(03) Fighters over Japan part 1


Emblems of units – Sentai (air groups), Dokuritsu Chutai (autonomous squadrons), Kyodo Hiko Shidan and others – were painted on tailfins and rudders. Sentai badges were painted in colors assigned to component Chutai (squadrons). Aircraft flown by Sentai­cho (commanders of Sentai) and Chutaicho (commanders of Chutai) were usually additionally marked with colored bands around rear fuselage. Tactical numbers – often last digits of serial numbers – were usually painted on rudders and/or landing gear wheel co­vers. Individual markings were rare. Sometimes there were decorative stripes painted along fuselage sides (often in form of a stylized lightning) or initials applied to rudders. Victory markings were seen only exceptionally. Basically, only the aircraft of the best and most famed pilots sported them.
Suicide attack units known as Shinten Seiku-tai (which can be translated as “the ones who shake the sky”), which in late 1944 were created on orders from Shosho Kihachiro Yoshida (the CO of 10th Hikoshidan) and tasked with ramming B-29s, could usually be identified by their red tail units or red stripes painted along fuselage sides.

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien coded “24” (s/n 4424*), Hamamatsu, the turn of 1944/45.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien coded “24” (s/n 4424*), Chofu, May 1945.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hei Hien coded “88” (s/n unknown), Chofu, February 1945.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hei Hien coded “83” (s/n unknown), Kashiwa, January 1945.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Kawasaki Ki-61-I Tei Hien coded “732” (s/n probably 4732), Itami, early 1945.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Mitsubishi Ki-46-III Otsu Hei coded “24” (s/n unknown) of 16th Dokuritsu Chutai, Kiyosu, summer 1945.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Nakajima Ki-44-II Otsu Shoki coded “35” (s/n 1435), Narimasu, Japan, the turn of 1944/45.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Nakajima Ki-44-II Ko Shoki coded “19” (s/n unknown), Narimasu, Japan, early 1944, probably flown by Taii Teiichi Hatano, from January 1944 Chutai­cho of 3rd Chutai (later known as Sakura-tai), 47th Sentai. [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Nakajima Ki-44-II Hei Shoki coded “321“ (s/n unknown*), Taisho, Japan, 1944. Probably flown by Chui Kiyonori Sano, until November 1944 Chutaicho of 3rd Chutai, 246th Sentai.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Nakajima Ki-84Ko Hayate coded “69” (s/n unknown), Ozuki, Japan, July 1945.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate coded “63” (s/n 84063) of the second pre-production run (the so-called second additional prototype series – Dainiji Zoka Shisakuki), Mito, Japan, early 1945.  [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

Nakajima Ki-84Ko Hayate coded “715” (s/n 1715), Shimodate, Japan, February 1945. [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]