J-HangarSpace

The Go-To Website for
Information on Japanese Aviation

www.j-hangarspace.jp

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JASDF
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Japan Coast Guard
Where Are They Now?
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Aviation Museums
Doctor-Heli Network
Fire/Disaster Prevention
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Japanese Aviation History (to 1945)

Aviation Museums

From the tiny Bihoro Aviation Park in the far north of Hokkaido Prefecture to the extensive JMSDF collection at Kanoya in Kagoshima Prefecture in the south, Japan boasts a wide range of aviation museums.

As even the most established museums tend to offer little or no information in English, this website will endeavour to act as a kind of online guidebook, covering not only the permanent exhibits but also the all-important access information.

It is proposed that the second exhaustive guide, following that on the Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum (see separate page), will cover the privately owned Tokorozawa Aviation Museum in Saitama Prefecture. In the absence of a dedicated JGSDF facility of sufficient size, Tokorozawa serves as the main repository for Army types.

While gradually compiling the Tokorozawa coverage, J-HangarSpace offers 10 Aviation Museum Reports:

(1) The Tokyo Fire Museum that is conveniently located in downtown Tokyo. Although not dedicated entirely to aviation, the facility makes an ideal stopping-off point on the standard tourist route or for anyone passing through Tokyo on a tight schedule.
(2) Saitama Subaru Sakitama Garden, which provides an example of a typical offbeat museum location
(3) The National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, where a special exhibit ran until January 19, 2014
(4) The collection at Mitsu Seiki Co., Ltd., a precision engineering company on the island of Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture
(5) The aircraft and archive collection at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries‘ Nagoya Aerospace Systems Komaki South Plant in Aichi Prefecture
Note: Citing the age of the building and the need to check the condition and make an inventory of the exhibits, Mitsubishi closed its Komaki museum and archive facility from June 2017. It has been reported that the options for a renovation plan include an eventual move to the building known as the Clock Tower at the Oe Plant, another Nagoya Aerospace Systems facility.
(6) The JGSDF Public Information Center at Kasumigaura Army Camp, Ibaraki Prefecture
(7) The Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall), Yamanashi Prefecture
(8) JGSDF Kisarazu Army Camp Museum, Chiba Prefecture
(9) JGSDF Tachikawa Army Camp Museum, Tokyo
(10) Aichi Museum of Flight, Nagoya-Komaki airport, Aichi Prefecture (and Nagoya Air and Space Museum, Oct. 2000)
(Visited on April 6, 2014, the museum at Kumagaya AB in Saitama Prefecture features on the Location Reports page.)

This section currently ends with a single-entry Aviation Artifact Corner report, giving the story behind a propeller at the JASDF Shizuhama base museum.

(Please bear in mind that public museums in Japan tend to be closed on Mondays, on Tuesdays if a National Holiday happens to fall on the Monday, and from late December to the first week of January.)

Tokyo Fire Museum
Yotsuya, Tokyo
September 12, 2013

tokyo fire dept

Accessible direct from Exit 2 at Yotsuya-Sanchome Station on the Marunouchi subway line, the Tokyo Fire Museum collection includes three French helicopters formerly operated by the Tokyo Fire Department (TFD, and in Japanese above). Two of these are visible from outside but are worth a closer look, and admission is free.

Suspended from the ceiling inside the street-level entrance is Sud Aviation SE.3160 Alouette III JA9020, named Chidori 1 (Plover 1). A plaque provides the information that the TFD’s aviation unit was formed in November 1966. Operations commenced in April 1967 with this very aircraft, which had been purchased direct from its French manufacturer. This tradition has been maintained, with subsequent aircraft being acquired exclusively from Sud Aviation’s successor Aérospatiale and from Eurocopter, the name under which the company operated before becoming Airbus Helicopters in January 2014.

A general information panel covers the operations and equipment of the six helicopters currently operated in the fire attacker, rescue, casualty evacuation and incident information-gathering roles. (These will be covered on this website’s Fire/Disaster Prevention page.)

A later-model SA.316B Alouette III sister aircraft, JA9071 Kamome (Seagull), is securely clamped and tied down with two of its three rotor blades clipped—Tokyo is prone to typhoons as well as earthquakes—on the roof of the fifth floor (5F in Japan means the fourth floor elsewhere). In this case, steps and a ramp lead up to the cockpit, but the aircraft is also surrounded by metal railings that somewhat hinder photography.

On the third floor, Aérospatiale (Sud Aviation) 365N Dauphin II JA9569 Chidori has been converted into a “hands-on” exhibit for the younger visitor, with the space in the rear of the cockpit made available for watchful parents to rest and literally take a back seat. Devoid of its main rotor and resting in an undignified manner on its fuselage for ease of entry and egress, the aircraft’s instrument panel (now Perspex protected) and flying controls are still in place. A video screen has been installed in a simulator-like fashion directly in front of the windscreen to show footage of TFD helicopter operations. The aircraft’s innovative Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, which was developed by Sud Aviation, has been removed and placed on adjacent display, as has an example of its Turboméca Arriel 1C1 engine.

The plaque at the nose of the aircraft states that the TFD adopted the Aerospacial (sic) Dauphin II as the follow-on helicopter to the Alouette III. This particular example was in service for a total of 15 years, from April 1982 to March 1997, during which time it participated on 875 rescue missions and carried 526 people. The missions included evacuating the residents of Miyakejima—part of the Tokyo-administered Izu island group, 110 miles (180km) south of the capital—following the volcanic eruption in 1983, the 1986 Kokaigawa floods in Ibaraki Prefecture, and the 1995 Hanshin-Awaji (Kobe) Earthquake.

One of several framed posters on the same floor is reproduced here and a translation provided below. This gives the types, the adopted Japanese names and the service entry dates of the TFD’s current helicopter fleet. (The translations of the Japanese names have been added.)

tokyo fire museum poster

Fire Prevention Helicopters Active in Tokyo
Aérospatiale AS365N1 Dauphin II
Tsubame (Swallow)*
April 1990
Eurocopter AS332L1 Super Puma
Hakuchou (Swan)
April 1994
Aérospatiale AS365N2 Dauphin II
Chidori (Plover)
April 1997
Eurocopter AS332L1 Super Puma
Hibari (Lark)
June 2001
Eurocopter EC225LP Super Puma
Yurikamome (Black-Headed Gull)
April 2008
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin II
Kamome (Seagull)
April 2009 
Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin II
(TFD transport helicopter)
Ootaka (Goshawk)
April 2006
[Cockpit of EC225LP Super Puma Yurikamome]

 * The AS365N1 version was retired in 2010 and the Tsubame name passed to a replacement AS365N3.
(See the relevant table on this website’s Fire/Disaster Prevention page.)

Naturally, the museum also contains fire engines and other equipment and makes effective use of dioramas to look back at firefighting in Tokyo through the ages. In the summer, the building serves as a cool (in both meanings of the word), informative oasis.

Tokyo Fire Museum website:
http//:www.tfd.metro.tokyo.jp/ts/museum.html (Japanese only)

Photo Gallery
The following photograph groupings show each of the three helicopters on display.

1F Sud Aviation SE.3160 Alouette III JA9020 Chidori

JA9020The Tokyo Fire Department’s first helicopter, JA9020 was retired in 1982 after 15 years’ sterling service.

JA9020 sideviewThe TFD operated a total of four Alouette III helicopters and retired the last example in 1990.

JA9020 head-onThe low-light levels around securely tethered JA9020 give the aircraft more the air of an art exhibit. 

3F Aérospatiale (Sud Aviation) 365N Dauphin II JA9569 Chidori

JA9569Depending on your point of view, either an ignominious end or a new lease of life for an aircraft that played a crucial role in nearly 900 rescue missions.

JA9569 interiorThe Dauphin II’s interior is ideally suited for the purposes for which it is now intended: providing a family experience that increases the public’s awareness of the TFD’s air operations and serving as a potential early recruitment tool for younger visitors.

JA9569 fenestronThe Fenestron shrouded tail rotor as art form

Ariel engineThe information accompanying the Dauphin II’s Turboméca Arriel 1C1 engine covers the basics of its mechanicals and ends by giving the proportionate distribution of the 705shp (526kW)  produced: main rotor (82%), tail rotor (10%), transmission (8%). 

5F SA.316B Alouette III JA9071 Kamome

JA9071Railing against the machine. As mentioned in the text, the over-elaborate rooftop safety considerations do somewhat hinder photography.

JA9071 tailThe Alouette III’s standard tail rotor enables comparison with the Dauphin II’s
more high-tech Fenestron.

JA9071 cockpitUnder the right conditions and with a little imagination, the helicopter’s rooftop location does give the impression of “flying” over the Tokyo skyline. Note the pair of genuine,
1960s-vintage anti-torque pedals.

JA9071 rear cockpitThe current (September 2013) state of JA9071’s rear cockpit and overhead panel

JA9071 o/head2IMG_3236test
(Above left)This overhead view of JA9071 was taken through the window of the 10F cafeteria. The roof is declared out of bounds on windy and/or rainy days.(Right) Despite having been exposed to
the elements for a number of years, JA9071 remains in good condition.

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Saitama Subaru Sakitama Garden
Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture

October 12, 2013

gyodat-1b1The Fuji T-1B parked in a garden in front of the Saitama Subaru service centre in Gyoda. The bronze figure at the entrance to the small museum (right) is of book-reading Kinjiro Ninomiya, whose 18th century rags to riches life story came to symbolize thrift and diligence in the war years.
The building does contain some Japanese-language publications for reference.

It is not every day that you come across a jet aircraft parked on the forecourt of a car main dealer’s service centre. Some drivers unfamiliar with the locale must be momentarily taken aback by that very sight as they pass Saitama Subaru Sakitama Garden, heading along the road that follows the Musashi Canal in the city of Gyoda.

The aircraft in question was the last Fuji T-1B jet trainer produced by Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), which aside from its aviation business interests manufactures cars under the Subaru brand. Known by its unofficial JASDF name as Hatsutaka (Young Hawk), the type secured its place in the annals of Japanese aviation history by being the first postwar, indigenously produced jet aircraft.

Parked in a garden by the entrance to the facility, which serves as both general service and pre-delivery inspection centre, the aircraft’s red, white and dayglo orange colour scheme remains as highly visible now as it was during its service career. The name Sakitama Garden incorporates the original name for Saitama, and it is perhaps fitting that the aircraft ended up at a car dealer rather than falling into the hands of a scrap metal dealer, particularly in an area known for a nearby park that features ancient burial mounds.

gyodat-1b2The aircraft’s tranquil, Zen-like location is far removed from the noise and frenzied activity of
the flight line.

Long Service Career

Manufactured at the FHI plant in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, ‘870’ rolled off the production line on May 23, 1963—a mere five years after the prototype’s first flight—and that July was assigned to the 13th Flying Training Wing at Ashiya AB, Fukuoka Prefecture. There the aircraft remained, notching up just under 37 years’ sterling service before being retired from active flight training operations in January 2000. In July of that year, the aircraft was passed to the 1st Technical School (TS) at Hamamatsu AB, Shizuoka Prefecture and from there quickly on to the 5th TS at Komaki AB, Aichi Prefecture, where it continued its training support role, this time for the benefit of JASDF air traffic controllers. By the time of its last flight on September 17, 2003, the aircraft had clocked up 6,478.9 flying hours in just over 40 years.

gyodat-1b3Despite having been open to the elements in its current location since July 2004, the aircraft remains in excellent condition. 

Saitama Subaru Corporation management decided that a T-1 would serve as a perfect symbol of Subaru’s long aviation pedigree and, by inference, technical expertise. The association is further underscored by the presence of an FA-200 Aerosubaru light aircraft parked on the other side of the entrance. The parent company’s long-standing connections with the Japan Defense Ministry—or Japan Defense Agency as it was prior to January 2007—eased the procedures for acquiring the T-1B. An eight-man JASDF team assembled the aircraft in situ over the course of nine days in July 2004, and an official ceremony was held two months later. To maximize the aircraft’s public relations value, guided tours commenced in October 2004 and have continued on a regular basis ever since.

Mini Museum

Adjacent to the aircraft, a bright and airy, single-storey wooden building houses an interesting collection of photographs and artifacts.

gyodat-1b4

Exhibited along the left-hand side as you enter are a propeller from a 1970s-vintage Fuji FA-300 business twin and a row of both aircraft and car engines (pictured above). These naturally include an example of the Ishikawajima-Harima J3-IHI-7B turbojet that powered the T-1B. Japan’s first indigenously produced jet powerplant, the J3’s sound has not been heard since a trio of T-1Bs shut down their engines after completing a sayonara flight from Komaki in March 2006. The far end of the museum room is devoted to FHI’s automotive history and related endeavors, such as motor racing and scooter production.

gyodaj3
Delays in the development of the Ishikawajima-Harima J3 turbojet resulted in the prototype and initial production (T-1A) version being fitted with the British Bristol  Siddeley Orpheus engine instead. According to its data  plate (below) the J3-IHI-7B unit on display had clocked up 3,908.3 hours
at the time of its last inspection on February 27, 2004.

gyodaj3-2

Emphasizing the aviation angle, a zig-zag arrangement of panels for photographs and artwork has been positioned in the centre of the room. Those at the far end on the left side provide overviews of two wartime aircraft, the Kyushu J7W Shiden (Magnificent Lightning) fighter and Japan’s first jet, the Kikka (Orange Blossom) fighter built by FHI’s predecessor, Nakajima Aircraft. These are followed by bios of a number of aviation pioneers: “birdman” Kokuchi Ukita (1757–1847?), aircraft designers Chuhachi Ninomiya (1866–1936) and Sanji Narahara (1887–1944) as well as the first two Japanese pilots to achieve powered flight on home turf, Army captains Kumazo Hino and Yoshitoshi Tokugawa (see the first Japanese Aviation History section article on this website.) The two panels nearest the door offer a sequence of photos entitled “From Nakajima Aircraft to Fuji Aircraft.”

gyodamuseum

On the right-hand side, starting from the door, the first five photo panels (pictured above) cover the history of the T-1. The sixth is devoted to the assembly and installation of the T-1B parked outside; at the time of J-HangarSpace’s visit some of these photos had been faded by the sun that pours through the windows but were due to be replaced next year (2014). These photos are accompanied by a series showing the early development of the J3 jet engine. In front of the windows on the right-side of the room are display cases containing T-1 components, including an ejector seat initiator safety pin and a fuel filler cap, and aircraft models as well as memorabilia. In the corner by the door stands a display-standard model of a World War II Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon) fighter.

Saitama Subaru are to be congratulated for the enterprise they showed both in preserving an aircraft that is so steeped in history and in putting together an interesting exhibit.

J-HangarSpace would especially like to thank Tomoaki Koizumi from
Saitama Subaru Corporation’s Head Office Planning Department for
arranging and conducting a very informative tour.

 Parting Shot

gyodat-1b5Fuji T-1B ‘870’ finally reached the end of the road after a service career that spanned four decades. 

 Saitama Subaru Sakitama Garden, 1626 Sama, Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture 361-0032
 Tel.: 048-556-7555

 Located around 5km from the Midabashi junction on National Route 17
Closed Mondays and National Holidays.
 Depending on demand, guided tours usually take place once a month on a
Saturday morning (10:30–12:00) and afternoon (13:30–15:00).
Application is via e-mail to hatsutaka@saitama-subaru.co.jp

 

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National Museum of Nature and Science
Ueno Park, Tokyo
December 17, 2013

Japan’s venerable National Museum of Nature and Science consists of a Main Building dating back to 1930, and a modern, six-level annexe that was added in 1999. Exhibits that trace the development of aviation technology are to be found on the latter’s second above-ground level, in a section devoted to Progress in Technology: Human Design and Creativity.

Formerly suspended from the ceiling in the Main Building, the collection’s Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-sen Model 21 is now on prominent, more eye-level display; the aircraft is supported in such a way that only its tailwheel is raised off a stand lit from underneath. Although externally identical to other Zero fighters, this particular example is actually one of a pair field-modified in October 1944 for reconnaissance missions by the addition of a second seat. The aircraft was then being operated by the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force’s 253rd Naval Air Group from Rabaul in New Britain, which today forms part of Papua New Guinea. Originally built by the Nakajima Aircraft Company circa October 1943, the aircraft bears the construction number 31870.

According to the pacificwrecks.com website, its last pilot was Ensign Kentaro Miyagoshi, who ran short of fuel and ditched near Cape Lambert on January 18, 1945. Miyagoshi and his observer survived and eventually made it back to base.

uenozero
(Above and below): Two views of the National Museum of Nature and Science’s now 70-year-old Zero fighter in its cramped display area. The spotlighting and surrounding exhibits tend to limit the photographic options, but at least there were fewer visitors than normal. 

uenozero2
After remaining submerged for nearly 30 years, the aircraft was recovered by an Australian team in August 1972, underwent a three-year restoration in Melbourne and even became the subject of a legal battle when at one stage offered to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Eventually, the aircraft was purchased for a reported 15 million yen by Professor Shintaro Ishimatsu from Nihon University, who generously donated his acquisition to its current custodian upon its repatriation in 1975. The aircraft originally sported two wide, yellow horizontal stripes on its tail after reassembly at the JAMCO Corporation facility at Chofu airport, Tokyo, but the spurious tailcode 53-122 was inexplicably applied around 1977.

uenozero3The Ueno Zero has had its cowling removed to reveal the Nakajima Sakae 12 engine.

Stored at a National Museum of Nature and Science facility in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, during museum construction work in 1998, 53-122 was placed back on public display in November 2004.

J-HangarSpace’s latest visit came only four days before a feature film entitled Eien no Zero (The Eternal Zero) was due to go on general release. Based on the 2006 novel of the same by Naoki Hyakuta, the film is sure to spur interest in the museum’s long-standing example.

What Goes Around  . . .

Two paddle-like objects are positioned behind a glass screen directly in front of the Zero’s port wing, flanking the pitot tube. These are the propellers from the first two heavier-than-air aircraft to take to local skies with Japanese pilots at the controls, as reported in the first Aviation History account on this website.

uenopropsThe plaque describes these as being original propellers from Capt. Yoshitoshi Tokugawa’s
1910 Henri Farman biplane
(left) and Capt. Kumazo Hino’s Hans Grade monoplane.

Temporary Exhibits

For two weeks in the spring of 2013, the opposite end of the hall housing the Zero had featured a small exhibition of photographs from the Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA)’s Aviation Heritage Archive. Covering the early years of Japanese aviation, the exhibit had been timed to coincide with the publication of  the book Soredemo Watashi Wa Tobu (They Flew Regardless: Pictorial Mementos of Aviation in Japan, 1909–1940) featured on the Bookstall carousel on this website’s homepage. The wall-mounted reproductions of photos included in the book were complemented by images—originally on glass plates but displayed on an imposing digital touch screen—taken by Hideo Kitagawa (1887–1986), whose collection was kindly donated to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo in 2009.

uenobannerA banner proclaims the Imperial Aeronautic Society of Japan and Sports Aviation exhibit being held until January 19, 2014, to mark the centenary of the Japan Aeronautic Association.

Until January 19, 2014, that same area was used to mark the centenary of the JAA with an exhibit devoted to its forerunner, the Teikoku Hiko Kyokai (Imperial Aeronautic Society of Japan, IASoJ). The selection of photos from They Flew Regardless was arranged along the corridor leading into the main hall, where a banner suspended from the ceiling proclaimed the IASoJ and aviation sports exhibit. Starting from there, the end of the wall on the left bore a vertical banner advertising the event, next to which were a few words of greeting from the museum’s director general and the JAA president. These included a summary of exhibit content, which included items related to Japan’s civil aviation pioneers, prewar aviation sports, and the IASoJ in conjunction with an overview of the JAA’s activities in preserving the country’s aviation heritage. From there, three numbered vertical banners served to direct visitors around the exhibits.

Banner 1
Japanese Aviation’s Early Days and the IASoJ

As a lead-in to the display of photos from the book They Flew Regardless, this text related that the progress being made with flying machines in Europe and the United States was being reported in Japan even prior to the 1910 first flight of a [heavier than air] aircraft in the country; these ongoing reports gave rise to the Japanese men who decided to attempt to build their own aircraft. The IASoJ was established to promote civil aviation in 1913, two years after the first flight of an indigenous aircraft.

The first two Japanese pilots, Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) captains Hino and Tokugawa, passed on the piloting skills they had acquired in Europe, resulting in the setting up of civil and military flying schools and the training of pilots. A small number of pilots trained overseas before returning to Japan.

tokugawalicenceThe French pilot’s licence No. 289 awarded to Capt. Yoshitoshi Tokugawa on November 8, 1910, only a month before he was to give flight demonstrations in Japan. Interestingly, the copy of the licence page gives his birth year as 1883; other sources give 1884.

In the absence of airfields in the early days, flat areas, such as Army parade grounds, river banks and tidal mudflats, were used for flight training and air meets. Still on a steep learning curve in technical terms, accidents were a not infrequent occurrence, but aircraft were repeatedly repaired and returned to airworthy condition, thereby forming the basis of aviation that continues to this day.

photowallThe photo wall of fine images from the JAA-produced book They Flew Regardless.

Banner 2: Aviation Heritage and Preservation Activities
(Positioned on the opposite wall, next to a painting of the Asahi Shimbun-sponsored Mitsubishi Ki-15 Kamikaze that was flown from Tokyo to London in 1937.)

Generally, the term aviation heritage refers here to a range of aviation artifacts and documents of cultural property value. The secure handing down of aviation history to future generations requires the preservation not only of aircraft but also of a wide range of peripheral documents.

satohelmetThe pilot’s helmet worn by IASoJ member Akira Sato. The winner of the first Tokyo-Osaka airmail race in 1919 at the age of 25, Sato was tragically killed when on a training flight from Tsudanuma, Chiba Prefecture, on November 3, 1921. Bearing the IASoJ’s insignia, Sato’s helmet provides a typical and poignant example of a peripheral object important for the preservation of Japan’s aviation heritage.

Unlike items produced with traditional materials up until the end of the Edo Period [in 1867], there are modern mass-produced products that are difficult to preserve without a scientifically controlled environment. Taking acid paper as an example, there remains the possibility that documents will be lost over a long period of time due to deterioration, making a deoxidation process desirable. Since the JAA works in partnership with the National Museum of Nature and Science as well as the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, progress is being made with activities that are preserving Japan’s aviation heritage.

The JAA determines those historical aviation assets that are deemed to be of particular importance in terms of aviation heritage. Having set up an awards system in 2007, at present six assets have been bestowed with the award, including the first production NAMC YS-11 that now belongs to the National Museum of Nature and Science.

Banner 3: The IASoJ’s Inauguration and Start of Civil Aviation
With the aim of developing civil aviation in general, the IASoJ was inaugurated as an incorporated entity in 1913. To generate interest among wider society, the IASoJ’s initial activities covered the full gamut, including the demonstration flights of aircraft imported to serve as technology examples, pilot training, and the holding of air pageants. In addition to flying competitions at which attempts were made to break altitude records, mail flight races were held to demonstrate the practicality of utilizing aircraft that competed to beat the flight times on the Tokyo-Osaka and Tokyo-Morioka [Iwate Prefecture] routes. The first non-stop flight across the Pacific was recorded in 1929, and an end put to flying without Japan Civil Aviation Bureau permission.

airdayprogOne of several exhibits provided by Japanese civil aviation history writer Koji Yanagisawa, this program is from the IASoJ-sponsored air day held in Nagoya, Gifu Prefecture, on April 23, 1927.

As the fees from the offering of pleasure flights at air pageants held all over Japan or the prize money from IASoJ-held competitions accounted for their main source of income, Japanese civil aviation pilots found themselves in precarious financial circumstances in the early days. In the fullness of time, however, newspaper companies inaugurated postal flight operations and airlines formed to carry passengers gradually widened the profession’s appeal.

Archive Footage

Aside from other wall-mounted photos, charts, and memorabilia on display in showcases, the exhibit featured evocative archive footage projected in a continuous loop onto a large screen. One sequence showed a Hanriot HD-14 biplane undergoing pre-flight checks, taking off and landing; another shows delighted new pilots being awarded their licences at Tachikawa, Tokyo, on July 15, 1929.

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Mitsu Seiki Co., Ltd.
Taga Works, Awaji, Hyogo Prefecture
February 18, 2014

Mitsu Seiki entrance

Mitsu Seiki sign
J-HangarSpace paid a visit to an interesting collection of former SDF aircraft kept in pristine condition at a little-known engineering company in the Kansai region of central Japan.

Precise Location

Straddling the Seto Inland Sea, Awaji Island enjoys easy bridge connections with Japan’s mainland island of Honshu and with Shikoku. The small port town of Gunge, located on the west coast of the island, has a resident population of only around 1,000 people.

It was to this haven that the company now known as Mitsu Seiki moved in 1946. Having been founded in Osaka as the Mitsu Iron Works to manufacture parts for Imperial Japanese Navy ships in 1933, the relocation marked the company’s rebirth in the business of manufacturing and repairing marine engines. The fabrication of cylinders primarily for car engines was commenced in 1954.

Mitsu Seiki foyerA general view of the foyer at Mitsu Seiki’s Taga Works that houses the collection. The multi-coloured bobbins form part of a knitting machine that features Mitsu Seiki precision components.

Precision: Mitsu Seiki’s Middle Name

Fast forward 60 years and we find the company, still run by the Mitsu family, engaged in a diversified portfolio of engineering businesses, with the emphasis on precision (the sei in Seiki). The Mitsu Seiki group of companies currently employs around 300 at its cluster of three factory locations on Awaji. The Group’s operations now encompass the manufacture of components for knitting machines, which was started in 1959, and for medical as well as factory automation equipment.

Not surprisingly, Mitsu Seiki’s expertise also found ready applications in the aerospace industry. Having commenced the full-scale manufacture of jet engine casings and landing gear components in 1979, the company now counts Kawasaki, IHI, and ShinMaywa among its customers for these products.

Aviation Heritage

The aircraft collection is kept at Mitsu Seiki’s Taga Works, the first section of which was completed in 1992. The company’s head office was relocated there three years later, and the Taga No. 4 Factory completed in 2012.

The aim of placing aircraft on display was threefold: to enhance the quality of the aircraft products the company manufactures; to encourage the spread of on aeronautical science education; and improve how aviation is regarded. Providing hands-on experience during arranged visits, the Taga factory complex is a popular destination for schools in the area.

Indoor Display Area

As is customary, visitors are required to exchange their outdoor shoes for slippers before stepping onto the carpet in the foyer of the administrative block.

Acting as the focal point here is an ex-JASDF Fuji T-3 trainer formerly operated by the Air Development & Test Wing at Gifu AB. This area also houses a number of engines on trestles, some propellers, a pair of F-104J Starfighter external tanks, and the now replaced weather-ravaged cockpit canopy of the collection’s Mitsubishi F-1 support fighter. More information on individual exhibits is provided in the photo captions. (Please note that the use of flash photography was avoided as far as possible to produce a truer image.)

Ex-JASDF Fuji T-3

Mitsu Seiki T-3The displayed T-3 plays a key role in a valuable educational and PR initiative, under which local school groups are given the opportunity to learn about an aircraft’s controls.

Fuji T-3 engineThe T-3′s raised engine cover reveals details of the aircraft’s six-cylinder, horizontally opposed,
air-cooled Lycoming IGSO-480 piston engine.

Fuji T-3 front instruments
(Above and below) These two shots allow a comparison to be made between the instrumentation provided for the student pilot in the front cockpit and that of the instructor in the rear.

Fuji T-3 instrument panels

Fuji T-3 nosewheel

Fuji T-3 mainwheel

The nosewheel (left) and starboard mainwheel of the Fuji T-3. Mitsu Seiki has engaged in the business of supplying landing gear components since 1979.

Ex-JGSDF Kawasaki-Hughes OH-6D

Mitsu Seiki OH-6DIn the same way as the T-3, the resident OH-6D provides an ideal tool for giving school children a
hands-on experience. Just visible in front of the window to the left are the
two external fuel tanks from an F-104J Starfighter.

Jet Engines

Mitsu Seiki J79Dominating one side of the room and featured in closeup on the J-HangarSpace homepage, this J79-IHI-11A dates from December 21, 1964, according to the manufacturer’s data plate. This type of engine powered the JASDF’s F-104J/DJ Starfighter fleet.

Mitsu Seiki J33The Allison J33-A-35 turbojet engine holds a special place in Japan’s aviation heritage. When the postwar ban on Japan possessing an aviation industry was finally lifted in April 1952, Kawasaki Aircraft (today’s Kawasaki Heavy Industries, KHI) concluded a technical cooperation agreement
with Lockheed to overhaul this type of engine for what was then the U.S. Far East Air Force.
Both this and another example at KHI are on loan from the Japan Ministry of Defense’s
Air Staff Office. Kawasaki went on to build under licence one of the engine’s main
applications, the Lockheed T-33, for the fledgling JASDF.

Loaned Propellers

Mitsu Seiki propsThe fruits of collaboration between Hamilton Standard (now part of UTC Aerospace Systems) in the United States and Japan’s Sumitomo Precision Products Co., Ltd., a 4.4 metre-diameter 63E60
propeller as fitted to the NAMC YS-11 and ShinMaywa US-1A (foreground) is displayed
alongside a 54H60 propeller from a Lockheed/Kawasaki P-3C Orion. These exhibits are on loan
from JASDF Gifu AB and the JMSDF Air Supply Depot at Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, respectively.

Outdoor Display Area

Where possible, photos of the aircraft displayed outside have been coupled with those of the engines displayed inside.

Ex-JASDF Mitsubishi F-1 and
Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries TF40-IHI-801A engine

Mitsu Seiki F-1The Mitsu Seiki collection’s F-1 retains the markings of its time assigned to the 6th Sqn at Tsuiki AB, Fukuoka Prefecture. This particular aircraft had attained 4,050 flight hours at the time of its
retirement from active service, when it was loaned to Mitsu Seiki by the chief of the Air Staff.

F-1 cockpitAlthough rain at times looked a distinct possibility at the time of the visit, J-HangarSpace was granted access to the cockpits of both the F-1 and the T-1. Prominent features of the former’s main instrument panel are the head-up display and the centrally mounted radar scope, immediately above which
are the attitude (left) and bearing indicators.

F-1 main undercarriageThe F-1’s main undercarriage was of the swing-lever type. The retraction sequence involved the main wheels swivelling laterally and being drawn up and forward into the wheel well. The aircraft was
also fitted with hydraulically actuated speed brakes—the English on the warning sign should say
speed brake—that were designed to minimize the amount of trim needed when deployed.

F-1 nosewheelThe F-1’s rearward-retracting nosewheel was of a simple cantilever design and, hydraulically steered, had a maximum 36 degrees of right or left movement. The axe-like wheel fairing jutting out from the left side of the wheel was intended to counteract any skid induced by having the nosewheel offset to accommodate the machine gun housing in the forward fuselage.

Mitsu Seiki TF40Amid exhibits that highlight the collaboration that has taken place over the years between Japanese and U.S. companies, the TF40-IHI-801A was the licence-built version of the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca
Adour turbofan that powered both the twin-jet F-1 and its T-2 trainer stablemate. The data plate on this
example gives the date of manufacture as September 1980.

Ex-JASDF Fuji T-1B and
Rolls-Royce (Bristol Siddeley) Orpheus Mk. 805 engine (from T-1A)

Mitsu Seiki T-1BFollowing the prototype’s first flight in January 1958, the T-1A/B series played an indispensable role in the training of hundreds of JASDF fighter pilots over the years. In clean configuration, the aircraft boasted a climb rate of more than 4,000 feet per minute. The collection’s T-1B retains the markings
of its time spent at the 5th Technical School, Komaki AB, Aichi Prefecture.

T-1B cockpitNot surprisingly, the T-1B’s instrument panels are a monochrome throwback to the 1950s. This late model example now sports a grey instrument panel with white dials, but the panels of the aircraft involved in the test programme were black. Note the colour-coordinated grey map pocket to the
right of the seat.

Mitsu Seiki OrpheusBearing the designation T1F2 (later T-1A), no less than 46 examples of Japan’s first jet trainer design were powered by the British Orpheus turbojet. This move bought IHI time to complete the delayed development of the indigenous J3 engine, which was then fitted as standard to 20 T-1Bs and retrospectively to three T-1As. This particular engine completed 5,203 flying hours during its
service life and, like other exhibits at Mitsu Seiki, is on loan from the Air Staff Office.

Ex-JGSDF Mitsubishi LR-1

Mitsu Seiki LR-1The JGSDF acquired a total of 20 LR-1 liaison aircraft, a type based on the Mitsubishi MU-2B business turboprop. Having entered service in 1967, only two units were still operating the type early in 2014.

LR-1 interior
(Above and below) A rare glance inside the LR-1 reveals its now decidedly retro-looking interior fittings and instrumentation.

LR-1 instrument panel

Ex-JGSDF Kawasaki-Vertol KV-107IIA-4 and
General Electric/IHI CT58-IHI-140-1 turboshaft engine

Mitsu Seiki KV-107The displayed example of the JGSDF’s former standard heavy-lift helicopter has an association with the area, having been flown on 32 disaster relief missions from Takamatsu Airport on Shikoku to Oji Park
in Kobe in the aftermath of the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. For the last few years of
ts military career, ’816 was based at the JGSDF’s Takuyubaru Sub-Camp at
Kumamoto Airport in Nagano Prefecture.

KV-107 cockpitA JGSDF soldier’s eye view of the pilots’ “office” on board a KV-107IIA-4.

KV-107 troop seatingThe exhibited KV-107IIA-4′s interior retains the standard troop seating configuration.

Mitsu Seiki CT58The KV-107IIA-4 was powered by two CT58s, an example of which is on display in the foyer.

Ex-JGSDF Fuji-Bell UH-1H

Mitsu Seiki UH-1HThe former JGSDF aircraft are in particularly good condition. A sign in front of the resident UH-1H apologetically states that requests to view the collection on weekends, National Holidays or
at night will be declined and gives the name of the company responsible for site security.

How To Get There

By far the cheapest way is by highway bus from Kobe’s Sannomiya Station to Gunge. Its roughly hourly operation shared by the Awaji Kotsu and Shinki bus companies, the bus route links highway interchanges and coastal communities. The return fare for the journey, which normally takes an hour one way, is 2,520 yen.

A taxi from the stand directly across from the bus stop in Gunge to the Taga Works takes only a few minutes and costs 850 yen.

Visiting Hours

Visits are possible during office hours (between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays, excluding National Holidays) by prior arrangement only.
Tel: +81 (0)799-85-1133 / Fax: +81 (0)799-85-2602

As the bus service is infrequent, visitors should aim to be back at the bus stop in Gunge in plenty of time. The nearby coffee shop Ikoi (meaning relax) provides the perfect waiting room.

Parting Shot

Mitsu Seiki outside

J-HangarSpace would like to extend thanks to the members of staff at Mitsu Seiki’s
Taga Works who made this memorable visit possible and so informative.

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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
Nagoya Aerospace Systems, Komaki South Plant, Aichi Prefecture
Aircraft Collection and Archive
February 22, 2014

(Note: This facility has been closed since June 2017 for refurbishment
and relocation. It will likely be reopening primarily as an
educational facility for MHI employees at the company’s
Oe Plant in around June 2019.)

Komaki sign

A name synonymous with Japanese industry, Mitsubishi first became officially involved in the aviation field in 1928, when the Mitsubishi Company changed the name of its Nagoya-based Mitsubishi Internal Combustion Engine Manufacturing Co., Ltd. subsidiary to the Mitsubishi Aircraft Company. Largely as a result of a 1925 technical tie-up with Junkers of Germany, Mitsubishi had by then already become a major player in the Japanese aviation industry.

In 1934, the company became part of the huge Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) conglomerate that also boasted long-established interests in shipbuilding and industrial machinery.

In the period immediately following the end of the Pacific War, the company survived by responding to the needs of the times and supplying a range of products, from domestic appliances to bus bodies. Once the postwar ban on Japan’s aircraft production was lifted in April 1952, Mitsubishi made a rapid return to its former line of business.

Construction work commenced on a new MHI aircraft plant right next to the airfield at Komaki in August 1952; the first hangar was completed in December that year. The first step had been taken on a road that would lead Mitsubishi to the licence-building of U.S. types for all three Self-Defence Force air arms, prior to designing and manufacturing its own aircraft.

As you would expect, the private museum located inside the Komaki South complex contains a mass of information from the earliest days of the company’s involvement in aviation.

Outdoor Lineup

The signs in front of the four aircraft parked outside the archive building help to chart some of the Komaki South plant’s postwar activities.

North American-Mitsubishi F-86F-40 Sabre

Komaki F-86FOn the sign in front of the displayed F-86F Sabre, which is dated April 1979, the head of Komaki South expresses his gratitude to the Japan Defense Agency (now Japan Defense Ministry) for enabling the display of the second example produced at the plant. Between September 1956 and February 1961,
a total of 300 F-86Fs type were manufactured under licence for the JASDF at the plant,
where 1,566 of the type underwent overhaul.

Lockheed-Mitsubishi F-104J Starfighter

Komaki F-104JAlso gracing the outdoor exhibit compound is the 172nd F-104J Starfighter produced under licence at Komaki. The plant was responsible for manufacturing a total of 230 F-104Js between April 1962 and December 1967, in addition to overhauling 1,077 aircraft of the type.
The sign in front of this aircraft is dated April 1988.

Mitsubishi T-2

Komaki T-2Rolled out on April 28, 1971, as the Mitsubishi XT-2, 19-5101 was first flown on July 20 that year. As the prototype of 92 T-2s built at Komaki before production ended in 1988, this aircraft was assigned to the Air Proving Wing (now the Air Development and Test Wing) at Gifu AB from December 15, 1971,
until its retirement on October 18, 2002. The sign in front of this aircraft is dated April 2003,
the aircraft having been received at an unveiling ceremony on the 14th of that month.

Sikorsky-Mitsubishi HSS-2B Sea King

Komaki HSS-2BInconveniently squeezed into the corner of the compound is the JMSDF’s first HSS-2B, the 84th of 167 HSS-2A/B helicopters manufactured at Komaki between March 1964 and March 1990.
The sign in front of this aircraft is dated July 1991.

Indoor Star Attraction 1
Komet’s Kissing Cousin: Mitsubishi J8M1 Shusui

Komaki Shusui 2

A slightly larger version of the world’s first rocket-powered fighter, the German Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet, the J8M1 Shusui was intended to defend the homeland against U.S. Army Air Force B-29 air raids.

After a five-year restoration by volunteer Komaki South engineers, the collection’s J8M1 was unveiled on December 18, 2001. This was some 40 years after the dilapidated airframe, then only 25 percent complete, had been found in a cave during construction work at the Japan Aircraft Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (now NIPPI Corporation) factory at Sugita, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 1961.

Having been presented to the JASDF in 1963, the battered hulk languished outdoors at Gifu before “coming home” to Nagoya in 1997 and becoming the focus of restoration efforts. It was not until October 1999 that the building of missing parts and the restoration of the airframe, which relied heavily on MHI archive drawings, could begin in earnest. In some ways this was history repeating itself, as the original MHI team under Mijiro Takahashi had been forced to reverse engineer aircraft and rocket motor parts, the plans for which had largely been lost aboard two submarines sunk en route from Germany to Japan in 1944. All that was available were the documents carried by one of the military attaches sent to Germany, who had been lucky enough to part company with one of the ill-fated submarines in Singapore and continue on to Japan by aircraft. The modern-day team, however, had the added luxury of being able to visit the only other surviving example, at The Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California.

Before and After Restoration

Shusui wreckThis photo of a photo gives some idea of the aircraft’s condition when restoration work was under way.

Komaki Shusui 3The J8M1 featured a slightly larger wingspan than the Me 163 to accommodate its twin 30mm Type 5 cannon armament. In the foreground are (left) a part from and (right) a replica of the
J8M1’s rocket motor.

As Nagoya was the target of frequent air raids and had even been struck by an earthquake early in December 1944, the J8M1 design team was relocated to Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. Including Japan Aircraft Manufacturing and Nissan Aviation Transportation, potential airframe production sites were dispersed for the same reasons.

Usually translated as “sword stroke”, an MHI-produced history of the Komaki plant states that the name Shusui (literally “autumn water”) came from the poetic image of a sharply honed sword that is as keen and unerring as an autumn stream. Departing from the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) tradition of naming its interceptors after weather phenomenon, the aircraft’s name was actually taken from the title of a tanka poem. The poem had been written in December 1944 by Ensign Katsutoshi Okano in celebration of a successful test flight when with the training unit formed in anticipation of J8M1 deliveries, the Yokosuka Naval Air Group detachment based at Hyakurigahara (today known as Hyakuri) in Ibaraki Prefecture. As the wording of the verse could be taken to mean that the performance of the Shusui (poetically here “sharp-bladed sword”) would reverse Japan’s by then grave war situation, the name was later submitted to the commanding officer of the service’s 312th Naval Air Group and provisionally accepted for an aircraft the unit was destined to fly only its unpowered training glider form.

Komaki Shusui 4This three-quarter rear view shows details of what is a replica added to a restored original
duralumin fuselage. The slots in the tailpipe were intended to provide cooling.

In the event, the Shusui was never to see operational service before the end of the war on August 15, 1945, by which time Mitsubishi had completed four aircraft, Japan Aircraft only the one. The only example to fly, the prototype suffered a flameout resulting in a fatal crash when on its maiden flight from the naval air base at Oppama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on July 7, 1945.

J8M1 Shusui Detail Photos

Komaki Shusui 5The J8M1 featured a more elongated nose profile than the Me 163 to accommodate a battery and radio receiver packs. In the case of the aircraft’s German counterpart, a tiny, nose-mounted propeller drove a dynamo to power a VHF radio. In the foreground are a J8M1 pilot’s specially designed helmet (seen from the rear) and small versions of the vessels used to hold the dangerous rocket fuel components.

Shusui cockpit
(Above) The pilot sat between tanks containing highly volatile hydrogen peroxide that was mixed with the chemical cocktail—mainly comprising hydrazine hydrate and methyl alcohol—carried in wing tanks to provide the rocket fuel. (Below) Donated from Japanese collectors or volunteers, what cockpit instrumentation could be obtained was arranged in accordance with the design specifications.
(Both photos kindly provided in 2002 by then Komaki South General Affairs Manager
Kouji Maruyama)

Shusui instrument panel

Shusui cannonDue to the absence of the necessary technology in Japan at the time, the J8M1 also lacked the Me 163’s one-piece canopy. Hinged to the right, the heavy canopy could be held open by a prop that was stowed flat when not in use. The prop be seen in the lower of the two MHI-supplied cockpit photos above.

Shusui undercarriageThe dolly undercarriage was designed to be jettisoned after takeoff for reuse, leaving the aircraft to be landed on its hydraulically actuated nose skid. The round hole above was the tow bar attachment point.

Shusui rocket motorA closer view of the replica of the rocket motor designated Toku Ro No. 2 and KR10 by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) and IJNAF, respectively. Although the Me163B was powered by a Walter HWK-109-509, the exact model used for the J8M1 remains unknown as no trace remains
of what few blueprints made it to Japan.

Indoor Star Attraction 2
Repatriated Combatant: Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Model 52

Komaki Zero

Estimated to have been built in March 1944, the displayed Zero was one of five retrieved from Colonia airfield on the Pacific island of Yap by Tokyo-based businessman Nobuo Harada in 1980. The restoration work was carried out at the Kawaguchiko Motor Museum in Yamanashi Prefecture, which former racing driver Harada owns.

A6M5 Zero Detail Photos

Komaki A6M5At the time of J-HangarSpace’s visit, the steps leading over the wing to the cockpit were cordoned off pending some repair work.

Sakae engineClose up of the A6M5’s 14-cylinder Nakajima Sakae 21 radial engine and propeller

Elsewhere in the Collection

The Shusui and Zero are surrounded by exhibits, wall displays, and showcases broadly divided into Army, Navy, civilian aircraft, and SDF subject areas. The following photos provide just a taste the collection’s extensive content.

Ki-67 tailwheel(Rear) Taken from a Mitsubishi Ki-67 (Peggy) bomber, this tailwheel saw 45 years’ postwar service as part of a bicycle-drawn cart. (Front) A bent propeller blade from a Mitsubishi Type 99 Assault Aircraft (Sonia) discovered at Kakamigahara airfield in Gifu Prefecture.

Komaki museumA large panel providing a chronology of relevant events and developments from 1920 extends along one wall, commencing from the Navy aircraft section.

Herbert Smith groupA detail from the previous photo, this group picture was taken in 1921 after the completion of the first Mitsubishi-built aircraft, a Navy Type 10 Carrier-based Fighter. Seated along the front row are the
five-man British team, including (trio to right,
left to right) the aircraft’s designer Herbert Smith, engineer Jack Hyland, and test pilot Capt. William Jordan. Present among the assembled Mitsubishi Internal Combustion Engine Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Nagoya factory workforce were aero-engine designer Taizo Shoda and Mitsubishi President Toshiki Sakurai.

HorikoshiBookending this view of the Navy aircraft display are two of Mitsubishi’s designers. Having graduated from Tokyo Imperial University in 1926, Kiro Honjo (1901–1990, left) joined Mitsubishi Internal Combustion Engine Manufacturing Co., Ltd. There he was the chief designer of the Type 96 (Nell)
and Type 1 (
Betty) land-based attack aircraft. Graduating from Tokyo Imperial a year after
Honjo, Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982,
right) followed in his footsteps and achieved fame as
the chief designer of a series of Mitsubishi fighters, including the Zero.

Komaki manualsThe operating manual (dated December 1936, left) for the Army Type 97-2 Heavy Bomber and the standard handling reference for the type (dated 1935). These are just two examples of the
piles of aircraft and engine manuals displayed in the collection’s showcases.
Much use is made of models of Mitsubishi-built aircraft.

Komaki MC-20A general view of the section devoted to Mitsubishi’s civil aviation efforts in the 1930s and 40s. The display case holds such tantalizingly visible yet inaccessible gems as a handling manual for the
MC-20 transport and albums of photos taken at exhibitions promoting the type.

Komaki 1st F-86FForming a link to the opening aircraft photo in this report, this trophy commemorates the delivery of
the first Mitsubishi-produced (from North American-supplied parts) F-86F Sabre to the JASDF on September 20, 1956. Eventually, around half of the components for MHI-produced F-86Fs
were sourced in Japan.

Opening Hours
Located across from the main gate, until its closure in June 2017 the collection was open every week on Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tours needed to be reserved through the Nagoya Aerospace Systems Komaki South Plant General Affairs Group:
1, Oaza Toyoba, Toyoyama, Nishikasugai, Aichi Prefecture 480-0293
Tel: +81-(0)568-28-1112  /  Fax: +81-(0)568-28-5150

How To Get There
Take the Meitetsu Inuyama Line from Meitetsu Nagoya Station to Nishiharu. From there, take the bus bound for Nagoya Airport but get off at the Toyoyama Social Education Centre (Toyoyamacho Shakai Kyoiku Senta). You can see the MHI Nagoya Aerospace Systems Komaki South plant along the main road from the bus stop, so it’s just a short walk to the main gate, from where the aircraft parked outside can still (early 2018) be seen.

Parting Shot

MHI Komaki collectionAlso present is a civil-registered MU-2B-36. Sadly, there are no survivors of the four examples of the
MU-2B-35/-36 variants operated by the JASDF as the MU-2J from the mid-1970s to 1995.

J-HangarSpace would like to extend its thanks to past and current members of staff at the Komaki South Plant who made this and a previous visit in 2002
so memorable and informative.

Principal Reference Works
In the process of adding or checking details, J-HangarSpace referred to a number of sources. Too many to list here, chief among them were:

English-language sources (UK magazines)
Imagawa, Yoshio (nom de plume of MHI engineer involved on the Shusui programme), Japan’s Final Sword Stroke . . . The Story of Shusui, in June 1976 issue of Air International
Yamazaki, Akio, Tail of the Tiger: Japan’s Shusui Interceptor, in January/February 2005 issue of Air Enthusiast

Japanese-language sources
Matsuoka, Hisamitsu, Nihon Hatsu no Roketto Sentoki Shusui (Shusui: Japan’s First Rocket Fighter), Miki Press, Tokyo, 2004
Okano, Mitsutoshi (Editor), Me de Miru Komaki Minami Kojo 50 Nenshi (Seen Firsthand: Komaki South Plant’s 50-Year History), MHI Komaki South Plant, 2003
Shibata, Kazuya, Yujin Roketto Sentoki Shusui (The Shusui Manned Rocket Fighter), DaiNippon Kaiga, Tokyo, 2005

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JGSDF Public Information Center
Kasumigaura Army Camp, Ibaraki Prefecture
May 18, 2014

JGSDF Kasumigaura Public Information CenterThe main entrance to Kasumigaura’s Public Information Center. The aircraft are parked with some military vehicles at the rear of the building, which opened for the first time in October 1993.

J-HangarSpace took advantage of the Kasumigaura Army Camp open day event that marked the 61st anniversary of the base’s postwar inauguration. The visit could have been covered as a Location Report, but the base’s Public Information Center contains much of historical interest, and other aspects will be covered in an airfield history. This report is thus designed to provide an update on the content of the center.

The Public Information Center Helicopter Collection

Kept outside, the four-helicopter collection is listed below. In the case of two of the residents, a photo taken in 2002 provides a then and now comparison.

Fuji-Bell UH-1H

Kasumigaura UH-1HFollowing its delivery to the JGSDF in 1984, the service career of the UH-1H now displayed at Kasumigaura took it to the Western Region Helicopter Squadron at Metabaru, Saga Prefecture,
and the 101st Air Squadron at Naha Amy Camp in Okinawa. This aircraft replaced a
sister aircraft soon after its removal from long-term display in May 2008.

Hughes TH-55J

Kasumigaura TH-55J (2002)
(Above) The Kasumigaura collection’s Hughes TH-55J training helicopter, as it was in the spring of 2002. According to Japanese sources, the aircraft had only been on charge for just over a year and
a half when withdrawn from service in 1976. Today
(below), the aircraft and the port cockpit door
in particular seem to be suffering from the ravages of time spent open to the elements, despite
having been given a new coat of paint circa 2008. December 13, 2014, will mark
the 40th anniversary of this helicopter’s delivery to the JGSDF.

Kasumigaura TH-55J (2014)
Kawasaki-Vertol KV-107IIA-4

Kasumigaura KV-107IIA-4 (2002)
It was October 1978 when this KV-107IIA-4 joined the JGSDF’s ranks and began a period of service in Kyushu. From there, the aircraft was assigned to the 2nd Helicopter Squadron of the 1st Helicopter Brigade at Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, before being fitted with larger sponsons and nose weather
radar for over-water operations with the 101st Air Squadron at Naha Amy Camp in Okinawa.
It was here that (like the collection’s UH-1H) the aircraft’s service career ended. The photo taken in 2002
(above) was taken from atop the neighbouring self-propelled howitzer.
Today
(below), the aircraft remains in good condition, having been given a new coat of paint in 2008.
The rear of the Public Information Center can be seen peering over the top of the helicopter.

Kasumigaura KV-107IIA-4
Kawasaki-Hughes OH-6D

Kasumigaura OH-6D (2014)The resident OH-6D was originally delivered to the JGSDF in October 1989. Having been based at the Utsunomiya Aviation School, as evidenced by the “SU” unit marking, the aircraft was also displayed there for a time before being moved to its current location to replace another OH-6D (31187) in 2013.

Kawasaki-Hughes OH-6J (2002)

kasumigaura OH-6J (2002)Back in 2002, the OH-6D’s spot was occupied by this OH-6J, which had first been delivered to the JGSDF in March 1972 and struck off active charge in December 1991. This aircraft was
removed from display and replaced by the first of the two OH-6Ds in 2008.

Outdoor Memorial Zone

JGSDF Kasumigaura memorial moundBearing the words “Monument to Remembrance,” this mound is dedicated to the base’s former
Weapons Logistics Depot. A nearby plaque (wording below) gives more details.

 History behind Monument of Remembrance to Weapons Logistics Depot
(Translation of Descriptive Plaque)

The Weapons Logistics Depot was established at Shimo-Tachikawa Army Camp in Tokyo on October 15, 1952. After a [minor] change to its [Japanese] name the following year, the depot moved to this site [Kasumigaura] on January 20, 1954. Despite repeated reorganizations, it was from here that the depot subsequently fulfilled the function of the JGSDF’s logistics hub for firearms, vehicles, guided weapons, aircraft, chemical equipment, and ammunition. However, the reorganization into the Ground Material Control Command [GMCC, at Jujo, Tokyo] and the Kanto Supply Depot [one of five regional depots, at Tsuchiura, next to Kasumigaura] following the consolidated centralization of operations, such as at central supply depots, brought down the curtain on its 47 year-long history on March 26, 1998.

In connection with the depot’s disbandment, we erected here this monument of remembrance that encapsulates a myriad thoughts; from the desire for the Weapons Logistics Depot’s outstanding achievements and traditions to live on within the new system, and for the depot’s name and its existence to be lavishly preserved for posterity. The memorial zone, in which this monument was erected as a focal point, crystallizes the aspirations, ingenuity, and toil of all the people involved, shows gratitude, and expresses appreciation.

March 26, 1998
26th Weapons Logistics Depot Commander, General Kurushima

KiramekiEntitled Kirameki (Sparkle), this imposing monument was added to mark JGSDF Kasumigaura’s
50th anniversary in 2003. The content of the associated plaque is given below.

Kirameki (Sparkle)
(Translation of Descriptive Plaque)

The representative director of his family’s stone materials business in Makabemachi, Ibaraki Prefecture—Japan’s leading stone production area—Shigeru Nagaoka created this monument. Using sotaku construction techniques to leave behind for posterity craftsmanship and the town’s traditions, his aim was for the pleasure of light (the monument was to gleam even in natural light at evening), not through the conventional processing of level surfaces but by crafting geometric fish-scale patterns into the stone.

As an army camp supporting the Eastern Army units necessary for its mission of defending Tokyo, the name Kirameki (Sparkle) encapsulated the hope that Kasumigaura would accomplish the transformation into an “army camp garrison that sparkles from within.”

Inaugurated in 2003 to mark the 50th anniversary of Kasumigaura Army Camp

Presented by Shigeru Nagaoka

Kasumigaura memorialDated October 1944 and commemorating “General Rise Ourselves [to Action] Month”, these words are inscribed on what was once part of the outer wall of a water tank built for fire prevention purposes behind the 1st Naval Air Arsenal’s engine test laboratory.

Kasumigaura Graf Zeppelin monument

Monument Marking Visit by Airship Graf Zeppelin
(Translation of Descriptive Plaque)

On August 19, 1929, the world’s largest airship, the German Graf Zeppelin, arrived during its round the world flight at what was then the Kasumigaura Naval Air Group. Around 400,000 people came to see the Graf Zeppelin over the five days of its stay, during which time a special train service was operated from Ueno [in Tokyo] to [nearby] Tsuchiura. The village of Amihara (today’s Amimachi) was said to have been inundated with people. Measuring 240 metres (790 feet) in length, the hangar used had formed part of the reparations Germany paid to Japan after World War I.

In 1931, Charles Lindbergh and his wife [Anne] also flew into Kasumigaura, which was then a global airport.

In 1974, the discovery of a tethering stone and anchor target marker made it likely that the Graf Zeppelin’s arrival point was near here, and resulted in this monument being erected in 1975. In 1993, the monument was chosen as one of the points of interest in Amimachi.

As the numbers of visitors [to Amimachi] have been declining in recent years, the monument was moved and displayed at its current location so that the history behind the visit of the Graf Zeppelin will not be forgotten.

General Fujino, 33rd Base Commander, JGSDF Kasumigaura Army Camp
June 18, 2008

Kasumigaura monumentThe inscriptions on this monument are: (centre) Site of the Beginning of Japan-German Friendship; (right) Commemoration of the Graf Zeppelin’s Official Visit; and (left)
Written by General Kondo, JGSDF Kasumigaura Army Camp Base Commander

Kasumigaura Graf Zeppelin 2(A translation of the inscription is provided below.)

History
(Translation of Descriptive Plaque)

On August 19, 1929, the Graf Zeppelin, at that time the world’s largest airship, arrived safely at Amihara [Ibaraki Prefecture], its first stop on the way from its German homeland, having unprecedentedly traversed the skies over Siberia in one leg in her bid to set the fastest time for a flight circumnavigating the world. Over the five days of its stay, the Graf Zeppelin received local hospitality, among other things cooperation that went far beyond that of the Kasumigaura Naval Air Group in squeezing the Graf Zeppelin into an enormous hangar; cooperation that played a major role and contributed to the subsequent achievement of the century. From the German side also, many local German residents came to exchange courtesies, including the German ambassador to Japan, turning Amihara into precisely the spot where Japanese-German friendship began.

Several years have passed, and now there is barely anything to evoke in the world’s historical consciousness the role this site played; the site where items such as this, the Graf Zeppelin’s tethering stone once stood, seems desolate.

The reason for erecting this monument here is to ensure the passing on of that [sense of] pride.

The Public Information Center (1F/Ground Floor)

Having changed from outdoor footwear into the slippers provided, visitors are free to walk around the two levels of the center itself.

Kasumigaura chronologyThe start of the base chronology display, which features in-sequence portrait photos of the first four Weapons Logistics Depot commanders (left) and of base commanders (above) with a selection of
scenes from the base taken in the mid-1950s (foot of photo).

The lower level is mainly occupied by seating for a video screening area. Extending around two walls, horizontally divided, colour-coded panels provide a postwar chronology. This charts key events in Kasumigaura Army Camp history, including the re-start of its utilization as an airfield in 1956, above major events in Japan and overseas. The panel representation is accompanied by photos showing scenes from the mid-1950s.

Kasumigaura diorama
In one corner is a well-detailed, illuminated diorama (part of which is shown above) that gives a good comparison between the extensive Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) base of old and the modern-day JGSDF camp, marked in red; a “you are here” flag pinpoints the site of the Public Information Center. Made by referring to archive records dating from 1929 to 1947, the model shows all the facilities used between 1941 and 1945, when Kasumigaura was home to a naval air arsenal and air group with Nakajima hangars on the far side and the Tsuchiura Naval Air Group on the lakeshore, both out of shot to the right. The airship hangar that housed the Graf Zeppelin during her 1929 visit can be seen in the foreground.

Kasumigaura Ohka modelForming part of a dedicated display, a model of the rocket-powered Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) special attack aircraft that was produced at the then based Naval Air Arsenal
from around August 1944.

The Public Information Center (2F/First Floor)

The upstairs room contains a central rectangle of showcases accompanied by other displays around three walls. The far end to the left has a convenient seating area.

Hansa-Brandenburg propellerImmediately left at the top of the stairs leading up from the entrance is this propeller from a Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 reconnaissance seaplane. Large numbers of this German design were built
under licence in Japan from 1924 and operated from IJNAF bases, including Kasumigaura,
until the early 1930s.

In the showcase directly ahead are artefacts from the No. 1 Navy Arsenal era. Starting from the left, these include group photos and, at the end of this side, a collection of manuals, all of which are unfortunately closed.

Continuing around the showcase at the end, the most prominent display here covers the only aircraft to attack the U.S. mainland during the Pacific War. Launched from the submarine I-29, a Kugisho E14Y1 (Glen) floatplane crewed by pilot Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and observer Chief Petty Officer Shoji Okuda dropped bombs with the failed intention of starting an extensive fire in an area of national forest in Oregon, on September 9, 1942. Back in Japan, the story made the front page headlines of the Asahi Shimbun on September 17.

Nobuo FujitaThe showcase display covering the daring attack on the U.S. mainland on September 9, 1942, contains the news report from the Asahi Shimbun (top) and pictures of the pilot, Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita (1911–1997). The aircraft shown in the picture (left) is a Kugisho E14Y1 (Glen) floatplane of the type used on the mission.

The long showcase on the side furthest away from the stairs commences with a display, in artefacts and photos, of the heavy fighting that took place on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima early in 1945. On a lighter note, the next display contains more Graf Zeppelin memorabilia, though not directly connected with her 1929 visit to Kasumigaura.

A general display on modern-day domestic and overseas SDF operations leads visitors to the models of tanks housed in the end showcase.

This brings you round again to the stairs, from where continuing on another anti-clockwise lap around the outer wall displays commences with two sections, in photos and aircraft models (shown on this website’s homepage), devoted to the Kasumigaura Naval Air Group and the No. 1 Naval Air Arsenal.

Nobuo Fujita (2)The end wall features a larger display on the September 1942 Fujita raid on the U.S. mainland. Taken during a 50th anniversary return visit in September 1992, one photo shows Fujita planting a tree at the spot in the Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon, where one of his bombs had fallen. The focal point Stars and Stripes were presented to the former pilot by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

The major display to the right provides more details concerning the tragic story alluded to by a worn monument outside. Before the Pacific War, in November 1940, Tamiko Fujita (no relation to the pilot) committed suicide by throwing herself into a well at the Army Flight Radio Operators School at Mito, also in Ibaraki Prefecture. She was 22. Her suicide note, which contained two self-penned songs, stated she had wanted to lay down her life to bring an end to the spate of flying accidents the school had suffered since opening that August.

Tamiko FujitaThe Kasumigaura Public Information Center has been the new home for this tribute to “Goddess of the Skies” Tamiko Fujita since April 2013. The newspaper account from the April 15, 2013, edition of the Keizai Shimbun (left) mentions former Republic of Korea Air Force Colonel Sai San-sen (84),
a graduate of the Army Flight Radio Operators School at Mito who had visited Fujita’s
family members in December 2012.

A shrine to the Goddess of the Skies, comprising a kaihi, a monument inscribed with a 31-syllable tanka poem, and a bust was erected in Fujita’s honour at the school. The shrine itself was destroyed during the war and the bust removed during the Occupation as it was deemed to fall within the remit of the policy of eradicating militarism. Placed briefly in a farmer’s barn, the objects were claimed by the family and kept at their home.

Wanting to have these artefacts displayed in a public place at an SDF airfield, a writer named Takushi Jinkotsu was instrumental in resurrecting this long-forgotten story, having approached the family to find out whether they knew of the bust’s whereabouts.

The culmination his efforts, and those of other volunteers, came on April 13, 2013. That day, a requiem service for Tamiko Fujita was held at the Public Information Center to mark the placing of the bust on public display indoors here and the plaque outside.

Graf Zeppelin exhibitA large part of the long wall display is also given over to the Graf Zeppelin’s visit. The Japanese texts on the two black panels to the right of the model are repeated from two of the monuments in the
memorial zone outside.

FHI FFOSProminent in the modern-day SDF display next to the Graf Zeppelin is this Yamaha RMAX rotary-wing UAV that saw service during the time JGSDF elements were providing humanitarian assistance in Iraq, from early 2004 to July 2006. The wall display at the far end (out of shot to the left) is devoted entirely
to rifles and small arms.

Parting Shots

Kasumigaura 1945

As the visit coincided with an event to mark Kasumigaura’s 61 years of postwar service, J-HangarSpace will be covering other aspects of the base’s history in an upcoming report. As a taster, the displayed photo (above) shows a view looking across to the Kasumigaura Naval Air Group hangars in May 1945. Parked in the centre, the most notable aircraft is a rare Type 2 Land-based Intermediate Trainer (Watanabe K10W1/Oak). Fast forward nearly 70 years, and the base is home to three types of attack helicopters, including the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow (below, left) and the Kawasaki OH-1.

Kasumigaura 2014
How To Get There

The nearest train station is Arakawaoki, about an hour along the JR Joban Line from Ueno Station in Tokyo. From there it’s just a short taxi ride to the base main gates. (A public road separates the part of the base complex that includes the Public Information Center from the airfield side.)

JGSDF Kasumigaura Army Camp Public Information Center Tours 


JGSDF Kasumigaura Army Camp Public Information
Group

2410, Migimomi, Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture 300-0837

Tel.: +81 (0)29-842-1211, extension 2217 

 

Opening Times

Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 12:00; 13:00 to 16:30
(Excluding National Holidays and other weekdays on which the Center is closed)

Although there is no set limit on visitor numbers, groups of 10 or more need to make reservations in advance via a form on the Japanese-language website:

http://www.mod.go.jp/gsdf/eae/eadep/sabu05.html 

 

 

 

 Want to Find Out More?

On the September 1942 Fujita raid on the United States?
Look no further than Kugisho E14Y Glen, by Ryusuke Ishiguro and Tadeusz Januszewski
(MMP Books, 2012), featured on the
Bookstall carousel at the foot of this website’s homepage

On the Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 in IJNAF service and the
Type 2 Land-based Intermediate Trainer (Oak)?

In the now out of print Issue 7 (September-December 2007) of
Arawasi International magazine

 

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Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall)
Narusawa, Yamanashi Prefecture
August 29, 2014

kawaguchikozero21rsThe Zero Fighter Museum currently contains two complete examples of the type and another cockpit section with its wings in exposed, skeleton form.

Located around 60 miles (100km) west of Tokyo, in the wooded Five Lakes region of Yamanashi Prefecture at the base of Mount Fuji, the Zero Fighter Museum is the brainchild of former racing driver and car importer/exporter Nobuo Harada. First opened in 2001, the aviation collection shares the location with its sister facility, the Kawaguchiko Motor Museum, which dates back a further 20 years, to 1981.

Long associated with the fighter from which it takes its English name, the Kawaguchiko Hikokan (literally Aviation Hall) currently contains two complete examples and another cockpit section with its wings in exposed, skeleton form. In 2002, the collection’s former Zero Model 52 (c/n 4240) was moved to the then newly refurbished Yushukan at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

This year’s opening marked the debut of the rear fuselage and vertical tail assembly from an IJAAF Nakajima Ki-43-I Hayabusa (Oscar) fighter that was purchased, with a view to restoration, from The Fighter Collection in Duxford, England. The arrival of the aircraft’s main components at the Port of Yokohama in July 2013 was the first time an example of the type had returned to its homeland since the end of the Pacific War, 68 years before. Having seen service with the 3rd Company, 59th Flying Regiment, when operating from But East airfield in New Guinea, the aircraft fell into the hands of the Royal Australian Air Force in January 1945 and was displayed in a number of locations after the end of the war. Eventually stored at the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra, the Oscar had been acquired by The Fighter Collection in around 1990.

The Kawaguchiko display included a newspaper article from the Tokyo Shimbun for August 13, 2013, in which Harada gave two reasons for his long-standing commitment to collecting and preserving aircraft: the lack of a publicly run national war museum, and what he feels is the necessity to have genuine objects by which to learn about the past. (Now aged 77, Harada is himself a witness to history, having experienced the loss of the family home in Tokyo during the air raids on Tokyo in 1945.) The article also quotes Ichiro Mitsui, the editor of the respected aviation magazine Koku Fan, who regards Harada’s restored exhibits as “highly significant” in clearly conveying the advanced aviation technology that Japan possessed at that time.

The current star attraction, the restored fuselage of a Mitsubishi G4M2 (Type 1 Land-Based Attack Aircraft Model 22, Betty) bomber, provides a (literally) shining example of the efforts Harada and his team have made over the years.

The fuselage is actually a composite structure, made up of an original rear fuselage—extending back from the frame just forward of the waist gunner position—and a meticulously reverse-engineered front section.

The Air Museum/Planes of Fame in Chino, California, contains the remains of a Betty (a G4M1 Model 11) that was built in April 1942 and involved in a forced landing at Babo airfield, in what is now Indonesia. Displayed as an as-found diorama that faithfully recreates the crash site, an account of its 1991 recovery is included in Hidden Warbirds by Nicholas A. Veronico (Zenith, 2013). 

Located in Silver Hill, Maryland, the U.S. National Air & Space Museum’s Paul E. Garber restoration and storage facility houses the forward fuselage section and engines from a G4M3 Model 34. This example was captured at Yokosuka (Oppama Naval Air Station) at the end of the war and shipped to the United States for technical evaluation. That makes a total of just three major assemblies in existence, from the total of more than 2,400 aircraft built.

Coincidentally, design of the G4M commenced in 1937, the year Harada was born. The restoration project would have been impossible without the help from three principal sources: original technical drawings supplied by Mitsubishi; the study of photos of an engineless G4M1 (Model 11, c/n 2806) that was abandoned on Balalae, one of the Solomon Islands chain; and the advice and recollections of veteran crew members.

Written off following a runway overrun, the aircraft was discovered in the jungle close to what is now Yap International Airport in 1984. Having ensured the absence of any unexploded ordnance or ammunition and received the necessary permission, the recovery team attached a cable and hauled the rear fuselage free from the jungle’s clutches.

Joining the aircraft that Harada had already collected, the rear section was finally hoisted by crane and safely deposited on a trolley at its new home in August 1987. In addition to the rear fuselage, which still bore patches of red-coloured primer, the recovery team had also brought back the vertical and horizontal tail surfaces as well as two engines. As the work would be of assistance to what was then the priority project of restoring some similarly recovered Zeros, a small team made a start on the Betty project from premises in Tokyo that same year.

The rear fuselage was completed in August 1995 and followed by a 13-year gap before work to construct a new forward fuselage was commenced; this was where the information from the three abovementioned sources was to prove invaluable. (A timeline for the restoration appears after the selection of Betty fuselage photos below.)

Two weeks into this year’s month-long museum opening season, Harada was interviewed by the local Yamanashi Nichi Nichi newspaper. The resulting article, which appeared on August 17, 2014, reported that the numbers of visitors to the museum was already showing signs of a year-on-year increase. Harada thought this to be evidence of the growing interest in military subjects, even among women and children, likely brought about by the political debates on the question of Japan’s right of collective self-defence. Not surprisingly, this topic causes some unease among the general public with regard to what any change to Japan’s constitution might involve.

From a purely aviation history point of view, the museum’s activities are likely to continue generating interest for many years to come, particularly now that the main project at the Zero Fighter Museum is the restoration of a prodigal Hayabusa.

Aircraft Displayed Outside Building Housing Collection

Unidentified Grumman S2F-1 Tracker

trackerfwdfuse1rsJ-HangarSpace is attempting to find out the identity and history behind this aircraft.
Its front fuselage has been present at the Kawaguchiko site since the 1980s.

Kawaguchiko Tracker (2)(Above and below) Part of the puzzle has kindly been provided by valued J-HangarSpace contributor
Takao Kadokami. In around October 1980, he photographed the very same Tracker, which even then
was already in a sorry state and for some reason had
Thunder & Lightning written on the nose.
Tending to indicate that this was a decommissioned former Kanoya-based JMSDF aircraft, the
unlikely location was the grounds of Riken Hospital in Yamaga (now part of the city of Kitsushi),
Oita Prefecture, which seemed to be used as a repository for the aircraft collection owned by a
Mr. Uchida, the director of the related Fujimi Hospital in Beppu. The Tracker had been moved,
destination unknown, by the summer of 1981.
(Photos: Takao Kadokami)
Kawaguchiko Tracker (2)

Lockheed T-33A (51-5639)

kawaguchikot-33arsThe resident T-33A is one of the 68 Lockheed-built examples operated by the JASDF. Deliveries commenced in 1955, while Kawasaki was gearing up for the start of licence production.

North American F-86F Sabre (“02-7960”)

kawaguchikof-86f(5)rsThis is actually 02-7962 dressed up to look like a Blue Impulse aerobatic team aircraft; the real 02-7960
is on display inside the JASDF Air Park at
Hamamatsu AB, Shizuoka Prefecture. The aircraft was
in service from December 1960 to 1980, when it was the last aircraft of its type on strength
with 6 Sqn at Tsuiki AB as the unit completed its transition to the Mitsubishi F-1.

North American F-86F Sabre (02-7970)

kawaguchikof-86f(2)rsSitting incongruously on a roof devoid of its wings, the collection’s other F-86F was assembled by
Mitsubishi and remained in service until
reportedly struck off charge in March 1978.

North American T-6G (52-0098?)

kawaguchiko t-6(1)rsThe T-6G is also displayed minus its wings, which at the time of J-HangarSpace’s visit were propped up
against a wall behind the aircraft. Another
T-6G previously owned by the collection was fully restored
and presented to the JASDF Air Park at Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1999.

Sikorsky H-19C (40012)

kawaguchiko h-19(1)rsStill discernible on the side of this somewhat dilapidated helicopter’s fuselage is part of the NEH code, a souvenir of its time assigned to the JGSDF’s Northeastern Region Helicopter Squadron at Kasuminome, Miyagi Prefecture. The aircraft has been present at the site since at least the summer of 1987.

Inside the Hangar

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Model 21 (c/n 91518)

kawaguchiko zero21(2)rsIn 1980, a team headed by Nobuo Harada recovered this and three other wrecked aircraft from the
wartime airfield of Colonia on Yap, one of the Caroline Islands in the western Pacific that now
form part of the Federated States of Micronesia.

Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Model 52 (c/n 1493)

kawaguchiko zero52(1)rs
(Above and below) Reportedly built by Nakajima Aircraft in 1944, this aircraft’s forward fuselage had
been completely rebuilt 60 years later. This example
had also languished as a wreck on the
island of Yap until salvaged by Nobuo
Harada’s team in 1980.

kawaguchiko zero52(4)rs

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Model 21 (skeleton)

kawaguchiko zerskel(4)rs

(Above) Another of the aircraft brought back from Yap, this example was largely cannibalized for spares for the other Model 21 present (c/n 91518). The remaining main components were mated in 2010 and turned into an interesting exhibit showing the Zero’s structure. (Below) Labels on the wing inform the visitor that this aircraft was a Model 21 (c/n 92717) built by Nakajima Aircraft in April 1944.

kawaguchiko zeroskel(5)rs

This year, the museum released a second edition of its book Zero-sen yo Yomigaere (Bring the Zero Back to Life) about the restoration projects and also had on sale a series of five DVDs. (See note in text box at end of this report.) Three of the latter document the work involved in the three projects shown above, while the other two cover the aircraft now on display at the Yasukuni Shrine and conversations with people connected with the Zero.

From Reverse-Engineered Nose to Restored Tail:
Mitsubishi G4M2 (Betty) Fuselage (c/n 12107)

Kawaguchiko G4M2 nose1

(Above and below) The fuselage interior is becoming more complete with every passing year.
The most recent work has focused on installing the nose machine gun and gunsight as well as
the pilots’ seats and control columns. The close-up photo below shows that the frame of the
bomb aimer’s seat is already in position.

Kawaguchiko G4M2 nose2

Kawaguchiko G4M2 fuselage1A flat window was installed on both sides of the G4M2 at the waist gunner positions, which were
manned when needed by the radio operator. Hinged along the top edge, the main part of the
window could be pulled inwards and fixed in the upright position by a roof-mounted
metal attachment point to allow ease of access to a 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun
placed on a horizontal rail mounting.

Kawaguchiko G4M2 turretWork was started on the dorsal turret and its reproduction 20 mm Type 99 cannon in 2011.
As the turret’s powered Type 1 Model 22 gun mounting was also fitted to the Kawanishi
Type 2 Flying Boat (
Emily), visits were made to the example of the latter on display at
the JMSDF Aviation Museum in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Kawaguchiko G4M2 wingrootThis shot of the port side shows the wing box, the wing leading edge cowl structure and the wing
connectors. The unpainted rectangular panel (top) is the hinged flap of one of two crew access
steps built into the side of the fuselage.

Kawaguchiko G4M2 fuselage2The fuselage access door can be seen within the hinomaru marking in this general view of a unique
rebuilt example of this key wartime IJNAF aircraft. Veteran crew members reported that it did not
feel right to be touching the “national flag” as they boarded the aircraft.

G4M rear fuselageIncluded for comparison, this well-known image shows Sgt. H. W. Willis Beckeley, who was then serving with Air Technical Intelligence, South West Pacific Area, at Clark Field in the Philippines, removing a 20mm ammunition magazine from the port gunner’s position of a former 763rd Naval Air Group G4M2a after the end of the war. Also visible is the fuselage antenna array of the aircraft’s
air to surface vessel (ASV) search radar.
(Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

Kawaguchiko G4M2 tailWhen placed on display, the restored original tail section initially bore the code “62-22” of an aircraft
assigned to the 762nd Naval Air Group, but the tail marking was changed following the addition of the
forward fuselage. The kanji character
ryu (dragon) and the aircraft number are representative of an
aircraft that saw service with the 761st “Dragon” Naval Air Group based at
Peleliu on the island of Palau in March 1944.

Kawaguchiko WillowTaken during the museum’s first opening in August 2001, this shot shows the replica of an IJNAF Yokosuka Type 93 (Willow) trainer that remains on display today. The tail and rear fuselage section of the Betty as it then was, bearing the initial “62-22” marking, can just be made out in the background.

Kawaguchiko G4M2 engineThe more complete of the two 1,850 h.p. Mitsubishi Kasei 21 engines on display. The Betty’s standard
powerplant, both were lying close by the wrecked aircraft when found on Yap.

Kawaguchiko Betty bookFollowing the format of the book on the Zero, the museum also published
Rikko yo Yomigaere in 2013. A 53-minute DVD is also available.
(See text box at the end of this report.)

Timeline of Mitsubishi G4M2 c/n 12107

1944 (May) The 17th G4M2 manufactured at Mitsubishi Aircraft’s Mizushima factory in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture

1945? (Date unknown) Overran runway at Yap air base, Caroline Islands

1984 Wreck found and recovered from jungle close to what is now Yap International Airport

1987 (Aug. 15) Wreck arrives at Port of Yokohama, transported from there by road to Kawaguchiko Motor Museum

1995 (Aug.) Restoration of rear fuselage completed

2008 (Sept.) Using purpose-built assembly rig, construction of forward fuselage frame commenced

2009 (Dec.) Fuselage framework completed

2010 (Aug.) Public debut of natural-metal forward section

2011 (Dec.) Forward fuselage section rolled out

2012 Painted forward and rear fuselage sections mated in time for month of museum opening in August

Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa Exhibits

Kawaguchiko K-43 (1)
(Above and below) The current state of the Nakijima Ki-43-I Hayabusa (Oscar) fighter purchased from
England in 2013. The tailwheel and shock absorber are original, as is the two-blade propeller that is in
the process of being renovated as part of the
restoration and re-engineering work being carried out on
the rest of the aircraft. Due to travel to the United States in spring 2015 to gather data from the
example owned by the Seattle-based Flying Heritage Collection, Nobuo Harada is hoping that
this project will be completed in 2018.

Kawaguchiko Ki-43 fuselage(2)

Kawaguchiko Ki-43 wheel

(Above) The sign on this mainwheel simply means “Used on the Hayabusa”. (Below) Looking like a work of art, the clamped oil cooler from the Ki-43 has been mounted on woooden boards.

Kawaguchiko Ki-43 oil cooler

Piper L-19B Super Cub (12045)

Kawaguchiko L-21B (2001)

Photographed then (2001, with Minolta film camera, above) and now (2014, with iPhone 5S, below), the
museum’s L-21 reportedly saw service with the SDF’s predecessor, the
Hoantai (National Safety Force),
in the early 1950s. At some stage the aircraft has sustained damage to the underside of its starboard
starboard wingtip. There was no sign of the ex-JGSDF Cessna L-19 Bird Dog that once formed
part of the collection.

Kawaguchiko L-21B (2014)

Kawaguchiko HomareThis 14-cylinder, 940 h.p. Nakajima Sakae 12 (NK1C) radial engine, as fitted to the Zero Model 21, was
one of the better lit exhibits at the time of J-HangarSpace’s visit. The collection also includes
18-cylinder, 2,000 h.p.
Nakajima engines recovered from a Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate
(Frank, Ha-45) and a Yokosuka P1Y Ginga (Frances, Homare 21).

Kawaguchiko props1A display of propellers from the early 1920s. Standing alone on the left is the propeller from an Aichi-built
IJNAF Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 reconnaissance seaplane, dated 1922. Stacked on the right are (from
the top down) propellers from an IJNAF Yokosuka Type 90 Seaplane Trainer and two IJAAF biplane
training aircraft, a Type
Ko 1 (Nieuport 81E2, 1921), and a Type Ko 2 (Nieuport 83E2, 1922).

Kawaguchiko props2Representing 17 years of technical development, a propeller labelled as being from a 1917 monoplane
seaplane powered by a 200 h.p. Type
Hi (for Hispano-Suiza) engine (top) and that from a 1932-vintage
Yokosuka Type 91 (B3Y1)
torpedo bomber, which was fitted with a 600 h.p. Hiro engine.

Kawaguchiko postersPart of the row of vintage posters that adorns the width of the far wall of the building housing the aviation collection. In the foreground is a 2,200 h.p. Wright Cyclone R3350 from a Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

Parting Shots

Kawaguchiko C-46The resident ex-JASDF Curtiss C-46D (61-1127) also pre-dates the arrival of the wrecked Betty
in August 1987.

Kawaguchiko F-104DJThe JASDF’s seventh Lockheed F-104DJ Starfighter still acts as a landmark on the roof of the
Kawaguchiko Motor Museum, across the car park from the aviation collection. In the 1990s,
the roof was used to display the T-6G that was subsequently restored and presented to
the JASDF Air Park.

How To Get There

The museum’s English-language website (see text box below) provides information for those arriving by car. If travelling by public transport, the nearest train station is Kawaguchiko on the Fujikyu Railway network. A direct JR Chuo Line limited express from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station reaches Otsuki, Yamanishi Prefecture, in about an hour. Cheaper services that involve changing from a standard rapid to a local train (at either Tachikawa ot Takao) take an extra 30 minutes or so. From Otsuki, where it is advisable to allow time to buy a ticket at what is a busy time of year for tourism in the area, the Fujikyu Line journey to Kawaguchiko takes another hour.

A slightly cheaper option for reaching Kawaguchiko is to take a highway bus from the terminal at Shinjuku Station, a journey that is scheduled to take 1 hour 45 minutes, traffic conditions permitting.

J-HangarSpace decided to arrive in style and took a 15-minute, 2,000 yen taxi ride from Kawaguchiko Station to the museum. This was offset by making use of an infrequent but free community bus for the journey back to the station. The bus stop is located directly in front of the entrance to the museum car park, on the opposite side of the road. A bus schedule is posted on the wall inside the entrance to the building containing the collection.


Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall)

Marusawa-mura, Fujizakura Kogen, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture 401-0320

Tel./Fax.: +81 (0)555-86-3511

 

Opening Times

The motor and aviation museums are only open in August (10:00 to 16:00 every day)

Adult admission fee (valid for aviation museum only): 1,000 yen (August 2014)

English-language website: http://www.car-airmuseum.com/en/index.html

 

Photography Restrictions
Visitors should be aware that photography inside the premises with any equipment other than
mobile phones is not permitted. Camera bags and boxes are also forbidden.

 

 Publications/DVDs
Please note that the books and DVDs mentioned in this report are only available direct from the museum.

 

 

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Kisarazu Army Camp Museum
Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture
September 10, 2017

Kisarazu Museum KV-107(2)

It was on February 25, 2017, on the occasion of the 48th anniversary of the foundation of the JGSDF garrison at Kisarazu and its 44th air show, that a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to mark the official opening of a new, purpose-built aviation museum (below).

JGSDF Kisarazu MuseumRibbon-cutting ceremony, February 25, 2017 (Photo: JGSDF Kisarazu)

The collection was formerly housed in a building that dated back to the early days of Kisarazu’s time as an Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) base in 1936 and was thus itself something of a combined museum piece and time capsule. Pride of place in the brightly lit new facility, which features extensively glazed sliding front doors, is given to a long-term base resident, a VIP-configured KV-107II-4A (link).

Hung on the wall to the right of the helicopter are photos depicting a selection of the resident 1st Helicopter Brigade’s far-flung disaster relief operations—in Sumatra (2005), Pakistan (2010) and the Philippines (2013)—placed over a showcase of commendations for and mementoes from its many overseas missions. Mention is made here of the support the unit has provided for the summit meetings that have been held in Japan, most recently at the Ise-Shima G7 Summit in May 2016.

Opposite, behind a propeller from a Fuji LM-1, a Type 62 7.62mm machine gun and some models, are more photos of disaster relief and rescue operations, this time in Japan: the Kobe and Kumamoto earthquakes of 1995 and 2016, respectively; the valiant but futile efforts to cool the tsunami-stricken Fukushima reactors (2011); and rescue efforts following the JAL Flight 123 air disaster (1985) and the eruption of Mt. Ontake (2014). Reflecting the museum’s public relations and recruitment roles, other panel displays are devoted to modern-day JGSDF equipment and operations.

Mitsubishi Type 13 (3MT)This photo of a Mitsubishi Type 13 (3MT) Carrier-Borne Attack Aircraft assigned to the Yokosuka Naval
Air Group appeared in the November 1936 issue of the magazine
Sora (Sky). A propeller from this
type of aircraft is on display in the Kisarazu Museum.
(Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

On the opposite side of the KV-107, next to an area equipped for video presentations, is a wall-mounted description of Kisarazu’s time as an IJNAF base. A chart provides a timeline of important dates in the history of the base and its then resident Naval Air Group against other events in and outside Japan from 1934 to 1945, along with the names and ranks of the commanding officers during that period.

Beyond these points, and in certain other well-marked areas, photography of the exhibits is unfortunately not permitted. That had apparently been the case with the previous facility, where, unlike here, no attempt was ever made to separate the items that were deemed out of camera lens bounds. This report does however contain links to some general views taken on the opening day in February 2017, apparently before anybody had thought to put the necessary signs in place. At the time of J-HangarSpace’s visit, JGSDF personnel were on hand to politely tell anyone who had somehow failed to notice the signs to immediately delete any images.

Next to an out of chronological order description about the JASDF presence at Kisarazu is a wall photo exhibit covering three Pacific War types: the Zero, Suisei and Hayate. Positioned in front of them is a display of three wooden propellers (link), including from an Army Type 2 Model 1 Reconnaissance Aircraft (Salmson 2A2) and a Mitsubishi Type 13 (3MT) Carrier-Borne Attack Aircraft. The latter bears an inscription signed by the famous Imperial Japanese Navy Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (1884–1943). Outside, right next to the museum, there is another propeller (below) from the remains of a Kisarazu-based Betty that was salvaged from Tokyo Bay off Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, in March 1979.

Betty prop Kisarazu

Tucked away on the wall in the far right corner is a collection of wartime photos (link), four of which show one of the white-painted Kisarazu-based Betty bombers that sported green cross surrender markings. Other photos here feature U.S. troops seemingly testing the wing loading of a Betty, the IJNAF maintenance team that accompanied the Saiun that was evaluated in the United States, and hangar photos of a Ginga night fighter. On the rear wall is a showcase containing uniforms, a roll-call of the names of the Kisarazu Naval Air Group killed in action, the plaque that used to adorn the IJNAF base main gate, and vintage news magazines. Photo content includes shots of Kisarazu beach prior to the airfield’s construction, five former commanding officers and Type 96 Nell bombers departing on “an overwater mission,” in other words to China, in 1937. Many of the seven showcases in this area contain display models of aircraft. More interesting is that featuring flight logs and photos that once belonged to a Takio Shirai (reading of name to be confirmed), and manuals and text books, including French and Russian vocabulary books, bearing the name Isao (also to be confirmed) Toda. Another showcase contains items of pilot clothing and equipment, including an in-flight lunch box and binoculars, medals and military currency.

On the opposite long wall, above showcases of models and swords, are more photos, including squadron photos and individual types, such as the R2Y Keiun, the J9N Kikka, and the civilian Gasuden Koken long-distance research aircraft.

Kisarazu Connections

Gasuden KokenThe Koken long-distance research aircraft that set a closed-circuit record on a flight from
Kisarazu in 1938. 
(Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

Green Cross Betty surrenderWhite Betty aircraft in green cross surrender markings on Ie-jima, Okinawa Prefecture, on August 19,
1945. Having departed from Kisarazu, they carried a 17-man delegation that transferred to U.S.
military aircraft for the onward flight to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in Manila.
(Photo: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons)

Kugisho R2Y Keiun ffHardly the best photo, but this shows the Keiun prototype departing on its first and only flight,
from Kisarazu on May 8, 1945.
(Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

Kikka (via WC)The Kikka was flight tested from Kisarazu. (Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

For today’s 49th anniversary of the foundation of the JGSDF garrison at Kisarazu and its 45th air show, the KV-107 was adorned with a pennant marking the museum’s 10,000th visitor, who was presented with a certificate.

Parting Shots

Kisarazu Aviation Shrine

Adjacent to the museum building are the Kisarazu Aviation Shrine (above) and a cluster of three monuments.

According to the adjacent information panel, the decision to erect a Shinto shrine was taken upon the Kisarazu Naval Air Group’s return from supporting military operations in China in April 1938. Having selected an empty site to the side of the unit’s main building (on the north side of where the museum now stands), a ground-breaking ceremony was held that same month. Thanks to the unit members’ efforts, the main building was completed the following month and the Kisarazu Shrine purification ritual held on May 26, 1938.

Following the arrival of Prince Asaakira Kuninomiya (1901–1959) to take command of the Kisarazu Naval Air Group (on November 1, 1940), the souls of those who had lost their lives in the line of aviation duty or been killed in action were enshrined together. Fortunately, the shrine building escaped demolition following the end of the war.

荒鷲の碑 Wild Eagle Monument

Wild Eagle monument Kisarazu

The wording on the information panel states that, in July 1937, the Kisarazu Naval Air Group departed its home base and reorganized at Omura (in Nagasaki Prefecture). On August 15 that year, the unit’s full complement of 20 (Type 96 Nell bomber) aircraft departed Omura and made its way through typhoon weather conditions toward the target, Nanking, a distance of around 2,000km. For 40 minutes from 14:50 hours, the unit separately bombed targets that included Minggugong airfield and suffered the loss of four aircraft and many crew members from Chinese Air Force fighter counterattacks.

Recalling the young airmen—like all airmen of the era known colloquially as “wild eagles” —lined up in front of the hangars, expressing gratitude for their having “won peace and prosperity through precious sacrifice” and including the words of a song commemorating the air raid, the monument was erected on August 15, 1941.

行幸記念碑 Monument Commemorating Imperial Visit

Showa Emperor Kisarazu visit

The monument commemorating the visit Emperor Shōwa (1901–1989) made to Kisarazu on August 11, 1938, was built under the written orders of Vice Admiral Michitarō Tozuka (1890–1966). The main text comprises a newspaper account of the visit, taken from the following day’s Yomiuri Shimbun. (A photo of Tozuka appears on the Early SDF History page of this website.)

追悼の碑 Monument Erected in Mourning

JGSDF Personnel Memorial Kisarazu

Lastly, there is this monument to comfort the spirits of Kisarazu-based JGSDF personnel who died on active service.

The column also bears the name of Keikichi Masuhara (1903–1985) and likely dates from the second time he headed the Japan Defense Agency (now Ministry of Defense), from July 1972 to November 1973. (Masuhara had also held the post for a month in mid-1971.)

The large granite monument on the right lists the names, ranks and ages of 12 JGSDF servicemen and the dates of their fatal accidents.

The circumstances of the first incident, which occurred on May 27, 1969, are unknown, but in 1971 two KV-107 crashes claimed the lives of five men. Two were killed when a crew was forced to ditch 51723 in Tokyo Bay on March 1, the other three were on board 51706 when it struck a mountain in the Kuma district of Kumamoto Prefecture on November 12.

Two crew members were lost in each of the accidents on March 10, 1992 (involving KV-107 51740), August 21, 1997 (OH-6D 31206), and February 14, 2001 (OH-6D 31260/AH-1S 73463).

To the left side of the monument there appears the wording of an Oath of Safety:
We, the entire Kisarazu garrison, sincerely pray for the happiness in the next world of those whose lives were cut short and, in exchange for their precious sacrifice, pledge that we will keep firmly in mind the lessons learned and work to ensure that absolutely no accidents occur.

Opening times
Apart from base open days, the museum is only open to visitors by prior arrangement; even then visits are subject to base operational restrictions. Admission to the museum, which is located close to the main gate, is free. On occasion, the base includes an application form for a 90-minute base tour, which takes in the museum, for up to 35 people on its website:http://www.mod.go.jp/gsdf/crf/heridan/index.html
Contact: JGSDF Kisarazu Army Camp PR Section  Tel: +81 (0)438-23-3411 ext. 207 or 247

Access
A bus service runs from stop 5 on the west side of Kisarazu Station, which is on the East Japan Railway Company (JR East) Uchibo Line, to right in front of the base. On base open days, the bus company operates additional services from the station to a temporary stop at the main gate for the one-way fare of 180 yen. The alternatives are a five-minute taxi ride or a 20-minute walk. 

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JGSDF Tachikawa Army Camp Museum
Tachikawa, Tokyo

November 23, 2017

tachikawa airfield early 1930sOne of the many evocative photos on display: lineups of 5th Flight Regiment aircraft, early 1930s 

Visitors to the 45th Tachikawa Disaster Prevention Aviation Festival that will be planned for November 2018 should not miss paying a visit to this collection.

At every event, visitors are checked through the same security gate and proceed straight down the perimeter road. Passing the holding areas from where winners of a lottery will await their flight in one of the Chinooks that shuttle back and forth along the runway during the afternoon, the throng is then guided to follow the road around to the right. In this direction lie the displays of emergency vehicles and equipment, rows of merchandise and food stands as well as the airfield control tower and hangars.

Crossing the road to head straight at the turn, however, very soon brings you to the base aircraft collection, which this year had two fixed-wing aircraft (LR-1, L-19E) behind the trees on the left side of the road and the rotorcraft (OH-6D, UH-1H) on the right. The unassuming building behind the helicopters houses the museum, the entrance to which is via a covered path, signposted 資料館 (shiryōkan), a little further round the corner (link). The facility was open until 2:30 p.m., half an hour before the official end of the day’s events.

Unlike the latest JGSDF museum at Kisarazu (see previous report), which also contains privately donated exhibits, there are no restrictions on photography. The only hazards to photography are the reflection of the room lights and, depending on the time of day and the weather, sunlight through the windows. Rain in the morning had caused the cancellation of part of the flying display and reduced attendance, thus only a trickle of visitors came into the museum during J-HangarSpace’s visit.

Laid out in the shape of an “M,” the “maze” in the main room contains some amazing photos and exhibits, which have been broadly divided into five distinct chronological zones below. A room opposite primarily houses engines from an L-19, UH-1B, OH-6J and H-13, and the dividing corridor is partly decorated with the poster designs used to advertise previous festivals.

The following gives just a taste of what’s in store; other information and photos will appear in due course in a Tachikawa base history.

Zone 1: The Early Years

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum Zone 1

The opening section includes photos (mounted in the frames behind the door) dating back to the construction of the hangars in 1922 and the completion of the first buildings. Tachikawa had been selected in the previous year as the site of the capital’s first Army airfield, following that at Tokorozawa, in neighbouring Saitama Prefecture, which had been built in 1915 and was by then suffering from space limitations following the formation of its sixth flying unit.

Including flight formations from and aerial views of Tachikawa airfield, the photos mounted high on the right-hand wall for the most part do not lend themselves well to photography because of the ceiling “light pollution”. However, the three photo frames secured to the wall above the showcases contain the following photos:

Left-hand photo frame
Top row, from left to right: The first commanding officer (CO) of the Army Aviation Corps (not to mention the second person to fly a powered aircraft in Japan [link]), Lt. Gen. Yoshitoshi Tokugawa (1884–1963); IJAAF 5th Flight Regiment (hikōrentai) CO Col. Shinichi Tsukuda; IJAAF 5th Flight Regiment cadre commander Lt. Col. Seiichi Haseuchi; three photos of Col. Mitoshi Kasuga when he was 5th Flight Regiment CO. (Note: Unfortunately, despite a lengthy search, a member of staff at the Tachikawa Army PR Office was unable to confirm the readings of the names of the 5th Flight Regiment personnel.)

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 1

Left, centre (photo above): 5th Flight Regiment personnel commemorating a flight the nationalist political leader Mitsuru Tōyama (1855–1944) made with the unit in 1926.

Left, bottom: Group photo taken at the time of a visit made by students and teachers of the Tokyo Music School to the 5th Flight Regiment in the summer of 1931.

Centre: The aftermath of a crash involving an Army Type 2 Model 1 Reconnaissance Aircraft (Salmson 2A2) in February 1926. The aircraft’s left wing had clipped a large tree in the precincts of the Yasaka Shrine, on the Kōshūkaidō highway in Hino, before crashing onto a house and tragically claiming the life of an infant.

Right: Elementary course college students during a tour of 5th Flight Regiment facilities in May 1931.

Centre photo frame
Top row: Standing out among the aviation-related photos here are images of the cars that competed in a race held at Tachikawa airfield in April 1924, one of the events that marked the granting of town status to what must have once been the tranquil hamlet of Tachikawa.

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 2

Second row, from left to right (photo above): A rare photo of an aircraft fuselage delivered by rented cart; the first accident at Tachikawa airfield (Dec. 1923); Type I Heavy Bomber (Fiat BR.20), imported from Italy; regimental funeral service

Bottom row, from left to right: The terrible view in the direction of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on September 1, 1923, the day the Great Kantō Earthquake struck Tokyo and the surrounding area; the similar sight in the Tokyo direction on the same day; civil aircraft quickly moved to Tachikawa from Tokyo’s Susaki airfield, which had been rendered unusable by the earthquake; aircraft operated by The Asahi Shimbun Company following the post-earthquake restart of operations. (Note Hucks starter being attached to nearest aircraft.)

Right-hand photo frame

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 3

Top row, from left to right: The planned site of the airfield during surveying work (photo above, Army Type 2 Model 1 Reconnaissance Aircraft [Salmson 2A2] in flight, centre left); (photo with no caption); Tachikawa airfield during the Taishō period (1912–1926); (photo with no caption)

Second row, from left to right: The Takamatsuchō area of Tachikawa from the air in the late 1920s; 5th Flight Regiment aircraft parked at the airfield; Tachikawa airfield in 1933; an aerial view in the vicinity of the 5th Flight Regiment part of the airfield.

Bottom row, from left to right: Aerial view of the town of Tachikawa in 1933; (out of chronological order) United States Air Force Tachikawa AB, circa 1962; two views of modern-day Tachikawa Army Camp

The showcases below contain textbooks and manuals from the 1930s and ’40s as well as a collection of photos labelled 5th Flight Regiment People. A showcase to the right contains a map showing the layout of the airfield during the 5th Flight Regiment era, which had been formed in May 1925 by renaming the 5th Flight Battalion. Another showcase on the left as you enter contains IJAAF uniforms, next to which is the organ that was once used in the 5th Flight Regiment’s officers’ club.

Zone 2: Interwar Years

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 4

In this zone, the main photos on the wall depict types that were being developed for or already operated by the IJAAF at that time. Others are in rightful support of Tachikawa’s claim to be the birthplace of Japanese civilian aviation.

The pictures mounted in a frame on the showcase show scenes from those early civil operations, including those of the resident flying schools and Japan Air Transport, which had been founded in 1928 and commenced services between Tachikawa and Osaka on July 15, 1929; the fare was 30 yen, apparently equivalent to upwards of 120,000 yen when the photos were mounted. Two photos show the 40 women who had gathered to take the exam to become flight attendants in 1929; the second part of the test was conducted on a floatplane on the coast of Aomori Prefecture, in northern Japan.

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 5In the corner were two wooden propellers, unidentified but presumably from Tachikawa-built aircraft, and
(foreground) a propeller hub, dated July 1934, used for turning over the engine of a Kawasaki Type 93
Light Bomber (Ki-3) when attached to a Hucks starter. One Japanese source states that the
propellers were donated to the museum by a farmer, who had preserved them since the
seven-year aviation ban imposed on Japan after World War II.

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 6

Above the propellers is another framed collection (above) of civil aviation photos.
Top row, from left to right: The founders of the forerunner of Tachikawa Aircraft Co., Ltd., the Ishikawajima Aircraft Manufacturing Company; sporting his trademark propeller moustache, popular aviation figure Gen. Gaishi Nagaoka (1858–1933) and pilot Seiji Yoshihara (sometimes written as Yoshiwara) see off U.S.-bound pilot Zensaku Azuma (1893–1967); the Junkers A50 Junior, sponsored by the Hochi Newspaper Company, which Yoshihara had flown from Berlin to Tokyo in 1930 and used to make the first attempt at a trans-Pacific flight the following year; Yoshiwara in front of the A50 at Tachikawa, August 30, 1930.

Second row, from left to right: Celebrity kabuki actors Kōshirō Matsumoto and Baikō Onoe with (again) Gen. Gaishi Nagaoka at the opening ceremony of the Imperial Aero Club; outside a hangar at Tachikawa is Miss Veedol, the Bellanca CH-400 in which Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon made the first nonstop flight across the Pacific in October 1931; an enlistment scene; soldiers off to the front at the time of the so-called Shanghai Incident (early 1932).

Bottom row, from left to right: A scene from the troops’ triumphant return; two photos of a Fairchild FC-2; Ryan NYP long-range aircraft operated by Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun (Tokyo Daily News).

A framed photo and newspaper accounts record Emperor Hirohito’s visit to the IJAAF’s Technical HQ at Tachikawa on May 8, 1933.

The showcases hold an album of what are described as “snaps” from the late 20s and early 30s as well as items of equipment. These include an aero-engine generator as well as a Type 2 gunsight produced by Nippon Kōgaku Kōgyō K.K. (Japan Optical Industry Co., better known today as the Nikon Corporation) and believed to have been fitted to the Nakajima Ki-43-II Hayabusa fighter.

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 7(Left) The view across Tachikawa airfield on May 4, 1933, the day of the Imperial visit.
(Right) The museum postcard collection includes this one of a 5th Flight Regiment Kawasaki
Type 88 Reconnaissance/Bomber Aircraft flying over the Chuo railway line bridge spanning
the Tama River in western Tokyo.

Tucked away in the corner next to this showcase were three items: the front section of the starboard undercarriage leg from a Kawasaki Type 88 Reconnaissance Aircraft (Kawasaki KDA-2, as pictured above, in the displayed postcard); a panel from a captured Nationalist Chinese Air Force Curtiss Hawk 75, bearing the manufacturer’s logo (link) and inscribed with the year 1937, which was reportedly taken from Taiyuan airfield, Shanxi province, and brought back to Japan as a war souvenir; and a complete aircraft maintenance man’s toolbox dating from 1939.

Zone 3: During World War II

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 8

On August 31, 1938, the 5th Flight Regiment, which was then flying Kawasaki Ki-10 fighters, fell into line with an IJAAF reorganization that included the re-designation of hikōrentai as hikōsentai (literally flight combat unit, though usually still referred to in English as flight regiment).

Dating back to its formation as a hikōdaitai (flight battalion) at Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture, in 1921, the 5th had been resident at Tachikawa as a reconnaissance unit since 1925.

Although there are a number of references to the 1938, now fighter version of the unit at the museum, its association with Tachikawa was short-lived, coming to an end in June 1940 with relocation to Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, and transition to the Nakajima Ki-27. As a wall-mounted history relates, from 1942, the Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryū-equipped 5th led a typically peripatetic existence as the military situation demanded, seeing combat both at home and overseas. The unit was re-equipped with the Ki-100 just a month before the end of hostilities.

Prominent in this section of the museum, perched above showcases containing flying clothing and equipment that ranges from a gas mask to a pocket torch, is a framed photo entitled “Air War Hero” with a brief bio of the fighter pilot Maj. Gen. Tateo Katō (1903–1942). On the wall is an oil painting of a lineup of seven Ki-61 Hien pilots about to knowingly embark on a one-way mission.

Zone 4: Postwar U.S. Air Force Era

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 9

A whole story in itself, Tachikawa was a U.S. military base from 1945 to 1977. Its proximity to Tokyo proved ideal for its initial role of military air transport hub from as soon as the airfield could be made operational, in January 1946.

The Korean War (1950–1953) saw Tachikawa’s already high level of operations shift into overdrive, but it was the limitations of the base’s location and runway length that contributed to its demise as a full-fledged air base. In the mid-1960s, the process of transferring major operations to what was to become Yokota Air Base was commenced.

Having for many years served only as a support base, U.S. operations at Tachikawa ceased on September 30, 1977.

In the museum, photos mainly record the buildup of U.S. facilities in 1946 and the huge variety of aircraft types flown from Tachikawa during its heyday.

Zone 5: Self-Defense Force Era

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 10

The Japanese government formally took back control of the then only recently vacated base on November 30, 1977, and a ceremony to mark the opening of the new JGSDF base was held on March 1, 1982.

A showcase full of models of World War II and SDF aircraft has been placed center stage among wall displays that cover the key role the base, co-located with police and fire service air units, now plays in disaster response in Japan and overseas as well as, on at least one occasion, as a film set (Midnight Eagle, 2007).

Forming a link with the photo of the 1933 event, this section includes a framed photo of a visit the current Emperor Akihito, who is preparing to abdicate in April 2019, made to Tachikawa in April 1989. He was en route to a ceremony to officially rename as Greenery Day the national holiday (April 29) that had previously been used to mark his late father’s birthday. (Since 2007, that day has been known as Shōwa Day, and Greenery Day moved to May 4.)

Parting Shots: Outside Monuments and Memorials

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 11

飛行第五戦隊記念碑 and (現駐屯地)竣工記念碑
Commemorating the 5th Flight Regiment (1938–1945) and
Completion of Tachikawa Army Camp

Positioned in front of a monument to the post-1938 5th Flight Regiment, the reverse of which bears an inscription dated May 29, 1983, is the marker reportedly erected upon completion of the current Army Camp in 1980 (although it looks a lot older).

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 13

(昭和天皇)行幸記念 (Monument Commemorating Imperial Visit)
A monochrome photo of this monument, which is dated May 4, 1933, is on display in the museum. Apparently, the monument is just discernible in the distance of the photo (included earlier) looking across the airfield that day. There is also a simple marble obelisk, close to the nearby pond, which bears the inscription 安全の樹 (Tree of Safety). The pond itself is in the shape of a boomerang in the wish for safe returns to base.

JGSDF Tachikawa Museum 14

八紘一字 ([Spirit of] Universal Brotherhood)
Attributed by one Japanese source to the famous wartime Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita (1885–1946), the slogan on this monument, which is in the form of a globe held in cupped hands, literally means “eight directions in one section of the village (i.e. the whole world under one roof).” Having its roots in concepts from Japanese legend, the phrase was actually coined in 1903 by the Buddhist scholar (and ultranationalist propaganda writer) Chigaku Tanaka (1861–1939) as his principle of global unification under Japanese leadership. Not surprisingly, the phrase came to be used to justify Japan’s expansion into China prior to and Southeast Asia during World War II and thus appeared in patriotic song lyrics and even on morale-boosting banners at Japanese air bases (link, probably a still from a propaganda film).

Under a directive issued during the Allied Occupation in December 1945, designed to help liberate the Japanese people from the nation’s militaristic ideology, it was even forbidden for the phrase to be used in official documents.

The slogan is still to be seen in surprising places elsewhere, such as at the entrance to the Shintō shrine dedicated to the storm god Susanō in the city of Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture (link [photo from 2010]). The slogan on the right-hand pillar carries the meaning that troops who have left for the battlefield will be kept safe forever.

Opening Hours/Access

Although forming part of guided tours of the base that are organized for local groups, the museum is normally only open to the public once a year, on the day of the Tachikawa Disaster Prevention Aviation Festival in November. Contact the Tachikawa Army Camp PR Office:
Tel: +81 (0)42 524 9231
E-mail: eaavngp-ea@inet.gsdf.mod.go.jp 

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Aichi Museum of Flight,
Nagoya-Komaki Airport, Aichi Prefecture

April 4, 2018

Aichi Museum of FlightThe Aichi Museum of Flight in December 2017, soon after its opening
(Photo: アラツク via Wikimedia Commons)

Built by the Aichi prefectural government at a reported cost of around five billion yen (US$45 million), the Aichi Museum of Flight was officially opened to the public on November 30, 2017.

The facility is a somewhat more grandiose version of and worthy successor to the Nagoya Airport Air and Space Museum (or Aero Museum), located on the third level of the domestic terminal, which was open from July 1985 to October 31, 2004.

According to a pamphlet published prior to the opening, the facility was designed, in poetic terms, to awaken aspirations to reach for the sky and, more practically, to offer visitors the chance to learn about and gain some hands-on experience of what it means to fly. Conceptually, a three-pronged approach was adopted: to convey information on the development of the aviation industry; to enhance aviation-based industrial tourism; and to encourage the education of those who, as its employees and managers, will bear the responsibility for Japan’s aviation industry in the years to come. The English-language pamphlet provided currently bears the slogan: Reach the Sky, Fly to the Future.

The two-level exhibition area features a third, observation deck level, complete with hammocks, which offers visitors a panoramic view of aircraft movements at Nagoya-Komaki airport—also home to the MHI plant that is producing the F-35A and frequented by the SDF types overhauled there—and at JASDF Komaki AB on the far side. Around 90 metres (300 feet) wide, 22 metres (72 feet) high and extending back 58 metres (190 feet), the museum building covers 5,600 sq. metres (60,300 sq. ft.) and has a total floor area of 7,800 sq. metres (84,000 sq. ft.).

YS-11P Aichi Museum of FlightThe orange-and-white Flying Box exhibit next to the YS-11P offers a simulated
sightseeing flight around the Nagoya area.

Dominating the main exhibition hall is an ex-JASDF NAMC YS-11P (above) that was completed at the nearby MHI factory early in 1965 and made its final homecoming flight from Miho AB, Tottori Prefecture, to adjoining Komaki AB on May 29, 2017.

Another major attraction is the Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero Model 52a that was previously exhibited at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)’s Nagoya Aerospace Systems Komaki South Plant (link), which closed in June 2017 and is currently awaiting relocation. (Your 193cm [6ft 4in] correspondent was kindly allowed to try the pilot’s seat for size on a visit to the Mitsubishi collection way back in 2002.)

The aircraft now forms the centerpiece of a display that covers aircraft manufacturing in Japan in the early stages of World War II.

Zero Aichi Museum of FlightExhibited in an enclosed zone, the Zero (c/n 4708, an A6M5 Model 52a) was built by Mitsubishi in
around March 1944 and abandoned at Colonia airfield on the island of Yap, which now forms
part of the Federated States of Micronesia. Recovered by Nobuo Harada in 1980 (the exhibit
description states 1983), the aircraft was originally restored over a two-year period at his
Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall), which J-HangarSpace
visited in August 2014
(link).

The Mitsubishi connection continues with the two other fixed-wing aircraft on display. Although both are civil registered, they do have links with JASDF types past and present.

Initially designed and developed by MHI, the MU-300 Diamond 1 business jet did not live up to the sales expectations that followed the prototype’s first flight, now nearly 40 years ago, in August 1978. However, its production rights having been sold to the famous U.S. company Beechcraft, the JASDF—influenced by the type’s adoption as the U.S. Air Force’s T-1A Jayhawk—ended up acquiring 12 likewise for multiengine jet training as the T-400 between 1994 and 2002. Although Mitsubishi had reportedly completed 92 airframes, the large U.S. Air Force order boosted U.S. production to 859 examples.

The museum also houses an MU-2B-36 that formerly served as MHI’s corporate transport. This aircraft was previously on display alongside the Zero at the Komaki South Plant. The JASDF flew four MU-2Js, based on this variant and specially equipped for the flight check role, from 1975 to 1995, but none were preserved.

Aichi Museum of Flight MU-300The Mitsubishi MU-300 Diamond 1 business jet on display, the second built, was first registered to MHI
in 1985; the production rights for the type were acquired by Beechcraft, which received certification
for its Beechjet 400 the following year. Known as the Flyer, the ultralight behind the MU-300 was
built by students from Nagoya City Technical High School. The museum café and stairs to
the observation deck can be seen in the background.

Aichi Museum of Flight MU-300Formerly operated by MHI group company Diamond Air Service, the displayed MU-2B was completed 
in January 1969 as a -30 and progressively upgraded to -35 and -36 standard in 1970 and 1977,
respectively. Having suffered an in-flight undercarriage failure, the aircraft was successfully 
landed in wheels-up configuration at Yao airport, Osaka Prefecture, in July 1998. Repaired
and returned to service, the veteran aircraft’s registration was finally
cancelled in December 2012.

Two MH2000 helicopters complete the main exhibits. Whereas one is intact, the other (the second prototype, dating from 1998) is in a disassembled state to reveal the intricacies of its inner workings and to better pique the curiosity and interest of young visitors in particular.

At the time of its development, MHI had held hopes of selling about 100 of this twin-engined helicopter, which fell in the medium-weight (AS365N, S-76) category, in the first 10 years. That would have likely led to its adoption by prefectural firefighting and police units and the development of a beefed-up version for the SDF or Japan Coast Guard—a technology demonstrator, the Mitsubishi RP-1, was a highly modified S-76, a type subsequently adopted by the Japan Coast Guard. The first of two prototypes having flown for the first time in July 1996, basic certification was received from the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau in the summer of the following year.

MH2000 Aichi Museum of FlightThe second prototype of the MH2000 is currently being used to provide visitors with
a lesson in helicopter anatomy.

Alas, the project never recovered from the tragic loss of the first prototype, which crashed into a rice paddy in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, during a company test flight in November 2000. The cause of the crash, which had claimed the life of the test pilot and injured the other five occupants, was found to have been the failure of a blade in the ducted tail rotor. As things turned out, only eight examples were built before MHI finally pulled the plug on the project in 2004. (Aside from the two aircraft on display here, another MH2000 is currently on somewhat incongruous display at the entrance to the Tachiarai Peace Memorial Museum, Fukuoka Prefecture. A photo by J-HangarSpace contributor Arjun Sarup can be found here [link].)

With the exception of the MH2000s, all the main aircraft exhibits are officially on loan; the YS-11P from the JASDF, the Zero, MU-2B and MU-300 from MHI. The Zero description states that the aircraft will eventually be moved again, to the new home being planned for the entire MHI collection at the company’s Oe plant.

After completing “check-in” and “boarding” procedures, “passengers” enter the museum at the second level, where they are greeted by a display, entitled 100 Famous Aircraft and featuring 1/25th scale precision models in five showcases. Extending along the wall, timelines give bilingual details of milestones in world and Japanese aircraft history.

Also on this level are a film theatre with a 3D screen, on which is shown a video of the history of aircraft manufacturing, and a science classroom equipped for children to learn how aircraft fly by conducting experiments themselves.

The small café at the end overlooks the ramp in front of the Nagoya-Komaki airport hangars from which helicopter operations are conducted, including those of the Aichi Prefectural Police Aviation Unit and Nagoya Municipal Firefighting Aviation Unit. (The museum pamphlet requests that visitors refrain from taking photos of the other airport hangars.)

Although strange to have a museum dedicated to an aircraft that is yet to enter service, the second floor has an entrance to the MRJ Museum, which forms another part of this initiative to promote Nagoya’s aircraft manufacturing past and present and opened on the same day as the Aichi Museum of Flight. (Note: Visits to the MRJ Museum are by reservation only [link]) The two museums are expecting a combined total of 750,000 visitors in the first year.

Parting Shot

YS-11P Aichi Museum of Flight (2)This view across from the second level shows part of the 100 Famous Aircraft exhibit and the upper surfaces of the YS-11P. It will be interesting see how the museum develops and how they fill the gaps when the aircraft on loan from MHI are moved to the new location being planned at the company’s Oe plant.

Opening Hours
Monday, Wednesday to Sunday: 10:00 to 19:00 (last admission 18:30)
(If a national holiday falls on the regular Tuesday closure day, the museum closes on the following day instead)

Admission: (Adult, per person) 1,000 yen (visitors have also been given coupons for the Airport Walk Nagoya shopping complex)

Toyoba, Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture 480-0202, Japan
Tel: +81-(0)568-39-0283 / Fax: +81-(0)568-29-0322
https://aichi-mof.com
The website also gives details of the days when certain aircraft interiors are open to the public.

As the museum only has parking for large buses, visitors arriving by car are advised to use the multistorey parking at the airport. A blue light aircraft (a Rockwell Commander 112) has been placed at the nearby junction as a landmark.

How to Get There from JR Nagoya Station

The museum’s website quotes 20 minutes for the service, operated by the Aoi bus company, from Midland Square at JR Nagoya Station to Nagoya Airport.

The more roundabout Meitetsu bus route from the Meitetsu Bus Center at Nagoya Station to Nagoya Airport takes 40 minutes.

Having walked back to the terminal, J-HangarSpace caught a Meitetsu bus bound for Nishiharu, the closest Meitetsu station, only to find out that the first stop was outside the Airport Walk, opposite the museum!

Going Back in Time: Nagoya Airport Air and Space Museum, October 2000

Zero Nagoya airportThe backdrop for the Pacific War survivor Zero Model 22 at the former Nagoya Air and Space Museum
could best be described as simple.

As mentioned in the main text, the Nagoya Airport Air and Space Museum—the low-key predecessor of the newly opened Aichi Museum of Flight—was shoehorned into a space on the third level of the domestic terminal from July 1985 to October 2004.

Like its swanky modern-day version, the former facility—operated by Nagoya Airport Terminal Building Co., Ltd.—boasted a Zero fighter and an MU-2, the third MU-2A built that had previously been displayed on the terminal’s roof. Aside from an autogyro, the sole rotorcraft on display was a Kawasaki-Hughes 369 previously operated by the regional Chunichi newspaper company.

At that time, the Zero fighter on display was a Model 22, although some reports and even the museum pamphlet itself had it as a Model 32. The website pacificwrecks.com (link) states that this was as a result of the aircraft, which was built in around April 1943, having had the distinctive clipped wingtips from a Model 32 erroneously fitted at some stage during its restoration.

Nagoya museum ticketThe ticket design in October 2000. Entry to the museum only cost 500 yen, to the
observation deck 150 yen—or you could buy a combined ticket for 600 yen.
Note that the ticket erroneously describes the Zero as being a Model 32.

Found at the site of the former airfield on Taroa, one of the Marshall Islands, in 1979, the aircraft was transported to Saipan by its first owner in around December 1979 and later sold to a Japanese non-profit organization, the Fukuoka Air and Space Association. Its arrival back on Japanese soil on March 5, 1983, was met with much media fanfare. It had spent some time on hangar display in Fukuoka before being moved to the Nagoya facility only to return to Fukuoka after its closure. Having been placed on display at a music hall after its return to the Fukuoka-based association in October 2004, Y2-128 was disassembled and moved to the aforementioned Tachiarai Peace Memorial Museum in February 2009 and placed on display eight months later, in October 2009; the aircraft is currently guarded by the MH2000 helicopter.

Nagoya museum models

Back at Nagoya, the former museum also featured a large collection of aircraft models (above), presumably the same that is now on display at the Aichi Museum of Flight, and a spectator observation deck overlooking the airport. Although primarily designed as a waiting area where airport users could kill some time, an interesting collection had been amassed. Other aircraft exhibits included engines (the loaned J79 was returned to the JASDF) and cockpit instruments, a flight simulator and a YS-11 cockpit trainer as well as zones devoted to air traffic control and the history of Japanese aviation as seen through newspapers.

Preempting a period of literal terminal decline, the decision to close was made ahead of the transfer of several flight services to Chubu Centrair International Airport, which opened in February 2005; presumably no thought had been given to what would have been the novel idea of including a local aviation history museum in the new airport’s design.

Some of the predominantly civil aviation exhibits, including the MU-2A and Kawasaki-Hughes 369, were passed on to the Boon Aviation Museum (link), located within nearby Shinmei Park, which opened in April 2005. Maintaining the tradition, the local government-managed facility (link), to which entry is free, features an observation deck that provides a vantage point from which to view the movements at Nagoya-Komaki airport.
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Aviation Artifact Corner

JASDF Shizuhama Base Museum

Propeller from an Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) Yokosuka D4Y2 Suisei (Comet) Model 12 (Judy) Carrier-Based Bomber
Close-up of the propeller from an Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) Yokosuka D4Y2 Suisei (Comet) Model 12 (Judy) Carrier-Based Bomber displayed at the JASDF Shizuhama base museum, Shizuoka Prefecture.

A sign includes the information that one of the aircraft’s two-man crew was a student named Kobayashi, who survived the war. On April 2, 1945, they had suffered engine failure when on approach to the IJNAF’s Fujieda air base, today’s Shizuhama, the aircraft crashing into the mouth of the Tochiyama River. Lying at a depth of seven metres, this relic had presented a hazard to fishing boat nets and was thus salvaged in April 1982.

The Suisei is the subject of the recent book recommended on the Bookstall carousel at the foot of this website’s homepage.

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Notices

Announcements

JASDF
2018 Airshow Dates
Feb. 18  Ashiya
Mar. 3  Komaki
Apr. 8  Kumagaya
May 20  Shizuhama
miho 2018 poster
May 27  Miho
June 3  Hofu-Kita
July 22  Chitose
Aug. 26  Matsushima
Sept. 9  Misawa
Sept. 17  Komatsu
Oct. 14  Ashiya
Nov. 3  Iruma
Nov. 18  Gifu
Nov. 25  Hamamatsu
Nov. 25  Tsuiki
Dec. 2  Hyakuri
Dec. 2  Nyutabaru
Dec. 8-9  Naha

2017 Event Posters
Hofu-Kita / Miho
JASDF Hofu-Kita


Miho poster 2017

2019 Airshow Dates
Mar. 31  Komaki
Nov. 3  Iruma

JGSDF
2018 Airshow Dates
Jan. 12  Narashino
 (paratroop display)
Apr. 15  Kasuminome
May 26  Kasumigaura
May 27 Kita-
                Utsunomiya
June 17  Asahikawa
Aug. 26  Fuji live fire
Sept. 9  Kisarazu
                (cancelled)
Sept. 29  Tachikawa
Oct. 6  Obihiro
Oct. 14  Yao
Nov. 4  Akeno
Nov. 25  Naha 

2017 Event Posters
Kisarazu / Metabaru
Kisarazu 170225

Metabaru 2017

2019 Airshow Dates
Jan. 13  Kisarazu
 (paratroop display) 

JMSDF
2018 Airshow Dates
Apr. 21  NAF Atsugi
Apr. 30  Kanoya
May 5  Iwakuni
(joint Friendship Day)
May 27  Omura
July 15  Komatsushima
July 21  Maizuru
July 28  Tateyama
 (cancelled [typhoon])
Sept. 16  Hachinohe
Sept. 29  Tokushima
Oct. 20  Shimofusa
Oct. 21  Ozuki

2017 Event Posters
Ozuki  (July children’s
event / Oct. Swell Festival)
Ozuki event July 2017

Ozuki Swell 2017

(*) Date to be confirmed

(Please note that air show dates are subject to change/cancellation.)

Links

Arawasi banner

Arawasi

The Aviation Historian

Japan Association of Aviation Photo-
graphers
 (JAAP, Japanese only)

Asian Air Arms

Visitors
(from Feb. 2016, earlier shown below)

Visitors to Feb. 2016

Past visitors