower-bottom part of the fuselage and two on both sides below the engine. Generally, the D4Y4 is often recognized as being purpose-built for special attack operations.
Another NARA photo of "Judy" number #5.
In this NARA photo, from the NASM collection, we can see in the foreground the three RATO under the belly of "Judy" number #5. Note "Judy" number #4, "601-07", in the background.
Another NARA photo, from the NASM Collection, shows again the RATOG but also the bomb bay that could hold the 800kg bomb.
Artwork of "Suisei" number #5 by Katabuchi Sunao, featured in Gakken #66. According to the artist, the plane would have been originally finished in overall orange following the regulations regarding prototype aircraft, but then camouflaged with green paint which in the photo seems to be roughly applied. As a result, Katabuki-san kept the data plate in orange (nobody had time to repaint the space between the data on the plate). Following this logic, I would suggest the underside surfaces to still be in orange, not overpainted with Navy hairyokushoku.

I hope you like this panoramic view I created by stitching together stills from the clip. You can see where the various "Judys" were parked when the clip was shot. Note that there are at least three more "Judys", indicated by "?", not seen in any photos.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

IJNAF Aircraft - Oppama Base, Yokosuka pt.1 - Mitsubishi G4M "Betty"

 A NARA video, spotted in the "Showakan Digital Archive" by "Shu".

We will examine stills from the clip aircraft type by aircraft type, starting with the G4M "Bettys".
This will be our main reference photo, a classic from NARA.
The "Bettys" numbered for reference.

This is the first "Betty" that can be seen in the clip. It's a G4M3 Model 34 and it belonged to the Yokosuka Kokutai with tail marking (most probably) "ヨ-822" (Yo-822). Note that the tail marking is in black with two bands above it and the most unusual white lines on the tail but also, the closest to the tail fin on both sides, extending to the fuselage. I have never seen this on another aircraft.
This "Betty" is number #2 in the previous reference photo. Obviously, the aircraft had been moved around and changed positions. In the color film, what looks like a different kind of gray camouflage on the fuselage, is nothing else but weathering exposing the metal, as can be confirmed by the reference photo.
A closeup of "Betty" number #2 from the reference photo. Note again the white line extending from the tail to the fuselage.
The tail of "Betty" number #2 from a different photo (see following photo caption), revealing the last number of its tail marking.

The next "Betty" in the video is number #3 in the reference photo.
It does not seem to have any tail marking although a "ヨ" (Yo) is barely visible, indicating that perhaps the white tail markings were overpainted.
The same still with the strong brown/purple hue downplayed and the green brought forward.
Closeup of "Betty" number #3 from the reference photo.

In this cropped still, the "Betty" in the foreground is quite difficult to identify but it could be number #6 in the reference photo. In the background is number #5 and we can confirm that the tail marking was in yellow, not white.
Closeup of "Betty" number #6. It does not seem to have a tail number but a "Yo" is barely visible. Does the dorsal turret still have its 20mm cannon?
Closeup of "Betty" number #5. Of particular interest is the removal of the dorsal turret and the fairing. Tail marking is "3-破" an aircraft that belonged to the 706 Kokutai, Kogeki 704 Hikotai that was to take part in "Operation Tsurugi" (or "Operation Ken").

The next "Betty" is also quite difficult to identify but it could be number #1 as it's the only one with the brown fabric covering the canopy.
A closeup of "Betty" number #1 from the first reference photo.
"Betty" number #1 from a different reference photo (see following photo caption)
The weathering fuselage pattern leaves no doubt that this is another photo of "Betty" number #1 but note that the fabric covers have been positioned differently and the port propeller has not been removed. Note also in this and previous photo, the white line on the tail extending to the fuselage and the mysterious "A12" scratched or painted on the fuselage side. In this photo, part of the tail marking is visible, "Yo-82?", the last digit could be a "3". Two bands above the tail number. (photo from here)

Here's the second reference photo, from NARA, featuring more "Bettys" not seen in the first reference photo. 

Although slightly different, this "Betty" in the clip looks very similar to either Number #7 or #8 in the previous reference photo.
"Betty" number #7

"Betty" Number #8. Judging from the shape of the tail gun position, it seems to be a G4M2 Model 24. Maybe number #7 too?

A "Betty" not seen in the clip is number #4 in the first reference photo. The tail marking is quite clear, "ヨ-308" (Yo-308).
"Betty" number #4 from a different angle. Note the most unusual paint under the wing and the mysterious whatchamacallit under the machine gun position on the port fuselage side.

The "Bettys" in the clip and in the photos were not the only ones found at Oppama. Here's a G4M1 of the Yokosuka Kokutai (photo from here)

And last but not least, in this NARA photo, we can see two "Bettys" in the foreground. From their position relative to the "Suisei", they could be "Bettys" #5 and #6 in the first reference photo. But take a closer look at the tail marking of the "Betty" on the left. It has a white "ヨ" (yo) and a white band above it. No "Bettys" in any of the photos have white tail markings, except for the one in the previous photo, so perhaps this one is a completely different one added to the lineup at a later stage or removed at an earlier stage.