Shiden (George) vs F6F, P-51

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carolwmahs
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Shiden (George) vs F6F, P-51

Post by carolwmahs » 23 Apr 2006 21:57

I've read that the Kawanishi N1K1-J "Shiden" was superior to the Hellcat and a match for a Mustang. It' was an excellent aircraft, but from the numbers below, I find that a little hard to believe. Are there any flight comparison tests that substantiate this? Any combat reports? I know that pilot quality, numbers, and reliability make it difficult to assess it compared to contemporary US types, but are there any one-on-one engagements from US pilots that recognize it's superiority? While respecting the undeniable bravery of Japanese pilots, and the skill of the remaining "old hands", I question the reliability of some late-war Japanese records.

Shiden:

Powerplant: 1× Nakajima Homare NK9H radial engine, 1,990 hp (1,480 kW)
Performance
Maximum speed: 369 mph (594 km/h)
Range: 1,066 mi; 1,488 mi ferry (1,716 km / 2,395 km)
Service ceiling: 35,500 ft (10,800 m)
Rate of climb: 4,000 ft/min (high octane fuel) (20.3 m/s)
Wing loading: 34 lb/ft² (166 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.226 hp/lb (0.305 kW/kg)

Hellcat:

Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10W Double Wasp two-row radial engine, 2,000 hp (1,492 kW)
Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0211
Drag area: 7.05 ft² (0.65 m²)
Aspect ratio: 5.34
Performance
Maximum speed: 380 mph (612 km/h)
Stall speed: 84 mph (135 km/h)
Range: 945 mi (1,520 km) combat, 1,530 mi (2,460 km) ferry
Service ceiling: 37,300 ft (11,370 m)
Rate of climb: 3,500 ft/min (17.8 m/s)
Wing loading: lb/ft² (kg/m²)
Power/mass: hp/lb (kW/kg)
Lift-to-drag ratio: 12.2

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Post by Purple fang » 24 Apr 2006 00:41

Speeds are off me thinks. George went over 400 mph. Hellcat too. Saburo Sakai's book mentioned a George shooting down 4 Hellcats? in one sortie. Hmm either Hellcats or Corsairs, anyway he would have got more but ran out of cannon shells.

http://www.kotfsc.com/aviation/n1k1.htm

unique feature of the N1K1-J was its set of combat flaps. Whereas flap extension was manually controlled on the Kyofu seaplane, the flaps on the landplane version had the ability automatically to change their angle in response to changes in g-forces during maneuvers. This automatic operation freed up the pilot from having to worry about his flaps during combat, and eliminated the possibility of a stall at an inopportune time.

and the visibility during taxiing was poor. However the aircraft had pleasant flying characteristics and the automatic combat flaps gave the aircraft exceptional maneuverability


It proved itself superior to most US shipboard fighters that it encountered, and many experienced Shiden pilots regarded the previously-formidable Grumman F6F Hellcat as a particularly easy "kill".

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Pips
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Post by Pips » 24 Apr 2006 05:21

Just checked my various sources for speed and climb performances to see what variations exist to those above. Not much really. My sources show:

N1K1-J
Max speed: 369mph @ 18,370ft
Initial climb: 3300 ft/min

F6F-5
Max Speed: 380mph @ 23,400ft
Initial climb: 2980 ft/min

P-51D
Max xpeed: 437mh @ 25,000ft
Initial Climb: 3475 ft/min

Sources are:
Aircraft In WWII, by Stewart Wilson
Japanese AIrcraft of the Pacific War, by Rne Francillon
American Warplanes in WWII, by David Donald
America's 100,000, by Francis Dean
Genda's Blade, by Henry Sakaida
Japanese Naval Aces and Fighter Units, by Hata and Izawa

As I said between all the above there are no significant variations. Interestingly though some books do add additional information. For example American Warplanes states that the F6F-5 could, with WEP engaged, reach speeds of 404mph. America's Hundred-Thousand supports that figure. It also states that the P-51D could, with WEP fly at 450mph. Genda's Blade has the N1K2-J performing at 407mph with WEP.

So from the figures both the N1K2-J and the F6F-5 had similar performance envelopes, yet each enjoyed a decided advantage in one area. The N1K2-J had the advantage - and this is covered by several pilot comments in Genda's Blade (both Japanese and American) - of the automatic combat flaps. Both sides state that this gave the Shiden a decided advantage in manoeuvering. The F6F-5 enjoyed an edge if fights took place over 20,000ft, as the engine performance of the N1K2-J fell off sharply over that height.

The performance of the P-51D though is far ahead of the Shiden's level at any altitude, and especially so if the contest took place over 25,000ft.

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Post by Ome_Joop » 24 Apr 2006 07:20

N1K1-J
Max speed: 369mph @ 18,370ft
Initial climb: 3300 ft/min
This seems more like the performance of the N1K2-J Shiden-KAI or George 21 on not the Shiden/George 11?!
I guess the Shiden could outmanouvre/perform the P-51 at low-medium altitude
Ill put in some info i grabbed

=======================
Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden George 11:
=======================
One Nakajima NK9H Homare 21 eighteen-cylinder air-cooled radial rated at 1990 hp for takeoff,
1825 hp at 5740 feet,
1625 hp at 20,015 feet.
Performance:
Maximum speed 363 mph at 19,355 feet,
334 mph at 8040 feet.
Cruising speed 230 mph at 6560 feet,
service ceiling 41,000 feet
cruising speed 230 mph at 6600 feet.
Climb to 19,685 feet in 7 minutes 50 seconds.
Normal range 890 miles at 230 mph at 13,120 feet,
maximum range 1580 miles.

Weights: 6387 pounds empty, 8598 pounds loaded, 9526 pounds maximum loaded.

Dimensions: wingspan 39 feet 4 7/16 inches, length 29 feet 1 25/32 inches, height 13 feet 3 27/32 inches, wing area 252.95 square feet.

Armament: Two 7.7-mm Type 97 machine guns in the fuselage, two 20-mm Type 99 Model 2 cannon in the wings, two 20-mm Type 99 Model 2 cannon in underwing gondolas. Two 132-pound bombs or one 88 Imp gall drop tank could be carried externally.

===================
N1K2-J Shiden Kai George 21:
===================
One Nakajima NK9H Homare 21 eighteen-cylinder air-cooled radial rated at 1990 hp for takeoff,
1825 hp at 5740 feet,
1625 hp at 20,015 feet.
Performance: Maximum speed 369 mph at 19,355 feet,
359 mph at 9840 feet.
Cruising speed 230 mph at 9845 feet,
service ceiling 35,300 feet cruising speed 230 mph at 6600 feet.
Climb to 19,685 feet in 7 minutes 22 seconds.
Normal range 1066 miles at 219 mph at 9840 feet,
maximum range 1488 miles with 88 Imp. gall. drop tank.

Weights: 5858 pounds empty, 8818 pounds loaded, 10,714 pounds maximum loaded.

Dimensions: wingspan 39 feet 4 7/16 inches, length 30 feet 7 29/32 inches, height 12 feet 11 29/32 inches, wing area 252.95 square feet.

Armament: Four 20-mm Type 99 Model 2 cannon in the wings. Two 551-pound bombs or one 88 Imp. gall. drop tank could be carried externally.

===========
N1K1 Kyofu / Rex
===========
One Mitsubishi MK4E Kasei 15 fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radial rated at 1530 hp for takeoff,
1400 hp at 8530 feet,
1280 hp at 19,685 feet.
Performance: Maximum speed 302 mph at 18,700 feet,
service ceiling 34,645 feet cruising speed 230 mph at 6560 feet.
Climb to 16,400 feet in 5 minutes 32 seconds.
Normal range 660 miles,
maximum range 1040 miles.

Weights: 6067 pounds empty, 7716 pounds loaded, 8184 pounds maximum loaded.

Dimensions: wingspan 39 feet 4 7/16 inches, length 34 feet 8 7/8 inches, height 15 feet 7 inches, wing area 252.95 square feet.

Armament: Two 7.7-mm Type 97 machine guns in the fuselage and two 20-mm Type 99 Model 1 cannon in the wings. Two 66-pound bombs could be carried externally.


http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/b ... r/n1k.html

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Post by Purple fang » 24 Apr 2006 07:29

Well, Sakai said it went over 400. Officialdom has always said less. But he was there, & the Americans that wrote those figures weren't. One of them hard to resolve issues perhaps.

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Post by Ome_Joop » 24 Apr 2006 08:22

Purple fang wrote:Well, Sakai said it went over 400. Officialdom has always said less. But he was there, & the Americans that wrote those figures weren't. One of them hard to resolve issues perhaps.
Saburo also said once in an interview that everything built by Kawanishi was crap...

Take that idiot [Minoru] Genda. He could barely fly, but he jumped up and down about the Shiden-kai ["George"], so everybody else pretended to like it, too. That plane was a piece of crap, put together by a third-rate firm [Kawanishi].

http://www.warbirdforum.com/sakai2.htm

However it is a fact that us test with high octane avgas had some good results with some aircrafts performance(Ki-84 going 427mph and Ki-83 over 470 mph)...but with the normal stuff the Japanese had it isn't likely but who knows!

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Post by Pips » 24 Apr 2006 15:03

Ome_Joop wrote: [Take that idiot [Minoru] Genda. He could barely fly, but he jumped up and down about the Shiden-kai ["George"], so everybody else pretended to like it, too. That plane was a piece of crap, put together by a third-rate firm [Kawanishi].
Genda could barely fly? In pre-war Japan Genda was famous both as a highly skilled pilot and leader of the Navy's premier flight team. He had over three thousand hours of flight time. And he had combat experience flying over China in 1937.

I don't know who this Scott Hards character is over at the warbirdforum, but that interview is totally at odds with published material on Saburo Sakai by noted authors such as Caidin, Hata and especially Henry Sakaida, who probably knew him better than most. In Sakaida's 'Winged Samauri' Sakai speaks very highly of Genda's skill and leadership. In 'Genda's Blade' the book is full of favourable comments by japanese pilots on the performance and manoeuverability of the Shiden. There are even several comments of the same ilk by Americans who flew against the Shiden in combat.

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Post by Pips » 24 Apr 2006 15:15

Purple fang wrote: Saburo Sakai's book mentioned a George shooting down 4 Hellcats? in one sortie. Hmm either Hellcats or Corsairs, anyway he would have got more but ran out of cannon shells.
The story goes (put out by the State controlled press) that Ens. Kinsuke Muto was out on a familiarisation flight when he attacked tweve F6F's and shot down four single-handed over Atsugi. Things were grim in those days, Muto was famous in Japan, the nation was in need of hero's so the military propaganda machine spread created one.

The facts are somewhat different. Muto was one of ten pilots from the Yokosuka Kokutai flying that day on 17 February 1945. Over Atsugi they engaged the Hellcats of VF-82, which lost four F6F's in the engagement. No Shiden's were lost.

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Post by Purple fang » 25 Apr 2006 11:28

Well, Sakai's book came out after the war was over. I don't imagine state controlled press had much to do with it. & he was there after the pilot landed & told his story. So Sakai would have had 1st hand account.

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Post by Tim Smith » 25 Apr 2006 12:22

There's always more to tell than the pure performance statistics of aircraft.

A fighter is only as good as the pilot. One factor in the Shiden vs Hellcat story is the skills of the pilots on both sides.

By 1944 the vast majority of the experienced Japanese pilots were dead, and replaced by poorly-trained recruits. While the Americans were well-trained and experienced by this time. Even a Shiden isn't much use in the hands of a new pilot.

However, on the other hand, that same factor could potentially lead to American over-confidence in combat. After getting used to 'turkey-shoot' situations with easy kills against bumbling Japanese novices, it's probable that many American pilots became contemptuous of Japanese pilots, and became a bit sloppy in their combat tactics as a result. On the rare occasions when the Americans encountered one of the surviving Japanese aces, it could have come as a bit of a shock! "Holy cow, this guy knows what he's doing!"

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Post by Topspeed » 25 Apr 2006 16:18

Here is a video of Shiden-Kai airborne...pretty cool.

http://www.angel.ne.jp/~tochy/

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Post by carolwmahs » 25 Apr 2006 19:30

Kind of like JV-44, Genda's elite 343 Kokutai flew the Shiden-Kai. Training began in January 1945 at Matsuyama Airfield, and the base of operations later moved to Kanoya (April 4), Kokubu (April 17), and Omura (April 25) in Kyushu.

During the Battle of Okinawa, the 343 Kokutai had the task of trying to clear the way for kamikaze planes as they flew from southern Kyushu to Okinawa during the Kikusui operations from April 6 to June 22, 1945. The Shiden-Kai pilots fought several fierce battles with American fighters over Amami Oshima and Kikaigashima. When American planes bombed Kyushu airfields to try to stop kamikaze attacks in April and May 1945, the 343 Kokutai at times engaged enemy aircraft although the Shiden-Kai was not intended for high-altitude interception of B-29s.

I haven't read it, but the definitive work in english appears to be:

Genda's Blade: Japan's Squadron of Aces: 343 Kokutai
by Henry Sakaida and Koji Takaki

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Post by Pips » 25 Apr 2006 22:50

Purple fang wrote:Well, Sakai's book came out after the war was over. I don't imagine state controlled press had much to do with it. & he was there after the pilot landed & told his story. So Sakai would have had 1st hand account.
Sakai's book was written by Martin Caidin, an author noted for poor research and mild exaggeration of hitory for the sake of good publishing. His books are interesting and a entertaining read, but hardly accurate. It was Caidin who 'created' the score of 64 for Saburo. Saburo never made such a claim, and in fact is on record as not knowinf what his final score was - He didn't keep records or a diary. And for the record Sakai was not present when Muto landed. At that time they were in two different Kokutai.

Saburo in fact was so upset by the book that it was years before he would endorse it. It was only because it had been so well accepted by the West, and that it was for many years the only written record of a Japanese pilot in English, that he finally used it as a tool to tell the 'other' sides story.

If you want accuracy on Saburo read 'Winged Samauri' by Henry Sakaida, or his many and varied articals on the subject. He is THE expert in this field.

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Post by R Leonard » 26 Apr 2006 03:40

It would seem that not all agree with the, or shall I say, Martin Caiden’s (note, Caiden, not Sakai) description. From http://www.csd.uwo.ca/~pettypi/elevon/b ... r/n1k.html regarding the N1K2-J:

“In one notable action, on February 16 1945 over Yokohama, Warrant Officer Kinsuke Muto of the 343rd Kokutai in an N1K2-J single-handedly battled a dozen F6F Hellcats. He shot down four of them before the rest were forced to break off combat and return to their carrier.”

Compared that to the account from Caiden’s ghostwriting of Saito’s translations of Sakai’s memoirs: "Muto had flown brilliantly in the Spring of 1945, when he was based at Yokosuka. On February 26, he completed a sensational day in the air by attacking in an obsolete Zero twelve Corsair carrier fighters strafing Tokyo. Muto took off from the fighter base at Atsugi and lost no time in plunging into the enemy formation. The startled pilots scattered before the unexpected attack of a single Zero, and two Corsairs tumbled to earth, wrapped in flames, before the American fliers could turn against Muto's plane. In a savage, incredible dogfight which ran from Atsugi to over Yokosuka, Muto confounded the enemy pilots with brilliant aerobatics. Despite their frantic efforts, the Corsairs failed to keep Muto in their sights long enough to send the Zero down. By constantly attacking, almost seeming to ram during his wild flying, Muto kept the Corsairs off his own neck while he shot down two more of the enemy. Finally, out of ammunition, he dove away from the fight."

Henry Sakadai wrote in “Winged Samurai”:
“Ensign Muto demonstrated his flying ability superbly on February 17, 1945 when he tangled with 12 Hellcats over Atsugi. Flying alone against all 12, Muto brought his Shinden Kai “George” fighter into the middle of the free for all, and proceeded to take advantage of the wild disorder. He shot them out of the air, one by one, until there were eight left. Having had enough, the Hellcats fled the area.”

Note that here we have WO Muto flying an N1K on 16 February (a day when there were USN carrier planes over Japan) or, maybe, as an Ensign, on the 17th (another day with USN aircraft operating over central Honshu), instead of an A6M on 26 February (a day when there were no USN carrier planes over Japan) and his adversaries morph from F6Fs on the 16th or 17th to F4Us on the 26th. All the while the action remains in the general area of Tokyo Bay. And as far as I can determine, Ensign Muto was not assigned to the 343rd Koutai (N1K2) until 26 June 1945. In February, he was assigned to the Yokosuka Koutai (A6M5). So, which is it, which story is correct?

These stories of lone Japanese fighters are all remarkably similar. All generally involve a lone pilot taking on 12 F6Fs or 12 F4Us and usually shooting down four of them. Ever wonder why it’s always 12 US planes? How about Japanese squadron organization. 3 plane sections, 6 plane divisions. 2 divisions makes 12 planes. But wait! USN squadron organization was 2 plane sections, 4 plane divisions. 2 divisions make 8 planes. In order to get 12 you need 3 divisions, but USN doctrine specifically eschewed 3’s as unwieldy and, frankly, such screwed up the mutual support doctrine of the beam defense. Actually, in practice, each USN division would tend to its own mutual support with each section covering the other. Beam defense, division covering division, was certainly do-able, but extremely unusual in USN practice and to add third division means one of them is uncovered. It is unlikely that a USN squadron would operate in such a manner and, in fact, was contrary to doctrine as spelled out in the 1944 version of USF 74 fleet operations manual.

Then there is the small matter of no USN air operations over Japan on 26 February 1945. In order for an F4U to be shot down over Tokyo on 26 February 1945, it would have had to have come from an aircraft carrier. There were no carrier squadrons in action over Tokyo on 26 February 1945. From the Official Chronology of the US Navy in World War II, 1945, verbatim:

“26 February, Mon. –

“Pacific

“Lieutenant General Millard F. Harmon, Commanding General, USAAF Air Forces, Pacific Area, departs Guam for Oahu, via Kwajalein, in his C-87 transport. The aircraft (its last reported position 11°15'N, 174°15'E) never reaches its destination. An extensive coordinated search by all services ensues for the next 20 days but fails to locate any trace of the missing plane or its passengers.

“Off Iwo Jima, storm damages heavy cruiser San Francisco (CA-38), destroyers Colahan (DD-658), Halsey Powell (DD-686), Benham (DD-796), John W. Weeks (DD-701), Stephen Potter (DD-538), and Preston (DD-795); attack cargo ship Muliphen (AKA-61) is damaged in collision with heavy cruiser Salt Lake City (CA-25), 24°46'N, 141°19'E. Tank landing ships LST-760 and LST-884 are damaged by shore battery fire, 24°46'N, 141°19'E.

“On Iwo Jima, Pharmacist's Mate Second Class George E. Wahlen, USNR, attached to a rifle company in the 2nd Battalion, 26th Marines, retrieves a wounded leatherneck from in front of his company's lines and carries him to safety. Wahlen, wounded in the left eye before he accomplishes this heroic act, will continue to discharge his duties with similar courage over succeeding days (see 28 February and 2 March).

“Light cruiser Pasadena (CL-65), 31°20'N, 141°15'E, and destroyer Porterfield (DD-682), 33°10'N, 143°30'E, are damaged by gunfire from Japanese guardboat that penetrates task group formation south of Honshu.

“Minesweeper Saunter (AM-295) is damaged by mine off El Fraile island Luzon, 14°17'N, 120°38'E.

“Planes (VC 82) from escort carrier Anzio (CVE-57) sink Japanese submarines I 368, 35 miles west of Iwo Jima, 24°43'N, 140°37'E, and RO 43, 50 miles west-northwest of Iwo, 25°07'N, 140°19'E.

“Destroyer escort Finnegan (DE-307) sinks Japanese submarine I 370 120 miles south of Iwo Jima, 22°45'N, 141°27'E.

“USAAF planes sink Japanese tanker No.9 Takasago Maru at 20°01'N, 111°44'E.

“Japanese merchant cargo ship Zuisho Maru is damaged by gunfire, near Hong Kong.

“Europe
U.S. freighter Nashaba, bound for Ghent, Belgium, in convoy TAM 91, sinks after striking a mine in the Schelde estuary, 51°22'18"N, 02°55'25"E. There are no casualties among the 27-man Armed Guard.”

See, no carrier action off Japan on the 26th.

There were, however, TF-58 carrier aircraft in action over Honshu on the 25th. A total of nine US airplanes are lost between 0850 and 1130. Afternoon strikes on the 25th and planned next day follow on strikes were cancelled due to weather. Only four pilots were lost. One of these was an F4U that force landed with AAA damage to and the pilot captured (repatriated at the end of the war). Two F4Us were lost over Tokyo Bay; both pilots were killed. A fourth F4U was forced to ditch about 50 miles off shore with AAA damage, the pilot was not recovered. These were the only F4U losses on the 25th. Two SB2C and three TBM were also ended up in the water, but their crews recovered.

TF-58 was not back in action again until 1 March.

Another of these four-at-a-time events was CPO Shoichi Sugita action purportedly occurring on 19 March 1945 near Kure. TF-58 carrier aircraft were, indeed, ranging over Kyushu, Shikoku, and southern Honshu, on the 18th and the 19th. On the 19th, US fighter losses started early. An F4U from Bunker Hill’s morning CAP encountered an A6M which it exploded as such short range as to be fatally damaged by the blast; the F4U pilot was not recovered. In the course of the day, 2 F4Us were lost in aerial combat, one was lost when the pilot bailed out over the radar picket line, and three were jettisoned on return for excessive damage. I can find nothing that would verify Sugita’s claim of 4 F6Fs on 19 March. In fact, one account of this action reads:

“On 19th March 1945, 301 Hikotai (a N1K squadron in 343 Koutai) attacked over Kure 15 Corsairs (another odd number for USN flight elements, see above) of VMF-123. In first attack two F4U-1D were downed. Then the Shiden Kai went into circular dogfight with Corsairs. The effect of this action was one of Corsairs had to land on water on its route back to carrier and three more were so shot apart so they had to be thrown into the sea after landing. More five F4U were severely damaged.”

Does that sound a little familiar?

And do you suppose it might be cogent to note that Caiden’s ghostwriting of Saito’s translations is the source of the Sakai being shot up by a bunch of TBFs myth? And that Caiden and Sakai only met once, for one afternoon? In another well known book Caiden writes of a P-38 reappearing over its base long hours after it should have run out of fuel and conveniently breaking up over the field . . . with a dead pilot who had obviously been perforated by enemy gunfire. Caiden exclaims “It’s true!” Caiden, while a master of the “gee whiz” school of journalism, IMO often had trouble discerning fact from fiction.

This is a typical problem with this particular school of writing and happens all the time. For example, Gerald Astor in his 2003 “Wings of God” waxes on an on about a USN pilot and his adventures during the attack on Pearl Harbor where his squadron lost all its PBYs . . . heady stuff . . . what a stud . . . except the squadron of which he claims to assigned was at Alameda NAS, California, on 7 December and did not go west until March 1942. He later drags this same pilot out and amazes us over several pages with his deering-do flying F4Fs off Yorktown at the Battle of Midway, except nothing that is recounted is true and the fellow in question was not there, at least not flying aircraft off Yorktown, so not where he said he was and not doing the things he said he did. But, gee whiz, this is amazing stuff!!! Astor blissfully regales his readers with other stories that, with a little real knowledge of the subject at hand, he, or his editor/fact checker, should have never committed to the printed page.

And so it goes. Lieutenant (jg) Sadaakai Akamatsu from the 302 Koutai flying a J5M Raiden (“Jack”) . . . from Sakadai: “To the astonishment of his peers, Akamatsu demonstrated his mastery on April 19, 1945 west of Atsugi, when he fought P-51s of the 45th Fighter Squadron. He forced them down to low level and claimed two or three shot down (U.S. records indicated none were lost.)” On the other hand . . . “On May 29 near Yokohama, he single-handedly attacked 75 P-51s and shot down 2 (confirmed by US records).” Oddly enough, you might think, I believe he really did attack the gaggle of P-51s and really did shot down two. I can see how it could be done in a slash and run attack, this sort of thing was not all that unusual. I know of an incident in June 1943 when an F4F pilot leading some 15 others (note, 16 total, 4 four-plane divisions) from his squadron (VF-11) attacked a force of about 80 A6Ms near the Russell Islands. The F4Fs were returning from a long range mission PBY escort mission and were low on fuel so the VF-11 leader ordered his troops to make one pass and get out of there, which for the most part, they did. Leading the attack he got out a little ahead, but that gave the other members of his division a clear view as he blew through the Japanese A6M formation, flaming one and exploding another. The others in the VF-11 flight crashed through as well and the VF-11 total for the day was 14. Three VF-11 F4Fs were lost in this action, and the pilots were recovered. So, can a pilot blow through a formation and grab a couple of quick victories? Sure, that’s why I believe Akamatsu did exactly that on 29 May 1945. He also claimed 4 F6Fs in two different sorties in an A6M in the action on 17 February, two in each sortie. I believe that could conceivably be possible, too.

In another case, I have seen it claimed that WO Takeo Tagata and his wingman, both driving Ki-61s over Formosa took on 36 Hellcats and shot down 11 on the morning of 12 October 1944 between 0940 and 1010. Tagata reportedly crash landed and his wingman got away.

The inconvenient reality was that in operations between 12 and 16 October 1944 over and around Formosa the USN lost a total of 67 aircraft in combat; 23 were lost in air-to-air combat and 44 were lost to AA fire. Of those shot down in air-to-air combat 18 were F6Fs. One F6F was lost to AA fire. One F6F was determined upon landing following air-to-air action to be DBR and jettisoned. F6F losses to Japanese aircraft per day were: October 12 – 10 (plus the 1 DBR), October 13 – 0, October 14 – 5, October 15 – 2, and October 16 – 1.

Only three USN VF squadrons reported contact with Ki-61s in the Formosa environs on 12 October 1944. Actions were widely separated. VF-14 reported downing a single Ki-61 between 1300 and 1310 about two miles west of Takao, amongst other types. VF-18 reported downing four Ki-61 at about 0830 over the Tanui Harbor area amongst other types, and another lone Ki-61 around 1000 and about 25 miles southeast of Shinchiku. VF-19, in their morning fighter sweep between 0700 and 0815, reported downing 3 Ki-61, also amongst other types, somewhat vaguely “over Central Formosa” and then 3 more at about 1340 just south of Toyahara..

VF-14 losses for the day were none; VF-18 lost four, all in the Tanui Harbor action; and VF-19 lost three, two in the fighter sweep and one in the Toyahara action. That accounts for seven of the ten F6F’s shot down on 12 October. Other F6F losses this day, from squadrons not reporting encountering Ki-61s, were: two from VF-15, in action between Kagi and Taichu; one from VF-20, near Taiko, and the one DBR from VF-8 location of action unknown.

So, unless these two gents ranged all over the island, at times at somewhat remarkable speeds or at times they were supposedly not in action, and were able to account for all the F6Fs shot down, all by themselves, plus the DBR then . . .

The sort of golly-gee recounting of the super pilot exploits of some of the Japanese pilots is especially not at all unusual, but generally though fall apart under examination. For example, there is
http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/rdun ... nabuki.htm , an article by Richard Dunn. I won’t excerpt the article here, but it worth a close read.

Dunn’s conclusion is the more common answer found when investigating these Japanese super pilot actions. The stories are a mixture of dates, places, and aircraft and often do not accurately represent operational realities. They get repeated until they morph into aviation legend and are repeated even by people who should know better. In the case of some of these end-of-war events over Japan, it has been rightly pointed out these events were posted in the press and became the stuff of legend over time. Too bad no one had an urban legend dot com with which to check these. Other events appear in breathless retelling by folks who never bother to check their facts. In both cases, the worst part of the internet shines through . . . “I saw it on three sites (despite factual discrepancies) and so it must be true.” Reminds me of a movie where a character played by Jack Nicholson repeatedly says to the effect “I read it in a magazine, it must be true.” Or as Jimmy Stewart’s character says in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “When the legend gets bigger than the truth, print the legend.”

And this kind of stuff happens all the time. In how many books, in how many magazines, and on how many websites have you seen that Capt Richard Fleming, USMC, was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor for crashing his plane into the after turret of IJMS Mikuma at the end of the Battle of Midway? This despite the inconvenient facts that his Citation makes no such mention, nor does the VMSB-241 after action report, nor do any of his squadron mate witnesses make the claim. Yet, this is what most seen, believe, and repeat . . . must be true, eh?

There is no doubt in my mind that each of these gents, Muto, Sugita, Akamatsu, and Tagata did their duty and, in all probability scored at least once, but there is just too much mixing and matching of dates, places, ranks, assignments, and US types encountered and their numbers, to believe all these stories.

R

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Pips
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Post by Pips » 26 Apr 2006 05:13

As always Rich, your right on the money. :)

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