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JASDF Air Show “New Normal” Status Report

A rainbow-effect arc of water jets from fire tenders greets the arrival of C-1 029 at the end of its
very last flight.
(Photo [Iruma AB, Nov. 3, 2022]: ほうじ茶 via Twitter @GreenTea_F22)

(November 4, 2022) Yesterday saw the return, after a three-year hiatus, of the traditional Culture Day national holiday air show at Iruma AB, Saitama Prefecture.

In view of the numbers this event normally attracts (even if there were no Blue Impulse display), admission was always certain to be only by the of-late standard procedure of lottery-based prior application. A total of 30 of the 5,000-yen reservable seats were offered. Surprisingly, only a mere 27,000 were given the nod and sent tickets. This number was on par with base shows in more rural locations during the summer: Matsushima (Aug. 28) 25,000; Ashiya (Sept. 4) 20,000; and Misawa (Sept. 11) 35,000.

Elsewhere and more recently, spectator numbers have been picking up. At the Komatsu show (Sept. 19), which in 2018 and 2019 had attracted around 125,000, 60,000 visited, others having been possibly put off by what is an occasional tradition there, namely the approach of a typhoon. Entrance restrictions had been put in place at Komatsu railway station, there were reportedly long lines at the base for return shuttle buses, and train services were disrupted when the typhoon did begin to make its presence felt.

The lucky few that did get to Iruma were able to see 26 aircraft on the ground and an air display involving half that number. Normally held behind closed doors but unusually included in the schedule of events were the last flights of an aircraft (C-1 98-1029) and a pilot (Central Air Defense Force HQ Support Flight Group CO Lt. Col. Nobuyuki Watanabe).

C-1 029 (hence known as o-niku or ‘meat’) emerges from the curtain of spray from the fire tender
“car wash” that, as tradition demands, awaited its arrival at the end of its last flight.
(Photo: なまプロ via Twitter @namaproo_wing)

His aircraft also wet from a post-arrival dousing with water from fire tenders, outgoing CO of the
Central Air Defense Force HQ Support FG Lt. Col. Nobuyuki Watanabe experiences the feeling
at the end of a T-4 flight for the last time.
(Photo: suuda via Twitter @suudaykj)

The day before the Iruma event, the base Twitter feed included a photo of a stepladder that had been padlocked to the base’s perimeter fence. This was described as having been placed there by a (possibly disgruntled) photographer who was staking a claim to a prime spot. Without waiting till the following day to apprehend the perpetrator, the offending object was removed by base personnel.

Seen corralled onto the apron are some of the 50,000 masked spectators at the Hamamatsu air show,
which was held on October 23.
(Photo: いたっき via Twitter @itackey)

Change of Guard at Aichi Museum of Flight

(Photo: さっしん via Twitter @kawaiski)

(October 2022) Following on from the previous story . . . Meanwhile, sneaking in under the radar via the back door at the Aichi Museum of Flight was former Blue Impulse T-4 805, the first to be placed on public display outside a JASDF facility. A video of the fuselage being trundled into the building on October 11 (posted by もぐら on Twitter @MOGURA_・16h) can be found here (link).

The aircraft forms a key part of a special exhibition—officially entitled (words in English) Always with Blue: (in Japanese) Longing for the Sky with Blue Impulse—scheduled to be held from November 26, 2022, to April 9, 2023, which will mark the fifth anniversary of the museum’s opening. Actually flown by the team from 2002 to 2019, 805 will remain on permanent display even after the special exhibition ends.

The exhibition will feature two simulators, to be supervised by the team’s sixth T-4 leader Shinya Yoshida*, on which visitors will be able to experience flying in Blue Impulse No. 4 in formation with Yoshida’s. This display will be open only on weekends and holidays (with exceptions); advance reservations for the simulators are not required. There will also be a panel exhibition and a video showing basic information and providing a team history.

The museum’s opening hours are from 9:30 to 17:00, closed on Tuesdays (the next day if a national holiday or a substitute for a national holiday falls on a Tuesday). Admission is 1,000 (800) yen for adults, 800 (640) yen for university and high school students, 500 (400) yen for junior high and elementary school students, and free for preschoolers. (The amounts in parentheses are the discounted rates available until March 31, 2023.)

* Born in Kumamoto Prefecture in 1960, Yoshida joined the JASDF as a member of the 36th cadet intake. Having served as a Phantom pilot with the 303rd and 302nd squadrons, he joined the 11th Squadron (Blue Impulse) as its leader in 2004.

T-1B “Flies” for First Tine in 16 Years

(Image from video [link] posted by JASDF Komaki AB on Twitter @komaki_airbase)

(October 2022) Under cover of darkness, T-1B 35-5866 was returned to its outside spot on Komaki AB on October 7, after having enjoyed nearly a year-long residency in the shelter of the Aichi Museum of Flight.

Transported intact by road, the aircraft was hoisted into position. Komaki AB announced this as the T-1B’s first “flight” in 21 years, but 866 was one of the four that made the type’s last flights on March 3, 2006. Whereas the other three had flown off to Hamamatsu, 866 had returned to base and the sound of its J3 engine was heard no more; the aircraft had remained there ever since. (The other three were also preserved: 25-5853 remains on display at the visitor centre inside SUBARU’s Yajima Plant in Ota, Gunma Prefecture; 35-5860 at Miho AB, Tottori Prefecture; and 35-5863 within the grounds of Oji Technical High School, Nara Prefecture.)

(Photo: ろっく番のりば via Twitter @6ban_noriba)

The aircraft had been moved into the museum to mark its fourth anniversary in November 2021 and originally planned to remain only until March this year.

T-1B 866’s pilot approaches the waiting aircraft and ground crew members at the Komaki
 air show in October 2005. Subsequent events that very day can be viewed on a 12-minute
YouTube video
(link). (Photo: aya01@長野県特地派遣隊 via Twitter @aya01flt)

Flights of Fancy

The assisted vertical takeoff and landing of Komaki’s T-1B served as a reminder that, unlike other countries (and in particular Sweden), Japan has never retained any airworthy examples of aircraft formerly operated by its JASDF “senior service”. Had the funds been available, and the necessary katana been taken to the red tape, the maintenance of a J-registered historic flight of some of the home-produced old guard in airworthy condition would have been a valued cultural asset, one that many would have paid money to support. Here are a few “what might have beens” . . .

Air Defense Command HQ Squadron F-86F (Photo [Iruma, Nov. 1980]: Akio Misawa)

207th Sqn F-104J (Photo [Naha, Sept. 1985]: TROUT via Twitter @TROUT92241176)

305th TFS F-4EJ (Photo [Hyakuri, Aug. 1991]: JSJCJK via Twitter @JSJCJK62306102)

6th TFS F-1 (Photo [Tsuiki 2005]: aya長野県特別派遣隊 via Twitter @aya01flt)

5th Technical School T-1B (Photo [timeless, but actually Komaki in 2004]:
マイティvia Twitter @mighty0715)

“Top Gun” F-15J Duly Upstaged

(Photo: JASDF Komatsu AB via Twitter @JasdfKomatsu)

(September 13, 2022) Today saw the first flight of the specially marked 303rd TFS F-15J that will be vying for (and likely easily winning) photographers’ attention at the upcoming Komatsu air show.

More like what has come to be expected of such designs, the 306th’s Hollywood movie-connected aircraft (see previous story) looks a “plain Jane” in comparison.

The mount of 303rd TFS commanding officer Lt. Col. Hisatake Inoue, aircraft ’817 features what at present look like film credits on the inner surfaces of its black vertical tail surfaces. More details are awaited.

(Photo: JASDF Komatsu AB via Twitter @JasdfKomatsu)

Areas of blue paint give the impression of a tie-in with the Nintendo video game Splatoon. The splodge (below) of blue on the left-side intake carries the paint team names.

(Photo [Sept. 19, 2022]: もぐら via Twitter @MOGURA_)

The nose kanji (left-side only) 龍 (ryū, meaning dragon) was based on that created by woman
calligrapher and artist Kosen Kanamori. Like the tail markings, this would present a test for
any plastic modellers not prepared to wait for the inevitable ready-to-make kit.

(Photo: nc 39 306 J50 np via Twitter @306Z33)

Postscript Photos taken on September 19, the day of the Komatsu air show, revealed details of the cast lists on the tail surfaces.

TAC names of 303rd TFS pilots with GOLGO, that of the 303rd’s CO Lt. Col. Inoue naturally at the
top of the list; lower list to be confirmed.
(Photo: にやす via Twitter @nyasufiji)

List of Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) members, naturally including ’817’s crew
chief, Staff Sgt. O. Endo. (Photo: あおぽん via Twitter @Aopon_GRF_STI)

This aircraft had previously been selected for special treatment to mark the 303rd’s 40th anniversary, which fell in October 2016. At that time offering different right- (link) and left-side (link) schemes for the price of one, the aircraft was seen in its special scheme in February the following year (the same fiscal year).

Komatsu F-15J Given Top Gun Treatment

(Image: JASDF Public Affairs Office via Twitter @JASDF_PAO)

(September 2022) About to become, for a while at least, the most photographed F-15J, the 306th TFS’s 52-8951 currently sports the results of an official tie-in with the makers of blockbuster movie sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

Not that the film, which was released in both the United States and in Japan in May this year, really needs the extra publicity; Japan ranks second in terms of box office takings.

The F-15J’s livery features the same light and dark blue stripes, the three MiG (actually F-5) “kill” markings and Capt. Pete Mitchell “Maverick”, the names of the character played by Tom Cruise, on the canopy rails. All the aircraft lacks are the Top Gun tail markings—not surprisingly the aircraft retains the eagle’s head of the 306th—and the “00” modex on the nose and flaps. (The 951 on the nose will surely be covered with a “00” sticker for static display purposes at the Komatsu air show on September 19.)

As seen in these profile photos, the movie-based colour scheme is subdued compared with
others chosen by F-15 squadrons for non-TAC Meet special events and anniversaries. 

(Photos: [Top] moni via Twitter @monimoni1002; [above] タッチvia Twitter @303fighting)

The aircraft will be seen on training flights in the run-up to its official unveiling at the air show, after which its hired for the occasion film costume is set to be removed. Some might be hoping for the scheme to be retained long enough for the aircraft to put in at least a cameo appearance at this year’s reduced attendance Iruma air show on the November 3 Culture Day national holiday.

This being a tough act to follow, the word from Komatsu on any 303rd TFS special marking this year was “stay tuned”.

Postscript On the day of the Komatsu air show, the JASDF Public Affairs Office posted a short video (best with sound off [link]) of the aircraft on Twitter that offered glimpses of the painting preparations.

The Komatsu air show allowed a closer look. As was expected, the blue panel on the
left-side intake contained the “cast list” of the 306th’s painting team.
(Photo: あおぽん via Twitter @Aopon_GRF_STI)

Kawasaki C-1 Retrospective/Sitrep

(Photo: NOCAR via Twitter @CharlieYankee22)

(August 2022) To coincide with this month’s release of a mook (magazine book) on Japan’s first twin-jet transport—Kawasaki C-1, Famous Airplanes of the World Special Edition Vol. 9, pictured on the homepage and featured in a review on the Magazine/Books page—J-HangarSpace brings you a chronological photo overview of the type’s service career, which has already spanned five decades.

1970s

Sporting the Air Proving Wing’s tail marking and a striped nose probe, the first prototype C-1 is
seen on a visit to Iruma AB, circa
May 1, 1974; a group of C-46s in the background appear to
have already had their tails removed. Having been first flown
(as 18-0001) on November 12,
1970, around three months after its rollout, this aircraft was delivered to the then
Japan Defense Agency on February 24, 1971.
(Photo: Akio Misawa)

The second prototype on the ramp at Naha, circa May 1, 1973. First flown as 18-0002 on
January 16, 1971, two weeks after its rollout ceremony, this aircraft was delivered on
March 20 that year and like ’001 remains in service more than 50 years later.

(Photo: Akio Misawa)

The first production version C-1 arrives at the Okadama Air Pageant event on September 3, 1978.
Fulfilling the role of a service data collection aircraft, ’005 was allowed to clock up flying hours
at a faster rate and thus became the first airframe to be broken up, in April 2012.

(Photo: くにvia Twitter @blue_kuni18)

1980s

First seen being worn by ’008, the now long-time standard camouflage scheme was gradually
adopted from late in 1978.
(Photo [402nd Sqn, Iruma, Nov. 1980]: Akira Watanabe)

Erected by the Komaki-based 1st Tactical Airlift Group, a map shows the route to a monument on
Oyama, a 236-metre hill in the centre of Sugashima, an island that forms part of the city of Toba
in Mie Prefecture. The monument commemorates the 14 JASDF members who lost their lives
here, in a low-visibility controlled flight into terrain incident involving two C-1s
(58-1009 and 68-1015) on April 19, 1983.

(Photos: JASDF Komaki AB via Twitter @komaki_airbase)

Following modifications, the first aircraft has served as the C-1 Flying Test Bed (C-1FTB) since
January 1982. In 1984, the aircraft was used to test the FJR710/600S engine, four of
which would power the Asuka Quiet STOL research aircraft.

(Photo [Gifu, Oct. 1984]: とうちゃぽん via Twitter @touchapon50)

On February 18, 1986, 402nd Sqn C-1 58-1010 (pictured here over Shizuoka Prefecture during disaster relief training in September 1984 [link]) ended up sliding off the runway when attempting to takeoff from Iruma AB. Fortunately, although the aircraft was written off, none of the crew members were injured.

Delivered on February 19, 1976, and seen here at Ashiya AB in November 1989, the 14th
C-1 was to make its last flight on May 17, 2019. (Photo: Takao Kadokami)

(Photo [Iruma, Nov. 1982]: Akio Misawa)

1990s

Probably the first non-standard C-1 markings were those carried on at least three 402nd Sqn aircraft
that were flown in formation at the November 1991 Iruma air show. Later that same month, one of 
them was still carrying the markings at the Tsuiki air show. They comprised the yellow, radio
callsign-based
COSMO FLIGHT logo, with each ‘O’ made into a Saturn-like planet. The
blue nose badge included a cartoon depiction of a
shishi (lion, but also the
name given to the guardian dog on the left-side of Shinto shrines).

(Photos: [Top, Tsuiki, Nov. 1991] Takao Kadokami; [above, Iruma, Nov. 1991] Akio Misawa)

At the time assigned to the 403rd Sqn, as evidenced by the broom-riding witch tail
marking, the second C-1 was present at the Iruma air show in 1993.

(Photo: BANCHOUさんvia Twitter @BANF30)

In 1994, the then Miho-based 11th aircraft (link) was prepared for the JASDF’s 40th anniversary by having its engine cowlings (link) painted with special markings; the ‘Comet’ is a reference to the 403rd’s radio call-sign. The same markings were reportedly applied to ’013.

(Image from auction site [link])

In 1998, it was Miho AB’s turn to celebrate four decades of existence. Unfortunately, the aircraft concerned (68-1019), which was star-spangled and gift-wrapped in a red bow as a thank you to visitors to that year’s Miho 40th anniversary air show, seems to have somehow largely eluded photography; hence resorting to the image (above) from a plastic model’s box art. (A series of photos can be found on this blog [link]).

Landing at Iruma in June 1998, 98-1029 shows off the full-length yellow eagle design
adopted for the 2nd TAG’s 40th anniversary.
(Photo: Akio Misawa)

2000s

The monument erected on Miho AB in memory of the five airmen lost on active service
on June 28, 2000.
(Image from video [posted June 26, 2020] via Twitter @MIHO_AB)

Tragedy struck the C-1 fleet once again on June 28, 2000, when 88-1027 crashed into the sea off Okinoshima, Shimane Prefecture, 110 km from its Miho base. Its exact cause unknown, the accident claimed the lives of all five crew members on what had been a post-maintenance test flight.

Blue-camouflaged C-1 58-1012 was selected for the suitably distinctive 2nd TAG’s JASDF
50th anniversary livery in 2004 . . .
(Photo [Nyutabaru AB, Dec. 2004]: Takao Kadokami)

. . . while, not to be outdone, the 3rd TAG’s representative for the same occasion
(58-1006) was painted blue overall with a fuselage-length Pegasus marking.
(Photo: JASDF Public Affairs Office via Twitter @JASDF_PAO)

As the 2nd TAG had been heavily involved with Japan’s peacekeeping mission in Iraq, a desert camouflage-type scheme was selected to mark its half-century in 2008. Applied to 58-1007 (link), the standard green was replaced by a light brown and a logo and slogan added to the outer sides of its white-painted engine nacelles (link). The two-line slogan, which read the same on both sides (link), contained words to the effect of “Flying forever, as long as there are people to protect; [Maintaining] tradition for future capabilities 2nd TAG”.

Also in 2008, 58-1011 was painted in a primarily two-tone blue scheme to mark Miho AB’s half-century (right side [link]). The markings comprised, on the tail, a character from the GeGeGe no Kitarō cartoon series by Shigeru Mizuki, who had been raised in the local Tottori Prefecture port town of Sakaiminato; the tail design also included the outline of Mt. Daisan, a nearby landmark. Connected to the tail by a streamer, the anniversary logo on the forward fuselage was in the stylized shape of the Yumigahama Peninsula, on which Miho AB is located. Again, use was also made of the space provided by the engine nacelles (left side [link]).

2010s

(Photo [Iruma. Nov. 2014]: Andy Binks)

Surprisingly, for the JASDF’s 60th anniversary in 2014, the C-1 units had to make do with
attaching large versions of the official logo sticker to their aircraft.
(Photo [Tsuiki, Nov. 2014]: Takao Kadokami)

Having been one of the 402nd Sqn’s COSMO FLIGHT aircraft back in 1991, the second
pre-production, fourth-built C-1 was given the special 60th anniversary tail marking
when on the books of the Air Development & Test Wing at Gifu in 2015.

(Photo: ししもも@夏バテ中 via Twitter @sisimomo2011)

As if making up for the lack of an opportunity in 2014, the 2nd TAG pulled out all the design stops
for its 60th in 2018. Extending even to the engine intake covers
(link), the kabuki design
was apparently 10 years in the making, having originally been put forward
for the 2nd’s half-century in 2008.

(Photos [Iruma, Oct. 2018]: COSMO373 via Twitter @minami373vr46)

Breaking up is apparently not too hard to do. Feted on May 11, 2015, after having completed
a service career totalling 17,780 hours, 78-0022 was finally broken up in April 2016.
Over the 2010s, the C-1 fleet was gradually whittled down; only Miho retirement
resident ’003 managed to escape the scrapyard fate that had befallen
’022 and 12 other aircraft by the end of the decade.

(Photos: JASDF Iruma AB)

2020s

(Photo: のりvia Twitter @norinori_1977)

Taken at the Iruma AB air show, November 3, 2022, the fine photo above shows C-1 029 (hence known as o-niku or ‘meat’) on short finals at the end of its last flight. The aircraft was then placed on static display behind a signboard that provided the following information:

Delivered Sept. 21, 1979
Oct. 1979 to Jan. 1983 (1st TAG, Komaki)
June to Sept. 1983 (2nd TAG, Iruma)
Sept. 1983 to Aug. 1986 (1st TAG, Komaki)
Feb. 1987 to Oct. 1990 (2nd TAG, Iruma)
Mar. 1991 to Aug. 1994 (3rd TAG, Miho)
June 1995 to date (2nd TAG, Iruma)
[See above photo for 1998 special markings] 
Total flight time: 17,880 hrs

That makes an average of a mere 416 flight hours per year, though it would be interesting to know how many landings the aircraft made in that time.

(Photo [July 2022]: DOLPHIN via Twitter @s2f5g4)

Including the EC-1, only seven of the original 31 C-1 airframes remain on active service (as of November 2022). There are two years to wait for the C-1 unit’s last opportunity to show off JASDF anniversary special markings, the 70th in 2024.

Chitose Stages Year’s First Frontline Base Air Show

(Photo [July 31, 2022]: JASDF Chitose AB via Twitter @jasdf_chitose)

(July 31, 2022) Also requiring the currently standard advance booking procedures of those wishing to attend, Chitose AB held its first air show in three years as planned today.

The starting and finishing earlier, shortened event, which ran from 08:00 to 13:00, was bookended by an opening formation flypast and a grand finale from the Blue Impulse team. In between were displays of all the based aircraft types, surprisingly including one of the Boeing 777 government/VIP transports. The only flying display by a visiting aircraft was that of a 302nd TFS F-35A from Misawa.

This year’s Chitose AB air show is kicked off by a formation of six 203rd TFS and, bringing up
the rear, two 201st TFS F-15Js.
(Photo: Takki (たっきー) via Twitter @Takki_Sapporo)

In line with the staging of the event as part of the city of Chitose’s summer festival, a special marking was applied to four aircraft in three types: a comparatively subdued white runway design incorporating logos on the tails of F-15J 22-8806 and F-15DJ 52-8088, and in two-element sticker form on the fuselage sides of Chitose ARS U-125A 92-3012 and UH-60J 78-4584. (More photos of and details about the markings can be found on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 [under the 203rd TFS] and Part 3 [Chitose ARS] pages.)

Commemorating the 96th year of Chitose’s aviation connections, the specially marked F-15J
and UH-60J were for a time parked close to the crowd line for maximum PR effect.

(Photo: JASDF Chitose AB via Twitter @jasdf_chitose)

A news outlet gave today’s official attendance figure as 46,000, 6,000 up on the previous event in August 2019; for the sake of comparison, visitor numbers to the July events in the three years from 2016 to 2018 were 76,000, 68,000 and 84,000, respectively.

(Photo: 梅シャツ via Twitter @ume-shirt)

As seen in the above photo, Chitose AB’s somewhat different take on the paid-seating “gallery” trend (see preceding Matsushima show preview story) was to arrange these seats strictly at ground level, albeit directly in front of the Blue Impulse flight line. As an added sales incentive, the holders of the 10,000-yen photography A-seat tickets could make use of a dedicated car park, which was not an option in the case of the 5,000-yen general B-seats; the same camera equipment restrictions applied to both types of seating.

Free “gallery” seating (no cameras allowed) was provided for the pilot and ground crew—including
one of several women who serve as JASDF line maintenance team members—who dashed from a
“quick reaction alert room” to their F-15J for a simulated scramble demonstration.
(Photo: アサカワvia Twitter @asakawa_galm)

(Photo: もぐぱん via Twitter @mogupann)

(Photo [Chitose AB, July 31, 2022]: 千歳すもも@北海道在住 via Twitter @Chitosekun)

Till next time . . . (Photo: sikr via Twitter @chihiro84151363)

Reduced JGSDF Okadama 69th Anniversary Event

One of the main events in the flying display at the first Okadama open day for three years
was a demonstration of forest firefighting.

(Photos: [Top] りんりん via Twitter @yuko4643;
[above] Jingles@オペレーションノーマル via Twitter @AH_AirWolf)

(July 24, 2022) For this COVID-downsized, morning event, which primarily marked Okadama’s 69th anniversary, the base had adopted a lottery system whereby those wishing to visit sent in a reply-paid postcard. The lucky winners were rewarded with some interesting helicopter colour schemes and a by all accounts lively flying display.

By adding dayglo areas and large white serials and titling, the modern-day, low-viz 7th AvSqn
UH-1J on static display could masquerade as a UH-1B from the late 1970s. The only
difference was that, back then, the aircraft lacked a camouflage pattern and
were mundane olive drab overall.
(Photo: Official髭曇dism via Twitter @foggy_ja8369)

On static display at the event was a resident OH-1 that had been made to look combat-ready in an
anime sort of way. Two more photos and explanations of other markings on this aircraft can be
found in the Northern Helicopter Sqn entry on the
JGSDF Squadron Histories Part 2 page.
(Photo: スイトウさん via Twitter @suitou_san)

The retired OH-6D’s colour scheme was a throwback to the base’s former Northern Ladybirds
display team. In another novel initiative, this and an also AH-1S on static display carried QR
codes, which would provide a challenge for any plastic modellers. Two more photos and
explanations of the other markings on 31294 can be found on the
JGSDF Where
Are They Now? page. (Photo: Official髭曇dism via Twitter @foggy_ja8369)

(Photo: スイトウさん via Twitter @suitou_san)

Matsushima Air Show 2022 Attendance Procedures

(Poster image: JASDF Matsushima AB)

(July 20, 2022) The latest developments on access to this year’s Matsushima air show, which is planned for August 28, were announced yesterday.

The base had already stated that applications for the still free admission—for a maximum of five people per group, with multiple applications from different members of those groups (surprise, surprise) not permitted—would only be accepted via a dedicated website from 00:01 on July 25 to midnight on August 7. In the event of a large number of applicants, a lottery would be held, with the winners being notified by e-mail.

No COVID-induced, service-ceiling number of spectators has yet been mentioned. Just for the record, on the last two occasions the event was held, on fine weather days in the easier times of August 2018 and 2019, attendance was 56,000 and 43,000, respectively.

(Photo [taken Mar. 30, 2022]: ナビnavi via Twitter @NaviSpace)

This year’s show being planned to finish an hour earlier at 15:00, it will be interesting to see if a unique tradition will be maintained; that of holding two performances by the home-based Blue Impulse team on one day. As the team is planned to participate in the Higashi-Matsushima Summer Festival the day before, organizers could well decide that one performance on air show day will suffice this time around.

The latest information includes details of the rooftop seating arrangements, which look like becoming a permanent, money-making fixture on JASDF air show days. Plans call for 18 A-seats for serious photographers (10,000-yen admission fee, payable on the day) and 32 B-seats for general spectators (5,000 yen) to be set up on the roof of a two-storey building. These can be applied for at the same time as the general admission, but the deadline in this case is July 31. In the case of those occupying the A-type seats, tripods and cameras with a total length (camera body, lens at maximum extension, and lens hood) of no more than 70 cm are permitted. Those in the B-type seats are not allowed to bring tripods and are limited to cameras with a total length of no more than 40 cm.

Interestingly, the small-print list of prohibitions now includes the bringing onto the base/use of photography equipment, such as stepladders, tripods, and lenses 40 cm or more in length, the only exemptions being those who have successfully applied for the rooftop seating.

Although parasols (the intended meaning could be sunshades) are listed among the measures to fend off the likely extreme heat, the former are also listed among prohibited items that “may cause annoyance to other visitors”. Aside from the standard anti-infection protocols, other differences from 2019 are that there will only be drink vendors on the base, no food sales. The ban on bringing alcohol onto the base remains in place.

(Photo [taken in 2021]: SkyHi via Twitter @SkyHiF150216)

Tateyama and Komatsushima Open Their Doors

The scene on the apron at Tateyama, July 18
(Photo: JMSDF 21st Fleet Air Wing via Twitter @JMSDF_21aw)

(July 2022) According to base-released official figures, 4,880 visitors braved the heat to attend the helicopter festival at Tateyama AB on July 18.

(Photo: haruka-papa via Twitter @umkVMdyhA76PkK9)

The visiting aircraft assembled for static display purposes included five representatives from the sister services: four from the JGSDF (a three-helicopter contingent from Tachikawa and an EC225LP from Kisarazu) and a JASDF UH-60J from Hamamatsu. The civil-registered helicopters present were a Japan Coast Guard EC225LP, one of the Yokohama Fire AW139s and the Kanagawa Police BK117C-2. Additional JMSDF aircraft were the normally Atsugi-based USH-60K (8901, originally manufactured as SH-60K prototype test aircraft 8401 in March 2000) and an MCH-101 from Iwakuni.

The only flying display was that of a simulated rescue mission, performed in the absence of any
UH-60Js by a solo SH-60K. The water-feature climax must have had some vague
psychological cooling effect on the spectators.

(Photos: NOCAR via Twitter @CharlieYankee22)
(Also available in video form here [link], courtesy DOLPHIN via Twitter @s2f5g4)

All five gate guardians were still present, looking more faded as the years go by. The HSS-2B has an obscure list of six numbers below the cockpit on the left side (link). All six-digit numbers, these are thought to be the JMSDF serial numbers of the personnel involved in either placing the aircraft on display or carrying out refurbishment work.

Publicity poster for the Komatsushima event
(Image: Japan Ministry of Defense)

The day before, timed to coincide with the local port festival, the 24th Fleet Air Sqn at JMSDF Komatsushima had hosted the latest iteration of its Summer Festival event, which has been low key at the best of times. For example, according to the July 22, 2016, edition of the local Tokushima Shimbun, the base received all of around 2,500 visitors. This year, the only departures from the previous norm were that all visitors were to wear masks and have their temperatures checked upon arrival at the base gate.

Two SH-60Js depart for their flying display, Komatsushima, July 17
(Image from short video [link], posted July 18, 2022: ぴっぴ via Twitter@FUNGA0517)

Kissing cousins. The only visitors to the Komatsushima event appear to have been this UH-1J from
the 14th AvSqn near-neighbours at Kita-Tokushima and TH-135 from the 211th ATS at Kanoya
as well as an MCH-101 from the 111th FAS at Iwakuni.
(Photo: リタゆっくりニワカ勢 via Twitter @uKsH7xQPjkY81NA)

New Role for Rescued Phantom Cockpit

(Image: SDF Gifu Provincial Cooperation Office via Twitter @gifupco)

(June 2022) The above image is from a two-minute promotional video (link) entitled F4ラストフライト—F4 Last Flight, the Japanese have a habit of omitting hyphens from aircraft designations—released on Twitter by the SDF Gifu Provincial Cooperation Office (PCO). (Muting the accompanying muzak is advisable.)

The video begins with splendid Gifu departure footage taken from the rear seat of a Phantom, the aircraft type that, to translate the first video captions, “for more than half a century defended Japan’s skies for us.” About a minute into the video, three other Air Development & Test Wing (AD&TW) aircraft are in formation with the camera aircraft, before the view briefly changes to looking straight ahead on approach to base. The caption that then pops up reads: “Its days of defending the skies over, the Phantom reappears.”

Zeroing in on the crossroads at Gifu Station using the wonders of Google Earth, the viewer is introduced to the unassuming building that houses the SDF Gifu PCO (link). One of the 50 in the country (one in each prefecture except for Hokkaido, where there are four), these offices are primarily points of contact for SDF careers advice, organized group base tours and other PR activities.

(Image from video [link] posted by SDF Gifu Provincial Cooperation Office in
June 2022, via Twitter @gifupco)

Gifu AB’s association with Japan’s Phantoms lasted from the first to the last day. Towards the end of the video the imminent arrival of a Phantom cockpit is announced, the plan being to aptly display that from ex-AD&TW F-4EJ 77-8393 in the PCO’s window (above) from next month. Delivered in 1977, this aircraft had taken to the skies over Gifu for the last time on March 12, 2021.

Two views of the cockpit section, which is mounted on a trolley with
castors, before and after installation. 

(Photos [posted Jun 16, 2022]: JASDF Gifu AB via Twitter @JASDF_GIFUAB)

(Photo: nc39 306 J50 np via Twitter @306Z33)

Final Departures from Airfield Café Collection, Hamamatsu

Two trucks depart the Airfield Café in Hamamatsu carrying the last of what was once a
collection of JASDF airframe relics.
(Photo: tujimon via Twitter @orapo860)

(June 2022) Early this month, the last two fuselage sections of former JASDF aircraft, F-86D 04-8164 and T-1B 25-5852, were removed from the well-known Airfield Café in Irinocho, Hamamatsu.

As if being casevacked from the front line, each was hoisted onto its own low loader and unceremoniously driven away to a new home. The backgrounds censored to keep their new location secret, photos of the still intact remains surfaced on Twitter the following day. They were shown sitting solemnly side by side next to the cocooned front fuselage (complete with pitot tube) of an anonymous F-104J Starfighter. However, as use was made of the same haulage company, which happens to have a branch office in the city of Kita-Kyushu, it can be safely assumed that they joined the relic from F-104J 46-8604, the ex-Airfield Café resident that with the forward fuselage of MU-2S 73-3201 had been transported to “somewhere in Kyushu” in April 2021.

Opened on December 13, 1987, at the southern tip of Lake Sanaru, west of the city of Hamamatsu, this combined café/repository for SDF aviation memorabilia became something of an institution over the years.

Since 2018, the café’s management had been slowly making arrangements to part with the survivors of its amassed collection of JASDF aircraft remnants, all except one of which were forward fuselage sections forlornly sitting on blocks or trestles and all of which were by then in a very sorry state.

In May 2019, a Yahoo auction was reportedly held. Had there been no takers for the aircraft as was, the fallback plan had been to sell components and instruments from the cockpits the following month. At that time, the tail of an F-86D was sold, and a Starfighter nose cone, complete with shark mouth marking, went for 60,000 yen. Ultimately, new homes were found in the following sequence:

June 2020            F-104J 36-8536 to Seto, Aichi Prefecture
April 2021           F-104J 46-8604 and MU-2S 73-3201 to Kyushu
Dec. 2021            T-1B 25-5855, location unknown
December 2021   T-33A 51-5623 to Aichi Prefecture
                                                   (possibly Seto, joining F-104J 36-8536)
June 2022            F-86D 04-8164 and T-1B 25-5852, probably to Kyushu

Closed on Wednesdays, the café itself still features on eating-out websites and blogs but is itself reportedly set to close after 37 years in 2024. July 1 that year, the 70th anniversary of the JASDF, would be a fitting date for the last orders.

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

Taken Off the Menu: Airfield Café Former Resident Rundown

F-1  80-8212 (Nose section only, minus radome)
Delivered in January 1978 and withdrawn from service when with the 3rd Sqn on March 31, 1997, the nose section was present at the Airfield Café in March 2004. Sold to a new private owner circa late 2012/early 2013.

When with 8th Sqn, visiting the Hyakuri AB open day held in July 1985. (Photo: Takao Kadokami)

F-86D  04-8164 (Front fuselage only)

The photo used to publicize via Twitter that the collection’s F-86D, MU-2S and T-1B were
up for sale in October 2018.
(Photo: tujimon via Twitter @orapo860)

Delivered first to the 102nd Sqn in July 1960, this aircraft was displayed at Nara AB and, until sometime in early 2003, at Kozoji Sub-Base in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, after having been withdrawn from active service in September 1968. The aircraft was in situ at the  Airfield Café, its tailfin removed, in March 2004.

By March 2016, the aircraft had unfortunately sustained a gaping wound in its radome when struck by a tree that had been dislodged in a landslide after heavy rain. This was one of the last two to be finally transported out to a new private owner, apparently in Kyushu, in June 2022.

F-104J (1/3)  36-8536 (Forward fuselage only)

Its radome and pitot tube removed for transport purposes, the forward fuselage section of 36-8536
sits strapped in and ready to become the second F-104J relic to be passed from the Airfield Café
collection to a new owner, June 2020.
(Photo: tujimon via Twitter @orapo860)

This aircraft was delivered to the Air Proving Group in August 1963 and was still assigned to the then Air Proving Wing when withdrawn from use; photos taken in between times show the aircraft at Nagoya in September 1965 (link) and at Gifu in December 1985 (link). Internet photos show that in April 1997, during its time at the Airfield Café, the nose number was changed to ‘506’ “for a number of reasons” but changed back to the correct “last three” later. This aircraft was relocated to a new private owner in Seto, Aichi Prefecture, on June 15, 2020.

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

F-104J (2/3)  46-8604 (Forward fuselage only)

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

Handed over to the JASDF in June 1964, this aircraft was with the 1st Technical School at Hamamatsu when withdrawn from service in October 1972. The aircraft remained intact on display there until at least November 1982. The dates of its acquisition and removal to the Airfield Café are unknown. The forward fuselage from behind the cockpit was resting on blocks in March 2004 and remained so in October 2020; photos taken at that time show the relic from the front (link) and side (link). Eventually sold as a job lot with the forward fuselage of MU-2S ’201 (see below), the truck carrying them departed for a new private owner somewhere in Kyushu on April 28, 2021.

F-104J (3/3)  46-8617 (Fuselage from engine intakes forward only, no pitot tube)
Some doubts still surround the true identity of what could actually be a composite aircraft. The relic carried what is generally accepted to be a spurious ‘517’ on the nose, where traces of a ‘6’ could be seen, and JASDF SERIAL NO 48-8617 appeared on the lower rim of cockpit canopy frame on the right side. Past visitors were never able to verify the radio call-sign in the cockpit. For the record, F-104J ’617 was in JASDF service from September 1964 to April 1986. All that can be said for certain is that this airframe relic was driven away from the Airfield Café and into the private ownership of a person or persons unknown at an unknown location on March 12, 2016.

When with 204th Sqn, Nyutabaru AB, February 1984 (Photo: Takao Kadokami)

HSS-2A  8067 (Nose section only)
On active service from March 1976 to February 1988 and then kept at Shimofusa—as seen in this photo taken in May 1990 (link)—the café’s sole ex-JMSDF acquisition had arrived by 1999 and was still present, albeit seemingly leaning drunkenly against a hedge in March 2004 and a wall in September 2008. Details of its disposal and subsequent fate are unknown.

MU-2S  73-3201 (Forward fuselage only)

At (above) Hyakuri AB in April 1970 and Iruma AB in December 1995
(Photos: Akio Misawa)

Not quite the end of the road. Next to the nose of the MU-2S can be seen the shark mouth nose cone
from an F-104J that was sold in 2019.
(Photo [posted Oct. 2018]: tujimon via Twitter @orapo960)

This the first of the 29 search-and-rescue variants built had taken to the air on its maiden flight as the S-X (company designation MU-2E) in natural metal finish on August 15, 1967, and been delivered to the JASDF as an MU-2S at Chitose AB on December 2 that same year. Obviously not considered that historically valuable by either its manufacturer or former operator, the aircraft had been disposed of after its career had come to an end, when with the Hamamatsu Air Rescue Sqn.

Although the last of the type remained in service until October 2008, the relic of ’201 was already present at the Airfield Café in March 2004; here it is in October 2020 (link). As mentioned above, this aircraft’s forward fuselage was mounted on the same trailer as that from F-104J ’604 for their road trip to a new private owner somewhere in Kyushu on April 28, 2021.

T-1B (1/3)  25-5852 (Front half of fuselage only)

(Photo [Iwakuni, May 1966]: Kadokami Takao)

Seen in the days of its youth in the above photo and long into its retirement in December 2021 below, this T-1B had at some stage been decorated with a bouquet of flowers, signed NAITO NARITA, painted on the left side of its nose and おつかれさま (otsukaresama [Thanks for all your hard work]) in black under the cockpit.

(Photo [posted Dec. 2021]: tujimon via Twitter @orapo960)

Delivered to service with the 13th FTW in September 1962, this aircraft was withdrawn from use in October 1998 when with the 5th Technical School at Komaki. In its final state, besides the markings visible in the above photo, the starboard side of the nose had been adorned with a large cartoon T-1 piloted by Prince Pickles, one of a pair of mascots officially adopted by the SDFs in 1992. The other of the two final departures, ’852 was transported to a new owner, apparently in Kyushu, in June 2022 (as shown in photo on homepage).

T-1B (2/3)  25-5855 (Front half of fuselage only)

(Photo [visiting Iruma AB when with 5th TS, Oct. 1999]: Akio Misawa)

When displayed in its JASDF 50th anniversary regalia at Misawa AB, Sept. 2004 (above)
and at Nyutabaru AB, Dec. 2004.

(Photos: 築城の天狗 via Twitter @yumiya_006)

The shachihokoin its tail marking painted gold specially for the occasion, ’855 heads
for the takeoff point during its top-billing appearance at its Komaki home
base in October 2004.
(Photo: らぶたん via Twitter @f22_aces2)

Delivered to service with the 13th FTW in October 1962, this aircraft’s career came to an end when with the 5th Technical School in March 2005. The previous year, ’855 had been chosen to be the recipient of one of the two JASDF 50th anniversary colour schemes for the type and, while doing the rounds of air shows, was displayed at its Komaki home base in October 2004. The anniversary scheme had been removed by the time of its sale in 2006, after a period in store at Hamamatsu AB, but was reinstated that same year when first at the Airfield Café. This aircraft had been transported out by mid-December 2021.

Photos of how time took its toll show ’855 soon after its arrival at the Airfield Café in
2006
(above) and still with three years to run before its final disposal, October 2018.

(Photos: tujimon via Twitter @orapo860)

T-1B (3/3)  25-5857 (Front half of fuselage only)
Delivered to the JASDF in October 1962 and withdrawn from use when with the 5th Technical School in April 2004, ’857 had in its earlier years (in 1977 [link] and January 1985 [link]) seen service with the then Air Proving Wing at Gifu.

The aircraft was sold off as surplus after having been used, still intact, in Hamamatsu to test a JASDF 50th anniversary colour scheme that was not adopted. (The essentially similar selected design was applied to 25-5854 instead.) With red, white and blue striping on the nose, the front fuselage was noted forlornly on its side at the Airfield Café in October 2004 and with the test scheme renovated on the port side only in January 2005.

Initially moved into new private ownership storage in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, in December 2005, a photo on the internet shows the starboard side of the aircraft section outdoors, propped up on trestles in standard colour scheme with vestiges of the JASDF 50th anniversary badge on its nose. Its port-side, special colour scheme now faded, this aircraft has been in indoor storage at a private residence in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture, since at least May 2016, by which time the owner had hooked up a battery on the floor to actuate the canopy.

T-33A (1/2)  51-5623

The area that was previously cluttered with fuselages looks very empty as T-33A
’623 awaits a buyer in June 2021.
(Photo: エサ via Twitter @meat_stew)

The only more or less complete aircraft, this example had been delivered to the JASDF in July 1955 and withdrawn from active service 10 years later, in October 1965. Its anachronistic tail markings were those carried by the 35th Sqn during its final era, at Hamamatsu between 1979 and 1991. The aircraft had come to the Airfield Café via a period of time displayed at the Tokai University Aerospace Museum within the Miho Bunka Land amusement park in Shizuoka City, the aircraft was present for the opening on August 2, 1974, until at least April 1982; this photo was taken there in March 1982 (link). (As an aside, Miho Bunka Land [link] was once home to the UF-XS Experimental Flying Boat now displayed at the Gifu-Kakamigahara Air & Space Museum.)

Having for some time been mounted on a pedestal with supports placed under its wings, this aircraft lost its starboard wingtip tank, blown off by a typhoon on September 30, 2018; this photo (link) was taken in November that year, this (link) in October 2020. The main wings were removed a week before its departure, which took place on December 2, 2021, when the aircraft was destined for a new owner in Aichi Prefecture (quite possibly the same owner, in Seto, Aichi Prefecture, who had acquired F-104J 36-8536 in June 2020). Although the T-33A had been owned by the Airfield Café, the F-86D and final T-1B forward fuselages still present at that time were no longer its property and were being temporarily kept there on behalf of another owner.

T-33A (2/2)  81-5335
Delivered to the JASDF in March 1958, this aircraft’s last unit was reportedly the 204th Sqn in Okinawa. For overwater operations, the aircraft had been given a coat of anti-corrosion paint, which when removed at the Airfield Café had made it difficult to reinstate the nose serial. The owner had therefore decided to use the aircraft merely as an eye-catching PR tool for the café and to appeal to children had painted a mouse’s face on the nose instead. The fuselage was still present on trestles in March 2004 and in the end transported to a company specializing in cutaway display models in Tokyo’s Nishitama district on June 17, 2006.

It was through the efforts of the W2Design company that the aircraft’s cockpit and forward fuselage made a return to the public gaze as a retro “skeleton” exhibit at the Third Aerospace Industry Exhibition in Tokyo (ASET) held at Tokyo Big Sight in October 2013. Full details of the project can be found on the company’s website (link) and photos of the stand at the exhibition here (link) and of the cockpit here (link).

Seen above as one of a trio of visitors to Iruma when with Naha-based 302nd Sqn in December 1992,
’335 followed the usual peripatetic existence during its service career. For example, other photos
show the aircraft again at Iruma but in the markings of the then Naha-based 207th Sqn in
November 1984
(link) and at its Hamamatsu home base when assigned to the
35th Sqn exactly two years later
(link). (Photo: Akio Misawa)

Photo reports from Airfield Café

Various photos from 1997 onwards (link), includes a photo from March 2004 of the “mouse face” T-33A bearing the name Ryöko in red.

A blog report from September 2008 shows the interior, café food and till receipt and that the HSS-2A was still present (link)

Included in long report that starts at JASDF Air Park, March 2013 (link)

From the Disused Aircraft Hunter website recommended in the Links from this website, report dated Sept. 2020, updated June 2022 (link)

YouTube footage taken at Airfield Café

Undated (but shows HSS-2A present) 2:19 (link); September 2016 1:13 (link); Includes interior, May 2021 4:57 (link

(Photo [Komaki, Oct. 2004]: らぶたん via Twitter @f22_aces2)

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

JASDF Hofu-Kita AB Air Show, June 5, 2022

Hofu-Kita’s main gate, around 07:00 on the day of the event. The base’s air show welcome arch
has been dusted off and brought out of storage for the occasion. The temporary sign on
the left respectfully reminds visitors to comply with the anti-COVID measures
that remain in place.
(Photo: せっちぃー via Twitter @Setchy111)

Being held for the first time in three years, this event was to a certain extent marred by less than
perfect weather. An F-15J demonstration flight was one of the scheduled events that had to be
cancelled on the day due to rain, but the Blue Impulse team was at least able to
 perform a routine.
(Photo: Deep blue8 via Twitter @EN13849997)

(June 2022) To complete a trio of short, after-the-event reports as the SDFs make gradual, tentative returns to the staging of air shows, we travel to Hofu-Kita AB in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan. (See Bulletin Board story, JASDF Gears Up for Air Shows, April 2022.)

Here, 10,000 lottery-winning visitors were granted free access to witness at close quarters a spectacle to which they had grown unaccustomed. In a throwback to an interrupted tradition, one of the resident 12th FTW T-7s was painted in a particularly elaborate colour scheme on a stellar theme to mark the base’s 61st anniversary. (See the 12th FTW entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories, Part 2 page [link] for more details.)

Attracting the most attention from photographers was this T-7, specially marked to
commemorate JASDF Hofu-Kita AB’s 61st anniversary.
(Photo: sky@空広&図書館戦争&天神 via Twitter @skfliby)

Among the other JASDF participants that performed in the at times leaden skies were representatives from bases on Kyushu: an 8th TFS F-2A 93-8549; a pair of 13th FTW T-4s (06-5647 and 26-5679); and a U-125A (42-3022) and UH-60J from the Ashiya Air Rescue Sqn. Time was also allocated to enable JGSDF helicopters to be put through their paces: CH-47J 52932 from the Central Army Helicopter Sqn’s 3rd Flight at Miho; AH-1S 73447 from the 5th Anti-Tank Helicopter Sqn at Akeno; and a pair of UH-1Js from the neighbours, the Hofu Army Camp-based 13th AvSqn.

Visiting from Iruma and Hamamatsu, respectively, and placed on static display were 402nd Sqn C-1 78-1024 and 41st Sqn T-400 01-5060.

(Above and below) The port-side cabin windows of the two Hofu-based UH-1Js carried a
combined message:
13th AvSqn – In Partnership with the Local Community.

(Photos: [Top] xash@THEファイター via Twitter @aggressor072;
[above] hamanagi via Twitter @fs305Mixer)

The base operations building, the roof of which was used to provide two socially distanced
photographers’ gallery sections. As entry to the show remained free, one visitor thought 
the vantage point well worth the 10,000-yen charge and would be sure to use the
facility again in 2023.
(Photo: ハチロクさん via Twitter @xkox5b)

A panoramic view of Hofu AB on show day from the opposite side of the airfield
(Photo: まくら via Twitter @makura)

The reverse of the welcome sign on Hofu air show day advises departing
visitors to take care.
(Photo: 満艦飾 via Twitter @hamazk)

IJNAF Double Bill in Famous Airplanes of the World Series (2/2)
No. 207: Type Zero Reconnaissance Seaplane

The cover illustration depicts one of the two Jake reconnaissance floatplanes assigned to the
heavy cruiser
Chōkai in February 1942. It was the crew of “Yellow Z-1” that had spotted
the four-nation Allied naval force which ultimately failed in its attempt to intercept
Japanese vessels supporting the invasion of Sumatra in the then Dutch East Indies.

(June 2022) It was back in July 1994, all of 28 years ago now, that the Type 0 Reconnaissance Floatplane (Jake) was one of no less than eight aircraft briefly covered in Famous Airplanes of the World No. 47 Imperial Japanese Navy Reconnaissance Seaplane (sic). In the meantime, only the Navy Type 0 Observation Seaplane (Pete) had been singled out to have a volume all to itself (No. 136 in January 2010).

Seen in front of the 452nd Naval Air Group hangar at Tateyama early in 1944, this E13A1 (above)
has had air-surface search radar fitted, as evidenced by the antenna fitted to the leading edge of
its starboard wing.
(Below) The fuselage-mounted array on a sister aircraft. Not a mark on
the photo, the light-coloured patch above the first
‘2’ of the tail code is the tail light.

(Photos from the January 1957 issue of The World’s Aircraft used with the
permission of Hobun Shorin Co., Ltd.)

The seven photo and caption-only pages given over to the Jake in No. 47 have now been expanded to no less than 46 pages in three sections:
Type 0 Reconnaissance Floatplane Style and Small Changes
Floatplane Units: Operational Type 0 Reconnaissance Floatplanes
    (Divided into sections: Aircraft on Maintenance/Standby; Collective
     Preparations and Departures; Catapult Launches; Combat; Arrival
     Back at Base; Accidents; Commemorative Photography; Defeat;
     Still in Existence)
Five Sides to Type 0 Reconnaissance Floatplanes
    (Bombing Armament; Invisible Nets; Setting off on Special Attack
     [Suicide] Missions; Here and There on the Aircraft; Make and Fly)

  1. Against a winter-scene backdrop, a ground crew member checks Jake 52-019’s wings while others
    attach bombs. Most often seen in photos taken in the Pacific theatre of operations, the 
    Jake
    aircraft like this one assigned to 452nd Naval Air Group saw service in the Aleutian
    Islands campaign in 1942–43.
    (Photo from the March 1957 issue of
    The World’s Aircraft used with permission of Hobun Shorin Co., Ltd.)

The two illustrated text chapters cover the aircraft’s development and production (12 pages) and aspects of combat (10 pages). As usual the book opens with colour profiles (seven, of which one takes up a double page) and a cutaway and ends with line drawings (two pages).

All that in 79 pages costs a mere 1,333 yen plus tax.

This rare scene captures a Jake atop the catapult installed for training purposes at the Kashima
Naval Air Group’s base in Ibaraki Prefecture. The foundations of the jetty and floatplane
beaching ramp remain to this day
. (Photo: 𫝆泉隆行 via Twitter @ImaizumTakaYUKI)

Most likely from the seaplane tender Kamikawa Maru, a Jake is seen in what is thought to be the
Deboyne Islands, an atoll in what is now Papua New Guinea. This location was used briefly by
the Japanese for floatplane operations during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942.
(Photo: U.S. National Archives via Wikimedia Commons)

No mention is made in No. 207 of the aircraft that saw postwar service with the French and Thai
navies. That shown above is one of at least five that were flown by the French Aéronavale’s
8ème Escadrille de Servitude
(8.S) from Cat Lai naval air base in Saigon, French
Indo-China
(now Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) from 1946 to 1948.
(Photo: 銀髪推進派 via Twitter @alpaka)

The salvaged, float-less remains of real Jake can be seen today in a diorama-like display at the
Kaseda Peace Museum in Kagoshima Prefecture. During the latter stages of the war, Kaseda
air base was one of those used  for suicide attack missions against the U.S. fleet.
(Photo [posted May 2019]: し~えむ via Twitter @crazymaster1010)

A couple of the photos in No. 207 are stills from an interesting 4.5-minute NHK video that is viewable on YouTube (link).

IJNAF Double Bill in Famous Airplanes of the World Series (1/2)
No. 206: Carrier-Based Reconnaissance Aircraft Saiun

No. 206, April 2022

(June 2022) Bunrindo billed the April 2022 title in its Famous Airplanes of the World series as the Extended Edition of No. 108, which had been published in 2005. Over the intervening years, surviving parts from Saiun have been placed on display at the Handa City Museum in Aichi Prefecture (2012), and an airframe recovered from what are now the Federated States of Micronesia was repatriated for the first time in more than 70 years (2018). Considered more than newsworthy enough to trigger a reworking of the book, the aircraft itself is currently undergoing reconstruction and renovation at the Zero Fighter Museum/Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall in Yamanashi Prefecture and once again will be open to the public during the month of August.

Cover of No. 108, February 1995

The first 11 pages being the same as No. 108, the first additions to the previous text are: a double-page photo of the fuselage section at the National Air and Space Museum/Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles Airport; photos of the engine mount cover and mainwheel displayed as well as the fuselage centreline drop tank stored at the Handa City Museum; photos of the airframe undergoing work at the Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall alongside photos taken of the wreck as it was found on Weno Island in Micronesia.

The ad that appeared in the June 2022 issue of Kōkū Fan magazine to publicize 
the star attraction at the August-only opening of the Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall.
The photo shows the fuselage as displayed in the corresponding event in 2021,
prior to the start of reconstruction and renovation work.

(Image: Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall)

The green upper surfaces and other details of the camouflaged aircraft depicted in the five pages of colour profiles have been noticeably darkened, but the fold-out has remained unchanged, as have the 43 pages of technical and full-aircraft drawings.

The previous five text chapters have been increased to seven by the addition of an article on the Development and Recollections of the 17-Shi Carrier-borne Reconnaissance Aircraft and a technical piece on the C6T project written by a former Nakajima engineer. Both of these had originally appeared in the then 330-yen “Blue Series” Famous Aircraft of the World No. 82 in February 1977, which had already provided the source of a test pilot’s perspective and combat recollections (entitled No Enemy Fighter Could Catch Us) contributed by veteran pilot Shōgo Hirose to No. 108.

The front cover of the 66-page 1977 “Blue Series” edition depicted a Saiun Model 11
assigned to the 141st Naval Air Group, which in 1945 was stationed at Bamban air
base on Luzon in the Philippines. Four text articles from this publication
have been reproduced in No. 206.

The photo on the back cover of the 1977 “Blue Series” edition was a head-on shot of
Model 11 T2-4804, one of those aircraft shipped to United States for testing after the
war. Although powered by an air-cooled Nakajima Homare 21 (NK9H) radial engine,
this model lacked the cooling fans built into the front of the cowling.

A well-known photo of a Saiun night fighter of the 302nd Naval Air Group at Atsugi airfield,
circa July 1945. This was the sole aircraft tested with a single, obliquely mounted
Model 5
(Oerlikon) cannon. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

A Saiun wreck photographed in the waters off Weno island in Chuuk province, Micronesia, where the
Kawaguchiko aircraft was found on dry land. A
YouTube video exists that takes you on a
swimaround
(link). (Photo: Motoki Kurabayashi via Wikimedia Commons)

JASDF Shizuhama AB Air Show, May 22, 2022

The Air Development & Test Wing (AD&TW) at Gifu sent F-15J 32-8942 to add some muscle to
the Shizuhama flying display programme.
(Photo: やす@低浮上中 via Twitter @himajin_yas)

(May 2022) Despite warnings from the base to potential visitors that the Shizuhama open day would be a shortened, low-key event (Bulletin Board, April 2022), a spirited flying display was organized and conducted. On-base attendance was put at around 5,600 people.

Among the highlights was a mass flypast by a formation of 10 of the resident 11th Flying Training Wing’s T-7s, as recorded on this 16-minute YouTube video (link).

Aside from the aircraft shown here, featured participants were a C-2 (78-1205) from Iruma and four aircraft from Hamamatsu, a pair of T-4s (including 76-5756 from the 31st Sqn) and an Air Rescue Squadron U-125A/UH-60J duo.

The AD&TW also sent unencumbered F-2A 83-8544. Having worn special TAC Meet markings
when with the 3rd TFS back in 2013, this aircraft has been assigned to Gifu since late 2019,
after its return to duty following a manufacturer’s overhaul.

(Photos: [Top] やす@低浮上中 via Twitter @himajin_yas;
[above] 米木正寿@企業内キャリコン&研修企画 via Twitter @M.Yoneki)

There were no specially marked aircraft, but Fuji T-3 91-5511 was still on gate guard duties, and the three-aircraft base collection—T-3 81-5501; T-6F 52-0011; and T-34A 61-0390—were all present in one hangar.

To the accompaniment of bird chirrups, a five-minute YouTube video (link) shows the opening flight and other displays from the opposite side of the airfield.

(Photo: F Hannah@浜松松風会 via Twitter @monkitty551)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Good attention to detail on the nose of repainted RF-4EJ 87-6412 at Ibaraki Airport Plaza
(From a six-minute YouTube video [link] shot on day after unveiling ceremony, April 22, 2022)

The now strangely sanitized-looking, stencil-free RF-4EKai 57-6906 in the Yuhien at Hyakuri AB.
Perhaps in time the elements will serve a good purpose by toning down those gaudy colours.
(Photo [posted Apr. 3, 2022]: Kazu-papa via Twitter @Swordfish52449289)

Abysmal in comparison with the nose of the RF-4EJ above, the T-2 in the Yuhien at Hyakuri 
is shown “close to completion”; the photographer described the final result as being like 
 a bad dream.
(Photo [posted Mar. 20, 2022]: Norick via Twitter @Norickapex1220)

(May 2022) In recent months, there have been three major displayed aircraft repainting projects carried out within a long stone’s throw of each other, which have resulted in to say the least mixed results.

Aviation Plaza, Ibaraki Airport

As first reported below in January 2022 (Ibaraki Airport’s Phantom Fund Me), crowdfunding was used to raise finances related to the cosmetic exercise of tarting up the two Phantoms, F-4EJKai 37-8319 and RF-4EJ 87-6412, in the Aviation Plaza, the Omitama City-managed park across from Hyakuri AB. Perched on plinths and having been on loan to the Ibaraki Airport Utilization Promotion Council since July 2011, their shabby appearance was reflecting badly on the area where they were intended as a tourist attraction and had prompted calls even from local residents for them to be given facelifts. Donations were halted when the fund amount had reached nearly 7.3 million yen (from 839 people), surpassing the target of 6.7 million.

The scaffolding placed around each aircraft carried a banner proclaiming the Volunteer Repaint
Construction Work, above the Japanese for Looking Forward to Completion in between
silhouettes of the two aircraft. The Japanese at the foot of the banner is that of the
Japan House Paint Association
(JHPA), which happens to be headquartered
a mere 20 km away in Mito, also in Ibaraki Prefecture.

(Photo: 茨城空港応援大使 [Ibaraki Airport Support Ambassadors] via Facebook)

Despite the doubts some might have felt about house painters being let loose on the aircraft, this project represented a major publicity exercise on the part of the airport authorities, and thus nothing seems to have been left to chance. When it came to the choice of colours, all-important be it a house or a Phantom, advice from the JASDF was wisely sought. Photos released in progress reports on the JHPA website reveal the painstaking preparations, occasionally not under ideal conditions (below), and attention to detail shown by the 13-man team of volunteers: the start of the project (link); February 23 (link); March 2 (link); April 20 (link).

(Photo [posted Mar. 22, 2022]: 茨城空港応援大使
[Ibaraki Airport Support Ambassadors] via Facebook)

Undertaken free of charge by the JHPA for the city council, which used the crowdfunding primarily to cover the cost of the two sets of scaffolding, the work was commenced on February 14, completed on April 15 and an unveiling ceremony held on April 21. The latter was naturally covered on the JHPA website (link), complete with an embedded YouTube video, a summary of the work, and before and after photos similar to those that follow.

(Photo [posted July 31, 2021]: エイトボール商会 via Twitter @eightballshokai)
(Photo [posted Apr. 24, 2022]: KAZU via Twitter @TARMAC_ROUBAIX)

(Photo [posted Feb. 14, 2022]: 茨城空港応援大使
[Ibaraki Airport Support Ambassadors] via Facebook)

(Photo [posted Feb. 14, 2022]: Kazu-papa via Twitter @Swordfish52449289)
(Photo [posted May 18, 2022]: すってんぱれ! via Twitter @suttenpare)

The Phantoms at Ibaraki Airport generate revenue from the sale of souvenirs and novelty goods. These included a limited-edition range of yoghurt produced locally in the city of Omitama to commemorate the repainting. These were on sale during the Golden Week holiday period from late April to early May.

A design featuring the two aircraft appeared on one side of each of the four square pots
of Phantom Repainting Commemorative Yoghurt. In time for the Hyakuri air show
in December 2019, the same yoghurt manufacturer had released three, four-pot
 packs, each set of which portrayed an aircraft from the last three sqaudrons,
the 301st and 302nd TFSs and the 501st Sqn.

(Image: Ibaraki Airport via Twitter @IBR_airport)

Massacre by Spray Gun at Yuhien, Hyakuri AB

The original Phantoms here, the historically important F-4EJ 17-8302 and RF-4EKai 57-6906, also featured in a January Bulletin Board story (Jan. 22, Phantom Numbers Dwindling). That report included a photo of a scaffolding being erected for a screen, this time seemingly to prevent prying eyes from witnessing them being “put down”.

The base website then included video footage of their replacements, standard F-4EJKai 17-8437 and the first RF-4EKai 47-6901, being carefully towed across and placed in position just a week later, on January 24. (Bulletin Board story Substitute Phantoms)

Both seemed all set for the start of a long tenure, with ’901 still looking resplendently rough and rugged in its authentic, final “film” commemorative colour scheme. Suddenly, however, whereas ’437 remained untouched, photos started appearing of ’901 still in situ but covered in primer, as were the nearby F-1 and T-2 . . .

In situ, in its authentic, farewell “film” colour scheme
(Photo [posted Jan. 28, 2022]: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

(Photo [Mar. 7, 2022]: Kazu-papa via Twitter @Swordfish52449289)

(Photo [posted Jan. 23, 2022]: Norick via Twitter @Norickapex1220)
(Photo [posted Mar. 2, 2022]: エルムvia Twitter @GATOO9374504)

“Vandalised” veteran. A closer look at the now SDF careers office model-like F-1 60-8274 at
Hyakuri AB. Interesting that the JASDF, with personnel on site capable of iintricate special
 marking designs, should opt for a painting by numbers-like approach on its heritage aircraft.
(Photo [posted Apr. 3, 2022]: Kazu-papa via Twitter @Swordfish52449289)

Blackening the canopies, admittedly among the first parts to show signs of deterioration from long-term exposure to the sun and elements, creates an odd look. Previously seen in the case of the pole-mounted F-1 at Misawa, this painting style has the effect of creating more of a full-size fibre-glass mockup than a real aircraft.

Fortunately, newly arrived F-4EJKai ’437 seems to have avoided the
excessive treatment meted out to its companions.

(Photos [Top] Mar. 7 and [above] Mar. 23, 2022: Kazu-papa via Twitter @Swordfish52449289)

Having escaped unscathed this time, the other aircraft nearby in the Hyakuri base collection—an F-86D, F-86F and a T-33A—must be facing the future with some trepidation. Then again, there are worse fates than being on the receiving end of some insouciant spray painting.

Keeping a naturally camouflaged low profile in the snow among trees planted to
commemorate awards presented to the resident 7th Air Wing.
(Photo [posted Jan. 2022]: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

Hyakuri’s F-104J Reverted

To end on a more positive note, a better result was achieved with Hyakuri’s own pole-mounted sentinel, the F-104J Starfighter, which was thankfully subject to the reverse process that returned the aircraft to its original appearance.

What ’630 used to look like when in service with the 207th Sqn, circa 1980.
(Photo: KORIEL via Twitter @FEFE2F801F90FM2)

Delivered to the JASDF on September 30, 1964, 46-8630’s active service career had come to an end on May 25, 1983. In between times, this aircraft had been based with the 206th Sqn at Hyakuri in the late 60s and early 70s but was later with the 207th at Chitose.

(Photo [posted Jan. 2018]: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

The pole retains the worn plaque, dated September 1992, which carries the names of the team involved in erecting this monument to mark the 25th anniversary of Hyakuri AB. Other photos show the aircraft as it was in July 2010 (link) and after its blue makeover in October 2012 (link).

This aircraft likewise had to be carefully surrounded by scaffolding and cloaked in mesh to
facilitate the paint removal work.
(Photo: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

Before (Jan. 21, 2022) and after (Apr. 12, 2022)
(Photos: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

Yokota Static Display Unmasked

The 3rd TFS delegate arrives to take up its position at the Yokota AB Friendship Festival.
(Photo: jibitz via Twitter @jd921858)

(May 22, 2022) This Yokota AB Friendship Festival weekend coincidentally followed the Friday announcement about masks by the Japanese government. Guidelines now state that there is no longer any need to wear one outside—as long as there is no close conversation—but the show organisers had already been requested to include the wearing of masks as one of the on-base precautions.

Although not an SDF-hosted event, the JASDF took the opportunity to fly in some hardware for the occasion and for the first time since COVID made its presence felt. On both days, when the base was open from 09:00 right through to 20:00, the flight demonstrations were confined to U.S. participants.

A total of 140,000 people visited the last event in 2019, so this year’s attendance will make for an interesting comparison. (Postscript: Given on the base website as ‘approximately 110,000’.)

(Photo: ぬまけんvia Twitter @nmkn20021121)

Thus the novelty of an SDF static display made a welcome return in the form of 12 aircraft from near and far:

C-1 98-1029 402nd Sqn, Iruma; C-130H 95-1083 401st Sqn, Komaki; CH-47JA 97-4498 Helicopter Airlift Sqn, Iruma

F-2A 43-8524 3rd TFS, Hyakuri; F-15J 32-8820 203rd TFS, Chitose; F-35As 29-8729 301st TFS and 29-8730 302nd TFS, Misawa

T-4 16-5663 Blue Impulse, Matsushima; T-4 06-5642 Central Air Command Support Sqn, Iruma

U-125A 72-3006 and UH-60J 08-4590 Air Rescue Sqn, Hyakuri

and a JGSDF OH-1, presumably from the HQ Flight at Tachikawa.

Assisted by the humidity, the C-130H puts on a short display when departing Yokota
 for Komaki the day after the event.
(Photo: 8181 via Twitter @noaa49r)

Series of Ukraine Support Flights Mounted

JASDF personnel march to a waiting 403rd Sqn C-2 at Miho prior to the departure of the second
Ukraine refugee relief flight. Among those witnessing the event was the Romanian ambassador
to Japan, whose country was the destination for this consignment of aid.
(Photo [May 11, 2022]: Japan Ministry of Defense via Twitter @ModJapan_jp)

(May 2022) In recent weeks, the Japanese government has deployed JASDF aircraft in a series of flights to provide support to Ukraine’s war effort and itsrefugee victims.

Carrying a consignment that included helmets and bulletproof vests, the first KC-767 flight to Poland departed Komaki at night on March 9—an event recorded on a media company YouTube video (link)—closely followed by a C-2 from Miho the following day.

(Photo [Komaki, Mar. 8, 2022]: Japan Ministry of Defense via Twitter @ModJapan_jp)

These flights were followed on March 16 by the first instance of Japanese non-lethal military aid being transported by the U.S. Air Force, specifically a C-17 from Yokota AB.

On April 19, the government announced its intention to circumvent legal constraints on the overseas supply of military equipment and technology transfer by labeling items such as drones as “disused”.

(Photo [Iruma AB]: 86 86 via Twitter @vpwfmvt48o6puS5)

On May 1, the focus switched to relief operations when a C-2 departed from both Miho and Iruma air bases on the first of a series of missions requested by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The flights were to route via Dubai to collect supplies from a UNHCR stockpile for onward delivery to Poland and Romania. Scheduled to be weekly events, these flights were expected to continue until the end of June. The first flight having returned to Iruma on May 6, subsequent flights were mounted from Miho on May 11 and again from Iruma on May 18.

Omura AB Air Show, April 30, 2022

Attracting far fewer than the madding crowds of JASDF air shows, some idea of the low spectator
numbers for Omura’s low-key 65th anniversary event is provided by this view across the
apron on show day.
(Photo: Yoshikazu Mitshi [Mitsui], from Omura AB Fan Club
page he created on Facebook [link])

(May 2022) J-HangarSpace has not been in the habit of providing regular air show reports, but Omura’s part in the JMSDF’s gradual return to something approaching “proper” events warrants a mention.

Official attendance at this first time in three years event over in Nagasaki was given as 4,300. For the admission procedures, mask-wearing visitors had to show I/D and have their temperatures checked. There were no stall vendors on the base, which might have dissuaded some people from visiting, and the stalls that were present had been restricted to those selling drinks and snacks.

Rust never sleeps. Showing signs of its age, veteran 22nd FAS SH-60J 8281 gets airborne, maybe
for the last time on an Omura open day, to be the lead aircraft in a trio of based aircraft that
performed in formation during the show.
(Photo: 賢仁 [ハリボテ] via Twitter @kenjin_TJC)

(Photo: JMSDF/22nd Fleet Air Wing via Twitter @jmsdf_22aw)

For the record, in the absence of what would have been a crowd-pulling US-2 arrival (see photo below), visiting JMSDF aircraft were limited to T-5 6365 and TH-135 8812. The JGSDF’s Western Helicopter Sqn sent four aircraft: AH-64D 74505 (link); CH-47JA 52955; UH-1J 41825 (link); and UH-60JA 43118. The other helicopters present in the static display were the Omura-based pairing of the Nagasaki Prefectural Police Bell 429 and Nagasaki Air Rescue’s AS365N3 JA119Z (link).

Rotors return for 2022 event 1. (Photo: Katuyuki Matumoto [Katsuyuki Matsumoto] via
JMSDF Omura AB Fan Club Facebook page [link])

Rotors return for 2022 event 2. The JGSDF UH-60JA prepares to return to its Metabaru
base in formation with the rest of the Western Army Helicopter Sqn contingent.

(Photo: むりゃ via Twitter @murya720)

The traditional star attraction of a JMSDF amphibian making use of the ramp at Omura will 
hopefully be making a return for a pro(pell)er event in 2023.
(Photo [posted May 2019]: Katuyuki Matumoto [Katsuyuki Matsumoto] via
JMSDF Omura AB Fan Club Facebook page [link])

Eighth US-2 Commences Flight Test Programme

(Photo [mid-May 2022]: yuki@TONK2次被害者会入会via Twitter @VznYuki)

(April 2022) Not thought worthy of mention on the company website press release page, the eighth ShinMaywa US-2 took to the skies for the first time on April 18. Including time lapse sequences, a 12-minute YouTube video (link) records the events of the day from the opening of the hangar doors on.

Entering its flight test phase two years after its predecessor, this aircraft was funded as part of the fiscal 2016 supplementary budget. The third test flight was completed on April 20, the fifth on April 27.

Funded under the fiscal 2021 budget, the ninth aircraft will, literally, be in the works in due course.

On April 30, brand-new 9908 is joined on the ramp at ShinMaywa’s Konan Plant by
the second aircraft, which first flew 17 years ago, on January 5, 2005.

(Photo: いっちゃんvia Twitter @nobuya0827)

JASDF Gears Up for Air Shows

(Photo: TakaMax55 via Twitter @vmax55531)

(April 2022) After a long hiatus due to obvious reasons, JASDF bases are making tentative plans to stage at least some sort of air show season this year.

The schedule is beginning to fill up, one of the latest additions at the time of writing being Misawa on September 11, announced by the 3rd Air Wing and base commander Maj. Gen. Takahiro Kubota on April 25.

In recent months, bases have restricted those events that have been held to, for example, runway walks open only to limited numbers of residents of that prefecture. Planning to hold its own runway walk event for 350 people on April 28, Ashiya has scheduled an air show limited to 10,000 spectators for September 4 to belatedly celebrate its 60th anniversary, which fell last year.

Ad for Ashiya Runway Walk (Image: JASDF Ashiya AB via Twitter @jasdf_ashiya)

Two training base air shows that traditionally take place in the spring/early summer schedule, Shizuhama and Hofu-Kita are planned to go ahead from 09:00 on May 22 and June 5, respectively.

The former is billing its event as a “small air show at a small air base” and warning that if people come expecting a lively event, they will likely go home disappointed. When it comes to anti-COVID measures, Shizuhama is also naturally ensuring that all the bases are covered. To encourage visitors to keep their masks on, smoking will be banned and no designated areas for eating or drinking or stands selling food will be provided (soft drinks will be on sale to prevent heatstroke). To avoid crowding, there will be no ground displays. The decision has also been taken to curtail proceedings at 11:30. The impression the organizers wish to give is for local residents to stop by Shizuhama AB and just take a pleasant stroll in the “park”.

Shizuhama, May 2012

Hoping to at least feature a Blue Impulse display from a remote location, Hofu-Kita’s semi-open house is scheduled to run from 09:00 to 15:00, as normal. However, the event is open only to 10,000 winners of a lottery, the time-limited applications for which have to be submitted on the type of postcard that has a reply card attached. Those from outside the prefecture who wish to attend are requested “to act in consideration of the government’s basic policy and in response to any requests from their prefectural governments”. At a cost of 10,000 yen per person, 22 socially distanced seats in two photo galleries facing the runway are to be made available atop the base operations building; a telephoto lens length restriction of 70 cm applies.

(Photo: JASDF)

Once the event-starved locals are allowed off the leash, it could well be that the air shows held close to major conurbations (Gifu, Komaki and especially Iruma) will be even less for the faint-hearted and best avoided until the novelty has worn off.

(Photo: Stone via Twitter @stone15DJ)

Doctor-Heli Operations Go Nationwide

The Shikoku Air Service BK117C-1 with which Doctor-Heli services are conducted in
Kagawa lands on the helipad at Kagawa Prefectural Central Hospital in Takamatsu.

(Photo: Kagawa Prefecture)

(April 2022) From this month, the emergency medical service coverage provided by the Doctor-Heli network has been available across all of Japan.

From its humble beginnings in Okayama Prefecture 21 years ago, the last pieces of the Doctor-Heli jigsaw were put in place when Tokyo itself and Kagawa Prefecture were added over the last month. Nationwide coverage had been the goal since a special measures law was enacted in June 2007.

Based at Tachikawa when on call, the Hirata Gakuen Aviation BK117D-2 JA903H was that
initially assigned to the new Tokyo operation.

(Photo [Tokyo Heliport, March 2022]: ゴマ鯖via Twitter @bousai2022)

Coordinated from the Tokyo Fire Department Aviation Unit’s Tama Aviation Center, operations on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s behalf were commenced by Hirata Gakuen Aviation in the Tama area of the city on March 31, 2022. The participating hospital is the Kyorin University Hospital in Mitaka in collaboration with Tokyo Medical University’s Hachijo Medical Center and the Tokyo Metropolitan Tama Medical Center.

Operational cover is provided from 08:45 to sunset. A total of three locations in the city of Fussa, a sports facility and two baseball fields, have been registered as rendezvous points, where patients are transferred from an ambulance to a helicopter.

Introduced into service in 2006, the Shikoku Air Service BK117C-1 with which full Kagawa ops
were inaugurated sits at Takamatsu Airport without titles in October 2021. A familiar local
sight, the aircraft’s nose and clamshell rear doors had previously been adorned with
 
Anpanman (Bean Bun Man) children’s cartoon characters (link).
(Photo: だいきち via Twitter @DAISAN87922715)

Prefecture-wide operations commenced in Kagawa on April 18. Kagawa Prefectural Central Hospital in Takamatsu and Kagawa University Hospital in Miki Town are the designated facilities on alternate weeks for operations that, weather permitting, run from 08:30 to 17:30 or sunset, whichever comes first.

Geographically compact Kagawa Prefecture is blessed with a high ratio of paved roads. In 2006, the average ambulance transport time was 25.2 minutes, the shortest in Japan. As patients became more advanced in years, it took longer to ascertain symptoms, and the time spent at the scene became longer. The transportation time for 2018 was 35.4 minutes, ranking 10th in the nation.

Kagawa Prefecture formed an introduction review committee in July 2019, and in January 2020 its report included the annual demand forecast estimate of 243 people, 11 patients whose lives would be saved by the helicopter’s introduction, and 17 patients whose after-effects would be alleviated. To make operational preparations in good time, Takamatsu-based Shikoku Air Service was appointed as outsourced operator and maintenance provider in December 2020.

In December 2021, classroom training such as pre-boarding safety education was conducted for candidates, and in January of this year, medical personnel boarding training and heliport departure and arrival training were conducted at base hospitals using actual equipment.

The tape-cutting ceremony takes place at Takamatsu Airport on April 17, the day before the
official start of operations.
(Photo: NHK Takamatsu via Twitter @nhk_takamatsu)

Kagawa Prefecture has allocated 245.5 million yen as the operating cost for the first year. While negotiating with related parties aiming for around 200 emergency takeoff and landing sites in the prefecture, 16 doctor candidates and 27 nurse candidates are undergoing practical training to secure and maintain the services of six to eight specialized doctors and eight nurses.

Lone Starfighter Blues

(Above) Already in around its 18th year of service, the eighth JASDF F-104DJ caught in flight,
adorned in the camouflage worn long before and during the 207th Sqn’s participation in the
1983 TAC Meet at Komatsu, and
(below) with its rusty wheels firmly on the ground at
its “retirement home” of an astounding 36 years in Seiyo, Ehime Prefecture.

(Photo: [Top] KORIEL via Twitter @FEFE2F801F90FM2;
[above, March 2022] Jumbo via Twitter @yosakoi_747)

(March 2022) In a recent post, Twitter contributor “Jumbo” urged those interested in seeing a Starfighter displayed in open-air solitary confinement in a rural part of Ehime Prefecture to best make that visit soon.

One of only four more or less complete survivors in Japan of the 20 two-seat Starfighters originally supplied, this example somehow ended up being put out to pasture close to a farmer training centre and beside the Shirokawa Sports Park in the town of the same name, which since 2004 has formed part of the city of Seiyo. Since 2021, the local authorities have been giving consideration to the removal of an aircraft that was provided on free loan to the site where it has languished since May 1986 but is now likely seen as something of an eyesore that reflects badly on the city. Back in 2009, a city spokesman said that the aircraft was being cleaned up to twice a year to no effect, but in a sign of its impending demise, even those efforts appear to have been abandoned.

Delivered to the JASDF on June 3, 1964, F-104DJ 46-5008 was based at Hyakuri when this photo (link) was taken in June 1966.

The aircraft was still based at Hyakuri with the 204th Sqn when photographed in the company of
a sister aircraft from the 205th Sqn in 1969.
(Photo: Akio Misawa)

Another photo of 008 in the tactical camouflage scheme of the type applied to F-1s and
reconnaissance Phantoms. It was in August 1982 that the aircraft was noted as here
carrying the names of its ground crew,
T.SHIBUYA and MURAKAMI, on the
side of the engine intake, next to what appear to be their rank insignia. The
aircraft was kept in camouflage for the TAC Meet in November 1983.

(Photo: KORIEL via Twitter @FEFE2F801F90FM2)

Following its withdrawal from service when with the then Naha-based 207th Sqn in November 1984, the aircraft was likely flown to Gifu AB, which served as the collection point for retired Starfighters. It was as early as May 1986 when the aircraft was placed out in the fresh air of the park in Ehime, joining ex-JGSDF L-19E-1 11202 and UH-1B 41548, which had been present since February 1987 and March 1988, respectively. The JGSDF aircraft had both been removed by 2006, leaving the Starfighter to maintain its lone vigil.

From nose to tail, the aircraft has for some time been in what Japanese would call boroboro (tatty)
condition. The rusty steps up to the cockpit are superfluous as the canopy has deteriorated and
reportedly clouded to such an extent that precious little of the interior, from which
most of the instruments have already been removed, can be seen.

(Photos [March 2022]: Jumbo via Twitter @yosakoi_747)

For the many unable to make the journey to in effect pay their last respects, this undated YouTube video (link) places you right there, when the aircraft was in somewhat better condition (circa 2015). The sign in front of the aircraft, near to where the pitot tube should be, politely but belatedly (and literally pointlessly) asks visitors not to touch the tip of the aircraft’s nose, because this could break. As in the photo above, the information on the stone plaque is unreadable.

This page from the recommended hikokikumo website (link) shows that the F-104DJ’s condition remained stable from 2003 and 2015 and provides images for posterity of the site’s two former JGSDF residents. Other fine photos from a January 2018 walk around of “the only F-104DJ on Shikoku” can be found here (link).

Parting shot. On occasion, as now, the aircraft has been partially roped off, but ropes offer no
defence against the ravages of the weather and time, which have taken their toll. A trick of
the light on the red blank in the jet pipe provides a defiant afterburner effect.

(Photo [March 2022]: Jumbo via Twitter @yosakoi_747)

Phantom 301 Goes Postal

(Image: Japan Post)

(March 2022) From time to time, Japan Post issues limited-edition sheets of stamps on an SDF theme, usually to mark a base anniversary. The sale of such stamps is also limited to post offices in the prefecture where the base is located.

In March 2021, Japan Post released a set named GIFU AIR BASE 2020: F-4 Last Flight. The latest, follow-up set of five 84-yen stamps specifically features the Air Development & Test Wing (AD&TW)’s venerable F-4EJ Phantom 17-8301, which after five decades’ service was retired there a year ago.

Being sold at 237 post offices in Gifu Prefecture and via the internet, only 2,000 sheets have been produced. The 1,400-yen price includes not only the stamps but also an A4 information sheet containing interviews with a pilot, ground crew member and an AD&TW administrator.

Komaki Holds PR/Recruitment Event

(Photo: ぬまけん via Twitter @nmkn20021121)

(March 7, 2022) After three years still not yet in the position to stage its annual air show at this time of year, Komaki AB yesterday became the latest JASDF air base to hold a low-key open house event instead.

(Image from Twitter feed @komaki_airbase)

Restricted to the first 1,000 to reply to an advertisement posted on the base’s website and Twitter feed in early January, the event was open to children from elementary school age and above and adults up to 31 years of age. No restriction was placed on the ages of those accompanying children, but a maximum of two members from the same family was permitted. Also on offer was the chance to enter a lottery and be one of 400 to experience being on board a KC-130H that was to shuttle-taxy back and forth along the runway. To avoid crowding, the event’s duration was the same as that of an air show, from 09:00 to 15:00.

Those lucky enough to be among the chosen few were afforded rare opportunities to photograph
Komaki’s resident aircraft in relaxed, uncrowded settings far removed from what
would be the norm on an air show day.

(Photos: [top, KC-767 flight deck] ヤマさんvia Twitter @yamasan0802;
[above, U-125A] Yuma via Twitter @nkn787)

JASDF F-35As Make Naha, Hamamatsu Debuts

(Photo [Naha AB, Mar. 1, 2022]: うみ via Twitter @seaoka)

(February 28 to March 4, 2022) The F-35A Lightning II made its debut at Naha when two aircraft each from the 301st and 302nd TFSs arrived for an extended four-day training exercise on the afternoon of February 28.

Outbound, the quartet staged though Nyutabaru, which had been visited by U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs in November 2017 and is destined to be the base for the JASDF’s own carrier-capable F-35Bs.

Hamamatsu briefly hosted the aircraft when they transited through the base on their return
to Misawa on the morning of March 4.

(Photos: [top] teamHAMAMATSU via Twitter @HamamatsuTeam;
[above] natsumi via Twitter @natsumi_TA1002)

It was November 2021 when eight 302nd TFS aircraft were sent on an extended visit to Komatsu AB, which is scheduled to receive its first four examples of the type in fiscal 2025 and have 20 F-35As based there in FY2028.

The light reflecting from a snowbound Misawa, one of the 302nd TFS pair returns home after
its winter break.
(Photo [Mar. 4, 2022]: ゆきいち@falcon via Twitter @falcon82801212)

Third Clutch of Ospreys Arrives

(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl Calah Thompson)

(February 23, 2022) The pair of Ospreys that make up the third JGSDF delivery were today offloaded from the company-operated vehicles carrier Green Lake at Iwakuni.

The first pair that arrived in May 2020 having been followed by five more aircraft in January 2021, these represent the eighth and ninth aircraft of the total order for 17.

Relief Mission to Tonga Ends

The view from the flight deck of the JASDF C-130H that brought the first of the Japanese
aid to Tonga, with the Fua’amotu International Airport runway visual ahead.

(Photo [Jan. 22]: Japan Ministry of Defense Joint Staff Public Affairs via Twitter @jointstaffpa)

(February 18, 2022) The Japan Ministry of Defense announced yesterday that the tri-service contingent sent to Tonga for disaster relief was being recalled following the conclusion of its mission.

It was on January 15, 2022, that the Pacific island nation had suffered a massive underwater volcanic eruption and ensuing tsunami. On January 20, the Japanese government decided to follow Australia and New Zealand’s lead by not only sending emergency supplies but also deploying an SDF task force to assist in the country’s disaster relief efforts. At the time, the Tongan government had estimated that around 80% of the population was being affected by the disaster, and the runway at Fua’amotu International Airport had just been cleared of aircraft-unfriendly volcanic ash sufficient to enable a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H to be the first arrival.

The distance between Tokyo and the Tongan capital of Nuku’alofa being 7,900 km (4,900 miles), transport aircraft were sent ahead of shipborne elements on board the JMSDF tank landing ship Ōsumi. They would join forces with those sent on the Royal Australian Navy’s landing helicopter dock (LHD) ship Adelaide.

That same evening of January 20, two JASDF C-130Hs (’083 and ’085) departed their Komaki home and via Andersen AFB on Guam arrived singly at Amberley, the Royal Australian Air Force airlifter base near Brisbane in the evenings of January 21 and 22, respectively. 403rd Sqn C-2 ’205 followed suit from Miho on Jan. 21, `204 on Jan. 23, the latter after 402nd Sqn veteran C-1 ’002 had airlifted high-pressure water sprays and other equipment courtesy the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) from Iruma to Miho for onward transshipment. The detachment under the command of 1st Tactical Air Group flight commander Col. Hiroshi Fujii, these four flights delivered 17 tons of drinking water to Tonga, still around 3,300 km (2,000 miles) from Amberley, and were followed by more through to early February.

The aircraft used for the first Tonga relief flight conducted on a
C-2 sits on the ramp at RAAF Amberley.

(Photo [Jan. 22]: Japan Ministry of Defense Joint Staff Public Affairs via Twitter @jointstaffpa)

Laden with supplies ranging from 60,000 litres of drinking water to more high-pressure water sprays and wheelbarrows to assist in removing the layer of volcanic ash enveloping the Tongan capital, the Ōsumi arrived there on February 9. On her deck were two Chinook helicopters (CH-47J 52917 and ’JA 52982) from the JGSDF’s 105th Sqn at Kisarazu that had been cocooned against the elements during transit. Once unwrapped, the helicopters were used to airlift 30 tons of drinking water to outlying islands, while a further 150 tons of freshwater were provided by desalination equipment. Also brought in on the Ōsumi, which again proved herself to be an invaluable asset under these circumstances, were trucks and two hovercraft not to mention 300 personnel.

(Above) On board the Ōsumi in port on January 25, the last of the plastic sheet patchwork and
foam plastic moldings are removed to make the Chinooks ready for flight.
(Below) Utilizing
an amazingly showroom-condition forklift brought along to assist in such operations,
SDF personnel unload a Chinook on one of the three outlying Tongan islands
that received a total of 9.6 tons of drinking water February 14–16.

(Photos: [Top] SDF Gunma Provincial Cooperation Office via Twitter @gunma_pco;
[above] Embassy of Japan in the Kingdom of Tonga via Twitter @japanintonga)

Despite pre-departure precautions, an added hurdle was presented by 22 SDF members unfortunately having to enter quarantine in Australia after one of them had tested positive for COVID-19.

An aerial photo taken from one of the Chinooks sent to Tonga shows the docked Ōsumi and
provides a view of Nuku’alofa nearly a month after the volcanic eruption and tsunami.

(Photo [Feb. 12]: Japan Ministry of Defense Joint Staff Public Affairs via Twitter @jointstaffpa)

Now that the situation has been declared sufficiently back on an even keel, it will likely be early March before the Ōsumi makes it back to home port.

This was the 21st deployment of what is termed the Japan Disaster Relief Team, the operations of which date back to the hurricane that struck Honduras in November 1998.

A rainbow effect appears in the windscreen glass of a C-130H on approach to Fua’amotu
International Airport, in the south of the main island of Tongatapu, 20 km from the capital.

(Photo [Feb. 2]: Japan Ministry of Defense Joint Staff Public Affairs via Twitter @jointstaffpa)

Postscript Photo 1 Heading home. While the two once again cocooned Chinooks sit listlessly om
deck, the two hovercraft taken to Tonga enjoy a bit of exercise off the
Ōsumi’s stern.

(Photo [Feb. 25]: JMSDF Public Affairs Office via Twitter @JMSDF_PAO)

Postscript Photo 2 Still wearing the Japanese flag tail markings worn on overseas deployments,
the two unwrapped Chinooks transited through JGSDF Akeno upon their return to Japan.

(Photo [Mar. 6]: Taka via Twitter @Taka_Phgr)

JMSDF’s 70th Anniversary Plans

One of the latest vessels to join the JMSDF’s ranks, the Maya-class destroyer
Haguro was commissioned in March 2021.
(Photo: JMSDF Kagoshima Provincial Cooperation Office via Twitter @kagoshima_pco)

(February 7, 2022) Taking the date of its formation as being August 1952, when its predecessor the Maritime Guard came into existence, the JMSDF will this year be marking its Platinum Jubilee.

The service intends to make a big splash by holding in November Japan’s first international fleet review in 20 years. In October 2002, 41 vessels from 11 countries gathered in Tokyo Bay, and ships were moored for visits at Harumi (Tokyo), Kisarazu, Yokohama and Yokosuka. The event was even marked by the release of a commemorative postage stamp.

(Image: JMSDF)

Having already released its official 70th anniversary logo (above), the JMSDF is calling for designs for a review logo to be submitted by the general public. It can be expected that these logos will be appearing on some JMSDF aircraft in due course.

(Photo: JMSDF Yokosuka Regional Headquarters via Twitter @jmsdf_yrh)

Two-Week Search for Two Missing Pilots

(Photo [location unknown, posted Feb. 6, 2022]: JMSDF Public Affairs Office
via Twitter @JMSDF_PAO)

(February 2022) On the evening of January 31, reports came in that an F-15DJ belonging to the Tactical Fighter Training Group had disappeared off radar screens soon after takeoff from its Komatsu base. The aircraft was the last of a formation of four that had departed, despite weather conditions having been less than ideal, on a routine training mission.

The website of the local newspaper, The Hokkoku Shimbun, contained reports from eyewitnesses. One had thought that the red glow and the column of smoke rising from the surface of the sea had been caused by a tanker explosion, another had thought the cause was possibly even a wayward North Korean missile test.

The incident occurred at around 17:30, and some tiger-striped floating debris had already been retrieved from the sea at 19:10 by a Komatsu ARS UH-60J crew. In conjunction with the Japan Coast Guard, a full-scale search for the two pilots was continued on February 1, with a JMSDF UP-3D and the helicopter carrier Hyūga being brought in to assist.

Given permission by the next of kin, the Japan Ministry of Defense announced the names of the pilots as being those of the Group CO Col. Kōji Tanaka (52) and Capt. Ryūsei Ueta (33). After graduating from the National Defense Academy in 1990, Tanaka had gone on to fly with the 303rd and 305th TFSs before, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, leading the Blue Impulse team from 2011 to 2014. Via other posts, which had included time at the Air Staff Office, he had been appointed CO of the Tactical Fighter Training Group in June 2021. His total flight time was 2,850 hours, and Capt. Ueta had amassed 1,900 hours. 

As the Tactical Fighter Training Group (Aggressor) unit was formed 40 years ago, this month’s clutch of aviation magazines all contain full-length feature articles that include pilot interviews. A pall will now have been cast over the anniversary celebrations that had been officially marked just two weeks before, on December 18.

The first involving an Aggressor F-15DJ, this is the first accident involving the two-seat version of the F-15J in 28 years. On October 6, 1993, both Chitose-based crew members were rescued after ejecting from their 202nd Sqn aircraft, which had suffered a fuel system problem 20 km south of Tomakomai, Hokkaido Prefecture.

In the case of the F-15J, the most recent loss in the line of duty was that of a Naha-based 204th Sqn pilot on July 5, 2011. Immediately after the start of air combat training over the East China Sea, the pilot had radioed that the was breaking off from training but had crashed into the sea. On November 9 the same year, the Ministry of Defense announced the findings of an investigation that gave pilot incapacitation as the probable cause. The most recent JASDF fatality was that of an F-35A pilot, in similar circumstances, on April 9, 2019.

Subsequent events

The destroyer Sendai and minesweeper Ukushima joined the search on February 2 and the submersible-equipped submarine rescue ship Chihaya on February 3. Taking the currents into account, the search area was progressively widened. Meanwhile, JMSDF MCH-101s operated in conjunction with Komatsu ARS helicopters on February 2 and, taking the tides into account, searches were also made on foot by JGSDF troops along the shore in snow conditions over the following days. (More debris had been found close to the shore about 20 km from Komatsu on the afternoon of February 2.)

In response to questioning at a press conference held on the morning of February 4, Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi stated that training flights would be halted until checks had been conducted of all aircraft. As it was not possible to suspend quick reaction alert (scramble) operations, these flights would be continued as necessary. (The Air Development & Test Wing at Gifu resumed F-15J flight testing on February 9.)

On February 7, a total of around 1,400 SDF personnel were still engaged in the search.

On February 8, while members of the public wanted to serve as volunteers and actively assist in the search, six groups of local residents demanded that the training be suspended until “local understanding” had been obtained. February 8 is of special significance to certain elements in the local community, as it was on that date in 1969 that a crash of a Komatsu-based Starfighter, which had been struck by lightning when on approach, claimed the lives of four people in the city of Kanazawa; the pilot had managed to eject.

Via a press release on February 11, the Ministry of Defense issued an apology for the ongoing anxieties the loss of the F-15DJ and its crew were causing. The release also expressed gratitude for all those who, at no small risk to themselves, had recovered debris, but requested that they not touch anything, contact the authorities and leave the recovery to SDF personnel.

In response to a request from Komatsu AB, the Kaga branch of the Ishikawa Prefectural Fisheries Association stated that it would cancel the trawling in the search area that had been planned for February 12. The Komatsu branch would also refrain from sailing out that day.

At long last, one of the deceased pilots—subsequently revealed to have been Capt. Ueta, who had been in the rear seat of the aircraft—was found and recovered by the JMSDF on February 11; hence the request placed with the fisheries association. On February 14, 2022, the JASDF announced that Col. Tanaka had been recovered the previous day. Although hampered by bad weather, salvage operations did result in the successful recovery of the flight data recorder and both engines on February 25.

It was on March 3 that Komatsu AB commander Col. Daigo Ibuki paid a visit to Komatsu City Hall. During his meeting with the mayor, he stated that the investigation into the crash would last around another two months and conveyed his intention to recommence flight training.

Komatsu AB had started to accept floral tributes on February 18, and a service was held to mourn the loss of the two pilots on February 20. That day, part of the aircraft’s tail assembly was the first section to be brought into Kanazawa port on board a salvage vessel.

Then Lt. Col. Tanaka featured on the cover of the June 2013 issue of Kōkū Fan magazine.

In due course, consideration will surely be given to the building of a permanent memorial to the two pilots at Komatsu AB. 

Postscript
Released on June 2, 2022, the Ministry of Defense accident report cited excessive right roll during an ascending turn the aircraft made in cloud soon after takeoff, and a subsequent rapid loss of altitude from which the crew had not been able to recover. The aircraft had crashed into the sea only a minute after having taken off from Komatsu as the second aircraft in a radar trail formation, for which they had been required to track a lead-off aircraft using their aircraft’s radar.

The two main contributory factors given were: (1) the high probability that the pilots were in a state of spatial disorientation, due to the influence of the weather and celestial conditions at the time of the accident; and (2) the high post-takeoff workload, exacerbated by a failed attempt to capture the formation commander’s aircraft, which had resulted in their aircraft’s attitude going unnoticed.

Substitute Phantoms Take Pride of Place at Hyakuri

Today’s two new arrivals at the Hyakuri base collection area
(Photo: 和父[Kazu-papa] via Twitter @Swordfi52449289)

(January 24, 2022) Having removed the two long-term resident Phantoms from its Yuhien (“Soar Upwards Park”) display area just last week (See Bulletin Board, January 17), today saw two replacements moved in to fill the void.

The lucky duo saved from being unceremoniously scrapped are F-4EJKai 07-8437, which was one of those that remained when the 301st TFS ceased its Phantom operations in 2020, and the first RF-4EKai 47-6901. The latter is still wearing the photographic film marking worn by the last of the line with the 501st Sqn in 2019.

Despite lacking the historical significance of its predecessor, which was the 50-year-old, second
U.S-built JASDF Phantom, 1981-vintage 437 was the 137th of the 140 Phantoms that saw
JASDF service. The 140th is on display at the JASDF Air Park facility at Hamamatsu.

(Photo: N.W. via Twitter @naowata2011)

A fitting tribute to JASDF reconnaissance Phantoms, 901’s career spanned the type’s full range of
colours, from the gull-grey/white period in the 1970s through to the camouflage schemes,
interspersed by its memorable JASDF 50th anniversary scheme in 2004.
(Photos: [Top, Hyakuri, July 1975] Akira Watanabe;
[above, Nov. 2019] うずまき via Twitter @TThc_f)

Then RF-4E 901 taxying at Nyutabaru in February 1984 and as an RF-4EKai on static display in
its JASDF 50th anniversary regalia at Tsuiki in November 2004.

(Photos: Takao Kadokami)

(Photo [Hyakuri, July 2018]: Rene Vallee)

On the move to their new home, 40-year-old F-4EJKai 437 (above) and 48-year-old RF-4EKai 901
(below) are towed across to be positioned in the base collection area. Just visible enshrouded on
the left in the above photo is the pole-mounted F-104J, which is reportedly due
to be given a more authentic colour scheme.
(Photos [Jan. 24, 2022]: [Top] JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri;
[above] 鷲夢 via Twitter @syumu_302)

Company in Ishikawa Rescue Helicopter Deal in Need of Rescue

More than two years after its replacement was ordered, Ishikawa Prefecture’s 1997-vintage Bell 412
looks set to remain in operation for a while longer.
 (Photo: イージス艦 via Twitter @SPY_1D)

(January 23, 2022) A regional TV news report on NHK, the Japanese equivalent of the BBC, yesterday described the prospects for delivery of Ishikawa Air Rescue’s Bell 412EPI  helicopter as being “nowhere in sight”. The reason given was the unnamed Japanese company though which the aircraft was due to be supplied was facing insolvency and had initiated the legal mechanism to restructure its business.

Both having operated Bell 412s that were then already ripe for replacement, it was in October 2019 that Bell Textron announced that Ishikawa and Wakayama had each placed an order for a Bell 412EPI through Eurotec Japan, Inc. and Rotorcraft Services, respectively.

Winched up from a financial news website, a report reveals that Wakayama-based Eurotec Japan had filed for company rehabilitation on August 31, 2021, in what at 7.2 billion yen was the largest case of its kind that year in west-central Japan. Founded in 2010 by a former Wakayama Police and Doctor-Heli pilot, Eurotec Japan had been engaging in sales and leases to government agencies since 2016. Aside from intense market competition, the company had found it impossible to procure parts for its other, wide-ranging operations due to the pandemic, which at times had also made it difficult for its engineers to travel, and had thus run into severe financial difficulties.

Having decided to cancel its contract with Eurotec Japan, Ishikawa is still aiming to introduce a new helicopter. Until the situation is resolved, the plan is to soldier on with the fortunately still airworthy Bell 412 and request assistance when needed from neighbouring prefectures (Toyama, Gifu and Fukui).

Aichi Museum Acting on Impulse?

The powers that be at Aichi Museum of Flight would reportedly like a Blue Impulse T-4 to
jump hangar from Matsushima to Komaki.
(Photo: JASDF Matsushima AB via Twitter @matsushimabase)

(January 18, 2022) Today’s edition of the Chunichi Shimbun, the Nagoya-based daily newspaper, carried a report that revealed a tentative Aichi Museum of Flight plan to add a former Blue Impulse T-4 to its exhibits to mark the facility’s fifth anniversary in November this year.

Although the aircraft would be rented free of charge on a single-year contract, the museum would incur the costs of preparing the aircraft for display and of transporting the aircraft from Matsushima Air Base, way over in Miyagi Prefecture, to Nagoya.

While the museum reportedly sees a T-4 as a potential jewel in its crown and a way to boost visitor footfall, questions are being asked in the house, namely the Aichi Prefectural Government, in the form of a cost benefit analysis: Would people really pay to see a motionless T-4 when they are still in widespread service? (Actually, a 1996-vintage Blue Impulse T-4 is already on display at the JASDF Air Park in neighbouring Shizuoka Prefecture, less than two hours’ drive away.) In these especially trying times, the average monthly number of visitors in fiscal 2021 is expected to be around 11,000, despite having discounted the admission fee only a slight improvement on the previous year.

Also, local major manufacturer Mitsubishi might like to have a say before a Kawasaki interloper is brought into its “backyard”, where three historically-important, locally-built aircraft (an F-104J, T-2 and an HSS-2B) have been languishing since the Mitsubishi archives were relocated to the Oe Plant.

Perhaps the T-4 plan should wait until the type is being retired, when the big bucks approach used in the case of the YS-11P can be repeated; a T-4 makes its very last flight to Komaki and is then prepared for display.

Repeat Prescription for Doctor-Heli BK117D-3s

One BK117D-3 is currently in Doctor-Heli service, operated by Central Helicopter Service.
Fitted with standard fuel tanks, the improved BK117D-3 has a range of around 450 miles
when flying at 5,000 feet.
(Photo: Kawasaki Heavy Industries)

(January 18, 2022) It was announced today that Aero Asahi Corporation had placed an order with Kawasaki for two of the latest model BK117D-3s (also known as the Airbus Helicopters H145).

Following a single order placed by Aero Asahi in 2020, these second and third aircraft are both destined to be operated in the Doctor-Heli role. Other orders recently placed for Doctor-Heli ’D3s were made by Central Helicopter Service (in December 2020) and Shikoku Air Service (October 2021, for the new Doctor-Heli operation in Kagawa).

Central Helicopter Service became the first BK117D-3 operator in Japan when its initial aircraft,
which had been ordered in March 2019, was officially commissioned at a ceremony held at
Nagoya Airport in October 2021.
(Photo: きりしま via Twitter @katori93cp)

An improved version of the BK117D-2, the D-3 features a more spacious, less noisy cabin. Easily identifiable by its five-blade main rotor, performance has also been enhanced.

It was in 1979 that Kawasaki and the then Messerschmitt-Bolköw-Blohm (MBB) concern flew their respective prototypes of the jointly developed BK117. Deliveries commenced in 1983 and have continued through the European partner’s frequent name changes. In the press release accompanying this order, Kawasaki stated that its contribution to the cumulative total of more than 1,600 aircraft delivered in all variants stood at 182 as at the end of December 2021.

Although Kawasaki-built versions have yet to be adopted by the SDFs, BK117s have been well represented over the years not only in the Doctor-Heli network (25 aircraft past and present plus now a total of five ’D-3s on order) but also with prefectural police (16, with two ’D-3s due for imminent delivery to the Tokyo force) and rescue/disaster response units (40, plus ’D-3s on order for the City of Fukuoka and Ibaraki Prefecture).

Phantom Numbers Dwindling

About to face the final curtain, January 17, 2022. After nine years on display in the case of
the F-4EJ
Kai 17-8302 (left), 12 in the case of the RF-4EKai 57-6906, the net closes in
on the two Phantoms at Hyakuri.
(Photo: たの via Twitter @fuyudachi)

(January 17, 2022) Only 10 days have passed since J-HangarSpace reported on the cunning ploy of cashing in on the public’s affection for the Phantom by crowdfunding the repainting of the two aircraft loaned to the local authority for display at Ibaraki Airport.

Contrastingly, confirmation came today that the two Phantoms displayed across from the airport on Hyakuri base are no more.

The “sentence” had been in the offing since November 12 last year, when the base had issued a public announcement calling for contractor tenders for the work with a bid deadline of November 30. No matter that one of the aircraft was one of the initial pair of U.S.-built F-4EJs that arrived in Japan in July 1971, and the other was the only RF-4EKai on display, that counted for nothing.

Elsewhere around Hyakuri, it is thought that eight Phantoms remain, with only half of these—possibly ex-301st TFS F-4EJKai 57-8357 (seen here among removed J79s a-plenty in June 2021 [link]); ex-302nd TFS 77-8399 (black scheme) and 07-8428 (white scheme) plus RF-4E 47-6901—likely to remain after the summer.

(Above) Having arrived via Guam in July 1971, F-4EJ ’302 was devoid of tail markings until the
Air Proving Group badge and initials were applied in 1973; only the marking was being carried
by August 1989. Dating from 2013, the aircraft’s final markings were applied to commemorate
the 7th Air Wing’s then 40-year association with the Phantom.

(Photos [undated]: [Top] マイティvia Twitter @mighty0715;
[above] こまvia Twitter @KomakiKoshigaya)

RF-4EKai 906 happily parked on the Hyakuri ramp during its time on active service with
the 501st Sqn, October 2000
(above) and when its days were numbered.

(Photos: [Top] J-HangarSpace; [above] こまvia Twitter @KomakiKoshigaya)

Meanwhile, over at Gifu AB, the process is also under way there. The two Phantoms located on the south side (37-8318 and 47-8327) were to have been disposed of by the end of December, after which the two aircraft on the north side (47-8336, and 77-8393, below) were due to be moved and dismantled at the same place.

77-8393 (Photo [posted July 2020]: ハヤトvia Twitter @bo4vjkib3uy6Ayl)

Ashiya’s 60th Anniversary Event Marks New Departures

(Image [posted Jan. 13]: JASDF Ashiya AB via Twitter @jasdf_ashiya)

(January 2022) Although its diamond jubilee is falling at an unfortunate time even for outdoor mass gatherings, Ashiya AB is going ahead with plans for a drastically scaled-down event on February 27.

Targeted at a very small catchment area of towns around the base and selected districts in the city of Kita-Kyushu, the event will have a mere 300 attendees augmented by visitors to its YouTube channel. Local residents are being asked to submit applications with a deadline of a February 4 postmark.

The lineup will include a 2 km runway walk, which seems to be gaining in popularity as an attraction after its adoption by Gifu (see Bulletin Board, November 15, 2021), in combination with a flying display that will include a performance by the Blue Impulse aerobatic team. The 300 lucky winners will be able to make use of on-base car parking and, as an added privilege, have their photos taken with Blue Impulse pilots.

The runway walk is free, but the event is also being used to gauge response to the introduction of an entrance fee for a dedicated viewing area vantage point at other events this year (see Bulletin Board, March 1, 2021). In this case, a fee is being be charged for 13 seats offering a grandstand view from a balcony of the 13th Flying Training Wing building. Interestingly, accepted only in cash on the day, the grandstand entrance fee has been set at 10,000 yen per person regardless of age.

The static display will be open from 08:00, the flying display element will take place from 9:30 to 11:25 and be followed by the runway walk from 11:30 to 13:30.

Local university students during a tour of Ashiya AB in November 2021. Subject to the now normal
precautions, such recruitment activities continue to be organized in cooperation with
SDF regional offices.
(Photo: JASDF Ashiya AB via Twitter @jasdf_ashiya)

Ibaraki Airport’s Phantom Fund Me

The two Ibaraki Airport Phantoms were again decked out in uncharacteristically romantic blue
lights for the 2021-22 festive season. A rare layer of snow in early January served to mask
some of their faded paintwork.
(Photo: エルムvia Twitter @GAT009374504)

(January 2022) Already 10 years have passed since former 302nd TFS F-4EJKai 37-8319 and 501st Sqn RF-4EJ 87-6412 were placed on display at the Aviation Plaza at Ibaraki Airport Park.

They have served as a major attraction. From March 11–31 last year, for example, they were lit for three hours every evening by 6,000 LED lights to show gratitude to the medical professionals on the front line of the COVID pandemic, to express wishes for an ongoing recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, and as a way of marking the 11th anniversary of the opening of Ibaraki Airport.

As the elements have taken their toll on the aircraft, the airport has turned to Campfire, a Japanese crowdfunding site, in an attempt to restore their faded appearance to its former glory.

As tends to be the case, both aircraft remain JASDF property and are on loan to the branch of Omitama City that promotes the utilization of Ibaraki Airport.

In an ideal world, immaculate work would be carried out professionally at Hyakuri AB, their former home just across the way, perhaps even by SDF members who had worked on them during their active service careers. That would be well worth the money, and far better than entrusting the task to an outside contractor, but the plan is for them to be repainted by means of (aside from the financial unspecified) “support and volunteers”. The crowdfunding target of 6.7 million yen will be used for the painting work (Postscript: actually the scaffolding) and to cover the cost of henreihin (“thank you gifts”) in the form of souvenir merchandise that will be dispensed depending on the amounts donated. (See the May 2022 story [The Good, the Bad and the Ugly] above, which dispels doubts about the use of outside contractors and paints JASDF efforts in something of a bad light.)

In return for the minimum 2,000-yen donation, donors will receive a thank you letter and commemorative badge. In addition to these items, donors of 5,000 yen will also receive a commemorative towel; donors of 8,000 yen a commemorative tumbler. Those who donate 10,000 yen will receive all four items.

As at January 16, nearly 4.5 million yen had been collected from, coincidentally, 501 people (link). The plan foresees February 6, 2022, as the end of the fundraising stage, and for the repainting work to be carried out between February 7 and March 26. An unveiling event, to include the handing out of some thank you gifts, is set for March 27, 2022.

(Above and below) Even in March 2019, the aircraft were already looking decidedly faded.
Hopefully, the neighbours at Hyakuri AB will still have some authentic paint left over.

(Photos: 岡部澄夫 via Twitter @sumio_okabe_)

Miho AB’s Very Own Phantom Friday

Scissors at the ready, dignitaries take part in the official ceremony held to mark Phantom 439
having officially joined the ranks of the Miho base collection.
(Photo: Lt.Col.Sasuke via Twitter @ LtColSasuke)

(January 7, 2022) A tape-cutting ceremony was held today for the third and latest addition to the aircraft displayed on the south side of Miho AB.

Having made its last flight from Hyakuri to Miho on September 9, 2020, former 301st TFS F-4EJKai 17-8439 was prepared for display and has now joined the resident C-1 and YS-11. As can be seen in the above photo, this part of the base collection is visible through a fence on the Uchihama Industrial Road in Oshinozucho.

Same aircraft, same photographer 34 years later. (Above) In its days as a standard F-4EJ with the
305th TFS, 439 carries RMU-10 towed target equipment at Iruma circa 1986 and
(below),
having ended its days with the 301st, departs Hyakuri for the last time in September 2020.

(Photos: WT01 via Twitter @WT018)

(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

New Year Traditions II: SDF First Formation Flights of Year

Personnel from the 1st Helicopter Brigade remain in serried ranks to see off the constituent
elements of the first formation training flight of the year, January 18, 2022. This year,
the formation consisted of 13 aircraft, including JGSDF and U.S. Ospreys.

(Photo: JGSDF 1st Helicopter Brigade via Twitter @1st_helb)

(January 2022) At JGSDF and JMSDF bases, the New Year traditionally kicks off with the first formation training flight. Prior to the flight departures, aircraft and their maintenance manuals are inspected and the whole base contingent assembles to hear speeches from squadron and overall commanders that express wishes for a safe, accident-free year.

Also on the morning of January 18, a nine-aircraft formation of six AH-1Ss, two OH-1s and a lone
UH-1J departed Tachikawa. The formation headed to Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, before
proceeding to the coast at Hiratsuka, returning via the Miura Peninsula and Yokohama
(below).

(Photos: JGSDF Tachikawa via Twitter @CAMP_TACHIKAWA)

JGSDF Narashino training ground, January 13, 2022(Photos: [Top] JSDF Gunma Public Cooperation Office via Twitter @gunma_pco);
[above] JGSDF 1st Helicopter Brigade via Twitter @1st_helb)

In the case of the JASDF, the service normally provides transport support for a paratroop drop training exercise at JGSDF Narashino, Chiba Prefecture (above). This year’s event, on January 13, was not made open to the public, for obvious reasons, but YouTube footage can be found here (link). (The Japanese at the top of the YouTube screen states that this was the first time for masks to be worn during this exercise.)

The first JMSDF base to mount a training flight this year was Hachinohe, on January 4.
(Photo: JMSDF 2nd Air Wing via Twitter @jmsdf_2aw)

On January 6, the 22nd Fleet Air Wing at Omura, Nagasaki Prefecture, launched four helicopters,
two SH-60Js, an SH-60K and a UH-60J.
(Photo: ペーター via Twitter @JpnSyun
)

The most publicized JMSDF New Year flight is that from Atsugi, which traditionally takes in Mt. Fuji.
This year, Atsugi was covered in a rare blanket of snow at the time of the formation’s departure.
(Photo [Jan. 7, 2022]: JMSDF 4th Air Wing via Twitter @jmsdf_4aw)

It was January 17 when Tokushima belatedly uploaded this photo of a TC-90 airborne over the
town of Matsushige, Tokushima Prefecture.

(Photo: JMSDF Tokushima Air Training Group via Twitter @jmsdf_tsatg)

Japanese families traditionally perform o-sōji, the cleaning of their homes, at New Year.’s.
Here, personnel at Shimofusa perform the first “apron walk” of the year designed to rid
the area of anything that might cause foreign object damage (FOD) to a passing Orion
.
(Photo: JMSDF Shimofusa Air Training Group via Twitter @jmsdf_smatg)

New Year Traditions I: New Year’s Fire Brigade Reviews

The poster for the 2022 Tokyo New Year Fire Brigade Review
(Image: Tokyo Fire Department)

(January 2022) The traditional dezomeshiki (New Year’s Fire Brigade Review) events are held by fire services throughout Japan in the first week of January.

Aside from that in Tokyo, which over the past two years has been held at Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park in the city’s Koto Ward, the main events usually take place in Chiba (Chiba City), Kanagawa (Yokohama) and Osaka prefectures.

As an added bonus, these events feature flight demonstrations by helicopter crews, but these represent but one of the attractions on offer. For the Tokyo version, the methods demonstrated by some of the more than 2,000 participants range from the traditional methods of extinguishing town fires used up to the late 19th century to training using drones as part of earthquake preparedness.

Behind the fun and festivities lie other, more serious aims: to raise awareness of fire risks, train the general public in how to respond in the event of a fire, and to attract new recruits to the services.

Held with spectators allowed (albeit limited to 5,000 people) for the first time in two years,
the Tokyo proceedings lasted just two hours on the morning of January 6.

(Photo: RUN via Twitter @run474)

This year, COVID restrictions were naturally once again in place and some events reduced in scale. In the case of Chiba, only 500 local resident lottery winners could attend; Osaka was staged with no spectators. All made full use of media such as YouTube so that events could be watched live remotely.

The Osaka H155 named Oosaka circles above the New Year’s Fire Brigade Review held in the city
of Higashi-Osaka on January 9, three days after that in Osaka proper. In normal years the
helicopter would would land to enable the crew to participate in PR activities.

(Photo: 急行205系統via Twitter @kc1788)

The unlikely but realistic venue for the two-hour Chiba event on January 8 was a car park at the
Harbor City Soga retail complex.
(Photo: Lien via Twitter @roomskyguard)

Held on January 10, the Yokohama event’s aviation content featured both of the city’s AW139s. Their display was captured for wider viewing on YouTube (link).

logors25

Notices

Announcements

JASDF
Air Shows in 2023
Mar. 5  Komaki
Apr.*  Kumagaya
Nov. 3  Iruma
* To be confirmed

Air Shows in 2022
Apr. 3  Kumagaya
              (Cancelled)
May  Miho (cancelled)
May 22  Shizuhama

            (Limited event)
June 5  Hofu-Kita
June 11  Nara

July 31  Chitose

Aug. 28  Matsushima

Sept. 4  Ashiya
   (Limited event,
    restrictions applied)

Sept. 11  Misawa

Sept. 19  Komatsu
Sept. 23  Akita
Oct. 23  Hamamatsu
Nov. 3 Iruma

Nov. 13  Gifu

Nov. 27  Tsuiki

Dec. 4  Hyakuri
Dec. 4  Nyutabaru
Dec. 11  Naha
* By prior
     application only
* To be confirmed

Air Shows 2020/21
All cancelled

Air Shows in 2019
Komaki 2019 poster
Mar. 2  Komaki
Apr. 14  Kumagaya
May 19  Shizuhama
June 2  Hofu-Kita
June 2  Miho
Aug. 4  Chitose
Aug. 25  Matsushima
Sept. 8  Misawa
Sept. 16  Komatsu
Oct. 13  Ashiya
Oct. 20  Hamamatsu
Nov. 3  Iruma
Nov. 9  Komaki
Nov. 10  Gifu 
Nov. 23  Kasuga
Dec. 1  Hyakuri
Dec. 7-8  Naha
Dec. 8  Tsuiki
Dec. 15  Nyutabaru

air-festa-hohu_img2019rs

iruma191103(2)rs

JGSDF
Air Shows in 2022
Cancellations:
Apr.  Narashino
Apr.  Somagahara

Apr.  Jinmachi
May Kita-Utsunomiya
May  Kasumigaura

July 24  Okadama
Oct. 1 Tokushima
Nov.  Tachikawa
              (cancelled)
Nov. 13  Akeno

Nov. 20  Yao
Dec.  Kisarazu
             (cancelled)

Air Shows 2020/21
With exception of
Akeno (only limited
access), all cancelled

Air Shows in 2019
narashino1ab2019koukahajimers
Jan. 13  Narashino
 (paratroop display)
Apr. 13  Kasuminome
Apr. 13  Somagahara
May 12  Takayubaru
June 1  Kasumigaura
June 16  Kita-Utsunomiya
June 23  Okadama
Oct. 6  Metabaru
Nov. 3  Akeno
Nov. 9  Tachikawa
Nov. 17  Naha
Nov. 24  Yao
Dec. 8  Kisarazu

metabaru191006rs
Metabaru
tachikawa191109rs
Tachikawa

JMSDF
Air Shows in 2022

Apr. 30  Omura
May  Iwakuni
(Joint Friendship Day)
May  Kanoya
         (Both cancelled)


July 17  Komatsushima

July 18  Tateyama
Sept. 10  Hachinohe

Oct. 1  Tokushima
Oct. 22  Shimofusa
(announced Sept. 21,
            limted event)

Oct. 30  Ozuki
(announced Sept. 28)

Air Shows 2020/21
All cancelled

Air Shows in 2019
Apr. 27  Atsugi
Apr. 28  Kanoya
May 5  Iwakuni
(joint Friendship Day)
May 18  Maizuru
May 19  Omura
July 13-14
          Komatsushima
July 27  Tateyama
Sept. 21  Hachinohe
ozuki191020rs

Oct. 20  Ozuki
Oct. 26 Shimofusa
Nov. 17  Tokushima

oomura190519rs

shimofusa191026rs

(*) Date to be confirmed

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

Links

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graphers
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