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In 2015, J-HangarSpace added a roundup of site-relevant content carried in the major aviation magazines during the course of the year and an ongoing “e-cupboard” of book reviews. These are separated by a textbox containing the access details for the Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA) library in Tokyo. 

(In the magazine Feature Focus sections, JASDF, JGSDF and JMSDF topics are highlighted in bluegreen and orange, respectively.)

Mainstream Japanese-Language Aviation Magazines

Following the sad demise of Air World, a long-standing magazine that ceased publication with the March 2013 issue (Vol. 37, No. 3), three* major titles remain: Aireview (also known as Kōkū Joho [Aviation Information] in Japanese), JWings and Koku Fan. To these can be added Maru, a military monthly magazine with a generally high proportion of aviation content, and a bi-monthly specialized magazine entitled Helicopter Japan. All these are covered alphabetically in more detail below. Each entry is followed by a Feature Focus, a summary of articles containing content relevant to J-HangarSpace that appeared during the course of 2015.

In Japan, monthly aviation magazines are generally published on the 21st of the month, two months in advance of the month shown on the cover. Thus the March 2023 issue will have appeared in shops in the third week of January. The Book Off chain of second-hand book stores and amazon.co.jp provide good sources of back numbers.

* Reduced to two in October 2023, when Aireview ceased publication. (See September 2023 Bulletin Board story.)   

Published by SequireySha, 130pp, 1,400 yen (incl. tax)
Editor: Tōru Sase 

Launched in October 1951, the now defunct Aireview reached Issue 868 with its January 2016 issue, but ownership of this well-respected title had passed from its long-standing publisher Kantosha to a company called Sekireisha (classical music magazine publisher SequireySha on the Internet) in 2014.

Each B5-format issue tended to follow a familiar format, usually opening with a colour section comprising a special feature and articles on two other items of topical interest. Around eight colour pages were devoted to double-page Air Viewpoint reports. There followed a 30-page black-and-white section that likewise covered a wide range of subjects. Although not relevant to this website, a series on the U.S. Air National Guard that appeared in this section is worthy of note, as an English translation was provided on the bottom half of each page along with bilingual captions.

A second colour section included the series entitled My Favorite Jet Fighter and was regularly followed by five pages of Aviation Photo (sic) from Readers. Printed in black and white, the remaining pages covered historical subjects and the AR. Transponder section, which provided Japanese aviation news in brief, event information and reports on new plastic aircraft model releases.

For a while, four of these pages were devoted to the long-running Jieitai Genyo Meiki Retsuden, an excellent series of photo profiles on the types of aircraft that are currently on active service with the SDF. A collection of earlier articles on past SDF aircraft were put together in book form (Japan Self-Defense Forces Aircraft Series Vol. 1) and published as a separate supplement to the July 2011 issue. Copies should still be available direct from the publisher, although the shopping cart form on the website is geared to readers resident in Japan.

自衛隊機列伝coverJieitaiki Retsuden 1
Japan Self-Defense Forces Aircraft Series Vol. 1
Softback, Japanese text, 252mm×181mm, 124 pp
1,410 yen (excl. tax)
The cover shows a formation of 4th Sqn F-86Fs airborne from Komatsu AB.

Further information
SequireySha K.K., 502, Akasaka Sky Heights, Akasaka 7-5-48, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052, Japan
Tel: +81 3 6685 5914 / Fax: +81 3 6685 5913
E-mail: info@airview.jp (Note not “aireview”)
http://airview.jp (Japanese language only)

Aireview Feature Focus 2015
(Topics relevant to J-HangarSpace content only)

Aireview cover Jan2015Jan. 2015 (No. 856)
Special Feature: MRJ roll-out
Ministry of Defense/TRDI Fiscal 2015 budget request
Air Viewpoints: SDF 60th anniversary review; Akeno Army Camp 59th anniversary event; Iruma airshow report; Ashiya-based T-4 with commemorative markings; Zero fighter homecoming (Type 22 AI-112)
Aviation History Discoveries: IJAAF Kashiwa airfield (Part 7)
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 6: ShinMaywa US-1

Feb. 2015 (No. 857)
Toyama Police AW139 operations
Will a Zero fly again in Japan?
Next-Generation Fighter 25DMU
Ministry of Defense decides on three aircraft (E-2D Hawkeye, MV-22 Osprey, RQ-4 Global Hawk)
Air Viewpoints: Ashiya, Gifu and Tsuiki airshow reports
Aviation History Discoveries: IJAAF Kashiwa airfield (Part 8, opening of Shusui rocket fighter fuel storage)
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 7: Hughes OH-6D

Mar. 2015 (No. 858)
Status of V-22 Osprey, E-2D Hawkeye and Global Hawk
Emergency service air unit training meet in Tochigi Prefecture
New heliport completed at Tokyo Medical University Hospital

Air Viewpoints: Airshow reports from Nyutabaru, Naha; 204th TFS 50th anniversary ceremony; New Year formation flying training at Kita-Utsunomiya Army Camp; Start of flights from Gifu; First flights/SAR training from Iwakuni; Western Region Air Unit New Year (Takayubaru) formation flight training; Tachikawa New Year flight training; 203rd Naval Air Training Sqn (Shimofusa) New Year flight training; 4th Fleet Air Wing (Atsugi) New Year training flights; YS-11M/M-A retirement ceremony 

Aviation History Discoveries 9: Matsudo airfield (Part 1)

SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 8: McDonnell-Douglas RF-4E

Apr. 2015 (No. 859)
Air Viewpoint: Fire/disaster prevention-configured BK117C-2 delivered to Kobe air unit

Retirement ceremony at JCG Hiroshima Air Station (Cessna U206G, Bell 212)
JCG Falcon 900 sent to Myanmar/the Philippines
FY2015 Defense Budget
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 9:
Sikorsky SH-60J

May 2015 (No. 860)
Exercise Cope North Guam 2015
302nd TFS 40th anniversary

Air Viewpoints: XC-2 development flight testing; JCG S-76D handover at Hakodate/type deployment plans; South Hokkaido Doctor-Heli operations

Final OH-6D pilot course graduation at Utsunomiya/school history
JCG EC225LP delivered

Aviation History Discoveries 10: Matsudo airfield (Part 2)/53rd Sentai IJAAF Ki-45 (Nick) fighter base
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 10: JASDF YS-11s 

June 2015 (No. 861)
Status of Air Development & Test Wing (Gifu AB)

Air Viewpoints: Airbus Helicopter Deliveries (Air Rescue Nagoya; Hiroshima and Hyogo Police); Komaki Open House; Blue Impulse over Himeji Castle; Exercise Cope North

JASDF 2015
Kumagaya AB Cherry Blossom Festival
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 11: Kawasaki C-1 

July 2015 (No. 862)
Fiscal 2014 scramble alerts second highest on record; Iruma runway walk 2015
First joint JMSDF/USMC Iwakuni Friendship Day

Air Viewpoints: NAF Atsugi Spring Festival; Somagahara dual event; tsunami-damaged F-2B returned to service; Chiba Prefecture Doctor-Heli road traffic accident training; B777 colour scheme decided

SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 12: Boeing/Kawasaki CH-47J

Aug. 2015 (No. 863)
Omura 58th anniversary event
Kita-Utsunomiya 42nd anniversary; Kasumigaura 62nd anniversary event
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 13: Fuji-Bell AH-1S

Sept. 2015 (No. 864)
JASDF YS-11 retired
Hofu airshow/60th anniverasry of Hofu-Kita training course
P-1 interior revealed to press
Yokohama Aviation Unit AW139s
Nagano Red Cross Hospital helicopter training
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 14: Lockheed C-130H Hercules

Oct. 2015 (No. 865)
Tateyama Festival; Chitose airshow
JGSDF 199th Flight Enlistedman Course (FEC) graduation; Kisarazu LR-2 course commenced
Toyama Doctor-Heli commences operations
UH-X contract awarded to Fuji Heavy Industries
Fiscal 2015 Defense White Paper published
Aviation History: Tokyo University Aviation Research Aircraft Dept. (Part 1/2)
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 15: ECM/Flight Check YS-11s


Aireview Nov2015Nov. 2015 (No. 866)
Liaison/Reconnaissance Squadrons
58th Hachinohe airshow
Start of Toyama Doctor-Heli operations
Aviation History: Tokyo University Aviation Research Aircraft Dept. (Part 2/2)
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 16: Kawasaki T-4

Dec. 2015 (No. 867)
Airshow reports: Komatsu; Tachikawa; Tateyama
Response to September 10 flood rescue operations (incl. Ibaraki Aviation Unit)
   Current helicopter rescue pilot talks about helicopter rescue operations
SDF Current Aircraft Photo Profile No. 17: Boeing 747-400

Helicopter Japan
Published by Takuto One, around 70pp, 2,000 yen (incl. tax)
Editor: Masataka Tomizuka

In mid-2011, Helicopter Japan’s then monthly publication schedule began to be interspersed with double issues, which have largely been the norm since 2013. Reaching Issue 227 with the October/November 2015 issue, this specialist magazine is published on the last day of the second month that appears on the cover. 

As stated on its dedicated homepage, the magazine’s basic editorial concept is to highlight that helicopters save lives. In addition to reporting on rescue operations, the publisher’s own mission statement calls for every issue to convey the latest information by covering the utilization of the helicopter’s advantages as an aircraft for the 21st century—on the basis of the lessons learned from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that struck Kobe in 1995—and all aspects of operations in which helicopters are playing an active role. Such aspects include any recently legislated developments in the Doctor-Heli emergency medical services (EMS) network.

As you would expect, the magazine does cover SDF and Japan Coast Guard subjects, but particular emphasis is placed on the operations of the prefectural/municipal disaster relief units and police air units as well as the Doctor-Heli network. 

The sole colour section, which is normally linked to other content, precedes the contents page and two special features. Combining photo reports from training meets and reports from symposiums in Japan and the United States, the HJ Report section is occasionally followed by a page of airworthiness improvement notifications—evidence that this magazine is also designed to cater to the needs of operators—and regular pages dealing with new aircraft registrations by month. 

Of more interest to the general reader, the HJ Topics section mainly provides airshow coverage. This is followed by the latest installment of a long-running series on the history of civil helicopter operations in Japan, written by a former president of Asahi Helicopter Co., Ltd. In a similar vein, two later pages are devoted to a Helicopter Essay. 

The magazine also serves as the mouthpiece of the Japanese helicopter industry, promotes helicopter utilization and boosts its revenue by carrying advertising that ranges from the products of airframe and engine manufacturers to job vacancies for both pilots and maintenance engineers. 

A page of a reader’s photographs (My Shot) precedes a Newsbox section divided under service (Japan Coast Guard, Police, Doctor-Heli, etc.) and, for example, heliport subheadings. The magazine is rounded out by a couple of HJ Mini Topics, a note from the editor and a photo of the month. 

In the past, the publisher has also produced annual directories and books that bring together information on helicopter operators and operations throughout Japan.

Further information
Takuto One K.K., First Silver Bldg 301, Sendagaya 5-20-11, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-0051, Japan
Tel: +81 3 3356 0649 / Fax: +81 3 3356 8769
E-mail: KYT04167@nifty.ne.jp (= KYT[zero]4167)
http://www.helicopterjapan.com (Japanese language only)

Helicopter Japan Feature Focus 2015
(Topics relevant to J-HangarSpace content only)

Helicopter Japan cover OctNov2014The cover shows the Iwate Prefecture Bell 412EP Himekami during the joint regional training exercise held at Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, in October 2014. The helicopter was named after
a local mountain. 

Oct/Nov. 2014 (No. 221)
(While awaiting publication of the first Helicopter Japan of 2015, the last issue from 2014 was included as an example.)
Colour section: Aviation Day events held across Japan; Tachikawa disaster relief airshow (alos covered in Topics section); Kinki region emergency disaster relief training combined with Wakayama Prefecture tsunami response drill; Hokkaido/Tohoku regional joint training; training exercise to respond to earthquake centred on the Tokyo metropolitan area; training exercises held throughout Iwate Prefecture; JMSDF unit commemorative anniversary events; Toyama Prefectural Police Air Unit presented with awards

Special Feature I: Iwate Prefecture Doctor-Heli
Special Feature II: Autumn disaster relief training

HJ Report: Disaster Relief Air Unit Commanders’ Conference

HJ Topics: Aviation Day events held across Japan; JMSDF Hachinohe airshow (base unit’s 57th anniversary); Helicopter Festival in Tateyama 2014; Helicopter Festival in Ohminato; 46th Iruma airshow; Kisarazu Army Camp’s 46th anniversary event/42nd Kisarazu airshow

Helicopter Japan Jan2015coverThe cover shows a scene from the Tokyo Fire Department New Year Parade held on January 6, 2015.

Dec. 2014/Jan. 2015 (No. 222)
Colour section: Tokyo Fire Department New Year Parade; block joint training reports: Kanto, Chubu and Chugoku; joint Japan-U.S. Exercise Michinoku Alert 2014; JGSDF East Region first formation flights of year; emergency fire assistance training, Tochigi Prefecture; Konan airport (Okayama) festival

HJ Reports: Block joint training (Chugoku/Shikoku, Kanto, Chubu, Kyushu); night takeoff /landing training at Higashi-Ogishima fire base, Kawasaki; emergency fire assistance training, Tochigi Prefecture; Tokyo Fire Department New Year Parade

HJ Topics: Exercise Michinoku Alert 2014; JGSDF East Region/1st Helicopter Brigade first formation flight training of year; disaster training (Mie, Nara and Osaka prefectures)

HelicopterJapan Feb-Mar2015The cover shows one of the 11 Sikorsky S-76Ds ordered by the Japan Coast Guard arriving at
its Hakodate base for the first time on January 23, 2015.

Feb./Mar. 2015 (No. 223)
Colour section: Japan Coast Guard (JCG) S-76D commissioned at Hakodate (plus HJ Report); new helicopters (JCG EC225LP, Hokkaido Doctor-Heli AW109SP: Hyogo Police H155, Hiroshima Police AS365N3); Kobe and Gifu BK117C-2s; Tokyo Metropolitan Police training; Tokyo Fire Department EC225LP hospital rooftop ops; first training flights of year from Somagahra, Utsunomiya / Ohminato, Tateyama (first flights of year all covered in HJ Topics); Kobe City Air Corps ceremony

Special Feature I: New Helicopters
Topics: JCG EC225LP commissioned at Haneda; Tottori Prefecture AW139 delivered; Doctor-Heli ops started in southern Hokkaido and Toyama; end of JGSDF OH-6D training; Gunma Prefecture instruction
Special Feature II: Safety of Doctor-Heli ops 

HJ Apr-May 2015The cover shows Okayama Air Rescue’s new BK117C-2 above Okayama Castle.

Apr./May 2015 (No. 224)
Colour section: New helicopters (Hokkaido Police AW139, Okayama City BK117C-2); Komaki airshow: Somagahara 56th anniversary event (also covered in Topics); Iwate Fire Support waterbombing mission)

Special Feature: Japan Coast Guard helicopters

Topics: Joint Kyoto-Shiga Doctor-Heli operations commenced in Kansai region;  MCH-101 delivered; Airbus Helicopters deliveries; first Japanese Bell 412EPI order announced (Aomori Prefecture); Utsunomiya 65th anniversary event; Tochigi Prefecture Flying Corps/Doctor-Heli combined event 

HJ June-July 2015The cover shows the Kochi Aviation Unit’s AW139 Otome (Maiden), which has been leased
free of charge by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

June/July 2015 (No. 225)
Colour section: Kita-Utsunomiya 42nd anniversary event (also covered in Topics); Yokohama Aviation Unit AW139s (also covered in Report section); joint U.S.-Japan civil-military disaster relief training exercise (also covered in Topics); training reports from Tokyo, Fukushima and Iwate

Special Feature: All-Japan Disaster Relief Air Unit Commanders’ Conference

Visit Report: Tochigi Prefectural Police Aviation Unit

Report: Tokyo flood rescue training

Topics: Osaka regional joint disaster relief drill  

HJ Aug-Sept 2015The cover shows a typical scene involving the Doctor-Heli BK117C-1 assigned to the Kochi Health Sciences Center on the helipad at a hospital in Susaki. 

Aug./Sept. 2015 (No. 226)
Colour section: Kochi Prefecture Doctor-Heli and Kochi Prefectural Aviation Unit helicopters (both also covered in Special Feature); Fuji live-fire drills and Tachikawa airshow (both also covered in Topics; Shiga police/rescue unit joint training

Report: HEM-Net Symposium

Visit Report: Saitama Disaster Prevention Air Squadron 

Topics: Tateyama local festival; Hachinohe airshow; Tochigi joint civil-military disaster relief training exercise; Fuji-Bell UH-X development contractors

helijapanoctnov15A JMSDF MCH-101 is brought into to land on the deck of the destroyer Kurama during the Fleet Review on October 18, 2015

Oct./Nov. 2015 (No. 227)
Colour section: Helicopter operations in Kanto/Tohoku floods of Sept. 2015 (Part 1, also covered in Special Feature); Largest-ever nationwide joint training; Chubu, Hokkaido/Tohoku and Kinki block training; JMSDF Fleet Review; Disaster response drill simulating earthquake in Tokyo Metropolitan Area

Report: Airbus Helicopters Operators’ Conference

Visit Report: Yamagata Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit

Topics: Offering of prayers at Aero Asahi’s Kawagoe maintenance center; Kisarazu airshow; Aviation Day events; Helicopter Festival in Tateyama 

Ikaros Publications, 150pp, 1,250 yen (excl. tax)
Managing Editor: Kiyoko Ozaki; JWings Editor: Masahito Takumi

Since first appearing in summer 1998, JWings has firmly established itself at the forefront of the Japanese market by combining information more geared to the roving military aviation enthusiast with the more serious factual approach of, say, Koku Fan. Like that esteemed publication, JWings’ extensive coverage includes superb photographic content, for which its larger AB-format page size is well suited. The company website states that the JWings monthly print run is 60,000 copies. 

The initial 42-page colour section comprises two special features, for which fighter aircraft remain a favoured topic, and the first of two sections entitled Fever! devoted to providing airshow reports from Japan and overseas. Every year, the June issue (published in the third week of April) contains a pocket-sized preview supplement devoted to the Japanese air show season, which runs through to early December. 

Usually printed in black and white, pages 43–58 are given over to one-off features and regular columns, including Sekai Koku Kenkyusho (World Aviation Research Institute), by aviation writer and former editor of the now defunct Aviation Journal Yoshitomo Aoki, and the latest visit to an SDF facility. 

Photography provides the theme for the start of the second colour section, in which a long-running Kusatsushugi (“Airborne Photographyism”) feature provided a regular vehicle for Kazuhiko Tokunaga to display some of his stunning air-to-air photography. This is followed by World-Wide Photo Press, covering a pot-pourri of topics, a section in which professionals offer advice on aviation photography techniques, and a selection of readers’ photos. 

The current sequence provides a monthly interview with a woman serving in the SDF, the first of two-part information on the latest plastic model kit releases and The Emperor of Squadron Patches. 

The second part of the Fever! feature covers readers’ colour photographs of newsworthy aircraft sightings around Japan, including foreign visitors. Printed in black and white, as is the remainder of the magazine, the last two pages run into short illustrated reports from minor SDF events. Despite the title “Airshow Reports” and the launch of JGround magazine by the same publisher way back in April 2003, these can result in space being given to what some might see as coverage of irrelevant JGSDF subjects, such as armoured vehicles and artillery. 

Event information for the coming month is followed by a news section, divided up into three headings: SDF/Domestic, U.S. Military, Overseas Military News. 

Series currently featured in the closing part include Nihon no Shinseibi (New Japanese Equipment), AKI’s Gunyoki Meka Kensakutai (Military Aircraft Manufacturer Search Team), Mikan no Keikakuki (Project Incomplete), Wings of Nostalgia, and Tekunikaru Kaibogaku (Technical Anatomy [of World War II Aircraft]), and the second part of the model kit information.

Book and DVD reviews as well as notifications of events at museums and the like appear ahead of a section advertising the Norimono Kurabu (“Transport Club”), formerly Airshop Ikaros. (Postscript Please note that the publisher’s own retail bookshop and model outlet, which was located on the ground floor of the editorial offices, closed at the end of September 2017.) 

Established in 1980, Ikaros Publications produces a diverse range of magazines. Appearing quarterly from January 21 each year, Military Classics also contains military aviation content. The company also publishes two annuals, the fact-filled HeliWorld mook (magazine book, below) and The Pilot for budding professionals.

Heliworld 2015 coverSoftback, Japanese text, 252mm×181mm (AB size), 150pp
3,000 yen (incl. tax)
The cover photo shows a JGSDF UH-60JA taking part in the mammoth rescue operation that followed the September 2014 volcanic eruption of Mt. Ontake in Nagano Prefecture, which tragically claimed the lives of 57 people.

Further information
Ikaros Publications, Ltd., Ichigaya-Honmuracho 2-3, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8616, Japan
Editorial: Tel: +81 3 3267 2734 / Fax: +81 3 3267 2713
Sales: Tel: +81 3 3267 2766 / Fax: +81 3 3267 2772
E-mail: jwings@ikaros.co.jp
Websites (Japanese-language only):

JWings Feature Focus 2015
(Topics relevant to J-HangarSpace content only)

Jan. 2015 (No. 197)
Special Feature I: JASDF Review at Hyakuri (SDF 60th Anniversary, Part 5)
Sky Drawings (photos/text for JASDF’s 60th anniversary by Satoshi Akatsuka), Part 1: CH-47A and UH-60J
60th anniversary special markings: Four T-4s at Hamamatsu/Ashiya
Fever! section airshow colour reports: Iruma; Akeno (Army Flying School’s 62nd anniversary, base’s 59th anniversary, new Akeno Rainbow display team [TH-480Bs])
Underslung Stores, Part 11: Weapons carried by aircraft at JASDF Review

JWings cover Feb2015Feb. 2015 (No. 198)
Special Feature I: Scramble! (303rd Sqn and 602nd Sqn, SDF 60th Anniversary, Part 6)
New SDF aircraft (E-2D Hawkeye, MV-22 Osprey, RQ-4 Global Hawk)
Japan’s future fighter
60th anniversary special markings: Three fighters (Gifu-based F-4EJKai, Tsuiki-based F-2B/F-15J)
Fever! airshow colour reports: Ashiya, Gifu, Nyutabaru
SDF Facility Tour No. 12: JMSDF Museum, Kure
Sky Drawings, Part 2: Gifu C-1
Underslung Stores, Part 12: RF-4EJ reconnaissance pods
Technical Anatomy of World War II Aircraft: Tachikawa Ki-74 Experimental Long-Range Reconnaissance Bomber

Ki-74 wikiSeen here in 1945, the Tachikawa Ki-74 formed the subject of the February 2015 issue’s double-page Technical Anatomy of World War II Aircraft, which included a partial cutaway diagram.
(Photo: U.S. Army via Wikimedia Commons)

JWings Mar2015Mar. 2015 (No. 199)
Special Feature: Basic information on JASDF aircraft by role
YS-11M/M-A retirement ceremony/C-130R Hercules
204th TFS F-15J 50th anniversary special markings
Sky Drawings, Parts 3 and 4: “Red Dolphin” T-4s and Hamamatsu-based aircraft formation
New Year flight training: Tachikawa/Takayubaru; Atsugi/Iwakuni/Ozuki; Gifu/Matsushima (Blue Impulse)
Fever! section:  Naha airshow report

J-Wings Apr2015Apr. 2015 (No. 200)
Special Feature: Mitsubishi F-2 (with actual size pull-out poster of F-2A cockpit)
Sky Drawings, Part 5: F-2 Air Wings 

Special 60th anniversary series, Part 7: Misawa F-2 Air Wing;

F-2 Squadron Day-to-Day Life; Engine Start/F-2s Depart from every
Blister Hangar; Airspace and Firing Ranges Utilized Depending on Training;
As Sun Goes Down, Takeoff into Night Sky among Light Snow Flurries
What Kind of Fighter Is the F-2?; F-2 Armament; F-2 Cockpit

3rd Sqn Special 60th Anniversary Markings
21st Sqn: Operations Continue away from Home Base Matsushima
F-2 and F-86 Unit Guide; Seven F-86 Squadrons 

Fiscal Year 2015 Defence Budget
Joint U.S.-Japan Exercise Forest Light (JGSDF Chinooks)
Start of 1st Brigade’s 2015 Parachute Drop Training/Narashino Army Camp Visit

jwingsmay2015May 2015 (No. 201)
Sky Drawings, Parts 6, 7-01, 7-02: Recon Phantoms, Japanese Air Force One; Northern Eagles
Special Feature: 302nd TFS 40th anniversary

Blue Impulse display marks reopening of expressway in Fukushima
Bombardier Challenger 605-based Boeing MSA proposed to JCG
Ceremony to mark end of OH-6D training at Utsunomiya

JWings June2015June 2015 (No. 202)
Special Features: Airshow Guide / SDF 2015 Guide
Blue Impulse displays: over Himeji Castle, at Komaki and Kumagaya airshows
Helicopter carrier Izumo commissioned
Sky Drawings, Parts 8, 9: (Aircraft formation photos/texts for JASDF’s 60th anniversary by Satoshi Akatsuka): YS-11, T-7s

July 2015 (No. 203)
Special Features: SDF Aircraft Detail Guides; F-35 Lightning II
Tsunami-damaged F-2B returned to service
Fever! section: Blue Impulse over Takada Castle, Niigata Prefecture; Air Park F-2A/F-15J ground display; NAF Atsugi Spring Festival; first joint JMSDF/USMC Iwakuni Friendship Day 
Sky Drawings, Part 10: Blue Impulse T-4s

JWings Aug. 2015Aug. 2015 (No. 204)
Special Feature: 20th anniversary of Blue Impulse T-4 operations
Airshow reports: Shizuhama, Miho, Hofu
Report from Iwo To (Iwo Jima)
SDF Drones
Sky Drawings, Part 11: Aggressor Sqn F-15DJs
Fever! section: Debut of JGSDF TH-480B Blue Hornets display team

Sept. 2015 (No. 205)
Special Feature: MTA15 joint Japan-Philippines training exercise (JMSDF P-3C)
Time has come for JASDF to start retiring its YS-11s
27JXR joint SDF-Tokyo disaster relief training exercise
Media given access to Kawasaki P-1 patrol aircraft
Unit service entry spring 2017: Kawasaki C-2 project
Fever! JGSDF Okadama

Oct. 2015 (No. 206)
Bell 412EPI chosen to fulfill UH-X requirement
P-1 shown off to media
JGSDF 2nd Division (Asahikawa) mid-summer training
Airshow report: Chitose
Hamamatsu Air Park night opening
Comparison of SDF/Chinese capabilities
Facility Report No. 20: Nyutabaru AB
Sky Drawings, Part 12: KC-130H and U-4
Fever! section: Maizuru and Komatsushima airshows 

JWings Nov2015Nov. 2015 (No. 207)
Special Features: Major base relocations for JASDF fighter units; Aggressor Squadron
Get To Know the Fuji Live-Fire Exercise
SDF Shopping List and Operational Planning 2016
Launch of the Kaga
Facility Report No. 21: JMSDF Kanoya Museum

JWings Dec2015Dec. 2015 (No. 208)
Joint U.S.-Japan Joint Training Exercise Dawn Blitz 2015
JASDF fighter squadron base relocations 

Special Feature I: JASDF Fighter Aircraft (past, current and future)
Special Feature II: Aviation photography guide 

Fever! Airshow reports: Misawa and Komatsu; Tachikawa; Tateyama

Kōkū Fan
Bunrindo, 160pp, 1,337 yen (incl. tax)
Chief Editor: Ichiro Mitsui; Managing Editor: Yukihisa Jinno

Widely regarded as the Japanese aviation magazine, Kōkū Fan first appeared in 1952. Then claiming to be “Japan’s only magazine that seriously deals with model aircraft,” “Aviation Enthusiast” was a model magazine that provided aviation knowledge rather than a pure aviation magazine. At that time, the Japanese model aircraft industry was in a period of transition from models that were intended to be actually flown to solid models, such as plastic models, intended to be admired. The editorial policy of covering model and real aircraft set this title apart.

Unrivalled in terms of its photographic content until JWings arrived on the scene in 1998, the magazine remains a firm favourite even among non-Japanese readers. Perhaps the only way its photographic impact could be enhanced would be to enlarge the B5 magazine format, which is smaller than A4, but the publisher does not see the need to change or, more importantly, incur the increased production costs involved. An English summary was sadly sacrificed some time ago as a cost-saving measure, as was the inclusion of fold-out colour profiles and scale plan drawings. 

Over such a long history the magazine has naturally undergone several changes, but the first quarter is still given over to its renowned colour section, with military and World War II vintage material predominating. Air-to-air gems from the lens of a number of aviation photography luminaries provide real visual impact. 

Articles in the monochrome second section that starts with the contents page cover in-depth historical and present-day topics in both one-off and serialised formats. The longest-running series at present is That Others May Live, a record of JASDF Air Rescue Wing operations that started with the January 2012 issue and reached Part 100 in the December 2020 issue. 

Colour reappears in the third section, which comprises additional airshow reports, an article on brushing up your photographic skills, a KF Special File page, and the Readers` Reports domestic photo gallery, the black-and-white second page of which heralds the start of the fourth and final section. 

The magazine concludes with news sections, including From Base Side (reports from U.S. military bases worldwide), the latest Chinese aviation and military topics as well as, lower in the mix, new plastic model kit and book reviews. The Koku Fan Letters & Information Plaza occupies the last three pages. 

Every two months Bunrindo produces another title for its excellent softback Famous Airplanes of the World profiles, which are similar in their basic content to the Airplanes Digest feature that used to appear in the magazine. The last title published on an SDF topic was the ShinMaywa US-1 (below), which was released in September 2010. The long wait for another on any Japanese subject ended in March 2018, when No. 184 covered the Type 2 Emily Flying Boat, which had first come in for the FAoW treatment way back in November 1994 (No. 49). A review and content comparison can be found at the end of the Japanese Language/Historical section below (link).

Marking its 30th anniversary, the Red Series had reached No. 185 in July 2018. As is to be expected, many titles are now out of print, but the publisher actively sought feedback about those titles on Japanese subjects that readers would most like to see reprinted. Having resurrected Nos. 24 and 38, on Army Experimental Fighters and the Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft (Dinah), respectively, July 2018 saw three more of the “encore editions” added: No. 47 IJN Reconnaissance Seaplanes; No. 57 Nakajima Navy Night Fighter Gekko (Irving); and No. 59 Mitsubishi Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Betty). These are all priced at 1,234 yen, including tax.

In Japan, the latest additions to the regular series of these superb magazine-type books (mooks) retail for a mere 1,500 yen or so, including tax, depending on the number of pages. 

FAoW140 US-1

In May every year, Bunrindo also publishes a 120-page, pre-peak season Air Show Guide.

The series of larger, A4-size Kōkū Fan Illustrated quarterly special editions, has not been added to since No.115 appeared back in 2001. (Early issues in the series retained the same page size as the regular magazine). The title was very apt in that the content was almost entirely pictorial, with around 30 pages of colour photos, a 16-page modelling manual of detail sketches, and the remaining pages packed with b+w photos. The only text appeared in the photo captions, some of which were repeated in English.

Further information
Bunrindo Co., Ltd., Nakano 3-39-2, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164-0001, Japan
Editorial: Tel: +81 3 5385 5868 / Fax: +81 3 5385 5613
Sales: Tel: +81 3 5385 5671 / Fax: +81 3 5385 5703
Homepage: http://www.monomagazine.com (Japanese language only)
Blog: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/koku-fan

Kōkū Fan Feature Focus 2015
(Topics relevant to J-HangarSpace content only)

Jan. 2015 (No. 745)
Colour Section 1
MRJ rollout ceremony; 60th Anniversary review; 13th Flight Training Wing JASDF 60th anniversary markings; Iruma airshow; Akeno (Army Camp’s 59th anniversary, Flying School’s 62nd anniversary)

MRJ report (incl. military conversions)
60-Year JASDF Chronology
That Others May Live (Part 34): Korean raft distress incident (penultimate instalment)
The Maurice Farman’s Service Life (concluding part: Shorthorns)

Colour Section 2
Zero Type 22 AI-112 returns, event planned

Airshow reports: Ozuki Swell Festival 2014; Metabaru Army Camp event; JASDF Akita Sub-Base; 56th anniversary of JMSDF Tokushima opening 

Koku Fan cover Feb2015Feb. 2015 (No. 746)
Colour Section 1
XC-2 Today; Joint U.S.-Japan Exercise Michinoku Alert 2014 (Tohoku region); Joint U.S.-Japan Exercise Orient Shield 2014 (Hokkaido) 

C-2 development background and technological features; C-2 procurement/deliveries and future composition of JASDF airlift units; JASDF AEW&C concept in next term
F-2 follow-on aircraft: 25DMU Future Fighter Concept unveiled at defense technology symposium
That Others May Live (Part 35): Korean raft distress incident (final instalment)
Deciphering Confidential Kawanishi Aircraft Documents: Untold stories of Japanese/German aircraft manufacturers (final part of series started in August 2014)
Mitsubishi T-2CCV arrives at Kakamigahara Aerospace Museum 

Colour Section 2
Airshow reports: Gifu, Nyutabaru, Ashiya, Tsuiki; JASDF 60th anniversary/8th Air Wing 50th anniversary special markings (6th Sqn F-2B/304th Sqn F-15J); KF Special File: 204th TFS 50th anniversary F-15J, JMSDF C-130R

Mar. 2015 (No. 747)
Colour Section 1
YS-11s completely withdrawn from JMSDF use/successor C-130R unveiled at Atsugi; Blue Impulse Gears Up for 20th Anniversary Year; IJNAF aircraft at Planes of Fame (Chino, California): taxying Suisei, Type 99 (Val) replica

Decision on F-35 Maintenance Base in Japan
That Others May Live (Part 36) : Sora He (To the Skies) DVD of film drama centered on fictional events at Air Rescue Wing unit
Personal Air Combat History Series: Zero Fighter Unit CO 

Colour Section 2
Special 204th TFS F-15J 50th anniversary colour scheme/Naha airshow  

Koku Fan April 2015(Cover photo of 305th TFS F-15J: Hidenori Suzaki)

Apr. 2015 (No. 748)
Colour Section 1
Start of 1st Brigade Parachute Drop Training
U.S.-Japan Joint Exercise Forest Light 15-2

JASDF 2015 (Fiscal Year 2015 Budget)
   Special Features: Osprey; P-1; E-2D and F-35
That Others May Live, (Part 37): COs’ Experiences on March 11, 2011 (Part 1/3)
On the (Imperial Japanese Army) Sopwith Trail

kokufanmay2015(Cover photo of 302nd TFS F-4EJKai in special 40th anniversary
markings by Yukihisa Jinno)

May 2015 (No. 749)
Colour Section 1
Exercise Cope North 2015 (Guam); Cobra Gold (Thailand, JASDF C-130H); 302nd TFS 40th anniversary
“Oscar 50 Formation”: Final OH-6D formation flight training
Blue Impulse display marks reopening of Fukushima expressway

That Others May Live, (Part 38): COs’ Experiences on March 11, 2011 (Part 2/3)
1919 French Aviation Mission (Part 1/2) 

June 2015 (No. 750)
Colour Section 1
Blue Impulse 20th anniversary season
Komaki AB Open House
DDH-183 Izumo commissioned

Ceremony at Utsunomiya to mark departure of last OH-6 and arrival of LR-2 for start of LR pilots’ course
That Others May Live, (Part 39): COs’ Experiences on March 11, 2011 (Part 3/3)
1919 French Aviation Mission (Part 2/2)
Kumagaya AB Cherry Blossom Festival 

July 2015 (No. 751)
Colour Section 1
First joint JMSDF/USMC Iwakuni Friendship Day; NAF Atsugi Spring Festival; Air Memorial in Kanoya 2015; tsunami-damaged F-2B returned to service; JGSDF Combat Rescue 

That Others May Live, Part 40: Nakhodka oil tanker disaster, 1997 (Part 1/2)
Personal Air Combat History Series: Response to Atomic Bomb
Aircraft of IJAAF’s Infancy, Part 1: Nieuport 81E2/83E2 

Blue Impulse over Takada Castle, Niigata Prefecture; Iruma runway walk 2015
Event reports: Somagahara; Takegahara; Kasuminome; Takayubaru

Aug. 2015 (No. 752)
That Others May Live, Part 41: Nakhodka oil tanker disaster, 1997 (Part 2/2)
Aircraft of IJAAF’s Infancy, Part 2: Nieuport 24
Event reports: Kita-Utsuno Miho; Shizuhama; Hofu (and 60th anniversary of JASDF training course); Kita-Utsunomiya; Omura

Sept. 2015 (No. 753)
P-1 press photo call
YS-11 “153” retires
Zero Fighter Museum (Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall)
Predicting the futures of SDF programmes: tanker aircraft; UH-X utility helicopter; JMSDF training helicopter
That Others May Live, Part 42:
Aircraft of IJAAF’s Infancy, Part 3: Salmson 2-A-2
Okadama event report


Koku Fan Oct. 2015(Cover photo of Kawasaki P-1 at RIAT2015 by Katsuhiko Tokunaga)

Oct. 2015 (No. 754)
Colour Section 1
Kawasaki P-1 at RIAT2015
Chitose airshow
Blue Impulse display over Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture 

B&W Section 1
Kawasaki P-1 development background and technical features
Fuji chosen to develop UH-X helicopter
LR-2 pilot training commences at Kisarazu, JGSDF’s first woman pilot trainee
That Others May Live, Part 43: Panamanian freighter crew rescue (Part 1/2)
Aircraft of IJAAF’s Infancy (Part 4): SPAD 13

B&W Section 2
JMSDF show reports: Maizuru, Tateyama

Nov. 2015 (No. 755)
Colour Section 1
Blue Impulse topics
Fuji live-firing exercise 2015
First Flight Enlistedman Course (FEC) pilot graduation ceremony under new training organization Kita-Utsunomiya
JASDF photo topics
JMSDF Hachinohe airshow 

B&W Section 1
Fiscal 2016 budget requests
That Others May Live, Part 44: Panamanian freighter crew rescue (Part 2/2)
Personal Air Combat History Series: The Skies Flown by [IJAAF fighter pilot] Captain Masaki
Aircraft of IJAAF’s Infancy (Part 5): Two types of Farman F.50 and Caudron G.4 Trainer 

B&W Section 2
Misawa Aviation & Science Museum Zero exhibit
Naming and launch of 24DDH Kaga

Dec. 2015 (No. 756)
Airshow reports: Misawa; Komatsu
SDF Sept. 10 flood relief operations
True facts about the F-86F: Drop tanks
That Others May Live, Part 45: Response to large-scale flooding
Aircraft of IJAAF’s Infancy (Part 6): Nieuport 29
Event reports: Tachikawa; Shimofusa; Tateyama

Ushioshobo-Kojinsha, around 214pp, 1,200 yen incl. tax
(1,350 yen with tax when supplement included, 1,540 yen with tax when DVD included)
Editor: Yasuo Murooka 

A title that dates back to 1948, Maru has been in the hands of Ushioshobo since 1954. Ushioshobo is now teamed up with Kojinsha, a company that publishes an extensive range of military books. Maru also has a wide-ranging topic base that covers naval, land and air subjects. Unlike the pure aviation titles, this magazine appears a little later, on or around the 25th of each month. 

From the aviation standpoint, the sole colour section usually covers one or two items of topical interest. For many years, Maru has featured the work of renowned aviation photographer Katsuhiko Tokunaga, formerly as the “Best Shot” now as the air-to-air Sokyu no Pejento (Blue Sky Pageant) series. Colour reproduction and picture quality were improved some years ago, and the glossy black-and-white photo section usually contains rare archive shots of Japanese World War II types. 

Using relatively low-quality paper for its feature article section, Maru does however cover interesting subjects, of a predominantly historical nature but only in Japanese. Air campaigns, Japanese unit and individual aircraft development histories are particularly prevalent. First included in the January 2003 issue, the We Are “Children of the Sky”/Accounts of Strenuous Efforts Made series on the JASDF is still running and reached Part 150 in 2015.

Further information
Ushioshobo-Kojinsha Co., Ltd., Kudankita 1-9-11, Tokyo 102-0073, Japan
Editorial: Tel +81 3 3265 8652/Sales: Tel +81 3 3265 8651

Selected Features from Maru (Jan.-May 2015)
(Topics relevant to J-HangarSpace content only)

Maru Jan 2015 coverJan. 2015 (No. 825)
Colour section
60 Years of Defending Japan’s Skies (JASDF Review, DVD included); Mitsubishi MRJ rollout; Seabed Requiem, Part 6: Dive to the wreck of the Sankisan Maru (a freighter carrying aircraft parts that was sunk in Truk Lagoon in 1944); U.S. Gun Camera Photo Collection, Part 6: Attacks on Saijo Naval Air Group (Ehime Prefecture); 46th Iruma airshow 

B&W photo section
Famous Warship Photos: Cruiser Kinugasa (includes shot of Type 15 Reconnaissance Floatplane) 

MRJ and Future of Japanese Aircraft Production; Events in 60-Year History of Reborn Air Force; Successive JASDF Fighter Lineup; JASDF’s Eyes and Ears: Reconnaissance and Early Warning Aircraft Review; The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow of JASDF Transport Aircraft; JASDF Rescue Helicopter Catalogue; Blue Sky Bouquet: Accounts from Three Generations of Blue Impulse Display Team

Red Wings, Part 2: Aiming for World Distance Record (Koken monoplane)
Summer of No Return, Part 4: Command of IJNAF Atsugi Naval Air Group
IJNAF Lewis and Type 92 Swivel-Mounted Machine Guns
Recollections of IJNAF Zero Fighter Ace and MU-2 Test Pilot Minoru Honda

We Are “Children of the Sky”/Accounts of Strenuous Efforts Made, Part 143: The Lives of JASDF Alert Pilots
Feature-Length Reading: Who Made You Such a Twisted Person? (The woes that a veteran armourer experienced in his career in the IJNAF.) 

Maru Feb2015Feb. 2015 (No. 826)
Special Feature: Next Mainstay Fighter F-35J
Inspection of Systems Expected on F-35J; What Is Expected of JASDF F-35J?; What If the JASDF Had Adopted the F-32?

Colour Section
JSDF School Life: A Look at 1st Technical School (Hamamatsu AB); U.S. Gun Camera Photo Collection, Part 7: F6F versus Type 97 Fighter in Skies above Nakatsu (Oita Prefecture); 46th Iruma airshow 

B&W Photo Section
Previously Unreleased Photos: Mount Hiei Launch Base for Ohka (Cherry Blossom) Rocket-Propelled Special Attack Aircraft; Remembering the 70th Anniversary of End of Pacific War: Ki-84 Hayate Relics 

1st Technical School (Hamamatsu AB)
Summer of No Return, Part 6: Command of IJNAF Atsugi Naval Air Group
Red Wings, Part 3: Aiming for World Distance Record (Koken monoplane)/Background to Yuzo Fujita
We Are “Children of the Sky”/Accounts of Strenuous Efforts Made, Part 144

Maru Mar2015Mar. 2015 (No. 827)
Special Feature: The (Mitsubishi J4M) Senden Era/Visionary Japanese Point Defence Fighter 

Colour Section
Mt. Fuji & P-3C (New Year flights from Atsugi and Shimofusa); MV-22 in Kumamoto; U.S. Gun Camera Photo Collection, Part 8: Air Attacks on Kanoya and Kushira Airfields (Kagoshima Prefecture); Naha airshow 2014

B&W Photo Section
Photo Album Unearthed: Tokyo Air Defence 17th Independent Flight Squadron (Ki-15/Ki-46); Sayonara JMSDF YS-11 

SDF Operations and Equipment 2015
The Senden Era/Pushing the Limits of Piston-Engined Aircraft: Promising J4M Senden Far from Completion; Ki-94 and Ki-98: Army Answers to Senden; Review of World’s “Pusher” Fighters; Blue Sky Thunderbolt (Stories from pilots and ground crew who served at Atsugi on IJNAF 302nd Sqn J2M Raiden fighters)
Red Wings, Part 4: Koken Long-Range Monoplane
Summer of No Return, Part 7: Command of IJNAF Atsugi Naval Air Group
IJAAF Type 89 Swivel-Mounted Machine Gun
We Are “Children of the Sky”/Accounts of Strenuous Efforts Made, Part 145: Investigation into RF-4E crash

Apr. 2015 (No. 828)
Colour Section
First JGSDF exercises of 2015
JMSDF P-3C departs for anti-piracy patrols in Gulf of Aden
U.S. Gun Camera Photo Collection, Part 9: Air attacks on Okinawa airfields 

B&W Photo Section
IJN Seaplane Carrier Takasaki

Mechanical File: Aircraft Carrier Akitsu Maru
Red Wings, Part 5: Koken Long-Range Monoplane
We Are “Children of the Sky”/Accounts of Strenuous Efforts Made, Part 146

May 2015 (No. 829)
Colour Section
U.S. Gun Camera Photo Collection (Part 10): Second “Turkey Shoot” Day (Okinawa, 1945)
CG Illustrations of IJAAF/IJNAF Prototypes and Projects (1): Nakajima Fugaku 

Red Wings, Part 6: Koken Long-Range Monoplane
Summer of No Return, Part 8: Command of IJNAF Atsugi Naval Air Group
IJAAF Type Te (Breda) Fixed Machine Gun
We Are “Children of the Sky”/Accounts of Strenuous Efforts Made, Part 147

Defunct Major Monthly Publications

The cover of the January 2013 issue of Air World featured the F-15J specially painted to mark 20
years of 305th Sqn operations on the type. The magazine was to cease publication two issues later.

Air World (1977–2013)
First published in March 1977, Air World had a similar format to Kōkū Fan (see above), commencing with an extensive 46-page front colour section, which incorporated one major feature text plus domestic and international news topics. The black-and-white section usually had another special feature, with other regulars including a USAF review, a “Russian Watching” section with ITAR-TASS news agency photos, “Space Watching” and Air World Data File, which listed order of battle information on world air forces by region. Long-running series included an analysis of modern aircraft types. The final pages covered domestic (including a civil register update) and international news in text form, “Air Library” and “New Kit World”.

Aviation Journal (1974–1988)
Appearing in July 1974 and published on or around the first day of the month on the cover, Aviation Journal was characterized by its strict editorial policy and thorough research, which were largely due to the work of founder Hideo Aoki. A former JASDF officer, Aoki continued to write as the magazine’s chief writer even after having retired as its editor-in-chief. Aoki passed away at the age of 61 on June 8, 1988, and Aviation Journal folded after publishing the following month’s issue, its 221st.

Also following a format similar to that tried and tested by Kōkū Fan, each issue typically had 162-168 pages, six of which were in colour, foldout colour drawings, detail and scale line drawings, and many b+w photos with English captions and subtitles. Each issue usually featured an aircraft type and an operator in detail, plus shorter features on air shows, airlines, etc. The majority of subjects were modern military aviation.

Aireview (1951–2023) incorporated above.

 Japan Aeronautic Association Library 

Located on the sixth floor (fifth floor if you’re British) of the Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA)
office building in downtown Tokyo, this aviation library h(e)aven boasts an extensive collection of
books and magazines from Japan and around the world.

Opening Times

Mon-Fri 1000-1700, Sat 1000-1600

Closed Sundays, national holidays and the fourth Monday of every month
(the following day if the Monday coincides with a national holiday).
Also closed January 10 and for special stock management days – call to confirm.
Visitors are kindly asked to place any bags in the lockers provided opposite the reception desk.
(Locker takes refundable 100 yen coin)


Kokukaikan 6F, Shimbashi 1-18-1, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0004

(Just around the corner from Exit A2, Uchisaiwaicho Station on the Mita Line subway)

Tel: +81 3 3502 1205             Fax: +81 3 3502 2590



To complement the magazine coverage, J-HangarSpace provides here an “e-cupboard” of aviation book reviews in five categories: English Language/Historical; Japanese Language/Historical; Japanese Language/Post-1945 and Current Topics; Bilingual/Historical; and Japanese-Language Part-Works. Visitors’ attention is also drawn to the Bookstall: Hangar Manager’s Recommendations carousel at the foot of the homepage.

Aviation Books: English Language/Historical

Japanese Aero-enginesCaptioned as a Mitsubishi Ha-112, the engine featured in the cover design artwork of Japanese Aero-Engines, 1910–1945 appears to be a Kasei 12 MK4B.

Japanese Aero-Engines, 1910–1945
by Mike Goodwin and Peter Starkings
Published by Stratus/MMP Books (Poland/UK), April 2017
ISBN 978-83-65281-32-6; Hardback; A4; 216pp
Publisher’s list price £30.00 (for 7% off see [link]), also available via Amazon

First, full disclosure. Up until early 2011, a couple of years prior to the launch of J-HangarSpace, the writer of this review was in regular contact with the co-authors during their time as contributors to the niche Japanese aviation history magazine, Arawasi International (link).

The book is dedicated to Mike Goodwin, who sadly passed away in 2015 and thus never saw the fruits of his sterling efforts in published form.

Tokorozawa Ha-40Want to read about the teething problems experienced in the development of Kawasaki’s version of the
German Daimler-Benz DB601, the Ha-40, like this one displayed at the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum?
Look no further than Goodwin-Starkings, which even sounds like an engine company name, circa 1917.

In the course of 11 text-heavy chapters, what looks set to become the reference bible of all things connected to Japanese aero-engines in the first half of the 20th century follows a logical progression. Following sections devoted to the early years, an explanation of the designation systems and a rundown of the industry’s comparative minnows, coverage is by major manufacturer. Three chapters feature doubled-banked coverage, for example pairing Aichi and Kawasaki, but the two main pistons of the industry, Mitsubishi and Nakajima, warrant two-part chapters divided into their efforts prior to and during the Pacific War.

The text of each chapter is interspersed with supplementary tables, and the photo coverage is almost exclusively from the collection of British aviation artist and Japanese aircraft expert Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Picarella, reproduced to a good size.

Komaki KR-10
As you would expect, the last chapter of Japanese Aero-engines covers jet and rocket engines. The replica liquid-fuel rocket engine (above) at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries museum and archive in Komaki is of the type that powered the Mitsubishi J8M1 Shusui, the kissing cousin of the Me163 Komet. Interestingly, the Japanese exhibit label describes this as a Tokuro-2 (KR-10)—standing for Special Rocket 2, kusuri roketto [chemical rocket])—while the book has the KR-10 as the Tokuro-1, KR meaning “kayuki (explosive)” rocket, and the Tokuro-2 (KR-12) as having exploded on a test run. Either way, the original engine was a clone of the Me163’s Walther HWK109-509.

Printed in Poland, a closer look under the cowling revealed production values (takes care not to type ‘valves’ by mistake) that had not been firing on all cylinders in the final stages, leading this reviewer to erroneously think that it was mainly the Polish “squadron” of the Stratus/MMP publishing wing that had provided the maintenance crew. In places, the text could have done with a little more time rigged up on a test bench for some extra fine tuning to minimize those typo gremlins that somehow creep in prior to pushing the printing press button. Editor-in-chief Roger Wallsgrove is sure to have those ironed out in time for the second edition, which will surely come.

At the exhaust end, ahead of a very helpful engine index, are apendices (sic) providing lists of IJAAF aircraft Ki- numbers, IJNAF alphanumeric short designations and Japanese terms as well as of the, of necessity in places, rudimentary translations.

All that is lacking to satisfy the avid aviation “petrol head” are the sounds of the engines and the smells of the oil and exhaust fumes. In an ideal world, J-HangarSpace can see it now: the Deluxe Edition of the book with a DVD, naturally sporting the front view of a Sakae, cleverly embedded in its cover. An added bonus would be a phial of engine oil taken from one of the surviving Zeros, as was offered by the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum when the Planes of Fame aircraft took up residence in 2013.

In the meantime, this worthy tome brings you as near to the engines as is possible without getting your hands dirty.

marshstarkingscoverThe two large profiles on the cover depict a Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Ann) from the Army Air Academy at Toyooka in Hyogo Prefecture (top) and a Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Frank) assigned to the Akeno Army Flying School, Mie Prefecture.

Imperial Japanese Army Flying Schools 19121945
by Don Marsh and Peter Starkings
Published by Schiffer Ltd. (United States), June 2011
ISBN 978-0-7643-3769-7; Hardback; H 286mm×W 224mm; 192pp
Publisher’s list price $79.99 (but available via Amazon: $75–115, GBP40–60, 11,000–13,000 yen)

In the interests of full disclosure, J-HangarSpace should first mention that the two authors of this work are likewise former members of the team that participated at various times in the production of the specialist Japanese aviation history magazine, Arawasi International

Having branched out to concentrate on this labour of love in 2006, Messrs Marsh and Starkings are to be congratulated in having devoted years of painstaking research to the production of a worthy book on an area of Japanese aviation history that, as is pointed out, had received scant attention. (Produced by Arawasi in 2010, the mook [magazine book] on the Mitsubishi Ki-51 [Sonia] and Tachikawa Ki-36 [Ida] touched on some school histories and markings.) 

Excluding the introduction and appendices that bookend the text, the first two of the eight major parts cover the lifespans of the flying schools operated by the Imperial Japanese Army and their civilian counterparts. In the case of the former, the account ranges from the modest beginnings with balloons in the early 1900s to the formation of the Training Reserve in June 1944 to encompass roles far wider than had previously been undertaken; a move that essentially brought the Army flying school in its former guise to an end. 

Assisted by flow charts, the next part describes recruitment and training methods and forms a logical progression on the way to descriptions of the service’s training equipment and aircraft. 

What begins as a sprinkling of Don Marsh’s accomplished artwork, which had been a decade in the making, temporarily dries up in the section that provides individual school histories, only to become a veritable flood in Part 7, the 112 pages of which are devoted to aircraft colours and markings. It is perhaps surprising that Schiffer did not seek to reduce costs, not to mention the cover price, by making more use of tail-only drawings to reduce the number of full profiles of aircraft that are otherwise identical. 

The concluding two parts repeat the treatment to a lesser scale by providing the histories of civil flying schools and, as near as can be surmised in the absence of colour references, examples of their markings. 

Previous experience (the dreadful Aerial Firefighting) had caused J-HangarSpace to boycott Schiffer for its shoddy production values, possibly caused at least in part by the decision to undertake printing in China. At the time, it thus came as something of a disappointment to learn that the company was to be entrusted with publishing this coffee table-sized tome. Those concerns were justified. Minor errors always have a way of creeping into publications, but in this case you wonder how they failed to stamp out more of the fires, such as the layout “stage direction” on page 39.

In this respect, Schiffer renders writers and buyers (beware) a huge disservice, but in this case there is plenty to make amends for such avoidable annoyances. The standard of photo reproduction remains high throughout and belies the age of the subject matter to bring it very much to life. Although there is no mention of the daily lives of trainee IJAAF pilots in the text, the photos taken during training place you right there among them.

Sunburst cover

SunburstThe Rise of Japanese Naval Air Power, 1909-1941
by Mark R. Peattie
First published in 2001 by the Naval Institute Press, 291 Wood Road, Annapolis MD 21402, USA
ISBN 1-55750-432-6; Hardback, H 172mm x W 241mm, 365 pages
(Reprinted and paperback versions available via Amazon)

The view from the bridge is that this book does exactly what it says on the front flap, charting in six chapters the development of Japanese naval aviation from its humble beginnings to the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. Then, originally with an eye to a possible sequel (“Sundown”?), the book stealthily adds a touch-and-go landing of a chapter that brings together the reasons for and general manner of the service’s demise.

Until that point, it marks an expansion of themes first aired in KaigunStrategy, Tactics and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy, a tome Peattie had co-authored with the now late David C. Evans.

Making extensive use of new primary source information from Japan in producing more of a “work” than a “book,” Peattie shows his background as a university academic. Fact and analysis sail in a combined fleet in a very readable account, particularly vivid in its arresting detail of the air campaign over China.

Nine appendices provide a wealth of supplementary information, such as thumbnail biographies of the key protagonists, technical data on the carriers, unit histories and organizational charts. Line drawings and specifications are included of early aircraft and those in service at the outbreak of hostilities in 1941.

Below decks, dastardly gremlins have transposed the drawings of Glen, Jake and Pete floatplanes, and one or two literals and errors have remained undetected, but hardly sufficient cause for readers to abandon ship.

The decks having been cleared to accommodate the text, this flagship is equipped with adequate illustration coverage, its 20 photographs being ranged alongside six maps plus supporting diagrams.

Novel Approach

Kamikaze to Croydon

As you will have noticed, J-HangarSpace regularly brings news of the latest non-fiction book releases, in English and Japanese, on relevant topics. Anyone interested in reading an example of that rare (up to now non-existent?) bird, a historical novel on a Japanese aviation topic in English, might care to take this one for a test flight.

Written by Martin J. Frid (link), a Swede who has lived in Japan for 30 years, Kamikaze to Croydon provides what can best be described as a fact-based fictionalized account of a well-documented deed of derring-do—the Asahi Shimbun-sponsored flight from Tokyo to Croydon in 1937. No ‘spoiler’ alerts needed, as the writer used up no artistic/pilot’s licence on a ‘what if’ ending.

Kamikaze The eponymous protagonist of Martin Frid’s novel, Asahi Shimbun‘s Mitsubishi Karigane Kamikaze.
(Photo from Apr. 1954 issue of The World’s Aircraft, used with permission of Hobun Shorin, Co., Ltd.)

The book is available in paperback and Kindle versions, and preview pages provided, on an Amazon screen near you. (Cost in Japan: 1,323 yen, excl. tax)

Aviation Books: Japanese Language/Historical 

零戦写真集Airborne from their base at Rabaul in New Britain, a formation of Zero Type 22 fighters from the 251st Naval Air Group heads over the ocean in the Solomon Islands in May 1943. This masterful image is one of those taken by news photographer Hajime Yoshida featured in the opening chapters of this book.

Reisen Shashinshū (Zero Fighter Photo Collection)
by the Editorial Department of Maru magazine with
photo captions by Shigeru Nohara
Published by Ushioshobo-Kojinsha (Japan), February 2014
ISBN 978-4-7698-1561-7; Hardback; H 262mm×W 188mm; 168pp
3,000 yen excl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)

The monochrome images in this book, a new edition of that published in 1999, provide a comprehensive pictorial account of operations at the units that flew the various versions of the most famous Japanese aircraft of the Pacific War. 

This extensive photo collection opens with eight pages entitled Collection of Famous Scenes of Zero Fighters in Action

The Glorious Zero Fighter section of the book (pp. 9–21) draws on the valuable negatives left behind by Hajime Yoshida, a Nichiei news team member attached to the IJNAF. This is followed by two of his illustrated eyewitness reports, First Impressions of Rabaul Naval Air Group and Distant Skies: The Cumulonimbus Clouds Wept. There then follow no less than 23 articles that have previously appeared in the pages of Maru magazine. The article that covers a visit to Rabaul by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (pp. 88–89) was written by another former Navy press team member Tokichi Hino, that on the later stages of the war (pp. 148–151) by Nobuya Kinase (1919–), who at that time was a lieutenant serving as an instructor pilot with the special attack (kamikaze) 9th Tsukuba Unit. 

An interesting graphic is a bird’s eye-view relief map of Rabaul air base. The book concludes with drawings of every variant that highlight the at times subtle design differences, combined with a table of technical specifications.

決戦戦闘機疾風Kessen Sentoki Hayate (The Best Japanese Fighter of WWII “Hayate”)
by the Editorial Department of Maru magazine
Published by Ushioshobo-Kojinsha (Japan), June 2014
ISBN 978-4-7698-1569-3; Hardback; H 262mm×W 188mm; 197pp
2,800 yen excl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)

In recent years, Kojinsha repackaged two of its occasional Maru magazine special supplements in hardback form; the January 2008 Shiden-kai supplement reappeared expanded and revised in January 2010, the January 2009 supplement on the Reppu in January 2011. This latest to receive the treatment is the first on an Army fighter, the material for which has been taken verbatim from the stand-alone publication from August 2011. 

The three opening colour sections—Flying the Hayate in Japan, Close-Up and Hayate Now—tell the story of the example that was repatriated by ship in 1973 from the Planes of Fame Museum in California and now resides in the Chiran Peace Museum for Kamikaze Pilots in Kagoshima Prefecture. Providing detailed photos, these sections are followed by eight pages devoted to other Japanese aircraft, contemporaries of the Hayate, preserved in Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Next come two detailed profiles by Ryusuke Watanabe and 24 sideviews by Shigeru Nohara over six pages, which lead into an article on a large-scale plastic model of the Hayate and, slightly irrelevantly, a 1/6th scale remote-controlled Ki-27. 

Printed on glossy paper, the monochrome photo album section begins on p. 49 with a hardly inspiring blurred image, which is fortunately not representative of the coverage over the subsequent 33 pages. Later pages are again devoted to other Army types. 

Cutaway drawings grace both sides of a fold-out page that precedes the 15-article text section, which is printed on the rough-quality paper Kojinsha favours and includes detailed technical drawings of structures and systems. Other items of interest: the squadron histories and markings of all the units that operated the type; an account of a Hayate lair, Sagami air base in Kanagawa Prefecture; an article (with cutaway) by Shinjiro Shinagawa, Tachikawa’s chief designer for the Ki-106 (wooden Hayate) project; Frank Seen through Blue Eyes, a report on the aircraft’s evaluation in the United States; and an interview with the Planes of Fame Museum’s Ed Maloney, who played a key role in resurrecting the repatriated aircraft. Great stuff.

日本の軍用機Nippon no Gunyoki (Japanese Military Aircraft)
by Shigeru Nohara
Published by Yosensha (Japan), September 2014
ISBN 978-4-8003-0450-6; Softback (mook); H 283mm×W 210mm (A4); 160pp
2,000 yen excl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)
Sample pages viewable here [link]

Yet another offering involving Shigeru Nohara, this mook (magazine book) appears to be the first aviation title from this general-interest publisher. 

The subtitles splashed across the cover read: “[Japanese Military Aircraft] revived by treasured photos,” “Famous domestically produced Japanese Army and Navy aircraft before and during the war,” and “In one volume, around 100 treasured photos left in the Asahi Shimbun [archives]!”

Having written the accompanying text, Nohara’s name is also given as the provider of around 70 photos, which will largely be well-known to most readers, to supplement those obtained from the Asahi Shimbun archives. 

After a two-page introduction and a 10-page Photographic Look Back at Famous Japanese Army and Navy Aircraft, the book is unevenly divided into Navy (pp. 17–110) and Army (pp. 111–159) sections by role. Interspersed among the photos, four, two-page texts written by Nohara cover: Japanese Army and Navy aircraft engines; their armament (guns and bombs); Navy floatplane and carrier-based aircraft operations; and the principal aircraft manufacturers. Each aircraft photo is accompanied by an extended caption and technical data. 

Two benefits make this publication worth the money: the Asahi Shimbun archive content and the large-format reproduction of the images, usually one to a page. (One or two are slightly marred by having “crossed the valley.”) Worthy of special mention are a panoramic view—believed to be of Tokorozawa, circa 1932—that shows around 35 aircraft and the coverage of Navy floatplanes and flying boats.

囚われの日本軍秘録Towarare no Nippon Gunki Hiroku
(Secret Documents about Captured Japanese Military Aircraft)
by Shigeru Nohara
Published by Ushioshobo-Kojinsha (Japan), December 2014
ISBN 978-4-7698-1581-5; Softback; H 210mm×W 150mm; 240pp
2,200 yen excl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)

A prolific aviation writer and illustrator, Shigeru Nohara co-wrote Nihongun Rokakuki Hiroku (Classified Japanese Military Documents of Captured Allied Aircraft) for Kojinsha back in 2002. That same year, he turned the tables to provide a photographic account of the Japanese aircraft that were evaluated after having fallen into Allied hands. This is a new edition of that work. 

That the U.S. military set up a dedicated unit to test and evaluate a Zero 21 and Zero 32 shows the importance attached to finding out more about the capabilities and weaknesses of its adversaries. These efforts also inadvertently led to examples of the less well-known types, such as the J2M Raiden (Jack) and J7W Shinden fighters, being preserved for posterity in the United States. 

Actual text has been kept to a minimum to make way for the detailed captions needed to fully benefit from the inclusion of no less than 410 photographs (the opening eight of which are in colour) as well as 110 side-views and maps. 

Starting with images of aircraft downed during Japan’s early military successes, the book’s 10 chapters chart the damaged and unscathed aircraft encountered by Allied forces in the subsequent campaigns in the Pacific islands and the Philippines through to the types found languishing on bases and in factories in Japan after the end of hostilities. Chapter 9 covers the aircraft that were marked with green crosses to transport the envoys involved in the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender. The final chapter brings together photographs of those Japanese aircraft that were shipped to the United States for evaluation. 

Extracts from the evaluations conducted by the U.S. Army’s Technical Air Intelligence Center (TAIC), some of which were duly marked as restricted at the time, and samples of associated correspondence are reproduced in an appendix in the last dozen or so pages. A larger page format would have enhanced the readability of these documents and the impact of the photographs, among which are some of the well-known images of Japanese aircraft sporting star-and-bar insignia. 

Despite the “promise” on the front cover obi (the paper band around the dust jacket) to reveal something of how such thorough evaluations were conducted, the end result is more of a collection of wrecked and captured Japanese aircraft photographs than an in-depth analysis of the TAIC’s methodology and findings. 

The author referred to English-language books that cover the wrecked and downed Japanese aircraft angles, such as Robert C. Mikesh’s 1993 work Broken Wings of the Samurai and James P. Gallagher’s 2004 Meatballs and Dead Birds, Japanese editions of which were coincidentally published in 2014 by Miki Press and Ikaros Publications, respectively. 

Taken on its own merits, this book serves the valuable purpose of an archive while providing an interesting Japanese take on the stories behind the photographic content.

一式陸攻Isshiki Rikko Senshi
(A History of the Type 1 Land-Based Attack Bomber)
by Nobuhiko Satoh
Published by Ushioshobo-Kojinsha (Japan), February 2015
ISBN 978-4-7698-1587-7; Hardback; H 195mm×W 140mm; 480 pages
2,916 yen (tax included)

Expanded from the author’s 16-part series that ran in Koku Fan from January 2012 to April 2013, this work offers a factual account—in the words of the book’s subtitle, from genesis to demise—of the IJNAF’s mainstay land-based bomber during the Pacific War in one volume. As such, the book has been feted in the Japanese aviation press as a full and masterly depiction of the aircraft and its crews. 

The first 16 pages are devoted to a photo chronicle that depicts the men and the machines, the last five pages to monochrome side views. In all, the book contains more than 290 maps, drawings and photos; some of the latter are appearing in print for the first time. (The cover photo shown above depicts a formation of Type 1 Model 11 bombers from the re-formed 701st Naval Air Group in flight near Mt. Fuji in May 1944.)

The main body of the text is made up of 19 chapters divided into five parts:
Fleeting Glory: Covering the initial design history, service entry and operations over the Pacific and Malaya
Portent of a Storm: Including operations off Java, over the Gaspar Strait that connects the Java and South China seas, and the MO (Port Moresby) operations
Beginning of Bitter Combat: Solomon Islands and the “forgotten” theatre of operations in the southwest
Series of Defeats: The sun sets for the Japanese forces in the Central Pacific; the naval air groups routed in decisive battles, special mission units as well as the combat record of transport units sent to frontline
Demise: Including the final combat missions in Okinawa

The main text is followed by an afterword, four maps to give readers the lie of the land of the extensive regions in which the Type 1 was operated and a type chronology. 

As regards other photographic content, images of individual pilots and unit group photos abound. Drawings placed within the main body of the text include mission profiles.

G4M Operation Ken(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Among the many previously unpublished photos, Nobohiko Satoh’s work also contains a detail of a well-known shot (above) of Betty bombers parked at Yokosuka Naval Air Arsenal’s Oppama airfield after the war. The caption points out that the aircraft in the centre background bearing the tail marking “3—破” was intended for use on Operation Ken (Sword), an attack on the U.S. air bases in the Marianas Islands. Planned to have been used to transport troops, each Betty chutai (division) involved in the operation took a kanji character from the Japanese slogan 聖剣破邪闘魂炸裂必成, which literally translates as “sacred, evil-defeating sword explodes, sure success”. The third kanji “ha” and the number three show that, had the operation been carried out, this aircraft would have been assigned as the third aircraft of the 3rd Chutai. The photo also shows that the dorsal turret and the Yagi-Uda search radar antennae had been removed from this aircraft.

Satoh spent 10 years researching and gathering the information contained in this detailed and poignant record of human and IJAAF aviation history that was clearly a labour of love.

J-BIRD coverJ-BIRD: Japanese Aircraft Register 19211945
by Shizuo Kawamori, Masayoshi Nakanishi, Toshio Fujita, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Kōji Yanagisawa
Published by the Aviation Heritage Archive, Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA), March 2016
ISBN 978-4-901794-08-4; Softback; B5 format; 438 pp
5,000 yen excluding tax
Available through Office HANS, Hiro 2-9-39, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0012, Japan
Tel: +81 3-3400-9611 / Fax: +81 3-3400-9610
E-mail: ofc5hans@m09.alpha-net.ne.jp
English webpage: http://www.hans5.com/+English/index.htm

This work was also an obvious labour of love for the five writer-compilers and those at the JAA’s Aviation Heritage Archive who oversaw the project. Bearing a prominent Japanese subtitle that translates as Prewar Japanese Civil Aircraft Seen through Photos and Registrations (including Manchukuo Aviation and China Airways), the book provides chapter and verse on all known civilian aircraft from that golden era. According to Kōji Yanagisawa, who doubled as project art director, the work had been around 20 years in the making; fellow writing team member Masayoshi Nakanishi*, who would have seen some of these aircraft in his youth, sadly did not live to see the book in its finished form.

Following introductory texts and acknowledgements, a 34-page photo album captures the spirit of the times by first including images that pre-date registrations and then those organized by registration category, ranging from the first airliners to gliders.

The first of the three main parts of the text gives an outline of the registration systems adopted by the Japanese authorities, including those used for the far-flung parts of the then Japanese empire, which included Taiwan and Korea.

J-BIRD p. 151A JAA-provided sample from J-BIRD’s 285-page register section; most pages have four photos. The upper photo shows J-BAUD, one of several surplus examples of the Nieuport 24—as the Kō-3 the IJAAF’s first biplane fighter—that amazingly went on to enjoy new leases of life
with civil operators and owners.

The registration lists themselves are in Part 2 (pp. 91–375!). The amount of information that has been shoehorned into the book dictated that there would be no space for English translations and that the width of the photos be for the most part restricted to that of a column of text. Captions that would have provided location and date information, if available, are limited to registrations, some of which merely repeat those that are clearly visible in the photos.

A system has been adopted to include aircraft name/type, construction number and type of engine as well as the owner and base airfield in a uniformly concise manner. Here we can thus find out, for example, that the apt registration of the book’s title was allocated in April 1936 to the 230hp Salmson 9Z-powered Salmson 2A2 Kyōin-gō (c/n 809) owned by one Matsuo Itami and based with the Great Japan Volunteer Flying Association at a village in Kanagawa Prefecture. The aircraft’s name came from the donor organization, the restaurant business association in Kyobashi, Osaka Prefecture, whose name can be seen emblazoned along the fuselage in the accompanying photo. Great emphasis has been placed on providing detailed source references.

J-BIRD p. 142Also used with permission, three more photos from the register section. Can you identify the types?
(The answers are at the very foot of this Magazines/Books page.)

Entitled The World of Aircraft Registrations, the third and final main part is devoted to the existing sources delved into and new sources unearthed to enable the presentation of as full a picture of the subject as possible. Aside from photographic evidence, these range from registration and airworthiness certificate documents to the regulations governing the size and location of the registrations on aircraft.

Interspersed throughout the text are no less than 25 columns, written by individual members of the writer/compiler team, on specific aspects or aircraft.

The closing reference section provides tabular statistical information on Japanese civil aviation of the time, a list of the names given to the aircraft operated by Japan Air Transport and Greater Japan Air Lines, and a list of civil flying schools and training airfields.

Bearing in mind the amount of information that has been lost to time, not to mention the war years, all those involved with this project are to be congratulated for bringing together so much information in one volume; a volume that speaks volumes for their efforts and for the preservation activities of the JAA’s Aviation Heritage Archive.

* After graduating with qualifications in aero-engine production, Masayoshi Nakanishi (1921–2015) worked at the then Ministry of Communications’ aviation test laboratories in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. After the war, he worked for Japan Airlines and the Japan Aeronautical Engineers’ Association. He was involved with the 2005 book Mitsubishi Kōkū Enjinshi (The History of Mitsubishi Aero-Engines). 

Ki-46 Dinah bookProvided by Maru magazine, the cover photos of Shinshitei show (top) a Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft (Dinah) Model 3 that featured uprated engines and larger spinners and (below) a rear view of Model 2 assigned to the Shimoshizu Army Flying School, Chiba Prefecture.

Shinshitei (New Command Reconnaissance Aircraft)
by Yoshirō Ikari
Published by Ushioshobo-Kojinsha/Kojinsha NF Bunko (Japan), September 2016
ISBN 978-4-7698-2969-0; 241pp
770 yen excl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)

Subtitled “Ki-46 Technical Development and Combat History” and with The Army Type 100 Commandant (sic) Reconnaissance-plane Ki-46 emblazoned across its cover, this addition to the pocket-size NF series is a newly revamped edition of a 1981 title.

Ki-46 book 1981The cover of the original Shinshitei book, published in 1981.

Then published by Sankei, the book on this nowadays perennially popular Japanese type was subtitled “The Strategic Reconnaissance Aircraft That Startled the Allied Armies”.

Shimoshizu Ki-46 DinahThe classic lines of the Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft seen on aircraft (the character ‘ri’, just discernible on the rudder). This style of individual aircraft marking identifies
the aircraft as being from the Shimoshizu Army Flying School.
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The as usual for NF publications text-heavy book is broadly divided into five main chapters:

Chapter 1 The Road to Command Reconnaissance
  Germination of Direct Cooperation Concept
  Reconnaissance Aircraft Faster Than Fighters
  Stunning Performance
Chapter 2 Aircraft That Played an Active Part in Development            
  The Flight of The Asahi Shimbun’s Kamikaze to London
  Birth of Strategic Reconnaissance Units
  Tough Long-Range, High-Altitude Combat
  The ‘Tiger’ Squadron [18th Independent Flying Squadron]
  That Advanced More Than 2,000 Miles
  Joint IJAAF/IJNAF Strategy
  Calls for New Type of Aircraft
Chapter 3 Type 100 Command Reconnaissance (Dinah) Enters Fray
  Up-and-Coming Designer (Tomio Kubo [1908–90])
  Rising to Challenge of 600km/h
  Flight Test Unit’s Mission
  New Dinah Units, Living Beings
Chapter 4 Flying under Fire
  Soldiers’ Demands
  Failure of Ki-70
  Completion of Turbocharged Engine
  Delayed Development of Follow-on Aircraft
  Emergence of Armed Dinah
Chapter 5 Beyond the Setting Sun
  Dinah‘s weak points
  Fates of Crews
  Special Attack Unit Mission Orders
  Rabaul’s Sole Aircraft

An epilogue is followed by a section on Dinah units that gives what is billed as the whole picture of their organization and histories.

Shiden book coverOne of the few undated images (though it would have been in late December 1942), the dust jacket
photo shows a Shinto priest reading out ritual prayers as he stands in front of the first prototype
Shiden at Itami airfield, where today Osaka International Airport is located. The actual front
cover photo of the book, which wraps around to the back, shows the aircraft minus its
spinner during engine runs outside Kawanishi’s Naruo Plant.

The Imperial Japanese Navy Interceptor Shiden N1K1-J Series Shashinshū (Photo Collection)
Photo captions by Yasutaka Yoshino
Published by DaiNippon Kaiga (Japan), February 2017
ISBN 978-4-499-23206-7; Softback; H 158mm×W 210mm (AB format); 128pp
3,996 yen incl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)

To cut to the chase, this evocative title would be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of anybody with an interest in the technical and engineering aspects of aviation as well as in the history of Japanese aviation in general.

The coverage starts with seven pages of detailed colour illustrations, ranging from gauges and stencil markings to the instrument panel and an undercarriage legs. There then follows three pages of colour side views of paint schemes and markings.

Where the book makes a major departure from what would be the expected standard fare of front-line photos starts on page 17. Here the reader finds page after page of excellently reproduced photos—mainly taken on the factory floor at Kawanishi’s Naruo Plant in Hyogo Prefecture from September to December 1942—of the first prototype as progress was made during its construction. From Kawanishi successor company ShinMaywa’s archives, the vast majority of the photos include the added bonus of date information.

Were there a contents page in English covering this main part of the book, it would look something like this:

Wings 18 Tail End of Fuselage 56
Wingtips 30  Landing Gear 58 
Combat Flaps 34 Supplementary Images 64
Ailerons/Elevators/Rudder 36 Engine Test Runs 70
Horizontal Stabilizer 38 Time to Move to Itami Airfield! 76
Forward Fuselage 40 Disassembly for Transportation 94
Rear Fuselage 42 Spinner Trial and Error 102
Engine 50 Snapshots of Naruo Plant 104
Engine Cowling 54    

Included amid the above coverage is a single-page account the prototype’s maiden flight on December 31, 1942. A later page is devoted to providing two close-ups of one of the only 15 14-Shi High-Speed Reconnaissance Floatplane (E15K Shiun) aircraft built, caught in the background of photos that appeared earlier in the book. A rare photo of a Norm in a book that represents a rare departure from the norm.

The first of two final sections then covers the Shiden’s development and variants, the second the background to the development of the Shiden land-based interceptor from the realm of Kawanishi’s floatplanes. The latter is complemented by a table showing monthly production figures for the Kyofu floatplane as well as the Shiden and Shiden-Kai fighters.

Contrasting with the dust jacket cover, the photo on the back shows the completed first prototype being unceremoniously evicted from the Naruo Plant on December 24, 1942.

Green Cross surrender aircraft Ryokujūjiki Kesshi no Hikō (Green Cross Aircraft: Desperate Flight)
by Eiichi Okabe
Published by The Shizuoka Shimbun (Japan), June 2017
ISBN 978-47-8389-956-3; Hardback
H 188mm × W 136mm; 432pp
2,484 yen (excluding tax)

June 2017 saw the release of a revised and updated version of a book that focuses on seven days in August 1945; from the issue of an order to fly a Japanese delegation to Manila to discuss the surrender terms to their return at the end of the mission. The well-known main aircraft protagonists were two white-painted Betty bombers bearing green cross surrender markings, neither of which was destined to return to base due to technical problems. As J-HangarSpace has actually yet to see a copy of this book, this report relies on information from Japanese sources, including a review carried in the October 2017 issue of Koku Fan that provides a brief summary of the back story.

Although Japan finally signed a surrender document on September 2, 1945, this book sheds light on one of the behind-the-scenes negotiations between Japan and the Allied powers that took place on a daily basis following the Emperor’s surrender broadcast on August 15.

Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States had concluded the Potsdam Agreement on August 2. Having accepted its conditions, Japan followed instructions and on August 19 despatched a 17-man delegation of negotiators aboard two white Betty bombers marked with green cross surrender markings from Kisarazu, Chiba Prefecture, to the transit point of U.S.-occupied Iejima, Okinawa Prefecture. Flown onward from there by U.S. military transport to Manila in the Philippines, they returned to Tokyo empty-handed two days later.

Against a backdrop of military elements who were prepared to continue fighting and the likelihood of a Soviet invasion of Hokkaido, a mysterious incident took place on the return flight from Iejima, where one Betty was declared unserviceable. The delegation members switched to the other aircraft, only for it to somehow run out of fuel and make a forced landing at night on Samejima beach in the city of Iwata, to the east of the Tenryu River estuary in Shizuoka Prefecture. The delegation fulfilled its mission by travelling onwards to Tokyo by road, the aircraft was abandoned to the tides, and the events at Samejima were soon shrouded in the mists of time.

Having investigated the circumstances leading up to and surrounding these episodes, writer Eiichi Okabe, who is a local historian, initially had his findings printed in manuscript form in March 2010. This was followed in June 2015 by a softback book that ran to nearly 360 pages, which he published at his own expense under the then title of Ryokujūjiki no Kiroku (Green Cross Aircraft Chronicle) with the subtitle “To bring the war to an end even just one day sooner.” The book band bore the following words:

Pacific War, Final Mission
A desperate flight by Type 1 Land-Based Bombers that led to
the end of the Pacific War
To just bring the war to an end even just one day sooner . . .
A record of the flight of the surrender aircraft that MacArthur likened
to “white doves of peace.”
Why did a green cross aircraft make a forced landing on the beach at Samejima?
Facts that came to light in the 70th year after the war

Green Cross surrender aircraft (2)Cover of 2015 edition

Although many of those on board the Samejima aircraft took their recollections of that day with them to their graves, Okabe had drawn on evidence from others involved and from official records. New information has prompted this latest, expanded and revised version; in this case, the teasers on the band now read:

Gambling Japan’s Postwar Fate
A national polity that had to be protected unconditionally
Soviet Army approaching, aiming to occupy Hokkaido
The real crisis started from August 6

Not surprisingly, information about the book appeared in the Shizuoka Shimbun (July 16 issue), the company that owns the newspaper having published the new book. Including recollections not only of those on board the aircraft but also of eyewitnesses to the forced landing, Okabe’s efforts in sifting through contemporary documents also unearthed previously unknown facts about the mission.

On the Japanese Amazon site, purchasers of the book give high marks; two express a wish to see a full-length feature film made of the events described. As a free taster, footage exists on YouTube (link) of the two aircraft arriving at Iejima, Okinawa Prefecture, on August 19, 1945.

A Walk down Emily Memory Lane, Yokohama

A popular spot for cherry blossom-viewing in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, is in Tomioka Sogo Park in the Kanazawa part of the city. Requisitioned by the Occupation forces after the end of the war in 1945, the land was returned in 1971 and released for park use in 1975. Few Japanese are aware that the park once formed part of the IJNAF’s Yokohama Naval Air Group flying boat base, and that the cherry trees were originally planted by base personnel.

More than simply charting the unit’s history, for Kataritsugu Yokohama Kaigunkōkūtai (Yokohama Naval Air Group: Stories Handed Down from Generation to Generation) writer Mikio Ōshima interviewed veterans, delved through records and searched for vestiges of the base and any remaining monuments. In view of the publication of the revamped Famous Airplanes of the World title on the Type 2 (Emily) flying boat in March 2018 (see below), this was a timely release. [REVIEW PENDING]

Emily book coverNi-Shiki Hikōtei (Type 2 Flying Boat)
Famous Airplanes of the World No. 184
(Various authors)
Published by Bunrindo (Japan), March 2018
ISBN 978-4-89319-261-5; Softback; H 254mm×W 182mm; 88pp
1,439 yen including tax (Also available via amazon.co.jp)

The last Japanese subject released in the Famous Airplanes of the World (FAoW) series having been the ShinMaywa US-1 in September 2010, this addition covers an equally popular subject but has been a long time coming. Its appearance offers the opportunity to compare its content with that of the previous version in the same series (No. 49), which was published way back in November 1994.

Forming another link with the US-1 title, the main contributor this time is Hiroshi Ebi, a commercial photographer by trade, who had supplied many of the US-1/1A images as well as the detailed text.

In a first for this latest publication, Ebi was also granted photo access to the interior of the well-known, last-surviving Type 2 Flying Boat (Emily). The aircraft has been resident at JMSDF Kanoya since being moved from its demeaning spot in between a children’s paddling pool and a car park at Tokyo’s Museum of Maritime Science in 2004. (It should be noted that publisher DaiNippon Kaiga’s large-format Aero Detail 31 on the Type 2, which appeared in April 2003, included extensive photo coverage, with bilingual captions, of this lone survivor at its former Tokyo home.)

Kanoya Emily Max SmithSplendid isolation. The latest FAoW subject contains recent photos of the interior of the aircraft
displayed at the JMSDF Museum in Kanoya, Kagoshima Prefecture.
(Photo: Max Smith via Wikimedia Commons [June 2007])

In the FAoW publications, the established practice of opening with a sequence of colour photos shows, respectively, how the aircraft was and is faring at its exposed locations. The big difference here is the extent of the coverage; whereas five pages, including just three interior shots, were in the 1994 edition, Ebi’s fine photography runs to 13 pages, of which no less than nine feature the interior, which remains in good condition.

The 2018 content is broadly divided into three areas: photo commentaries; drawings and illustrations; and articles. These are spread throughout the publication. In 1994, the photo commentaries included a sequence on the six versions of the Type 2—from the 13-Shi prototype to the Clear Sky transport version, with the four H8K versions sandwiched in between—with detailed photos of the interiors of Shikishima (横鎮74), a Yokohama Naval Station aircraft (see the cover from the 1983 publication below), and of those of the repatriated aircraft when at the museum in Tokyo.

Starting with the contemporary photo content, there is naturally a high percentage of repeats, but the latest descriptions benefit from Ebi’s different take and added insights. Unlike 1994, which had a dozen full-page photos—some for maximum effect in a ‘Type 2 in Action’ section—and even two double-page spreads in its likewise 88 pages, the largest photos in the latest edition take up half a page. The ‘Emily Photo Chronicle’ runs to 15 pages.

In 1994, artist and writer Shigeru Nohara provided eight side views, one of which showed the general interior layout and crew stations, and a three-view of a Model 12 to 1/144th scale. To these were added drawings of the main wing structure, instrument panel and the maintenance setup for changing an engine or propeller. The latest version offers a six-view to 1/160th scale and an interior three-view (all H8K2), a wing plus 10 side views, all by Yukio Suzuki, a director of the Japan Aviation Journalists’ Association. (It should be noted that both artists contributed artwork to the smaller format Mechanism of Military Aircraft Vol. 7, which covered the Emily and two other aircraft types and was released by Maru publisher Kojinsha in 1999.)

The advances in artwork technology in the intervening 24 years are evident in the six aircraft covered in three pages of customary FAoW colour profiles; No. 49 had six aircraft over two pages, plus the then popular fold-out profile. Again there is some overlap, this time in terms of the units depicted, but not of exactly the same aircraft.

In 1994, the lead main article covered the aircraft’s development, operation and achievements, the former involving a look back at earlier Japanese flying boat designs. Subsequent chapters were devoted to the ‘shadowy wooden giant flying boat’ (the H11K-L Sōkū [Blue Sky] mockup destroyed in an air raid in 1945) and interviews with two former IJNAF lieutenants who served as maintenance crew members on the Type 2.

J-HangarSpace EmilyThe Kanoya Emily is seen here at its former home, Tokyo’s Museum of Maritime Science, in July 1998.

In the latest release, the first main body text again delves back into previous designs in covering the development of the Emily (and touching on the Blue Sky) before moving on to its structure. The operation of its systems includes its armament and, complete with technical drawings, its H-6 radar. An interesting section covering an Emily mission profile from departure to return to base is followed by comparative technology theories, for example on European and U.S. flying boat designs, which seem a little out of position.

In a similar vein, we then we have a section on the debt the JMSDF’s US-2 owes to the Emily, or rather to the achievements of designer Dr. Shizuo Kikuhara (1906–1991) and his teams who worked on several aircraft, ranging from the graceful Type 97 Flying Boat (H6K, Mavis) and Emily via the UF-XS and PS-1 to the US-1. One of four comparative tables highlights how far superior the performance of the Emily (first flight December 1940) was when compared with the U.S. Navy’s Consolidated PB2Y-2 Coronado (December 1937).

The penultimate written chapters offers an operational history of IJNAF flying boats, and the last addresses both their technical issues and the evaluations conducted in the United States after the war.

Having opened with the eye-catching recent interior images, the last four-page collection of monochrome photos provides an account of the aircraft being dismantled and prepared for transportation by road to Kanoya those 14 years ago.

Although admittedly biased when it comes to the subject matter, J-HangarSpace is of the opinion that this long overdue update fills a gap and brings the story of the Kanoya Emily full circle. It would also be a welcome taker of any available space on an aviation bookshelf.

For the benefit of the majority of non-Japanese purchasers, at the very least an English digest text would make No. 184 more than just a shelf space-filling photo album. Unfortunately, Bunrindo and most other Japanese publishers seem happy with publications and print runs sufficient to cater for their local readerships. For certain wide-appeal Japanese subjects such as this, however, they should be giving some thought to taking a leaf out of DaiNippon Kaiga’s book and offering, at the very least, English photo captions, even in the form of a separate insert or available via their website to reduce costs. (Note that DaiNippon Kaiga has on occasion been known to resort to the inclusion of insulting machine translations in their otherwise splendid publications.)

The subject of the next FAoW, due out at the end of May 2018, has been announced as the Junkers Ju52, but hopefully another Japanese subject will be released in due course.

FAoW July 1983

An earlier Famous Planes of the World (FAoW) edition that covered the Emily was this “special feature” (above) which came out in July 1983. The cover shows the Seikū (Clear Sky) Model 32 transport nicknamed Akitsu.* Also included in the two subsequent publications, the photo shows the aircraft gingerly descending the slipway, under the power of its outer engines, at Negishi seaplane base, Kanagawa Prefecture, in August 1944; the rope extending from the nose would have been tied to a buoy out on the water. Although not visible from this angle, the aircraft bore the tail code 横鎮73—the kanji yokochin were short for Yokohama Naval Station—and was one of six aircraft of the type, two of which had been converted to transports, assigned to the unit. In the manner of an airline operation, each aircraft of this non-combat transport unit was bestowed with an ancient name for Japan.
(*) The word for ‘dragonfly’ in 8th century Japanese and also an ancient name for what is now Japan when the region around modern-day Nara Prefecture was known as the Dragonfly Isles.

(J-HangarSpace decided to feature more photos of Type 2 flying boats in a piece on the Aviation History page)

To end on a related subject, J-HangarSpace recently saw first-hand the results of (and admittedly benefited financially from) the huge amount of money that was made available for refurbishing what is now the Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum (not to mention the new Aichi Museum of Flight). So perhaps a way could be found for long-term plans to be set in motion for the building of a dedicated flying boat/seaplane museum in Japan.

A joint partnership undertaking involving ShinMaywa to, initially, bring the PS-1 at Iwakuni on loan to join the UF-XS and US-1A at Gifu-Kakamigahara—or even to provide company for the Emily at Kanoya—could be the start of having groupings of aircraft if not under one roof then at least sharing the same locations for posterity. Although space at the Konan Plant in Kobe where the aircraft were manufactured is likely at a premium, having ShinMaywa on board would enable the company to showcase its history and expertise as well as publicize its now surprisingly diverse business operations. Furthermore, any facility could be used to spark interest in and attract the aviation industry personnel of the future, as is the intention of the Gifu-Kakamigahara initiative, and serve as a recruitment tool for the JMSDF, too.

Suisei Part 2Nippon Kaigun Kanjo Bakugekiki Suisei
(Suisei: IJN Carrier-Based Bomber), Part 2

by Yasutaka Yoshino
Published by DaiNippon Kaiga (Japan), April 2018
ISBN: 978-4-499-23233-3; Softback
Japanese text, 256mm×210mm, 128 pp
3,800 yen (excl. tax)

This is a follow-up, companion volume to that featured on the ‘Hangar Manager’s Recommendations’ carousel at the foot of this site’s homepage.

Released back in April 2012, Part 1 covered the carrier-borne variants powered by the liquid-cooled Atsuta engine. Although repeating the main title, this second part focuses on those with air-cooled Kinsei engines and on the units and pilots that flew them on land-based night fighter operations. The subtle changes made to the cover to differentiate the two parts thankfully included the replacement of ‘photo & illustlated’ (sic) with ‘photo history’.

J-HangarSpace has yet (May 2018) to see a copy, but the publicity blurb from the publisher also states that the book contains 23 colour profiles and a number of colour illustrations.

Ki-45 Special EditionRikugun Ni-Shiki Fukuza Sentōki Toryū (Army Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter Toryu)
Famous Airplanes of the World Special Edition Vol. 7
(Various authors)
Published by Bunrindo (Japan), August 2018
ISBN 978-4-89319-269-1; Softback; H 254mm×W 182mm; 176pp
2,222 yen plus tax (Also available via amazon.co.jp)

New Famous Airplanes of the World (FAoW) titles on Japanese subjects are suddenly like London buses (pre-bus lanes)—nothing for what seems like an eternity, then two come along one after another.

Following the welcome release of the revamped FAoW Emily title (see above), the team turned its attention to straight reprints, known as encore editions, of selected earlier Red Series offerings. The decision must already have been made to add this seventh title to the Special Edition series, which was launched with the Navy Land-Based Bomber Ginga (Frances) way back in 2000, but six years have passed since the preceding Vol. 6, covering the Zero, was released in 2012.

Red Series No. 21 on the Toryu was originally published in March 1990. Back then, following the colour artwork pages (including a foldout of a 5th Sentai aircraft based at Kiyosu airfield, Ehime Prefecture, in November 1944), the emphasis was on photo/caption-based chapters devoted to the aircraft’s development and then to each variant. These were accompanied by a section, with close-up photos, on the Toryu evaluated in the United States (the fuselage of which is now on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia), three pages of in-action photos and another three on the men that flew the type. The only text-based chapter covered the tactics used for attacking B-29s, in the form of an interview with former 53rd Sentai Sgt. Pilot Nobushi Negishi. The final dozen monochrome pages provided information on camouflage and markings using a combination of text, photos/captions and artwork.

TWA5712crsAssigned to an unidentified unit, one of the around 65 Ki-45KAIc aircraft modified by the First Army Air
Arsenal in 1943 to Ki-45
KAId standard undergoes maintenance at what looks like an airfield in Malaya.
The name Toryu was only officially coined in the press on November 26, 1944, after the media had been
granted access to three IJAAF front-line fighters at Tokorozawa airfield, Saitama Prefecture.
(Photo from Dec. 1957 issue of The World’s Aircraft, used with permission of Hobun Shorin, Co., Ltd.)

Boasting double the number of pages and greatly benefiting from the advances in photo and artwork reproduction, the impressive Special Edition has 290 photos, including four of wrecks in colour from the well-known Jeffrey L. Ethell Collection. By comparison, the earlier version had space for 167 photos, 75 of which do not appear and 50 that are repeated in the new edition.

Following the colour artwork section, which includes a cutaway and 11 profiles (plus a foldout of a 4th Sentai aircraft based at Ozuki airfield, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in June 1944). Previously contributed by Minoru Akimoto, an extensive account of the aircraft’s design and development is this time provided by Yoji Watanabe. The photo collection format was once again adopted to introduce the variants, including the three aircraft modified to conduct tests on the Toryu’s intended single-seat replacement (the Ki-96), armament and items of equipment. A series of captioned photos chart stages in unit life, from aircraft delivery and training to accidents and combat, including “special attack” (kamikaze) units.

Other photo sections provide images of some of the aircraft found in the Philippines after the end of hostilities, unit markings and the aircraft evaluated by the U.S. Army Air Force.

The six other text-based chapters from Yoji Watanabe deal primarily with unit histories and campaigns as well as the pilots (here the interview is with a former 5th Sentai Warrant Officer Yoshio Sakaguchi). This content, too, is based on Watanabe’s book Sōhatsu Sentōki Toryū—Ichigeki Hisatsu Jubaku Kira (Toryu Twin-Engine Fighter—One-Pass Surefire Bomber Killer), which was first published in 1993 but reprinted in a corrected and expanded form by Bunshunbunko in 2008.

captured NickOne of the 45 Toryu that fell into U.S. hands at Clark Field on the island of Luzon in the Philippines in
1945, this example was one of two that were restored to flying condition in situ and tested by the
Technical Air Intelligence Unit, as seen in this short YouTube video (link).
(Photo: U.S. Army Air Force via Wikimedia Commons)

A minor point is that, although of larger (1/72nd scale) format, the line drawings accommodated in the closing pages do lack some the descriptive pointers included in their counterparts at the front of FAoW No. 21.

Competitively priced, this volume is well up to the standard that we have come to expect from the FAoW series, in both its forms. For those of you wanting to see more moving images that will help to bring the Toryu even more to life, a short wartime propaganda film can be found on YouTube here (link).

空の旅crsSora no Tabi (Air Journeys) (Welcome Aboard: Memorabilia from the
Early Years of Japanese Air Journeys
by Kōji Yanagisawa
Published by Yobisha, May 2019
ISBN 978-4-946436-84-0; Softback H 398mm×W 180mm, 248 pages
3,800 yen, excl. tax
Available direct from the author at: k.yanagisawa1029@gmail.com
and via the Arawasi website (link)
(In the case of delivery to the UK, the cost will be GBP38.00, including airmail postage. A ballpark figure for the cost of shipping to the United States would be $40.00, excluding postage.)

Although included in the Japanese-language historical book section, this book does feature translations (provided by J-HangarSpace) of the captions as well as of the foreword and afterword.

In his foreword, aviation journalist and historian Kōji Yanagisawa bemoans the modern-day experience of airline flying, where passengers are herded into lookalike tubes and generally pay little heed to the aircraft type in which they are flying.

As elsewhere, things were different in Japan when the idea of carrying first airmail and then fare-paying passengers literally took off. Drawing on his extensive private collection that he has accumulated over many years, Yanagisawa showcases lavish items that all but place you on a flight during those years.

Japanese_writers_at_HanedaImported from the United States or built under licence by Nakajima, Super Universals played a key role 
in popularizing civil aviation and in linking the disparate parts of the then Japanese empire. Standing in
front of this Japan Air Transport (NKYKK) “Super”—as the type was commonly known—at Haneda in
1931 are four novelists: (from left) Shinzaburō Iketani (1900–1933); Ri-ichi Yokomitsu (1898–1947);
Sanjūgo Naoki (1891–1934); and Kan Kikuchi (1888–1948).
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

In terms of photo content and layout a veritable feast for the eyes, with no photos spanning two pages (other publishers please take note!), Yanagisawa starts by offering a short introductory section that covers the pioneering days up to the start of the first air transport companies.

Each of the following eight chapters, although given over to a specific airline, contains a variety of offbeat subject matter, such as the impressions of a first flight or the selection and training of air stewardesses. (You will have probably already seen the sample page of contemporary posters on the homepage of this website.)

Another three chapters deal with Manchuria Aviation Company (MKKK) and two operators in China; the final chapter charts the demise of civil aviation in Japan following the end of the Pacific War in 1945.

Nakajima AT-2 postcardSeveral of the aircraft illustrations in Welcome Aboard take the form of contemporary picture postcards
like this. The first Nakajima AT-2 received by NKYKK in 1937, this aircraft was flown on a route-
proving flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka on May 16 of that year.
(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

As mentioned on this website’s homepage, the feasibility of providing online translations of the rest of the book’s content is being investigated. Any visitors keen to add their voice in support of swinging the propeller on that idea, please feel free to use the appropriately named “Contact” page of this website.

Shashinshi Hikō Daiyonjūnana Sentai
Pictrial [sic] History of Japanese Army 47th Flying-Sentai
by Yoji Watanabe
Famous Airplanes of the World Special Edition Vol. 8
Published by Bunrindo (Japan), November 2019
ISBN 978-4-89319-300-1; Softback; H 254mm×W 182mm; 128pp
2,000 yen plus tax (Also available via amazon.co.jp)

In a departure from the norm, the eighth title in the Famous Airplanes of the World Special Edition series focuses not on an aircraft type but on a unit.

The then 47th Independent Flying Squadron—or “Kingfisher” Squadron as it was also then known—became the first operator of the Shōki when formed at Fussa airfield in Tokyo on September 5, 1941. Initially equipped with nine extra pre-production aircraft, a Ki-61 (Tony) was also assigned for a time to make up for a shortfall in Shōki deliveries.

Pre-flight preparations under way at the dispersal area of the 2nd Squadron of the 47th Flying
Regiment at Narimasu airfield. The nearest aircraft is a Ki-44-IIb with the red tail marking of
the 2nd Squadron, but next to it is a Ki-44-IIa with a yellow spinner, presumably from 3rd
Squadron stocks, and a broad rear fuselage band. The latter probably indicates that the
pilot is the second in command of the 2nd Squadron, 1st Lt Suzuki. As the canopies
are closed, indicating a cold day, the date is likely early 1944.

(Photo: San Diego Air & Space Museum Archive via Wikimedia Commons)

Early Foreign Assignment

Following a farewell ceremony, the unit departed Fussa for Saigon, in what was then French Indochina, on December 3, 1941, five days before the outbreak of the Pacific War. The 47th performed its first combat mission, which partly served to test the type’s operational suitability, on December 25, 1941, providing fighter cover for a 7th Air Brigade raid on Rangoon, Burma (now alternatively known as Yangon, Myanmar). Its baptism of fire judged to have been a success—as evidenced by some pilots, including Maj. Gen. Yasuhiko Kuroe (1918–1965), who later flew JASDF F-86Fs, having achieved ace status—the Shōki was officially adopted as the Army Type 2 Fighter in February 1942. Three months later, in May 1942, the 47th returned to Japan, a move prompted by the need to bolster the homeland air defences following the daring Dolittle Raid of April 18 that year.

 Multi-Base Japan Combat History

During the type’s initial evaluation period in Japan, the prototype and the 47th’s Shōki had been test flown from Tachikawa in Tokyo and Kakamigahara, Gifu Prefecture. Having returned to Matsudo airfield, the 47th had before too long moved to Kashiwa, also in Chiba Prefecture. After 10 months back in Japan, the unit was on the move again, this time to Chofu airfield in Tokyo, in early March 1943. That June, pilots undertook combat training in which they were pitted against a B-17 Flying Fortress that had been captured on Java and brought to Japan.

Just over two years after its formation, on October 3, 1943, the 47th officially dropped its independent squadron designation to become, initially, the two-squadron 47th Flying Regiment. Having added a third squadron for a regular total complement of 54 aircraft, the unit next moved to Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, in early December 1943, at a time when an imported Focke-Wulf Fw190A-5 was being evaluated. This was to be only a temporary stop, as the last of the three squadrons completed its move to the newly operational Narimasu airfield, in northwestern Tokyo, on December 23 that year.

Taking the opportunity presented by its elevation to full flying regiment status, the unit modified its aircraft tail marking that previously had pointed downward and been topped by a single star in the case of unit commanders. Retaining the basic stylized ‘47’ design and omitting the star, the design was made more flamboyant by being extended across the full width of the tail. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd squadrons were identified by, respectively, blue, red and yellow markings and two-digit individual aircraft identifier numbers low on their rudders.

For ease of visibility the 3rd’s yellow markings were edged in red. In the case of the Hayate, the 1st and 2nd squadrons’ tail markings were usually edged in white or yellow. The book also reveals that what appears to be a darker painted angled section on Hayate main undercarriage covers was actually staining caused by the engine exhausts.

An aerial view of Narimasu airfield that was home to the 47th Sentai in 1944.
Previously prime agricultural land was given over to the construction of 
an airfield with a 1,800-metre runway running north to south.
(Photo: Nerima Ward, Tokyo)

Survey work to construct the new airfield, again as a direct result of the Dolittle Raid, had begun in the autumn of 1942. Commenced in August 1943, construction was completed a lot faster, in a mere four months. (Apparently today’s Hibarigaoka [‘Lark Hill’] Station straddles where the runway once was, and the nearby Hibarigaoka Park, administered by Nerima Ward, occupies a large part of what was once the wartime airfield.)

 It was late November 1944 when the 47th, still engaged in the defence of Tokyo from Narimasu, started to trade in its Shōki for its more potent Nakajima stablemate, the Hayate. Transition to the new type had been completed by mid-January 1945, but the Shōki remained the mount of the Shinten (Heaven-Shaking) units designated for special (ramming) attacks formed at that time.

A detail from a photo donated by a local resident for display at an exhibition held at the Nerima
Ward Office in Tokyo in August 2018. Dated early January 1944, according to its caption the 
photo shows aircraft from the (special attack) Sakuratai (Cherry Blossom Unit) within the 
47th’s 3rd Squadron on the flight line at Narimasu. According to the English caption to
the first Hayate profile in the book under review, however, in February 1945 the
Sakura Unit was the by then Hayate-equipped 2nd Squadron.
(Photo: Nomura Setsu via Twitter @nomura_setsu)

Following U.S. air raids on airfields in the Kanto region in February 1945, for around five months from March the 47th was among those units that were kept on the move and placed under different commands. Although ostensibly home-based at Narimasu, the 47th was deployed to Sano airfield in Osaka from March to April 1945 and to Miyakonojo West airfield in Miyazaki Prefecture from May 25. Its special attack elements having carried out suicide missions in the meantime, the rump of the 47th moved for what was to prove the last time, from Miyakonojo to Ozuki airfield, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on July 18, 1945.

Book Content Overview

Individually, the Shōki and Hayate were covered in standard editions of the Famous Aircraft of the World (FAoW) series, albeit back in May (No. 16) and November 1989 (No. 19), respectively. Publisher Bunrindo has recently released so-called encore editions of both of these titles.

The “spot the typo” wraparound cover this time shows Lt. Col. Minoru Shimoyama, commanding officer of the 47th Sentai, looking on as the unit’s pilots climb into and begin to warm up the engines of their aircraft at Chofu airfield. The interloping 87th Sentai aircraft in the foreground dates the photo as some time on or after November 6, 1943, as its pilot had been forced to divert to Chofu after suffering a technical problem soon after departure from Kashiwa when that unit was en route to Sumatra. Shimoyama himself was to be killed in action when mounting an attack on a B-29 in March 1944. (The earlier FAoW No. 16 includes a photo taken moments before that reveals more of the flight line.)

Three double-page colour profiles, of a Hayate and two Shōki, are followed by two of each type positioned vertically on the page and a page providing a small plan view of each type. As the focus is on the unit, no line drawings are provided.

The text is divided into five chapters. Each has only a short introductory text and, in keeping with the title, brings together in well-ordered fashion a large number of high-quality photos with full captions.

Chapter 1 Lying Low Days; Influence of German and British Aircraft; To the Battlefields; In the Thick of the Fighting

Chapter 2 Training on Home Ground; Training Shifts into Top Gear; Expansion to Flying Regiment

Chapter 3 Base / Narimasu Airfield; Hyuga, Fuji and Sakura*; Personnel Comings and Goings; Different Aspects
 * The names of the three special attack units. The old provincial name for today’s Miyazaki Prefecture, Hyuga was changed to Asahi (Morning Sun) in around July 1944.

Chapter 4 Shintentai (Heaven-Shaking Unit) Skies; Change of Aircraft Type; Engaging with Shipborne Enemy Aircraft; Snow and Type 4 Fighters

Chapter 5 Change of Mission; Special Attack Methods; Change of Course to the West; Reversion to Air Defence Unit

The final page features two tables, one providing details of the aircraft/pilot assignments in the early days of the 47th Independent Flying Squadron, the other listing the 47th’s commanding officers from September 1941 to August 1945.

On the way, the book provides a splendid “drone’s eye view” of pilots and ground crew at work, rest and play—it’s definitely not just about the aircraft. Just by way of a couple of examples that show the human side of life on the squadron, photos on page 98 show a rudimentary gunnery simulator designed to assist in judging distances in combat. Standing outside at a Narimasu airfield covered in snow, which no doubt helped to give the impression of clouds, a pilot peers through a tripod-mounted gunsight (of the type fitted to the Hayate) as a model of a B-29, suspended on a rope and pulley system, comes towards him.

There is a stark juxtaposition between photos on pages 80 and 81. Taken following the start of special attack operations in the Philippines in October 1944, the former shows an understandably stern-looking Maj. Gen. Makino from the 47th in discussion with Maj. Gen. Sekawa of the 18th Sentai, two of the 10 instructor pilots selected to join a force that would carry out an attack on enemy ships in Ormoc Bay off the island of Leyte on December 7, 1944. Lightening the mood on the opposite page, three photos show ground crew members relaxing, including some from the Fuji Unit enjoying a bout of sumo in which the participants have to hop on one leg.

Back to the aircraft, and other photos in the book show the 47th’s tail marking on a Ki-43 Hayabusa (Oscar), which along with a Mitsubishi Ki-51 (Sonia) was used as a target tug, and on a Tachikawa Ki-36 (Ida) liaison aircraft.

The only English words provided are the titles, which repeat the embarrassing error in ‘Pictorial’, a passable caption to the first double-page Hayate profile, and the credits. Despite (or perhaps because of!) J-HangarSpace approaches, the editorial staff sadly seem determined not to allow anyone to check any English content/decorative text before publication.

Back in May 1989, the subject chosen for the cover of Famous Aircraft of the World No. 16 (above) was a distinctively marked Shōki from the 47th Sentai. No supporting photograph or description was provided at that time, but the aircraft features a prominent red fuselage stripe and spinner as well as, on the left side only, a winged version of what had been the 47th Independent Flying Squadron’s original marking of propeller blades on a Yamaga-style war drum. Possibly applied for propaganda film purposes, two Fuji special attack unit aircraft appear to have received these markings in autumn 1943, as evidenced by photos on pages 55 and 89 of this latest publication. Although another source had the aircraft as being from a Shinten Seikūtai (Heaven-Shaking Air Superiority Unit) and based at Narimasu from 1944 to 1945—the thin white fuselage band would denote flown by a commanding officer—this publication thus claims that the concept behind the red stripe was unrelated. The artwork was supplied by Masao Satake, who is still contributing the covers to the FAoW series.

Although also depicting a 47th Sentai aircraft, Masao Satake’s cover for FAoW No. 19 (above) was of an aircraft in standard markings. Photographs and a variety of Hayate colour profiles can be found here [link].

The above profile and accompanying photo are included to draw visitors’ attention to the unfortunately anonymous Japanese website that can be accessed via the link at the end of the previous paragraph. The artwork also happens to be of the same subject as the opening, double-page profile in FAoW Special No. 8: the Ki-84a flown by Capt. Teiichi Hatano, the commanding officer of the Sakura Unit (the former 3rd Squadron, though the book caption wrongly says the 2nd) from Narimasu in February 1945. This was likely to have been the aircraft Hatano was piloting when killed on a special attack mission four months later, on June 21.

Whereas this illustration has the aircraft sporting a white-edged red fuselage band, that in FAoW Special No. 8 shows two white-edged blue bands, one of which has faded. These are interpretations of the accompanying photo, but artist Shigeki Ninomiya also had recourse to another image, also included in the book above the same photo, of Capt. Hatano standing by the right side of the tail of this aircraft.

Aviation Books: Japanese Language/
Post-1945 and Current Topics

私のアルバムからWatashi no Arubamu Kara (From my Photo Album) Itami/Konan
Published by AGC Art (Japan), September 2013
Photo captions by Hideki Yamauchi
ISBN 978-4-99061-092-0; Hardback; H 218mm×W 303mm; 128pp
3,800 yen excl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)
Four sample images (of U.S. military aircraft) viewable here [link]

Based in Ebina, Kanagawa Prefecture, AGC Art has produced a number of titles (the Checkertail series) that contain photos of U.S. military aircraft that have either been based in or visited Japan from the 1950s. 

Warranting its inclusion on this website, the 169 monochrome photos in this second book in the From My Album series are notable for the 30 or so shots of SDF aircraft at Itami (Osaka) airport or ShinMaywa’s Konan plant in Kobe. More specifically: JASDF: H-21B (including one photo with a C-46 in the background); JGSDF: V-44; JMSDF: JRF-5 Goose, PBY-6A Catalina, PV-2 Harpoon, R4D-6, TBM-3 Avenger and the UF-XS, taken between 1955 and 1968. 

With regard to the book’s layout, the excellent decision was made to feature primarily uncluttered, full-page photos with key information (type, date, location, photographer) appearing in a small font underneath. Accompanied by more detailed captions, the photos are reprinted in thumbnail format over eight pages at the back of the book. 

Those interested in flying boats will also find something of interest in that ShinMaywa was at that time overhauling U.S. Navy SP-5B Marlins at Konan.

航空自衛隊F-15J/DJ全機写真集Kōkūjieitai F-15J/DJ Zenki Shashinshū (ASDF F-15J/DJ All-Aircraft Photo Collection)
Published by Shinkigensha (Japan), January 2014
ISBN 978-4-77531-224-7; Softback; H 294mm×W 210mm (A4); 96pp
2,300 yen excl. tax (10 selected pages viewable on amazon.co.jp [link])

Cast in the same mold as the 2000 Green Arrow book entitled All F-104J of the JASDF, this “JASDF Perfect Photo Book” is built around colour photos—in serial number order, three or four to a page—of each of the 213 F-15J and ’DJ aircraft that have served with the JASDF. As would be expected, aircraft with special markings are included. 

Covering the period from the type’s introduction to squadron deployment, the opening chapter sets the scene for a three-page rundown of the units. In addition to potted career histories, the individual aircraft photos include the fiscal years in which a particular aircraft was procured and accepted into service as well as its contract lot number. This information is repeated in a four-page table that also shows each aircraft’s level of modernization, the form in which an aircraft was supplied (in component knock-down form, as a complete aircraft direct from McDonnell-Douglas, or licence-built by Mitsubishi), the unit to which an aircraft was assigned when photographed, and attrition losses. 

Two sections that provide detail images of the aircraft and underwing stores are followed by a description of the F-15J/DJ upgrade and modernization programmes. The last eight pages are taken up with advertising for other of the publisher’s modelling magazine and book offerings. 

All things considered, this book serves as a more than adequate “one-stop shop” quick reference for F-15J/DJ photographs and facts.

ひゅうがHyūga-kata Goeikan (Hyūga-Class Destroyer Escorts)
Published by Ikaros Publications (Japan), December 2014
ISBN 978-4-86320-946-6; Softback (mook); H 252mm×W 180mm (B5); 100pp
1,750 yen incl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)
Three sample pages viewable here [link]

The publisher of JWings, Ikaros also publishes the bi-monthly magazine JShips. This first in the supplementary new Famous Ships of the World series covers the Hyūga-class helicopter carriers (DDHs, or “destroyer escorts” in euphemistic JMSDF parlance), Hyūga and Ise

Claiming to provide all there is to know (within reason) about these two vessels, the real or imagined capabilities of which have courted controversy from certain quarters, this well-illustrated, imformative mook offers detailed glances behind the scenes and below the decks. 

Opening with an account of the origins of the JMSDF’s now retired first-generation Haruna-class DDHs Haruna and Hiei, which were long in the planning, the second section describes how the Ise, as the second Hyūga-class ship, was shown off in various parts of the world directly after its service entry. Each section features the respective basic technical data of the two second-generation ships. 

Details of the Hyūga class are divided into five sections: for’ard (close-in weapon systems, chaff launchers), midships (ship’s bridge structure); stern (hangar deck, vertical launching systems, torpedo tubes and other weapon systems), inside the bridge, and the hangar deck. These are followed by a layout diagram. 

Next come articles on the theory behind the operation of the Hyūga class ships, from the operational concept and missions to their helicopters and defence systems as well as their history and future. These are followed by reports on their missions and displays of their capabilities from their participation in RIMPAC2014 (Ise, July 2014), in humanitarian support and disaster relief training, in the joint U.S.-Japan Exercise Dawn Blitz (Hyūga, June 2013) and in the operation of Osprey tilt-rotors. In November 2013, the crew of the Ise experienced rescue operations for real when the ship was despatched to the Philippines as part of international efforts to assist the areas devastated by a powerful typhoon. 

More reports follow in random order:
May 2012 On board the Ise from Karatsu (Saga Prefecture) to Kure (Hiroshima Prefecture)
Oct. 2009 Hyūga’s debut at the Fleet Review (Ise’s debut in Oct. 2012)
Nov. 2009 Participation in joint U.S.-Japan exercise AMMUALEX 21G (Hyūga)
Dec. 2010 Participation in joint U.S.-Japan exercise Keen Sword 2010 (Hyūga)
Nov. 2013 Truths hidden in secret JMSDF exercise (Hyūga)
Aug. 2007 Hyūga launched
Mar. 2009 Hyūga commissioned
Aug. 2009 Ise launched, Haruna-class DDHs head for decommissioning

Scramble coverスクランブル (Scramble)
by Iwaki Tanaka
Published by Kojinsha NF Bunko (Japan), December 2014
N-861, ISBN 978-4-76982-861-7; Softback; H 150mm × W 105mm, 272 pages
770 yen excl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)

Born in 1944, Iwaki Tanaka graduated from the National Defense Academy in 1967 and commenced pilot training upon receiving his commission. During a flying career that spanned more than 20 years, Tanaka flew JASDF front-line fighters from the F-86F to the F-15J as squadron and test pilot. He had amassed 4,600 flying hours at the time of his retirement from active service in December 2000. 

In 2013, Kojinsha published Airmanship (N-774), which covered episodes throughout Tanaka’s career, from his basic training and first accident to flight testing the FS-T2Kai (the predecessor of the F-1) and the testing of target-towing equipment. As its title and subtitle (“Fire warning shot”) suggest, this follow-up book focuses more on the quick reaction alert (QRA) operations that were the bread-and-butter of Tanaka’s squadron career. As these operations have become more intense and have been appearing more often on the news media radar of late, the book’s publication provides some timely insight.

60thDVDJASDF 60th Anniversary Air Review 2014 DVD and Photo Collection
Published by Bunrindo (Japan), December 2014
ISBN 978-4-89319-233-2; Softback, A4 format, 64 pages
DVD running time: 50 min. (plus bonus features, including rehearsal flight coverage)
2,600 yen (incl. tax)

This publication comprises a magazine book (mook) attached to the front of a DVD presentation box. Half of the mook is given over to photographic coverage of the events held at Hyakuri AB in November 2014 to officially mark the 60th anniversary of the JASDF. Unfortunately, a number of the photos are marred by the less than perfect weather conditions and a lens choice that resulted in oddly distorted and stretched versions of the aircraft. 

The second half comprises a round up of some the anniversary markings sported by JASDF aircraft during the course of the year and an account that traces the service’s history.

J-HangarSpace has not yet watched the accompanying DVD that was produced by Banaple, a company that specializes in aviation content (link).

HobbyJAPAN F-86FNorth American F-86 Sabre Shashinshū (Photo Collection)
Published by Hobby Japan, June 2015
ISBN 978-4-7986-1036-8; Softback H 296mm×W 210mm, 112 pages
2,700 yen excl. tax

Only four months after releasing a general photo collection of JASDF aircraft in February 2015, Hobby Japan produced this title devoted to the service’s first jet fighter.

The first third of the book is taken up by “in action” photos, in both monochrome and colour, covering all three variants operated by the JASDF: the F-86F, RF-86F and F-86D. The emphasis then shifts to the total of 18 units that operated them, including a two-page spread of squadron patches and 10 profiles. Continuing with the modeler in mind, 14 pages are given over to nose to tail and interior details of the aircraft.

An interview with a former pilot follows a development history. Mamoru Sato has written books of his experiences during a flying career that spanned 34 years, from 1963 to 1997, during which time he flew three fighter types and amassed a total of 3,800 flying hours.

The coverage closes with two pages of photos that show former F-86Fs that crossed the Pacific and enjoyed second careers with the U.S. Navy.

Although one or two of the colour photos have not emerged so well from the reproduction process, this book offers an excellent “one-stop shop” for information on this important type.

Ikaros JASDF 60thKōkū Jieitai no Tsubasa (JASDF Wings): 60th Anniversary of Japan Air Self Defense Force
Published by Ikaros Publications (Japan), September 2015
ISBN 978-4-8022-0046-2; Softback; H 289mm×W 210mm; 128 pages
2,700 yen incl. 8% tax 

According to an old saying, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” The cover of this magazine book (mook), which belatedly commemorates the JASDF’s 60th anniversary in 2014, credits the photograpy (sic) of Satoshi Akatsuka and features a beautifully positioned study of a 3rd Sqn F-2 in a climb (as you will have noticed above). 

The content is divided into five chapters, the first three of which are in colour. The 50-page first chapter contains some stunning air-to-air images of current types taken by Akatsuka, who is himself a former JASDF F-15J pilot. Unfortunately, the layout designers have rendered him and purchasers a huge disservice by deciding to show too many of his works across two pages, so that some of the images fall into the “crevices” between them. Perhaps the worst example of this is the shortened “E-767SP” over Mt. Fuji. 

The second chapter covers JASDF organization, divided into the four commands: Air Defense, Air Support, Air Training, and Air Development and Test Command plus other organizations. In these pages, the text and slightly clunky-looking charts are interspersed with smaller images that include personnel in operational settings. Introduced by the insertion of tail marking artwork at the foot of relevant pages in the second chapter and their inclusion in a map, the following chapter develops the marking theme by taking a look at the special markings carried to mark the anniversary. Here again, improved layout would have done better justice to more air-to-air gems from the Akatsuka lens. Speaking personally, J-HangarSpace would have been prepared to pay a higher cover price to see the job done properly in a larger format. 

The final two sections give monochrome coverage to JASDF aircraft and an account of the service’s history. The former provides bios, two-views and technical data on each current type, followed by thumbnail info on new types that will be entering service in the coming years. The latter includes organizational charts and unit location maps at 10-year intervals from 1954 to 2004. 

Just by way of comparison, the Ikaros publication on the JASDF’s 50th anniversary in 2004 followed essentially the same format, was 30 pages longer and cost 2,800 yen, including the then 5% tax. On that occasion it had been some of well-known photographer Kazuhiko Tokunaga’s photos that were subjected to some dubious treatment, belying the superb shot of an F-15J on the cover. 

The 60th anniversary photo collection from the major, long-established publishing company Kodansha is entitled SCRAMBLE! (Shigeki Miyajima, July 2015, ISBN 978-4-06-21945-4, 3,500 yen, excl. tax) and focuses more on JASDF personnel. In A4 format, even this esteemed publisher’s designers unwisely placed a frontal view looking down on an F-2 across two pages, with laughable results!

T-4 Blue Impulse 20th AnniversaryT-4 Buruu 20 Shunen (Blue Impulse 20th Anniversary on T-4)
Published by Bunrindo (Japan), March 2016
ISBN 978-4-89319-244-8; Softback, A4 format, 112 pages
DVD running time: approx. 32 min
2,700 yen (incl. tax)

Including in the price a DVD and special 11th Sqn/Blue Impulse commemorative patch, this publication provides a fitting tribute—in photos and moving images as well as in words—to mark the Blue Impulse team having passed the two-decade milestone of its Kawasaki T-4 operations.

It was November 1995 when the team performed its last display on the Mitsubishi T-2 and April 5 the following year when the team appeared in the skies above its first official T-4 engagement, the annual entrance ceremony at the National Defense Academy in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Blue Impulse posters 2015 In 2015, official JASDF posters were produced to mark the 20th anniversary of the team’s
transition from the T-2 to the T-4.

The lead-in to the book comprises some of the stunning in-flight images that we have come to expect from well-known photographer Katsuhiko Tokunaga.

The first section covers the official ceremony, conducted at the team’s Matsushima home base, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the formation of its parent unit, the 11th Squadron, on December 22, 1995. Present at the event held on February 2, 2016, were a Blue Impulse aircraft and, repeating the practice from the 10th anniversary, the unit’s standard T-4 resplendent in special anniversary markings designed by a maintenance team member. The day’s events also included the unveiling of a memorial to the victims of the tsunami of March 11, 2011, when the team was luckily away at Ashiya AB. The memorial features the tail fin of a Blue Impulse aircraft that had been left behind only to itself fall victim.

Providing snapshots from all 18 displays the team performed in 2015, a four-page “postcard” layout is followed by a behind-the-scenes look at training at Matsushima; broader coverage of the period from 1995 to 2014 forms the focus of a separate chapter. Sandwiched in between are profiles of the current team members, not just of the 14 pilots but also of the 37-strong support crew.

Another chapter takes an interesting look at three days in the life of the team as it prepares for and performs from location at the 2015 air festival at Hamamatsu AB, which was the birthplace of what was to become the Blue Impulse team and the site of its first F-86 show in March 1960.

Preceding sections that take close looks at a Blue Impulse aircraft and the elements of a display, two pages reveal the seven award-winning colour scheme proposals received from members of the public. Declared the winner in March 1993, the adopted scheme was one of a mere 2,135 entries.

A final chapter looking back at the team’s history is followed by listings of T-4 displays and team personnel through the years.

Blue Impulse (2)(Photo: JASDF)

So far so good; let’s turn to the DVD, produced by Koku Fan’s long-time collaborator in such projects, Banaple. Given as 32 minutes, the running time excludes another 10 minutes’ worth of trailers for other Blue Impulse-related titles, including a DVD innovatively aimed specifically at children.

To a pleasant orchestral music backing, the viewer is initially presented with stills of such scenes as personnel applying a life-size decal to an aircraft and the team’s new hangar in 1995. Upping the pace with footage of the last T-2 display in November 1995 and the team’s JASDF debut on the T-4 at Hyakuri, the background music switches to rock that is, as usual, set far too high in the mix.

Other coverage documents the protracted preparations for the team’s Nellis AFB visit in April 1997 to perform at the USAF’s 50th anniversary show—at which they appear to flout an FAA ruling to delete the “corkscrew” manouevre from the routine—the JASDF and team 50th anniversaries in 2004 and 2010, respectively, and the 1,000th display, which took place at Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, in January 2011.

There is some good ground-based camera work—knowing the ideal camera position beforehand pays dividends—and the in-cockpit footage really places the reader at the heart of the display.

Having been directly affected by the tsunami, the team has become symbolic of the Tohoku region’s reconstruction efforts. The DVD contains terrible scenes and poignant images of the tsunami’s arrival and aftermath in the area and at Matsushima base itself. (Seen in the video, the former Blue Impulse T-2 that was once mounted on a pole in nearby Higashi-Matsushima is no more.) Although able to practice from Ashiya and perform for the first time since the tsunami in August 2011, it was not until March 30, 2012, that the team could make an emotional return to its still badly damaged home. Although repairs and tsunami protection work have for the most part been completed, construction work was still under way at Matsushima AB in March 2016.

Once again, the Banaple engineers crank up the muzak, only this time at a singularly inappropriate time. A sequence of drowned-out, barely audible interviews with former members includes a temporary loss of all sound except for the irritating “foreground music”. Eerily, the silent interviewee, dressed in his Flight Check Group flying jacket, is Major Masaru Hiraoka, team leader from April 2010 to March 2013, who was the pilot of the U-125 that tragically crashed into high ground near JMSDF Kanoya on April 6, 2016, with the loss of its six-man crew.

The three in memoriam names that linger on the screen during the DVD—Major Mikio Abe in the No. 5 aircraft, Major Miki Ichishima and Captain Tomohiro Umekawa in No. 6—are those of the pilots who lost their lives when on a training flight from Matsushima on July 4, 2000. Their aircraft had struck high ground on the Oshika Peninsula of Miyagi Prefecture, coincidentally on the ninth anniversary of the loss of two T-2 pilots in an overwater training accident in 1991. A poignant reminder of the perils particularly inherent in flying in a high-performance environment, the in isolation devastating incident in 2000 occurred only a matter of days after the loss of five men in a C-1 crash.

X-2 Stealth mookNihon no Suterusuki (Japanese Stealth Fighter)
by the Editorial Department of Ikaros magazine
Published by Ikaros (Japan), June 2016
ISBN 978-4-8022-0178-0; Softback; H 283mm×W 210mm (A4); 64pp
1,200 yen incl. tax
Sample pages are viewable here (link)

The singular noun of the English title is misleading, as the cover includes the Japanese headings The Road to the F-3 Future Fighter and JASDF F-35A Lightning II Roll-out This Year.

J-HangarSpace well remembers where he was when he first saw the diminutive X-2 taking to the skies on its maiden flight—in a dentist’s waiting room in Tokyo, watching TV news reports that included superb footage of the event. Lasting a mere 26 minutes, the flight culminated with a landing at Gifu AB.

Not surprisingly, fine images of that epoch-making hop, made on April 22, 2016, figure prominently in the opening pages of this mook (magazine book), which uses content previously published in J-Wings magazine. In doing so, as the cover also trumpets, this succeeds in bringing together everything that is known or can be surmised about the aircraft. The second section focuses on the series of eight taxi trials that had commenced on February 9 and led up to the nosewheel briefly lifting off the runway on April 12.

Going back further in time, six pages are devoted to close-ups of the aircraft at its debut before the media on January 22, when the former Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD-X) was officially designated the X-2. Here the reader can see where the designers had unstealthily dipped into distinctly old technology T-2 spares. The photos also reveal details of what the censor had obscured in the photos released after the aircraft had emerged from the paint shop in July 2014; the gauze-like covers of the cockpit environmental control system (ECS) heat exchanger outlets to the rear of the cockpit, which were designed to decrease the radar signature, and the serrated edges of the double-hinged nosewheel door (as seen in the cover photo), which offered design and production advantages.

A three-view is followed by details of the technologies incorporated in the design and an account of the entire development process, which dates back to 1991 with basic engine research, before looking ahead into how those technologies might coalesce into a possible full-size F-3. In passing, general information is given on the jet combat aircraft that have borne the Mitsubishi brand name: the F-1/T-2 and F-2. Just like the X-2’s designers, magazine publishers have to keep costs down by using old parts from time to time, too.

Having decided not to patiently waiting for the maiden flight and rollout of the first JASDF Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II to balance the X-2 coverage, the Ikaros editorial team turns the spotlight onto the upcoming rollout of the first F-35A. The first of two parts anticipates the type’s service entry in Japan, the second provides the basics of the design and its three variants. Coverage ends with a roundup of stealth designs and future projects from around the world.

The Ikaros website describes this as an “urgent publication” to mark the X-2’s maiden flight, but why the rush? J-HangarSpace believes that the digest-style coverage, while not without its merits, would have been far better had the company waited for those few months. A more balanced, combined approach on both the interim X-2 test aircraft and the real-deal F-35A, dispensing with the throwaway “filler,” would also have been of greater benefit to the buying reader.

F-104J coverLockheed F-104J/DJ Starfighter Shashinshū (Photo Collection)
Published by Hobby Japan, June 2016
ISBN 978-4-7986-1250-8; Softback H 296mm×W 210mm, 112 pages
2,700 yen excl. tax

This companion volume to that covering the F-86F Sabre, released a year ago, gives the Starfighter the same tried and tested treatment.

The first third is predominantly taken up by large-format colour and monochrome shots of F-104Js and ‘DJs in operational guises. A rarity here is an F-104J on approach to Komaki trailing a tattered drag ’chute that has been inadvertently deployed prior to landing. The final four pages of this section touch on the later UF-104J/JA target drone variants and on three preserved examples, included then (with the 207th Sqn, Naha, in 1985) and now shots of the F-104J displayed at the Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori Prefecture.

Two pages are then devoted to each of the 201st Sqn to the 206th Sqn, the Air Proving Wing and the UF-104J/JA unit; the 207th rates four pages by dint of having had different unit markings during its times based at Hyakuri and Naha. The 12-page Special Marking Album provides 24 examples of the colour schemes sported by Starfighters at TAC Meet gunnery competitions. These are complemented by three pages of colour profiles that follow a selection of unit patches.

With the modeler in mind, a monochrome section offers detailed close-ups of the aircraft, spanning the time of initial production through to the end of their JASDF careers, which in some cases meant being placed on display or prepared for a new lease of life with the Taiwan Air Force.

A special section carries information gleaned from an interview with an anonymous pilot who flew the UF-104J for two years, from 1996 up to the unit’s disbandment. The book closes with the story of the Starfighter’s development, including brief descriptions of its service with the U.S. Air Force and other operators, before taking one final look back at the type’s career in Japan.

T-2 coverMitsubishi T-2/F-1 Shashinshū (Photo Collection)
Published by Hobby Japan, February 2017
ISBN 978-4-7986-1419-9; Softback H 296mm×W 210mm, 112 pages
2,700 yen excl. tax

This is the third volume of what is now a trilogy of volumes on JASDF jet aircraft that has appeared over the course of last three years.

The content of the F-104J/DJ review above could simply be repeated here, as the format remains essentially unchanged, save for the doubling up of coverage to accommodate the two related types.

Again, the first third is taken up by large-format shots of T-2s and FS-T2Kai (in colour and monochrome) and F-1s (all in colour); two pages are devoted to the T-2 Control Configured Vehicle (CCV). Unfortunately, the decision was taken here to include a higher proportion of images that extend across two pages, which is something of a J-HangarSpace pet peeve.

The squadron round-up, including the T-2s operated by the Air Development & Test Wing and the Blue Impulse aerobatic team, is followed by a 12-page Special Marking Album; 11 profiles precede four pages of unit patches. Again following the F-104J/DJ example, a monochrome section offers detailed close-ups predominantly of the F-1.

After tracing the development and operational history of the two aircraft, the subject of the pilot interview is Yoshio Sakai, who accumulated around 3,300 flying hours on them in a career that saw him serve with all three front-line F-1 squadrons at various times between 1979 and 1995.

F-2B book tsunamiYomigaeru Tsubasa F-2B (F-2Bs Brought Back to Flight)
by Takao Komine (text) and Tetsuya Kakitani (photography)
Published by Namikishobo (Japan), June 2017
ISBN 978-4-89063-362-3; Softback H 190mm×W 130mm, 216 pages
1,500 yen excl. tax

Covering a current JASDF aircraft type from a markedly different angle (of attack), this book charts the project to return to operational service F-2Bs damaged by the March 2011 tsunami. Subtitled Rebirth from the Tsunami’s Devastation, its back cover shows the tsunami of March 11, 2011, arriving at the Matsushima air base flight line and engulfing T-4s and F-2Bs; one of the latter is hooked up to a hastily abandoned tug.


The band around the book rightly proclaims as unprecedented the restoration project to return to operational service 13 of the 18 F-2Bs that were inundated (the Japanese word used can also mean ‘pickled’) and tossed about like toys in seawater that day (link). As such, the book very much represents a departure from the aviation coverage norm in handling the events at the base during and following that tragedy-filled day in northeast Japan.

The first of the nine chapters opens with the writer Takao Komine, since 2001 the reporter on military matters for the long-established Japanese magazine Weekly Playboy, visiting the base a month to the day after the tsunami. Having had his mobile phone and reporting paraphernalia taken from him, he was escorted into the not surprisingly ‘morgue-like atmosphere’ of a hangar for his first encounter with the serried ranks of damaged F-2Bs. That day, base personnel were already speaking of returning the aircraft to flight.

Fate had played a huge part in so many F-2Bs being on the ground at the wrong time. From one of the many interviews with base personnel, we learn that seven F-2Bs had been waiting to take off on their afternoon training missions. Hearing from a T-4 pilot who had been sent to assess the weather that conditions were not satisfactory, the 21st Squadron’s then commanding officer Lt. Col. Hiroshi Hama gave the order to scrub the training. The pilots had taxied their aircraft back to the apron and just shut down the engines when the massive earthquake struck, but a six metre-plus tsunami was expected in less than 15 minutes.

Chapter Headings
Ch. 1 Earthquake!
Ch. 2 The Battle of Matsushima Air Base
Ch. 3 “Team Matsushima” into Action!
Ch. 4 F-2B Restoration Project (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Komaki Plant)
Ch. 5 Engine Restoration (IHI Corporation Mizuho Plant)
Ch. 6 Matsushima Air Base Brought Back to Life
Ch. 7 The Moment of Engine Restoration
Ch. 8 Unprecedented Work
Ch. 9 F-2Bs Return to Matsushima!
A chronology provides a useful timeline of major milestones since that
day in March 2011.

Of the 18 F-2Bs damaged by the tsunami, 13 were slated for repair, as far as possible using parts cannibalized from the other five. The book was published after the completion of the initial batch of six aircraft, the first of which was first flown on February 16, 2015, and ferried to Misawa—where training was conducted while Matsushima underwent extensive repairs—after a ceremony at Komaki on April 21 that year (see Bulletin Board and this YouTube link). The sixth followed suit in early March 2016 (YouTube link), and the first two of the second batch of seven completed their first flights in July 2017.

F-2B nattouWC21st Sqn F-2B ’103 basks in the sun in August 2009. The book contains an interview with this aircraft’s
crew chief at the time of the tsunami. The first of the second batch of seven restored F-2Bs, this aircraft
made its second maiden flight on July 11, 2017.
(Photo: ‘nattou’ via Wikimedia Commons)

Via an account of the efforts required of the Japanese aviation industry and interviews with engineers, the book touches on the efforts that led to the triumphant not to mention symbolic return of the fortunate F-2Bs to Matsushima on March 20, 2016.

In describing the passion the men involved continue to show for the aircraft and the Herculean tasks that this project has involved, from the human interest angle this story leaves a lasting impression. Scene-setting photos from JASDF sources are perfectly accompanied by those from photojournalist Kakitani.

T-1 Hobby JapanT-1/T-3/T-4/T-7 Shashinshū (Photo Collection)
Published by Hobby Japan, December 2017
ISBN 978-4-7986-1588-2; Softback H 296mm×W 210mm, 112 pages
2,700 yen excl. tax

Having produced a trilogy of volumes covering JASDF jet types—the F-86F and F-104J as well as the T-2/F-1 (see above)—this latest addition to what Hobby Japan now calls its JASDF Aero Graphics series turns the spotlight on second-line aircraft. This quartet represents the past and present of the service’s primary and intermediate training aircraft.

The photo sections are bookended by the briefest of introductory texts, which is included at the start of the opening “In Action” section, and design histories. The second section, a rundown of squadrons that have operated these aircraft, is followed by coverage of special markings, squadron patches, profiles showing colours and markings, and detailed close-up photos. The latter and the design history pages are monochrome; with the exception one or two T-1 photos, the rest are in colour. Where applicable, the sections are subdivided by type.

Of note among the T-4 close-ups are photos of two pods. One is of the “sniffer” pod that is wielded on radioactive particle monitoring flights after North Korea has conducted a nuclear test, the other serves as a kind of pannier for pilots’ personal belongings.

Bringing up the rear is a black-paged interview with veteran fighter pilot Hiroshi Kasahara, who amassed around 4,000 flying hours as a T-1 pilot instructor before his retirement in 2006.

Generally good use is made of the large-format A4 pages, but the designers still felt the occasional need to spill part of what was once a fine photo onto an adjacent page.

F-4EJ Hobby JapanF-4EJ/RF-4E Shashinshū (Photo Collection)
Published by Hobby Japan, June 2018
ISBN 978-4-7986-1710-5; Softback H 296mm×W 210mm, 112 pages
2,916 yen, excl. tax

Hobby Japan has upped its production rate to bring this latest pictorial take on the aircraft that has been the face of the JASDF fighter fleet for close to half a century.

The premature appearance of this book is reminiscent of Bunrindo’s Famous Airplanes of the World covering the Fuji T-1, which was released in January 2006, just before the last three of the type made their final formation flight from Komaki on March 3 that year.

Hobby Japan decided not to wait for the last Phantoms to disappear from the skies before releasing this latest addition to its Aero Graphics series. As the title specifies F-4EJ and RF-4E, presumably the F-4EJKai and RF-4EJ/EJKai will be covered in a more timely second volume*. Then space will surely be found for the two specially marked aircraft bearing the words ‘302sq F-4 final Year 2019′ (link), one of which also graced the cover and content of the October 2018 issue of Kōkū Fan (below). 

Already having a number of F-4EJ titles in its library, J-HangarSpace decided not to add this one just yet. Auction sites reveal that the book, unsurprisingly, follows the format of the earlier titles in the series. One reviewer on Amazon expresses disappointment over the content and thinks that, given the easy access to images on the Internet, the price has been set too high.
* The companion volume on the F-4EJKai and RF-4EJ was released in October 2019.

永遠の翼表紙Eien no Tsubasa F-4 Fuantomu (Eternal Wings F-4 Phantom)
by Takao Komine (text) and Tetsuya Kakitani (photography)
Published by Namikishobo (Japan), Nov. 2018
ISBN 978-4-89063-378-4; Softback H 190mm×W 130mm, 404 pages
1,944 yen incl. tax

The latest in what is likely to be a number of publications marking the end of the F-4 Phantom’s JASDF career, this pocket-sized book comes from the same two-man team that told the story behind the project to return 13 tsunami-damaged F-2Bs to service in a June 2017 release (link). Were there an English version, this title could be rendered as F-4 Phantom Phorever.

While a provisional F-35A Lightning II squadron is working up at Misawa, the F-4EJ Phantom II’s service career is already well into its final circuit at Hyakuri in the year that will see the 48th anniversary of the landing of the two McDonnell Douglas-built pattern F-4EJs at Komaki AB on July 25, 1971.

DSCF5729crsIn November 1974, a pair of 301st Sqn F-4EJs perform a flypast at Nyutabaru, which was to be the
squadron’s home from March 1985 to October 2016.
(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

The 302nd Sqn is planned to complete conversion to the F-35A by the end of March, and fiscal 2019 will see the disbandment of the reconnaissance unit, the 501st Sqn. In fiscal 2020, it will fall to the 301st Sqn, which was the first to fully form on the F-4EJ in October 1973—after having itself spent more than a year as the Provisional F-4EJ Squadron—to bring the curtain down on the Phantom’s JASDF career just short of that debut arrival’s golden jubilee. Thus, there are still around two years to run before the inevitable happens, and the whine of the J79 engine, which dates back even further to the Starfighter era in the 1960s, is heard no more in Japan.

302SqnhyakuriHP(acc190222)crsThe pair of 302nd Sqn F-4EJKai Phantoms specially painted to mark ‘302sq F-4 final Year 2019’.
(Photo: JASDF Hyakuri AB)

As was the case with the F-2B book, the focus is not so much on the aircraft as on the people involved. To record this event for posterity, 12 of the 18 chapters are in the form of interviews with people closely associated with the Phantom. These include: current and former flight crew; maintenance crew members; women working in air traffic control and involved in image processing with the 501st Sqn; engineers who were involved in the manufacture of the F-4EJ and J79; and two people who helped to cement the Phantom’s place in popular culture. The latter are the manga writer Shō Fumimura (the pen name of Yoshiyuki Okamura) and the manga artist Kaoru Shintani, who created the Fuantomu Burai (Rogue Phantom) series of comic strips with dramatic storylines, which ran from 1978 to 1984.

302SqncoverSaraba Ojirowashi Fuantomu Dai302Hikōtai
   (Farewell White-tailed Sea Eagle Phantoms/302nd TFS)
Published by Bunrindo, May 2019
ISBN 978-4-89319-286-8; Softback H 284mm×W 211mm, 111 pages
2,500 yen, excl. tax

The two specially painted 302nd TFS F-4EJKai Phantoms that were the star attractions at the Hyakuri airshow in December 2018 went on to likely become, at least temporarily, the most widely photographed aircraft of the type. They departed Hyakuri on March 2, 2019, when the squadron was completing its move to Misawa, where the Provisional F-35A Squadron was officially re-designated the 302nd TFS on March 26, 10 years to the day after it had officially become a Hyakuri resident. In the meantime, on March 19, the two Phantoms had returned to Hyakuri, where they are presumably now kept in a hangar; perhaps there are plans to place one on display at the base and the other across at Ibaraki airport’s Aviation Plaza.

The first 22 pages of this mook (magazine book) are taken up by a series of mainly air-to-air photos of these two aircraft, taken by former JASDF pilot Satoshi Akatsuka. These are followed by chapters covering the unit’s decade at Hyakuri, the 11 years spent at its first base, Chitose, and even longer, 23-year association with Naha, Okinawa. That side of the story is brought up to date by a chapter covering the Provisional F-35A Squadron from its formation at Misawa on December 1, 2017, to the day the unit came into being as a now F-35A unit on March 26, 2019; a story marred by the fatal crash of an F-35A on April 9, 2019.

DSCF5333crsA pair of 302nd TFS F-4EJs soon after arrival at Tsuiki on November 26, 1985, the day the
squadron staged through on its move from Chitose to Naha.
(Photo: Takao Kadokami)

Well-known for its eagle tail marking, a chapter is also devoted to the special markings carried by 302nd aircraft over the years. Side and top view drawings of an F-4EJ and an F-4EJKai, spread over two double-page spreads with a commentary by Akatsuka, are followed by another four pages of squadron patches.

The first of two squadron history articles covers the “eagle” from its birth to its demise, while the second takes the form of eyewitness reports on its operations, including its failure to intercept the Soviet MiG-25 that a defecting pilot landed at Hakodate airport in September 1976.

IMG_8544crsA predominantly white aircraft flew the farewell flag for the 302nd during the 2018 airshow season, a
total of eight appearances being fittingly bookended by its debut at Chitose (the unit’s first home) in
July and Naha (its base for almost a quarter-century from 1985) in December, on the weekend 
after the Hyakuri show. The “tour dates” were carried on the port side of the aircraft only.

A squadron patch and a 34-minute DVD, which charts the 302nd’s base moves, are included. Due to some technical glitch, J-HangarSpace has been unable to watch the DVD; a reviewer on Japanese Amazon expressed his dissatisfaction with the image quality, but awarded the whole package four out of five points.

IMG_8611crsThe second aircraft was decked out in its new colour scheme during October 2018.
The names of those involved were applied to the left side of the aircraft.

This mook covers all the bases in a competitively priced package. At the risk of sounding like an old record, the one major drawback is the layout, which places too many of the stunning photos (and even the artwork) over two pages, with detail being lost in the “crevasse”. 

Koku Fan Oct 2018Two 302nd TFS Phnatoms were perfectly postioned on the cover of the
October 2018 edition of
Koku Fan magazine.

Kawasaki C-1
Famous Airplanes of the World Special Edition Vol. 9
(Various authors)
Published by Bunrindo (Japan), August 2022
ISBN 978-4-89319-339-1; Softback; H 257mm × W 182mm; 168pp
2,600 yen plus tax (Also available via amazon.co.jp)

Its cover design mimicking that of Special Edition No. 7 on the series’ standard fare of a World War II subject, namely Kawasaki’s twin-engined Toryū fighter, this publication turns the spotlight on that company’s (and Japan’s) first postwar twin-jet transport.

(Photo [June 2022]: ボボ・AKEBOVO via Twitter @AKEBOVO)

Given that the last of the remaining seven C-1s and the sole EC-1 are due to soldier on to some as yet unknown date, reportedly between 2025 and 2027, there would still be some time to wait before the full story, at least of its squadron career, could be told. Also, as one of the many satisfied reviewers on the Bunrindo blog pointed out, Kawasaki celebrating 70 years since the restart of its aircraft production might have had a bearing on what to some might appear a premature publication.

The 10 photo-based chapters include space devoted not only to showing images of virtually every nook and cranny of a standard C-1 but also details of the first prototype, which made its first flight as the XC-1 in November 1970 and continues to provide sterling flying test bed service as the C-1FTB at Gifu. Aside from those that chronicle the type’s squadron-level service career, including a “day in the life” in the form of a flight from Iruma to Miho, other chapters cover the sole 1984-vintage EC-1 electronic warfare trainer conversion and the National Aerospace Laboratory’s Asuka Quiet STOL research aircraft.

The design, development and operational use of the standard C-1 and the EC-1 as well as the Asuka are also featured in the 10 coverage-balancing text chapters. As you would expect, there are contributions from test and line pilots but also from two loadmasters.

(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

Graphics include a cutaway drawing and three three-views (of a standard C-1; 58-1012 in its JASDF 50th Anniversary scheme from 2004; and 78-1026 in the memorable kabuki design applied to mark the 2nd TAG’s 60th anniversary in 2018), all of which are unhelpfully laid out to “cross the divide” between two pages. At least in the case of the lavish photographic content only the Contents and C-1 in Detail title pages are double-paged, in the latter case depicting the flight deck of a parked C-1 at night. Arranged in landscape format, colour profiles depict: 88-1028 in the type’s original natural metal finish; 68-1019 in the red-ribbon scheme devised for Miho AB’s 40th anniversary in 1998; 56-1006 in blue with a white Pegasus design on its fuselage sides, the 3rd TAG’s contribution to the JASDF’s golden jubilee celebrations in 2004; 58-1007 in the 2nd TAG’s 50th anniversary desert scheme design from 2008; 58-1011 also decked out in blue for Miho AB’s half-century celebrations in 2008; and standard camouflage 88-1028 still wearing a JASDF 60th anniversary sticker four years after the event, in 2018.

As the countdown sequence to the type’s retirement is already well advanced, perhaps this would be a good time to open a book on which of the remaining aircraft will be preserved and where; thus far, only Miho AB’s pre-production model ’003 has escaped the cull. The best bets would be for ’001 to remain at Gifu AB, or even be placed at the nearby Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum, to maintain the Kawasaki connection, and for ’002 to be kept at Iruma AB, where early in 2022 the aircraft was still on active service after 50 years. The JASDF Air Park facility at Hamamatsu would surely want to somehow find the space to display a complete aircraft for posterity, plus perhaps a cockpit section?

(Photo [Gifu, Oct. 2007]: トムきや via Twitter @seahawk_001)

See Kawasaki C-1 Retrospective/Sitrep, Bulletin Board (August 2022).

Aviation Books: Bilingual/Historical

Miyahara Vol. 2The cover illustration shows IJNAF mechanics working on the 150hp Bentley B.R.1 engine of an
Avro 504L floatplane. 

Danshaku no Aishita Tsubasatachi
Baron Miyahara and His World of Aircraft: A Photographic Memoir
Vol. 2, Military and Civil Aircraft 1910–1970
Published by the Aviation Heritage Archive, Japan Aeronautic Association, September 2008
ISBN 978-4-901794-04-6; Softback; H 251mm×W 180mm (B5 format); 208pp
3,000 yen excl. tax
Available through Office HANS, Hiro 2-9-39, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0012, Japan
Tel. +81 3-3400-9611 / Fax: +81 3-3400-9610
E-mail: ofc5hans@m09.alpha.net.ne.jp
and certain specialist bookstores outside Japan
Sample pages viewable here [link]

Asahi Miyahara (1904–1983) majored in aeronautical engineering at Glasgow University, Scotland, and completed an apprenticeship at Westland Aircraft Ltd. in England before returning to Japan. 

Miyahara spent nearly eight years as an aircraft designer at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co., Ltd., where the programmes in which he participated included the Navy Type 97-2 Carrier Attack Bomber (B5M1) and the Army’s Ki-51 (Sonia) assault aircraft. Miyahara later joined the Japan Small Aeroplane Co., Ltd. as chief engineer, where he took an active part in the design of 17 gliders, among them the experimental Ku-11, before becoming a leading light in post-war recreational flying. 

The zeitgeist of the 1920s and ‘30s and the grass-roots passion for aviation then prevalent are faithfully captured within the high-quality pages of this evocative book. Like the companion first volume, Civil Aircraft 19201945—published in 2006 but now out of print at the Tokyo-based sales distributor—the book is itself something of a rarity in featuring a bilingual Japanese-English text, for which the Japan-based aviation artist Richard Ansell lent a helping hand. 

A postscript by Hiroyuki Nagashima of the Aviation Heritage Archive at the Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA), who was a prime mover behind the project, usefully charts how the books arose from a collection of photographs graciously donated by Miyahara’s family to what is now the Experimental Aircraft League (EXAL) in 1984. Since its establishment in 2004, the archive had been working on preserving and cataloguing the images, not all of which are gems from the avid photographer Miyahara’s lens; the true provenance of some is most likely to remain a mystery. 

The book is divided into eight chapters, each of which starts with a brief scene-setting introduction before the photos are allowed to speak for themselves with the aid of captions. Separate chapters are devoted to Army and Navy aircraft. The vast majority of the photographs are from the pre-war era; the end date in the title is only justified by a handful of shots of gliders taken in the 1970s. 

The JAA is to be congratulated on its decision to make the memoir that much more accessible to readers outside Japan by the inclusion of the English text. 

The two Japanese writers involved, Hiroshi Fujiwara and Toshio Fujita, also worked on Soredemo Watashi Wa Tobu / They Flew Regardless: Pictorial Mementoes of Aviation in Japan 1909–1940 at the Aviation Heritage Archive’s behest in 2013. (See Bookstall: Hangar Manager’s Recommendations carousel at the foot of the homepage). 

南海の海鷲たちNankai no Umiwashitachi
(Sea Eagles of the South Seas:
The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Groups in the Southwest Pacific Theater)
Photo captions/additional text by Nobuhito Sato and Yasutaka Yoshino
Published by DaiNippon Kaiga (Japan), November 2014
ISBN 978-4-49923-144-2; Softback; H 258mm×W 210mm (AB format); 128pp
4,320 yen incl. tax (also available via amazon.co.jp)

This book features 114 photographs taken by Mainichi Shimbun correspondent Tetsuo Abe (1914–2007), who to use a modern-day term was embedded with IJNAF flying units during a 10-month assignment in 1944. To do the subject justice, J-HangarSpace decided that the cover of DaiNippon Kaiga’s latest book demanded the fullest site width available. 

In 2011, the company released a book covering two naval air groups entitled Nippon Kaigun Sentokitai Shashinshu (translated as The Imperial Japanese Navy Fighter Group Photograph collection [sic]). Sadly, the enhancement and large-format reproduction of some great photos was not matched by the English parts of the bilingual captions, which were machine translated and an affront to anyone who had paid good money for the dubious privilege of having to decipher them. 

This volume follows the same general format. After 12 pages of colour aircraft profiles with Japanese captions come four chapters in which the main titles are at the very least loosely translated and all the photo captions bilingual. Lacking English versions are the introduction, a section that places the photo locations and dates in Abe’s full itinerary, and three episodes that provide additional background and contain photos from other sources:

Episode 1, p. 36 (written by Yasutaka Yoshino) IJNAF’s 934th NAG’s Floatplane Fighter Squadron That Crossed Swords with Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force in Southwest Pacific
Episode 2, p. 66 (Yoshino) The Boastful 381st NAG and Combined 934th NAG’s Floatplane Fighter Squadron
Episode 3, p. 99 (Nobuhito Sato) Rough Training Dojo: 732nd NAG and Southwest Pacific Theater Strategy

Also left untranslated are the first page (p. 118) of a section entitled Special Attack Squadron of Carrier-Based Attack Aircraft Mobilized at Kushira Base—the images here of the crews setting off on their one-way missions are particularly poignant—details of Abe’s movements after the assignment, and a closing account of his postwar career. The latter was contributed by Tsutomu Abe, the photographer’s son and supplier of the valuable negatives of what in many cases are previously unpublished scenes that never came under the watchful gaze of a wartime censor. 

While far from perfect, the translations that are provided are at least the result of human endeavors in a second language and represent a vast improvement over the 2011 book.

Kawasaki Sentōki Hien Nigata 6117 Goki no Kiroku / 
     Kawasaki Ki-61-IIKai Hien 6117 Uncovered
Published by the Aviation Heritage Archive, Japan Aeronautic Association (JAA), July 2023
ISBN 978-4-901794-09-1; Hardback; H 257mm x W 280mm (modified A3 format); 302pp
10,000 yen (excl. 1,000 tax)
Available through Office HANS, Hiro 2-9-39, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0012, Japan
Tel. +81 3-3400-9611 / Fax: +81 3-3400-9610
E-mail: ofc5hans@m09.alpha.net.ne.jp
and amazon.co.jp
Sample pages viewable here (link)

This book was published to coincide with the aircraft in question’s certification as the nation’s sixth Important Aviation Heritage Asset* by the JAA on March 25, 2023. Tracing  the aircraft’s postwar wanderings, which culminated in its return to the place of its birth, the book covers in detail the restoration work carried out prior to the Hien being fittingly placed on permanent display at the then itself recently revamped Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum in March 2018.

Hien fuselages awaiting the fitting-out process at Kawasaki’s Gifu plant in September 1943.
(Photo published in Aug. 1956 issue of Aireview, used by kind permission of SequirySha K.K.)

The first of two main parts takes the form of a nose-to-tail walk around the aircraft, in situ in the museum. Divided into two sections, the second part provides a potted history of the type, including a pictorial history of 6117’s many postwar “perches” that preceded a 30-year residency at the Chiran Peace Museum, followed by details of the restoration work carried out on as a form of cultural property. The objective of the latter was to, as far as possible, return 6117 to the state it was in when the aircraft fell into U.S. hands and to identify and catalogue for future generations any changes that had been made since.

As a taster, photos of the aircraft during its peripatetic display years can be found via the following website links:
Air Expo, Futako-Tamagawa Park, Tokyo, March to May 1963 (link)
On top of Hanshin department store in downtown Osaka, Oct. 11, 1965 (link)
Oct. 16–24, 1976 International Aerospace Show, JASDF Iruma AB (link)

Hien 6117 when being prepared for display at Hibiya Park, Tokyo, in December 1953. Unfortunately,
its wings had been unceremoniously “clipped” to facilitate its transport along narrow roads. Adding
insult to injury, stanchions and supporting rods would have to be placed under the wings; these
supports appeared to be made from off-cuts of the wood used to make an enclosure for the
five aircraft displayed. Note the signs of damage caused during hoisting operations at its
former Yokota AB home and the flat tyres.
(Photo from February 1954 issue of
The World’s Aircraft
used with permission of Hobun Shorin, Co., Ltd.)

Maintaining the emphasis on 6117, the no less than seven Appendices cover subjects that range from the restoration of the control surface fabric to colorimetry of the original paint present.

* For more, see article on Japanese Aviation History page.

Japanese-Language Part-Works

日本陸海軍機大百科139Nippon Rikukaigunki Daihyakka (IJAAF/IJNAF Aircraft Encyclopaedia)
Published by Hachette Collections Japan Inc.
Example Japanese subject edition (Oct. 2015): No. 159 1/200 Tachikawa Ki-74 (see JWings Feb. 2015, above)
2,047 yen (incl. tax, also available via amazon.co.jp)
Ceased publication after 200 issues

Launched in September 2009 (at 790 yen), this collection offered a die-cast precision model of an IJAAF or IJNAF aircraft (in 1/87, 1/100 or 1/120 scale) with an accompanying magazine every two weeks. 

Sporting faithfully reproduced contemporary colours and markings—even down to the “no step” warnings on wings—the sturdy models included not only the famous types but also the lesser known aircraft that are popular among aviation enthusiasts. During the course of 2015, the publisher began straying away from the series title somewhat by including Allied and even German aircraft subjects. 

The magazine content was divided into eight categories; fighters, attack aircraft, bombers and other types; equipment and weapons; human interest angles; aviation knowledge (manufacturers, archive material, etc.); and a glossary of service terminology.

自衛隊モデルコレクションJieitai Moderu Korekushon (SDF Model Collection)
Published 2013 to 2015 by K.K. DeAgostini Japan
2,371 yen (excl. tax, also available via amazon.co.jp)
Ceased publication

Launched in March 2013, this collection featured a model of a specific major item of SDF military hardware released every two weeks. Content related to the subject—be it an aircraft, tank or ship—was covered in the accompanying magazine. 

Other regular sections included an ongoing account of the 60 years of SDF history, which had actually reached 2015 in the final issue (Nov. 2015/Part 70//Mitsubishi T-2 in Blue Impulse markings), an interview with a serving SDF officer and a visit to an SDF facility (in this case Ainouchi Army Camp in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture). 


Dai-niji Sekaitaisen Kessakuki Korekushon
  (Classic World War II Aircraft Collection)
Published by K.K. DeAgostini Japan
First edition (Feb. 2016): Kawanishi Shiden-kai
1,999 yen (incl. tax, also available via amazon.co.jp)
Ceased publication

Its SDF series having run its course, deAgostini started this latest fortnightly collection in February 2016. As a lure, the first issue, on the Kawanishi Shiden-kai fighter, was offered at half the normal price.

Accompanying each 1/72nd die-cast scale model is a magazine (sample pages below) with sections covering the aircraft’s development and inner workings. These are complemented by pilot bios, details of the type’s combat record and colour schemes as well as by a performance comparison with its Allied rivals.


Having started with the Shiden-kai, the series ended with No. 100 (on the Kyushu Shinden) in November 2019; a complete list can be found here (link),

Aircraft Recognition Test Answers
The answers to the aircraft recognition test included in the review (in the Aviation Books: Japanese Language/Historical section) of J-BIRD: Japanese Aircraft Register 19241945 are as follows: J-BAOW and J-BAOX are both Airspeed Envoys (more accurately licence-built Mitsubishi Hinazuru) and J-BAOY a Nakajima AT-2. The latter design was militarized for production as the Army Type 97 Transport (Ki-34, Allied codename Thora).




Air Shows in 2024
Jan. 20  Iruma
Mar. 3  Komaki
Mar. 24  Kumagaya
May 19  Shizuhama
May 26  Miho
June 2  Hofu-Kita
Aug. 25 Matsushima
Sept. 8  Misawa
Sept. 15  Chitose
Sept. 23  Komatsu
Oct. 6  Ashiya
Oct. 27  Hamamatsu
Nov. 3  Iruma
Nov. 17  Gifu
Nov. 24  Tsuiki
Dec. 1  Nyutabaru
Dec. 8  Hyakuri
Dec.*  Naha
* To be confirmed

Air Shows in 2023
Mar. 5  Komaki
Apr. 2  Kumagaya

May 28  Miho
May 28  Shizuhama
June 3  Nara
               (Open Day)
June 4  Hofu
July 30  Chitose
Aug. 27  Matsushima
Sept. 10  Misawa
Sept. 24  Akita
Oct. 7  Komatsu
Oct. 15  Ashiya
Oct. 29  Hamamatsu
Nov. 12  Gifu
Nov. 26  Tsuiki
Dec. 3  Nyutabaru
Dec. 10  Naha
Dec. 17  Hyakuri

Air Shows in 2024
Jan. 7  Narashino
 (paratroop display)
Apr. 6  Kasuminome
Apr. 6  Utsunomiya
Apr. 13  Somagahara
May 19  Takayubaru

June 1
June 30  Okadama
Oct.*  Tachikawa
Nov. 10  Akeno
* To be confirmed 

Air Shows in 2023

Apr. 8 Somagahara
May 27  Kita-
June 3  Kasumigaura
June 11  Obihiro
July 2  Okadama

Aug. 5  Kasuminome
Oct. 1   Kisarazu
Oct. 29  Tachikawa

Nov. 4  Akeno

Air Shows in 2024
Apr. 20  Atsugi
  (US Navy/JMSDF)
Apr. 28  Kanoya
May 5  Iwakuni
(Joint Friendship Day)
July 21  Tateyama
July 28  Hachinohe
* To be confirmed 

Air Shows in 2023
Apr. 15  Iwakuni
(Joint Friendship Day)
Apr. 22  Atsugi

Apr. 30  Kanoya
May 28 Omura
July 23  Tateyama
Sept. 2  Maizuru
Sept. 17  Hachinohe
Oct. 1  Ozuki
Oct. 21  Shimofusa
Nov. 18  Tokushima


JASDF 2022









JASDF 2019

Komaki 2019 poster



JGSDF 2022


Narashino 2019
 (paratroop display)


JMSDF 2022







Ozuki 2019



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


Asian Air Arms

The Aviation Historian

Nabe3’s Aviation Pages


Japan Association of Aviation Photo-

(Site dedicated to displayed aircraft in Asia)


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