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"The Rise of the Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941 by Peattie the IJNAF lost 1,169 aircraft (554 destroyed and 665 badly damaged) and 828 men (680 aircrew and 148 ground crew) from 1937 to 1941. The heaviest losses were suffered in 1937 when 229 aircraft were destroyed or badly damaged and 285 men were killed. The lowest losses were recorded in 1941 when 166 aircraft were destroyed or damaged and 27 men were killed. Bomber crews suffered the highest losses with 379 men killed out of the total of 680 aircrew causalities."
Taking the above in account it seems to me that Soviet and Chinese claims of 81 destroyed Japanese planes in air combats during 1938-1940 (Demin) are quite realistic, probably not any overclaiming there in that figure. Maybe even underclaiming?
What could have been IJAAF losses in 1937-1941? - For sure it is known that they also lost some planes in combat over China as IJAAF also had its share of air operations over China. And surely some IJAAF planes were written off due to accidents and other non-combat related causes.
But let´s see what Raymond Cheng will come up when it comes to Japanese losses. The Claude A5M book looks also interesting - but I wonder if it has good info about combat losses of IJNAF fighter units in China?
More about the Japanese losses:
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https://www.amazon.com/Aces-Republic-Ch ... 1472805615
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Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1932-1945
Japanese Army Air Force Units and Their Aces: 1931-1945
Both address in reasonable detail units and actions over China from the earliest days until wars end. Thoroughly good reads.