Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fighters over Japan part 2

In the last year of the war. especially after the Americans had captured the Philippines and Iwo Jima, fighter units of the IJNAF (Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force) were assembled for what was to be their last assignment: defence of the Home Islands. Japan's heartland. They were tasked with warding oil raids carried out by both B-29 heavy bombers and US Navy carrier-borne aircraft, which were aimed at Japan's main industrial and administrative centres, as well as the bases and facilities of the Imperial Navy. In spring and summer 1945 a large contingent of the available aircraft was transferred to southern Kyushu, from where it was to support the defence of Okinawa. Among the IJNAF units that played a key role in the battle for control of the skies over Japan, were the 203., 302., 332., 343., 352. Kokutai (air groups), together with the Yokosuka Kokutai. At that time the workhorse of the IJNAF Tighter arm was still the Mitsubishi A6M Zero (Zeke), mainly in the form of its A6M5 sub-variants. The Zeros were supported by a smaller number of' Mitsubishi J2M Haiden (Jack), Kawanishi NlKl-J Shiden and N1K2-J Shiden Kai (George) interceptors. The Zero and Haiden fighters were finished in standard 1JNAI11 camouflage - solid dark green on the upper surfaces and fuselage sides, with light grey (or light grey-greenish, depending on the manufacturer) on the undersides.