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2023 Air Show Finale 2/2: Hyakuri AB

(Above) Two of the four aircraft put up by the resident 3rd TFS that gave spirited displays.
(Below) One of the F-2A pilots waves to the crowd on departing the flight line.
(Both photos via X [formerly Twitter]:
[Top] しんや @abebe_8668_ace; [above] leotaX(snskitm) @bbjpks)

(December 18) It was the responsibility of Hyakuri AB, to where the action moved on December 17, to bring the 2023 season to an end, only on this occasion without the Blue Impulse present.

(Image: JASDF/Hyakuri AB)

Here, the major attraction in the static park was the specially marked F-35A of the Misawa-based 301st TFS, which had previously flown Phantoms from Hyakuri. (For more detailed photos, please see the 301st TFS entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 page.)

A major off-base fire at a plastics factory provides a dramatic backdrop for the Hyakuri Air Rescue
Sqn’s UH-60J display. On the base, five visitors sustained minor injuries when a tent was lifted
off the ground by a strong wind.
 (Photo: ねこすけ via X [formerly Twitter] @shrike01)

Another of the 3rd TFS display pilots receives a more unusual send-off as he taxies out.
Just visible in the background are the remains of the base protest panels mentioned
at the end of the second November 2023 Bulletin Board story.

(Photo: 熊@YAK中、KEB中、ポン中 via X [formerly Twitter] @kuma_blade)

(Above) The visiting 301st TFS F-35A seemingly being engulfed by air show visitors
(below) silhouetted against a Hyakuri hangar when being towed away to
peaceful seclusion at the end of the event.

(Both photos via X [formerly Twitter]:
[Top] やっす [as stamped]@YASSUTO; [above] daikusan @daikusandesu)

There is not long to wait for the first air show of 2024. Having been postponed from its normal November 3 Culture Day slot due to preparations for the JASDF review ceremony held on December 11, the 2023 Iruma air show will be serving as the curtain-raiser for 2024, the JASDF’s 70th anniversary year, on January 20.
Postscript: The January 1 Noto Peninsula Earthquake resulted in the Iruma air show being cancelled on January 6.

Bases tend to post details of the prohibitions and general dos and don’ts when announcing their air
shows. Hyakuri had also posted a self-explanatory reminder
(above) ahead of this year’s event, but
several visitors had items confiscated, labelled and displayed like contraband for later collection
(Top image and above photo via X [formerly Twitter]:
[Top] JASDF/Hyakuri AB @jasdf_hyakuri; [above] 石津祐介(Y-Kay) @dontendonY)

2023 Air Show Finale 1/2: Naha AB

Star of the Naha static display at Naha was undoubtedly this 204th TFS F-15J, decked
out in eye-catching markings incorporating traditional Ryukyuan designs.
(Photo: らうんでる via X [formerly Twitter] @Buccaneer_55)

(December 11, 2023) Yesterday, Naha AB was blessed with fine weather when staging the penultimate air show of the 2023 season, which attracted 28,000 visitors.

(Image: JASDF/Naha AB)

As the schedule (dated November 17) above shows, the flying display was planned to include JMSDF and JGSDF participation in the lead-up to the six-aircraft Blue Impulse demonstration flight. This was placed in the middle of the programme rather than at the end, presumably to accommodate airport movements.

Rather than JASDF paint team members, the photo above and the still from a Naha AB-produced
air show 2023 PR video
(below [link]) show workers from the Naha airport-based company
MRO Japan working on the intricate tail marking decal applied to 42-8945.
(For more detailed photos, please see 204th Sqn entry on JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 page.)

(Photo and image: JASDF/Naha AB)

(Photo: らうんでる via X [formerly Twitter] @Buccaneer_55)

JASDF Operations and Opposition in Okayama

Three 6th TFS F-2As and another from the 6th TFS sit on the apron at Okayama-Momotaro Airport
during their extended visit.
(Photo: 名無しの政治将校 via X [formerly Twitter] @bandainokairai1)

(November 2023) One of the more unusual but nonetheless important JASDF training exercises concerns the emergency relocation of aircraft to safer on-base or even remote locations.

The need for this was brought into sharp relief by the experience of Matsushima AB, located on the Miyagi Prefecture coast, which suffered inundation following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. In that case, although base personnel escaped injury, no less than five F-2Bs were damaged beyond economic repair. Since then, JASDF air base X (formerly Twitter) feeds have on occasion shown personnel practicing the hoisting of aircraft by crane in preparation for their rapid removal.

(Photo: エくシアン via X [formerly Twitter] @CN_x10)

One part of what was a 10-day, nationwide joint-SDF exercise involved four 3rd Air Wing F-2As being deployed to Okayama Momotaro Airport on the assumption that their home base Tsuiki, also located on the coast, was no longer available. For two days, around 80 JASDF personnel practised the conduct of flight operations, also involving a C-130H support aircraft, from a remote location and then remained to take part in a disaster-relief training exercise.

Strangely, news media outlets billed this as the first time that fighter jets had used a civilian airport for an exercise, when in November 2021 a pair of Nyutabaru-based F-15Js had likewise flown simulated information-gathering missions to assist in disaster-relief damage assessment, also supported from Okayama Airport. That exercise formed the subject of a YouTube video (link). This year, other exercises were held at Oita Airport and on the island airports on Amami and Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture.

(Photo: エくシアン via X [formerly Twitter] @CN_x10)

In recently revised security-related documents, the Japanese government has set out its policy to promote the development and use of public infrastructure and its expectation that private airports that do not already host JASDF bases would serve as “backup bases” were an air base to be rendered unusable. The military motive behind this second reason for the Okayama deployment met with local citizen group opposition. As a result, around 80 people from four organizations, including the local prefectural branch of the Japan Peace Committee, staged a protest on each of the first three days at the entrance to the airport car park, where they held up banners opposing the exercise and the to them unacceptable use of facilities designed for civilian use for SDF training purposes.

Postwar opposition to military operations, which pre-dates the SDF’s existence, remains particularly prevalent in the potential “front-line prefectures”, where such government moves are seen as moving toward an attack capability, in contravention of Japan’s constitution, and turning regional cities and their airports into potential retaliatory targets.

(Image via すみより聡美 [formerly Twitter] @sumiyorisatomi)

(Above) A call to protest against the Okayama training exercise, posted by a Japanese Communist Party member. The slogan above the main text, which includes details of the planned exercise from a Ministry of Defense press release, says: “Training that assumes Japan will become a battlefield?” The photo shows an opposition group request to stop the training being formally handed over at the Okayama Prefecture Crisis Management Division.

(Above) Opposition elsewhere. The dilapidated off-base signboards seen in the background of this photo, taken at Hyakuri AB/Ibaraki Airport in December 2018, are remnants of a bygone protest. Each of the eight original boards contained a kanji that together read: The SDFs Violate the Constitution. Ironically, the signboards were positioned on a man-made hill built as a gunnery range during the airfield’s time as Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force Base Hyakurigahara. Over the decades, local opposition has fought causes ranging from compensation for aircraft noise levels to the efforts to avert the farmland and livelihoods lost to make way for base expansion.

Newest JASDF Squadron Marking Sighted

Sporting its new unit marking, the sole EC-1 departs Hamamatsu AB, November 2023.
(Photo: シグナス via X [formerly Twitter] @cygnus855)

(November 2023) Itself something of a rare event, a new JASDF unit marking has been unveiled by the Iruma-based Electronic Warfare Squadron, which dates back 60 years to the establishment of the then Kisarazu-based, EC-46D-equipped ECM Training Flight.

In recent years not given to adorning the tails of its sombre aircraft with colourful emblems, the unit’s unique EC-1 is now sporting a cartoon marking that comprises a black and grey crow wearing a bonedome with black-edged yellow lightning flashes emanating from its claws. Reportedly, the marking has also been applied to YS-11EA 12-1163, though this aircraft was seen minus propellers during the Iruma Runway Walk event in June 2023 (link).

On the right side, the marking still faces forward, but the lightning flashes are on the crow’s left claw.
(Photo: tujimon via X [formerly Twitter] @orapo960)

(Photo: tujimon via X [formerly Twitter] @orapo960)

A better close-up photo of the marking can be found via a link on the Electronic Warfare Squadron entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 3 page.

Tokorozawa Aviation Museum at 30

The assembled throng outside Tokorozawa Aviation Museum on July 28, 2023, when Japanese
and French dignitaries had gathered inside. That day, Tokorozawa’s French connection, which
dates back to the Military Aviation Mission of 1919, was feted by a flypast of military
aircraft from both countries. The French contingent was visiting to take part in
an exercise and show the country’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region
(Photo: Yoshiyuki Nakazato via X [formerly Twitter] @yoshiyuki_n)

(October 2023) For the first time since February 2020, J-HangarSpace visited Tokorozawa Aviation Museum (TAM), which has been marking its 30th anniversary.

The purpose of the previous visit was to check the content of the dedicated page on this website, at that time newly uploaded, which can serve as a guide for non-Japanese visitors. Happily, having taken the guide for a post-COVID test drive, it can be reported that the permanent exhibits have remained unchanged. Slated for return to the JGSDF, the Sikorsky H-19 and Vertol V-44A (H-21C) seem to have been given a stay of execution, because a major renovation project is in the works, its timeframe as yet unspecified.

The exhibits in the Section for Materials on Loan, which currently includes the flag carrying words
of encouragement from Tokorozawa Army Aviation School personnel to those about to head off to
war in the late 1930s, have been rotated with those in other nearby showcases on the second level.

For the anniversary, a panel display charts three decades of developments at TAM. An artistic-licence impression of the original concept shows the V-44A ambitiously suspended from the ceiling.

Running to the end of the year is a mini special display on Zero fighter chief designer Jirō Horikoshi, who was born 120 years ago. This will be morphing into the full-blown retrospective exhibition set to run from January 18 to March 31, 2024, which will essentially repeat the “Zero with Jirō” event of 10 years ago, when the Planes of Fame aircraft was present.

Reserved for special exhibits, the spartan space at the far end of the main exhibition hall (above) does currently have a certain “circus has left town/party’s over” feel to it. The latest occupant, in July of this year, was a newly acquired Fuji-Bell 204B-2 helicopter previously operated by Aero Asahi, which is presumably being kept safe in the adjacent storage hangar.

Elsewhere, presumably as an ongoing COVID countermeasure, the museum shop is itself serving as storage while the merchandise is displayed outside.

Typhoon Warning

(Photo [Hamamatsu, Sept. 7]: Area Kilo via X [formerly Twitter] @area_kilo)

(September 2023) The unusual photo above shows two engineless 41st Sqn Raytheon (Beech) T-400s being towed to a sheltered part of Hamamatsu AB in anticipation of the arrival of Typhoon No. 13 (known elsewhere as Typhoon Yun-yeung). These were followed by another pair, one of which had also had its horizontal tailplane removed and the openings to the exposed inner workings liberally covered with tape.

As valuable operational aircraft for which there was apparently no hangar space available at Hamamatsu, extreme measures had to be taken in their case.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Hamamatsu sits another Beech (below), one of the aircraft that were evicted from their long-term shelter from the storms in the Air Park museum (see Bulletin Board stories dated January 2021 and April 8, 2021) and are now at risk. Also present outside nearby are T-33As 71-5239 and 71-5254; the former is another ex-Air Park exhibit, the latter has reportedly been in store at Hamamatsu since around 2009.

Despite assurances that the heritage aircraft moved out to make way for new exhibits would be
given shelter, the Air Park’s former Naha-based Queen Air B65 03-3094 sits forlornly open to
the elements.
(Photo [posted Aug. 16, 2023]: Area Kilo via X [formerly Twitter] @area_kilo)

Historically, the typhoon season would run from July to October, with around three coming ashore on any of the four main islands, mainly Kyushu and Shikoku. This year, there are fears that the season may extend into November. Okinawa tends to be more prone to typhoon activity, particularly in the peak months of August and September.

Not confined to the Pacific Ocean side of the country, the prefectures facing the Sea of Japan can on occasion also fall within a storm zone. In September 2017, the Komatsu air show had to be cancelled due to an approaching system.

Notable historical aircraft being exposed to risk of typhoon damage on an annual basis include the Naha AB collection, which includes another Queen Air B65, on Okinawa; the Emily flying boat at Kanoya, where the JMSDF collection is reportedly to be generally in a very sorry state, on Kyushu; and the comparatively immaculate Tracker at Tokushima on Shikoku.

Aireview Magazine 1951–2023

A Japanese euphemism for an obituary is “black-framed announcement”,
so this website’s design is particularly well-suited.

(September 2023) After a 72-year history, the current publisher of Aireview, a Japanese aviation magazine that was very much “in at the start”, has called time and the title is itself about to pass into history. Ironically, the 963rd and final issue (December 2023), which will be on sale from October 21,* will likely generate collector’s item record sales as a result.

Where it all began. Covers of (left) the launch October 1951 and third (Dec. 1951) issues. In those
early days, with nothing to report on domestically due to the postwar aviation ban, the cooperation
of overseas sources not to mention Japanese readers and translators for text and photos was vital.

(Image: National Diet Library website search page)

Launched by Kantosha Co., Ltd. in October 1951, six months prior to the complete lifting of the postwar ban on Japanese aviation, the 100th issue milestone was reached with the May 1959 magazine (below).

A relative latecomer (March 1977) to the monthly magazine market scene, rival Air World ceased publication following its March 2013 issue. Thus the timing would have then seemed right for the ownership of well-respected Aireview to pass to a company called Sekireisha (appears as SequireySha on the Internet), the publisher of a classical music magazine, in 2014.

Both of its publishing company owners used Aireview as a vehicle for the production of mooks (magazine books) and special editions on aviation subjects.

Examples of J-HangarSpace-related content that appeared in Aireview in 2015 can be found on the Magazines/Books page of this website. Whereas any remaining back numbers are likely to be disposed of, Sekireisha’s photo archives seem destined for a museum.

That leaves just two magazines on the market: the stalwart Kōkū Fan, which dates back to 1952, when its content was primarily geared toward model-making; and JWings, which has just celebrated the 25th anniversary of its 1998 launch and recently even bucked the trend by adopting a larger page format.

* Apparently a tactic intended to extend a magazine’s shelf-life, at least to the uninitiated, J-HangarSpace has been unable to find out when and how aviation magazine publishers came to adopt this two months in advance system. Also, going by the final issue number, Aireview has been in business for 80 years, but the previously popular supplements to some issues were presumably given separate numbers.






The official announcement on the publisher’s website (link) states the 2023–24 edition of the World Aircraft Yearbook, an Aireview special issue, will be released at the end of January 2024. The company plans to continue to disseminate information via X (formerly Twitter) while selling back issues and books.

Special Marking Season Continues (2)
     JASDF Hawkeye 40th Anniversary

(Photo [Misawa air show, Sept. 10, 2023]: アサカワ via X [formerly Twitter] @asakawa_galm)

(September 2023) Making a public appearance at the Misawa air show was the third of the JASDF’s E-2Ds, which carried on its rear fuselage the slogan 40th anniversary E-2C/D Since 1983.11.15. The latter is a reference to the date when the Provisional Airborne Warning & Control (AW&C) Group and its then sole constituent Provisional 601st AW&C Sqn were formed; the ‘provisional’ titles were dropped on April 5, 1986.

(Photo [Hamamatsu, Dec. 2023]: 雄の子♂あーちゃん via X [formerly Twitter] @magus490)

(For more photos, see the 601st Sqn entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 2 and JASDF Aircraft Roll Call pages.)

Special Marking Season Continues (1)
     Exercise Bushido Guardian 2023

The 303rd TFS F-15J specially marked in honour of Australian guests taxies past
that decorated for the already departed Italian Air Force contingent
(Photo [Komatsu]: ぽんた via X [formerly Twitter] @n_wag_p)

(Aug.Sept. 2023) As if JASDF paint teams were getting into practice for next year’s 70th anniversary, this summer’s spate of special colour schemes, which had started in Chitose and Nyutabaru, spread to Komatsu, where a second aircraft underwent treatment, and from there to Misawa, as reported above.

First held in 2019, this iteration of Exercise Bushido Guardian brought a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) contingent to Komatsu for combat training during the first half of September. This followed hard on the heels of a debut three-day deployment made by a pair of 301st TFS F-35As to RAAF Base Tindal late in August, when a reciprocal access agreement between the two countries had come into effect. (In 2022, five 3rd TFS F-2s had participated in multinational Exercise Pitch Black.)

(Photo: タッチ via X [formerly Twitter] @303fighting)

The 306th TFS having been involved with the Italian AF visit (see story below), on this occasion it fell to the resident 303rd TFS to suitably adorn an F-15J. Once again, the aircraft’s scheme was split, this time between an Australian side and a somewhat simpler Japanese side. (For more photos, see the 303rd TFS entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 page.)

(Photo: けんちゃん via X [formerly Twitter] @JNKSDF23)

Hopefully, allowance will be made in next year’s defence budget for the additional paint requirements.

Missions with Sombre Homecomings

December 8, 2021. The weather suiting the mood, officials proceed across the tarmac at Iruma.
They are carrying 14 caskets containing the remains of war victims to the base
terminal building for onward transportation to a cemetery.
(Photo: JASDF Iruma AB via X [formerly Twitter] @jasdf_iruma)

(August 2023) A press release issued by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) on August 9 provided details of a ceremony that was to be held at Tokyo’s Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery two days later.

Such ceremonies mark the culmination of one of the JASDF’s lesser known airlift missions: returning the remains of the war dead retrieved from Iwo To, the island more popularly if erroneously known outside Japan as Iwo Jima.

The then Ministry of Health and Welfare and other organisations began working on the complex project to retrieve the remains after the island was returned from U.S. to Japanese administration in 1968. In more recent times, the 2016 Act on Promoting the Recovery of the Remains of Japanese War Dead set out the painstaking processes, which are coordinated by a bureau within the MHLW. In 2018, it was estimated that the remains of more than 10,000 soldiers had yet to be recovered, in addition to the countless others from other wartime theatres of operation. Made more difficult with the passage of time, the task has been perennially hampered by factors that include the weather and more unusually the global pandemic.

By dint of its comparative proximity to the island, which is administered by the Tokyo metropolitan government, operational responsibility has fallen to Iruma’s 402nd Airlift Squadron. Figures released by the Japan Association for Recovery and Repatriation of War Casualties record the number of caskets carried over the past five years: Feb. 2018 (17); Feb. 2019 (42); Feb. 2020 (11); Mar. 2021 (46); Oct. 2021 (10); Dec. 2021 (14); Oct. 2022 (21); Dec. 2022 (29); Feb. 2023 (25); Aug. 23 (17).

(Photo [Oct.12, 2022]: JASDF Iruma AB via X [formerly Twitter] @jasdf_iruma)

Historical Connection to Italian AF Centenary F-15J

The specially marked 306th TFS F-15J in full regalia
(Photo: JASDF Komatsu AB via Twitter [X] @JasdfKomatsu)

(August 2023) Following last month’s visit by French Rafale fighters (see below), a nine-aircraft deployment by the Italian Air Force to Japan had to be delayed by two days due to an approaching typhoon.

On the evening of August 4, the four F-35A principal participants arrived at Komatsu, where another JASDF paint team had been busily preparing a specially marked F-15J. This being the Italian Air Force’s centenary year, the team had a ready-made if offbeat theme for the design. (For more details see the foot of the 306th TFS entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 page.)

Some airspace not being currently open to them, the route taken by the visitors had covered a distance of around 15,000 km (9,320 miles) and took in Doha, the Maldives, and Singapore. During his introductory speech, the Italian mission commander made reference to pilot Arturo Ferrarin and his mechanic Gino Cappannini, who had left Rome in an Ansaldo SVA biplane on February 14, 1920, and through adversity landed at Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, on May 31 that year. Actually something of an ignominious chapter in Italian aviation history, their aircraft had been one of 11 that had set out from Italy and was the only one to have made the then more than 9,700 km (6,000-mile) journey entirely under its own power to land in Tokyo after 112 hours of flight; another Ansaldo SVA crew had been forced to complete sectors by train and ship to reach Tokyo, and another lost their lives in an accident.

Tokyo, June 1920. The four intrepid Italian aviators, who by fair means and foul had reached Japan,
meet some of their Japanese counterparts at a welcome event. Seated third from the left, pilot
Arturo Ferrarin, standing behind him mechanic Roberto Maretto; seated third from the
right pilot Guido Masiero, standing behind him
(in a light-coloured uniform) Ferrarin’s
mechanic Gino Cappannini.
(Photo: Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons)

For the centenary of the Rome-Tokyo flight in 2020, a retired Italian AF F-104S Starfighter and five SIAI-Marchetti S.208 trainers (link) carried a portrait of Ferrarin on their tails. Perhaps as a departure from the norm, the JASDF could consider  the idea for its 70th anniversary next year—World War II fighter ace who was killed on active JASDF service Teruhiko Kobayashi (1920–1957) on the tail of an F-104J?

Nyutabaru Hosts Latest Inbound Visitors from Europe

(Photo: JASDF Nyutabaru AB via Twitter [X] @JASDF_Nyutabaru)

(July 2023) A four-aircraft contingent from the French Air and Space Force (FASF), the latest European air arm to show the flag in Japan, arrived at Nyutabaru AB on the evening of July 26.

Sent aloft to greet them were two 305th TFS F-15Js that had been specially painted to fly the respective national flags ahead of and during a short joint training visit, part of the extensive Indo-Pacific exercise Pegase 23. (See 305th TFS Special Markings on JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 page)

In something of a coup for the Tokorozawa Aviation Museum in Saitama Prefecture, itself a location steeped in Franco-Japanese aviation history—see the dedicated page on this website—a flypast of FASF and JASDF aircraft took place on the morning of July 28. Using nearby Iruma AB as a remote location, the two visiting Rafale fighters and their supporting A400M transport were joined by one of the specially marked F-15Js, a 305th TFS F-15DJ, a 6th TFS F-2A and F-2B as well as a C-2 in flying at about 450 metres (1,500 feet) above the museum’s park location at one-minute intervals.

Chitose’s Turn to Gear Up

(Photo [posted June 2023]: 偽写真部部長 via Twitter @thito_15_071)

(July 19, 2023) Its July 30 air show fast approaching, yesterday Chitose AB unveiled to the press this year’s special aircraft markings, which are essentially repeats from last year.

(Photo: JASDF Chitose via Twitter @jasdf_chitose)

A city that not surprisingly advocates urban development that utilizes its airport, Chitose’s slogan—“Connecting people, Connecting the world: Sky Town Chitose”—also helps to convey that the air show forms part of the city’s summer festival. A change of colour was the easy option taken: what appeared on a blue disc on the tail of a 203rd TFS F-15J last year appears on a white disc on the very same aircraft this year (See 203rd TFS history). Added design features were the two runways that have enabled Chitose’s separate civil-military operations since 1996. The same Chitose ARS UH-60J was chosen to carry markings identical to last year. On both types of aircraft, the 6 in 96th has been updated, this year marking the 97th anniversary of the first visit by an aircraft to the area. (See Chitose ARS on JASDF Squadron Histories Part 3 page.)

On both types of aircraft, the 6 in 96th has been updated, this year marking the 97th anniversary of the first visit by an aircraft to the area. (See Chitose in JASDF Base Histories page.)

As the Blue Impulse aerobatic display team is also scheduled to participate, a crowd of up to 70,000 is expected at this the base’s 42nd air show.

Pretty in Pixels

(July 2023) Camp Okadama in Hokkaido Prefecture threw open its doors to visitors on July 2 to mark the 70th anniversary of its opening and the formation of the Northern Army Aviation Group (NAAG) in the brief, pre-JGSDF era of the National Safety Force.

Having been finished in a retro scheme for the corresponding event last year, 7th AvSqn UH-1J
41855 was this time provided with markings more in keeping with the digital age and that
would also have had a slight cooling effect.
(Photo: YouKey via YouTube @viper7107)

Following the 2022 COVID-redux event, this the first unrestricted event in four years attracted 4,500 visitors. Aside from the two aircraft pictured here, the Northern Army Aviation Field Maintenance (NAAFM) unit provided an all-red OH-6D to enable members of the public to sit at a helicopter’s controls. This aircraft was probably 31294, which previously had sported red ladybird-wing side patches to commemorate the base’s former aerobatic display team.

On a more poignant note, following a speech given by NAAG CO and base commander Col. Takayoshi Mori, a five-aircraft flypast commemorated the 14 lives lost in two JGSDF aviation accidents; the four who were on board the LR-2 that crashed on approach to Hakodate on May 15, 2017, and the UH-60JA crash in April this year (see the Bulletin Board stories).

Maintaining the cool snow theme at a July event, the OH-1 assigned to the HQ Flight of the
Northern Army Helicopter Squadron carried a QR code
(presumably linked to the base
website) and “70th” markings for the occasion. (Photo: YouKey via YouTube @viper7107)

Pretty in Pink

Photo: えすもと / 道外禁止 via Twitter @smoto777)

(June 2023) The first round of post-pandemic JASDF air shows produced just one special marking. Providing further evidence that things were getting back to normal, the 12th Flying Training Wing took the opportunity presented by its home base Hofu air show, which attracted 20,000 visitors, to deck out one of its aircraft in a plum blossom design. Descriptions of elements of the design can be found at the end of the unit’s entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 2 page.

Departures II

April 21, 2023. Departing Komaki is the C-130H being sent as part of a mission to
extricate Japanese nationals trapped in the fighting in Khartoum, Sudan.
(Photo: Joint Staff Public Affairs via Twitter @jointstaffpa)

(April 2023) As the political situation in Sudan descended into all-out warfare between the military and a breakaway paramilitary group, SDF elements were called upon to perform one of their rarer, more dangerous operations: the extraction airlift of Japanese nationals living overseas.

This sixth mission of its type involved 180 personnel and an unprecedented five JASDF aircraft being sent initially to Djibouti, 1,220 km (770 miles) from the Sudanese capital Khartoum. (The JMSDF still maintains a presence in Djibouti for its anti-piracy mission; see photo report entitled Departures below).

Carrying the necessary personnel and equipment, the first of two 401st Sqn C-130Hs and of two 403rd Sqn C-2s departed Japan initially for Kuala Lumpur on April 21; they were followed the next day by a solo 404th Sqn KC-767. The involvement of additional aircraft was prompted by the around 60 people estimated to be trapped by the fighting. They included not only those working for the Japanese Embassy and the governmental Japan International Cooperation Agency but also for NGOs, and their families.

(Photo [posted Mar. 2023]: Miho AB via Twitter @MIHO_AB)

In the end, 45 people were successfully airlifted in C-2 216 from Port Sudan to Djibouti on April 25. Having been joined by three other Japanese nationals, who had been among those flown to Djibouti by the French Air Force, the Japanese government chartered an aircraft to bring all 48 back to Japan on April 28.

In the case of the C-2s, although 217 returned to base on April 28, it was May 8 when 217 landed back in Japan, carrying 16 JASDF personnel plus JGSDF members and cargo. 

Past Extraction Airlift Missions

April 2004 / Iraq

(Tallil AB, Baghdad → Al-Mubarak AB, Kuwait) After a spate of kidnappings of expatriate workers carried out by Islamic extremists, the Japanese government sent a C-130H and airlifted out 10 Japanese media personnel.

January 2013 / Algeria

(Houari Boumediene International Airport, Algiers → Narita Airport) One of the then JASDF-operated government B.747s was sent to repatriate the bodies of seven Japanese victims and the nine survivors of a terrorist attack on a natural gas facility that had resulted in a large number of expatriate workers being taken hostage.

July 2016 / Bangladesh

(Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, Dhaka → Narita Airport) In this case, a B.747 was sent to repatriate the bodies of the seven Japanese victims of a terrorist attack on a restaurant in Dhaka. Also on board for both legs of the flight were 17 bereaved family members.

July 2016 / South Sudan

(Juba Airport → Djibouti) After armed clashes again broke out between rival army factions following a brief lull in the South Sudanese Civil War, four embassy staff members were flown out by C-130H.

August 2021 / Afghanistan

(Kabul Airport → Location within Afghanistan) After the Taliban had taken back control of Kabul following the withdrawal of U.S. forces, a joint Japanese task force was formed; this mission thus marked the operational debut of a specially trained JGSDF unit. One Japanese and, at the request of the United States, 14 Afghan nationals were airlifted out by C-130H.

Djibouti bound (Photo [Apr. 21, 2023]: JASDF Komaki AB via Twitter @komaki_airbase)

Personnel Missing after UH-60JA Crash

(Photo [posted Feb. 2021]: はちみつ via Twitter @14ejk)

(April 7, 2023) The top story on TV news programmes yesterday evening concerned the tragic crash of a JGSDF UH-60JA helicopter that had been carrying a four-man crew and six passengers.

Assigned to the Takayubaru-based 8th AvSqn, the aircraft had departed the garrison on the Okinawan island of Miyakojima to take personnel, including the only recently appointed 8th Division commanding officer, on an afternoon tour of the area. In what were reportedly good weather conditions, contact had been lost around 10 minutes after takeoff, when the aircraft was to the north of the island, between Miyakojima and Irabujima.

Headquartered in the city of Kumamoto, the 8th Division forms the core of the JGSDF’s Western Army, the area of responsibility of which covers the Kyushu and Okinawa regions.

Conducted with the support of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), initial searches for the occupants recovered a life raft that was still packed in its stowage bag, a cabin door, and rotor parts from the waters north of Irabujima.

After a protracted search, wreckage of the fuselage was located on the seabed at a depth of around 112 m (370 ft) off Irabujima, and the first fatalities were officially confirmed on April 17. As of April 21, the bodies of six of the 10 occupants had been found and five recovered; four of those on board had been from the JASDF’s 8th Air Wing at Tsuiki. A civilian company was contracted to salvage the aircraft, which had broken into three sections, suggesting the possibility of a lateral impact. The wreckage was brought to the surface in a large net and placed on the deck of the salvage vessel on May 2. The aircraft involved was reportedly the sixth (43106) of the total of 40 UH-60JAs that the JGSDF introduced from 1998 to 2016.

As standard procedure, this incident resulted in the UH-60JA fleet being grounded, with the exception of any disaster relief and emergency airlift mission requirements. It was on June 29, 2023, that the JGSDF Chief of Staff Office announced that training flights could be resumed within base perimeters and on flight paths inside and outside airfields from the following day.

Released in March 2024, the report into the accident failed to pinpoint the exact cause of the “unprecedented” double engine failure. After one engine had suffered what is termed a “rollback,” rather than providing emergency back-up power the other had also failed 90 seconds later.

In a 2015 article (link), a U.S. Army UH-60 pilot recalls having had to deal with a power loss incident, which in that service at least was apparently far from unprecedented.

Nara AB: Where Canopies of Pink (and Black Canopies) Abound

(March 2023) Ahead of a low-key open day held on April 1, 2023, which attracted more than 800 people mainly interested in viewing the on-base cherry blossoms, the Nara AB aircraft collection had undergone some major spring cleaning. In the case of some of the aircraft cockpit canopies, however, this had also involved some benevolent vandalism designed to protect them. As the following photos reveal, the canopies (like coffee) now range from milky to black.

(Above) Framed by cherry blossoms stands still relatively clear-canopied F-1 70-8276, which was
delivered in 1987, had been put out to grass at Tsuiki AB by May 2006
(link), and was in situ at
Nara AB by May 2008.
(Below) In contrast is F-86F 62-7527, which in keeping with the
current preservation trend has had its canopy blackened as part of the repaint work.
Visible in the background wearing what appears to be a cover but is in fact just a
 a very milky canopy sits T-34A 51-0331, which ended up at Nara AB after
having been on active service from February 1955 to December 1973.

(Photos [March 2023]: JASDF Nara AB via Twitter @JASDF_Nara)

Huddled in an area on the south side of the base, the aircraft collection is surrounded by screens
as they undergo the repainting work.
(Photo: JASDF Nara AB via Twitter @JASDF_Nara)

(Above and below) How the F-86F and F-1 used to look in their slightly younger days,
the former in April 2013, the latter in June 2017. The latter’s tail marking had
had changed from yellow to white by 2019

(Photos: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

The aircraft itself largely covered in primer during the March repainting work, the F-86F cockpit’s
days of daylight are numbered. At least the crazy solution to crazed canopies adopted at one U.S.
location, of painting blue sky and the image of a pilot on the canopy, has not caught on in Japan.

(Photo: JASDF Nara AB via Twitter @JASDF_Nara)

Although unlikely, it is not yet known for certain whether the resident F-86D 04-8196  managed to escape the same black canopy treatment. Having been handed over to the JASDF on June 16, 1960, this aircraft was reportedly withdrawn from use when with the 101st Sqn on September 13, 1968, around two weeks before that unit disbanded. At some stage thereafter, the aircraft was repainted as “84-8100” in early 101st Sqn markings and had been placed at Nara by 1972.

The resident F-104J undergoing its facelift prior to the arrival of full-bloom cherry blossoms and 
with them members of the public. Delivered on January 30, 1965, this aircraft last served with
the Naha, Okinawa-based 207th Sqn before being withdrawn from use on April 30, 1981.

(Photos: JASDF Nara AB via Twitter @JASDF_Nara)

T-33A 81-5348, which was originally delivered to the JASDF on October 27, 1958, and retired on
June 30, 1995, is still wearing the 32nd Sqn markings worn when flown from Hamamatsu to Gifu
for storage on March 12, 1991. This is another of the aircraft that has sadly been subjected to
the currently in vogue black canopy treatment that instantly makes them appear like replicas.

(Photo: JASDF Nara AB via Twitter @JASDF_Nara)

In addition to the T-33A shown above, previously in residence at Nara was 51-5601, which on January 20, 1955, had become the JASDF’s first U.S.-supplied T-33A. Reportedly withdrawn from use in October 1964, what was purported to have been that aircraft was displayed at Nara from around 1975 to the early 1990s, when replaced by ’348; the front half of 601’s fuselage was sighted at Iwakuni in May 1993.

Concluding the round-up of Nara AB aircraft past and present, one other long-gone absentee is T-6G 52-0075, which in mid-September 2011 was transported by road to Komaki AB, where it remains kept in a concrete blister hangar.

(Note: Additional information about Nara AB, which as advertised above is preparing for an open day for June 3, has been added to the Base Histories page.)


A JMSDF US-2 arrives at JASDF Komaki for the open base event that kicked off the 2023 air
show season on March 5.
(From video [link] posted Mar. 3 by 浜 松吉via Twitter @anticoACL)

A solemn ceremony takes place at Iruma to mark the arrival of 25 caskets containing the remains
of just some those who lost their lives during the fighting on Iwo To (Iwo Jima) in 1945.
Administered by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which held a public ceremony 
in Tokyo the following day, the ongoing retrieval work on what is a restricted-access island
has been conducted by a specially designated association since 2016 and hindered by the
COVID-19 pandemic.
(Photo [Feb. 15, 2023]: JASDF Iruma AB via Twitter @jasdf_iruma)

A happier scene at Komatsu following the flight that took the 303rd TFS’s Maj. Hiroyuki Morinaka
past the 4,000 F-15 flight hours milestone. His first F-15 base assignment having been Chitose
in 2001, Komatsu-native Morinaka came to the 303rd  following time as an instructor at
Nyutabaru AB. The blue kanji on the placard is Morinaka’s TAC name Benkei, which
is that of the 12th century warrior monk featured as a character in the locally
set kabuki play
Kanjinchō (The Subscription List).
(Photo [Feb. 22, 2023]: JASDF Komatsu via Twitter @JasdfKomatsu)

(Above) A standard shot showing an SH-60K landing on the deck of the destroyer Suzutsuki and
(below) a glimpse behind the scenes of that ship’s landing signal officer (LSO)’s platform.

(Photos [top]: JMSDF Public Affairs Office via Twitter @JMSDF_PAO;
[above] 4th Escort Flotilla via Twitter @JMSDF_4EL_HQ


Base personnel and crew families wave as one of a pair of 2nd Sqn P-3Cs departs for Djibouti on the
51st Deployment Air Force Counter-Piracy Enforcement
(DAPE) mission. The first having been
conducted in May 2009, the Hachinohe-based 2nd and Naha-based 5th have been taking turns
to cover these three-month deployments since January 2017 while their sister units have
been transitioning to the P-1.
(Photo [Jan. 30, 2023]: JMSDF 2nd Fleet Air Wing)

More likely to be seen when visiting aircraft depart at the end of one of the base’s air shows, a
3rd TFS F-2A lines up for takeoff while a 306th TFS F-15J moves along the taxiway at Iruma.
These aircraft were part of a representative selection of JASDF aircraft that had been organized
  for NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg prior to his holding talks with Prime Minister
Fumio Kishida.
(Photo [Jan. 31, 2023]: DOLPHIN via Twitter @2f5g4)

The pilots of six 204th TFS F-15s prepare to depart from the ramp at Naha AB. These were to form
part of the 17-aircraft, around 500-strong Japanese contingent that took part in Exercise
North 2023 with elements from the U.S. and Australian armed forces on Guam from February 8–24.
(Photo [Feb.1, 2023]: JASDF Naha AB via Twitter @Naha_AirBase)

A week after a series of earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey, one of the pair of B.777s normally
used to transport dignitaries is prepared for an airlift of medical supplies and equipment.
(Photo [Feb.13, 2023]: JASDF Air Support Command via Twitter @asc_jasdf)

Phantom Takes up Residence in Gifu Museum

First assigned to the then Air Proving Wing by the mid-1980s, aside from its maintenance
visits to its Nagoya birthplace
’431 seems to have been a permanent fixture with the
Air Development and Test Squadron at Gifu right up to its retirement.

(Photo: Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum via Twitter @SORAHAKU324)

(February 2023) One of the fleet of Phantoms formerly operated on test flights from Gifu AB has made the short journey to the Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum (Sorahaku). The first to have been upgraded to F-4EJKai standard, 1980-vintage 07-8431 will form one of the focal points of events being held from March 25 to April 9 this year to mark the fifth anniversary since the museum reopened following an extensive refit. (See the dedicated page on this website.)

Poster publicity for Sorahaku’s fifth anniversary events

The aircraft having completed its last real flight on March 17, 2021, it was February 18 when the aircraft was moved from a base hangar to its new home. During the course of its journey the roughly 14-ton aircraft took to the air for likely the “final” time, albeit on the end of a crane jib to be hoisted over a fence.

(Above and below) Phantom ’431 emerges from the hangar en route to its new home. The aircraft’s
underwing fuel tanks were re-mounted once a fence hurdle had been safely negotiated.
(Images from a series of videos released by Gifu AB on YouTube [link] [link] and on

The Phantom’s arrival at its new now haunted house is set to be officially marked by a tape-cutting ceremony on March 25.

Approaching target. (Photo: Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum
via Twitter @SORAHAKU324)

Latest Guests at Hyakuri “ABnB”

Four of the aircraft that participated in Veer Guardian 2023 are parked in diamond formation for 
the commemorative photo call held on the apron at Hyakuri AB at the conclusion of the
Japan-India exercise.
(Photo: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

(January 2023) Amid the preparations and traditional ceremonies ahead of the first SDF formation training flights of the year elsewhere, Hyakuri AB was making ready to roll out the red carpet for some special visitors.

(Image [posted Jan. 1]: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

No sooner had Hyakuri sent out its kinga shinnen (Happy New Year) card (above), featuring one of the six Luftwaffe Typhoons that made their debut here for Exercise Rapid Pacific 2022 last August, than it was time to welcome the base’s next guests.

On January 10, four Su-30MKI fighters from No. 220 Desert Tigers Squadron, Indian Air Force, supported by two C-17s and an Il-78 tanker, arrived via Thailand and the Philippines to participate in Exercise Veer Guardian 2023, veer being the Hindi word for daring (so perhaps Gallant Guardian). Postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the exercise was concluded on January 26, Republic Day in India.

Marking the debut of Indian Air Force fighters in Japanese skies, the visiting Indian contingent was also noteworthy for being led by Su-30 pilot Squadron Leader Avani Chaturvedi, one of three women commissioned as combat pilots in 2016. Representing the JASDF side were four 3rd TFS F-2As and four Aggressor Squadron F-15DJs.

The sole F-2B to sport the Exercise Veer Guardian 2023 marking; see the 3rd TFS Special Markings
section on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 page.
(Photo: TAKA via Twitter @alice_herb)

The pre-flight engine run-up procedures of the guests’ Su-30s necessitated the positioning of
blast deflectors on the apron. These had to be lowered into position by cranes from the
Hyakuri base fire unit.
(Photo: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

As can be the case with Japanese hotels, the size of the rooms at Hyakuri left a lot to be desired for
guests from overseas.
(Photo: JASDF Hyakuri AB via Twitter @jasdf_hyakuri)

Out with the Old

One of the first batch manufactured, in October 2005, SH-60K 8405 returns to base after its last
(Photo [posted Jan. 13]: 21st Fleet Air Wing via Twitter @JMSDF_21AW)

(January 2023) The end of the year in Japan is also the time for o-sōji, when households (or more usually housewives) set about cleaning entire homes. A tradition that extends to offices and SDF bases, this represents an act of welcome for the Shinto deities believed to visit at that time and thus, it is hoped, brings happiness and good fortune.

This year, however, the JMSDF’s 21st Air Squadron at Tateyama took the Western “out with the old tradition” to an extreme by holding a decommissioning ceremony for the fifth-built SH-60K early in January. Following 8403, which has likely been cannibalized for spares, this marks the start of this variant’s retirement process, at a time when production is not set to end for another year. Hopefully, 8405 will be placed on display at Tateyama’s main gate.

Its working days over, SH-60K 8405 is presented with a garland and sprinkled with sake, in keeping
with tradition.
(Photo [posted Jan. 13]: 21st Fleet Air Wing via Twitter @JMSDF_21AW)

Back to Work 2023

JGSDF troops hold on tight to their UH-1J during their morning commute.
(Photo [posted Jan. 8]: DOLPHIN via Twitter @s2f5g4)

(January 2023) Now that the New Year festivities are over, life is returning to normal at airfields and SDF bases across Japan. With due thanks to their providers, official and private, J-HangarSpace offers images and links to videos of the first formation training flights that are traditionally held among much ceremony at the start of every year.

Looking down on JMSDF Tokushima AB from a based TC-90 during the first training flight of 2023,
which took place on January 6. On the apron, the sun reflects off the area where two fire tenders
had provided a ceremonial arc of water in the sky as one of the choreographed events.
(Image from video [link] posted on Twitter Jan. 16 by Tokushima Air Training Group)

The ground crews wait patiently as 22nd Air Squadron SH-60K pilots run through their pre-flight
checks on the apron at Omura. This image was taken from a two-minute slide show
on Twitter Jan. 20 by the Fleet Air Force—that shows first flights mixed in with
generic archive scenes from five JMSDF base operations.

Its New Year event perennially subject to the vagaries of the Hokkaido winter, the Northern Army
Helicopter Squadron formation departs on January 12, a fortunately clear day.

(Photo: Takki via Twitter @Takki_Sapporo)

The day before the formation flight, the Northern Army Helicopter Squadron at Okadama upheld an
an SDF tradition by conducting its Daruma doll eye-painting ceremony. Each unit commander
helped to fill in the talisman’s left eye while expressing his aspirations for the coming year. 
Finally, Northern Army inspector Lt. Gen. Yoshihiko Okimura used a brush to complete
the job and wished for flight safety for the year; tradition dictates that the other eye be
added when the wish has been fulfilled. The front centre of the talisman carries the
Japanese for Northern Army Squadron, the left and right side as seen slogans for
safety within the unit and for flight safety, respectively.

(Photos: JGSDF Camp Okadama via Twitter @camp_okadama)

At JGSDF Akeno, the assembled garrison personnel look on as a CH-47JA assigned to the resident
Aviation School taxies out on January 12, when the formation flight was combined with a ceremony
for garrison members who had turned 20 years of age. A short official video of the day’s events
(link) was posted on Twitter. (Photo: うっちー via Twitter @0930Snowblack)

The nose of the Niigata Air Rescue Squadron U-125A is anointed with purifying sake as part
of a ceremony that expresses the wish for continued flight safety in the coming year.
(Photo: JASDF Niigata Sub-Base via Twitter @jasdf_niigata)

The resident disaster relief BK117C-2 hover taxies at Tsukuba Heliport, Ibaraki Prefecture. In the
background is the EC155B operated by Toho Air Service on news gathering for the Sankei
Shimbun media company. Sadly, time constraints have never permitted the adding of a
J-HangarSpace page devoted to such operations, which in their earliest form date
back to the 1920s.
(Photo [posted Jan. 7]: なぎさ via Twitter @KatanoNagisa)

(Photo [Iruma, Nov. 3, 2022]: Carib7067_MSIP_近代化改修Mk1アイボールR
via Twitter @carib7067_MSIP)

Bowing out for 2022
(Photo [Hyakuri, Dec. 2022]: DOLPHIN via Twitter @s2f5g4)

Changing Colours at Komatsu

(Photo [Nyutabaru, Dec. 2022]: スラ仏@鹿児島 via Twitter @cyatora_kinako)

(December 2022) Having in November returned to Komatsu following an extended absence on overhaul, the Tactical Fighter Training Group’s at that time standard-scheme F-15DJ 92-8070 soon disappeared into the paint shop. Having been given a design that, with a nod to the JASDF’s former reconnaissance Phantoms, has been officially called “RF” on Komatsu AB social media, the aircraft was flown for the first time in its new colour scheme on December 7. Other, unofficial names have included matcha (powdered green tea) and yomogi (mugwort).

The above image is the closing still from a short YouTube video (link) that shows ’070 undergoing its
latest repainting process. As usual with SDF-produced videos, it’s advisable to mute the
sound before playing.
(Video posted on Twitter @JasdfKomatsu Dec. 24, 2022)

2nd Air Wing Unveils T-4 Tail Marking

(Photo [posted Dec. 1, 2022]: JASDF Chitose AB via Twitter @jasdf_chitose)

To return to the subject of aircraft markings, Chitose AB released details of a new marking that has been applied to a resident T-4.

The subject of this rare event has been assigned to Chitose since the summer of 2021, when returned to service after overhaul, but until now the aircraft had remained devoid of any tail markings.

The new marking comprises a centrally positioned brown bear’s head, the two feathers positioned behind and below representing the 2nd Air Wing and Chitose’s two resident F-15J squadrons (201st, 203rd TFSs), respectively.

The first new-look, Chitose-based T-4 was a visitor to Hamamatsu in mid-December 2022.
(Photo: 浜 松吉 via Twitter @anticoACL)

New information that came to light after the original version of this report was posted states that this new marking will be replacing the respective long-standing tail markings of the T-4s assigned to the 201st and 203rd TFSs.

Intended to “boost morale and enhance unity” within the 2nd Air Wing, the new low-viz marking is the result of an on-base call for design suggestions; the winning design was put forward by 203rd TFS pilot 1st Lt. T. Fujimoto. The brown bear motif sported by the 201st TFS was at least retained for its mountain-god association with Hokkaido.

Two more aircraft (96-5624 and 16-5669) were sighted with the new 2nd Air Wing marking in
December. The former is seen here
(link) in the (for T-4s) now defunct 201st TFS marking
in April 2021 and when sporting the Chitose 60th anniversary markings
back in August 2017. (Photo: E-2/E-3B (AAニキ) via Twitter @e2e3e2e3)

It remains to be seen whether this marks the start of a trend and other air wings follow suit by devising their own T-4 tail markings.

Naha Air Rescue Squadron’s 50th Anniversary

See the Naha ARS entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories and Markings, Part 3 page
for more details of the markings carried on the two specially decorated aircraft.

(Photos: [Top] トラベラー@12月11日沖縄 via Twitter @komatsu_JASDF;
[above] はみんぐばーど via Twitter @FTB2007)

(December 2022) JASDF squadrons naturally make maximum publicity use of their air shows, but the first such event at Naha AB in three years was of particular significance. It was 50 years ago that Okinawa reverted to Japanese sovereignty and October 1972 when the JASDF formed a Naha air-rescue detachment, which was elevated to squadron status the following year.

In the time-honoured ARS fashion, a resident U-125A and UH-60J were decorated for the occasion, only this time it was the designers who went overboard in incorporating as many Okinawan (Ryukyuan) cultural references as space would tastefully allow.

A scene from the official ceremony that was held on December 10, the day before the
Naha air show.
(Photo: JASDF Naha AB via Twitter @Naha_AirBase)

After 77 Years, Military Milestone Reached in Philippines

Deployed for the Paceho (Tagalog for together) exchange programme, the two visiting
F-15Js tag along with three Philippine AF KAI FA-50PH Fighting Eagles.

(Photo [Dec. 6, 2022]: JASDF Public Affairs Office via Twitter @JASDF_PAO)

(December 2022) On December 6, two days after the Nyutabaru air show, a specially painted 305th TFS aircraft (see previous story) was one of a pair of F-15Js that was deployed to Clark AB in the Philippines as part of the two-week Pareho-22 unit-to-unit exchange programme. They were accompanied by a KC-767 tanker and a C-2 carrying a 60-strong JASDF contingent.

The two F-15Js shortly after their arrival on the military side of Clark International Airport, Luzon.
(Photo: JASDF Public Affairs Office via Twitter @JASDF_PAO)

After the United States and Australia, the Philippines becomes the third country to which Japan has deployed jet fighters. Much was made in the media of both countries that this marked the first time Japanese combat aircraft had been present in the Philippines since 1945. During their welcome ceremony speeches, 305th TFS CO Lt. Col. Shōtarō Arisawa and the Philippine AF commander-in-chief were at pains to emphasize the significance of the milestone visit.

Japanese land forces had been deployed on manoeuvres in 2018, and the JMSDF participated in a multilateral naval exercise in October this year. On the aviation front, aside from occasional visits by individual aircraft, JASDF and the Philippine AF had previously held bilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) exercises in July 2021 and June 2022.

A Philippine Air Force C-130T Hercules sits next to a T-4 on a sunny morning during a visit
to JASDF Iruma AB in March 2019.
(Photo: BANCHOU via Twitter @BANF30)

Nyutabaru Eagles End 2022 with Flourish (or Two)

(Photo: マロだヨー via Twitter @Marodayooooo)

(December 2022) Nyutabaru and Naha traditionally bring down the curtain on the air show season. An event that, pre-COVID, would normally attract around 50,000 spectators, Nyutabaru this year had to contend with the added factors of a forecast of rain and reduced if not cancelled (Blue Impulse) displays, which served to halve that number at. However, the event did showcase two differing examples of what the Japanese refer to as supema (special markings).

(Image from YouTube video (link) footage shot by JASDF Air Defense
Command Public Affairs Office posted on Twitter @JASDF_adc_pao)

The first was designed ahead of the impending historic departure, two days after the show, of two 305th TFS F-15Js to the Philippines. Two aircraft (52-8849 and 62-8876) were adorned with large circular badges on their engine intakes that carried the slogan “Japan and Philippines defense exchange 2022”. Slightly at odds with the written message, the badge design featured the respective national birds in the form of a Philippine eagle looking menacingly down on an unsuspecting kiji (green pheasant).

(As above, image from YouTube video footage shot by JASDF Air Defense Command
Public Affairs Office posted on Twitter @JASDF_adc_pao)

Two sets of underwing fuel tanks had been decorated with cherry blossom on the left side and two rows of sampaguita (a species of jasmine), the Philippine national flower, on the right. Intertwined with the blossoms but between the flowers was Paceho-22, the Tagalog word for together that was the name chosen for the 2022 unit-to-unit exchange programme.

(Photo: バスケス via Twitter @UK134)

For some presumably operational reason, as seen in the above story, a fully decorated ’876 was accompanied by a standard-finish ’893 with bare tanks upon arrival in the Philippines.

(Photo: マロだヨー via Twitter @Marodayooooo)

The second design was of the somewhat more regularly seen squadron publicity (as opposed to anniversary) type, both areas in which this unit’s personnel have shown a large amount of expertise not to mention artistic talent over the years. (See the 305th TFS entry on the JASDF Squadron Histories Part 1 page for some other examples.)

This year being no exception, the 305th’s so-called umegumi (plum blossom [paint] team) again took its cue from the unit’s emblem that has formed the basis of the theme for these more elaborate works.

(Photo [Nov. 2022]: 実 via Twitter @oredazemilk7)

Chosen to be the model, 52-8862 was decorated with elements on its tail, upper surfaces and underwing tanks. The latter (bearing a red stylized JASDF wing emblem) had been mounted on otherwise standard-scheme 52-8851 in mid-November to serve as a flying billboard prior to the air show (above).

(Photo: にやん次郎 via Twitter @FUs4FBCaY37fEYt)

The most eye-catching element on outer sides of the aircraft’s tail are a modern-day silhouette of the swordsman, strategist and philosopher (as well as, more recently, manga character) Musashi Miyamoto (1584?–1645). Some white vertical Japanese text had also been painstakingly applied, this being a saying attributed to Miyamoto. Literally meaning “See the sky as the road, and the road as the sky,” in which “sky” is an open heart/clear mind and the road is the way of the warrior, a modern interpretation might be “With an unencumbered heart as your own path, follow your chosen way without hesitation.” The yellow chevron with red shadowing is a throwback to the tail marking of the Starfighter-equipped 202nd Sqn that was based at Nyutabaru. The seven ninja star-like blossoms around the larger plum blossom presumably denote the seven air wing-assigned F-15J squadrons.

(Photo: AKIRESSOR via Twitter @AKIMONO82)

The upper surfaces had provided the canvas for a two-element floral design extending over the speed brake (link). Written vertically when viewed looking forward from the tail were the kanji (on the right) 強速美 (that individually mean strength, speed, and beauty, respectively) and (along the centreline) 誠実 (seijitsu, together meaning loyalty or integrity) that form the 305th’s motto. The left side has a red square incorporating 305飛行隊 (hikōtai, squadron) above 梅組 (umegumi) in the style of an artist’s seal on an old work of art.

The red-and-black floral design on the upper surfaces was repeated in miniature forward of the
crew chief’s name, Kaito
(?) Enomoto. (Photo: ヒーロース via Twitter @akoSRTd1lZJMnxo)

Flashback to the JASDF’s 50th anniversary in 2004, and the then Hyakuri-based 305th’s show-
stopping scheme from the Laura Ashley range of aircraft coverings, seen to better effect
(link). Note the squadron motto carried on this occasion on the nose.
(Photo: フジコン via Twitter @shyuyuri1212)

Gifu’s Parade of Old Stagers Returns

(Photo: TREK@12/8-14シリウスJAAP via Twitter @IT_TREK)

(November 2022) What was for obvious reasons the first Gifu AB air show in three years was held on November 13. In keeping with tradition, the event was kicked off by a mass flypast of aircraft from the resident Air Development & Test Wing (AD&TW).

Amazingly heading the 10-aircraft V-formation on November 13 was the unit’s “old maid” prototype Kawasaki C-1, the day after the 52nd anniversary of her first flight in 1970. (See Kawasaki C-1 Retrospective Sitrep, August 2022 below.)

(Photo: nc 39 306 j50 JAF np via Twitter @306Z33)

Trailing a respectful (and safe) distance behind the C-1 were four T-4s, which at one stage maintained a diamond formation. Including the now 37-year-old prototype 56-5601 that first flew on July 29, 1985, three of the four were fitted with the long nose probe characteristic of T-4s engaged in testing at Gifu.

Also taking part were the second F-2A 63-8502, which made its maiden flight (as 63-0002) on December 13, 1995, and the prototype F-2B 63-8101, which followed suit (as 63-0003) on April 17, 1996. The AD&TW also operates two standard-camouflaged F-2As, 83-8544 noted in the formation and 98-8553, the first digits of their serials revealing that they had been in service since 1998 and 1999, respectively. The “tail-end Charlie” was the 30-year-old, also standard-camouflaged F-15DJ 12-8078.

Other aircraft operated by the AD&TW naturally include the first prototype F-2A 63-8501 (first flight, as 63-0001, October 7, 1995), the second prototype F-2B 63-8102 (ff as 63-0004 May 24, 1996) as well as F-2Bs 03-8105 and 33-8116, the latter having been originally delivered to the JASDF in 2003.

The formation photographed in somewhat better conditions during practice the week before the
show; these flights had started around mid-October.
(Photo: DOLPHIN via Twitter @s2f5g4)

An absentee from the curtain-raising AD&TW formation on the grounds of its incompatible performance but aired for a sedate solo display and for a mini flypast, when flanked by an F-2A and the F-15DJ, was the comparatively youthful, 2007-vintage Fuji T-7 76-5946. In contrast to the veteran prototypes, this was one the last of the 49 T-7s delivered from 2002 to 2008.

Worthy of note from this shot of the current AD&TW T-7 on show day is that the aircraft’s
maintenance crew chief is a woman, Noriko
(?) Hamada. Her name had been carried on
the aircraft since at least the previous month, but the TAC names of the masked, major-
ranked pilots seem to have been applied specially for the occasion.
(Possibly connected,
Geroppa was the name of a 2003 Japanese film that has the
English title
Get Up!, as in gerrup!) (Photo: Tad via Twitter @tad_cag)

Forced to gaze out at proceedings from a hangar was the former participant but now retired
Kai 07-8431. (Photo: ほうじ茶 via Twitter @GreenTea_F22)

International Fleet Review Celebrates JMSDF’s 70th in Style

(Photo: JMSDF Fleet Air Force via Twitter @jmsdf_af)

(November 2022) A total of 18 vessels from 12 countries converged on Sagami Bay, off Kanagawa Prefecture to the southwest of Tokyo, to help mark 70 years since the Keibitai (Coastal Security Force) came into albeit brief existence. Although it was July 1, 1954, when the JMSDF and its two sister services were formed, the JMSDF has always taken August 1952 as the time of its first birth/berth.

The 60th anniversary having been omitted in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake, this was the first event of its kind in 20 years. In the meantime, standard Japanese fleet reviews have taken place, but even they have been somewhat irregular of late. That in 2019 having had to be cancelled due to an approaching typhoon, the most recent was seven years ago, in 2015.

Prior to the main event, some of the ships from the assembled nations were open to the
public while berthed at Yokosuka on November 3.
(Photo: JMSDF Yokosuka Regional Headquarters via Twitter @jmsdf_yrh)

The JMSDF Public Affairs Office put together a short video (link) to advertise this year’s event, which took place on November 6 and was broadcast live. Not having anything more recent, the footage includes a brief glimpse of one of the MH-53Es that were retired in 2017.

(Photo: 4th Fleet Air Wing, JMSDF via Twitter @jmsdf_4aw)

The largest contingent in the visiting “armada” this time was the four Australian vessels that, in a well-planned move, were en route to the week-long Malabar 22 tripartite exercise with Indian and Japanese elements; Canada, India and Pakistan each sent two ships. A notable absentee was the Royal Navy, its presence having also been prevented by the forces of Nature, in this case a typhoon in the Philippines.

The 20 JMSDF ships included the helicopter carriers Hyūga and Izumo, six helicopter-carrying destroyers plus the deck-equipped fleet replenishment oiler Ōmi and  minesweeper tender Bungo. (Time-lapse footage [link] records the departure of the Hyūga from its berth next to the Izumo at Yokosuka on the day.) The Japan Coast Guard contributed the patrol ship Izu.

Although only the Yokosuka-homeported cruiser USS Chancellorsville joined the immediate formation, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was sailing in the vicinity and accepted a visit from Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was ferried across on a cross-decking helicopter from the Izumo.

An aviation highlight was a display by the JASDF’s Blue Impulse aerobatic team, shown briefly in a video that has the wrong year in English (link).

Displays by a P-1 and US-2 were virtually guaranteed for the dignitaries
and other invited guests on the day of the event.

(Photos: JMSDF Fleet Air Force via Twitter @jmsdf_af)

An eerily lit Izumo safely back at Yokosuka after the event
(Photo: KAMO2 via Twitter @YK_yoko1225)

The Blue Impulse team returns to its Hamamatsu remote base after performing
over Sagami Bay.
(Photo: t.matsu via Twitter @tmatsu64799657)

JASDF Air Show “New Normal” Status Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change of Guard at Aichi Museum of Flight

(Photo: さっしん via Twitter @kawaiski)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flights of Fancy

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Top Gun” F-15J Duly Upstaged

(Photo: JASDF Komatsu AB via Twitter @JasdfKomatsu)

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

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

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

(Photo: JASDF Komatsu AB via Twitter @JasdfKomatsu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Komatsu F-15J Given Top Gun Treatment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kawasaki C-1 Retrospective/Sitrep

(This story has been moved to the JASDF Aircraft Roll Call page.)

Chitose Stages Year’s First Frontline Base Air Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo: JASDF Chitose AB via Twitter @jasdf_chitose)

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

(Photo: 梅シャツ via Twitter @ume-shirt)

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

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

(Photo: もぐぱん via Twitter @mogupann)

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

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

Reduced JGSDF Okadama 69th Anniversary Event

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matsushima Air Show 2022 Attendance Procedures

(Poster image: JASDF Matsushima AB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tateyama and Komatsushima Open Their Doors

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

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

(Photo: haruka-papa via Twitter @umkVMdyhA76PkK9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Role for Rescued Phantom Cockpit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Departures from Airfield Café Collection, Hamamatsu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

Taken Off the Menu: Airfield Café Former Resident Rundown

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

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

F-86D  04-8164 (Front fuselage only)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

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

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photos: tujimon via Twitter @orapo860)

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

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

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

T-33A (1/2)  51-5623

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo reports from Airfield Café

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

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

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

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

YouTube footage taken at Airfield Café

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

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

(Photo [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. 206, April 2022

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

Cover of No. 108, February 1995

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

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

(Image: Kawaguchiko Aviation Hall)

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

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

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

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

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

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

JASDF Shizuhama AB Air Show, May 22, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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

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

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

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

Aviation Plaza, Ibaraki Airport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image: Ibaraki Airport via Twitter @IBR_airport)

Massacre by Spray Gun at Yuhien, Hyakuri AB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hyakuri’s F-104J Reverted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yokota Static Display Unmasked

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

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

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

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

(Photo: ぬまけんvia Twitter @nmkn20021121)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Series of Ukraine Support Flights Mounted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Omura AB Air Show, April 30, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo: むりゃ via Twitter @murya720)

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

Eighth US-2 Commences Flight Test Programme

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo: いっちゃんvia Twitter @nobuya0827)

JASDF Gears Up for Air Shows

(Photo: TakaMax55 via Twitter @vmax55531)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shizuhama, May 2012

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

(Photo: JASDF)

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

(Photo: Stone via Twitter @stone15DJ)

Doctor-Heli Operations Go Nationwide

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

(Photo: Kagawa Prefecture)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lone Starfighter Blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo: KORIEL via Twitter @FEFE2F801F90FM2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phantom 301 Goes Postal

(Image: Japan Post)

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

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

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

Komaki Holds PR/Recruitment Event

(Photo: ぬまけん via Twitter @nmkn20021121)

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

(Image from Twitter feed @komaki_airbase)

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

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

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

JASDF F-35As Make Naha, Hamamatsu Debuts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Clutch of Ospreys Arrives

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

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

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

Relief Mission to Tonga Ends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JMSDF’s 70th Anniversary Plans

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

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

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

(Image: JMSDF)

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

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

Two-Week Search for Two Missing Pilots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subsequent events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Substitute Phantoms Take Pride of Place at Hyakuri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photos: Takao Kadokami)

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

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

Company in Ishikawa Rescue Helicopter Deal in Need of Rescue

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

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

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

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

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

Aichi Museum Acting on Impulse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Repeat Prescription for Doctor-Heli BK117D-3s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phantom Numbers Dwindling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ashiya’s 60th Anniversary Event Marks New Departures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ibaraki Airport’s Phantom Fund Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photos: 岡部澄夫 via Twitter @sumio_okabe_)

Miho AB’s Very Own Phantom Friday

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

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

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

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

(Photos: WT01 via Twitter @WT018)

(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

New Year Traditions II: SDF First Formation Flights of Year

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

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

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

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

(Photos: JGSDF Tachikawa via Twitter @CAMP_TACHIKAWA)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo: RUN via Twitter @run474)

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

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

(Photo: 急行205系統via Twitter @kc1788)

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

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




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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