Monday 5 February 2024

IJAAF & IJNAF wrecked aircraft - Clark Field, Philippines Pt.6

A few years ago we posted the following video we located on Utube but since has been removed.
Here are some stills from the clip.
First up is the Ki-45 with the kanji "山" (yama) we saw in the previous post. Frustratingly the whole rudder is not visible, so here we can't see if it had a number or something else.
A different Ki-45 without a tail marking is in very good condition.
In the stills above we can see closeups of the "Nick" without a tail marking. No oblique cannons between the pilot and the rear machine gunner.
Note the 27 Sentai Ki-45 in the background. Tail marking without any number.

This very badly damaged all-brown "Nick" has a katakana "マ" (ma) on the tail.

Another destroyed Ki-45 offers a glimpse of its Mitsubishi MK2D Zuisei 21 Ha-102 engine.

The same "Nick" we saw in the background. Also very badly damaged. The tail marking is in yellow which would indicate a 3rd Chutai aircraft. 

The "yama" Ki-45 can be seen in the background and in the stills below. 
Note the two oblique cannons making it a Model Hei/Tei. Note alo the thin propeller warning stripe on the nose.

Radek sent over a quite interesting photo of the same aircraft seen in the clip.
In the foreground, we can see another 3rd Chutai "Nick", not visible in the clip. Next to it, there is the very badly damaged all-brown 3rd Chutai Ki-45 we saw above. Next is a "Nick" with a white 27 Sentai tail marking, 2nd Chutai, and probably a number. And finally, we can see the tail of the "yama" Ki-45. It does not seem to have a number applied on the rudder, it has only the "yama" kanji for marking.
Thank you Radek for your contribution.

I would like to leave a final comment for the 27/45 Sentai markings and the kanji and katakana on the tails. The katakana "ma" and "a" we saw on Ki-45s are numbers "30" and "36" in the iroha numbering system and as we can see in the photographic evidence when a unit tail marking is applied there is usually (but not always) a number to indicate the individual aircraft, not a katakana. So, either just katakana or unit marking +- a number.
As we saw in the 45th Sentai history, when there were very few operational aircraft available, the pilots flew whatever was available without any chutai considerations. We can easily imagine that during the Leyte Campaign for example, when replacement aircraft arrived and were thrown immediately in the battle, there was not enough time to paint unit markings on their tails. We also saw that during Leyte the two "Toryu" units, based in the same airfield, often flew missions together. And let's not forget that during the last weeks of their presence in the Philippines, the pilots of the 27 without any aircraft left, merged with the 45.
I would also like to add the testimony of one of the 45 Sentai ground crew members. When the unit was based in Clark Field and he asked a higher rank officer whether any replacement aircraft had arrived, he got the following answer: "Not yet but go around the airfield and grab whichever planes you can find". 
Therefore, my personal conclusion is that apart from the aircraft with a clear unit marking, all the others without markings or with katakana on their tails were replacement aircraft that were flown by both sentai. Even those with unit markings is not clear if they were flown by either sentai or even a mixed crew. The same can apply to the Ki-45s with the kanji on their tails. It can be said that they were aircraft assigned to a specific pilot but considering the whole situation it is highly unlikely there was time and will to assign specific aircraft to specific pilots. Perhaps at the later stages of the war in the Philippines, the aircraft were split according to chutai or ground crew leaders, and that would explain the multiple "dai" kanji aircraft. We should also consider that some aircraft were probably set aside for tokko suicide missions. All in all, the situation in the Philippines between December 1944 and January 1945, was so frustrating and confusing for the Japanese that it is really very difficult, 80 years later, to make sense of units, markings, pilots, and "their" aircraft. 

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