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JASDF Squadron Histories & Markings Part 2

Ashiya T-4 2018A  Kawasaki T-4 from the 13th Flying Training Wing based at Ashiya AB, Fukuoka Prefecture, in
early 2018. Every year, the unit paints a special new year marking on one of its aircraft in time  
for the base air show, which is usually held in December but is planned for February 18
(Photo source: JASDF Ashiya AB homepage)

Following the pattern of the other squadron history pages, the first listing of JASDF support and training units appears in numerical order. However, these also include an entry for each of the two training air wings, the three flying training wings (FTWs) and three tactical airlift groups (TAGs), which are themselves organizationally divided into squadrons.

Unit No. Notes
1st Air Wing Comprises 31st/32nd Training Sqn
1st Tactical Airlift Group (TAG) 401st/404th Sqn 
1st Technical School (TS)  
2nd TAG 402nd Sqn 
3rd TAG 403rd Sqn/41st Sqn 
4th Air Wing 11th Sqn/21st Fighter Training Sqn 
5th TS  
11th Sqn Blue Impulse aerobatic team
11th Flying Training Wing (FTW)  
12th FTW  
13th FTW  
14th FTW to 17th FTW All four units disbanded 1963-64
21st Fighter Training Sqn  
22nd Fighter Training Sqn Disbanded 2001 
23rd Fighter Training Sqn  
31st Sqn  
32nd Sqn  
33rd/35th Sqns Disbanded 1989/1991
41st Sqn  
401st Sqn to 404th Airlift Sqns  
601st Sqn to 603rd Sqn  
701st Sqn Special Airlift Group

connaher2crsA JASDF C-130H passes over a JGSDF soldier heading towards the Malemute drop zone during the
bilateral U.S.-Japan exercise Arctic Aurora held at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in
June 2018.
(U.S. Air Force/Justin Connaher)

The numerical listing is followed by those elements that are or were designated primarily by role:

Unit Name Notes
Aggressor Squadron More common name for what is officially the Tactical Fighter Training Group (q.v.)
Airborne Early Warning Control Group See 602nd Sqn
Airborne Early Warning Surveillance Group See 601st Sqn and 603rd Sqn
Air Development and Test Wing Formerly Air Proving Group/Wing
Air Rescue Wing detachments See also Helicopter Airlift Squadrons
Air Tactics Development Wing Formed Aug. 2014, oversees Tactical Fighter Training Group (Aggressor Sqn),
Electronic Intelligence Squadron and
Electronic Warfare Squadron (q.v.)
Air Training Group See 23rd Fighter Training Sqn
Air Transport Training Squadron C-46, YS-11 (c.1970–1978)
Air Transport Wing 1958–1978
Electronic Intelligence Squadron YS-11EB
Electronic Warfare Squadron EC-1, YS-11EA
Flight Check Group  
Headquarters Squadron Renamed Central Air Command
Support Squadron (see Regional Air
Command Support Flights)
Helicopter Airlift Squadrons  
Miho Detachment 1955–1958
Regional Air Defense Force HQ Support Flights Formerly Air Defense Command HQ flights
(Northern, Central, Western, Southwestern)
Special Airlift Group See 701st Sqn
Tachikawa Air Transport Group 1955
Tactical Fighter Training Group See Aggressor Squadron

F-15 JASDF (69a)crsAn F-15DJ of the Tactical Fighter Training Group gets airborne from its then base of  Nyutabaru in
October 2014; the unit completed a move to Komatsu in June 2016.
(Photo: Andy Binks)

1st Air Wing

Formed As unnumbered Air Wing: Dec. 1, 1955 (Hamamatsu, F-86F) 
As training organization 1st Air Wing:
Oct. 1, 1956 (Hamamatsu, F-86F)
Current Base Hamamatsu (under Air Training Command,
31st/32nd Sqn, T-4)

Having initially served as the unnumbered Air Wing, the re-designated 1st Air Wing assumed responsibility for conducting jet fighter pilot training courses in its own right. This long-established “mother” unit, which produced the fully-fledged homegrown pilots needed to man the squadrons in the formative years of the JASDF, has remained as an element within the Air Training Command setup headquartered at the Wing’s Hamamatsu base since the Command’s inception on March 16, 1989.

Details of its F-86F era can be found under the individual histories of the long-defunct squadrons most closely associated with the 1st Air Wing, namely the 1st, 2nd and 5th squadrons, on the page devoted to JASDF front-line squadron histories.

The 1st Air Wing also commanded a detachment that was formed with ex-5th Sqn F-86Fs at Matsushima on July 1, 1971. It was an aircraft from this unit that was tragically involved in a mid-air collision with an All Nippon Airways Boeing 727 over Iwate Prefecture, which at the time was the world’s worst airline accident, on the 30th of that same month. The detachment was disbanded on August 23, 1973.

JASDF Matsushima Det T-33APrimarily an F-86F unit, the 1st Air Wing’s short-lived Matsushima detachment also operated the T-33A.
(Photo [Matsushima, Oct. 1972]: Akira Watanabe)

The history of the 11th Sqn (below) includes the background to the 1st Air Wing’s formation of an F-86F aerobatic team, the forerunner of today’s Blue Impulse. (During its T-2 era, the team came under the 4th Air Wing’s 21st Sqn.)

The 1st Air Wing’s T-33A era spanned the years when the 33rd and 35th squadrons (also listed below) were based at Hamamatsu, from the mid-60s to the early 90s, since which time two T-4 squadrons (the 31st and 32nd) have been in residence.

The 1st Air Wing passed the milestone of 200,000 accident-free flying hours on May 31, 2012.

1st Air Wing Markings
A black and yellow checkerboard design has been used throughout the 1st Air Wing’s existence. Usually seen in the form of a broad horizontal band on the tailfin in the F-86F era (see 1st Sqn entry on front-line unit histories page), there have been variations. For example, the F-86Fs and T-33As of the detachment based at Matsushima 1971–73 carried a solid ‘4’ marking, denoting the resident 4th Air Wing, that could be taken for a ‘1’ in the checkerboard pattern.

Both of the current constituent units retain the now slanted black and yellow checkerboard tail marking, but the 31st Sqn has blue and the 32nd red shadow edging beneath.

1st Flying Training

Formed Nov. 1, 1955 (Hamamatsu, with
Branch School at Hofu, T-34A)
Reorganized As 11th Flying Training Wing (Ozuki) and 12th Flying Training Wing (Hofu),
both flying T-34A, June 1, 1959

Previously the simply named Flying Training School that came into existence six days after the JASDF itself, on July 6, 1954, the 1st FTS moved to Ozuki on March 31, 1956, five months after its re-designation.

The 1st FTS and its branch school at Hofu went on to form the 11th and 12th FTWs, respectively.

1st Tactical
Airlift Group (TAG)

Formed Mar. 31, 1978 (Air Transport Wing,
Komaki, C-1/YS-11) 
Current Base Komaki, under Air Support Command
(401st Sqn, C-130H/KC-130H;
404th Sqn, KC-767)

The 1st Tactical Airlift Group (TAG, sometimes referred to as a tactical airlift wing) formed at Komaki on March 31, 1978, the same day as its sister unit, the 2nd TAG, formed at Iruma. The Air Transport Wing, incorporating all three TAGs, and the Air Rescue Wing were combined to form the Air Support Command on March 16, 1989.

401 Sqn C-130H JASDFA C-130H crew from the 401st Sqn, 1st TAG, practices landing on an unprepared strip.
(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defence/JASDF)

Aside from its primary tasks of airlifting personnel and equipment as well as in-flight refueling, the 1st TAG has been active in support of Japan’s international cooperation, including reconstruction assistance in Iraq as part of the nation’s contribution to peacekeeping operations (PKO).

1st TAG Tail Markings
Although aircraft from the sister 2nd TAG carry the TAG badge, those assigned to the 1st TAG carry the individual squadron (401st, 404th) markings, rather than its own badge, which primarily features a red shachihoko, a dolphinlike mythical creature (included below for reference).

JASDF 1st TAG (JMoD)(Japan Ministry of Defense)

For special markings, 1st TAG aircraft at the Komaki airshow in October 2008 (link) carried a badge on the forward to mark the 30th anniversary (link).

1st Technical School


As Maintenance School: Sept. 1, 1954 (Hamamatsu)

As 1st TS: June 1, 1959 (Hamamatsu)

Current Base Hamamatsu (Air Training Command, various aircraft types)

The primary role of the 1st TS is to provide the full gamut of technical training on the maintenance of the aircraft in service with the JASDF and the weapons with which the combat aircraft types are armed.

All five JASDF technical schools were organized under the Technical Training Headquarters in 1962. The 1st TS has been under the then newly formed Air Training Command umbrella since March 16, 1989.

1st TS JASDF T-7A Fuji T-7 when temporarily assigned to the 1st Technical School for instructional purposes.
(Photo [Oct. 2010]: ‘Ken H’ via Wikimedia Commons)

1st TS Tail Marking


The main element of the unit’s emblem (above, as carried on an F-2A in September 2014) is a winged ‘1TS’.

2nd Flying Training

Formed Nov. 1, 1955 (Matsushima, T-6)
Reorganized As 13th Flying Training Wing, June 1, 1959
(Utsunomiya, T-6)

Initially designated the Provisional Matsushima Detachment, what was to become the 2nd Flying Training School the following year commenced the first pilot cadet training course on U.S. Air Force T-6s on July 6, 1954, five days after the JASDF came into being.

A branch school of the 2nd FTS having been established at Yanome air base (today’s Sendai airport) on Dec. 1, 1956, the parent unit relocated from Matsushima to Utsunomiya on August 1, 1957. For F-86F training purposes, the 2nd FTS Provisional Matsushima Training Unit was formed at Matsushima the same day. A year later, the unit at Yanome was simply re-designated as the First Branch School.

A short-lived Second Branch School of the 2nd FTS formed on the T-6 at Shizuhama on August 1, 1958.

The 2nd FTS ultimately became the 13th Flying Training Wing, on June 1, 1959.

2nd FTS Markings
Aircraft assigned to the First Branch School of the 2nd FTS sported a dark blue chevron on their tails, which was possibly the same marking carried by aircraft at the main school at Matsushima and later Utsunomiya. (For the markings of Second Branch School at Shizuhama, see 15th Flying Training Wing.)

2nd TAG

Formed Mar. 31, 1978 (Air Transport Wing, Kisarazu, C-1/YS-11)
Current Base Iruma, under Air Support Command (402nd Sqn, C-1, U-4)

The 2nd TAG was formed from the upper echelons of the 402nd Sqn at Iruma on the same day as the 1st TAG, on March 31, 1978, nearly 10 years to the day after its constituent unit’s June 1968 move from Kisarazu to Iruma. (For early formative history see Air Transport Wing, for other, later details, see 402nd Sqn.) The Air Transport Wing, incorporating all three TAGs, and the Air Rescue Wing were combined to form the Air Support Command on March 16, 1989.

JASDF C-1 kabukiAs reported on the Bulletin Board (Oct. 21, 2018), a 402nd Sqn C-1 has been painted in a kabuki
actor-themed colour scheme to mark the 2nd TAG’s 60th anniversary (counting from the days of
its Air Transport Group predecessor).
(Photo: JASDF Iruma)

2nd TAG Tail Marking

2 TAG JASDF(Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

Unlike its two sister units, the 2nd TAG applies its own badge rather than individual squadron markings to its aircraft. In the shape of a shield, the badge depicts a gold-coloured eagle over a map of Japan with two red lightning bolts. Signifying the 2nd TAG’s regular flights bringing materiel and personnel to bases across Japan, the eagle carries five “loads” in its talons that are spread across the map.

3rd Flying Training

Formed Oct 1, 1957 (Tsuiki, T-33A)
Reorganized As 16th FTW (Tsuiki, T-33A) and
17th FTW (Nyutabaru, T-33A), June 1, 1959

What had previously been the Provisional Ashiya Air Group (from August 1, 1954) and then the Provisional Tsuiki Air Group (from January 20, 1955) was given the more permanent title of 3rd Flying Training School (FTS) on October 1, 1957. A Branch School was formed at Nyutabaru on December 1 that year.

June 1, 1959, saw the main and branch schools of the 3rd FTS re-designated as the 16th and 17th FTW, respectively, though neither was destined to remain active for very long.

3rd TAG

Formed Mar. 31, 1978 (Air Transport Wing, Miho, YS-11)
Current Base Miho (under Air Support Command,
41st Flying Training Sqn, T-400;
403rd Sqn, C-2)

The 3rd TAG dates back to September 1959, when the United States returned Miho air base to JASDF control, which resulted in a provisional C-46 unit being formed and tasked with multi-engine training there on July 15, 1961.

When formed in 1978, the 3rd TAG was solely a YS-11 operator; its first C-1 did not arrive until March 3 the following year. A decade later, on March 16, 1989, the 3rd TAG was reorganized under the newly formed Air Support Command.

The 3rd TAG’s assumption of the responsibility for multi-engine training was heralded by the arrival of T-400s to form the Provisional 41st Flying Training Squadron on June 1, 1994; the unit was granted full squadron status exactly one year later.

In 2017, the 3rd TAG marked two milestones: the arrival of its first Kawasaki C-2 on March 28, and the passing into retirement of its last YS-11 on May 29.

403 Sqn JASDF C-2A C-2 from the 3rd TAG’s 403rd Tactical Airlift Sqn. Having been a composite squadron briefly operating
three different types of aircraft in March 2017, the 403rd has been solely a C-2 unit since
early April 2018.
(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

3rd TAG Tail Markings
Although aircraft from the sister 2nd TAG carry the TAG badge, those assigned to the 3rd TAG carry the individual squadron (41st, 403rd) markings rather than its own badge, which features a unicorn (included below for reference). In Greek mythology, unicorns were believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits and, fittingly for an airlift unit, said to be capable of covering long distances at night and devoting themselves to their tasks with wisdom. As will be noticed, the 3rd refers to itself as an air transport wing rather than as a tactical airlift group.

JASDF 3rd TAG(Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

DSCF6931srsAs part of the JASDF’s 50th anniversary celebrations, the 3rd TAG painted a YS-11 in a special colour
scheme that incorporated its own unicorn marking.
(Photo [Nyutabaru, Dec. 2004]: Takao Kadokami) 

In the run-up to Halloween in October 2018, the 3rd TAG/Miho base Twitter feed (link) included photos of the now withdrawn from use first production C-1 and a YS-11 parked on the south side of the base. The aircraft had been “tagged” with dayglo witch on a broomstick graffiti in a throwback to when that design used to be carried on the tails of Miho-based aircraft (see 403rd Tactical Airlift Sqn).

Miho Oct2018(Photo: JASDF Miho AB)

4th Air Wing

Formed Feb. 16, 1958 (Matsushima, F-86F)
Current Base Matsushima (under Air Training Command,
11th Sqn Blue Impulse, T-4;
21st Flying Training Sqn, F-2B and T-4)

It was not until June 1, 1959, that an overall JASDF training organization, the Flying Training Command (Hikōkyōiku Shūdan), formally came into being. As mentioned above, an initially unnumbered (later 1st) Air Wing had been formed in December 1955 to fulfill this function alongside its front-line role.

As the service had by then formed four F-86F squadrons, the 4th Air Wing was formed in February 1958 as a fighter training umbrella organization, and the 5th Sqn relocated from under the 1st Air Wing’s command at Hamamatsu-North to Matsushima. This initial stint as a training provider was to be short-lived, however, as the 4th reverted to front-line status under the Central Air Defense Force on July 1, 1960.

That association was brought to an end on August 23, 1973, with the 4th’s return to the Flying Training Command fold and the change of assignment of the 7th Sqn to F-86F operational conversion unit and the formation of the 35th Sqn on T-33As that same day.

F-86F 7 sq JASDFA pair of 7th Sqn F-86Fs at Matsushima in July 1976. After a short initiation as a training unit with the
5th Sqn from 1958 to 1960, the 4th Wing’s 7th Sqn reverted to the training role from 1973
until its disbandment in 1977.
(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

Two T-2 squadrons, the 21st and the 22nd, formed in 1976 and 1978, respectively, bookending the 7th’s bowing out in 1977 and preceding the 35th’s move to Hamamatsu. The 4th initially became the parent unit for the Blue Impulse aerobatic team when this role was assumed by the 21st in 1982, a role that was continued by the then newly formed, T-4-equipped 11th Sqn in 1995.

21 Sqn T-2 JASDFA six-aircraft formation of 4th Air Wing T-2s at Iruma in February 1981. (Photo: Akira Watanabe)

The T-4 having been selected as the Blue Impulse team’s next mount in June 1991, a unit to prepare for the type’s introduction and operations had been formed within the 21st Sqn as early as October 1992. The first Blue Impulse-standard T-4 was delivered to the 4th Air Wing on August 11, 1994, and displayed at the Matsushima air show 10 days later. On December 22, 1995, the 11th Sqn became the official unit designation of the Blue Impulse team with the disbandment of the Sengi Kenkyūhan (Combat Research Group) under the 21st Sqn.

Blue Impulse Iwakuni 2017The main formation of the Blue Impulse aerobatic team during its performance at the U.S.-Japan
Friendship Day air show at Iwakuni in May 2017, the 41st event of its kind held since 1973.
(Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Aaron Henson)

The current F-2B era commenced with the arrival of the Provisional F-2 Squadron’s first aircraft on April 1, 2002, though it was to be March 10, 2004, when T-2 operations finally came to an end. The 21st Sqn was simultaneously disbanded on the T-2 and reformed on the basis of the Provisional F-2 Squadron on March 29, 2004.

F-2B Matsushima(Photo: Air Training Command/JASDF)

Still resident at Matsushima, the 4th Air Wing found itself very much in the front line on March 11, 2011, when the base’s apron and hangars were flooded by the tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake. No less than 18 F-2Bs were damaged, five beyond economical repair.

Fortunately away from base that day, the Blue Impulse team returned to Matsushima in March 2013; the 21st Sqn did not join them from its temporary base at Misawa for another three years.

4th Air Wing Markings
See 5th and 7th squadrons (in Part 1), 11th Squadron, 21st/22nd Fighter Training Squadron (on this page)

5th TS

Formed Oct. 1, 1962 (T-33A)
Current Base Komaki (Currently no assigned aircraft) 

What had formed at Matsushima on October 1, 1958, as the Kansei Kyōikudan (literally Control Training Group) moved to Komaki on May 12, 1959, and was renamed the 5th Technical School on October 1, 1962.

Previously lacking any of its own aircraft, the unit flew T-33As in support of its air traffic control training role for the next 20 years, trading in its T-33As for T-1Bs on October 1, 1982. The 5th TS was placed under the control of the newly formed Air Training Command in March 1989.

IMG_0015rsHyakuri, October 2000

The part of the air traffic controller training course that had involved the use of real aircraft having been dropped in December 2005, the final flight of the unit’s three T-1Bs, the last in JASDF service, took place on March 3, 2006.

5th TS Tail Markings

5TS JASDF T-33A(Photo [Komaki, Aug. 1980]: Akira Watanabe)

The marking used for the T-33As (above) operated by the unit from 1978 until 1982 had a downward-pointing red chevron, to represent the Roman numeral `V` for 5th TS, on a broad horizontal dark black-green band.

JASDF 5th TS(Photo: [Komaki, Sept. 1986], Akira Watanabe)

From 1982, the T-1 tail marking (above) again featured the Roman numeral `V` and a different, blue version of the shachihoko, a dolphinlike mythical creature that appeared in red on the tails of 401st Sqn C-130Hs (and, in the 1960s, 3rd Air Wing F-86Ds) also based at Komaki.

11th Sqn
(Blue Impulse display team)


As Provisional 11th Sqn: Oct. 1, 1994
(4th Air Wing, Matsushima, T-4)
As 11th Sqn: Dec. 22, 1995 (4th Air Wing, Matsushima,
Blue Impulse display team, T-4)

Current Base  Matsushima (4th Air Wing, Blue Impulse display team, T-4)
See three-part Blue Impulse chronology, parts 1 and 3 of which follow this entry.

The unit today designated the 11th Sqn has its origins in the F-86F era. As early as October 19, 1958, a trio of 1st Air Wing aircraft appeared as an unofficial team for an event to mark the opening of what was then known as Hamamatsu-North airbase. A four-aircraft formation performed over an SDF exhibition organized in the city of Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture, on March 15, 1959. That team was disbanded in April 1959, after just two more (a total of four) appearances.

In late 1959, however, the arrival of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds—then wowing the crowds by flying the F-100C Super Sabre—on the Japan leg of a four-country Asian tour was highly influential in generating interest in the JASDF having its own permanent display team for PR purposes.

The direct forerunners of today’s Blue Impulse aerobatic team, five F-86Fs were established under the front-line 2nd Sqn at Hamamatsu as the Kūchūkidō Kenkyūhan (Air Manoeuvering Research Group) from April 12, 1960.

Following the front-line 2nd Sqn’s disbandment on November 20, 1965, the sub-unit was renamed the Sengi Kenkyūhan (Combat Research Group) and was returned to the 1st Sqn/Air Wing fold, only to come under the T-33A-equipped 35th Sqn when disbandment caught up with the 1st Sqn following the cessation of F-86F training. The Blue Impulse team retained the Combat Research Group name during its T-2 era (see 21st Sqn).

The Blue Impulse aerobatic team has been officially flying the T-4 as the 11th Sqn since 1996, as shown in the chronology below.

Blue Impulse Chronology (Part 1/3)

F-86F Era (1960–1981)
Mar. 4, 1960 Performance at Hamamatsu-North (now Hamamatsu) open
day counts as first official aerobatic display
Apr. 16, 1960 (Officially Aug. 1, 1960)
Kūchūkidō Kenkyūhan (Air Manoeuvering Research Group)
formed with five F-86Fs under command of front-line 2nd Sqn,
1st Air Wing, at Hamamatsu-North  
May 21, 1960 Fifth display, first with smoke, at U.S. Air Force Johnson  AB
(now JASDF Iruma)
Aug. 1, 1960 Renamed Tokubetsu Hikō Kenkyūhan (Special Flight
Research Group) 
Sept. 1960 Name Tenryu (Flying Dragons) adopted, Tenryu being name
of river close to Hamamatsu AB 
Early 1961 Name changed to Blue Impulse
July 1961 Special Flight Research Group/Blue Impulse transferred
to 2nd Sqn 
July 21, 1961 Team suffers first fatality when Maj. Matsuo Kato’s aircraft
crashes into sea off Cape Irago, Aichi Prefecture 
Oct. 22, 1961 24th display, first use of coloured smoke and of specially
painted aircraft at event marking third anniversary of
Hamamatsu-North AB 
Oct. 5, 1963 Team makes debut in new (second) colour scheme at
Miho AB event (62nd display) 
Oct. 3, 1964 Five team pilots practice blowing Olympic smoke rings in sky
over Tokyo Olympics stadium (actual performance conducted
during opening ceremony on Oct. 10, followed by another on
Oct. 23, 82nd–84th displays) 
July 25, 1965 100th display, Matsushima AB air show
Nov. 20, 1965 Transferred from 2nd back to 1st Sqn of 1st Air Wing, Special
Flight Research Group changes name to Sengi Kenkyūhan
(Combat Research Group) on same day 
Nov. 24, 1965 Flt. Lt. Tadayoshi Jōmaru, who was reserve pilot for the Tokyo
Olympics display, killed during training when aircraft stalls
and crashes into forest at end of Matsushima’s runway 
Sept. 7, 1969 200th display, at Sapporo-Okadama air show
Mar. 14, 1970 Six aircraft draw EXPO70 in sky over Osaka world
exposition site 
Mar. 13, 1974 300th display, Hamamatsu-North AB air show
Sept. 26, 1976 First six-aircraft (four-aircraft formation/dual solo) display at
show marking 1st Air Wing’s 20th anniversary 
Mar. 31, 1979 1st Sqn disbands due to cessation of pilot training on F-86F; 
Combat Research Group transfers to 35th Sqn with effect
from following day 
Apr. 23, 1980 500th display at SDF event held at Hamamatsu-North 
Feb. 8, 1981 Ceremony held after performing 545th and final official show
on F-86F at Iruma (six T-2s also perform aerobatic display) 
Mar. 3, 1981 Final aerobatic training on F-86F conducted
Mar. 31, 1981 Combat Research Group (F-86F Blue Impulse) disbands
See 21st Sqn for Part 2/3 continuation, T-2 era (1981–1995);
Part 3/3 T-4 era (1995–) follows below

Blue Impulse F-86FA five-aircraft Blue Impulse F-86F formation overflies Bentenjima, an island at the mouth of
Lake Hamana, close to Hamamatsu air base in Shizuoka Prefecture, circa 1979.

(Photo: via JASDF Naha AB)

Scenes from the team’s 534th display, at Shizuhama AB on November 16, 1980, can be found from the 3:09 mark on 8mm footage uploaded to YouTube (link).

Blue Impulse Chronology (Part 3/3)

T-4 Era (1995–)
July 30,  1995 Matsushima air show. First of two events—other a training
display at Hyakuri on Nov. 12, 1995—at which Provisional
11th Sqn T-4s appear with T-2 Blue Impulse team
Dec. 2, 1995 11th Sqn forms on same day as T-2 Combat Research
Group (Blue Impulse) disbands
Apr. 5, 1996 First official T-4 display held at National Defense Academy
(Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture) cadet entrance ceremony
Apr. 7, 1996 First public display, Cherry Blossom Festival, Kumagaya
AB, Saitama Prefecture
Apr. 1997 Team travels to give its thus far only overseas displays
(Apr. 25–26) at air show marking 50th anniversary of
U.S. Air Force, Nellis AB, Nevada.
 Feb. 7, 1998 Perform at opening ceremony of Nagano Winter Olympics 
 July 4, 2000 On ninth anniversary of fatal T-2 accident, team suffers
loss of three pilots* following a collision between aircraft
‘5’ and ‘6’ over the sea off Matsushima 
 Aug. 26, 2001 First public appearance in nearly 15 months made at
home base Matsushima air show
Apr. 5, 2002  100th T-4 display, National Defense Academy cadet
entrance ceremony 
 June 4, 2002 Team flypast prior to opening Japanese match of 2002
FIFA World Cup Korea-Japan 
May 27, 2007 200th T-4 display, Miho AB air show
Jan. 23, 2011 Cumulative total of displays reaches 1,000, Naha AB show
Mar. 11, 2011 Team fortunately away at Ashiya AB when Matsushima
put out of action by tsunami that followed Great
East Japan Earthquake
May 23, 2011 Training from Ashiya commences
Nov. 3, 2012 300th T-4 display, Iruma AB air show
Mar. 30, 2013 Team’s homecoming to Matsushima
May 31, 2014 Performs 50th anniversary flypast over former Tokyo
Olympics stadium, final event before its demolition

* Maj. Mikio Abe, Maj. Miki Ichishima and Capt. Tomohiro Umekawa 

Blue Impulse F-86F and 11th Sqn T-4 Markings
For their early performances in 1960, the aerobatic team used standard, natural-metal F-86Fs from the 1st Air Wing, with the black and yellow checkerboard on the tail.

(Blue Impulse F-86F, 1961 to August 1963)
In 1961, all five aircraft had special paint details added to their natural metal finish, following a request for suggestions from within the 1st Air Wing. The first was that applied to the team leader’s mount, comprising gold and pale blue areas on the wings and tail as well as fuselage bands in those same colours; the bands were known within the unit as tasuki, the word for the sashes used to hold up folded shirtsleeves. Pink and gold bands around the nose extended partway along the underside of the aircraft, and the name ‘Blue Impulse’ appeared in cursive script on the outside of the gold-painted drop tanks. For the rest of the team’s aircraft, the gold areas were replaced by a darker blue; all the team’s aircraft retained the 1st Air Wing’s horizontal checkerboard tail stripe.

The aircraft first began to be seen sporting this early colour scheme in October 1961, debuting at Hamamatsu on the 21st of that month.

(Blue Impulse F-86F, from November 1963 to March 1981)
The colour scheme that was to see the team through to the end of the F-86F era was one of five suggestions from the designers at the Toho film company, with which the team had worked for the drama Kyō mo Ware Ōzora ni Ari (in the absence of an official English title, Up in the Skies Today) that was released in February 1964. Thus, by the time of their major engagement at the Tokyo Olympics, the team’s F-86Fs were in their well-known blue and white scheme, with orange areas on their undersides as well as orange “autographed” drop tanks.

(Blue Impulse T-4)

Blue Impulse Iruma 2013(Iruma, November 3, 2013)

BI logo(Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

Besides their distinctive blue and white colour schemes—a throwback to the F-86F era—and individual aircraft tail numbers, Blue Impulse aircraft carry the squadron badge (above), depicting the team flying over the globe above winged flaming arrows, on their engine intakes.  

11th Flying Training Wing


As unnumbered Flying Training School: July 6, 1954 (Hamamatsu, T-34A)
As 1st Flying Training School:
Nov. 1, 1955 (Hamamatsu, T-34A)

As 11th FTW: June 1, 1959 (Flying Training Command, Ozuki, T-34A) 

Current Base Shizuhama (under Air Training Command, 1st/2nd Sqn, T-7)

Although the 11th FTW can trace its origins back to 1954, it was only formed as such in 1959 and has been at Shizuhama since 1964.

More specifically, the unit moved from Hamamatsu to Ozuki on March 31, 1956, soon after having formed as the 1st Flying Training School. Having been re-designated as the 11th Flying Training Wing on June 1, 1959, the move to Shizuhama was made on May 30, 1964.

T-34A 11 FTW JASDF (1)(Above and below) Two photos of 11th FTW T-34As taken four years apart at the Iruma air show. Dating
from December 1972, that above shows the early, dowdy appearance, but by 1976 the aircraft were
were sporting a high-visibility colour scheme; that below is today part of the Chitose AB collection.

T-34A 11th FTW JASDF (2)(Photos: Akira Watanabe)

Having received its first Fuji T-3 in September 1978, the T-34A was progressively phased out until the 11th became solely a T-3 unit a year later, in September 1979. According to the information carried on the 11th FTW T-3 specially marked to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the JASDF in 2004 (see Special Markings section below), the unit trained 1,002 pilots on the T-34 from 1964 and 1,082 pilots on the T-3 from 1979.

The T-7 era was ushered in on April 7, 2005, when the first example arrived, but it was to be February 22, 2007, before the last 11th FTW T-3 flight took place.

11th FTW Markings

T-34A 11th FTW JASDF (3)Silver save for dayglo orange tips to its wings and tailfin, an 11th Flying Training Wing T-34A basks in the
sun at Iruma in November 1969. From 1965 to 1971, the 11th FTW used a slightly modified form of 
the tail marking of the former 2nd Flying Training School, a blue stylized lightning flash-like
‘S’ for Shizuhama superimposed offset on two horizontal red stripes.
T-34A 11th FTW badge
A small shield-shaped badge, possibly a cherry blossom incorporating the number ‘11’,
was carried beneath the cockpit.
(Photos: Akira Watanabe)

A red outline of Mt Fuji, located to the north of its base, forms part of the current unit marking (below), which was adopted way back in 1971. Also included is a representation of a local river, the Oigawa, in blue.  

IMG_0038rs(T-3, Hyakuri, Oct. 2000)

In the T-3 era, the colour of the propeller spinner helped the two seibibuntai (maintenance teams) to tell their aircraft apart; red and yellow spinners differentiated the aircraft assigned to the 1st and 2nd teams, respectively. This system was continued for a time with the T-7, when three short red stripes at the top of the tailfin denoted those aircraft looked after by the 1st Maintenance Team and the blue stripes those by the 2nd. The 11th has since adopted a line maintenance system and thus the markings, although still carried, are no longer of any significance.

In May 2018, the Shizuhama base 60th anniversary badge was being carried on the nose of some aircraft (link).


An idea that seems to have taken off in the mid-1990s, likely triggered by the JASDF’s 40th anniversary in 1994, it has become something of a tradition for the 11th FTW to decorate at least one of its aircraft every year to mark a commemorative event or just for publicity purposes at the Shizuhama air show. Here J-HangarSpace includes some photo links to provide examples of some of the weird and wonderful artwork and markings used over the years.

T-3 Special Markings

1994 JASDF 40th anniversary  91-5511
For such a high profile event, an example of each aircraft in service was selected for a special colour scheme. In the case of the T-3, it fell to the 11th FTW to come up with the anniversary design (link). A large badge (link) added to the fuselage beneath the cockpit comprised a formation of three birds, each wearing a helmet and visor, against a Mt. Fuji backdrop. Not for nothing was an aircraft incorporating the number ‘11’ in its serial number chosen, the same aircraft that has served as Shizuhama gate guard since March 2004.

June 2001 (1)  91-5519
Devoid of its fuselage national markings and serial numbers, this strange design (link) tempted fate by featuring orange and red flames around the engine and along the forward fuselage as well as licking around the lower fuselage and the leading edge of the vertical tail. The base name Shizuhama on the left side of the fuselage appeared in reverse lettering on the right side (link). Although the fuselage was otherwise all white, a Japanese slogan—possibly 静浜基地航空祭 (Shizuhama Air Base Air Show)—seems to have been painted on the undersides (link); the wings were wisely left untouched.

June 2001 (2)  01-5529
Seen in the background of the first of the previous pair of photo links, this aircraft also lacked its serial numbers. The yellow-striped design on the right side (link) was based on the 11th FTW, 2nd Sqn’s radio call-sign Fuyo (literally lotus but also an alternative name for Mt Fuji), which appeared in kanji as 芙 and 蓉 on either side of the fuselage hinomaru and as ‘FuYo’ in blue on the nose. The completely different design on the port side (link) consisted of yellow cartoon birds, a green banner proclaiming SHIZUHAMA AIR FESTIVAL in white, and on the tail a green Mt Fuji with a yellow summit and three blue ocean waves.

May 2002 (1) FIFA World Cup Korea-Japan  01-5531 (link)
The theme here was the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which Japan was then about to co-host with South Korea. Again it was just the fuselage that received some treatment that involved removing the serial numbers. On this occasion a simple blue colour scheme mimicked a Japanese national Samurai Blue team shirt, with a broad red and white stripe forming a horizontal ‘V-neck’ and running along the fuselage and a red-edged white area at the top of the tailfin; again for that football shirt look, ‘11’ was painted on the tail in yellow. Added to the fuselage under the cockpit in yellow on the left side was the word ‘Japan’, which was reversed on the right side. Appearing above the white stripe on the rear fuselage was the Japanese expression がんばれ日本 (gambare Nippon), here meaning ‘go for it Japan’.

May 2002 (2) (Serial number unknown, link)
On static display alongside the World Cup colour scheme was another aircraft, sporting a blue and white wave design—which at least in part paid homage to the famous woodblock print of Mt. Fuji by the 19th century artist, Hokusai—and some fluttering green leaves. Although other 11th FTW designs had tended to feature mirror-image wording on one side of the aircraft, the lettering in red bizarrely appeared as ESAB RIA and AMAHUZIHS on the port side; the digits in the ‘11’ on the tailfin were reversed.

May 2003 Centenary of Wright Brothers  01-5523
Both sides of this elaborately decorated aircraft featured two images of the Wright Flyer. The main wording on the Japanese-language port side (link) read 飛行機誕生 (hikōki tanjō, the birth of the aircraft) and 100周年 1903 年 (hyaku shūnen, centenary 1903); only partly visible in the link, 来年は空自50周年 (‘Next year JASDF 50th anniversary’) was added to the rear fuselage. The multicoloured tail incorporated 静浜基地 (Shizuhama Air Base) and 航空祭 (air show), above which was the aircraft’s redesigned serial number. Emblazoned along the English-language right side of the fuselage (link) was “FIRST SUSTAINED POWERD [sic] FLIGHT BY MAN”.

JASDF T-3 1985As a reminder of what the T-3 normally looked like, this standard 11th FTW aircraft was present at
Hyakuri in July 1985.
(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

2004 JASDF 50th Anniversary (1)  91-5512
In this case (here seen at Iruma, link), the words JASDF 50TH ANNIVERSARY ran along the anti-dazzle panel and the special JASDF half-century badge was added beneath the cockpit. The fuselage sides were used to chart the history and markings of the 11th FTW and its preceding 15th FTW, using the Japanese year-naming system (link). The rear fuselage had aircraft silhouettes that gave the periods and numbers of pilots trained, and the tail (link) bore the slogan 美しき大空と共に (‘together with the beautiful sky’).

2004 JASDF 50th Anniversary (2)  91-5518
The second, less elaborate scheme (link) involved giving a T-3 the yellow tail and marking from the 15th FTW T-6 era along with a smaller 50th anniversary fuselage badge.

2004 JASDF 50th Anniversary (3)  91-5513
Likewise, for the third 50th anniversary scheme an aircraft had its tail repainted with the initial marking (link) first carried on the 11th’s T-34As. The other side of the aircraft looked like this (link).

2005 (1) 50th Anniversary revisited  91-5512 (link)
In 2005, the 11th took the opportunity to once again air the aircraft that had been specially marked with the main 50th anniversary design the year before. The 50th anniversary fuselage badge gave way to what looked like a flame-encircled ‘51’, and the tail slogan was changed to 空への第一歩 (‘First step to the skies’, link).

2005 (2)  01-5528
This aircraft featured enlarged tail markings, the blues stripes of which continued forward along the fuselage and ended with silhouettes of a UH-60J and an F-15J (left side, link) and an F-2 and Boeing 747 (right side, link), the culmination of the training streams along which pilots proceed from Shizuhama. The same slogan that appeared on the tail of ’512 was carried low on the fuselage, just aft of the wing.

2006 World War II camouflage  11-5541 (link)
The green camouflage colour scheme chosen that year was meant to be a throwback to the final year of World War II, when Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force Suisei (Judy) bombers were operated from what was then Fujieda air base. To add to the illusion, engine exhausts were painted on the side of the engine (link).

(2006?) Grey/blue camouflage  11-5545
At some stage, another T-3 appeared in a blue and grey camouflage (link). It is possible that this formed part of a theme with the aircraft above.

T-7 Special Markings

May 2007  66-5937
The fuselage colour scheme on both sides was modified to apparently give the effect of the red stripe paint peeling off, revealing its white reverse (link). Low on the fuselage on either side of the hinomaru in black was written 静浜基地 (Shizuhama Air Base) and 航空祭 (Air Show). 2007 AIR FESTA appeared on the nose on the left side only (link).

11th FTW JASDF 50th(Photo [May 2008] via Wikimedia Commons)

May 2008 Shizuhama AB 50th Anniversary  56-5929
The main differences were the changes made to the tail marking, seen to better effect in a photo taken at Kisarazu the following October (link). Mt. Fuji appeared as a grey outline and the now three-coloured “river” was made to form a stylized ‘50’, these stripes being repeated on the rear fuselage. A photo of the aircraft in flight (link) shows the fuselage titling and the words 50TH ANNIVERSARY added beneath the anti-dazzle panel; left side (link). A fine shot of the aircraft landing can be viewed here (link).

May 2009  56-2932
For this year’s design (link), the fuselage sported a variation on the red and white pattern, an eagle appeared on either side ahead of the serial ‘last three’, and an arrowhead (with some small titling, including JASDF 11TH FLIGHT [not FLYING] TRAINING WING) was positioned forward of the tailplane (link). The design team reverted to reversing the main titling on the right side of the fuselage (link).

May 2018 Shizuhama AB 60th Anniversary  86-5949
In a departure from the norm after a nine-year hiatus, the aircraft chosen to commemorate such a major milestone appeared in the standard colour scheme (link). A long Japanese text was written beneath the cockpit, thanking the local community for its support over those 60 years and pointing out that the event also coincided with the 10th anniversary of the merger of Ōigawa, where Shizuhama is located, into the city of Yaizu. The text was flanked by what appears to be a yellowfin tuna and a cartoon-figure pilot (link). A 60th anniversary sticker was carried on either side of the aircraft’s nose.

11th FTW T-7 JASDF(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

12th FTW

Formed As Branch School of 1st Flying Training School:
Nov. 1, 1955 (Hofu, T-34A)
As 12th FTW: June 1, 1959
(Flying Training Command, T-34A)  
Current Base Hofu (under Air Training Command, 1st/2nd Sqn, T-7)

Another offshoot descendant of the 1st Flying Training School, the 12th also came into existence in its own right on June 1, 1959. 

The first T-3 having arrived in April 1979, the 12th began dual T-34A/T-3 operations from October 1, 1979, ceased training on the T-34A in October 1980, and fully transitioned to the T-7 in 2005.

12th FTW Markings

JASDF 12 FTW(T-3, Ashiya, Sept. 2000)

The Hofu-Kita base website gives June 1959 as the date the 12th FTW’s tail marking was adopted. Suggested by a Sgt. Murai who worked in the control tower at Hofu air base, the design draws on the lesson of the three arrows (being stronger than one), a parable attributed to local feudal lord Motonari Mori (1497–1571). Also incorporated are the three red circles, signifying advancement, aspiration and unity, from the Mori family crest. (The author and publisher of Japanese Air Arms 19521984, Akira Watanabe states on his website (link) that the 12th officially adopted the crest on August 17, 1967.)

In the T-34A and T-3 eras, propeller spinners were painted blue or white to assist the two maintenance teams in identifying their aircraft; yellow or white have been used in the case of the T-7s. 


Like its sister unit, the 11th FTW (above), the 12th has a history of special markings. J-HangarSpace offers a selection of the moving artworks that have appeared over the years, which have also served to boost the sales of Japanese plastic model manufacturers (link).

T-3 Special Markings

July 1994 (1) “Katta-kun” pelican design  11-5512

Katta-kun(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

Katta-kun (カッタ君) was the name given to a pelican, born in 1985 at a zoo in Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture, which had gained local lasting fame for managing to escape and venturing into a nearby kindergarten.. (Katta-kun remained at the zoo until his death in 2008, outliving ’512, which was built in 1979 but scrapped early in 2006, by nearly two years.)

The left side of the aircraft can be viewed here (link), and another photo of the aircraft exists (link), with its last three ‘512’ repeated on its nose.

As the following photos show, apparently no expense was spared in expanding on the pelican/zoo themes for air show publicity purposes.

July 1994 (2) “Pereena-chan” pelican design  11-5540 (link)

Pereena-chan(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

Another aircraft was suitably painted and named after a female member of the same zoo’s pelican colony, Pereena-chan (ペリーナちゃん).

July 1994 (3) Animal and bird designs: pelicans (91-5518 [link]), penguin (01-5526), squirrel (01-5528), rabbit (01-5530), tortoise (01-5531), chicken (01-5534 [link]) and koala bear (01-5547, below)

Hofu T-3 JASDF(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

Aside from the major pelican artworks, no less than seven other aircraft were adorned with designs painted on their rear fuselages.

July 1995 Hofu-Kita AB 40th Anniversary (1)  11-5540 

Hof-Kita July 1995 (2)(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

The base anniversary provided an opportunity to again dress up one of the aircraft that had been decked out as a pelican the previous year, this time as an eagle. The fuselage was painted, but the markings were reportedly cut-out stickers.

July 1995 Hofu-Kita AB 40th Anniversary (2)  Serial number unknown

Hofu-Kita July 1995(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

As also seen in the monochrome photo below, a T-3 was also given a splash of red paint in the form of an enlarged and modified squadron marking on the occasion of the 40th anniversary. Both aircraft (link and below) had their serial numbers and fuselage national markings removed.

Hofu-Kita 1995(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

1996  81-5503 and 81-55??

Hofu-Kita 1996Not of the best quality, but thus far the only record found of the gaudy participants
from the 1996 event. 
(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

1997  91-5506 (link) sported a design mainly consisting of three arrows.

1998  (1) 91-5512 (link); (2) 11-5540 (link) (link)
Two of the old-stager aircraft used in previous years were again given special makeovers, the designs incorporating blue and white stripes and cartoon chicks, respectively.

1999  81-5504 and 91-5517

1999 Hofu-Kita81-5504 and 91-5517 at the 1999 event. The latter is now displayed, in the standard colour scheme,
at JASDF Air Park, Hamamatsu. 
(Photos: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

Possibly also from 1999, this photo (link) shows a design applied to 01-5534, which featured a crudely written ‘12FTW’ with an enlarged version of the squadron marking on the fuselage side and an eagle marking on the nose.

Oct. 2000 Yamaguchi Kirara Band  01-5534 (link) and 11-5540 (link) (link)

2000 Hofu-Kita(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

The aircraft carried elaborate designs featuring the mascots of the 山口きららバンド (Yamaguchi Kirara Band) used to promote the 2001 Japan Expo that was held in Yamaguchi Prefecture, where Hofu AB is located. Unfortunately, J-HangarSpace has thus far only been able to find links to photos showing the left-hand sides of these aircraft.

July 2001 Cartoon bird theme
(link) (link) (link)  81-5506  (link) (link)
                               81-5504  (link)

2002 FIFA World Cup Korea-Japan  81-5508 (link)

July 2003 Ahead of  JASDF 50th Anniversary in 2004  01-5524 (link)
Crossed swords, the head of a samurai and the kanji 武蔵 (Musashi) over a hinomaru, alluding to the swordsman and philosopher Musashi Miyamoto (c. 1584–1645), were prominent along the fuselage. 50周年 (50th anniversary) appeared in red and pink on the rear fuselage of this the last T-3 to receive the full special marking treatment.

12th FTW T-3 TsuikiNo special markings, but apparently a special person on board, as evidenced by the sign
‘VIP’ in the cockpit side window.
(Photo [Tsuiki, Nov. 1994]: Rob Schleiffert)

T-7 Special Markings

Whereas the 11th FTW has all but abandoned special markings since the start of its T-7 operations, the 12th has avidly carried on the tradition for its annual air show. Some impetus was again supplied by the first year of T-7 operations, 2004, coinciding with a major milestone JASDF anniversary. The only year missed since then was 2011, the year of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, when there was no air show held. At that time, the nation was being asked to show jishuku (self-restraint) out of respect to the disaster victims and deference to those still experiencing hardship.

July 2004 JASDF 50th Anniversary  46-5911 (link)

Again primarily involving the use of an enlarged version of the unit marking on its fuselage sides—to express hope and unity, according to one Japanese source—the design was intended to evoke the plum blossoms that bloom at the Tenmangu Shrine in Hofu. Added to the nose was an eagle against a hinomaru background. The aircraft is seen here (link) at Komatsu in September 2004 and from a three-quarter front view from the right here (link).

2004 and 2005(Photos: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

July 2005 Hofu-Kita AB 50th Anniversary  46-5910 (link)

Incorporating 12FTW and continuing the bird theme, the nose marking was reversed and placed further back on the right side (link). The event being commemorated appeared in English, and in Japanese 防府北基地開設50周年 on a red scroll, on the fuselage sides. The only other addition to an overall white fuselage were areas of yellow.

July 2006 Pufferfish design  36-5904 (link)

2006(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

As Yamaguchi Prefecture is one of the main areas in Japan for the specialist restaurants that serve fugu (pufferfish or blowfish), the fuselage was expertly transformed into the body of a cartoon fish (link), even down to the gills added forward of the cockpit. Both fuselage sides carried the Japanese おいでませand 防府北基地へ (link), meaning “welcome to Hofu-Kita AB”. Note that the fisheye was open on the left side, happily closed on the right (link), where heart-shaped bubbles came from the fish’s mouth.

June 2007   66-6942 (link)
Comprising cartoons of JASDF personnel, pilots and maintenance crew as well as some clouds, the design on one side (link) was applied in reverse on the other (link) of an all-white fuselage. The words HOFU AIR FESTA 2007 appeared on both sides of the nose.

2007 and 2008(Photos: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

June 2008  56-5931 (link)
According to the August 2008 issue of JWings magazine, 12th FTW unit members and their families as well as people with JASDF links were asked for suggestions for the HOFU AIR FESTA 2008 star attraction artwork. ‘Design by T. MURAKAMI’, which appeared on the tailfin strake (link), was presumably the name of the retired JASDF member whose design the magazine states was adopted (though see May 2009). The names of the four-man crew who prepared the aircraft were added under the tailplane (link).

May 2009 Flight safety milestone  46-5916 (link)

2009(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

The main slogans this year were HOFU AIR FESTA 2009 and, ahead of the tailplane, 無事故22万時間達成 220,000 accident-free flight hours (link). The technique of reversing the titling on one side was again used (link), in this case including the Japanese, too. Japanese script often appears read from right to left, but here the ‘22’ was reversed, too. The nose design can be clearly seen here (link). Note that the tailfin strake again bore the same name (‘design T. MURAKAMI’) from the previous year, only this time alongside the names of the five-man STAFF.

June 2010 Hofu-Kita AB 55th Anniversary  86-5948 (link)

A great shot (link, scroll down almost to the foot of the page and click to enlarge) from above the aircraft provides a wealth of detail of this eye-catching yet simple red and white design (link). The aircraft also appears in this YouTube video (link).

2010 and 2012(Photos: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

June 2012  36-5903 (link)
After the two-year interval brought about by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, the Hofu-Kita air show returned in 2012. A fuselage marking aft of the cockpit incorporated 絆 (kizuna, meaning bonds or ties), which had become the byword for recovery from the disaster and was voted the kanji that best encapsulated the year 2011. On both sides the kanji was combined with a dragon, the Chinese year sign for 2012, and plum blossoms (link). A dragon appeared to be climbing out of the lower engine cooling air vents on either side of the nose, as seen at the start of this YouTube video (link). The names of the three staff members involved with the project were again applied to the tailfin strake.

June 2013 (1) Choruru  46-5915 (link)

2013(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

This aircraft featured ちょるる (Choruru), the mascot originally created for the 66th Annual National Sports Festival of Japan and 11th Annual National Sports Festival for People with Disabilities—held in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2011—and later used for tourism promotion and other initiatives (link). A collection of photos can be found here (link), and the aircraft’s departure on a demo flight on the rainy air show day was recorded for posterity and placed on YouTube here (link).

June 2013 (2) Plum blossom  76-5945

On display in a hangar was an aircraft tastefully decorated with plum blossom (link).

June 2014   46-5914 (link)

photo17rs(Above and below) A simple design, of the two Hofu-Kita base mascots flanking the words
AIR FESTA HOFU 2014, was adopted in 2014. The three staff names were
applied forward of the fuselage
hinomaru on the right-hand side (link).

photo 18rs(Photos: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

June 2015 Hofu-Kita AB 60th Anniversary  46-5911 (link)
The main elements of this colour scheme, kanji on red triangles, were placed above the wings (link) (link), which normally remain untouched. The left wing had the kanji 俊, the right wing 鷲, which together are read shunshū and literally mean ‘excellent eagles’. They are taken from a stone monument at the base main gate, the inscription on which refers to Hofu-Kita’s role in training tyro pilots and translates as the ‘base of the excellent eagles’ cradle’. This was reportedly the last occasion that the specially marked aircraft was actually flown at the Hofu-Kita air show (link) (link).

May 2016 Hofu-Kita AB 61st Anniversary  66-5943 (link)
Hofu-Kita’s “61th Anniviersary” (sic) was combined with the 80th anniversary of Hofu’s founding as a city (防府市制). The anti-dazzle panel was edged in blue and the same colour used for the tail, excluding the rudder (link). One of the two Hofu-Kita base mascots was “hiding” within the ‘0’ of 80th, while the other (apparently named 防 [Hō]) appeared low on the rear fuselage (link) with a speech bubble containing the words “がんばろう!熊本・大分!” (Hang in there Kumamoto, Oita), a reference to the areas that had suffered an earthquake the previous month.

May 2017  Meiji Restoration 150th Anniversary (Preview)  36-5905

Hofu-Kita T-7 JASDF(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

An historical theme was again chosen in 2017, looking ahead to the 150th anniversary of the 1868 Meiji Restoration (平成30年の明治維新150周年に向けて). This explains the orange, red and black やまぐち幕府ISHIN祭 (Yamaguchi Shogunate Restoration Festival) logo (link) on the side of the fuselage (link) and again, although the aircraft was not flown before the general public, in black only above the wings (link). Note that the intake on the right side of the engine seems to have carried some kind of checklist (link) (link).

June 2018  Meiji Restoration 150th Anniversary  76-5946 (link)

Hofu-Kita T-7 2018(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB website gallery)

A different aircraft was used for a design based on that from the previous year. Although the tailfin had been left as standard in 2017, a black area was added containing the staff names in English on the right side (link) and the names of the design team in Japanese on the left side (link) in white.

Hofu-Kita show 2018(Photo: JASDF Hofu-Kita AB)

The main changes were the addition of ornate red birds (link) along the front fuselage and, replacing the logo, atop the wings as well as the kanji 飛 and 翔 (together meaning hishō, flying or soaring) added on either side of the fuselage hinomaru. The same logo was used on the fuselage, although this was now only in black (link).

jasdfgalleryT-7(7)crs(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

13th FTW

Formed As NSF Provisional Matsushima Air Group:
June 1, 1954 (Matsushima, U.S. Air Force T-6s)
As JASDF Provisional Matsushima Air Group: July 1, 1954
As 2nd Flying Training School: Nov. 1, 1955
(Matsushima, T-6)
As 13th FTW: June 1, 1959
(Flying Training Command, Utsunomiya, T-6) 
Current Base Ashiya (under Air Training Command, 1st/2nd Sqn, T-4)

Its predecessor unit having moved from Matsushima to Utsunomiya on August 1, 1957, the 13th FTW officially came into existence on June 1, 1959, and also began operating the Fuji T-1 from Gifu the following year. 

The Utsunomiya-based elements moved to Ashiya on September 25, 1962, and were joined by the T-1s on October 12, 1962. By late that year, the 13th was flying only the T-1. 

Ashiya T-1Photo (Ashiya, Oct. 1990): Takao Kadokami

13th FTW Chronology

1954 June 1 NSF Provisional Matsushima Detachment commences training
on U.S. Air Force T-6s
1955 Nov. 1 Since July 1, 1954, known as JASDF Provisional Matsushima
Detachment reforms as 2nd Flying Training School (FTS)
1957 Aug. 1 2nd FTS moves from Matsushima to Utsunomiya 
1959 June 1 2nd FTS reforms as 13th FTW under Flying Training Command 
1960 Aug. 1 Gifu Flying Training Detachment forms, T-1 training commences 
1962 Mar. 15 T-6 training at Utsunomiya ends 
  Aug. 15 13th FTW headquarters element moves to Ashiya 
  Oct. 12 T-1 detachment moves from Gifu to Ashiya 
  Oct. 20 Changes to 13th FTW organization completed 
1984 May 23 Receives prizes for completion of 110,000 accident-free flying
hours and for fulfilling its mission 
1989 Mar. 16 Comes under Air Training Command 
1994 July 20 300,000th flying hour on T-1 achieved 
1998 Aug. 26 Commences training on T-4 (trial course) 
1999 June 1 1st Flying Training Sqn reforms, first half of basic flying course
(T-4) commenced 
2000 Dec. 14 T-1 training ends, 2nd Flying Training Sqn reorganized 
2009 June 1 50th anniversary 
  June 11 Presented with award marking 50th anniversary 
  Oct. 1 Receives prizes for completion of 180,000 accident-free flying
hours and for fulfilling its mission 
2010 Oct. 19 190,000 accident-free flying hours 
2012 Apr. 9 200,000 accident-free flying hours

13FTW T-4A 13th Flying Training Wing T-4 heads toward the takeoff point at Ashiya AB in September 2000. 

13th FTW Markings
The 13th’s tail marking is a rakish representation of the kanji for the number `13` (十三).

JASDF 13 FTW(T-1B, Ashiya, Sept. 2000)

(T-1, above) From 1964 to 1973, this appeared in yellow, after 1973 in white. For a brief time in 1977, the 2nd Sqn within the 13th FTW had this marking in dark green, before changing to blue that same year; the 1st Sqn continued to use the white marking.



Ashiya T-4 2017

A pair of Kawasaki T-4s from the 13th Flying Training Wing based at Ashiya AB, Fukuoka Prefecture, in
December 2016. One sporting a two-tone grey scheme is joined by a sister aircraft specially painted
for the base air show in October and bearing the slogan 
1000 T-4 student pilots graduated to mark a
major unit milestone. The upper fuselage wording was changed from 
ASHIYA AIR BASE 2017 for the aircraft’s appearances at displays in December.
The photo below shows that the intake marking carried on the starboard side is that of the 1st Sqn
of the 13th FTW; that on the port side is of the wing’s 2nd Sqn. 
(Photo source: JASDF Ashiya AB)

Ashiya T-4 2017 (2)


14th FTW


As Branch School of 2nd Flying Training School:
 Dec. 1, 1956 (Yanome [now Sendai airport], T-6)
As First Branch School of 2nd Flying Training School:
Aug. 1, 1958 (T-6)
As 14th FTW: June 1, 1959
(Flying Training Command, Utsunomiya, T-6)

Disbanded  Mar. 15, 1963 (at Utsunomiya, T-6)

On December 1, 1956, a branch school of the 2nd Flying Training School formed at Yanome airfield, which was renamed Sendai airfield upon its return to Japanese control the following year. Re-designated as the First Branch School of the 2nd Flying Training School on August 1, 1958, and as the 14th FTW 10 months after that, the unit moved to Utsunomiya on March 15, 1962, exactly a year before its disbandment.

Although the unit had ceased to exist 55 years ago, a news item on the Hyakuri AB website (link) reports that on September 9, 2018, a group of JASDF veterans and current base personnel travelled to Mt. Kaba in Ibaraki Prefecture. They cleaned a monument and held a service in memory of the two pilots who lost their lives when their 14th FTW T-6 crashed in the mountainous Niihari district on September 20, 1962.

15th FTW


As Matsushima Detachment,
2nd Flying Training School: Aug. 1, 1957 (T-6)
As Second Branch School, 2nd Flying Training School:
Aug. 1, 1958 (Shizuhama, T-6)
As 15th FTW: June 1, 1959
(Flying Training Command, T-6)

Disbanded May 30, 1964 (at Shizuhama, T-6)

Having initially formed at Matsushima, the name change from the Matsushima Detachment to Detachment 2 of the 2nd Flying Training School coincided with a move to Shizuhama. The short-lived 15th FTW was disbanded one day short of its fifth anniversary. 

According to the information carried on the 11th FTW T-3 specially marked to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the JASDF in 2004, the 15th FTW trained a total of 371 pilots during the course of its six-year history at Shizuhama, to where the then Second Branch School of the 2nd Flying Training School had moved in 1958.

2nd Flying Training School/15th FTW Tail Markings
From 1958 to 1960, the 2nd Flying Training School’s Shizuhama-based (Second Branch School) aircraft carried a tail marking that comprised two horizontal red stripes, on which was superimposed an offset, stylized curved ‘S’ for Shizuhama. At some stage in 1960, the design was changed to a white-capped, blue image of Mt. Fuji placed offset on a blue rectangular stylized ‘S’, again standing for Shizuhama. (The earlier marking was resurrected with the ‘S’ taking on a slightly modified, more lightning flash form by the 11th FTW [q.v.]). 

16th FTW

Formed As Provisional Ashiya Air Group: Aug. 1, 1954 (T-33A)
As Provisional Tsuiki Air Group: Jan. 20, 1955 (T-33A)
As 3rd Flying Training School: Oct. 1, 1957 (T-33A)
As 16th FTW: June 1, 1959
(Flying Training Command, T-33A)  
Disbanded Oct. 26, 1964 (at Tsuiki, T-33A)

Taken from an album compiled by the contributor’s father, a series of photos on a Japanese website (link) show rare images of 16th FTW T-33As at Tsuiki. Closer inspection of the view across the apron reveals that the row facing the camera are all Lockheed-built aircraft, and that those in the background were all built by Kawasaki, so the caption writer wonders whether they were operated separately. The second aircraft from the left in front remains on display at Tsuiki to this day, that nearest the camera at Hofu-Kita.

JASDF 16th FTW T-33AT-33As of the short-lived 16th FTW at Tsuiki in December 1962 (Photo: Takao Kadokami)

Upon its disbandment, the 16th’s aircraft were immediately passed to the 33rd Sqn, which had formed that same day.

16th FTW Tail Marking
At some stage, a broad red horizontal stripe was introduced and remained the unit’s marking right up to its disbandment.

17th FTW

Formed As Branch School of 3rd Flying Training School:
Dec. 1, 1957 (Nyutabaru, T-33A)
As 17th FTW: June 1, 1959
(Flying Training Command, T-33A) 
Disbanded Jan. 25, 1963 (at Nyutabaru, T-33A)

17th FTW Tail Marking
For its time brief time on active service, the 17th FTW’s T-33As carried what appeared to be a gold eight-pointed star, which was partly obscured by a red stylized ‘17’.

21st Fighter
Training Sqn
(incl. Blue Impulse

Formed As T-2 Operational Flight Evaluation Group:
Mar. 31, 1975 (4th Air Wing, Matsushima)
As Provisional 21st Sqn: Mar. 25, 1976
As 21st Fighter Training Sqn:
Oct. 1, 1976 (4th Air Wing, T-2/T-33A)
Current Base  Matsushima (4th Air Wing, F-2B/T-4)

The unit that had originally formed as the T-2 Operational Flight Evaluation Group in March 1975 was ultimately officially designated the 21st Sqn with a standard T-2 complement of 25 aircraft on October 1, 1976. In between times, instructors and, from April 1976, the first course of four students were trained by the Provisional 21st Sqn.

Aerobatic flight training on the T-2 commenced on July 1, 1977, and, with a view to replacing the Blue Impulse team’s F-86Fs with the T-2, the Air Staff Office instructed dedicated studies into the type’s feasibility in March 1978. The culmination of these studies was the performance by six T-2s on the day of the 545th and final official show by the team on the F-86F at Iruma on February 8, 1981. Mitsubishi rolled out the first Blue Impulse-standard T-2 on August 11 that same year.

On January 12, 1982, the Sengi Kenkyūhan (Combat Research Group, the official name of the Blue Impulse), which had been disbanded when temporarily placed under the 35th Sqn in the previous month, was reformed under the 21st to allow the team to reform on the T-2.

Blue Impulse Iwakuni 1994Iwakuni, May 5, 1994 (Photo: Margaret Stalker)

Blue Impulse Chronology (Part 2/3)

Blue Impulse T-2 Era (1981–1995)*
Feb. 8, 1981 Six T-2s also perform aerobatic display at final Blue Impulse
F-86F display, Iruma AB
Jan. 12, 1982 Team officially reforms, again as the Combat Research Group, 
with seven T-2s within 21st Sqn, 4th Air Wing, at Matsushima
July 25, 1982 First official four-aircraft display, at Matsushima, limited to
low pass due to bad weather
Aug. 8, 1982 First full display programme performed at Chitose AB show
Nov. 14, 1982 Capt. Kiyoshi Takashima killed when his aircraft crashes onto
buildings in town of Takaoka during Hamamatsu air display.
Tragic incident also claimed lives of 10 people and injured
13 others on ground
Feb. 1983 Restart of training flights
Oct. 30, 1983 Return to display flying made with appearance at SDF review,
Nov. 1983 Maintaining tradition, team draws logo of international aerospace
show in sky above Gifu AB venue (Nov. 3, 5) and performs
flypast (Nov. 6)
July 29, 1984 Perform five-aircraft display at Matsushima air show
Apr. 1, 1990 Draw EXPO90 flower logo in sky over Osaka
June 3, 1990 100th T-2 display, Gifu AB air show
 (T-4 selected as next Blue Impulse aircraft that month)
July 4, 1991 Capt. Seiji Hamaguchi and Capt. Yuta Shikichi killed when
their aircraft collide near Mt. Kinka, Miyagi Prefecture, when
on training flight
Aug. 23, 1992 Display flights resume with limited, four-aircraft performance
at Matsushima
Aug. 1993 Add one solo to increase displays to five aircraft
Aug. 7, 1994 Perform six-aircraft display at Chitose air show
Nov. 26, 1995 Perform what was to be final full, maximum ceiling programme
at Nyutabaru AB show
Dec. 3, 1995 Perform final (175th) display on T-2, a flypast at
Hamamatsu AB show
Dec. 8, 1995 Final T-2 aerobatic training flights conducted at Matsushima
Dec. 22, 1995 21st Sqn Combat Research Group (T-2 Blue Impulse) disbands*
* For Parts 1 and 3, the Blue Impulse F-86F era (1960–1981) and
continuation on T-4, see 11th Sqn

Blue Impulse final T-2 showThe Blue Impulse team during its 175th and final public appearance flying the T-2,
Hamamatsu, December 3, 1995.
(‘spaceaero2’ via Wikimedia Commons)

The T-4 having been selected as the Blue Impulse team’s next mount in June 1991, a unit to prepare for the type’s operation was formed within the 21st Sqn in October 1992.

The Provisional F-2 Training Sqn formed on April 1, 2002, and was officially numbered the 21st Sqn on March 29, 2004, the day that unit disbanded on the T-2; the last flight of a 21st Sqn T-2 had taken place on March 10.

The 21st’s 20th anniversary having been marked by a specially painted aircraft at the 1996 Matsushima air show (link), a 40th anniversary ceremony was held at the base on March 25, 2017.

Six years before, on March 11, 2011, the unit had been greatly affected by the tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Matsushima was put out of action, and all 18 of the 21st’s F-2Bs were left either standing in water up to their engine intakes or in one case, as was shown in widely disseminated images, swept away by the sheer force of the tsunami and wedged against the side of a building. It was April 16 before training could be resumed, on aircraft loaned from other squadrons, from what was to be the unit’s home for the next five years, Misawa.

The first of the 13 F-2Bs deemed repairable arrived at Misawa on April 21, 2015. Including six of the refurbished aircraft, a total of 10 F-2Bs returned triumphantly to Matsushima on March 20, 2016, and recommenced training three days later.

Final JASDF F-2B returnedThe last of the tsunami-damaged F-2Bs was returned to service following a ceremony at Matsushima on
February 28, 2018.
(Photo: JASDF Matsushima)

21st Fighter Training Sqn Markings
From the time of its formation in 1975 up until March 1978, 21st Sqn aircraft carried a large stylized `4`, echoing the 4th FTW’s tail marking from its F-86F heyday. As the unit’s first T-2s were early unarmed versions sporting orange tails, the marking was edged in white.

21 Sqn JASDF(Photo [Atsugi, May 1983]: Akira Watanabe)

As the base name Matsushima means ‘pine island’, and the area is known for its pine forests, a new marking adopted in 1977 (above) was of a pair of green pine needles, bent into the form of a four enclosing white areas.

A smaller version of the original ‘solid 4’ design, in blue, was adopted in 1985, a tradition that has been maintained from the Provisional F-2 Training Sqn onward.

Blue Impulse T-2 Markings
In October 1980, members of the general public were asked to submit designs for the Blue Impulse T-2 colour scheme. From the 2,055 submissions, the winning design used as a basis, which was announced in on January 9, 1981, was that from four high school girls. On a white base, the predominantly dark and light blue design with an arrow underside design harked back to the F-86F era; the drop tanks remained orange.

An individual formation number appeared on the rudder of each aircraft in the summer of 1987.

Fighter Training Sqn

Formed Apr. 5, 1978 (4th Air Wing, Matsushima, T-2/T-33A) 
Disbanded  Mar. 27, 2001 (4th Air Wing, Matsushima, T-2/T-4)

22nd Fighter Training Squadron Chronology

1978 Apr. 5 (See above)
1979 Aug. 24 Reaches 10,000 accident-free flying hour milestone
1981 June 17 Having reached 20,000th accident-free flying hour in record
time in second year of operation, two pilots killed in crash on
takeoff from Tsuiki
1983 Apr. 1 Trial combat maneuvering course conducted
  Oct. 18 Trial F-15J preparatory course conducted
1986 Sept. 30 Combat maneuvering courses commenced
1988 Mar. 7 Receives last T-2 built
1989 Apr. 5 10th anniversary event features early and late version T-2s and
T-33A in special colour schemes. Cumulative flying hours on
that day stand at 73,000
1990 Jan. 26 Receives unit’s first T-4
1994 Mar. 16 Unit’s last T-33A flight
  May 31 Reaches 100,000th T-2 flying hour
1996 July 4 T-2 withdrawal from use commenced, camouflaged T-2s
temporarily received from 3rd Air Wing at Misawa
1998 Apr. 3 20th anniversary ceremony held
  Oct. 5 Reaches 50,000 accident-free flying hour milestone
2001 Mar. 16 Final T-2 flight, 60,094 accident-free flying hours
  Mar. 27 Disbanded

22nd Fighter Training Sqn Tail Markings
As previously mentioned, the base name Matsushima means ‘pine island’, and the area is known for its pine forests. In 1978, the 22nd adopted the design, first devised by the 21st Sqn in the previous year, of a pair of green pine needles bent into the form of a four, but changed the enclosed areas from white to yellow.

Fighter Training Sqn

Formed Oct. 6, 2000 (Fighter Training Group, Nyutabaru, F-15J/DJ) 
Current Base  Nyutabaru (Fighter Training Group, F-15J/DJ, T-4)

Tasked with overseeing the changes to the operational conversion training syllabus that were prompted by the retirement of the T-1 and T-2 and the introduction of the F-2A/B, a Provisional Fighter Training Group was formed at Nyutabaru on August 3, 1999. The 23rd Fighter Training Squadron was formed under the Group, which not surprisingly reports to Air Training Command, on the very day its provisional status was removed in October 2000.

23rd Sqn JASDF F-15DJSpecially marked to commemorate the unit’s first decade of operations, a 23rd Sqn F-15DJ takes off
from Nyutabaru in November 2010.
(Photo: Jerry Gunner via Wikimedia Commons)

The 23rd assumed the mantle, and took over the aircraft, of the 5th Air Wing’s previous operational conversion unit, the F-15J/DJ Eagle-equipped 202nd Sqn, which had disbanded three days before, on October 3, 2000. 

23Sqn F-15DJA 23rd Sqn F-15DJ undergoes final pre-flight preparations at the end of the
Nyutabaru AB runway in November 2000.

23rd Fighter Training Sqn Markings

23rd Sqn JASDF

The 202nd Sqn’s haniwa (clay figure) markings were painted over and replaced by orange and red arrows, denoting `2-3` in kanji (二三), flanking a black prancing wild horse.

31st Training Sqn


As Provisional T-4 Sqn: Oct. 1, 1988

(1st Air Wing, Hamamatsu, T-4)

As 31st Sqn: Oct. 2, 1989

(1st Air Wing, Hamamatsu, T-4)

Current base Hamamatsu (1st Air Wing, T-4)

More than a year elapsed from the formation of the Provisional T-4 Squadron, which was primarily charged with the conversion training of former 35th Sqn T-33A instructors, to the start of the first basic training course on the T-4 in November 1989. In the early 90s, these courses reportedly usually comprised five students and lasted seven and a half months.

Having held an event to mark its 20th anniversary on November 14, 2009, the 31st will be marking its 30th anniversary in 2019.

31Sqn T-4Normally based at Hamamatsu, this 31st Sqn T-4 is seen on a visit to Shizuhama AB in May 2012.

31st Training Sqn Tail Markings
Both of the current Hamamatsu T-4 units retain a slanted version of the horizontal, black and yellow 1st Air Wing checkerboard tail marking that dates back to the F-86F era; the 31st Sqn has blue shadow edging beneath.

To further facilitate identification within the 1st Air Wing, the 31st Sqn operates T-4s with odd-numbered serials.

32nd Training Sqn

Formed March 31, 1990 (1st Air Wing, Hamamatsu, T-4)
Current Base  Hamamatsu (1st Air Wing, T-4)

32 Sqn JASDF T-432nd Sqn T-4 on climb out from Hamamatsu  (Photo [Nov. 2010]: Jerry Gunner via Wikimedia Commons)

The second of the two 1st Air Wing T-4 squadrons, the 32nd drew heavily on the then recently disbanded 33rd Sqn (see below) for its initial personnel.

32nd Training Sqn Tail Markings
Like its sister unit, the 31st Sqn, the 32nd has the slanted black and yellow checkerboard tail marking, but with red shadow edging beneath.

To further facilitate identification within the Wing, the 32nd Sqn operates T-4s with even-numbered serials.

33rd Sqn

Formed Oct. 26, 1964 (Tsuiki, T-33A) 
Disbanded Oct. 2, 1989 (1st Air Wing, Hamamatsu, T-33A) 

Operating aircraft previously flown by the 16th FTW, which had disbanded upon the day of its formation, the 33rd was moved to 1st Air Wing command at Hamamatsu-North three months after its formation, on January 30, 1965.

T-33A 33 Sqn JASDF (1)33rd Sqn T-33As had red, blue or yellow fin tips for maintenance team identification purposes.
(Photo [Hamamatsu, Dec. 1975]: Akira Watanabe)

33rd Sqn Tail Markings
(1965–79) After the move to Hamamatsu-North, 33rd Sqn aircraft received the 1st Air Wing’s broad, horizontal, yellow and black checkerboard stripe.

T-33A 33 Sqn JASDF (2)A T-33A on the Hamamatsu apron in August 1980 bears the 33rd Sqn’s later tail marking,
as described below. (Photo: Akira Watanabe)

(1979–90) A red stylized ‘33’ was added to the checkerboard stripe as a way to distinguish 33rd Sqn aircraft after the 35th Sqn’s arrival at Hamamatsu in the spring of 1979.

35th Sqn

Formed Aug. 23, 1973 (4th Air Wing, Matsushima, T-33A) 
Disbanded March 31, 1991 (1st Air Wing, Hamamatsu, T-33A) 

The 35th completed a move from Matsushima, where it had come under 4th Air Wing command, to the 1st Air Wing at Hamamatsu-Kita on April 1, 1979. 

35th Sqn T-33A(Photo [Ashiya, Oct. 1979]: Takao Kadokami)

The unit assumed responsibility for the Sengi Kenkyūhan (Combat Research Group, until December 1995 the official name for the Blue Impulse team*) operations following the disbandment of the Sabre-equipped 1st Sqn in March 1979.

* Disbanded as part of the 35th Sqn in December 1981, this component’s responsibilities were passed to the 21st Fighter Training Sqn (see above) the following month.

35th Sqn Tail Markings
(1973–77) A red solid ‘4’, signifying the 4th Air Wing.

T-33A tail 35 Sqn JASDF(Photo [Matsushima, Aug. 1977]: Akira Watanabe)

(1977–79) As previously mentioned, the base name Matsushima means ‘pine island’, and the area is known for its pine forests. In 1977, the 35th adopted the design first devised by the 21st Sqn, of a pair of green pine needles bent into the form of a four, but changed the enclosed area colour from white to red.

(1979–91) Following its change of base from Matsushima to Hamamatsu, the 35th modified the 1st Air Wing’s yellow and black checkerboard stripe and mimicked the 33rd Sqn’s design by the addition of a blue stylized ‘35’.

41st Flight Training Sqn


As Provisional 41st Flight Training Sqn:
July 28, 1994 (3rd TAG, Miho, T-400)

As 41st Flight Training Sqn:
June 1, 1995 (3rd TAG, Miho, T-400) 

Current Base Miho (3rd TAG, T-400)

The first of 13 T-400s having been delivered on February 16, 1994, the 41st worked up as a provisional squadron with six aircraft before being granted full squadron status on June 1, 1995. At that time, student pilots on the transport stream would have completed the earlier phases on the T-3 and T-1 before embarking on the 10-month T-400 course involving around 150 flying hours.

There are plans to bring the 41st under Air Training Command control and relocate the unit to the 11th FTW’s Shizuhama base in 2020, thereby enabling transport stream students to continue onto the next, now year-long phase of training from the same base. The 41st carried out some feasibility flights from Shizuhama in early December 2017.

JASDF T-400(Photo: JASDF Miho)

41st Flight Training Sqn Tail Marking

401 Sqn JASDF

The fin marking consists of a stylised `41` against the silhouette of a bird’s head. The JASDF Air Support Command website [link] includes an image of the green squadron emblem, which features a bird silhouette and the word Lanner (as in lanner falcon), the unit’s radio call-sign.

C-1 Iruma (1)A stick of paratroopers jumps from a passing 402nd Sqn C-1 at the Iruma air show in November 1978, in
the early days of the type’s service career. The all-metal finish aircraft carries the unit’s then newly
adopted eagle tail marking (see squadron entry below).
(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

401st Airlift Sqn

Formed Oct. 1, 1958 (Air Transport Wing, Miho, C-46) 
Current Base Komaki (1st TAG, C-130H/KC-130H)

Japanese sources differ widely with regard to some of the dates of events in the 401st’s early history, prior to its March 31, 1978, reorganization at the start of the Tactical Airlift Group (TAG) era, which has continued for the 40 years up to the present day.

JASDF C-46 91-1145Although at that time C-46s were devoid of squadron markings, this example at Fukuoka airport in 
September 1965 was most likely assigned to the 401st Sqn. The aircraft just has the Japanese for
Air Transport Squadron, Air Transport Wing above the fuselage windows.
(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

All Japanese sources agree that the 401st and 402nd squadrons have their origins in the Tachikawa Air Transport Group of 1955 and the Miho Detachment of 1955–1958 (see later on this page), respectively, when both bases were still under U.S. military control. The first six of 36 C-46s furnished by the United States having arrived in January 1955, the Miho Detachment provided the basis for the Air Transport Wing, which commanded both squadrons after their formation in October 1958—two sources even state that this key event occurred in June 1955, others give this as the date of the relocation to Miho—at which time the 401st remained at Miho. The sources also agree that the two squadrons were reorganized under the 1st and 2nd TAGs, respectively, on March 31, 1978.

YS-11C JASDFIruma, August 1976. A 401st Sqn YS-11C lands at what was to become its home base after
conversion to YS-11E (later –EA) standard for the Electronic Warfare Squadron in 1979.
(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

Depending on the source, the 401st received its first YS-11 sometime between March 1964 and December 1969, as a lead-in to a C-46 replacement, and ceased to operate the C-46 either early in 1977 or in 1978. The first C-1 possibly arrived in March 1973, but it was reportedly April 1975 before regular “milk run” JASDF base supply operations were commenced. March 31, 1978, is generally accepted as the date the move to Komaki was completed. Amendments to the text will be made as more verifiable, less confusing information comes to light.

Misawa C-1Originally delivered to the 402nd Sqn in December 1974, the first production (third-built) C-1 was passed
to the 401st, sporting its tail marking on the then standard natural metal finish. Having ended its service
career with the 403rd Sqn, this aircraft is parked in a corner of Miho air base
 (link and see 3rd TAG).
(Photo [Misawa, Oct. 1978]: Akira Watanabe)

An indisputable fact is that tragedy struck five years into the unit’s time at Komaki. Fourteen servicemen being killed in the line of duty when two C-1s crashed during low-altitude formation training in low visibility conditions in the Sugashima area of Toba, Mie Prefecture, on April 19, 1983.

Thankfully, there is more agreement in the case of the C-130H, for which a preparatory office was set up in August 1982 and a unit for deployment to the United States for training formed in December that year.

Ferried by JASDF crews, the first two C-130Hs arrived at Komaki from the United States on March 14, 1984, at which time two YS-11s were received from the 402nd Sqn. The two C-130Hs being flown from Komaki by the then Air Proving Wing, it was September before the 401st received its first examples of the type and October when reformed on the type and operations were officially commenced. Deliveries of its full complement of 12 aircraft plus three reserves were completed during the course of fiscal 1989, when the 401st’s time as a composite squadron ended with the gradual passing on of its C-1s and YS-11s.

JASDF C-130HWhile a sister aircraft undergoes maintenance, a C-130H Hercules of the 401st Sqn,
1st Tactical Airlift Group (TAG) comes to the end of its landing run at Komaki AB in October 2000.

For the time being, the remainder of the 401st’s history comes in the form of a chronology, which highlights the unit’s contributions to disaster relief and peacekeeping efforts overseas.

401st Airlift Sqn Chronology (1984–)

1984 Sept. 26 Arrival of first C-130H
1989 May 11 Regular services commenced by C-130H, as  transfer out of 
C-1s and YS-11s completed during course of year
  May 28 First JASDF unit sent to United States to participate in USAF
Airlift Rodeo (from 1992 biennial Air Mobility Rodeo)
tactical airlift meet (takes part total of six times through the 90s)
1992 Sept. 23 (to Sept. 10, 1993) Engaged in peacekeeping operations
(PKO) in Cambodia
1993 Dec. 29 (to Jan. 7, 1994) Engaged in PKO in Mozambique
1994 Sept. 17 (to Dec. 28) Provided airlift support for refugees in Rwanda
1995 May 16 Started airlift support operations in Golan Heights
1998 Nov. 13 (to Dec. 9) Engaged in airlift operations for Japan Disaster
Relief Team in aftermath of Hurricane Mitch
1999 Feb. 2 (to Feb. 10) Conducted overseas flight training
  Nov. 24 (to Feb. 9) Airlift operations in support of international peace
cooperation work for displaced person relief efforts in
East Timor
 2001 Feb. 5  (to Feb. 11) Airlift operations in support of Japan’s
contribution to international relief efforts after earthquake
in India 
  Oct. 6 (to Oct. 11) Afghan refugee relief by international peace
cooperation work
  Nov. 29 Start of operations under Anti-Terrorism Special Measures
Law passed following attacks on New York
2002 Mar. 2 Engages in PKO in East Timor
 2003 July 7  (to Aug. 10) Airlift operations as part of international peace
cooperation efforts for Iraqi refugee relief 
  Dec. 24 Iraq reconstruction support dispatch unit forms at Komaki
  Dec. 30 (to Jan. 6, 2004) Airlift operations as part of Japan’s
contribution in support of international relief efforts in
aftermath of earthquake in Bam, Iran
 2004 Mar. 3  Commences airlift missions in support of SDF teams
despatched to assist reconstruction efforts in Iraq 

JASDF C-130H IraqFor operations in Iraq, the 401st’s aircraft initially had their tails painted white. Later, an overall
pale blue scheme was adopted. 
(Photo [Nyutabaru, Oct. 2003]: Takao Kadokami)

2005 Jan. 10 (to Mar. 18) Involved in international disaster relief efforts
in Indonesia following Sumatra earthquake
  Oct. 3 (to Dec. 3) Participates in international relief efforts in
aftermath of earthquake in Pakistan
2006 June 1 (to June 22) Involved in international disaster relief efforts
in Indonesia following Java earthquake
2007 May 3 Completes 500th airlift mission in support of SDF teams
despatched to assist reconstruction efforts in Iraq
2008 Nov. 7 Completes 800th airlift mission in support of SDF teams
despatched to assist reconstruction efforts in Iraq
  Dec. 12 Airlift missions in support of SDF teams despatched to assist
reconstruction efforts in Iraq ended
2009 May 18 Airlifts JMSDF personnel and equipment to Djibouti as part
of efforts to counter piracy off coast of Somalia
2010 Jan. 17 (to Feb. 18) Involved in international disaster relief efforts 
following earthquake in Haiti
  Feb. 5 Airlift support of team despatched to Haiti on PKO starts
  Feb. 25 Receives first Hercules reconfigured to KC-130H standard
  Aug. 22 (to Sept. 7) Involved in international disaster relief efforts
 following severe flooding in Pakistan

JASDF first KC-130HThe JASDF ‘s first KC-130H conversion (nearest camera) was delivered on February 25, 2010.
(Photo: JASDF)

2012 Jan. 26 South Sudan PKO support flight operations start
  Dec. 23 (to Dec. 27) Conducts missions in support of withdrawal
from Haiti
2013 Jan. 9 (to Jan. 19) Airlift support missions in Golan Heights
  Jan. 30 Participates in Cope North Guam 2013 exercise
  Nov. 12 (to Dec. 20) Provides airlift support for Japanese contribution
to international relief efforts after typhoon strikes
the Philippines
2014 Mar. 11 (to Apr. 28) Involved in international efforts to find missing 
Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
  Sept. 29 (to Oct. 3) Conducts training exercises, including simulated
evacuation of Japanese nationals overseas
2015 Apr. 28 (to May 19) Participates in international relief efforts in
aftermath of earthquake in Nepal
  Dec. 17 (to Dec. 18) Conducts training exercises, including simulated
evacuation of Japanese nationals overseas
2016 July 11 (to July 26) Three aircraft sent to Djibouti for transportation
missions, including evacuation of Japanese nationals,
due to worsening security situation in Juba, South Sudan
  Dec. 2 (to Dec. 10) Participates in Japan-U.S.-Australia humanitarian
assistance and disaster relief joint training exercise in
Federated States of Micronesia
  Dec. 12 (to Dec. 16) Conducts training exercises, including simulated
evacuation of Japanese nationals overseas
2017 Nov. 3 (to Nov. 22) One aircraft and personnel sent to train with 
USAF units at bases in Missouri and Arizona

401st Airlift Sqn Tail Markings
From 1972–78, the disc-shaped marking on 401st Sqn YS-11s featured a blue cherry blossom, which appeared in red on Air Transport Training Squadron YS-11s from 1975–78.

Following the switch to the Tactical Air Group system in 1978, a 401st member suggested a new marking in August that year. A red dolphinlike shachihoko, with a blue “1” in the background, denoting the 1st TAG, was worn on its C-1 and YS-11 aircraft. This mythical creature still forms part of the 1st TAG badge (below).

1st TAG JASDF(Japan Minsitry of Defense/JASDF)

Although from a distance looking more like a flea, the latest marking (introduced in 2010) is of the winged horse, Pegasus (below and link). 

401st Sqn JASDFKomaki, February 2014 

Special Marking, 401st Airlift Sqn, 1994

401 Sqn JASDF Komaki(Photo [Komaki, Nov. 1994]: Rob Schleiffert)

A 401st Sqn C-130H received special treatment for the JASDF’s 40th anniversary. A predominant Pegasus tail design was supplemented by two shield markings on the port forward fuselage (link). These marked (left) the unit’s participation at an Air Mobility Rodeo at McChord AFB, Washington, and in United Nations PKO efforts in the three countries listed underneath: Cambodia, Mozambique and Rwanda. 

402nd Airlift Sqn

Formed Oct. 1, 1958 (Air Transport Wing, Kisarazu, C-46) 
Current Base  Iruma (C-1/U-4) 

Unlike the 401st Sqn, Japanese sources are in general agreement with regard to the major milestones in the 402nd’s history, such as having its origins in the Miho Detachment of 1955–1958 (see later on this page), when that base was still under U.S. military control. The Miho Detachment provided the basis for the Air Transport Wing (q.v.), which was itself formed to command both squadrons upon their formation on October 1, 1958, but the 402nd moved its already ageing C-46s to commence initial operations under the Kisarazu Training Squadron on October 17. Reporting to the Air Training Wing, the Kisarazu Training Squadron changed its name to the Kisarazu Detachment two months later, and it was not until the advent of the 402nd-commanding Kisarazu Squadron (q.v.) in June 1959 that C-46 operations began in earnest..

Receiving its first YS-11 for maintenance crew training in March 1965, about a year after the 401st Sqn, regular “milk run” JASDF base supply operations were commenced the following August. Preparations having been made in 1967, a move from Kisarazu to the former F-86F base at Iruma was undertaken March 5–31, 1968, so the 402nd’s association with its current base, which officially commenced on June 1, 1968, has passed the half century mark. The move prompted a change of command unit name to the Iruma Squadron. (Japanese Wikipedia would appear to be wide of the mark in alone giving October 1, 1968, as the date of the 402nd Sqn’s formation.)

402 Sqn YS-11CResplendent with the unit’s then eagle tail marking, a 402nd YS-11C was on static display at the
Hyakuri air show in July 1985.
(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

The Air Staff Office set up a C-1 project office at Iruma in November 1971, and the 402nd used a Gifu-based Air Proving Group test aircraft for C-1 crew training in 1973. At Iruma, a course for two pilot instructors started on January 22, 1974, and was followed by a type conversion training course from April that year, when project and maintenance training groups were formed within the 402nd. The first C-1 conversion course got underway that July, the flying elements still being undertaken with the newly renamed Air Proving Wing at Gifu. Operational trials commenced following the arrival of the first production aircraft (the third aircraft built) on December 14, 1974, and continued until December 1975.

In the meantime, a preparedness evaluation was conducted at Iruma in September ahead of the first withdrawals from service of C-46s in November 1973, a task that was completed in March 1974. It was October 2001 before the YS-11 operations ceased following the passing of all the 402nd’s surviving aircraft to the 403rd Sqn.

The C-1 officially entered squadron service in February 1976. The training on and deliveries of the new type having continued smoothly through 1977, the upper echelons of the 402nd were reorganized as the 2nd Tactical Airlift Group on March 31, 1978. The 402nd was to remain the sole operational unit of the C-1 up until March 1978, a position in which the unit once again now finds itself following its receipt, in the reverse of the YS-11’s gradual demise, of ex-403rd Sqn C-1s on April 4, 2018.

c-1 takeoffA 402nd Sqn Kawasaki C-1 hurriedly gets aloft at Iruma. The C-1 has been in service since 1976.

JASDF C-1 retirementAll available 402nd Airlift Sqn members formate behind the flight crew that took C-1 ‘022’ into
retirement, after clocking up 17,780 flying hours, on May 11, 2015. Sadly, the aircraft was
gradually broken up at the base dump the following year.
 (Photo: JASDF Iruma)

The unit has fully operated the U-4 (Gulfstream IV) for 20 years, since January 1998, the type’s operational testing having commenced in February the previous year. More details of the U-4 operations will be added in due course. Recent examples include taking Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Oita and Fukuoka prefectures to inspect the extent of the damage caused by Typhoon No. 3 in July 2017. On December 14, 2017, a U-4 was used by high-ranking officers when visiting their counterparts in the Vietnam Air Force.

The 2nd TAG/402Sqn often hosts visits by delegations from foreign air forces arms, including those from Pakistan (April 2015), Myanmar (August 2015) and the Royal Thai Air Force (July 2016).

402nd Sqn Tail Markings

C-1 Iruma (2)(Photo [Iruma, Nov. 1984]: Akira Watanabe)

In 1978, when the squadron was placed under the command of the newly formed 2nd TAG, its aircraft carried an eagle in the shape of a ‘2’ (less effective when reversed on the starboard side, above and in this link). 

402nd C-1 badgeShimofusa, September 2012

Since 1988, its aircraft have carried the crest of the 2nd TAG (above, and under 2nd TAG entry), which depicts an eagle over a map of Japan. 

403rd Tactical
Airlift Sqn

Formed Mar. 31, 1978 (Air Transport Wing, Miho, YS-11)
Current Base Miho (3rd TAG, C-2) 

Dating back to September 1959 when Miho AB was returned to JASDF use, and the JASDF Provisional Miho Detachment provided multi-engine training, the Flying Training Squadron formed on the C-46 at Miho on July 15, 1961. Reorganised as part of the 3rd TAG on March 31, 1978, when it took over responsibility for the training from the Air Transport Training Squadron, the 403rd Airlift Sqn received its first C-1 on March 19, 1979.

jasdfgallery YS-11 (3)(Photo: JASDF)

Having begun to phase out its YS-11Ps (above) on June 22, 2015, the final flight of the last example was made to Nagoya, where the aircraft was to take pride of place in the Aichi Museum of Flight, on May 29, 2017. In the meantime, the first C-2 had arrived at Miho two months before, on March 28.

From November 8–17, 2017, the first C-2 combined overseas training mission and sales tour was undertaken to Djibouti, the aircraft involved returning to Japan via the Dubai air show. From November 25 to December 1 that year, another C-2 training flight was conducted, this time to New Zealand and Australia.

On January 31, 2018, the first operational missions for C-2 crews officially commenced and included supporting efforts to repatriate the remains of war dead found by volunteers on Iwo To. A return to overseas training flights was made with a mission to North America conducted from March 12–19.

An event held on March 30, 2018, to mark the squadron’s 40th anniversary was followed on April 4 by the final act of the “out with the old, in with the new” process, the passing of its remaining C-1s to the 402nd Sqn at Iruma.

403rd Sqn Markings
The initial marking was a blue disc containing the white-outlined petals of a cherry blossom. These were arranged in a stylized form that vertically spelled out the letters ‘ATW’ (for Air Transport Wing) and enclosed a ‘3’ for the 3rd Air Transport Group, which commanded the 403rd Sqn.

Appearing in around 1991, the second version was another blue disc and a design, evoking the 403rd’s Comet radio call-sign, of a broom-riding witch drawing the number ‘3’ (link).

JASDF 403 Sqn(Komaki, February 2014)

Changed again for unknown reasons by 1994, the current marking (above, although seen on a now withdrawn YS-11) portrays the white hare and divinity synonymous with an ancient myth in the Inaba region, which now forms the eastern part of Tottori Prefecture, where Miho is located. Their statues feature at the Hakuto Shrine in the city of Tottori.

404th Tactical Airlift
Tanker Sqn

Formed Mar. 26, 2009 (1st TAG, Komaki, KC-767) 
Current Base Komaki (1st TAG, KC-767)

JASDF KC-767A KC-767 from the 404th Tactical Tanker Airlift Sqn refuels the 201st TFS F-15J that was specially
painted to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its Chitose base in 2017
(Photo: JASDF Chitose AB)

KC-767 JASDF (Binks)Delivered in 2010, the fourth and final KC-767 to enter service with the 404th Sqn departs
Hamamatsu in October 2014.
(Photo: Andy Binks) 

404th Tactical Airlift Tanker Sqn Chronology

2009 Mar. 26 Newly formed at Komaki (link)
2010 Apr. 1 Commences KC-767 operations
  Aug. 22 (to Aug. 26) Undertakes first overseas mission as part of
Haiti PKO efforts
2012 July 17 (to July 8) Provides first JASDF aircraft to participate for first
time in Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in UK
2013 Feb. 4 (to Feb. 15) Participates in Exercise Cope North Guam
  Nov. 12 (to Dec. 20) Provides airlift support for Japanese
contribution to international relief efforts after typhoon
strikes the Philippines
2014 July 11 (to July 13) Second participation in RIAT
  Dec. 6 (to Dec. 11) (to Dec. 11) Airlift of materiel as part of 
international emergency relief operation to combat Ebola
epidemic in West Africa
2017 Jan. 30 (to Mar. 19) Participates in Exercise Cope North Guam
  May 25 (to July 1) Participates in Red Flag Alaska
  July 10 404th KC-767 visits United Arab Emirates Air Force unit
  July 14 (to July 16) Third participation in RIAT
  July 17 Visit made to Royal Canadian Air Force unit
  Sept. 3 Concludes sister squadron accord with No. 33 Squadron,
Royal Australian Air Force
2018 Jan. 19 Visit made to Royal Thai Air Force unit

JASDF KC-767 AlaskaA 404th Sqn KC-767 taxies toward its parking point on the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson flight
line in June 2017. The aircraft was transporting cargo and personnel to Alaska in support of
that year’s Red Flag joint exercise.
(Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Westin Warburton)

404 Sqn JASDFLooked at from both sides now. A shiny 404th Sqn aircraft arrives back at Komaki, February 2014.

404th Tactical Airlift Tanker Sqn Tail Marking

JASDF 404 Sqn(Komaki, February 2014)

The unit marking is of a bold-faced black horse, which has its origins in the local colour provided from olden times by a horse market, on the back of which the now city of Komaki prospered.

601st Sqn


As Provisional AW&C Sqn: Nov. 15, 1983

As 601st AW&C Sqn: Apr. 5, 1986  (E-2C, Misawa)

Current Base Misawa (Airborne Warning & Surveillance Group, E-2C)

On September 6, 1976, at the height of the Cold War, a defecting Soviet Air Force MiG-25 pilot exposed the weaknesses in Japan’s air defences by landing unchallenged at Hakodate airport, Hokkaido Prefecture. As a result, the JASDF beefed up its ground-based radar network and made the acquisition of an airborne early warning (AEW) capability a priority. In 1981, pilots and ground crews began to be sent the United States to receive training from Grumman.

A preparatory unit having formed at Misawa December 21, 1982, what was to become the 601st had to wait to February 9 the following year to receive its first two E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, which were delivered by sea to Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture. A total of four aircraft had been received by November 1983, when the preparatory unit was reformed as the Provisional Airborne Warning & Control (AW&C) Squadron, at that time reporting to the Northern Regional Air Command. Eight aircraft were on strength when the 601st AW&C Sqn officially came into being, on April 5, 1986.

E-2C Nyutabaru(Photo [Nyutabaru, March 1993]: Takao Kadokami)

Assuming responsibility for patrols from March 31, 1987, the unit played and important role and quickly clocked up the flying hours, surpassing 10,000 hours that same year.

Fast forward 11 years, and a 601st Sqn flight operating E-767s from Hamamatsu was added in March 1998. As shown in the chronology below, the 601st has been solely an E-2C unit since April 2014.

601st Sqn Chronology

1982 Dec. 21 Unit responsible for preparing for airborne early warning
(AEW) operations under Northern Air Command and 
subordinate unit to prepare for AEW squadron formed at
1983 Feb. 8 First two E-2Cs arrive
  July 15 Third and fourth E-2Cs arrive
  Nov. 10 Receives then Japan Defense Agency approval for squadron
utilization of E-2C
  Nov. 15 Above preparatory units form Provisional Airborne Warning &
Control (AW&C) Group and Provisional 601st AW&C Sqn
1986 Apr. 5 AW&C Group loses provisional title, formation of 601st Sqn
with six aircraft completed
1987 Jan. 31 Start of alert standby and patrol flight missions on E-2Cs
1993 Nov. 11 Including its time as a provisional squadron in total, 601st
holds event to celebrate 10th anniversary year, for which
aircraft receives special markings (link)
1994 Apr. 28 Last of 13 E-2Cs received
1998 Mar. 25 First two E-767s arrive, AEW aircraft test unit forms at
Hamamatsu under Air Development & Test Wing command 
1999 Feb. 8 Second pair of E-767s arrive at Hamamatsu
  Mar. 24 Receives then Japan Defense Agency approval for squadron
utilization of E-767
  Mar. 25 AW&C Group and 601st Sqn HQ relocates from Misawa to
to Hamamatsu. 601st’s 1st Flight (E-2C) remains at Misawa,
Hamamatsu becomes base for 2nd Flight (E-767) operations
  May 10 E-767 operations commence
  June 21 (to June 25) Participates in Cope North Guam

JASDF 40th anniversary E-2CThe year 1994, in which the 601st received its last E-2C, coincided with the JASDF’s 40th anniversary,
an event that did not pass unnoticed.
(Photo [Misawa, Oct. 1994]: Rob Schleiffert)

2000 April E-767 missions to counter incursions of Japanese airspace
  May 30 (to June 3) Cope North Guam
2002 Apr. 15 (to Apr. 26) Cope North Guam (E-767)
2003 June 5 (to June 29) Participates in Cope Thunder multinational
exercise (E-767)
  Nov. 8 Ceremony held to mark 20th anniversary of AW&C Group,
for which aircraft again painted with special markings (link)
  Nov. 10 (to Nov. 21) Cope North Guam (E-767)
 2004 July 15  (to July 30) Participates in U.S.-Japan Cope Thunder joint
exercise (E-767) 
  Sept. 22  Receives first E-2C refurbished to Hawkeye 2000 standard 
2005  Mar. 31  Reorganization results in 1st Flight (E-2C) being
redesignated as Airborne Warning & Surveillance Sqn,
2nd Flt (E-767) as AW&C Sqn 
2006  June 1  (to June 10) Participates in Cope North Guam
2007  June 10  (to June 23) Cope North Guam 
2009 Feb. 1 (to Feb. 14) Cope North Guam
  July 30 Surpasses 100,000 accident-free flying hours, paints
aircraft to mark occasion (link [Misawa] and photo below)

JASDF E-2C 50th anniversaryMembers of the 601st’s maintenance team were again allowed to show their artistic side for the
JASDF’s 50th anniversary in 2004
(link). (Photo [Nyutabaru, Dec. 2004]: Takao Kadokami)

IMG_0376crsOne of the then Airborne Warning & Surveillance Squadron’s E-2C Hawkeyes was specially painted 
to commemorate the milestone of 100,000 accident-free flight hours attained on July 30, 2009.
Seen here and in flight
(link) at Iruma in November of that year, this aircraft was one of four
assigned to the JASDF’s then newest unit, the 603rd Sqn, in 2014.

2013 Feb. 4 (to Feb. 15) participation in Cope North Guam
  Nov. 30 Ceremony held to mark 30th anniversary of AW&C Group,
aircraft again painted with special marking (link)
2014 Apr. 20 Following another AW&C Group reorganization, Airborne
Warning & Surveillance Sqn disbands, (E-2C) 601st Sqn
reforms under Airborne Warning & Surveillance Group at
Misawa, alongside newly formed 603rd Sqn (q.v.) at Naha;
AW&C Sqn E-767 operations reformed under 602nd Sqn
(see below)
2015 Jan. 27 (to Mar. 12) Cope North Guam
2016 Feb. 10 (to Feb. 26) Cope North Guam
2017 Feb. 15 (to Mar. 3) Cope North Guam

E-2C JASDF 60th anniversaryLike many squadrons, the 601st marked the JASDF’s 60th anniversary in 2014 with a subdued, budget-
saving fuselage sticker, albeit one larger than most.
(Photo [Hamamatsu, Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

The unit is set to once again be involved in a major reorganization of the JASDF’s airborne early warning assets planned for fiscal 2019, when the first E-2D will be arriving.

601st Squadron Markings

JASDF 601 Sqn(Ashiya, September 2000)

All 601st Sqn aircraft sport the unit’s marking of a bat clutching lightning flashes on their fuselage sides (E-2C) and, previously, tails (E-767). The design was formally decided upon on March 24, 1986.

602nd Sqn

Formed As Airborne Warning & Control Squadron:
Mar. 31, 2005 (Hamamatsu, E-767) 
As 602nd Sqn: Apr. 20, 2014 (Hamamatsu, E-767)
Current Base  Hamamatsu (reporting direct to
Airborne Warning & Control Group, E-767)

E-767 JASDFWearing a JASDF 60th anniversary badge on its engine cowling, a 602nd Sqn E-767 makes smoke on
landing at Hamamatsu in October 2014.
(Photo: Andy Binks)

The 602nd was formed from the E-767 detachment that was originally attached to the 601st Sqn. (For E-767 events from 1998 to early 2005 see 601st Sqn.)

602nd Sqn Events from 2005

2005 Mar. 31 Reformed as Airborne Warning & Control Squadron
from 601st Sqn, 2nd Flt
  May 25 (to July 1) Participates in U.S.-Japan Cope Thunder
joint exercise
2006 July 21 (to Aug. 5) Participates in Cope Thunder multinational exercise
2011 June 27 (to July 29) Participates in U.S. Air Force Red Flag Alaska
2013 Aug. 9 (to Aug. 24) Takes part again in Red Flag Alaska
2014 Apr. 20 Airborne Warning & Control Squadron Sqn reforms as 602nd Sqn
2015 Aug. 4 (to Aug. 22) Red Flag Alaska exercise

It remains to be seen what effect, if any, the major reorganization of the JASDF’s airborne early warning assets, planned for fiscal 2019, will have on the set-up in Okinawa.

602 Sqn JASDF(Photo: JASDF)

602nd Sqn Tail Marking

JASDF E-767 602 Sqn(Hamamatsu, Sept. 2014)

Having worn the bat clutching lightning flashes marking of the 601st Sqn during its time as that unit’s 2nd Flight, the 602nd retains the design—comprising an owl clutching lightning flashes—adopted following formation in its own right as the then Airborne Warning & Control Squadron in 2005.

603rd Sqn

Formed Apr. 20, 2014 
(Airborne Warning & Surveillance Group, Naha, E-2C) 
Current Base Naha (Airborne Warning & Surveillance Group, E-2C [link]) 

JASDF 602 Sqn E-2C(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

From 2010, an increase in particularly Chinese military activity resulted in a higher incidence of fighter scrambles from Naha to ward off possible incursions into Japanese airspace. As the activity showed no sign of abating, the Misawa-based Airborne Warning & Control Sqn (601st Sqn) commenced the stationing of a single E-2Cs in Okinawa on training rotations from around 2012.

603rd Sqn InoderaThen Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera addresses the assembled personnel in the 603rd’s hangar 
at Naha on the day the unit was formed, April 20, 2014.
(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense)

Part of a National Defense Program Guideline, a Cabinet decision on December 17, 2013, cleared the way for a new AEW squadron to be permanently based at Naha. Thus the 603rd came into existence the following year.

It remains to be seen what effect the major reorganization of the JASDF’s airborne early warning assets and the arrival of the first E-2D, both planned for fiscal 2019, will have on the set-up in Okinawa.

603rd Sqn Marking
603rd Sqn aircraft retain the 601st Sqn’s bat fuselage marking.

E-2C HamamatsuThe JASDF is continually upgrading the capabilities of its E-2C fleet.

701st Sqn

Formed As Provisional Special Airlift Group:
April 1, 1992 (Chitose, 747-400)
As 701st Sqn: June 1, 1993
(Special Airlift Group, Chitose, 747-400) 
Current Base Chitose (B747-400, B777-300) 

JASDF SAG B-747 (1)One of the two JASDF B-747s over Lake Shikotsu in southwest Hokkaido.
(Photo: Special Airlift Group, JASDF Chitose)

According to the November 2000 issue of Kōkū Fan magazine, the Japanese government was looking into the country playing a greater role on the world stage in 1987. It was this that provided the trigger for the acquisition of two Boeing 747-400s, which were to become known simply as B-747 in JASDF service, ‘to contribute to the development of internationalization’.

Suitably equipped for VIP operations, the aircraft were handed over in September and November 1991 and came under the control of the then Japan Defense Agency (JDA, now Japan Ministry of Defense) the following April. It was to be more than a year before the provisional unit, formed on April 4, 1992, was deemed ready to officially receive full squadron status under the Special Airlift Group.

In line with the transfer of the aircraft to the JASDF, the unit’s mission was expanded from the transport of VIPs, such as the prime minister and his entourage and members of the imperial family. On occasion, the unit is involved in international relief activities, the evacuation and repatriation of Japanese and other nationals caught in conflict zones, and special cases that have received prime ministerial approval.

Offering some insight into its operations and the aircraft interiors, the Special Airlift Group produced an English-language video that can be viewed on YouTube (link). 

701st Sqn Chronology

1992 Apr. 1 Formed as Provisional Special Airlift Group at Chitose
  Sept. 25 First overseas test flight conducted
1993 Feb. 11 Flies first official mission (visit of then Deputy
Prime Minister Michio Watanabe to United States)
  June 1 701st Sqn officially comes into existence under
Special Airlift Group

JASDF B-747Soon to be a sight from of the past, a 701st Sqn B-747 takes off from Tokyo International Airport
back in November 2008. 
(Photo: ‘Rs1421’ via Wikimedia Commons)

2000 Aug. 31 Cumulative total of 112 overseas missions to 64 countries
2003 Mar. 30 (to Apr. 2) Mounts refugee relief operation, airlifting tents
and other materiel to Iraq as first international peace
cooperation mission
2004 Jan. 22 For first time, transports around 100 SDF personnel from
Komaki to Kuwait to assist in Iraq’s reconstruction
2005 Oct. 14 For its first international emergency relief operation, airlifts
personnel from Japan to assist in the aftermath of earthquake
that struck Pakistan
2006 Aug. 18 Cumulative total of overseas airports visited reaches 200
2008 Nov. 17 200th mission completed

701 Sqn JASDF 200701st Sqn personnel form‘200’ during a photo call marking the 200th mission milestone,
reached in November 2008. (Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense)

2013 Jan. 21 (to Jan 24) Operates first mission involving evacuation
and repatriation of Japanese nationals from overseas (Algeria)
2014 Aug. 12 Decision made to award ANA Holdings maintenance contract
for replacement 777-300 aircraft
2015 Oct. 6 300th mission completed
2017 May 15 In-flight personnel 777-300 conversion training commences at
ANA facility
2018 Aug. 17 First 777-300 arrives (see Bullletin Board story)
  Oct. 20 Prime Minister Shinzō Abe inspects B-777 for first time at
Tokyo-Haneda upon return from visit to Europe (link)
  Nov. 3 (to Nov. 5) First B-777 overseas training operation, transporting
35 personnel from Haneda to Sydney, Australia 

JASDF SAG B-747 (2)Neither B-747 has carried any squadron markings. (Photo: Special Airlift Group, JASDF Chitose)

B777 JASDFPAOThe first of the pair of Boeing 777-300ERs arrived  on August 17, 2018, and conducted its first overseas
training flight in early November.
(Photo: JASDF, Public Affairs Office)

paradrop(Photo: Takao Kadokami)


(All photographs on this website are copyright J-HangarSpace
unless otherwise stated.) 

Principal Reference Sources (in Japanese unless otherwise stated)


50th Anniversary of Blue Impulse, Bunrindo, 2010

Burū Inparusu Monogatari (Blue Impulse Tales), series published in 
Kōkū Ja-naru (Aviation Journal), 1976–1978

Blue Impulse Perfect Guidebook, Ikaros, 2015

JSDF Squadron, series published in Kōkū Fan magazine, Bunrindo (various issues 1997–2001)

Japan Self-Defense Force Squadron, Ikaros, Summer 1996

JASDF F-15 All-Unit Guide, JWings, October 2014 issue

Kōkū Jieitai F-86/F-104, Military Aircraft of JASDF Vol. 6, Ikaros, 2005

Kōkū Jieitai T-4/C-1/E-767, Military Aircraft of JASDF Vol. 5, Ikaros, 2005

Mitsubishi T-2/F-1 Shashinshū (Photo Collection), Hobby Japan, 2017

North American F-86 Sabre, Famous Airplanes of the World Nos. 20 and 93, Bunrindo, 1995/2002
T-1/T-3/T-4/T-7 Shashinshū (Photo Collection), Hobby Japan, 2017

Watanabe, Akira, Japanese Air Arms, 19521984, (self-published in English), 1984
JASDF base/unit websites
Japanese Wikipedia






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

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

Miho poster 2017

2019 Airshow Dates
Mar. 31  Komaki
May*  Shizuhama
Nov. 3  Iruma

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

2017 Event Posters
Kisarazu / Metabaru
Kisarazu 170225

Metabaru 2017

2019 Airshow Dates
Jan. 13  Kisarazu
 (paratroop display) 

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

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

Ozuki Swell 2017

(*) Date to be confirmed

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


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