Air Pictorial 2002-05
-
M.Huggins - Dragon Slayers
While the B-29s showered Japan’s industry with high explosive and fire-bombs, Bockscar dropped the second and last atomic bomb, on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.
Gaining a reputation for heroics above Tokyo, were the Nakajima Ki-44 Shokis, or Demons (Tojo), of the 47th Sentai based at Narimasu. The pilots of this unit prided themselves on their 'Sky Shadow Air Supremacy Unit’ - a voluntary element of the Regiment that performed ramming attacks against B-29s. These attacks were not regarded as suicide missions. The pilots carried parachutes, the ripcords of which were attached to the fighter’s cockpit in order to automatically deploy should he be thrown clear. The fighters of this unusual force are easy to spot in period photos due to their gaudy markings compared with the more sombre finish of the Regiment's other interceptors. The aircraft shown is a good example.
Позднее Кобаяси довел свой боевой счет до 14 побед (12 B-29 и 2 "Хеллкета"), о чем свидетельствуют отметки на фюзеляже его самолета.
The other most noteworthy Army formation defending Tokyo, was the 244th Sentai based at Chofu. The Regiment was equipped almost entirely with the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien or Swallow (Tony). The Hien was unique in as much as it was the only Japanese fighter not to be powered by a radial engine. In the field, the combat units often removed either the twin machine guns (12.7mm), or the pair of 20mm cannons, either way this effectively lightened the aircraft, also making it more responsive, along with a better performance. The man on the left is Major Teruhiko Kobayashi, CIO of the Regiment. You are looking at a man who successfully destroyed a B-29 by ramming - and lived to tell the tale! Among Kobayashi’s ten victories were three confirmed B-29s in defence of Tokyo. The many markings just below the cockpit of his fighter are thought to include probables and damaged aircraft, also most of these signify heavy bombers. Late in the war, the 244th Sentai received the new Kawasaki Ki-100-Ib fighter to replace its battle-weary Ki-61s.
A trio of Ki-61 Hiens from the 56th Sentai, prepare to take-off on an intercept mission, while a fourth fighter appears to be parked. The 56th Sentai, a unit that was not formed until April 1944, contributed to the defence of Osaka and Kobe in the Western Defence Sector. Although, like many fighter units, it also participated in the escort of Kamikaze aircraft from bases in Southern Kyushu against allied shipping targets off Okinawa in Spring 1945. The white panel on the rear fuselage of the nearest Hien, denotes a Home Defence fighter. The photo was probably taken at Taisho air base, the unit’s main base of operations.
The photo shows an N1K2-J of an unknown Home Defence unit, possibly while under combat evaluation. The Japanese Navy did not use the white band marking used by its Army counterparts.
Before the arrival of the allied escort fighters, notably the P-51D Mustang and the F4U Corsair, the Japanese twin-engined heavy fighters posed quite a threat. This is a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu or Dragon Slayer (Allied reporting name Nick), of the 5th Sentai (Army Air Regiment). The 5th Sentai operated on Home Defence duties from bases on Kyushu, and later Honshu. The dark colouring of the rudder is solely due to deep shadow, and is not part of the Regimental emblem. Many Ki-45s were armed with a converted Army 37mm anti-tank gun located in the ventral position, whilst other variants mounted twin 20mm cannon angled upwards behind the cockpit. Both variants proved potentially lethal to B-29s, even during daylight. However, following the arrival of US escort fighters over Japan, the Ki-45s often found themselves the hunted rather than the hunter, and were consequently relegated to nightfighter operations, a role for which they were adequately suited. Probably the most notable of the unit’s pilots was 1st Lt Fujitaro Ito. Amongst Ito’s tally of 13 confirmed victories, was a total of seven heavy bombers, at least four of them destroyed whilst flying his Toryu in the defence of Nagoya with the 5th Sentai.
В Маньчжурии и Корее японцы использовали незначительное количество истребителей Ки-84 и J2M (на фото)
The Mitsubishi J2M Raiden or Thunderbolt (Jack) was a potent Navy interceptor armed with four 20mm cannon. This fine ground shot portrays a Raiden of the Genzan Kokutai, and was taken at Genzan air base in Wonsan. The term Genzan Kokutai is actually misleading, as it really should refer to an Air Group of that name, operated in the early years, but later in the war any fighter unit based at Genzan tended to be named after the important air base while it served there.
Истребитель Ки.46-III-КАИ
Nakajima J1N3 Model 23 Gekko, code-named Irving, of the Yokosuka Air Group, 7th Sqn, flown by CPO Juzo Kuramoto and Ens Shiro Kurutori. On May 25, 1945, the pair downed five B-29s and damaged a sixth flying this aircraft.
Although generally playing a lesser role in the defence of Japan, the Imperial Navy's nightfighter elements performed significantly well against the unescorted US raids. Here is a Nakajima J1N2 Gekko or Moonlight (Irving) of the 322nd Kokutai (Naval Air Group), either whilst based in defence of Kure or Osaka. Probably the Navy's top B-29 ace flew with this unit; Susumu Ishihara downed 16 B-29s, all apparently confirmed.
Hangars burn on the southern Japanese Navy airfield of Kure, during an attack by US Navy and Marine carrier-based aircraft on March 20, 1945. Among the types visible are nine Mitsubishi G4M Betty bombers.