Front view of Plans of Mitsubishi Ki-57 'Topsy'

Front view of Plans of Mitsubishi Ki-57 'Topsy'


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Front view of Plans of Mitsubishi Ki-57 'Topsy'

This front view of the Mitsubishi Ki-57 'Topsy' shows the general layout of the wings, with their level straight section and slight dihedral on the outer panels.


Japanese Aircraft of WWII

The Kokusai Ku-7 Manazuru ("White-naped Crane" Allied code-name Buzzard) was a large experimental twin boom Japanese military glider. An enlarged version of the earlier Maeda Ku-1 glider, it was developed during 1942. The use of a twin boom design allowed for a large square cargo door, which meant that the aircraft was capable of carrying either 32 soldiers, 7600 kg of cargo or even a light tank. It required a powerful towing aircraft, either the Nakajima Ki-49 or the Mitsubishi Ki-67, which were in short supply. As a result the aircraft were modified by fitting them with engines, which were designated the Ki-105 Otori ("Phoenix"). Only nine (two?) were produced before development priorities were shifted elsewhere.

Variants
* Ku-7: Large experimental military transport glider.
* Ku-7-II: Original designation for the Ki-105.
* Ki-105 Otori: Long-range fuel tanker aircraft. Powered version. Nine built.

Specifications (Ku-7)
General characteristics
* Crew: two
* Capacity: 32 passengers or 8000kg of supplies or a 8-ton light tank.
* Length: 19.92 m (65 ft 4¼ in)
* Wingspan: 35.0 m (114 ft 10 in)
* Height: ()
* Wing area: 100.37 m² (1080 ft²)
* Empty weight: 3,536 kg (7,800 lb)
* Loaded weight: 12,000 kg (26,455 lb)
* Useful load: 7,664 kg (16,900 lb)
* Max takeoff weight: 11,000 kg (24,250 lb)
Performance
* Never exceed speed: 355 km/h (192 kn, 220 mph)
* Cruise speed: 220 km/h (108 kn, 125 mph)


Contents

In 1936, Imperial Japanese Army Air Service issued a requirement for a new heavy bomber to replace both the Ki-20 (Army Type 92 Heavy Bomber) and the Ki-1 (Army Type 93 Heavy Bomber). [1] The design called for a crew of at least four, top speed of 400 km/h (250 mph), endurance of at least five hours, and a bombload of 750 kg (1,650 lb). The design parameters were very ambitious, and few twin-engine bombers anywhere in the world could exceed such performance at that time. [2]

Both Mitsubishi and Nakajima were asked to build two prototypes each, a further proposal from Kawasaki being rejected. The Mitsubishi design was an all-metal mid-wing cantilever monoplane with retractable landing gear, ventral bomb bay and two radial engines. [3] The first prototype flew on 18 December 1936, with the second prototype, which differed in replacing the dorsal turret of the first prototype with a long greenhouse canopy, following later in the month. [4] In the resulting competition Mitsubishi's Ki-21 and Nakajima's Ki-19 were found to be similar, with the Ki-21 having better performance while the Nakajima design was a better bombing platform and had more reliable engines. In order to make a final decision, two further prototype were ordered from both Mitsubishi and Nakajima, with Mitsubishi instructed to change its own 615 kW (825 hp) Mitsubishi Ha-6 radial engines for the Nakajima Ha-5 engines used by the Nakajima design and vice versa, while the Ki-21 gained a revised glazed nose similar to that of the Ki-19 and revised tail surfaces. Thus modified, the Ki-21 proved superior, and was ordered into production as the "Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber Model 1A", being ordered into production in November 1937. [5]

Production aircraft began to enter service in August 1938, supplementing and then replacing the Fiat BR.20 bombers which had been purchased as an interim measure. [6]

Several improved versions followed (see below) before the production of the type ended in September 1944. A total of 2,064 aircraft were built, 1,713 by Mitsubishi and 351 by Nakajima. [7]

The Ki-21-Ia was used in combat in the war with China by the 60th Sentai from autumn 1938, carrying out long-range unescorted bombing missions in conjunction with the BR.20 equipped 12th and 98th Sentais. The Ki-21 proved to be more successful than the BR.20, having a longer range and being more robust and reliable. Two more Sentais, the 58th and 61st deployed to Manchuria in the summer of 1939 for operations against China, with aircraft from the 61st also being heavily used against Russian and Mongolian Forces during the Nomonhan Incident in June–July 1939. [6]

Losses were high during early combat operations, with weaknesses including a lack of armament and self-sealing fuel tanks, while the aircraft's oxygen system also proved unreliable. The Ki-21-Ib was an improved version designed to address the armament issue by increasing the number of 7.7 mm (.303 in) Type 89 machine guns to five, and incorporating improvements to the horizontal tail surfaces and trailing edge flaps. In addition, the bomb bay was enlarged. The tail gun was a 'stinger' installation, and was remotely controlled. Also, the fuel tanks were partially protected with laminated rubber sheets. [8] [9]

This was followed in production by the Ki-21-Ic with provision for a 500 L (130 US gal) auxiliary fuel tank, fitted in the rear weapons-bay and one more 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine gun, bringing the total to six. Four 50 kg (110 lb) bombs were carried externally. To offset the increase in weight the main wheels of the Ki-21-IC were increased in size. [10] [9]

However, by the attack on Pearl Harbor and the start of the Pacific War, improvements in the ROC Air Force caused losses to mount, and most Ki-21-1a, -1b and -1c were relegated to training or second-line duties.

Front line units from mid-1940 were equipped with the Ki-21-IIa ("Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber Model 2A") with the more powerful 1,118 kW (1,500 hp) Mitsubishi Ha-101 air-cooled engines and larger horizontal tail surfaces. This became the main version operated by most IJAAF heavy bomber squadrons at the beginning of the Pacific War, and played a major role in many early campaigns. For operations over the Philippines the JAAF's 5th, 14th and 62nd Air Groups, based in Taiwan, attacked American targets at Aparri, Tuguegarao, Vigan and other targets in Luzon on 8 December 1941. The 3rd, 12th, 60th and 98th Air Groups, based in French Indochina, struck British and Australian targets in Thailand and Malaya, bombing Alor Star, Sungai Petani and Butterworth under escort by Nakajima Ki-27 and Ki-43 fighters. However, starting from operations over Burma in December 1941 and early 1942, the Ki-21 began to suffer heavy casualties from Curtiss P-40s and Hawker Hurricanes.

To partially compensate, the IJAAF introduced the Ki-21-IIb, with a pedal-operated upper turret with one 12.7 mm (0.50 in) Type 1 machine gun, redesigned cockpit canopies and increased fuel capacity. Although used in all fronts in the Pacific theater, it became clear by 1942 that the design was rapidly becoming obsolete, and was increasingly shifted away from front-line service.

In spite of its shortcomings, the Ki-21 remained in service until the end of the war, being utilized as transport (along with the civil transport version MC-21), bomber crew and paratrooper trainer, for liaison and communications, special commando and secret missions, and kamikaze operations.

Nine Ki-21-Ia/b's were sold by Japan to Thailand in 1940 for use by the Royal Thai Air Force against Vichy French forces in French Indochina but did not participate in the French-Thai War as its crews had not completed training. [11]

Towards the end of the war, remaining Ki-21s were used by Giretsu Special Forces in strikes against American forces in Okinawa and the Ryūkyū Islands. One of the noted operations was an attack on the Allied-held Yontan airfield and Kadena airfield on the night of 24 May 1945. Twelve Ki-21-IIb's of the Daisan Dokuritsu Hikōtai were dispatched for a strike, each with 14 commandos. Five managed to crash-land on the Yontan airfield. Only one plane landed successfully. The surviving raiders, armed with submachine guns and explosives, then wrought havoc on the supplies and nearby aircraft, destroyed 264,979 L (70,000 gal) of fuel and nine aircraft, and damaged 26 more. [12]

A number of Ki-21-Ia were modified to serve as military transports for use by Greater Japan Airways, which was under contract by the Japanese Army in China for transportation. Designated "MC-21", these aircraft had all armament and military equipment removed. Used primarily as cargo transports, each could also seat nine paratroopers. Aircraft built from the start as transports were given the separate designation of Mitsubishi Ki-57, with equivalent civil aircraft being designated MC-20.

Code Names Edit

The Ki-21 had more than one Allied codename. Initially called "Jane", the name was quickly changed to "Sally" when General Douglas MacArthur objected that the name was the same as that of his wife. When the Ki-21-IIb entered service, the absence of the long dorsal "greenhouse" led Allied observers to mistake it for a completely new type, which was designated "Gwen". However, when it was realized that "Gwen" was a new version of the Ki-21, it was renamed "Sally 3", with "Sally 1" referring to the earlier Ha-5 powered models, and "Sally 2" referring to the Ha-101 powered Ki-21-IIa. [13]

Postwar Edit

Data from The Concise Guide to Axis Aircraft of World War II [14]


Contents

In 1934, the Imperial Japanese Navy issued a specification to Mitsubishi, Aichi and Kawanishi for a replacement for its Nakajima E8N floatplanes, which were used for short-ranged reconnaissance and observation missions from the Navy's warships. [1] Mitsubishi's design, the Ka-17, given the short system designation F1M1 by the Japanese Navy, was a small all-metal biplane powered by a single Nakajima Hikari 1 radial engine rated at 610 kilowatts (820 hp), the same engine as used by Aichi's competing F1A. It had elliptical wings and great care had been taken to reduce drag, with the number of interplane struts and bracing wires minimised. The first of four F1M1s flew in June 1936. [2] [3]

While the F1M1 had better performance than the Aichi aircraft, it had poor stability both on the water and in the air, so the aircraft was redesigned to resolve these problems. The wings were redesigned, with straight tapered leading and training edges and rigged with greater dihedral, and the vertical fin and rudder were enlarged. The aircraft's floats were enlarged to increase buoyancy, and the Hikari engine was replaced by a 652 kilowatts (875 hp) Mitsubishi Zuisei 14-cylinder radial, giving better forward visibility. As modified, the aircraft's handling characteristics were greatly improved, and the modified aircraft was ordered into production as the Navy Type 0 observation seaplane Model 11 (rei-shiki kansokuki ichi-ichi-gata, Reikan in short), with the short designation F1M2. [4] [5] 940 series aircraft were built in total (342 by Mitsubishi and 598 by Sasebo Arsenal and 21st Arsenal) in addition to 4 prototypes (older publications present higher production figures, i.e., 1,016 or 1,118). [notes 1]

The F1M2 had a maximum speed of 368 km/h (230 mph) and operating range of up to 1,072 km (670 mi) without external stores. It provided the Imperial Japanese Navy with a very versatile operations platform.

The F1M was armed with a maximum of three 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine guns (two fixed forward-firing and one flexible rear-firing) with provision for two 60 kg (132 lb) bombs.

The F1M was originally built as a catapult-launched reconnaissance float plane, specializing in gunnery spotting. The "Pete" took on a number of local roles including convoy escort, bomber, anti-submarine, maritime patrol, rescue, transport, and anti-shipping strike for example sinking Motor Torpedo Boat PT-34 on 9 April 1942. The type was also used as an area-defense fighter and engaged in aerial combat in the Aleutians, the Solomons and several other theaters. In the New Guinea front, it was often used in aerial combat with the Allied bombers and Allied fighters.

In 1945, at the war's end, Indonesians had took some F1M2s to fight against the Dutch during the Indonesian National Revolution.


By the time the attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II, Japan had been preparing for an all-out offensive in the Pacific for months.

Japan relied on imports of raw materials and natural resources to survive. Rubber, tin, iron, and especially oil had to be imported for Japanese industry to function. The same raw materials were also essential for the Japanese war machine.

In 1894-1895, Japan defeated China in a short war and gained control of the island of Formosa, part of Korea, and a bit of Manchuria. Along with these territories came all their natural resources. In 1905, after Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, the Empire of the Sun took control of all of Korea and part of Manchuria that had earlier been gobbled up by the Russians.

On September 19, 1931, in the midst of a worldwide depression, Japan staged an incident at a railway station on the Korean border of Manchuria, which it used as an excuse to invade the mineral-rich Chinese province. When the League of Nations condemned the act, Japan resigned from the League. In 1936, to expand her navy, Japan renounced the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, which had limited the size of the Japanese Navy. In July 1937, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China on the pretext that Chinese soldiers had fired on Japanese troops in Manchuria. Although Japan could not conquer all of China, by 1939 it had captured almost all of the important port cities and had firm control of the raw material that went into or out of the Asian giant.

In June 1940, after Japan moved into French Indochina while France was under Nazi occupation, the U.S. Congress passed the Export Control Act, which prohibited the export of “strategic minerals and chemicals, aircraft engines, parts, and equipment” to Japan. Conspicuously absent from this list was crude oil.

The already strained relations between the United States and Japan worsened in September 1940 when the Japanese signed the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Hitler, who was already planning to start a war in Europe, was hoping that the Tripartite Pact would encourage Japan to invade the British holdings in the Far East to pin down forces already there.

At the same time, the Japanese hoped that the pact would provide security as they formulated plans to invade and capture the rich oilfields of the Netherlands East Indies. In response to the Tripartite Pact, the United States embargoed even more material—brass, copper, and iron. Still, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped short of barring Japanese purchases of oil.

By the spring of 1941, Japan signed a five-year nonaggression pact with Russia, assuring that her backdoor was closed and safe. Next, Japan moved more troops into French Indochina and began eyeing the Netherlands East Indies. In response to the troop movements, Roosevelt froze all Japanese assets in the United States and after much consideration finally placed an embargo on crude oil.

On the heels of the American embargo, the Dutch proclaimed that the Netherlands East Indies would also stop selling oil to Japan. To conquer the Netherlands East Indies and capture its vital oilfields, Japan first had to eliminate the British stronghold of Singapore, crush the American forces in the Philippines, and cripple the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Within 24 hours on December 7, 1941, Japan launched attacks against Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Northern Malaya, Thailand, Guam, Wake Island, and Midway Atoll and began planning to capture the island of Sumatra, east of Java, along with the oil refineries and a key airfield in the vicinity.

In December 1940, the Japanese Army began experimenting with airborne forces. Training of the first volunteers took place at Ichigaya near Tokyo. Requirements for the unit were rigid. Most of the volunteers were between the ages of 20 and 25, and officers could be no older than 28. All had to go through a rigid medical examination. Additional psychological and physical tests were administered and, acting on the belief that paratroopers had to have cat-like abilities to land safely, volunteers were given intense physical fitness training similar to that of a gymnast.

After about 250 volunteers were selected, training moved to a Tokyo amusement park that had a special ride featuring a 165-foot parachute drop. Historians Gordan Rottman and Akira Takizawa wrote, “Thrill seekers were attached to a canopy that was hoisted by cable before being released to float to the ground. Because the existence of the paratroop unit was secret, trainees were directed to visit the park disguised as university students, to experience a couple of simulated descents.” Additional training consisted of somersaults and tumbling, leaping from various heights to learn landing techniques and, finally, actual jumps from moving planes.

Once the original group of volunteers was sufficiently trained, it was broken into cadres to absorb new trainees. By January 1942, the Army had enough paratroopers trained to form the 1st Raiding Brigade under Colonel Seiichi Kume consisting of the 1st Raiding Brigade Headquarters, the 1st Raiding Regiment (Major Takeo Takeda), and the 2nd Raiding Regiment (Major Takeo Komura). Additionally, the 1st Raiding Flying Regiment (Major Akihito Niihara), an air transport group, was attached to the brigade so that the paratroopers would have their own autonomous airplane group. Each regiment consisted of only about 700 men, rather than the 3,800 of a standard infantry regiment. Each regiment included a regimental headquarters group, three rifle companies, and an engineer company.

Preparations for the Army parachute drop on Sumatra had actually been completed by late December 1941, but an accidental fire aboard the cargo ship Meiko Maru on January 3, 1942, which was transporting the 1st Raiding Regiment to an airfield on the Malay Peninsula, caused the paratroopers to abandon ship without their parachutes, equipment, and weapons. Exhausted and battered from their harrowing ordeal and stranded on Hainan Island off the northern coast of French Indochina, the paratroopers were in no shape to stage a combat parachute drop.

When word of the disaster reached the Imperial Army General Staff, they turned to Major Komura and his 2nd Raiding Regiment. Although the unit was still being organized, approximately 450 paratroopers drew weapons, equipment, and parachutes. On January 15, the understrength 2nd Raiding Regiment left Kyushu, arriving at Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on February 2.

A Japanese machine-gun crew fires at Chinese positions during action on the Asian continent. Japanese expansion in the 1930s began with aggression against China.

The 2nd Raiding Regiment was broken into the 1st and 2nd Attack Groups for the air assaults on the Palembang airfield and oil refineries. The 1st Attack Group, consisting of about 350 officers and men, would be transported to the area in the 1st Raiding Flying Regiment’s Tachikawa Type LO “Thelma” and Mitsubishi Ki-57 Type 100 Model 1 “Topsy” aircraft, with a scheduled drop on February 14. One day later, the 2nd Attack Group, containing only 90 officers and men, would be dropped by the 12th Transport Chutai. Inexplicably, the small cargo containers carrying the rifles, machine guns, ammunition, and other supplies would be dropped by the 98th Sentai from 27 twin-engine Mitsubishi Type 97 “Sally” medium bombers. This plan worried the paratroopers. “If the [containers] were misdropped or delayed,” wrote historians Rottman and Takizawa, “the paratroopers on the ground would be forced to fight a well-armed enemy with only pistols and grenades.”

Both flights were to be escorted by Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscar” fighter planes from the 59th and 64th Sentai. Additionally, the initial drop would be preceded by nine Kawasaki Ki-48 Type 99 “Lily” light bombers from the 90th Sentai dropping antipersonnel bombs across the Dutch airfield.

By February 13, the entire attack force had moved from Cambodia to the west side of the Malay Peninsula, with the 1st Attack Group assembling at the recently captured Allied airfields at Keluang and Kahang and the 2nd Attack Group moving to Sungai Petani. Toasting each other with saké, the officers and men prepared for their early morning drop at Palembang, the capital of Sumatra.

Palembang, with a population of more than 108,000, was situated on the Moesi River about 50 miles inland from the Banka Strait. It was said that its oilfields were the best in Southeast Asia. Two oil refineries had been constructed about four miles east of the town on the south side of the Moesi River. A tributary of the Moesi, the Komering River, divided the two refineries. On the east bank and farthest away from Palembang was the Nederlandsche Koloniale Petroleum Maatschappij (NKPM), a refinery for the Standard Oil Company. On the west bank was the Bataafsce Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM), owned by Shell Oil. The latter refinery was built as two separate installations, one opposite the NKPM refinery on the west side of the Komering River and the other a short distance away on the south bank of the Moesi River.

Even though the Dutch could predict that the Japanese would want the two refineries intact, they did not intend to destroy the facilities prematurely. In addition to a well-known civilian airfield called Pangkalanbenteng (P1), eight miles north of Palembang, there was a recently constructed military airfield, Praboemoelih (P2), 40 miles to the south. P1 had been used by civilian aircraft for years and had a hard concrete runway, barracks buildings, and control tower. Unfortunately for the Dutch, P1 was well known to the Japanese. However, the newly established P2 had a cleverly concealed dirt runway with room beneath the surrounding jungle canopy to hide Allied airplanes. Because of its well-hidden location, P2 was unknown to the Japanese.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) had chosen Palembang as its headquarters on Sumatra. By the middle of January as the Japanese pushed closer, the RAF based a half dozen fighter and bomber squadrons at P1 and P2. Using the high-octane aviation fuel produced at the two refineries, the British pilots flew dozens of sorties against the rapidly advancing Japanese in the region.

The entire area around Palembang was under the command of Lt. Col. L.N.W. Vogelesang of the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) Territorial Command Dutch Sumatra. P1 was garrisoned by the South Sumatra Garrison Battalion, about 110 men, and two old armored cars. Since Japanese aircraft were shooting up more planes on the ground than personnel, there were more airmen than aircraft at P1. Subsequently, three officers and 72 grounded airmen of the RAF and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) were formed into a makeshift ground defense unit. Unfortunately, these men lacked the proper weapons and adequate training as riflemen.

In the town of Palembang, Colonel Vogelesang had one Stadswacht/Landstorm (home guard/reserve) infantry company and eight stationary 75mm field guns. A machine-gun company of KNIL regulars was stationed at the oil refineries. Vogelesang lacked any antiaircraft guns to protect the airfields and refineries until two batteries of the 6th Heavy AA Regiment, Royal Artillery, and one battery of the 35th Light AA Regiment, Royal Artillery, with 16 heavy 3.7-inch AA guns and 16 40mm Bofors AA guns respectively arrived from Singapore on February 2. One troop of the heavy antiaircraft battery, about 150 men, with six 3.7-inch and six Bofors guns, was sent to P1. A battery from the 6th Regiment and the light antiaircraft battery were sent to P2 with six 3.7-inch and six Bofors guns. One last troop, with the remaining four 3.7-inch and four Bofors guns, was sent to protect the refineries. Unfortunately, the ship carrying most of the ammunition for the antiaircraft guns was sunk, limiting the ability of the two regiments to engage the enemy.

To help defend the Palembang riverfront and the refinery docks, Colonel Vogelesang had one Royal Netherlands Navy minelayer, the HNLMS Pro Patria, and two patrol boats, the P-38 and P-40. All three vessels constantly patrolled the Moesi River with orders to contest any attempt by the Japanese to move up the river to Palembang. With everything in preparation, all the Dutch, British, and native defenders could do was sit and wait.

Dutch pilots on Sumatra prepare for flight operations against the Japanese in early 1942. Most aerial opposition was eliminated early in their campaign to capture the island.

The overall Japanese plan was for the 2nd Raiding Regiment to capture the only known airfield, P1, and the two refineries. The Japanese wanted to seize the refineries intact and prevent the destruction of the facilities. Accordingly, the 2nd Raiding Regiment Headquarters group (17 men under Major Komura), Signal Unit (30 men led by Lieutenant Komaki), 4th Rifle Company (97 men under Lieutenant Mitsuya), and the 3rd Platoon, 2nd Rifle Company (36 men commanded by Lieutenant Mizuno), a total of 180 men, would land three-quarters of a mile southeast of the airfield. Another group, the 1st and 2nd Platoons, 2nd Rifle Company (60 men with Lieutenant Nobutaka Hirose in charge) would land one-eighth of a mile west of P1. Once on the ground, the two units (240 men) would move forward, envelop, and seize the airfield.

At the same time, the 1st and 2nd Platoons from the 1st Rifle Company (60 men led by Lieutenant Kikuo Nakao) were to be dropped one-third of a mile west of the Shell Oil BPM facilities on the west side of the Komering River. Simultaneously, the 3rd Platoon, 1st Rifle Company (39 men under Lieutenant Hasebe) would land almost a half mile south of the Standard Oil NKPM facility on the east side of the Komering. After the entire 1st Attack Group was on the ground, Colonel Kume and some of his staff would crash-land a transport between the airfield and Palembang. Inside would be a 37mm antitank gun. Once everyone was on the ground, the paratroopers were to dash forward, seize the airfield and both oil facilities, and hang on until relieved by reinforcing units landing by sea and advancing up the Moesi River.

Reinforcements for the understrength parachute regiment would come with an amphibious landing by the 229th Infantry Regiment and one battalion from the 230th Infantry Regiment, both from the 38th Infantry Division. As planned, the infantrymen would land at the mouth of the Moesi River on barges and charge upriver to Palembang. Until they arrived, which was expected to take two days, the paratroopers’ only immediate reinforcements would come from the 2nd Attack Force —90 men under Lieutenant Ryo Morisawa from the 3rd Company. These few men were scheduled to be parachuted onto P1 on the second day. Even then, the 2nd Raiding Regiment would be hard pressed to hold its assigned objectives until the infantry arrived.

On February 10, a British reconnaissance plane spotted the invasion convoy north of Banka Island and guessed correctly that it was headed toward Palembang. Throughout the next few days and nights, the British repeatedly attacked the Japanese ships, and by February 14, the Dutch, British, and native Sumatrans around Palembang were well aware of the intention of the Japanese. At first light, 15 Hawker Hurricane fighters, the only serviceable planes at P1, took off to escort a couple of flights of RAF bombers from P2 for attacks against the fast-approaching Japanese convoy.

The transports containing the 2nd Raiding Regiment paratroopers began taking off from the Malay airfields around 8:30 am. In all, 150 planes were on their way for the air assault on Sumatra.

While the flight was still 100 miles from Palembang, the Japanese were spotted by an Allied observation post, and word was immediately relayed to P1. Air Commander S.F. Vincent, in charge of one of the RAF squadrons at P1, immediately “arranged for the airfield defense officer to be warned to expect a paratroop assault, ordering that rifles and ammunition be issued forthwith.”

Unfortunately for the RAF personnel, there were not enough rifles to pass around. Only about 60 airmen actually received weapons and positioned themselves to help the 200 KNIL regulars defend the airfield.

At 11:20 am, almost three hours after takeoff, the Japanese planes had reached the mouth of the Moesi River. Following the river and flying almost due south, the planes flew quietly past some outbound British bombers, never veering from their intended destinations. As the Japanese planes drew closer to both objectives, the British antiaircraft batteries at both the airfield and the oil refineries opened fire. A shell exploded in the breach of one of the Bofors antiaircraft guns, killing one man outright and wounding several others.

After the 90th Sentai bombers carpeted the airfield and barracks buildings, the Japanese fighters began strafing the area. While the fighters and bombers were engaged directly over the airfield, 18 transports flew in at about 600 feet at 11:26 am and began dropping Major Komura’s 180 paratroopers southeast of the airfield. At almost the same time, six more transports began dropping the 60 men from the 1st and 2nd Platoons of the 2nd Rifle Company west of the airfield.

A flight of 15 Hurricanes and a handful of Lockheed Hudson bombers that had just attacked the Japanese invasion convoy in the north suddenly arrived over the airfield. Coming in at high altitude through dense clouds, the British pilots spotted the enemy below them. While the bombers continued toward P2, the fighters, although low on fuel, immediately dove to the attack.

In preparation for their airborne assault on Palembang and the island of Sumatra, Japanese airborne troops of the 2nd Raiding Regiment don their parachutes. The airdrop on Sumatra was one of only a few such Japanese operations mounted during the Pacific War.

Coming out of the clouds, Pilot Officer Bill Lockwood and his wingman aimed for the leading Sally. Swooping in fast, Lockwood shot up the bomber, which was carrying some of the cargo containers. Pulling up sharply, Lockwood and his wingman leveled out and ran smack into a torrential rainstorm. By the time they got out of it, they were well past the airfield and had to follow the Moesi River back to Palembang. Nearing P1 a second time, Lockwood spotted a number of “white objects” on the ground and reasoned that Japanese paratroopers were in the midst of an attack. When he saw a red Very flare fired from P1 warning him not to land, Lockwood and his wingman flew on to P2.

The group of paratroopers landing southeast of the airfield was dropped about two miles away from P1 into an area covered with small trees. Supplies were scattered, and with some men armed only with the pistol and hand grenades they carried during the drop, the disorganized paratroopers began moving in small isolated groups toward the airfield.

One planeload of paratroopers, members of the 4th Rifle Company led by Lieutenant Minoru Okumoto, was supposed to land at the southeast drop zone but had a jammed door and did not get out of their plane in time. Instead, the paratroopers came down more than four miles south of the drop zone, near the main road that led from Palembang to the airfield. Moving quickly, Okumoto gathered four other men, all that he could find, and armed only with pistols and grenades began making his way north along the road to P1. During their movement, they cut the telephone lines between the airfield and town.

Meanwhile, west of the airfield the 60 men of the 1st and 2nd Platoons, 2nd Rifle Company under Lieutenant Hirose came down in dense, six-foot high reeds, although aerial photographs had indicated the area to be flat and covered with low grasses. Unable to find their cargo containers, small groups of paratroopers began making their way east toward the airfield, again armed only with pistols and hand grenades. Although Lieutenant Hirose could locate only two other men, he pushed on toward P1.

When the Japanese planes finally flew away, the Dutch and British defenders dug in, refusing to yield even an inch to the attacking Japanese. Ground and air crew personnel that had not gotten rifles removed Browning machine guns from unserviceable planes and set them up on mounds of earth. At the same time, the 3.7-inch and Bofors antiaircraft crews leveled their weapons and began to fire horizontally over open sights.

For the next hour or so, the defenders fought the first few Japanese that managed to reach the airfield. Widely scattered by the drop, many of the paratroopers arrived in ones or twos or in small groups. Some, after apparently retrieving their rifles from the scattered cargo containers, climbed into trees on the south side of the airfield and began sniping at the antiaircraft gun crews.

After the snipers had been dispersed, things became eerily quiet at the airfield. Most of the paratroopers had landed a few miles away from the field and were having a hard time gathering their things, coming together, and making their way toward P1. Taking advantage of the calm before the expected storm and realizing that the jig was up, a group of Dutch officers, who had been unable to reach headquarters at Palembang because of the cut telephone wires, decided to throw in the towel and began pulling the 200 widely spaced defenders out of P1.

While some of the men prepared to set fire to a stack of 44-gallon drums of aviation fuel and others were making preparations to destroy the unserviceable planes, the British artillerymen began the removal of their antiaircraft guns. Unfortunately, only one prime mover vehicle was available so only two guns could be moved. After sabotaging the other guns, most of the crews started down the road to Palembang while two crews began the process of moving the remaining two 3.7-inch antiaircraft guns.

Although a few carloads of retiring officers and men managed to escape from P1 via the main road leading south to Palembang, it was not long before the other vehicles were being fired upon by Lieutenant Okumoto and his small group of men who had been dropped far south of the airfield because of the jammed door. With his numbers now up to about 20 men, Okumoto laid in ambush around a curve in the road about four miles south of the airfield and waited. In no time a six-wheel truck came along and was immediately attacked with hand grenades and pistol fire, which succeeded in overturning the vehicle and creating a roadblock.

The next vehicle to come down the road was driven by Johnny Johnson, RAF. As he drove around the corner and spotted the overturned truck, he was attacked by Okumoto’s men. Although Johnson managed to get out of his vehicle and return fire with a revolver from a roadside ditch—reportedly hitting at least two paratroopers—he eventually ran out of ammunition and had to surrender. The Japanese commander then relieved Johnson of his revolver and shot him in the thigh, presumably to prevent his escape. Then, when it looked as though the other paratroopers were going to kill him, another vehicle was heard approaching from the direction of P1.

After scattering into the roadside ditches, the Japanese, with Johnson in tow, opened fire when the vehicle came into view. Full of RAF personnel, the car was hit by pistol fire and rocked by hand grenades, and it too flipped over, adding to the impromptu roadblock. A few of the RAF men were killed, but at least four were injured and captured. All four were quickly shot and killed by the Japanese paratroopers.

By the time the next few vehicles reached the roadblock, the evacuation from P1 was well underway. Although one vehicle managed to get safely through the growing roadblock, the others, including a fuel truck, did not. Hit with hand grenades, the fuel truck skidded out of control and flipped onto its side. Although the truck did not explode, one man was trapped underneath and the large vehicle added another obstacle in the middle of the road. Men from the other vehicles leaped out of the trucks and sought shelter in the jungle or in the ditches alongside the road. Those few evacuees with guns began firing back at the Japanese.

Meanwhile, the Dutch soldiers in Palembang were trying to organize reinforcements for P1. After gathering three truckloads of Dutch troops and an RAF van filled with food, Air Commander S.F. Vincent and his driver jumped into their own vehicle and led the convoy north toward P1. After going about nine miles they came around the bend in the road and ran smack into the enemy roadblock. Immediately, they came under fire. Although the van with the food supplies ended up in a ditch, the other trucks hurriedly turned around and fled back to Palembang without firing a shot. Wrote Commander Vincent, “I was disgusted and ashamed.”

Near noon, another attempt was made to reinforce the airfield when two armored cars and four troop trucks carrying about 150 Dutch soldiers approached the impromptu roadblock from Palembang. By this time, more Japanese paratroopers had come out of the jungle to reinforce Lieutenant Okumoto. When the Dutch convoy drew near the overturned fuel truck, the Japanese attacked with a fusillade of grenades, pistol fire, and fire from captured rifles. Taken completely by surprise, most of the KNIL soldiers abandoned their vehicles and fled back toward town, except for one of the armored car crews and one truckload of soldiers. In the ensuing firefight, two Japanese paratroopers were killed and Lieutenant Okumoto was wounded. Still, the Japanese somehow managed to hold the roadblock, force the remaining Dutch to flee, and capture the armored car.

As their parachutes billow in the wind, Japanese paratroopers of the 2nd Raiding Regiment plummet toward their landing zones near the town of Palembang on Sumatra, February 1942.

Shortly after 1:30 pm, Major Komura, who had been dropped to the southeast, arrived at the roadblock with about 25 men of the 4th Rifle Company. Komura decided that the roadblock should be maintained to stop any reinforcements from coming north from Palembang or catch any evacuees fleeing south from P1. Utilizing the captured armored car, Komura sent Lieutenant Ooki and 20 men north along the road toward P1 to capture the Dutch airfield office, situated about a mile south of the airdrome, while he positioned the rest of his men to defend the roadblock.

As planned, Colonel Kume’s transport, carrying his staff and a 37mm antitank gun and crew, had crash-landed several miles southeast of P1 shortly after the other paratroopers had landed. Unfortunately, the plane came down in a soggy woodland. Bogged down, wet, bitten by mosquitoes, and separated from most of his men, Kume would spend a sleepless night trying to get out of the quagmire.

After advancing only about three miles toward P1, Lieutenant Ooki and his armored car group ran into 300 Dutch soldiers and British airmen fleeing from the airfield. The evacuation of P1 was now completely underway. Opening fire with the captured armored car and side arms, the Japanese paratroopers surprised the fleeing men and began to push them back. At about the same time, groups of other paratroopers, some from the southeastern group and some from the western group, finally made it to the airfield and joined the attack.

On the west side, Lieutenant Gamo from the 2nd Rifle Company had managed to gather 16 men and push eastward toward the airdrome. Although the men were armed only with pistols and grenades, they did not hesitate to attack when they finally reached the edge of the airfield. Spotting a British antiaircraft position, Lieutenant Gamo threw a grenade and dashed forward. He was killed almost instantly. The other paratroopers, undaunted, continued to press the attack, although somewhat more cautiously than their leader.

The commander of the 2nd Rifle Company, Lieutenant Hirose, along with the only two men he could find, finally reached the airfield around 2 pm. Moving cautiously, Hirose and his men were slowly advancing toward a Dutch barracks when they suddenly spotted about 300 Dutch troops, perhaps the same men that were being attacked by Lieutenant Ooki and his armored car group. Overwhelmingly outnumbered, Hirose wisely pulled his two men back and slipped quietly into the surrounding jungle.

Back at the roadblock, things had begun to heat up again. Dutch troops and armed RAF personnel from Palembang had driven up close to the roadblock before parking their trucks to engage the enemy on foot. Creeping up through the jungle until they could see the Japanese, the Allied troops began sniping at Major Komura’s and Lieutenant Okumoto’s men. At the same time, a small group started to work their way closer, intent on setting the overturned fuel truck on fire. As the men neared the truck, they were informed by a few wounded Allied soldiers that a surviving RAF man was still trapped under the vehicle. While they discussed what to do, Japanese mortar rounds began to fall around them and enemy machine-gun fire began to tear up the trees. Making a hasty decision, the group abandoned their plan and fled into a nearby swamp.

Eventually, the Dutch and RAF riflemen got the upper hand at the roadblock and managed to chase Major Komura and the others away. Unfortunately, they were too late for the RAF trooper who had been trapped under the fuel truck. By the time the rescue group reached him, he had long since expired.

By now it was after 6 pm, and Lieutenant Ooki’s 20 paratroopers and captured armored car had managed to chase away the 300 Dutch and RAF defenders and capture the airfield office. Leaving a few men behind to guard the office, Ooki sent the armored car back toward the roadblock to inform Major Komura of his success while he took the rest of his men north toward the airfield.

At the roadblock, Flying Officer Macnamara, who had successfully fled from P1, and the others were milling about when the captured armored car suddenly appeared. “We naturally thought that the Dutch had at last broken through to our relief,” Macnamara recalled, “but after many had revealed themselves from the side of the road they were greeted with hand grenades.” Instantly realizing that the car was in Japanese hands, the Allied riflemen opened fire, causing the driver to crash into the other vehicles of the roadblock. “The Japanese,” Macnamara continued, “knowing their game was up … tried to make a break—a volley of fire from small arms—rifles and revolvers—greeted their exit from the turret.”

Perhaps realizing that the airfield might be under Japanese control, a small group of armed British airmen headed toward P1 and soon came upon the captured airfield office and the four or five Japanese paratroopers who had been left behind to guard it. A prolonged firefight then took place until about 20 Dutch reinforcements, one armed with a Bren gun, arrived and helped to overrun the hotly contested strongpoint.

In the meantime, at the airfield the paratroopers continued to arrive from their scattered drop zones and engage the defenders. By late afternoon most of the Allied defenders had either abandoned the airfield or been killed. Only about 60 armed RAF men and a few Dutch soldiers remained. Although they were running out of ammunition, they hung on stubbornly. RAF ground crewman Leslie Baker recalled, “[The] RAF ground crew were ready for them and the RAF lads stuck to their posts mowing down the Japs as they landed. We did, the RAF ALONE. [We] mopped up the Jap parachutists but not before we had had quite a few killed…. [It] made a mess of our aerodrome….”

The prime mover vehicle that had been attempting to pull two 3.7-inch antiaircraft guns to safety reached the main road leading to Palembang before it came under Japanese fire. “Unfortunately,” wrote a U.S. Army historian, “one of these [guns] had to be abandoned on the way, since light machine-gun fire had riddled the tires.” In fact, none of the antiaircraft guns made it out of P1. All 12 guns, most of them disabled by their crews, were captured by the paratroopers.

During a slight lull in the fighting, Wing Commander H.J. Maguire and Platoon Officer O.D. Creegan thought they heard troops on the road to Palembang and, imagining them to be Dutch reinforcements, hurried down the road to greet them. Instead, they met 60 to 70 Japanese soldiers assembling in the roadway. Knowing that they could not overwhelm the enemy by themselves, Maguire and Creegan decided to bluff their way out.

The two officers put down their guns and then walked up to the nearest Japanese soldier. “He looked very surprised but did nothing,” Maguire recalled. “So, sounding as confident as I could, I demanded to see his officer and, to my amazement, he shambled off and produced an officer. This officer had some command of English, and I immediately demanded surrender, saying that I had a large force behind me. He replied that he had a large force and that he would give us safe conduct if we marched out.” Continuing with their bluff, Maguire and Creegan said that they would have to discuss a possible surrender of the Allied command with their “non-existent senior officer” and then, turning around, walked back to their guns, picked them up, and walked calmly back to the airfield.

When the two officers arrived at P1, they discovered that the remaining handful of men had taken advantage of the lull in the fighting to set the fuel dump on fire and burn the remains of a few unserviceable aircraft. Then, using what few trucks remained, the 60 or so stalwart defenders had beaten a hasty retreat to the north, taking the road to Djambi. Maguire and Creegan quickly followed.

Additional Japanese troops landed by sea during the invasion of Sumatra in February 1942. In this photo Japanese soldiers approach the Sumatran coast as oil fields but in the distance.

By 5 pm, P1 was completely devoid of Allied personnel. When Lieutenant Hirose and his three men finally came out of hiding on the west side of the airfield and approached the same barracks that they had approached before, they found it completely deserted. Looking around, they found cooked rations still on the stove, a fortunate happenstance since they had been unable to locate their drop containers and had only rice wafers and dried compressed fish with them.

An hour later, Major Komura, who had been gathering small groups of paratroopers into larger groups throughout the day, finally arrived at the airfield. Everything was quiet. The Allies had all fled or been killed. By the time darkness fell, P1 was in the hands of perhaps 100 army paratroopers of the 2nd Raiding Regiment.

At 11:30 am on February 14, 1942, six minutes after the paratroopers began dropping on P1, six Thelma transports began dropping Lieutenant Nakao and his 60 men from the 1st and 2nd Platoons, 1st Rifle Company on the west side of the Komering River close to the Shell Oil BPM facilities. At about the same time, the three Thelmas carrying Lieutenant Hasebe and his 39 paratroopers from the 3rd Platoon, 1st Rifle Company began dropping the men on the east side of the Komering, south of the Standard Oil NKPM facility. Although the Bofors and 3.7-inch antiaircraft guns at the oil refineries fired on the planes, all of the transports escaped unscathed. One of nine Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” bombers carrying cargo containers was shot out of the sky.

Unlike the paratroopers at P1 who landed among jungle trees or tall reedy grass that made it difficult to find their cargo containers, Lieutenant Nakao’s men landed in a shallow marshland and located their weapons and supplies with little difficulty. Moving quickly toward the closest section of the BPM refinery near the junction of the Moesi and Komering Rivers, one group of six men led by platoon commander Lieutenant Tokunaga managed to overrun a pillbox at the southwest corner of the facility. Moving forward, the seven men worked their way into the refinery residential area before running into about 60 Dutch soldiers armed with machine guns. Tokunaga and his men quickly sought cover and opened fire.

While Lieutenant Tokunaga was pushing into the refinery, Lieutenants Ogawa and Yosioka were gathering groups of scattered troopers. Once enough men were at hand, the paratroopers followed Lieutenant Tokunaga and caught up with him during the firefight in the residential area. While Tokunaga kept the Dutch occupied, Ogawa and Yosioka took about a dozen men and climbed to the top of the central topping tower, raising the Rising Sun flag sometime between 1:10 and 1:50 pm, about two hours after landing.

Down below, Lieutenant Tokunaga and the paratroopers, who had since been joined by Lieutenant Nakao, commander of the 1st Rifle Company, saw the Japanese flag go up and began to work their way toward the central topping tower. As they moved forward, they hurriedly shut valves, turned cranks, and removed demolition charges placed by the Dutch when they first saw the paratroopers descending.

By the time the Japanese raised the flag over the topping tower, the Dutch and British had gathered enough men to stage a counterattack. The Japanese paratroopers, using the oil refinery air raid shelters as pillboxes, put up stiff resistance. Fighting raged across the compound with the combatants sometimes only 50 yards apart. Fuel pipes were punctured by bullets, and the thick, black, crude oil spilled forth. When an Allied mortar round impacted some of the spilled oil, the whole area burst into flames, sending black smoke billowing into the afternoon sky.

Determined to hold onto their hard-earned prize as the sun began to go down, Commander Nakao ordered Lieutenant Tokunaga to take his platoon and attack northward across the refinery, perhaps hoping to get a toehold in the separated portion of the BPM refinery along the Moesi River. Although they put up a spirited fight, Tokunaga lost a score of men and only managed to move up a short distance. When night finally fell and the bright orange flames of the burning oil fires cast eerie shadows about the area, the Dutch and British soldiers had retaken most of the BPM refinery.

Nevertheless, some of the 1st and 2nd Platoons of the 1st Rifle Company and the 2nd Raiding Regiment were still alive. With the paratroopers holding onto vital sections of the plants, Allied demolition teams found that they could not permanently destroy the areas they wanted to. Unable to destroy the facility, the Dutch and British soldiers quietly slipped away in the darkness.

Meanwhile, the 3rd Platoon, 1st Rifle Company, led by Lieutenant Hasebe, had landed in a deep swamp on the east side of the Komering River, south of the Standard Oil NKPM facility. Two men, carrying only their pistols and a few hand grenades, landed in front of a Dutch gun position. Stripping off their parachute harnesses and covering smocks, the two soldiers attacked, killing eight startled defenders. Continuing on, they climbed out of the swamp and onto a road that ran straight toward the refinery. As they drew near, however, the defenders opened fire, wounding one of the men. Helped along by his comrade, the two attackers retreated down the road to await the rest of the 3rd Platoon.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Hasebe had managed to get hold of a native boat and was able to move about quickly, gathering his platoon and their cargo containers. When they got to the road running through the swamp toward the oil refinery, Hasebe quickly surmised that the road would be a killing zone. Unable to move successfully through the swamp, Hasebe had no other choice but to try to rush forward along the dangerous avenue.

Piling out of the swamp, Hasebe and his men rushed toward the front gate of the oil refinery and got within 100 yards before Hasebe and a few others were killed by enemy fire. Without their leader, the Japanese attack stalled. Taking over, Sergeant Tanba called off the frontal assault and led the surviving men back into the swamp, hoping to move forward again under the cover of darkness. At 11 pm, when darkness finally fell and the only light came from the flames of the burning BPM refinery on the other side of the Komering River, Tanba and his paratroopers crept forward. Unexpectedly, they found the facility completely deserted. The NKPM defenders had slipped away under the cover of darkness.

Throughout the night, the paratroopers at P1 and the two oil refineries consolidated their gains while they waited for reinforcements. At dawn on February 15, 1942, Japanese troops of the 229th Infantry Regiment, 38th Infantry Division began disembarking from the transport ships that had moved up the Moesi River delta. The escort planes flying over the ships had fought off repeated attacks by Dutch and British planes. As the troops scampered aboard waiting landing barges, preparatory to moving up the river, the covering task force moved back out to sea to engage a converging Allied task force.

As the barges and some supporting vessels moved south down the Moesi River toward Palembang, the RAF and RAAF came out to meet them. Throughout the day, the two air forces made repeated attacks against the barges, although Japanese fighters were always there to try to intercept them. An estimated
20 barges were sunk, but there were just too many of them. In the end, the RAF and RAAF pilots were ordered to evacuate Sumatra and go to Java.

At Palembang an evacuation had been going on all night. Although the Japanese roadblock near P1 had finally been cleared, the Japanese still held the airfield and had snipers and outposts along the approaching road. Not too far from Palembang, on the road to the airfield, the Dutch had established their own roadblock, intent on stopping the Japanese paratroopers from making a sudden dash into the city. All night long and all the next day, both military and civilian personnel evacuated Palembang, burning things they could not carry and then being ferried across the Moesi to a train station and a safe road on the south side of the river. At dawn, as the evacuees looked behind them they could see a thick black cloud of smoke hanging over the city, stark evidence of the burning buildings and BPM Oil Refinery.

At the two refineries, the remaining Japanese paratroopers listened to the Palembang evacuation all night long. Then, near 6 am a time-delayed Dutch demolition charge exploded at the NKPM refinery. Unable to prevent further explosions and the spread of the resulting fire, Sergeant Tanba and his handful of 3rd Platoon, 1st Rifle Company paratroopers now knew why the facility had been completely abandoned. In the end, about 80 percent of the Standard Oil NKPM facility was destroyed.

At P1 all remained relatively quiet throughout most of the morning of February 15. Then, at 10:30 am a Japanese scout plane from Keluang Airfield in Malaya suddenly swooped down and landed on the concrete runway. Immediately, Major Komura informed the pilot that although the airfield was in Japanese hands most of the cargo containers had been lost during the air drop and his men were fighting with either pistols or captured weapons, both short on ammunition. The intrepid pilot flew straight back to Keluang. His report was the first news that the combat drop on P1 had been successful, since all of the 2nd Raiding Regiment’s radios had been lost with their cargo containers. Within minutes, additional weapons and ammunition were added to the reinforcing parachute drop scheduled for 1 pm.

Japanese officers of the 2nd Raiding Regiment and the 229th Infantry Regiment greet one another at the gates of the NKPM oil refinery during the last stages of the conquest of Sumatra. The Japanese coveted the rich natural resources of the Dutch East Indies.

Near noon, a mosquito-bitten Colonel Kume and his handful of staff members finally made their way out of the soggy woodland and over to P1. Undoubtedly, he was happy to see the progress that had been made in his absence. An hour later and right on schedule, the planes of the 2nd Attack Group, the reinforcing paratroop drop, arrived over the Palembang airfield. As the Oscar fighters from the 59th and 64th Sentai flew combat patrol overhead, the Thelmas of the 12th Transport Chutai began dropping the 90 men of Lieutenant Morisawa’s 3rd Rifle Company directly onto the captured airfield. Close behind, the crews of the 98th Sentai began dropping dozens of cargo containers from their Betty bombers.

When the second air drop was over and the precious weapons and ammunition had been distributed, Colonel Kume sent a platoon under Lieutenant Adachi toward Palembang. Moving cautiously, the paratroopers followed the main road past both their own roadblock and the hastily abandoned Dutch roadblock. Arriving at the capital around 5:30 pm, they found the town undefended and parts of Palembang on fire. Moving down to the river to see if the 229th Infantry Regiment barges were in sight, the men happened upon the two Dutch patrol boats, the P-39 and the P-40. They quickly disabled one of the boats, but the other fled upriver.

Upon discovering that Palembang was unguarded, Lieutenant Adachi sent the information back to Colonel Kume, who ordered Lieutenant Morisawa to take his newly dropped 3rd Rifle Company into Palembang to secure the town. By early evening, Lieutenant Morisawa was in contact with the soldiers holding the two oil refineries.

That evening, February 15, protected by darkness, the landing barges carrying the 229th Infantry Regiment finally reached Palembang. Waiting there to greet them were the army paratroopers of the 2nd Raiding Regiment. Five days later, the proud paratroopers handed over control of the capital of Sumatra to the 38th Infantry Division.

After all was settled, the 2nd Raiding Regiment reviewed the past few days. The paratroopers claimed that they had killed 1,080 Dutch and RAF defenders and captured a total of 23 antiaircraft guns, several armored cars, and numerous trucks. Of course, these figures are much exaggerated. On the other hand, the Japanese admitted that during the initial combat drop one medium bomber was shot down either by antiaircraft fire or by Pilot Officer Lockwood while two transport planes were crash landed, one intentionally. Out of 339 paratroopers dropped, 29 were killed (two died due to parachute malfunction), 37 were seriously wounded, and 11 were slightly wounded, a loss of roughly 23 percent.

The 2nd Raiding Regiments’ attack on P1 and the two oil refineries has been deemed both a success and a failure by historians. In October 1942, a brief intelligence document was published by the U.S. Army that labeled the attack a failure. The report stated that the Japanese “jumped from about 70 transport planes,” a gross exaggeration. The report continued, “A total of about 300 attacked defending troops at the airdrome, and about 400 sought to capture the refineries. Nearly all the parachutists were killed or captured, except a group which managed to hold one of the refineries and prevent it from being destroyed. The other refinery was demolished by the Dutch. On the whole, the attack was a failure.” Two other Army reports, one published in 1942 and another in 1945, continued to inflate the number of Japanese attackers and repeat that the attack had failed to achieve its objective of capturing the oil refineries intact.

As time went by, however, historians began to study the attack and correct most of the inaccuracies. In no time at all, Japanese tankers were carrying the vital refined oil back to their home islands.

In spite of their success, the army paratroopers saw no further combat on Sumatra. The 38th Infantry Division, with the help of Japanese bombers and fighters flying out of P1, continued to advance across southern Sumatra and by February 24 had secured much of the island. By the beginning of March, most of the remaining Dutch defenders had fled into the northwestern part of the island and were conducting a guerrilla war. On March 28, 1942, some 2,000 Dutch troops surrendered to the 38th Infantry Division. The island of Sumatra was securely in Japanese hands.

Gene Eric Salecker is a retired university police office who teaches eighth grade social studies in Bensenville, Illinois. He is the author of four books, including Blossoming Silk Against the Rising Sun: US and Japanese Paratroopers in the Pacific in World War II. He resides in River Grove, Illinois.


World War 2 Japanese Military Aircraft, Model Airplanes, Plastic and Diecast Models.

To do this the design didn't include self sealing tanks, armor around the tanks, armor around the pilot or engine and didn't build the aircraft to withstand the maximum aerodynamic forces. This made the Zeros very easy to shoot down, as many American Pilots attest. One famous battle was the Marianas Turkey Shoot.

Another famous Japanese aircraft was a bomber known as the Betty Bomber. This was a medium, twin bomber used in many Japanese cap . Some planes were like the WW2 Japanese Jet Planes, the Baka Bomb.

WW2 Japanese Aircraft Types, Click on the type of airplane that you are looking for.

Japanese Fighter Aircraft.

Nakajima B5N2 "Kate"
Japanese World War II Maruyama's "Kate" torpedo bomber a summary of his wartime exploits, which included action at Pearl Harbor, Midway, Guadalcanal and other famous battles
. HA2001 Nakajima B5N2 Kate torpedo bomber Akagi Pearl Harbor Dec. 41

When Japan entered WWII the B5N Kate was the standard torpedo bomber and sank more Allied ships than any other type of Japanese aircraft. B5N2’s played the main role in sinking the carrier Lexington at Coral Sea, Yorktown at Midway and Hornet at the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942. There were 1,150 B5N1 and B5N2 Torpedo Bombers produced but by 1944 the Kate had been replaced by the B6N “Jill”. The Kate ended its service being used for Kamikaze attacks leaving no surviving examples.

The actual attack on Pearl Harbor was commanded by Mitsuo Fuchida. His B5N2 Kate lead the way and at 0749 sent the coded signal “To, To, To” (Totsugeskiseyo - “charge”) to his 51 D3A dive bombers, 40 B5N torpedo bombers, 50 B5N high level bombers and 43 A6M fighters. At 0753 he sent the message Tora, Tora, Tora, back to the Japanese Fleet meaning the operation was successful. Fuchida remained on site to assess the damage from both attack waves and returned to the Akagi with 20 large anti-aircraft holes.

Aichi B7A2 Ryusei-Kai Grace
The B7A2 was the largest and heaviest Japanese carrier-based attack aircraft to fly in World War II.

Imperial Japanese Navy carrier-capable, inverted gull wing, dive bomber and torpedo bomber. IJN aircraft: No 53 of the 752nd Naval Air Group at NAS Katori, Chiba Prefecture, May 1945 No 251 of the Yokosuka Naval Air Group at NAS Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, April 1945 and No 25 of the 752nd Naval Air Group at NAS Katori, Chiba Prefecture, April 1945

Paints Required (Black Yellow Green Brown Silver Neutral Gray
Nakajima IJN Green Steel Flat Black Mitsubishi
Green Clear Red Clear Blue Metallic Blue Green
Orange Yellow Burnt Iron Flat White Propeller
Color Tire Black)

Fujimi AICHI B7A1 SHOOTING STAR "GRACE" Carrier Bomber Models

Aichi D3A1 Val
IJN Aircraft Carrier Akagi, Pearl Harbor, December, 1941
The Aichi D3A1 "Val" diver-bomber that - crewed by pilot Gen Goto and radioman/gunner Michiji Utsugi off the Japanese carrier Akagi - was shot down east of Barber's Point by P-40B Tomahawk pilot 2nd Lt. Kenneth Taylor (his second victory of the day) during the December, 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Val became the first aircraft to drop bombs on American targets at Pearl Harbor. Six squadrons of Vals participated in the attack, and succeeded in doing extensive damage to the U.S. battleships in the harbor. The Val proved to be an accurate and effective dive bomber in the opening stages of the Pacific War. It was as maneuverable as many fighters and proved this during dogfights with early allied Pacific fighters such as Wildcats. As allied fighter opposition developed, the Val soon proved to be a vulnerable opponent. Slow and poorly defended, the Val was obsolete by 1943. It did continue to serve, seeing service later as kamikaze weapon.

Aichi D3A1 Val
Houkoku (Patriotism Gift) 522, Pearl Harbor

The "Houkoku-522" - an Aichi Val dive-bomber presented to the Imperial Japanese Navy as a "Houkoku" (patriotism) gift purchased with donations from schoolgirls and other Japanese citizens - as it appeared when Yamakawa Shinsaku and Nakada Katsuzo flew it off the carrier Kaga for the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor.

Aichi D3A1 "Val" Dive Bomber The Aichi D3A (Allied code name "Val") was a World War II dive bomber produced by the Aichi Company in Japan. It was the primary carrier-borne dive bomber in the Imperial
Japanese Navy (IJN) in the early stages of the war and participated in the almost all actions including Pearl Harbor.

Aichi D3A1 Type 99 1/48 Kit" 190" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Fighters/images/Japanese_Aichi_D3A1_Type_99_WWII_Airplane.jpg" border="1" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="left">The Aichi dive bomber that flew from the Imperial Japanese Navy carrier Soryu during the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. It carried a 250kg bomb under the fuselage.

The Aichi was a carrier-borne bomber responsible for bombing the first targets at Pearl Harbor. Known as the Val to the Allies, the D3A1 had a tapered elliptical wing for aerodynamic efficiency. The plane was built with a Kinsei 44 radial engine

Paint Required (Yellow Green Brown Silver Neutral Gray Steel Flat
Black Mitsubishi Green Red Brown Clear Red Clear
Blue Burnt Iron Semi-Gloss Black Propeller Color
Tire Black)

0008526
Aichi D3A1 "Val"

Aviation Art Print
Tony Weddel. The Aichi Type 99 (codenamed "Val" by the Allies), a front-line Japanese dive-bomber, was piloted by dive-bomber crews, which were among the best in the world. Their proficiency in dive-bombing techniques gave them a fantastic "direct hit rate" of 82 percent effectiveness during naval action in the Indian Ocean. This painting portrays a Val from the Japanese carrier Soryu as its pilot lines up on a target at Pearl Harbor. 19"x 23" print.
# 0008526

The Imperial Japanese Navy's D4Y was one of the fastest dive-bombers of World War II. One of its variants, the D4Y4 Model 43, even served as a single seat kamikaze Special Strike Bomber. Aichi Atsuta AE1P V12 piston engine.

Kugisho D4Y2-S "Judy" Suisei 12 fighter

From the Webmaster: In looking at these two types of D4Y4 Japanese Fighters, they mention that it has a unique V-12 engine, but when you look at the pictures of the planes, you will see that it came with two versions of the fighter, one with the V-12 and the other with a Radial Engine. So the descriptions from the manufacturers aren't always correct.

A Kamikaze airplane attacks the USS Laffey DD-724 Destroyer in WW2" 197" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Ships/images/USS_Laffey_DD-724_Destroyer_Attack_by_Kamikaze.jpg" border="1" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="left"> D4Y4 "Judy" Aviation Art.

General characteristics
Crew: 7
Length: 16.45 m (54 ft 0 in)
Wingspan: 25 m (82 ft 0 in)
Height: 3.68 m (12 ft 1 in)
Wing area: 75 m2 (810 sq ft)
Empty weight: 4,965 kg (10,946 lb)
Gross weight: 8,000 kg (17,637 lb)
Fuel capacity: 3,874 l (852.2 imp gal 1,023.4 US gal)
Powerplant: 2 Mitsubishi Kinsei 14-cyl. air-cooled radial piston engines, 791 kW (1,061 hp) each

Performance Maximum speed: 375 km/h (233 mph 202 kn)
Cruising speed: 280 km/h (174 mph 151 kn)
Range: 4,400 km (2,734 mi 2,376 nmi)
Service ceiling: 9,200 m (30,184 ft)
Rate of climb: 6 m/s (1,200 ft/min)
Armament
Guns:
1 20 mm (0.79 in) Type 99 cannon in rear dorsal turret
4 7.7 mm (0.30 in) Type 92 machine gun in cockpit, left and right side positions, and in retractable forward dorsal turret.
Bombs: 800 kg (1,800 lb) of bombs or 1 aerial torpedo

G3M1a/c
Redesigned prototypes powered by Hiro Type 91 or Mitsubishi Kinsei engines plus it had a glass nose.

G3M1 Model 11
A Land-based attack bomber Navy Type 96 first series model. This had ajor extension of the cabin with a revised cover, some were made with fixed-pitch propeller, 34 built.
G3M1-L
G3M1 converted into an armed or unarmed military transport version which was powered by Mitsubishi Kinsei 45 (802 kW/1,075 hp) engines.

G3M2 Model 21
This included a more powerful set of engines and increased fuel capacity. It had included a top turret. 343 constructed by Mitsubishi, 412 G3M2 and G3M3 manufactured by Nakajima.

G3M2 Model 22
Upper and belly turrets substituted for one upper turret, glass side positions, there were 238 airplanes built.

G4M3 Betty Bomber Models Here

Click Here to see the Betty Bomber Exhibit
The Betty bomber exhibit shows the true story of the surrender of the Japanese, which is not what we see on TV.

Role Medium Range Bomber
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Designer Kiro Honjo
First flight 23 October 1939
Introduction June 1941
Retired 1945
Primary user Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service
Number built 2,435

Role Medium bomber
Manufacturer Mitsubishi
First flight 18 December 1936
Introduction 1938
Primary users Japan
Thailand
Number built 2,064 units (excluding Ki-57)
Variants Mitsubishi Ki-57

The Aircraft's Specifications
Crew: 5-7
Length: 16.0 m (52 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 22.50 m (73 ft 10 in)
Height: 4.85 m (15 ft 11 in)
Wing area: 69.90 m (752.12 ft)
Empty weight: 6,070 kg (13,354 lb)
Loaded weight: 10,600 kg (23,320 lb)
Powerplant: 2 Mitsubishi Army Type 100 (Ha-101)(Mitsubishi Kasei) 14 cylinder radial engine, 1,119 kW (1,500 hp) each
Propellers: three-blade metal variable-pitch propellers propeller
Performance
Maximum speed: 485 km/h (301 mph) at 4,700 m (15,400 ft)
Cruise speed: 380 km/h (236 mph)
Range: 2,700 km (1,680 mi)
Service ceiling: 10,000 m (32,800 ft)
Rate of climb: 13 min 13 sec to 6,000 m (19,680 ft)
Armament
Guns:
4 7.7 mm (.303 in) flexible Type 89 machine guns in nose, ventral, beam and tail positions
1 12.7 mm (.50 in) Type 1 Machine Gun in dorsal turret
Bombs: 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of bombs
Mitsubishi KI-21 Models Here

The MITSUBISHI ARMY TYPE 97 HEAVY BOMBER Ki-21 was better known in the West as the SALLY. Designed to a 1936 Imperial Japanese Army Air Force requirement and entering operational service in 1939, the SALLY saw combat action throughout the war despite inadequate armament and armor protection. When production ceased in September 1944, over 2,000 Sally's had been built, and like many Japanese aircraft, ended the war serving as a Kamikaze platform.

Mitsubishi Ki-21 Sally Aviaton Art Picture by Paul Wollman" 198" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Fighters/images/Japanese_Mitsubishi_Ki-21_Sally_Bomber_Aviaton_Art_Paul_Wollman.jpg" border="1" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="left"> Mitsubishi Ki-21 "Sally" Aviation Art.


With more than 3,300 units built, the Nakajima Ki-27 was the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force's primary aircraft during early World War II. This is a picture of "Nate" flown by Japan during the Nomonhan Incident of mid-1939. The Ki-27 used the Nakajima Ha-1 radial engine

The star performer in the aviation portion of the Manchurian incident of the late '30's, this was about the best fighter of the time. This 'little Japanese fighter was probably one of the very best in the world at the time it was first built in 1937. It was a classic low wing, fixed gear, light weight, highly maneuverable design. In addition, in service it was painted up in what would appear to be very attractive color schemes.

"In 1935, the Japanese Army held a competition between Nakajima, Mitsubishi, and Kawasaki to design a low-wing monoplane to replace the Kawasaki Ki-10 (Type 95 Fighter) biplane. The results were Nakajima Ki-27, Kawasaki Ki-28, and Mitsubishi Ki-33. Nakajima's design was based on its earlier Ki-11 monoplane fighter which lost to Ki-10 in the Type 95 Fighter competition, and Ki-27 was designed by Koyama Yasushi to have air-cooled radial engine and fixed landing gear.
Ki-27 made its first flight on October 15, 1936 and was the Japanese Army's main fighter until the start of World War II. Its outstanding turning ability granted by its remarkably low wing loading caused the Army to focus almost exclusively on maneuverability. Ki-27b had an improved all-glass canopy and oil cooler, provision for 4x 25 kg (55 lb) bombs or fuel tanks under the wings. The Ki-27 served until the beginning of World War II and continued to serve as a trainer afterward, and were used in Japan Home Air Defense in 1944-1945."

1st Sentai commander Toshio Kato

A largely forgotten war was waged between the Russians and Japanese in Mongolia. At the outset of the war, the Ki27 outclassed everything the Russians had in the area. Many of Japan's fiercest aces downed their first opponents at the battle of Khalkhin Gol while flying the Ki27. The Japanese ended up losing the battle but wreaked tremendous havoc on the Russian Air Forces, claiming a total of 1,340 kills.

Introduced in 1939, the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) was the most widely used Imperial Japanese Army Air Force fighter of World War II.
late variant of the Ki-43-II "Oscar," Captain Yukinchi Kitakoga's 2nd Squadron, 54th Flight Regiment, or Captain Hisashi Koshiishi's 3rd Squadron, 54th Flight Regiment.

0005944
Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar Hayabusa
Aero Detail Vol. 29

This book examines the Ki-43 Type I and Type II, thoroughly detailing these craft with photos of some of the very last restored versions, starting at the front of the plane and slowly working through the full length of the airframe. 250+ photos give you a detailed look at the aircraft, while engineering drawings, cutaways, exploded views, 3-views and color profiles complete this detailed reference on these amazing fighters. 96 pgs., 10"x 10", sfbd. Book
#0005944

Japans Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa in JAAF Service" 216" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Fighters/images/Japanese_Nakajima_Ki-43_Hayabusa_Fighter_Airplane.jpg" border="1" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="left">

0001391
Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa in JAAF Service

Richard M. Bueschel. The Ki-43, known to the Allies as Oscar, was the single most numerous fighter operated by the Imperial Japanese Army. Comparable to the A6M Zero-Sen, it was highly maneuverable but fragile and had lightweight armament. Here, you'll see all variations and markings of the plane flown by the majority of Japanese army aces. 64 pages, 100+ B&W photographs, 8"x11", softcover Book
#0001391
1

Ki-43 Oscar
Introduced in 1939, the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) was the most widely used Imperial Japanese Army Air Force fighter of World War II.
a Ki-43 "Oscar" flown by 18-victory ace Lt. Col. Tateo Kat?, the commander of the famous 64th Sentai.

There were 5919 KI-43 Hayabusas were produced prior to August, 1945 - second only in production numbers to the Japanese Navy's Mitsubishi A6m "Zero"

the Nakajima HA-25 / NK-1 Army Type 99 radial engine "Sakae" or one of the more powerful Nakajima HA-115 variants used on "Oscar"

many were expended in Kamikazi usage late in the war and very few still exist today.

0071812
One the Hard Way

Dan Zoernig. Aviation Art Print. Flying Tiger (AVG) flight leader Parker S. Dupouy, upon finding his guns jammed, rams a 64th Sentai Ki-43 Hayabusa (Oscar), sending it spiraling into the ground. Remarkably, despite losing four feet of his own wingtip, Dupouy landed safely. 19"x 13" limited edition print is signed and numbered by the artist.
#0071812

Ki-44 Wood Models Here

Ki-44 Aviation Books Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo) 1/32 Kit" 219" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Fighters/images/Japanese_Nakajima_Ki-44_Shoki_Tojo_Fighter_Aircraft.jpg" border="1" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="right">

Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki (Tojo)
a Ki-44-II single-seat fighter flown by 9-victory ace 2nd Lt. Makoto Ogawa - who downed seven B-29s and two escorting P-51s in defense of the Japanese mainland to become the top ace of the 70th Sentai - when he was stationed at Kashiwa airfield in 1945, 3rd Chutai, Imperial Japanese Army Air Force, markings

Webmasters Note: Look at the similarity of this plane to the American fighter the P-47 Thunderbolt. P-47 Thunderbolt models Located Here

Threatening Skies, a Japanese Ki-44 Richard Taylor Aviation Art Print" 227" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Fighters/images/Japanese_Ki-44_Richard_Taylor_Aviation_Art_Picture.jpg" border="0" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="left">

0077099
Threatening Skies

Richard Taylor. Aviation Art. Japanese Ki-44s attack a large formation of USAAF B-29 Superfortresses approaching the Japanese mainland on February 19, 1945. 30"x 23" limited edition, numbered print is signed by the artist and by three B-29 pilots who participated in the assault. As a bonus, you also get Into the Sun, a 20"x 16" companion print signed by the artist.
#0077099

On October 20, 1944, a composite air force made up of P-47 Thunderbolts from RAF 261 and 146 Squadrons strafed a vital Japanese stronghold at Mingaladon Airfield near Rangoon, Burma. Here, after completing his bombing attack, Warrant Officer Thomas "Lucky" Carter, flying his distinctive P-47 "Pistol Packin' Mamma," engages Nakajima Ki-43 Oscars and Ki-44 Tojos. A fitting tribute to those who fought in that Burma campaign, this 31"x 21", limited edition print has been signed by the artist and three RAF veterans that fought in the Burma campaign (two pilots that flew Thunderbolts in Burma and one of the vital ground crewmen that prepared the P-47s for strafing Mingaladon).
#0077447
165.00

Ki-45 1/48 Scale Models
Ki-45 1/48 Scale Model Decals
Ki-45 1/48 Scale Paint Mask

Ki-45 1/48 Scale Detail Kits

The Ki-45KAIb was specifically developed as a ground attack aircraft, hence the 20mm nose cannon in addition to the 37mm ventral cannon. This relatively heavy forward firepower made it perfect for hunting PT boats or intercepting 5th AF Liberators.

The top speed was 340 mph, range about 1,400 miles and a little over 1,700 aircraft were built. One was experimentally fitted with a 75mm cannon, but it proved too much for the light airframe of the Ki-45.

Kawasaki's Ki-45 Toryu or, "Nick" as it was known to the allies. There were about 1700 of the airplanes built which served the Japanese Army from mid-1942 until the end of hostilities in 1945. The aircraft was unusual for the Japanese in 1942 in that in had protected fuel tanks and was fairly well armed. the Kai Koh version had two nose mounted 12.7mm Type 1 (Ho-103) machine guns and 7.9mm Type 98 gun on a flexible mount firing from the rear crew station. Its real punch came from a 20mm cannon that was mounted in the belly which was put to good use in anti-shipping sorties. Armament and engines were improved on throughout the Ki-45's production run though its flight performance as a fighter was less than spectacular. The twin-engine Ki-45 was designed to carry a heavy armament on long-range missions. They were clumsier than single engine fighters, but a 37 mm cannon made them highly effective against bombers. One of the air groups deployed by Japan shot down eight B-29s on its first mission. The Ki-45 took a heavy toll of bombers, ships and men before becoming obsolete as more single-engine fighters arrived with American carriers.

The Ki-45 served with the 1st Company, 5th Chutai apparently in home defense duties. The origins of the Kawasaki Ki-45 are interesting, as it was a plane that almost wasn't. There were all sorts of problems much of them relating to tail flutter and lack of general stability. There was also a lack of power from the chosen engines. As this aircraft was also being developed concurrently with the Ki-48 and using many of the same components, similar problems cropped up with the Ki-48. Eventually the airframe was modified and more powerful engines used bring the aircraft up to specifications. In the 1930s, when many nations were looking at twin engined designs for fighters, Kawasaki followed the pack with their original Ki-45 design. The performance was severely lacking, and while this initial design was rejected, the Japanese government did provide suggestions for improvement. Kawasaki wisely decided to hand the project off to Doi Takeo, the designer who came up with the successful Ki-48 bomber. The result was a significant departure from the original Ki-45, and the Ki-45kai exceeded the IJA specifications.

Click Here, a high-flying B-29 unleashes its fury while dodging the Kamikaze attack of a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu ("Nick"), one of the few Japanese fighters capable of reaching the B-29's altitude. 16"x 11" limited edition print. #0007758

Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah"

Performance
Maximum speed: 604 km/h (326 knots, 375 mph) at 5,800 m (19,000 ft)
Cruise speed: 400 km/h (217 knots, 249 mph)
Range: 2,474 km (1,337 nmi, 1,537 mi)
Service ceiling: 10,720 m (35,200 ft)
Wing loading: 157.8 kg/m (32.3 lb/ft)
Climb to 8,000 m (26,250 ft): 17 min 58 sec


Crew: 2 (pilot and observer)
Length: 11.00 m (36 ft 1 in)
Wingspan: 14.70 m (48 ft 2 in)
Height: 3.88 m (12 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 32.0 m (344 ft)
Empty weight: 3,263 kg (7,194 lb)
Loaded weight: 5,050 kg (11,133 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 5,800 kg (12,787 lb)
Powerplant: 2 Mitsubishi Ha-102 Army Type 1 14-cylinder radial engines, 807 kW (1,080 hp) (take-off) each


a Mitsubishi Ki-46 III Type 100 command reconnaissance plane, Ha-112-II radial engines

75th Sentai (Fight Regiment), 3rd Chutai (Company), Indonesia 1944
75th Sentai (Fight Regiment), 1st Chutai (Company), Malay Peninsula 1942
Hokota Flying School, dive bombing test plane

Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu (Helen)

Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu Japanese Bomber" 220" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Fighters/images/Japanese_Ki-49_Nakajima_Donryu_High_Speed_Bomber.jpg" border="1" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="left">

a Ki-61 Hien - which was the only mass-produced Japanese fighter of World War II to use a liquid-cooled, inline V engine - flown by 8-victory ace Capt. Teruhiko Kobayashi, commander of the 244th Sentai, in early 1945.


Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien "Tony"
HQ Chutai, 244th Sentai, Chofu, Tokyo, Winter 1944-1945
The KAIc variant of the Japanese Ki-61-I, which first appeared in 1944, primarily flew against Allied bombers in the defense of Japan. Ki-61 "Tony" flown by the 244th Sentai's HQ flight out of Chofu Air Base near Tokyo in 1944-45.

Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien WW2 Fighter Airplane" 204" src="http://www.yellowairplane.com/Models_Fighters/images/Japanese_Ki-61_Kawasaki_Hien_JAAF_Fighter.jpg" border="1" hspace="10" vspace="4" align="left">

0001390
Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien
in JAAF Service

In Japanese Army Air Force Service Bueschel. In April, 1943, the in-line engine Ki-61 Hien (Swallow) was introduced into combat. The regiment who flew her was annihilated, but after the fall of New Guinea, they soared one final time in defense of the home islands -- to disastrous results again. Learn the promise of this Japanese light fighter, and how the Allies beat her. Includes specs, markings and unit histories. 63 pgs., over 100 photos, 8"x 11", sfbd.
#0001390
1

Codenamed "Tony" by the Allies, the Ki-61 Hien was the only fighter with a liquid-cooled engine fielded by the Japanese Army during WWII, and was one of the few interceptors that could reach the altitude of the B-29 Superfortresses. Here, in a desperate maneuver after exhausting his ammunition on American bombers in flight over Japan, Japanese Corporal Nakano rams the tail of a huge B-29 in an attempt to bring it down. 23"x 19" print.
#0008530

Following a scrape with a B-29, the pilot of a home defense Ki-61, watched over by his wingman, prepares to bail out off of the Japanese Coast as fuel vapor streams from his wing tanks. 19"x 13" limited edition print is signed and numbered by the artist.
#0071821

Kawasaki Ki-61 HIEN (Tony)

0002594
Mitsubishi Ki-67/Ki-109 Hiryu
in JAAF Service

Bueschel. The story of this Mistubishi Type 4 heavy bomber is one of "too little, too late." It was the ultimate development of Mitsubishi's long line of Army heavy bombers and became one of the best-known Japanese aircraft of the closing months of the Pacific War, but the Hiryu (Flying Dragon) was able to serve in WWII for only nine months. Book covers both aircraft detail and unit histories. 47 pgs., 60 photos, 8"x 11", sfbd. Book
#0002594
1

Torpedo-equipped Imperial Japanese Army Ki-67 "Peggy" bombers attack the U.S. Navy cruiser USS Houston (CL-81) off the coast of Formosa at sunset on October 14, 1944. 36"x 24", limited edition print is signed and numbered by the artist.
#0075045 210.00

The Imperial Japanese Army Air Force’s NAKAJIMA ARMY TYPE 4 FIGHTER (also identified as the Ki-84) was better known in the West as the FRANK and was held in high regard by the American pilots who fought against it. Designed to combine the maneuverability of the earlier Ki-43 Hayabusa with upgraded performance to match the best western fighters, the heavily-armed Ki-84 first flew in March 1943. Although the design was solid, the shortage of fuel and construction materials, poor production quality, and lack of skilled pilots prevented the fighter from reaching its potential. A total of 3,514 were produced.

0048001
Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate
Aero Detail Vol. 24

Nohara. The world's only surviving example of what can arguably be called the best single-engine Japanese aircraft of WWII is covered from nose to tail in this volume. Full-color detail photographs, dozens of technical illustrations and schematics, plus historical images of Franks in WWII round out the thorough coverage. 76 pgs., 160+ color photos, 10"x 10", sfbd. Book
#0048001

Nakajima Ki-84 Frank
a Ki-84 Hayate - which was able to out-climb both the P-51D and the P-47N and engage the B-29 at high altitude - flown by the 1st Chutai, 73rd Sentai, stationed at Tokorozawa Airfield in November, 1944.

0001386
Nakajima Ki-84 a/b Hayate
in JAAF Service

In Japanese Army Air Force Service Bueschel. The Hayate (Hurricane) saw great success in the central China offensive, but was overwhelmed in the Phillipines. Traces the plane’s evolution from early prototypes through service in the post-war army of Red China. Includes specs, markings and unit histories. 63 pgs., 85 photos, 8"x 11", sfbd. Book
#0001386
1


History

Development began in 1936 when the Japanese Army Ministry requested a long-range bomber for use in China and Manchuria . The bomber was intended for the second Sino-Japanese War , which the Japanese military was already planning intensively. Mitsubishi designed an all-metal mid-decker with radial engines, retractable landing gear and bomb bay.

In a comparison with the competing model Ki-19 from Nakajima Hikōki , the Ki-21 asserted itself.

The production version was equipped with a modified conical bow and an enlarged cockpit roof instead of the originally built-in machine gun tower. Instead of the Mitsubishi Kinsei Ha-6, the more modern 850 hp Nakajima Ha-5-Kai engines were used as engines. The top speed increased to 432 km / h thanks to the improved aerodynamics. The Polikarpow I-16 and Curtiss P-36 fighter planes used by the Chinese were hardly faster.

In the spring of 1938, the Ki-21-Ia, also known as the Type 97, entered service with the 60th Sentai and proved itself to be a reliable and frequently used aircraft. At the same time, the production of the Ki-21 also started at the previous competitor Nakajima. The Ki-21 was tough enough against the weakly armed Chinese (Russian and American) fighters to hold its own until the early 1940s. Further versions followed on the basis of operational experience: The 1-b with stronger armor and defensive armament as well as an improved bomb bay, then the 1c with an extended fuel tank and increased range and finally the Ki-21-IIa (allied code designation erroneously initially "Gwen", until it was recognized that it was only a variant of the already known "Sally") with a larger horizontal stabilizer and 1490 hp Ha-101 engines. The final point was the Ki-21-IIb with a machine-gun turret.

The planned version Ki-21-III was no longer implemented, because despite all the improvements it soon became apparent that the Ki-21, which was used on all fronts of the Pacific War as the Japanese standard bomber, was already out of date for front-line use. Many older types of Ki-21s were converted into training or transport aircraft ( MC-21 ). When the Americans appeared in the Pacific with more heavily armed and much faster fighters, the losses of the Ki-21 increased enormously, despite constantly improved armament and armor. Escort protection in the form of fighters was of little help either, as these generally had shorter ranges, so that the Ki-21 was completely out of date in its role as a long-range bomber by 1942.

The successor model Nakajima Ki-49 showed such serious defects that the Ki-21 was only replaced by the Mitsubishi Ki-67 in 1944 . By that year, 1,713 Mitsubishi and 351 Nakajima aircraft had been built. In addition, there were around 500 civil and military transport aircraft MC-20 and Ki-57 (allied code designation "Topsy"). By then, however, Japan had almost completely lost the possibilities for offensive warfare and long-range bombers turned out to be superfluous in this war situation.


The Forgotten Reason Why Japan Attacked Pearl Harbor

Japan had been preparing for an all-out offensive in the Pacific for months.

By the time the attack on Pearl Harbor plunged the United States into World War II, Japan had been preparing for an all-out offensive in the Pacific for months.

Japan relied on imports of raw materials and natural resources to survive. Rubber, tin, iron, and especially oil had to be imported for Japanese industry to function. The same raw materials were also essential for the Japanese war machine.

In 1894-1895, Japan defeated China in a short war and gained control of the island

of Formosa, part of Korea, and a bit of Manchuria. Along with these territories came all their natural resources. In 1905, after Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, the Empire of the Sun took control of all of Korea and part of Manchuria that had earlier been gobbled up by the Russians.

On September 19, 1931, in the midst of a worldwide depression, Japan staged an incident at a railway station on the Korean border of Manchuria, which it used as an excuse to invade the mineral-rich Chinese province. When the League of Nations condemned the act, Japan resigned from the League. In 1936, to expand her navy, Japan renounced the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, which had limited the size of the Japanese Navy. In July 1937, Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China on the pretext that Chinese soldiers had fired on Japanese troops in Manchuria. Although Japan could not conquer all of China, by 1939 it had captured almost all of the important port cities and had firm control of the raw material that went into or out of the Asian giant.

In June 1940, after Japan moved into French Indochina while France was under Nazi occupation, the U.S. Congress passed the Export Control Act, which prohibited the export of “strategic minerals and chemicals, aircraft engines, parts, and equipment” to Japan. Conspicuously absent from this list was crude oil.

The already strained relations between the United States and Japan worsened in September 1940 when the Japanese signed the Tripartite Pact with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. Hitler, who was already planning to start a war in Europe, was hoping that the Tripartite Pact would encourage Japan to invade the British holdings in the Far East to pin down forces already there.

At the same time, the Japanese hoped that the pact would provide security as they formulated plans to invade and capture the rich oilfields of the Netherlands East Indies. In response to the Tripartite Pact, the United States embargoed even more material—brass, copper, and iron. Still, President Franklin D. Roosevelt stopped short of barring Japanese purchases of oil.

By the spring of 1941, Japan signed a five-year nonaggression pact with Russia, assuring that her backdoor was closed and safe. Next, Japan moved more troops into French Indochina and began eyeing the Netherlands East Indies. In response to the troop movements, Roosevelt froze all Japanese assets in the United States and after much consideration finally placed an embargo on crude oil.

On the heels of the American embargo, the Dutch proclaimed that the Netherlands East Indies would also stop selling oil to Japan. To conquer the Netherlands East Indies and capture its vital oilfields, Japan first had to eliminate the British stronghold of Singapore, crush the American forces in the Philippines, and cripple the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Within 24 hours on December 7, 1941, Japan launched attacks against Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Northern Malaya, Thailand, Guam, Wake Island, and Midway Atoll and began planning to capture the island of Sumatra, east of Java, along with the oil refineries and a key airfield in the vicinity.

In December 1940, the Japanese Army began experimenting with airborne forces. Training of the first volunteers took place at Ichigaya near Tokyo. Requirements for the unit were rigid. Most of the volunteers were between the ages of 20 and 25, and officers could be no older than 28. All had to go through a rigid medical examination. Additional psychological and physical tests were administered and, acting on the belief that paratroopers had to have cat-like abilities to land safely, volunteers were given intense physical fitness training similar to that of a gymnast.

After about 250 volunteers were selected, training moved to a Tokyo amusement park that had a special ride featuring a 165-foot parachute drop. Historians Gordan Rottman and Akira Takizawa wrote, “Thrill seekers were attached to a canopy that was hoisted by cable before being released to float to the ground. Because the existence of the paratroop unit was secret, trainees were directed to visit the park disguised as university students, to experience a couple of simulated descents.” Additional training consisted of somersaults and tumbling, leaping from various heights to learn landing techniques and, finally, actual jumps from moving planes.

Once the original group of volunteers was sufficiently trained, it was broken into cadres to absorb new trainees. By January 1942, the Army had enough paratroopers trained to form the 1st Raiding Brigade under Colonel Seiichi Kume consisting of the 1st Raiding Brigade Headquarters, the 1st Raiding Regiment (Major Takeo Takeda), and the 2nd Raiding Regiment (Major Takeo Komura). Additionally, the 1st Raiding Flying Regiment (Major Akihito Niihara), an air transport group, was attached to the brigade so that the paratroopers would have their own autonomous airplane group. Each regiment consisted of only about 700 men, rather than the 3,800 of a standard infantry regiment. Each regiment included a regimental headquarters group, three rifle companies, and an engineer company.

Preparations for the Army parachute drop on Sumatra had actually been completed by late December 1941, but an accidental fire aboard the cargo ship Meiko Maru on January 3, 1942, which was transporting the 1st Raiding Regiment to an airfield on the Malay Peninsula, caused the paratroopers to abandon ship without their parachutes, equipment, and weapons. Exhausted and battered from their harrowing ordeal and stranded on Hainan Island off the northern coast of French Indochina, the paratroopers were in no shape to stage a combat parachute drop.

When word of the disaster reached the Imperial Army General Staff, they turned to Major Komura and his 2nd Raiding Regiment. Although the unit was still being organized, approximately 450 paratroopers drew weapons, equipment, and parachutes. On January 15, the understrength 2nd Raiding Regiment left Kyushu, arriving at Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on February 2.

The 2nd Raiding Regiment was broken into the 1st and 2nd Attack Groups for the air assaults on the Palembang airfield and oil refineries. The 1st Attack Group, consisting of about 350 officers and men, would be transported to the area in the 1st Raiding Flying Regiment’s Tachikawa Type LO “Thelma” and Mitsubishi Ki-57 Type 100 Model 1 “Topsy” aircraft, with a scheduled drop on February 14. One day later, the 2nd Attack Group, containing only 90 officers and men, would be dropped by the 12th Transport Chutai. Inexplicably, the small cargo containers carrying the rifles, machine guns, ammunition, and other supplies would be dropped by the 98th Sentai from 27 twin-engine Mitsubishi Type 97 “Sally” medium bombers. This plan worried the paratroopers. “If the [containers] were misdropped or delayed,” wrote historians Rottman and Takizawa, “the paratroopers on the ground would be forced to fight a well-armed enemy with only pistols and grenades.”

Both flights were to be escorted by Nakajima Ki-43 “Oscar” fighter planes from the 59th and 64th Sentai. Additionally, the initial drop would be preceded by nine Kawasaki Ki-48 Type 99 “Lily” light bombers from the 90th Sentai dropping antipersonnel bombs across the Dutch airfield.

By February 13, the entire attack force had moved from Cambodia to the west side of the Malay Peninsula, with the 1st Attack Group assembling at the recently captured Allied airfields at Keluang and Kahang and the 2nd Attack Group moving to Sungai Petani. Toasting each other with saké, the officers and men prepared for their early morning drop at Palembang, the capital of Sumatra.

Palembang, with a population of more than 108,000, was situated on the Moesi River about 50 miles inland from the Banka Strait. It was said that its oilfields were the best in Southeast Asia. Two oil refineries had been constructed about four miles east of the town on the south side of the Moesi River. A tributary of the Moesi, the Komering River, divided the two refineries. On the east bank and farthest away from Palembang was the Nederlandsche Koloniale Petroleum Maatschappij (NKPM), a refinery for the Standard Oil Company. On the west bank was the Bataafsce Petroleum Maatschappij (BPM), owned by Shell Oil. The latter refinery was built as two separate installations, one opposite the NKPM refinery on the west side of the Komering River and the other a short distance away on the south bank of the Moesi River.

Even though the Dutch could predict that the Japanese would want the two refineries intact, they did not intend to destroy the facilities prematurely. In addition to a well-known civilian airfield called Pangkalanbenteng (P1), eight miles north of Palembang, there was a recently constructed military airfield, Praboemoelih (P2), 40 miles to the south. P1 had been used by civilian aircraft for years and had a hard concrete runway, barracks buildings, and control tower. Unfortunately for the Dutch, P1 was well known to the Japanese. However, the newly established P2 had a cleverly concealed dirt runway with room beneath the surrounding jungle canopy to hide Allied airplanes. Because of its well-hidden location, P2 was unknown to the Japanese.


Dinah, Helen and Zeke

Commissioning

"Form and commission following carrier groups on 25 August (1944) at N.A.S. Barbers Point. CVG(N)90 for U.S.S. Enterprise, composed of VF(N)90 and VT(N)90 with operating complements 36 VF and 15 VTB respectively. On same date decommission VF(N) . 103, 104 . utilizing personnel and aircraft in forming above night carrier groups." Such was the dispatch from COMINCH [] to CINCPAC [], which was the basis for the formation of this squadron. Pursuant to the above, Captain Griffin of NACTU [] lined up the officers and men of VF(N)-103 in hangar B at Barbers Point and decommissioned VF(N)-103, immediately commissioning VF(N)-90 under the command of Lt. Comdr. R. J. McCullough. The next higher echelon of command being Commander Air Group (Night) 90 and then Commander Air Forces Pacific.

On that date VF(N)-104 was at sea in transit to Pearl Harbor, knowing nothing of this action. VF(N)-103 had been at N.A.S. Barbers Point since 17 August on which date it arrived from San Diego, aboard the U.S.S. Rudyerd Bay. A short history of VF(N)-103 -104 and -106 is necessary.

103 At Charlestown

VF(N)-103 was commissioned at Quonset Point on 5 April 1944 by ComFair Quonset with a complement of 12 VF, 25 officers and 21 enlisted men. Lt. Comdr. R. J. McCullough was commanding officer and it was under his direction that the squadron was trained at N.A.A.F. Charlestown, R.I., 5 April to 5 August.

The VF used in training were F6F-3Ns equipped with AIA [] radar gear and were maintained during training by CASU [] 27. It must be said that the plane availability by CASU 27 was excellent and contributed materially to the progress made by the squadron.

The complement of officers was broken down as follows:

Naval Aviators Ground Officers
Lt. Comdr.1 Lt. Administration1
Lieutenants3 Lt. Engineers1
Lieutenants (jg)5 Lt. Radar Maintenance2
Ensigns9 Lt. A.C.I.1
Total18 Lt. F.D.O.1
Total7

The complement of enlisted men consisted of 4 aviation machinists mates [], 2 aviation radiomen [], 12 aviation radar technicians [], 3 aviation ordinance men [] and 1 yeoman [].

The contemplated use for a night fighting squadron at that time was to combat enemy aircraft at night, locating the enemy through the use of radar and obtaining a splash through the use of radar gun sights. This type of action involves a number of factors which are peculiar to night fighting and which must be learned by the pilots in addition to everything required of day fighters. The readiness date of 103 was fixed as 5 August, which gave the squadron less time than that ordinarily allowed for day fighters. A period of intensive training began.

The training consisted of tactics, gunnery, carrier landing practice and the rest of the sy1labus required of day fighters. Navigation, as well as the use of all homing devices, became more important. Of necessity the pilots learned instrument flying and became most proficient in their use.

Then, the thing most peculiar to night fighters, the use of radar, occupied a large part of the training time. Night after night there would be the old familiar hop, "Charlie with Mickey". Since, however, this was the one thing above all other for which we were being trained, it was necessary to devote every effort towards the mastery of radar operation and intercept problems. The pilots, in the short time assigned to them, did remarkably well and soon became most adept at interception.

The time passed rapidly and on 5 August sixteen pilots took off in their F6Fs, beat up the air station as it was never beaten before and set out for San Diego. But, first there are a number of events and problems deserving of mention.

Social life was never lacking. All of the married officers had their respective wives and children in near by communities. The first party upon commissioning was a memorable occasion. The beaches afforded unusually fine recreational facilities. "The Dunes" was near and made available to all officers of the squadron. The golf course there was excellent and provided those so inclined with further recreation. The Skipper even became a fair sort of a clam digger. The season of the year was probably the best that could have been chosen. Housing facilities, while not plentiful, did seem to provide for all the officers and their families.

On 14 May, one of the pilots, James P. Gannon, was killed in an accidental crash of his plane in the woods near Shantuck. This was the only serious accident during the entire training period. His remains were escorted to his New Jersey home by Lt.(jg) Hettwer [].

A few of the problems presented were, most likely, common to all squadrons a few would be experienced only by a night squadron. Among the problems was that of office and ready room space. The office was small, making it impossible to keep an accurate set of records and accomplish the office work required of a squadron. Of necessity, the office was used for smaller meetings and all conferences. The yeoman experienced continual interference. The necessity for more office space, even better, two offices, is apparent if the office work is to be done in the required manner. The ready room was too small and the seating arrangement was impossible. This made briefing and ground school quite difficult.

Then, the one problem we meet wherever we go. Nobody is equipped to handle a night schedule. The squadron officers, who lived aboard, continually had their sleep interrupted during the day by men walking through their quarters and the noise of the day's routine. The station stayed on day schedule. Midnight meals were meager and served by a skeleton crew. The barber shop, the laundry, the ships service and all such establishments were on a day schedule and would not alter their hours to meet the convenience of those on night schedules.

The very limited time allowed to train the squadron made it necessary to use every available day. For this reason no pre-designated day off could be set aside upon which the officers could plan ahead. The days off came on days of foul weather and would be determined from day to day.

One of the tactical maneuvers to be covered in the night fighting syllabus was radar bombing. The target was too far away to be readily available and because of the time element could not be scheduled as often as desirable.

Toward the end of the training period, the pilots checked out on day and then night landings aboard the CVE's, Mission Bay and Tripoli. No particular difficulties were experienced. The officers and men of both ships cooperated fully and readily.

But with all the problems, by 5 August the squadron was in a remarkable degree of readiness, and for this the guiding hand of the commanding officer was largely responsible.

On 27 May 1944, the complement of night fighting squadrons were changed slightly, and their proposed future use made clearer. Our complement then became 26 officers and 19 enlisted men. The Engineering Officer was dropped, radar maintenance officers increased to three and F.D.O.'s increased to three. The number of pilots remained the same, though there were some adjustments made in the allowable rank. In the enlisted personnel, aviation machinists rates were decreased one, aviation radiomen were increased one and aviation radar technicians decreased three. The reason for the change of complement was to provide for a more equitable distribution of officers and men into three groups, as it was then planned that there would be but one detachment aboard a single carrier. Each detachment was to have 4VF, 6 naval aviators, 1 F.D.O. [], 1 radar maintenance officer, 1 AMM, 1 AOM, 1 ARM and 3 ART's. The administrative officer, the A.C.I. [] officer and the yeoman were to remain with the commanding officer's detachment. The purpose of the night fighting squadron seemed, then, to be primarily for the protection of the fleet at night, the division into detachments making for more simplified radar control. Each carrier was to direct its own planes.

No one in the squadron looked forward to this division with any degree of pleasure. It was feared by all that the "esprit de corps" of the squadron would be lost and that the small detachments would be so absorbed by the carrier air groups to which they would be assigned, that they would be improperly used and lose their identity. From later stories carried to our ears it seems that the fears were fully justified.

Just before leaving Charlestown, we received another change of complement. This change was effective 27 July. The officer complement remained the same, but the enlisted complement changed considerably. We were now given 5 AMMs, including an instrument mechanic and a propeller mechanic. ARMs remained at 3, ARTs at 9 and AOMs at 3. We were now allowed an AM and a PR. Still one yeoman for a total of 24. The most significant change, however, was the apparent abandonment of the idea of small detachments for our squadron, as the new complement contemplated one undivided unit.

7 August - San Diego, California - North Island and all present except Ensign Jim Purcell, who was forced down at Floyd Bennett with engine trouble. Fifteen pilots arrived in their planes. A transport plane brought a pilot and some of the other officers and crew. Most of the ground officers and crew traveled by train or automobile. Our gear consisting of one baggage car, well loaded, arrived with us and Jim Purcell showed up on the 9th. Those who flew to San Diego came by way of Jackson, Mississippi, San Antonio, Texas, El Centro, California to San Diego.

On 10 August the squadron and all its gear was embarked on the CVE U.S.S. Rudyerd Bay. No serious problems presented themselves between Charlestown and Barbers Point, T .H.

Aboard the Rudyerd Bay we were well treated and kindly received by the officers of the ship. It was loaded to the gunwales and for the most part we used cots for sleeping. The crossing to Pearl Harbor was uneventful. On 17 August we arrived at Ford Island - Fox 5. Our gear was immediately unloaded and for lack of transportation could not be taken from the dock for two days.

Immediately upon arrival at Pearl Harbor we were ordered to base on CASU 2 at N.A.S. Barbers Point and all officers and men proceeded there that evening, going by way of Iroquois Point. We were assigned living quarters in BOQ and the squadron was assigned space in hangar B. We were also assigned the use of one jeep and one carry-all with capacity of about 20 men. The big question in everyones' mind was, how long would we be there? After we learned that we were to be aboard the Enterprise we were sure that our stay would last several months, because the best scuttlebutt had it that the "Big E" had just recently left Pearl Harbor.

VF(N)-104 was commissioned on 20 April and VF(N)-106 on 20 May. Both squadrons' experience was much the same as 103's and both were decommissioned upon arrival at Barbers Point. Lt. Comdr. Dudley Adams was commanding officer of 104 and Lt. Comdr. J. G. Smith was commanding officer of 106. Out of these three squadrons came the great percentage of the officers and men that formed VF(N)-90.

Barbers Point

The immediate problems upon the commissioning of VF(N)-90 were administrative. First of all, there was no fixed complement, either of officers or men. Then orders kept coming to us from AIR PAC directing that officers be transferred from VF(N)-103 to VF(N)-90, all subsequent to 25 August. Actually, there was no 103 nor no commanding officer of 103 to endorse the orders. Furthermore, it seemed that Captain Griffin's commissioning "exercises" had already accomplished that. We never did get orders transferring the enlisted personnel and for authority in making the transfer fall back on the dispatch first quoted in this history.

By this time it was apparent that the entire purpose of the squadron had changed. It had become part of a CV group with a VT squadron. The small detachments of night fighters were to remain on the carriers. But, as for VF(N)-90 being in a CVG, comprised of VF(N) and VT(N), it now meant that the offensive rather than the defensive was to be emphasized. This transition called for a new syllabus of training. Radar interception was still an important part of the training and was found on most of the schedules for the entire four months. Radar masthead bombing was scheduled and practiced. CAP'S (Combat Air Patrols), land-based but flown over a carrier, were regularly scheduled. It was during this training that the use of picket destroyers, to increase radar range, was developed. A considerable time was devoted to this particular "exercise." Elevated C.I.C. [] was attempted, but apparently without any particularly satisfactory results since it was never used in later operations. At regular intervals, field carrier landing practice would be held, followed by actual day and night carrier landings on the U.S.S. Ranger and the U.S.S. Saratoga. A significant change in our previous training was the requirement of visual identification before firing upon a bogie. This requirement practically eliminated the use of radar gun sights.

In the meanwhile and under date of 30 September BuPers [] established a complement. 32 VF(N), 56 officers and 33 enlisted men. The VF(N) were to be divided into 16 F6F-5Ns equipped with AN/APS6A radar gear and 16 F6F-5E equipped with AN/APS4 (ASH) radar gear. The officer complement was as follows:

GeneralAviatorTotal
Lt.Comdr.---11
Lieut.268
Lieut.(jg)41923
Ensign22224
Total84856
1 Lieut.AV(S) Administration.
1 Lieut.AV(S) Air combat information.
1 Lieut.(jg)AV(S) Engineering.
1 Lieut.(jg)AV(RS) Electronic maintenance.
2 Lieut.(jg)AV(S) Night interceptor.
2 EnsignsAV(S) Night interceptors.

The complement of enlisted personnel now became 8 AMMs, 1 AM, 3 AOMs, 1 PR and 1 Y.

Towards the end of this training period the planes were ordered equipped for use of rockets. The final training period found ASH gear check-outs and rocket firing as high priorities on all schedules, but with that the squadron was considered in a state of 100% readiness.

The four months at Barbers Point had passed with considerable drag. This four months of additional training, coming as it did after the intensive training at Charlestown, was in a fashion an anti-climax. While it is true that additional valuable experience was required by the pilots, still a few weeks would have sufficed. But it was necessary for VT to complete a reasonable period of training and as we were to go together there was no alternative.

First of all the squadron began to lose its planes, which were being sent into the forward areas. The replacement planes were a new type, F6F-5Ns equipped with AN/APS6A radar. For several months the new type radar caused considerable trouble, due both to mechanical difficulties and the fact that the maintenance crew had to learn the new gear. Before embarking, however, both the pilots and the maintenance crew became familiar with this gear, which in the opinion of most of our pilots should replace all other airborne radar gear that has yet come to the fleet.

Availability during this period was not good, often below 50%. For the most part, radar squawks downed the planes. There was considerable argument with CASU 2 as to what part squadron personnel should play in maintenance and what should be handled by CASU men. By the time the squadron left, most difficulties had been ironed out fairly well.

Again, as at Charlestown, the squadron office and ready room were inadequate. But we had no choice. We are temporari1y attached wherever we operate and so always get what is left over. In the first place, the offices were on the noisy side of the hangar, and for hour on end the roar of the planes would prevent any organized or efficient work. The ready room was too small, had only two-thirds of the necessary chairs, and the pilots would sit around on the floor during briefings. The chairs that were there were only ordinary wooden folding chairs. Briefing and ground school could only accomplish a fraction of what it should. If the windows were open, we had as well be in a boiler factory. If the windows were closed, a few minutes would produce suffocation.

Also, again, as everywhere we go, the station was not set up to handle a night-operating squadron. The pilots could get but one regular meal a day and that around 1800. The rest of the time it was ham and eggs or, for a change, bacon and eggs. The pilots would normally sleep through the 1200 meal if they flew all night. About the time we left, steps were taken to obtain a regular midnight meal. But as for the ship's service, the barber shop, the moving picture show, small stores and all the rest, they were operating on a normal daytime basis. The station bus service stopped after early evening and our enlisted men, who worked all night, were continually being picked up by the Marine guards because they were out after 2200.

Now, to cover briefly the brighter side of the picture. First of all, flying conditions were almost perfect. Practically no time was lost because of adverse weather conditions. Rarely was a pilot grounded because of physical condition and the climate during the period we were there was ideal.

Recreational facilities for the officers was remarkable considering the large number of service personnel on Oahu. The station was equipped with tennis courts and a good softball diamond. The nearby beaches afforded swimming facilities and usually a group of officers could arrange for the necessary transportation. Organized trips around the island were regularly scheduled, and if necessary special trips could be arranged. While on the subject of transportation, a "well done" to Lt(jg) Whalen, transportation officer of CASU 2, for his handling of the transportation problems of the squadron and all others based on CASU 2, with a grossly inadequate supply of vehicles.

In October the officers of the squadron gave a big party at the beach club. A steak dinner, swimming and dancing. Music supplied by the Naval Air Station band comprised most of the party. Native dancers and entertainers added their bit. Among the guests of honor were Commander W. I. Martin, our Air Group commanding officer and Commander Blackburn, returning from the forward areas.

The end of November saw the large Air Group party attended by the officers of both squadrons and held at the Outrigger's Club at Waikiki. A pheasant dinner and dancing were the main events, costing about $13 an officer. Guests of honor included Rear Admiral Gardner [].

Recreational facilities for the enlisted personnel were not nearly sufficient and for the most part the men preferred to find their own recreation in Honolulu. Just before embarking and after considerable effort a party was given for the men at a cost of $6 apiece. The party included a native Luau, native dancers and entertainers and five cans of beer, also a little coco-cola per man. The party was held at Nimitz Beach, a fleet recreational facility. The men unanimously decided that five cans of beer to a man is insufficient.

But, from officers and men alike comes an everlasting thanks to our good friends, the VT(N)90 pilots, who so kindly ferried our entire squadron, about ten at a time, to the island of Hawaii for the finest recreation we had. Two days of the fine rest and relaxation at Hilo and the Volcano House. A most worthwhile trip.

On 23 December, the squadron, except for those who were to fly aboard, embarked on the "Galloping Ghost", the carrier that was so often "sunk" by the enemy. But first, lest we forget: On 31 August, Ensign Richard Blake Jones crashed into the sea to become the first loss to the new squadron. He was on a run-in hop and crashed in mid-afternoon, just south of Waikiki Beach. On 10 November 1944, Ensign John F. Lungershausen, on a practice masthead bombing run, crashed into the sea about a mile off the coast of Oahu near Waianae, to become the squadron's second and last loss while at Barbers Point.

At Sea

On Sunday 24 December at 1500, the Enterprise shoved off, slid down the east channel of Pearl Harbor through the sub nets, her bow gradually turning to the west. As if it were a parting tribute, one of many brilliant rainbows of Hawaii appeared behind her in the hills of Aiea. At about 1700 the airplanes of the group appeared over the horizon. The VT planes flying in the shape of a big "E" and VF in the shape of a "V", symbolic of two words that were to become synonymous, "Enterprise" and "Victory". All landed safely and our cruise began.

We sailed in a routine manner from 24 December to 5 January to our rendezvous with Task Force 38, passing north of Eniwetok and between Rota and Tinian in the Marianas. Scratch one "Thursday 28 December." Crossed the International Date Line during the night, 27 December. The ship fueled on 5 January and prepared for the first action of VF(N)-90 to come the following morning. Now for a chronological recitation of the strikes and sweeps of the squadron on its first operation.

6 January 1945: A 15 plane strike, led by our Commanding Officer, from 235 miles out was launched at 0430 at targets in the Clark Field area near Manila. 12 planes attacked the targets encountering heavy AA fire. All returned. The Skipper's plane was badly damaged by AA fire and he had to make his landing with most of his controls shot up and hydraulic system out. His plane crashed through the barriers and went over the side. He was soon picked up by a destroyer and returned to the ship. "Sandy" Latrobe [] and "Keg" Kegelman [] were hit by AA, but no serious damage done. The squadron's first strike found no enemy planes in the air so confined its activity to damage to Clark Field.

6 January 1945: A 4 plane sweep from 250 miles out was launched at 1500 at targets in northern Luzon. All returned safely. Carl Nielsen started himself and his squadron on the road to fame. He shot down three enemy planes: a Dinah, an Oscar and a Zeke over Alaminos.

7 January 1945: A 12 plane target CAP over northern Luzon was launched at 0500 from 160 miles. The weather was bad and no enemy planes were encountered. Two rockets were lobbed into a bridge about 15 miles south of Aparri.

7 January 1945: An 8 plane sweep over the Lingayen corridor and Clark Field was launched at 1500. Upon reaching Clark Field, they strafed one Zeke. Then, proceeding north, strafed a truck load of soldiers (Jap) and shot some rockets into a factory and some railway yards. On their return, in very heavy weather and almost total darkness, "Gibby" Gibson [] and John Sowell collided and are now listed among those missing. Sowell proceeded over the fleet and probably bailed out, as the cruiser San Diego reported seeing flares or tracers near her. But, there was no rescue. Gibson, undoubtedly, hit the water very quickly.

7 January 1945: At 1710 a two plane heckler was sent over northern Luzon, strafed the air field at Aparri and shot two more rockets into the bridge 15 miles south of Aparri.

12 January 1945: An 11 plane shipping strike was launched at 1030. Approximately 15 Japanese ships were found sailing in a northerly direction. This force included 5 DD's and 4 DE's. All but three of the ships were heavily strafed by our planes and rocket hits were scored as follows. On DD's 2 SA's 1 FTC's 1 DE's 2. Hits were scored by Lt. Phillips [], Lt(jg) Jones [], Lt(jg) MacMillan [], Ensign Harrison [] and Ensign Kurant []. Ensign Truhowsky [] had his oil line hit and made a water landing about 8 miles off shore. An 0S2U from the U.S.S. Pasadena was dispatched under fighter protection furnished by the Skipper and Lt. Nielsen []. Truhowsky was picked up in about 2 hours and according to a dispatch from the Pasadena, "in excellent condition."

12 January 1945: With 45 minutes notice, an 8 plane sweep was launched at 1550 against Saigon #7 airfield, destroying nine enemy aircraft on the ground with three probables and one damaged. All our pilots returned without damage.

12 January 1945: At 1700 a three plane fighter sweep over Saigon was launched. Strafed and shot a rocket into an FTC and strafed a DE, destroyed a Betty and a Topsy on the ground at Tan Son Nhut field, then returned to the ship.

15 January 1945: A four plane strike with eight VT's was launched at 1415 for a strike on Pratas Reef. Two concrete buildings probably housing the radio station and weather station and practically all other installations were destroyed. An Oscar was strafed and burned. All pilots returned safely.

16 January 1945: At 1630 four plane zipper was launched over Hong Kong and Canton. One Tojo was shot down by Ensign Wattenburger [] with the help of Lt. Wood []. A power house, a radio tower, a warehouse, and a radar station were either strafed or hit with rockets. Returning from this mission, Ensign E. G. Nash crashed into the sea just aft of the carrier. He was never recovered.

16 January 1945: At 1750 a four plane night heckler over Hong Kong and Canton was launched. Installations were strafed and shot up with rockets. Lt(jg) Wright [] never returned from this flight. He was last heard of by radio in the vicinity of Hong Kong.

20 January 1945: At 1845 a zipper over the Toko-Heito area in Formosa was launched. This consisted of four of our planes and four from the Independence. The mission consisted principally of a rocket attack on the airfields at Toko and Heito. All pilots returned safely.

20 January 1945: At 2115 a four plane heckler was launched. The mission was to heckle air fields in southwest Formosa. The air field at Toko was shot up somewhat. During part of this flight a brilliant orange colored light was sighted. After a considerable run it was decided that they were chasing a star and withdrew for other targets.

21 January 1945: At 1650 a six plane zipper was launched. Again the airfields at Toko-Heito and Eiko were attacked. All pilots returned safely.

21 January 1945: A two plane heckler was launched at 1810 to cover Tainan airfield. A torpedo plane accompanied these two and developed engine trouble before reaching the target. One fighter returned with the torpedo and Lt. Wood went to the target alone. He moved into the traffic circle over Tainan airfield and picked off a Frances that was coming in for a landing.

22 January 1945: At 1630 a four plane zipper over Okinawa was launched. Naha field was the principal target. Some rockets were shot into the field. No aircraft was observed. All pilots returned safely.

The foregoing is a chronological recitation of the sweeps and strikes of our first operation. It far from tells the whole story. With the strike on Okinawa we headed for Ulithi. To properly record this period it is necessary to cover other portions of the operation that are not covered by the strikes.

First, of all the pilots flew CAP's (Combat Air Patrols) over the fleet at night (and in the daytime when the weather was too foul for the day fighters). It is regrettable that no night interception with our planes was attempted. For the most part the Japs kept their planes away from us. Practically the only planes encountered, except on the strikes, were those flying between Luzon and Formosa, apparently intent only upon covering this distance without engaging our forces.

No history of this squadron would be complete unless it covered the weather in the South China Sea. For six or eight days we were in a rough and stormy sea. The ship rolled and pitched making both takeoff and landing difficult. The sea and sky literally met at times. It was difficult to tell one from the other especially at night in a torrential rain. The Catapult Officer developed a new launching technique. When the pilot was ready to be launched, the Catapult Officer would turn his head sideways and take a mouth of water. If it was fresh he would bong the plane off, if it was salt, he would wait until the bow of the ship raised a little. The memory of the storms in the South China Sea will long remain with us.

Again, as elsewhere, an outfit that works at night and tries to sleep at day, has its trouble. The ship's company kept a regular day routine. We could by special arrangement get meals for our pilots at night, but arrangements had to be made each time. The barber shop and ships service remained on a day schedule which restricted our use of these facilities. Candy was sold at ships service from 0900 to 1000 each day and only then. We never did get up in time. The noise of the days routine began with G.Q. each morning and continued with various ships calls such as the great long, blow on the bosun whistle followed with "SWEEPERS MAN YOUR BROOMS, CLEAN SWEEP DOWN FORE AND AFT, ETC."

But this was new to the ship and in time most of the problems were met. The ship's officers and crew were individually and collectively most cooperative and did everything they could for us. We were soon made to feel a part of the "Big E", and except for the losing of four of our pilots, the operation will remain a pleasant memory.

For a statement of the flights made by the pilots see Annex Able.

Ulithi

On 26 January in a low overcast and persistent drizzle we entered Ulithi Lagoon and stayed until our sortie on 10 February. Most of our time was devoted to recreation. Basketball and volleyball games were held aboard. Motion pictures every night and numerous beach parties.

Considering the number of men in the area it is a wonder that any beach recreation facilities could be available. But we were able to get to the beach almost every day - Mog Mog. Beer and whiskey were available, although it was sometimes an effort to work up to the bar. The air group as a whole had one very nice party in one of the native huts. The roof was thatched with woven coconut palm leaves, and the sides were open. We had all we wanted to eat and the ships orchestra was on hand to sound out a few old time tunes, and college songs.

The enlisted men also had a party. They were limited to three cans of beer apiece and unanimously decided that the trip was not worth so small a ration. They would prefer to go less often and have more beer.

The time passed quickly and everyone had sufficient rest, recreation, mail from home and sleep. After our sortie, our course was in a general northeasterly direction and it was then announced that we were headed for.

Tokyo

On the night of 10 February, Ensign Sadler [], in taking a wave-off, caught his tail hook on the landing signal officer cage, stalled out and dropped into the sea, plane upside down. He was declared dead as it was improbable that he could have survived the accident. Rescue ships reported no signs of anyone.

We sailed up east of Guam and between the Nampo Shoto islands and Marcus Island and arrived off the Japanese coast at Tokyo on the morning of 16 February. On this morning, day strikes were sent out against enemy military installations in and around Tokyo. What the results were, we were not told and when our 1615 strike went out pilots had no idea what had been done, what enemy opposition was encountered, or what to expect. It appeared to all of us, that by this time of day some intelligence should have reached us to help us plan, make the pilots more effective, and contribute to the success of our mission.

The plan of the day read - "Strike TOKYO". Our fleet lay off the coast protected by a front of mild intensity. Over the target it was clear. After briefing the pilots all the way from Ulithi to Tokyo, the 1615 zipper of twelve planes over Tokyo was launched. Ensign Luscombe [] hit the water on being catapulted. His plane cracked up and he caught hold of the floating belly tank. He safely cleared the ship, but when the rescue destroyer pulled alongside of him, he let go of the belly tank and slowly sank, to become our eighth casualty.

The weather at launching time was very poor. There was a solid overcast from 500 feet to 2000 feet with icing conditions above 3000 feet. It was clear over the target. The planes reached the coast of Japan at Yawata Saki and then turned southwest and followed the coastline around the tip of Chiba Peninsula to Tateyama. Seeing nothing there the flight proceeded up the bay to Yokosuka. There the flight split into three divisions.

Division 1 - Otis [], Hansen [], Earl [], and Hunziker [] - This division strafed a row of twin engine and a row of single engine planes at Yokosuka airfield, destroying several. Ensign Earl then spotted a ship in the bay, proceeded to strafe it and caused an explosion. While clearing the area a Zeke made a run on him and he gave the plane full power leaving the Zeke behind. In the meanwhile Ensign Hunziker had been hit and was forced to make a water landing, which he did in perfect form. He was picked up in a few minutes by the U.S.S. Longshaw.

Division 2 - K. D. Smith [], Young [], Latrobe, Tucker [] - This division strafed Yokosuka airfield following Division 1, then upon being fired on by four freighters, proceeded to strafe them. They then flew to Naruto and proceeded out to the coast and to Choshi, strafed the field there, headed northwest, strafed a radio tower, three railway locomotives, a radar station and a factory.

Division 3 - MacMillan, Kurant, Kenyon [], Close [] - This division flew cover for the other two engaged in strafing Yokosuka field. Ensign Kenyon found a Jack on his tail and MacMillan came in to his rescue, and drove the Jack off. Kenyon then found himself headed straight for another Jack which was also headed for him. They exchanged gunfire but neither plane received visible damage. The two Jacks broke away and that ends the Tokyo action for VF(N)-90.

The Night Fighter Blues

By Jim Loveridge, VF(N)-90
Sung in 10-beat blues rhythm

Now listen to me brother
'Cause I'm an old night fighter
Who has been away out to sea

I've got the blues and
They are the loneliest blues
That any man can have

Now the skipper has asked for
Volunteers to be over Tokyo
I said "Lord, Lord, Skipper
I don't want to go"

Now it's black as hell out there
As black as it's ever been
I wish I were at home
With a great big quart of gin

The following day Tokyo was under attack again, but our planes were limited to flying CAP's. The night of the 17th we went through the Nampo Shoto and on the 19th took up our position north and west of Iwo Jima. For the next four days we flew the usual number of CAP's and on the 24th took our position north and east of Iwo Jima, to protect the amphibious forces which landed on Iwo Jima on the 19th and were being furnished night protection by the Saratoga up to that time.

On 23 February at 1630 the squadron began what turned out to be an all-time record for continuous flying from a carrier. Night and day our pilots flew night CAP's, day CAP's, target CAP'S, and sweeps and intruders on Chichi Jima. Hour upon hour the record went on. Some of the pilots began to tire. Many pilots had two flights and a standby condition in one twenty-four hour period. A statement of our day's schedule is attached and marked Annex Baker. Day after day the record went on until 2 March at 2330 when the total continuous hours of flight amounted to 175. The first 99 hours and 40 minutes of this record was without a single serious deck accident. Ensign Milton [] then brought his plane in three distinct pieces and emerged without serious injury. We had received the help of five pilots from Air Group 53 who stayed with us when the Saratoga returned to the rear areas. Their help was greatly appreciated and no doubt was somewhat responsible for our sustained flight record. Forty-five minutes after the record ended, our planes were in the air again and stayed there most of the time, until 10 March when we headed back to Ulithi.

During this operation the ship had still further adjusted itself to night operations. G.Q. [] was now only sounded when it was "the real thing." Routine G.Q. was abolished and the morning alert was now called by Torpedo Defense. A breakfast was served at 1330 and a midnight dinner was served. A pilots' pantry was organized. The various ship services remained on a day schedule, and the routine noise of the day, while cut down considerably, still did interfere with the pilots' sleep. All in all, however, the ship did a fine job of adjusting itself to a night schedule.

Our aircraft availability on this operation was much better than on the first operations. This is especially significant considering the constant use of the planes.

The pilots' main gripe was the lack of targets. Very little enemy opposition was encountered, but the following are the highlights:

On the night of 19 February, Lieut. Wood was vectored onto a bogie, followed it for some time to obtain positive identification and shot it down. A Dinah? No, a Helen.

On the night of 22 February, Lt. Cdr. McCullough and Lieut. Young were officially given credit for breaking up an air attack on the fleet.

On the afternoon of 24 February, Ensign Woods was hit over Chichi Jima and was forced to ditch forty miles off shore. He made a good landing and inflated his raft immediately. Ensign Franklin [] circled him until relieved by Comdr. Martin and Lieut. Runion []. He was picked up by the U.S.S. Paul Hamilton and returned to us.

On the night 24 February, Lt. K. D. Smith, flying a lone wolf patrol, spotted a Helen over Chichi Jima, came in behind it, opened fire and followed it down almost to the water where it exploded and burned after being hit.

A resume of flights for 10 February through 9 March period shows a total of:

Day hours1598.5
Night hours1061.0
Total hours2659.5
Av. Hr. per 24 hr. period95.0
Total flights821
Total condition time1732.5 hours

The most intensive period during that time was 23 February to 3 March and shows the following total:

Day hours668.0
Night hours559.5
Total hours1227.5
Av. hr. per 24 hr.period136.4
Total flights377

A summary of all flights involved in this operation is attached and marked Annex Charlie.

We entered Ulithi the morning of 12 March, all had a chance to get ashore once, and sortied the morning of 14 March, headed for Kyushu, Shikoku, the Inland Sea, and Southern Honshu. There was very little flying until 18 March. Starting that morning at 0000 we began a night CAP. For once shooting was good.

Lt(jg) Wattenburger chased a bogie all over the western Pacific, through clouds and around the fleet, into one rain squall then another, a slow long, persistent chase that paid dividends for the fleet and for Watt in the form of "one Helen splashed."

Lt(jg) Williams [] chased a bogie for almost three hours, through a few rain squalls and away from the fleet. The bogie returned and again persistency paid off. An unidentified single engine Jap was splashed.

Lt(jg) Purcell ran into a Tabby and after a tough chase sent the Jap's port engine into flames and the Tabby, no doubt, to Davey Jones.

Ensign Earl found a Frances in the clouds, drove it out, put the starboard engine in flames, followed it down and splashed it.

Lt(jg) Squires [], after strafing a Jap boat, spotted a "Jake" sending it into the water with an explosion.

That completed the biggest days' bag of planes shot down by this squadron.

On this same morning Lt(jg) Cole [] was shot down by friendly fire and rescued by a destroyer.

The following morning Lt(jg) Harrison and Lt(jg) Robison [] teamed up on a Betty, each making a run and sent it into the sea where it burned and sank.

That same morning Ensign Perkins [] ran onto a Betty. He set fire to its port engine and chased it through the clouds finally leaving it under orders, still burning and headed for Japan.

It began to look like open season and plenty of game and all the pilots expected to begin getting planes regularly, but the fortunes of war decreed otherwise and it was back to Ulithi on the evening of the 20th. The fleet had been under attack for four days (18th 19th, 20th, and 21st), the heaviest being on the 18th and 20th. A summary of all flights during this operation is attached and marked Annex Dog.

Before leaving the fleet, it was necessary to leave twelve of our pilots with other carriers in the task force. Those who volunteered were: Lt. Otis, Lt. Smith, Lt. Young, Lt(jg) MacMillan, Lt(jg) Cole, Lt(jg) Piscopo [], Lt(jg) Jones, Lt(jg) Kurant, Lt(jg) Kenyon, Lt(jg) Latrobe, Ens. Tucker and Ens. Sowar [].

On 24 March we entered Ulithi where we stayed until 5 April. The pilots used this time to do some refresher flying off Falalop. Mog Mog attracted the usual number of visitors and the enlisted men had a beer party, in a rain storm, but this time with enough beer.

We again joined the fleet on the afternoon of 7 April, in time for Lt. Runion, who was on a day CAP, to lead his division in an attack on a Frances. He made the first run, found only one of his guns working, but this was sufficient to send it towards the sea with its starboard engine burning. On the way down, Lt(jg) Milton added a burst that sent it straight into the water. With this Lt. Runion became known as "one gun, one run Runion."

On the night of 9 April, Lt(jg) Squires added another plane to his credit when he splashed a Val that was making a run on one of our destroyers. He pressed his attack home, following the Val down through the anti-aircraft fire of the destroyer, exhibiting unusual qualities of courage and valor.

Good hunting again on the night of 11 - 12 April. Lieut. Runion, while returning from a bogie chase, ran into a Tony. He turned into the Tony and sent a burst of fire into the cockpit. The Tony dove straight into the water from 200 feet and sank.

Lt. K. D. Smith, chased a Betty all around the fleet, dropped it when the fleet opened fire and took up the chase when it left the area of the fleet. He finally closed and sent the Betty into the water.

Lt(jg) Gallant [] was vectored onto a Peggy, and after overshooting it a few times, finally closed and fired, sending the Peggy into a dive that ended up when it hit the water, exploded, burned and sank.

Ens. Perkins, after being vectored in the general vicinity of a bogie, caught a Jack dropping a flare, chased it and caught it on a maneuvering turn to send it crashing into the extreme northern tip of Okinawa. And this concluded the bag of planes on this operation.

For a full list of flights during this operations see Annex Easy.

On 13 April, Ens. Fred Hunziker was listed as missing in action. He was last heard of hot on the tail of a Betty low over the water. We had been under heavy attack on 11 and 12 of April, so the evening of the 13th we headed back to Ulithi for repairs. Entered Ulithi Lagoon noon the 16th. This time it was hotter than any of our other visits.

Before leaving the fleet it was necessary to leave fourteen pilots and 3 ART's. For the most part names were chosen by lottery and the following stayed - Lt. Wood - Lt(jg) Truhowsky - Wattenburger - Corbit [] - Purcell - Gallant - Hettwer - Jones - Milton - R. J. Smith [] and Ens.'s Kryshak [] - West [] - Perkins - Goodson []. The ART's were - McKinney [] - Linfield [] - Gary []. This saddened the entire squadron. It was hoped that we could remain intact for our return to the States.

On the evening of the 16th April the officers of the air group, and the squadron had a large farewell dinner aboard for a real friend of ours leaving us - Rear Admiral Gardner.

On the 17th dispatch orders came through detaching two of our FDO's, Lt. Weathers [] and Ens. Rodemyer []. They were ordered to ships company. Their work with us had been outstanding, and they would have been a real asset in the reforming and training of a new VF(N)-90. On this same date we heard that CTF 58 is requesting the permanent transfer of Lt(jg)'s Wilmoth [] and Toffolon [] who have been on picket destroyers throughout our tour of duty. And so goes the process of disintegration.

We stayed with the ship at Ulithi until 4 May on which date it was determined that the ship was fully operational and sailed for the battle area. The pilots for the most part spent their time on Falalop. It was a welcome rest. Headquarters on Falalop was Fly Speck Hotel. The officers club was very pleasant and the nights were cool. Considerable time was spent in swimming and more spent in speculation as to the outcome of the repairs to the ship. We flew daily CAP's and ferried planes down from Guam. A trial run of the ship on 4 May indicated that for us it was - Okinawa.

We joined the fleet on 6 May and went back into action the morning of the 7th.

7 May 1945: The mission was a TDADCAP over Kikai. The flight took off at 0300, flew over Kikai and shot some rockets into the wooded area next to Wan Field. Runion and Franklin shot up a radio station on Amami Oshima. They all then strafed Wan Field and returned to the ship.

7 May 1945: A 4 plane TDADCAP was launched at 1730 over Kikai. They found two Franceses on the runways and destroyed them. Then flew to the north end of the island, took up their orbit for the remainder of the flight and all returned.

8 May 1945: Heard the welcome news that Germany had unconditionally surrendered.

9 May 1945: At 0345 four planes were launched for a TDADCAP over Kikai. On the take off Lt(jg) James T. Tucker crashed into the sea off the port beam of the carrier, in an accident whose cause will forever remain unknown. He became the eleventh and last loss to the squadron.

The rest of the planes patrolled the target, found nothing, and returned.

9 May 1945: A four plane TDADCAP was launched at 1730 over Amami Oshima and Kikai, shot a rocket into Mutate Yama and a rocket into Ese Akaogo, strafed Wan airfield and returned.

11 May 1945: Vice Admiral Mitscher came aboard and for four days the Enterprise was the flagship of Task Force 58.

12 May 1945: The Task Force had moved north during the night and at 0230 a patrol was launched to cover southern Kyushu. Seven planes took off, proceeded to Tanega, split up and covered the various fields of southern Kyushu. Once again the hunting was good. Lt. Young spotted the exhaust of a plane, made two runs on it and splashed a Tony. On a strafing run Lt. K. D. Smith had his controls jamb and headed for the ship. On the way he was surprised by tracer bullets passing him and found two Tonys on him. He splashed one of them. The other Tony and Lt. Smith (controls still jammed) both headed for their honorable and respective homes.

Lt. Young found some Jakes flying low over the water and in ten minutes splashed three of them. Lt. Young and Lt.(jg) Latrobe then teamed up to splash a Pete.

Lt(jg) Kenyon chased an Oscar seven miles, caught him and splashed him, after which all pilots returned to base. A successful morning.

13 May 1945: At 2145 Lt(jg) Oden [] was launched from Condition ten for a bogie chase. The chase lasted one hour and fifteen minutes and paid off in the form of "Splash one Dinah".

On the same evening and one hour later Lt(jg) Latrobe was also launched from Condition ten. He orbited for a while and was then vectored onto a bogie. After a ten minute chase he splashed one Betty.

14 May 1945: At 0300 fifteen planes were launched on a TDADCAP. Ten went over Kyushu and five over Shikoku. The flight over Kyushu while in the vicinity of Kushira air field were jumped by three Oscars. The Oscars made one diving attack, missed our planes and were followed down by Lt(jg) Harrison who sent one of then down out of control in a burning dive. Upon their return to the fleet, they found it under attack. They were ordered to orbit until it would be safe to land. They were vectored onto a Zeke coming in to attack the fleet and went for it. Lt(jg) Taylor [] arrived there first and promptly sent the Zeke flaming into the water, for what turned out to be our last kill.

The flight over Shikoku found about 25 or 30 Jap planes on Kochi field. The planes were thoroughly strafed. The flight then spotted a factory and some barracks which they strafed before returning to the fleet.

About 0715 of this same morning our ship suffered some battle damage and the flights were taken aboard carriers in an adjacent Task Group. They were immediately regassed and relaunched for fleet protection, later again landing on other carriers. All pilots were returned by destroyers two days later.

The chronological recitation of flights leaves much untold. Other things were happening to the squadron. The men we had left with other fleet units were returning. The first were Lt(jg)'s Corbit and Wattenburger who returned from the Intrepid shortly after we returned to Ulithi in the latter part of April. Soon after Lt(jg)'s Jones and Truhowsky left the Bennington, proceeded by slow freight to Ulithi where they rejoined us.

Lt. Hettwer and Lt(jg) R. J. Smith returned from the Hornet and also caught us before we left Ulithi.

We heard from a visiting pilot, and later confirmed the sad news that Lt. James J. Wood, who had been aboard the Randolph, had been missing since 2 May 1945. He was last heard of proceeding north, towards Amami Oshima, that night in company with another plane. Neither of the planes nor pilots were ever again heard from.

Within the next few days after we rejoined the fleet, Lt(jg) Gallant returned from the Randolph Ensigns Kryshak and Goodson returned from the Yorktown and Lt(jg)'s Purcell and Wilmoth and Toffolon returned with their fighter director teams and ART's Linfield and Gary returned. This brought the squadron pretty well together again. We are still missing Ensigns Perkins and West who were sent to the Bunker Hill, Lt. Weathers and Ensign Rodemyer who were transferred to ship's company, and ART McKinney who was left on the Randolph.

During the attack on the fleet of 14 April, Robert F. Riessland, AMMH 1/c was burned and blown over the side. A number of other men from the ship were in the water and came to his rescue. He was kept afloat until taken aboard by a destroyer. He was later transferred to the hospital ship U.S.S. Bountiful.

The ship retired from the Kyushu area on the 14th. On 16 May at 1327, over the public address system of the ship came the Bosuns whistle followed by "NOW HEAR THIS - ATTENTION ALL HANDS - THE SHIP IS NOW HEADED FOR UNCLE SUGAR - FIRST STOP ULITHI".

On 19 May in the early morning we entered Ulithi, off-loaded ammunition and supplies, lay at anchor until 23 May at 1440. We left Ulithi as we first saw it in a drizzle. In the distance lay the ring of coral atolls - Mog Mog, Falalop - Azor (Identical). We headed east, our combat days as a squadron behind us.

We passed through the Marshall Islands just south of Eniwetok. In the early morning (about 0130) of 28 May the ship was buzzed by planes, friendly planes, those of VF(N)-91, our relief passing us on their way to take up where we left off.


Kawasaki Army Type 3 Fighter (Hien) Restoration

The only example extant in Japan of the more than 3,000 fighters of the type built between 1942 and 1945, an Army Type 3 Fighter Hien (Flying Swallow) underwent restoration at the place of its birth in Gifu Prefecture. Following its homecoming and extended stay at the Kawasaki Heavy Industries plant in Gifu, the aircraft now forms the centrepiece of the nearby Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum (the former Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum rebranded), which was itself closed to undergo extensive renovation from September 2016 before re-opening on March 24, 2018.

The sole Hien extant in Japan is seen at the time of its makeover at the then U.S. base of Tachikawa, Tokyo, in 1963. The aircraft was again stripped down, this time for extensive restoration work,
late in 2015. This photo was published in the April 1963 issue of
Aireview.
(Photo used by kind permission of SequireySha K.K.)

J-HangarSpace turned to the aircraft’s previous owner, the Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA), and was kindly granted permission by the Aviation Heritage Archive to translate and use photos from an article that appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of the organization’s magazine, Kōkū to Bunka (Aviation and Culture, known in English as Air Forum). The article provides the basis for a look back at the Hien’s postwar nesting and resting places.

Introduction to Article in JAA Air Forum, Summer 2015

The go-ahead has been given to restore the Hien owned by the Japan Aeronautic Association. Carried out with cooperation from Kawasaki Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (KHI), the work is planned to take about a year from September 2015. [This year, 2016] marks the 75th anniversary of the Hien’s maiden flight [on December 12, 1941] and, and as luck would have it, heralds the 120th anniversary of KHI’s founding as Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd. in 1896.

This article provides an overview of past and present restoration work carried out on the Hien.

Hien Defined

Kawasaki initiated design development of what was to become the Hien in response to an Army directive of 1940. A prototype flew in December 1941, the type entered volume production in 1942 and was in regular service in 1943. The majority of Japanese military aircraft that saw service during World War II were powered by air-cooled radial engines, but the Hien was fitted with the German-designed, liquid-cooled Daimler-Benz DB601 engine, licence-built and further developed by Kawasaki. In the latter half of the 1930s, aircraft powered by liquid-cooled engines that facilitated streamlined fuselage design were developed in the United States and Europe, and the Hien was developed as a result of the influence those designs had on the Imperial Japanese Army.

The Hien was the aircraft produced in the greatest numbers at Kawasaki Aircraft’s Kakamigahara production line. Achieving a peak monthly production rate of 200 aircraft, the plant built
3,285 of the Ki-61 and its modified, radial-engined version, the Ki-100.
(Photo on display at Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum)

In charge of design was Takeo Doi (1904–1996), who had studied in the Aviation Department of the Tokyo Imperial University’s Engineering Faculty alongside Jirō Horikoshi (1903–1982), the father of the Mitsubishi Zero fighter. Joining Kawasaki and receiving guidance for a time from aircraft designer Richard Vogt (1894–1979), who had been invited over from his native Germany, Doi exercised his talents in the design of such Kawasaki-built IJAAF aircraft as the Type 95 Fighter (Ki-10) and Type 99 Light Bomber (Ki-48, Lily). In his writings, Doi said of his work on the Hien that it had been his intention to try to put together his ideal fighter aircraft. Involved after the war in the development of the NAMC YS-11 transport and the Kawasaki P-2J Turbo-Neptune anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Doi contributed to the development of Japan’s aircraft industry through his focus on bringing on the next generation of aviation engineers.

The poster used to publicize a 2014 exhibition at the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum that marked the 110th anniversary of Takeo Doi’s birth.

As the Hien entered regular service in 2603 under the Japanese imperial year system, the then standard procedure of taking the last digit as a type number resulted in the Type 3 Fighter designation. As the Army had also adopted a parallel numbering system in 1933 that involved the sequential allocation of kitai (airframe) numbers, the aircraft was also known as the Ki-61. [The name hien conjures up the image of a rapidly turning swallow in flight.]

A well-known image of a Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Ki-61-I Hei) of the 244th Fighter Regiment, Imperial
Japanese Army Air Force, at Chofu airfield, Tokyo, in May 1945. The former mount of the unit’s CO,
Capt. Teruhiko Kobayashi, “24” was last flown from Chiran, Kagoshima Prefecture, by 2nd. Lt.
Shunzō Takashima on a special (kamikaze) mission against the U.S. fleet off Okinawa on June 6, 1945.
Surviving the war, Kobayashi joined the JASDF in September 1954 and underwent six months of jet
training in the United States from November 1955. He was one of two pilots tragically killed when
their T-33A crashed on takeoff from Hamamatsu AB, Shizuoka Prefecture, on June 4, 1957.
The JASDF career of another former 244th CO, Capt. Fumisuke Shōno, included time
flying the F-4EJ Phantom.
(Photo: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation via Wikimedia Commons)

It has been reported that around 3,000 aircraft of the type were produced, but few remain and only one of those, the example owned by the JAA, resides in Japan.

History of the JAA Hien

The JAA Hien was captured by U.S. forces at IJAAF Tama airfield (today’s Yokota AB), Tokyo, after the end of the war. During the war, the aircraft is presumed to have been assigned to the Tama-based IJAAF Air Technical Evaluation Unit, but this is not known for certain. Amid the wholesale destruction of practically all Japanese aircraft that remained in Japan after the end of the war, the reason why this aircraft was spared remains unknown. The aircraft is of the Model 2 sub-type, which was designed for improved performance by dint of its Ha-140 engine, Kawasaki’s own development of the DB601. Because of the disrupted production of essential engines, it is reported that fewer than 100 examples were completed to the Model 2 standard.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed in 1951 and came into effect the following year, the year in which the JAA resumed its activities [aviation having been banned during the Allied Occupation]. No records remain of the circumstances under which the Hien was handed over to the JAA from the U.S. military. The JAA displayed the Hien at an exhibition held in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, in 1953 to mark the passing of 50 years since the Wright Brothers’ first flight in a heavier than air aircraft. It was when transporting the aircraft from Yokota to Hibiya Park for the exhibition that the main wing was cut outboard of the flaps to allow for the width of the roads.

At the time having only recently become the property of the Japan Aeronautic Association, the Hien stands in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight
in December 1953.
(Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)

The Hien was subsequently displayed at exhibitions and air displays throughout the country [details of which can be found in the table below]. In 1986, the aircraft was placed in the then newly opened hall at the Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots in Chiran (today part of Minami-Kyushu City), Kagoshima Prefecture, where it was to remain until September 2015.

The former Hien display at the poignant Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots
(Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)

Hien’s Present Condition [2015]

It is known that, at the time the JAA Hien came into the U.S. military’s possession, the aircraft was already missing some items, such as the inspection panels on its nose and cockpit instruments. As the subsequent treatment the aircraft received from the JAA was also less than appropriate, interior parts continue to be missing up until today. The cockpit instruments were replaced by similar-looking, U.S.-made versions, and the aircraft fitted with similar-sized, modern-day versions or replicas of other components, including the tyres.

(Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)

It is thought that the aircraft had originally appeared in natural metal finish, save for an anti-glare panel and the national markings. The reasoning behind this includes the existence at the JAA of a photo—although not of the same aircraft—that shows a natural metal Type 3 Model 2 (Ki-61-II) assigned to the Air Technical Evaluation Unit at that time, and mention having been made that the JAA Hien had been unpainted at the time it fell into U.S. hands. However, the aircraft underwent maintenance in 1963, during which time a coat of camouflage paint was applied in imitation of an aircraft assigned to the 244th Flying Regiment based at Chofu airfield, Tokyo, during the war. In the case of the aircraft’s interior, the cockpit and the area visible from the access panel directly behind the cockpit had been painted with zinc chromate and other coatings after the war, but the rear fuselage remains in its original, unpainted state.

The Hien Restoration as Aviation Heritage

In recent years, there has been growing interest in cultural properties related to the development of modern industry (industrial heritage) and the modernization of society (modernization heritage) from the Meiji Period (1868–1912) onwards. In 2009, the Hien was selected as part of the Modernization Industrial Heritage Group certified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). There is a growing commitment to not merely preserve the appearance of buildings and products, but to try to hand down to future generations as much information as possible in the form of cultural property by saving examples and including input from and about the people who made or used them. Since 2008, the JAA has certified a total of eight important aviation assets, including the first production YS-11 owned by the National Museum of Nature and Science [in Ueno Park, Tokyo]. In addition to the scarcity and position in aviation history of a candidate for certification, important judgment criteria take into account whether and to what extent the aircraft’s original state (originality and authenticity) has been maintained.

The Hien underwent restoration work at the U.S. military base at Tachikawa in 1963, and there are signs that repairs have been carried out on a number of occasions since then. Embarrassingly, no records remain of when and what kind of work was carried out. The work seems to have focused entirely on maintaining the aircraft’s external appearance. At that time, the view had not yet been fostered that aircraft such as the Hien could be seen as cultural assets.

Being carried out on an aircraft seen as a cultural asset to be handed down to future generations, the current restoration work is being regarded as an opportunity to (a) remove the modifications added after the war that are extraneous to the aircraft’s history without undermining original parts, and (b) leave behind detailed records. Involving KHI’s cooperation, the work will more specifically include:

  • Inspection of original and non-original parts
  • Removal of current paint and re-painting close to original colour scheme
  • Re-covering of fabric flying surfaces that were covered after the war
  • In the case of missing parts, obtain the same type of parts or, if possible, re-engineer exact replicas

As 70 years have passed since the aircraft was built, an inspection of the aircraft’s structural soundness will be conducted that will check for the presence of corrosion and confirm that there are no obstacles to future storage.

After the restoration, the plan is to exhibit the aircraft at the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum in Gifu Prefecture.

Request for Assistance in Hien Restoration Project

After World War II, a vast amount of aviation-related documentation was destroyed and hardly any on the Hien remains. The team at KHI is currently conducting an extensive inspection of the Type 5 Fighter [Ki-100 radial-engined version of the Hien] preserved [at the RAF Museum Cosford] in England for the purposes of the Hien restoration. Also, Tachihi Holdings Co., Ltd. has provided information on restoring the fabric wing coverings. In addition, assistance is being received from organizations and individuals who possess Hien drawings and handling manuals or know where they are currently being kept. These documents are being copied to serve as an archive for the restoration project.

Having thus far donated items such as a Hien tyre (shown below) and cockpit switches, the JAA Aviation Heritage Archive would if possible like to take advantage of this restoration.

(Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)

If anyone reading this possesses Hien photos and parts or relevant documents, we [the JAA Aviation Heritage Archive] would very much appreciate hearing from them.

“Flying Swallow” Migrations and Sightings

Sept. 1944 Manufactured as Model 2 Hien c/n 5017 at Kawasaki Aircraft’s Gifu Plant
Early 1945 Probably assigned to IJAAF Technical Evaluation Unit
Sept. 8, 1945 Found by U.S. forces at Tama (Fussa) airfield (now Yokota AB), Tokyo
1946–1953
(Yokota AB)
On display at official handover of Yokota AB to occupying forces, Aug. 8, 1946.
Aircraft remains on display close to Base Operations Building (the wartime Fussa
airfield control tower). Sports U.S. markings for a time from 1947. Following a
barracks fire, moved to in front of base gymnasium
1953–1963
(JAA)
Ownership transferred from U.S. military to Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA).
Displayed at event marking 50th anniversary of Wright Brothers flight in Hibiya
Park, Tokyo (Dec. 1953), after which placed in store at Ministry of Transport,
Infrastructure, Transport and Technology Institute in Mitaka, Tokyo
Displayed in increasingly dilapidated state at:
Travel and tourism event marking 30th anniversary of the start of streetcar
operations in Kumamoto (Oct.-Nov. 1954)
Nagoya event raising money for castle reconstruction (early 1955)
Yatsu Play Land amusement park in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture (c. 1955)
Kintetsu Ayameike Amusement Park, Nara Prefecture (March-May 1956)
Dec. 12, 1962 Handed over at Mitaka to U.S. 5th Air Force for restoration at Tachikawa,
Tokyo. Designer Takeo Doi involved in restoration work
Mar. 16, 1963 Officially handed back to JAA President Taizō Shōda at ceremony on first day
of Tokyo Air Pageant held at Futako-Tamagawa Park. JAA requests that Japan
Defense Agency (JDA) assume responsibility for storage immediately after
pageant ends on May 31
May 31, 1963
onwards
JDA (now
Ministry of
Defense)
Responsibility for storage and maintenance passes to Gifu AB (where aircraft
appears at annual air show in 1971–1975, 1977–1978, 1985)
1963 plans for display at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo abandoned, aircraft hastily
transported to Kumagaya AB, Saitama Prefecture. Aircraft also shown at:
Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, in spring of 1964
Third air show at Iruma AB, Saitama Prefecture, marking JASDF’s 10th
anniversary, Nov. 3, 1964
Kumagaya AB Open House (in hangar), March 1965
Keio department store at Shinjuku Station, Tokyo, coinciding with exhibition
of war memorabilia, summer 1965
Hanshin department store (on roof) in Osaka, October 1965
Defence exhibition near Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture, with JASDF aircraft,
April-June 1967
Aeronautical Science Fair, YomiuriLand Amusement Park, Tokyo, Mar.-May 1968
Second Tokyo Aerospace Show, Iruma AB, October 1968
Gifu AB (long-term display) 1970 to March 1972
Great Aviation Exhibition, Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, March-June 1972
Festival in Sakae Park, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, May 1973
Shizawa department store (on roof), Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, April-May 1975
International Aerospace Show, Iruma AB, October 1976
Natalie Amusement park air fair, Hiroshima Prefecture, May 1978
Inuyama Line Park air fair, Aichi Prefecture, Sept.-Nov. 1979
Mitsui Greenland Amusement park air fair, Kumamoto Prefecture, March-June 1980
Mitsukoshi department store aviation exhibition (sponsored by JAA, backed by
Asahi Shimbun), Ikebukuro, Tokyo, July-Sept. 1980
Sky Festival, Okegawa airfield, Saitama Prefecture, August 1981 and August 1983
(For around two years in the 1980s, the aircraft was suspended from the ceiling at
the Kawaguchiko Motor Museum in Narusawa, Yamanashi Prefecture.
J-HangarSpace has contacted museum owner Nobuo Harada, who hopes to provide
more information when able to access his currently [Feb. 2016] snowbound facility.)
1986 After 23 years, JDA loans aircraft to Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots, Chiran,
Kagoshima Prefecture
2009 (JAA) Aircraft selected as METI-certified aviation heritage asset
Sept. 8, 2015 After 29 years in Chiran, now 71-year-old aircraft arrives at KHI’s Gifu plant for
restoration work
Mar. 24, 2018 Goes on open public display at what is now the Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum
Sources: Japanese, primarily Hikōki Kumo (Contrail) Internet magazine (link)

(Above and below) Two views of the Hien, taken 13 years apart by the same photographer. That above shows the aircraft during the final days of its first period under Japan Aeronautic Association ownership, at the Tokyo Air Pageant of 1963. Below, the aircraft stands next to a Zero fighter on Iruma’s wet tarmac during the International Aerospace Show of October 1976. (Photos: Jun Oizumi)
(To view more of Jun Oizumi’s collection, please visit his contribution page at
1000aircraftphotos.com [link])

In 1980, the Hien was displayed next to a JASDF Starfighter outside the Mitsukoshi department store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, as part of an aviation exhibition. At that time, the aircraft was painted in less flamboyant 244th Flying Regiment markings than those applied for its long-term stay in Chiran.
(Photo: Keiichi Yamada, as published in his book Hikōki Hyakunen
[A Century of Airplanes], Seizando, 2007)

Looking somewhat out of place, the Hien spent a couple of years suspended from the ceiling at the
Kawaguchiko Motor Museum, which was built in 1981. Interestingly, what appears to be the
fuselage of a Nakajima Ki-115
Tsurugi (Sword)—presumably the example that, like the Hien,
was displayed at Yokota AB—can be seen shelved in the background. A report on a 2014
visit to the adjoining Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall) can be found
in the Aviation Museum Reports section below.
(Photo: Kawaguchiko Motor Museum via Nobuo Harada)

More recent information on the restoration project was provided in the February 2016 issue of JWings magazine, as a result of the press having been granted access to witness the status of the project late in 2015.

The JAA commenced this restoration project to preserve the aircraft for posterity in May 2015. The main wing proving a tight fit for one of the three truck trailers used for the three-stage nighttime road journey from Chiran, the aircraft arrived in Gifu on September 8 for work to begin in earnest in a corner of the KHI plant. The Kakamigahara City website (link) carried a report following a media event held 10 days later, at which a banner behind the aircraft proclaimed Army Type 3 Fighter Hien Returns Home!

By the end of November 2015, the main wing had been separated from the fuselage, and the gaudy camouflage scheme and 244th Flying Regiment markings the aircraft had worn throughout its time at Chiran removed. This enabled the original Kawasaki parts and later attempts at repairs to be clearly seen. Prior to taking up residency at Chiran, the aircraft had taken a lot of punishment during its time being transported around Japan and when placed on display at a number of locations.

KHI established a 25-strong Hien Restoring Engineering Team (HiRET) to oversee this important undertaking with the aim of carrying out the work, as far as is possible, on the basis of accurate historical research. A report in the Gifu Shimbun daily on September 19, 2015, quoted Takashi Ninomiya, the deputy HiRET leader, as saying: “We would like to restore the aircraft to as near as possible to its appearance at the time it was built, while conveying the complexity of the manufacturing process and the extent to which technology had progressed.”

A large number of Japanese companies are taking part in the project by reproducing missing parts. At the time of the JWings visit, the restoration work was expected to have been completed in autumn 2016 to enable the aircraft to take pride of place at the nearby Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum in November, but a joint Gifu Prefecture-Kakamigahara City initiative to refurbish the museum meant that the aircraft would have to be carefully kept in temporary accommodation elsewhere.

Upon completion of its initial restoration, the aircraft was presented to the media at an event marking Kawasaki’s 120th anniversary held at Kobe Port Terminal on October 16, 2016 a series of photos from the Sankei Shimbun can be found here (link) and a YouTube clip here (link). The aircraft remained on public display there until November 3 and was then transferred back to the Gifu Works.

Even before the aircraft’s homecoming, the name Hien had made headlines following a succession of local finds. Discoveries in a farmer’s attic in September 2014 and at an elementary school in nearby Unuma in May 2015 had yielded a propeller spinner from an earlier Model 1 and parts from a Hien’s lower fuselage. Measuring 57 cm high and 64 cm in diameter, the duralumin spinner retains both its dark “Kawasaki green” paint and dark brown primer. The items are believed to have come into local people’s possession and changed hands for unknown reasons amid the postwar turmoil, when materials were scarce.

No less a dignitary than Kakamigahara City Mayor Kenji Asano presented details of the finds at a press conference held on July 24, 2015. Quoted by the Gifu Shimbun daily the next day, the head of the city’s History and Folklore Museum Katsuhiro Nishimura stressed that “Few Kakamigahara citizens are today aware that the Hien was mass produced here during the war. Having such items is worthwhile, as they will help people gain some first-hand experience [by means of genuine items] and realize that aircraft production once thrived here.”

Donated to the city, the spinner formed part of a temporary exhibit held at the Kakamigahara Foundation for Culture and Industry in August 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Pacific War’s end, as shown in this article in the Mainichi Shimbun (link).


Watch the video: Mitsubishi Ki-51 Sonia