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 first exhaustive guide will cover the privately owned Tokorozawa Aviation Museum in Saitama Prefecture, which serves as the main repository for army types in the absence of a dedicated JGSDF facility.
While compiling the Tokorozawa coverage, J-HangarSpace offers six recent reports, which follow a report on an important restoration project.
Kawasaki Army Type 3 Fighter (Hien) Restoration
The only example extant in Japan of the more than 3,000 fighters of the type built between 1942 and 1945, an Army Type 3 Fighter Hien (Flying Swallow) is currently undergoing restoration at the place of its birth in Gifu Prefecture. Following its homecoming and extended stay at the Kawasaki Heavy Industries plant in Gifu, the aircraft will ultimately form the centrepiece of the nearby Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum, which is itself scheduled to be closed for periods to undergo extensive renovation from around September 2016 before re-opening in March 2018.
The sole Hien extant in Japan is seen at the time of its makeover at the then U.S. base of Tachikawa, Tokyo, in 1963. The aircraft was again stripped down, this time for extensive restoration work,
late in 2015. This photo was published in the April 1963 issue of Aireview.
(Photo used by kind permission of SequireySha K.K.)
J-HangarSpace turned to the aircraft’s previous owner, the Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA), and was kindly granted permission by the Aviation Heritage Archive to translate and use photos from an article that appeared in the Summer 2015 issue of the organization’s magazine, Koku to Bunka (Aviation and Culture, known in English as Air Forum). The article provides the basis for a look back at the Hien’s postwar nesting and resting places.
Introduction to Article in JAA Air Forum, Summer 2015
The go-ahead has been given to restore the Hien owned by the Japan Aeronautic Association. Carried out with cooperation from Kawasaki Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (KHI), the work is planned to take about a year from September 2015. [This year, 2016] marks the 75th anniversary of the Hien’s maiden flight [on December 12, 1941] and, and as luck would have it, heralds the 120th anniversary of KHI’s founding as Kawasaki Dockyard Co., Ltd. in 1896.
This article provides an overview of past and present restoration work carried out on the Hien.
Kawasaki initiated design development of what was to become the Hien in response to an army directive of 1940. A prototype flew in December 1941, the type entered volume production in 1942 and was in regular service in 1943. The majority of Japanese military aircraft that saw service during World War II were powered by air-cooled radial engines, but the Hien was fitted with the German-designed, liquid-cooled Daimler-Benz DB601 engine, licence-built and further developed by Kawasaki. In the latter half of the 1930s, aircraft powered by liquid-cooled engines that facilitated streamlined fuselage design were developed in the United States and Europe, and the Hien was developed as a result of the influence those designs had on the Imperial Japanese Army.
The Hien was the aircraft produced in the greatest numbers at Kawasaki Aircraft’s Kakamigahara production line. Achieving a peak monthly production rate of 200 aircraft, the plant built
3,285 of the Ki-61 and its modified, radial-engined version, the Ki-100.
(Photo on display at Kakamigahara Aviation Museum)
In charge of design was Takeo Doi (1904–1996), who had studied in the Aviation Department of the Tokyo Imperial University’s Engineering Faculty alongside Jirō Horikoshi (1903–1982), the father of the Mitsubishi Zero fighter. Joining Kawasaki and receiving guidance for a time from aircraft designer Richard Vogt (1894–1979), who had been invited over from his native Germany, Doi exercised his talents in the design of such Kawasaki-built IJAAF aircraft as the Type 95 Fighter (Ki-10) and Type 99 Light Bomber (Ki-48, Lily). In his writings, Doi said of his work on the Hien that it had been his intention to try to put together his ideal fighter aircraft. Involved after the war in the development of the NAMC YS-11 transport and the Kawasaki P-2J Turbo-Neptune anti-submarine warfare aircraft, Doi contributed to the development of Japan’s aircraft industry through his focus on bringing on the next generation of aviation engineers.
The poster used to publicize a 2014 exhibition at the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum that marked the 110th anniversary of Takeo Doi’s birth.
As the Hien entered regular service in 2603 under the Japanese imperial year system, the then standard procedure of taking the last digit as a type number resulted in the Type 3 Fighter designation. As the Army had also adopted a parallel numbering system in 1933 that involved the sequential allocation of kitai (airframe) numbers, the aircraft was also known as the Ki-61. [The name hien conjures up the image of a rapidly turning swallow in flight.]
A well-known image of a Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Ki-61-I Hei) of the 244th Fighter Regiment, Imperial
Japanese Army Air Force, at Chofu airfield, Tokyo, in May 1945. The former mount of the unit’s CO,
Capt. Teruhiko Kobayashi, “24” was last flown from Chiran, Kagoshima Prefecture, by 2nd. Lt.
Shunzō Takashima on a special (kamikaze) mission against the U.S. fleet off Okinawa on June 6, 1945.
Surviving the war, Kobayashi joined the JASDF in September 1954 and underwent six months of jet
training in the United States from November 1955. He was one of two pilots tragically killed in when
their T-33A crashed on takeoff from Hamamatsu AB, Shizuoka Prefecture, on June 4, 1957.
The JASDF career of another former 244th CO, Capt. Fumisuke Shōno, included time
flying the F-4EJ Phantom.
(Photo: U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation via Wikimedia Commons)
It has been reported that around 3,000 aircraft of the type were produced, but few remain and only one of those, the example owned by the JAA, resides in Japan.
History of the JAA Hien
The JAA Hien was captured by U.S. forces at IJAAF Tama airfield (today’s Yokota AB), Tokyo, after the end of the war. During the war, the aircraft is presumed to have been assigned to the Tama-based IJAAF Air Technical Evaluation Unit, but this is not known for certain. Amid the wholesale destruction of practically all Japanese aircraft that remained in Japan after the end of the war, the reason why this aircraft was spared remains unknown. The aircraft is of the Model 2 sub-type, which was designed for improved performance by dint of its Ha-140 engine, Kawasaki’s own development of the DB601. Because of the disrupted production of essential engines, it is reported that fewer than 100 examples were completed to the Model 2 standard.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed in 1951 and came into effect the following year, the year in which the JAA resumed its activities [aviation having been banned during the Allied Occupation]. No records remain of the circumstances under which the Hien was handed over to the JAA from the U.S. military. The JAA displayed the Hien at an exhibition held in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, in 1953 to mark the passing of 50 years since the Wright Brothers’ first flight in a heavier than air aircraft. It was when transporting the aircraft from Yokota to Hibiya Park for the exhibition that the main wing was cut outboard of the flaps to allow for the width of the roads.
At the time having only recently become the property of the Japan Aeronautic Association, the Hien stands in Hibiya Park, Tokyo, at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight
in December 1953. (Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)
The Hien was subsequently displayed at exhibitions and air displays throughout the country [details of which can be found in the table below]. In 1986, the aircraft was placed in the then newly opened hall at the Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots in Chiran (today part of Minami-Kyushu City), Kagoshima Prefecture, where it was to remain until September 2015.
The former Hien display at the poignant Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots
(Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)
Hien’s Present Condition
It is known that, at the time the JAA Hien came into the U.S. military’s possession, the aircraft was already missing some items, such as the inspection panels on its nose and cockpit instruments. As the subsequent treatment the aircraft received from the JAA was also less than appropriate, interior parts continue to be missing up until today. The cockpit instruments were replaced by similar-looking, U.S.-made versions, and the aircraft fitted with similar-sized, modern-day versions or replicas of other components, including the tyres.
(Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)
It is thought that the aircraft had originally appeared in natural metal finish, save for an anti-glare panel and the national markings. The reasoning behind this includes the existence at the JAA of a photo—although not of the same aircraft—that shows a natural metal Type 3 Model 2 (Ki-61-II) assigned to the Air Technical Evaluation Unit at that time, and mention having been made that the JAA Hien had been unpainted at the time it fell into U.S. hands. However, the aircraft underwent maintenance in 1963, during which time a coat of camouflage paint was applied in imitation of an aircraft assigned to the 244th Flying Regiment based at Chofu airfield, Tokyo, during the war. In the case of the aircraft’s interior, the cockpit and the area visible from the access panel directly behind the cockpit had been painted with zinc chromate and other coatings after the war, but the rear fuselage remains in its original, unpainted state.
The Hien Restoration as Aviation Heritage
In recent years, there has been growing interest in cultural properties related to the development of modern industry (industrial heritage) and the modernization of society (modernization heritage) from the Meiji Period (1868–1912) onwards. In 2009, the Hien was selected as part of the Modernization Industrial Heritage Group certified by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). There is a growing commitment to not merely preserve the appearance of buildings and products, but to try to hand down to future generations as much information as possible in the form of cultural property by saving examples and including input from and about the people who made or used them. Since 2008, the JAA has certified a total of eight important aviation assets, including the first production YS-11 owned by the National Museum of Nature and Science [in Ueno Park, Tokyo]. In addition to the scarcity and position in aviation history of a candidate for certification, important judgment criteria take into account whether and to what extent the aircraft’s original state (originality and authenticity) has been maintained.
The Hien underwent restoration work at the U.S. military base at Tachikawa in 1963, and there are signs that repairs have been carried out on a number of occasions since then. Embarrassingly, no records remain of when and what kind of work was carried out. The work seems to have focused entirely on maintaining the aircraft’s external appearance. At that time, the view had not yet been fostered that aircraft such as the Hien could be seen as cultural assets.
Being carried out on an aircraft seen as a cultural asset to be handed down to future generations, the current restoration work is being regarded as an opportunity to (a) remove the modifications added after the war that are extraneous to the aircraft’s history without undermining original parts, and (b) leave behind detailed records. Involving KHI’s cooperation, the work will more specifically include:
- Inspection of original and non-original parts
- Removal of current paint and re-painting close to original colour scheme
- Re-covering of fabric flying surfaces that were covered after the war
- In the case of missing parts, obtain the same type of parts or, if possible, re-engineer exact replicas
As 70 years have passed since the aircraft was built, an inspection of the aircraft’s structural soundness will be conducted that will check for the presence of corrosion and confirm that there are no obstacles to future storage.
After the restoration, the plan is to exhibit the aircraft at the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum in Gifu Prefecture.
Request for Assistance in Hien Restoration Project
After World War II, a vast amount of aviation-related documentation was destroyed and hardly any on the Hien remains. Currently, the team at KHI is conducting an extensive inspection of the Type 5 Fighter [Ki-100 radial-engined version of the Hien] preserved [at the RAF Museum Cosford] in England for the purposes of the Hien restoration. Also, Tachihi Holdings Co., Ltd. has provided information on restoring the fabric wing coverings. In addition, assistance is being received from organizations and individuals who possess Hien drawings and handling manuals or know where they are currently being kept. These documents are being copied to serve as an archive for the restoration project.
Having thus far donated items such as a Hien tyre (shown below) and cockpit switches, the JAA Aviation Heritage Archive would if possible like to take advantage of this restoration.
(Photo: Japan Aeronautic Association)
If anyone reading this possesses Hien photos and parts or relevant documents, we [the JAA Aviation Heritage Archive] would very much appreciate hearing from them.
“Flying Swallow” Migrations and Sightings
|Sept. 1944||Manufactured as Model 2 Hien c/n 5017 at Kawasaki Aircraft’s Gifu Plant|
|Early 1945||Probably assigned to IJAAF Technical Evaluation Unit|
|Sept. 8, 1945||Found by U.S. forces at Tama (Fussa) airfield (now Yokota AB), Tokyo|
| On display at official handover of Yokota AB to occupying forces, Aug. 8, 1946.
Aircraft remains on display close to Base Operations Building (the wartime Fussa
airfield control tower). Sports U.S. markings for a time from 1947. Following a
barracks fire, moved to in front of base gymnasium
| Ownership transferred from U.S. military to Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA).
Displayed at event marking 50th anniversary of Wright Brothers flight in Hibiya
Park, Tokyo (Dec. 1953), after which placed in store at Ministry of Transport,
Infrastructure, Transport and Technology Institute in Mitaka, Tokyo
Displayed in increasingly dilapidated state at:
Travel and tourism event marking 30th anniversary of the start of streetcar
operations in Kumamoto (Oct.-Nov. 1954)
Nagoya event raising money for castle reconstruction (early 1955)
Amusement park in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture (c. 1955)
Kintetsu Ayameike Amusement Park, Nara Prefecture (March-May 1956)
|Dec. 12, 1962|| Handed over at Mitaka to U.S. 5th Air Force for restoration at Tachikawa,
Tokyo. Designer Takeo Doi involved in restoration work
|Mar. 16, 1963|| Officially handed back to JAA President Taizō Shōda at ceremony on first day
of Tokyo Air Pageant held at Futako-Tamagawa Park. JAA requests that Japan
Defense Agency (JDA) assume responsibility for storage immediately after
pageant ends on May 31
|May 31, 1963
| Responsibility for storage and maintenance passes to Gifu AB (where aircraft
appears at annual air show in 1971–1975, 1977–1978, 1985)
1963 plans for display at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo abandoned, aircraft hastily
transported to Kumagaya AB, Saitama Prefecture. Aircraft also shown at:
Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, in spring of 1964
Third air show at Iruma AB, Saitama Prefecture, marking JASDF’s 10th
anniversary, Nov. 3, 1964
Kumagaya AB Open House (in hangar), March 1965
Keio department store at Shinjuku Station, Tokyo, coinciding with exhibition
of war memorabilia, summer 1965
Hanshin department store (on roof) in Osaka, October 1965
Defence exhibition near Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture, with JASDF aircraft,
Aeronautical Science Fair, YomiuriLand Amusement Park, Tokyo, Mar.-May 1968
Second Tokyo Aerospace Show, Iruma AB, October 1968
Gifu AB (long-term display) 1970 to March 1972
Great Aviation Exhibition, Imabari, Ehime Prefecture, March-June 1972
Festival in Sakae Park, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, May 1973
Shizawa department store (on roof), Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, April-May 1975
International Aerospace Show, Iruma AB, October 1976
Natalie Amusement park air fair, Hiroshima Prefecture, May 1978
Inuyama Line Park air fair, Aichi Prefecture, Sept.-Nov. 1979
Mitsui Greenland Amusement park air fair, Kumamoto Prefecture, March-June 1980
Mitsukoshi department store aviation exhibition (sponsored by JAA, backed by
Asahi Shimbun), Ikebukuro, Tokyo, July-Sept. 1980
Sky Festival, Okegawa airfield, Saitama Prefecture, August 1981 and August 1983
(For around two years in the 1980s, the aircraft was suspended from the ceiling at
the Kawaguchiko Motor Museum in Narusawa, Yamanashi Prefecture.
J-HangarSpace has contacted museum owner Nobuo Harada, who hopes to provide
more information when able to access his currently [Feb. 2016] snowbound facility.)
|1986|| After 23 years, JDA loans aircraft to Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots, Chiran,
|2009 (JAA)||Aircraft selected as METI-certified aviation heritage asset|
|Sept. 8, 2015|| After 29 years in Chiran, now 71-year-old aircraft arrives at KHI’s Gifu plant for
|Sources: Japanese, primarily Hikōki Kumo (Contrail) Internet magazine (link)|
(Above and below) Two views of the Hien, taken 13 years apart by the same photographer. That above shows the aircraft during the final days of its first period under Japan Aeronautic Association ownership, at the Tokyo Air Pageant of 1963. Below, the aircraft stands next to a Zero fighter on Iruma’s wet tarmac during the International Aerospace Show of October 1976. (Photos: Jun Oizumi)
(To view more of Jun Oizumi’s collection, please visit his contribution page at
In 1980, the Hien was displayed next to a JASDF Starfighter outside the Mitsukoshi department store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, as part of an aviation exhibition. At that time, the aircraft was painted in less flamboyant 244th Flying Regiment markings than those applied for its long-term stay in Chiran.
(Photo: Keiichi Yamada, as published in his book Hikōki Hyakunen
[A Century of Airplanes], Seizando, 2007)
Looking somewhat out of place, the Hien spent a couple of years suspended from the ceiling at the
Kawaguchiko Motor Museum, which was built in 1981. Interestingly, what appears to be the
fuselage of a Nakajima Ki-115 Tsurugi (Sword)—presumably the example that, like the Hien,
was displayed at Yokota AB—can be seen shelved in the background. A report on a 2014
visit to the adjoining Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall) can be found
in the Aviation Museum Reports section below.
(Photo: Kawaguchiko Motor Museum via Nobuo Harada)
More recent information on the restoration project was provided in the February 2016 issue of JWings magazine, as a result of the press having been granted access to witness the status of the project late in 2015.
The JAA commenced this restoration project to preserve the aircraft for posterity in May 2015. The main wing proving a tight fit for one of the three truck trailers used for the three-stage nighttime road journey from Chiran, the aircraft arrived in Gifu on September 8 for work to begin in earnest in a corner of the KHI plant. The Kakamigahara City website (link) carried a report following a media event held 10 days later. Seen more clearly from a different angle in a report from the same event in the Sankei Shimbun (link), the banner behind the aircraft proclaims Army Type 3 Fighter Hien Returns Home!
By the end of November 2015, the main wing had been separated from the fuselage, and the gaudy camouflage scheme and 244th Flying Regiment markings the aircraft had worn throughout its time at Chiran removed. This enabled the original Kawasaki parts and later attempts at repairs to be clearly seen. Prior to taking up residency at Chiran, the aircraft had taken a lot of punishment during its time being transported around Japan and when placed on display at a number of locations.
KHI established a 25-strong Hien Restoring Engineering Team (HiRET) to oversee this important undertaking with the aim of carrying out the work, as far as is possible, on the basis of accurate historical research. A report in the Gifu Shimbun daily on September 19, 2015, quoted Takashi Ninomiya, the deputy HiRET leader, as saying: “We would like to restore the aircraft to as near as possible to its appearance at the time it was built, while conveying the complexity of the manufacturing process and the extent to which technology had progressed.”
A large number of Japanese companies are taking part in the project by reproducing missing parts. At the time of the JWings visit, the restoration work was expected to have been completed in autumn 2016 to enable the aircraft to take pride of place at the nearby Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum in November, but a joint Gifu Prefecture-Kakamigahara City initiative to refurbish the museum might mean that the aircraft has to be carefully transported to temporary accommodation elsewhere.
Even before the aircraft’s homecoming, the name Hien was making headlines following a succession of local finds. Discoveries in a farmer’s attic in September 2014 and at an elementary school in nearby Unuma in May 2015 had yielded a propeller spinner from an earlier Model 1 and parts from a Hien’s lower fuselage. Measuring 57 cm high and 64 cm in diameter, the duralumin spinner retains both its dark “Kawasaki green” paint and dark brown primer. The items are believed to have come into local people’s possession and changed hands for unknown reasons amid the postwar turmoil, when materials were scarce.
No less a dignitary than Kakamigahara City Mayor Kenji Asano presented details of the finds at a press conference held on July 24, 2015. Quoted by the Gifu Shimbun daily the next day, the head of the city’s History and Folklore Museum Katsuhiro Nishimura stressed that “Few Kakamigahara citizens are today aware that the Hien was mass produced here during the war. Having such items is worthwhile, as they will help people gain some first-hand experience [by means of genuine items] and realize that aircraft production once thrived here.”
Donated to the city, the spinner formed part of a temporary exhibit held at the Kakamigahara Foundation for Culture and Industry in August 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Pacific War’s end, as shown in this article in the Mainichi Shimbun (link).
Major Extension Plans
Meanwhile, back at the Kakamigahara Aerospace Science Museum . . . Officials from Gifu Prefecture and Kakamigahara City jointly announced the basic concept on September 1, 2015. At that time, it was envisaged that the existing 6,700 square metres of floor area would be increased by 4,000 square metres, and the exhibition floor space divided into aviation and space zones. As is to be expected, floor space is to be assigned to new or upgraded exhibits that provide “hands-on” experiences, including a flight simulator; a new, high-definition 3D film theatre is also planned. The then price tag of around three billion yen (equivalent to 26.5 million U.S. dollars, at the mid-February 2016 rate of exchange) for the improvements is to be borne jointly both parties, and the new facility jointly owned and operated.
“As a museum that will be representative of Japan, the concept has been considered from an all-Japan initiative that will stand comparison with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in the United States,” emphasized Gifu Governor Hajime Furuta, as quoted in an article that appeared in the Gifu Shimbun the day after the announcement. For his part, Mayor Asano said that he wanted to work on enhancing the visitor experience, such as by offering tours in collaboration with JASDF Gifu AB, thereby making a museum visit a more attractive proposition.
Visitor numbers totaled 488,000 in the first year (1996) and fell by roughly half the following year. Dipping below 150,000 for the first time in 2004, they have always remained above 100,000 and showed an increase to 123,000 in 2013, the last year for which figures were shown in the documentation supporting the new project. The museum is hampered somewhat by its location, and transport link improvements are bound to be an area that will be looked at very closely.
As mentioned previously, the results of working group reviews looking into the wide-ranging aspects of the project will not be made known until the summer.
Serving as the symbol of the Kakamigahara connection with aviation, the Hien will be in a specially designated area, as befits the jewel in the crown, but in the company of several other veterans.
This Kawasaki P-2J Turbo-Neptune has been standing in front of the current, IKEA-like museum building since its opening in 1996.
(Above) The UF-XS boundary layer control system test-bed. Artist’s impressions of the new museum released thus far have shown exhibits in a very bright interior thanks to floor-to-ceiling glazing.
(Below) The ShinMaywa US-1A at Kakamigahara was delivered to the JMSDF on March 11, 1983.
The stresses placed on the airframe were such that it was withdrawn from use only 12 years later,
on December 12, 1995. The ravages of its service career and exposure to the elements at
the museum, in a country prone to typhoons, were very evident even 16 years ago .
Having taken the above photos way back in October 2000, in the days of film photography, J-HangarSpace will hope to bring an on-the-spot report from the new facility as soon as possible after its opening in 2018.
In the meantime, here are recent reports of visits made to a number of other facilities.
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
(6) The JGSDF Public Information Center at Kasumigaura Army Camp, Ibaraki Prefecture
(7) The Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall), Yamanashi Prefecture
(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 are 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
September 12, 2013
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.)
|Fire Prevention Helicopters Active in Tokyo|
|Aérospatiale AS365N1 Dauphin II
|Eurocopter AS332L1 Super Puma
|Aérospatiale AS365N2 Dauphin II
|Eurocopter AS332L1 Super Puma
|Eurocopter EC225LP Super Puma
Yurikamome (Black-Headed Gull)
|Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin II
|Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin II
(TFD transport helicopter)
|[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)
The following photograph groupings show each of the three helicopters on display.
1F Sud Aviation SE.3160 Alouette III JA9020 Chidori
3F Aérospatiale (Sud Aviation) 365N Dauphin II JA9569 Chidori
The 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.
The 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
Under 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.
(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.
The 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.
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 Flight 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.
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.
Adjacent to the aircraft, a bright and airy, single-storey wooden building houses an interesting collection of photographs and artifacts.
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.
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.
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.”
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 Sakitama Garden, 1626 Sama, Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture 361-0032
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
In 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.
Dominating 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.
The 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.
The 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
The 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.
Although 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.
The 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.
The 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.
Amid 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)
Following 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.
Not 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.
Bearing 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
The 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.
Ex-JGSDF Kawasaki-Vertol KV-107IIA-4 and
General Electric/IHI CT58-IHI-140-1 turboshaft engine
The 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.
Ex-JGSDF Fuji-Bell UH-1H
The 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.
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.
J-HangarSpace would like to extend thanks to the members of staff at Mitsu Seiki’s
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
Nagoya Aerospace Systems, Komaki South Plant, Aichi Prefecture
Aircraft Collection and Archive
February 22, 2014
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.
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
On 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
Also 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.
Rolled 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
Inconveniently 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
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
The 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.
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
The 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.
(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
Due 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.
The 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.
A 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 Type 52
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
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.
(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.
A 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.
Bookending 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.
The 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.
A 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.
Forming 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.
Located across from the main gate, the collection is open every week on Mondays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Tours need 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.
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
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
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
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.
Following 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.
(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.
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.
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)
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
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
(Translation of Descriptive Plaque)
The representative director of his fanily’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
Dated 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.
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
The 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
(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.
The 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.
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.
Forming 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.
Immediately 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.
The 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.
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.
The 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.
A 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.
Prominent 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.
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.
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
2410, Migimomi, Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture 300-0837
Tel.: +81 (0)29-842-1211, extension 2217
Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 12:00; 13:00 to 16:30
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:
Want to Find Out More?
On the September 1942 Fujita raid on the United States?
On the Hansa-Brandenburg W.29 in IJNAF service and the
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
Although a former U.S. Navy rather than JMSDF example, J-HangarSpace is attempting to find out the identity and history behind this aircraft.
Its front fuselage has been present at the site since the 1980s.
Lockheed T-33A (51-5639)
North American F-86F Sabre (“02-7960”)
This 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)
North American T-6G (52-0098?)
The 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)
Still 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)
In 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)
(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.
Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero Model 21 (skeleton)
(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.
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)
(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.
A 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.
Work 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.
This 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.
The 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.
Included 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)
When 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.
Taken 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.
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
(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.
(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.
Piper L-19B Super Cub (12045)
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.
This 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).
A 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).
Representing 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.
Part 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.
The 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.
Marusawa-mura, Fujizakura Kogen, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture 401-0320
Tel./Fax.: +81 (0)555-86-3511
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
Aviation Artifact Corner
JASDF Shizuhama Base Museum
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.