Tuesday 30 January 2024

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft - Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" - 19 & 55 Sentai - References & Modelling

I was not able to find good and accurate illustrations of any of those 19 Sentai "Hien" at Clark Field we saw in the previous post. 
The only one who has released accurate decals in 1/48 or any other scale for those aircraft, is Rising Decals in their "Emperor's Eagles Pt. 1" set.
The set includes decals for the aircraft with the tail marking we identified as "88" with the yellow tail top.

Peter Scott in his "Emblems of the Rising Sun" (that should not be missing from the library of any Japanese aviation fan) includes an illustration of one of the "Hien" found at Clark Field. Unfortunately, he failed to note that ALL 19 Sentai aircraft had an individual number painted on the rudder (with only one exception as we'll see later). 
While he's correct in the caption that the wheel covers were discarded to save weight, in all the photos of the previous post, the propeller blades of all aircraft did have warning stripes.

We need to turn our attention to the "0" "Hien" we saw in the previous post that was photographed at Okinawa, not the Philippines (see more, here).
Note that in this illustration credited to none other than Giuseppe Picarella, the 19 Sentai tail marking, and the spinner are shown as yellow and the fuselage bands are white and yellow.
Personally, I don't agree with this interpretation. As you can see in the photo above, the spinner is clearly brown, not yellow, the tail marking is also clearly red, not yellow (if it was yellow it wouldn't need a white surround!) and the front fuselage band is probably just dirty not yellow. If you look more closely, you'll be able to notice the previously applied blotches (green probably) camouflage having been overpainted by a top brown (I think) coat. Or they could be just scratches from the way the US personnel handled the plane. Take your pick.

As you can see in the image below, for those who can read Japanese, FAOW#17 (1989) has inaccurately identified the location as Clark Field.
An illustration of a 19 Sentai "Hien" is also included but fails to mention/show the individual number on the rudder. 
In my eyes, the unit marking is way too thin and too intricately applied, making it highly unlikely to have been painted by the average ground crew member; more likely by a true artist. Also, I have not found any photos of 19 Sentai aircraft in overall NMF without camo.

Interestingly FAOW #17 also includes this b/w illustration and the caption mentions "Philippines, Angeles airfield".

It is an accurate depiction based on this photo from the Japanese version of the "Japanese Army Airforce Fighter Units and their Aces" by Hata & Izawa. 
The photo caption doesn't mention the location but it is definitely not the Philippines, though. More likely either Japan or Taiwan.

Model Art #733 or Profile #1 (2007) also inaccurately mentions Clark Field instead of Okinawa. 
The "0" "Hien" is depicted in top green camo but the previously applied 55 Sentai marking on the rudder is not visible making it look like an aircraft that always belonged to the 19 Sentai.

The special issue by "MARU" (2017) unfortunately agrees with the previous Japanese publications but also includes an illustration of a 19 Sentai "Hien" with yellow tail marking and a "53" on the tail. 
I have not seen any photos of such aircraft and the publication doesn't include one. The caption mentions again the Angeles Airfield in the Philippines, but a similar illustration (again without any accompanying photos) is featured in Model Art#451, explaining that "Hien" "53" was flown by 2nd Lt. Watanabe Kuniomi. Watanabe took off on April 22,1945, on a suicide mission from Yilan air base in Taiwan (not the Philippines) and attacked U.S. forces in Kadena Bay with a 100-kilogram bomb attached to his "Tony". He is credited as having hit a large ship near the Kerama Islands.

The only Japanese publication that has got it right, is Koku Fan Illustrated #42 (1988) which correctly mentions Okinawa. 
I wonder what happened since then and how Okinawa became Clark Field...

Let's see kits now.
The old Arii kit in 1/48, includes decals for one 19 Sentai "Tony" but no number. 
It could be useful if you want to depict the classic aircraft of the previous post with the tail number overpainted.

The Fine Molds kit FP24 in 1/72 includes decals for one 19 Sentai "Tony" but the unit marking is too thin and too elaborate, lacking a tail number. 
It mentions that it depicts an aircraft when the unit was based in Kameyama but I have not seen any photos to confirm it.

The Tamiya kit #60789 in 1/72 came out in 2018 and includes decals for the "Yontan Tony". 
As elsewhere, it is wrongly identified as based in the Philippines. I suppose this detail is not really important to the majority of modellers, unless they do a theme like "Okinawa Air War" or something like that. Interestingly the decal set includes the unit marking in red and yellow (Picarella influence?), the latter with the unnecessary white surround. Green is suggested for the top camo but in the color illustration featured on the side of the kit, the previously applied 55 Sentai marking is not visible leading to historically not entirely accurate models.

Before we leave the 19 Sentai "Tonys" at Clark Field and move to the next aircraft type, let's turn our attention to this 19 Sentai photo to note and add a couple things 55 Sentai related. Keep in mind that the location of this photo is currently unknown.

The "Hien" below have been positively identified as belonging to the 55 Sentai
Note the kanji on the tail, one of them having it in a circle.

If you take a closer look at the tail of the 19 Sentai "Tony" in the photo further above, you will notice what looks like a kanji within a circle behind the 19 Sentai tail marking. 
I think it's a suggestion that it was another plane that originally belonged to the 55th and was passed on to the 19th.
Also, although a 19 Sentai plane that, as we mentioned before, should always have a number on the rudder, this one doesn't have one. But note that the rudder is a replacement without the camo pattern of the rest of the aircraft.

This is a photo of one (or two) more 55 Sentai "Tonys". 
You can see the earlier 55 Sentai marking behind what is thought to be a later sentai marking on the tail of the plane in the foreground with the number "03". Note that the number is not only applied on the fuselage side, similarly to the aircraft in the background but it's also applied at the base of the rudder.

Going back to the "Yontan Hien", here's a detail everybody has missed. There is an overpainted/deleted number at the bottom of the rudder. Can you see it now that you know where to look?
So, if you want to build a really accurate "Yontan Hien", you'll need to show the previous 55 Sentai marking AND a number on the rudder bottom as having been overpainted, then apply the 19 Sentai markings.

Radek sent over three more photos of the numberless 19 Sentai "Hien" with the replacement rudder.
As you can see it has the number "98" on only the starboard wheel cover and in the top photo the location is mentioned as Manila. A very unusual aircraft.

Also, one more photo of he "0" "Yontan Hien".

Thanks a lot Radek.

The photo below from here, mentions that the location is "Ie Shima airfield Okinawa". Hmmmm...

Monday 29 January 2024

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft - Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" (Tony) - 19 Sentai

There is one more 19 Sentai "Hien" that some sources say was photographed in the Philippines, but things are a bit muddled on this one and we'll try to clear them up. 
Apart from the 19 Sentai marking, we can clearly see it has previous sentai markings on its tail, those of the 55th Sentai.

The older Aircram publication features two photos of the aircraft mentioning that they were taken in Okinawa.

But the later Schiffer publication and some Japanese publications, mention that the aircraft was photographed at Clark Field.

But I believe that the photo above, featured in both Aircam and Schiffer publications, shows that the location is highly unlikely to be Clark Field, the background clearly suggests Okinawa. Furthermore, as we saw in the unit history of the previous post, the 19th Sentai was joined by the 55th Sentai while in Taiwan, and together they took part in the battle of Okinawa, not the Philippines.

The aircraft was often photographed and the captions of the photos below mention that they were taken in Okinawa.

On our FB page, Mateusz Pytlik (thank you) contributed the photo below and commented:
"Thank you for clarifying the disputed Clark/Okinawa Tony. I can further confirm your conclusions with the following photo. The Corsair in the background appears to be 422 "Palpitatin' Pauli", belonging to VMF-441's captain Floyd C. Kirkpatrick. The unit fought only on Gilbert/Marshall Islands and Okinawa, where it landed (Yontan) on April 7. What's more, the US source on this one claims this Ki-61 is the very plane that later on became the Yontan Tony."

Just last week two "new" photos of the "Yontan Tony" came up on sale on ebay.

Sunday 28 January 2024

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft - Clark Field, Philippines Pt.1

A few years ago, we featured on this blog a series of posts introducing Japanese IJAAF & IJNAF aircraft found in the Philippines by Allied forces, based on video clips.
A couple of photos on sale on ebay inspired us to revisit the subject from a different perspective and discuss the Japanese aircraft found and gathered specifically by the TAIU teams, according to aircraft type. Some images and information will be repeated but new information will also be added.
Below are the two ebay photos.

Let's start with the Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" (Tony) seen in the top photo on the right.
In this panoramic photo showing part of the area where the TAIU teams set shop, we can detect three "Hien" fighters on the right side of the photo, circled in red, in front of the trees.

Here's a NARA photo showing these three "Tonys".

And a closer look from another NARA photo.

Closeup of the aircraft on the right of the previous photo. Note what looks like an "88" (some sources see an "83") painted on the rudder and the yellow tail top. (Photo: NARA)

An earlier photo of the same aircraft I spotted on the net. Note the various panels still attached to the cowling area, indicating that the aircraft was in much better condition when it was originally found.

All three Kawasaki Ki-61 "Hien" (Tony) fighters in the previous photos belonged to the 19th Sentai.
The unit was formed at the Akeno Hiko Gakko (Akeno Flying School) on February 10, 1944, equipped exclusively with "Hien" fighters. A month later relocated to Itami, Osaka where together with an IJNAF fighter unit was responsible for the air defense of the Hansin area (the area of Japan including Kobe & Osaka).
Together with the 17th Sentai the unit formed the 22nd Hikodan and from May 12, 1944, started advancing to the Philippines. One chutai at a time, a total of 38 "Hien", took off from Itami and gradually arrived at Nielson airfield in the suburbs of Manila by June 3 facing various technical problems on the way. On July 8, 22 planes including the unit commander Major Seto Rokuro advanced to Ambon island where they were engaged in fierce aerial battles, especially on July 19 and 27 with only a very small number of aircraft making it back to Manila at the end of July. Together with the rest of the unit, the remaining aircraft now moved to Anheles West airfield, in Luzon where they replenished their numbers by receiving new aircraft in the middle of September bringing the total number of planes to 23.
On September 21 there was a big enemy raid and although the unit claimed ten enemy aircraft shot down, they lost again many of their own. By the end of September, the unit was left with only eight aircraft.
In October the battle for Leyte began and by the 23rd the unit had only one aircraft in flyable condition. The next day during an enemy ground attack, Commander Seto was killed leaving the unit with no officer pilots. A week later, no more than a dozen unit members were still alive but returned to Clark Airfield in Luzon and from there to Komaki, Aichi Prefecture where the unit was reorganized with new pilots and aircraft.
On New Year's Eve, the 19th Sentai with 30 aircraft in its strength left Japan to arrive in Taiwan on January 2, 1945, their subsequent new base of operations. The unit was to advance to the Philippines but while several aircraft of chutai strength had managed to arrive in Clark airfield, the aircraft of the new commander of the unit, Captain Yoshida Masaaki, experienced technical problems, and the unit split in two. Those who remained in Taiwan were responsible for the air defense of Southern Taiwan until February 1945, while those who were in the Philippines advanced to Tuguegarao, Cagayan, Luzon where they perished forming a Special Attack unit.
While in Taiwan the unit was joined by elements of the 18th and 55th Sentai who had managed to escape from the Philippines. With only about a dozen aircraft, the 19th Sentai now joined the battle for Okinawa. Depending on their skill, the best pilots engaged in conventional bombing missions against enemy ships, while less skilled pilots made suicide attacks. The worsening situation left the unit on June 6 with only 11 "Hien" and 30 pilots, albeit only 10 skillful enough to engage the enemy in combat. In the end, the unit organized two Special Attack (suicide) units equipped with four aircraft each but fortunately, the war ended before their able to be deployed in combat.
The unit marking seen in the illustration by our good friend Devlin Chouinard, was a combination of the numbers 1 and 9.

The same three Ki-61s at Clark Field seen in two video stills.
In the still above, we can see the tail marking of some of them. The one on the right has a crudely applied number "80" next to a white unit marking. The next "Hien" has the number "16" (probably) next to a yellow unit marking.

The "Hien" seen in the recently discovered ebay photo, is the one seen in the previous still with the number "80" on the rudder.

Another photo of the same "Hien", also from ebay.

Apart from the above-mentioned three, at least three more "Hien" were at the TAIU site.

The "Tony" standing next to the Ki-45 "Toryu", a bit apart from the other two, can be seen in this photo from the NASM collection.

The same aircraft from a different angle. Note that the ailerons are missing their fabric. Also note the "Hayate" in the background (see following post about them) and of course the imposing Mount Arayat.

The same aircraft, but this time it has been moved around and we can see different aircraft types in the background.

One of the most iconic "Hien" photos from NARA. The same aircraft, seen in the previous three photos, from a different angle. Note again the ailerons sans fabric and the single drop tank on the port side.

I found this photo on Wikipedia. I believe it's the same aircraft at a later date in substantially worse condition.

Not a very good quality photo, but this one shows the other two "Hien" closer to the facilities in the panoramic photo.

One of the two "Hien" seen in the previous photo. Note that it has a solid green top camouflage.

Two more photos, this time of very heavily damaged 19 Sentai "Hien", also at the TAIU location but not seen in the panoramic photo. Various types in this one.

In this photo from the Aircam and Schiffer publications by R. M. Bueschel, we can see probably the same "Hien" seen in the previous photo behind the "Shiden-Kai" tail.