Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chrsanthemum)

Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chrsanthemum)

Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chrsanthemum)

The Kyushu K11W Shiragiku was a single-engined crew training aircraft that was also used as an anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Work on the aircraft began late in 1940 in response to a 15-Shi specification for a new training aircraft to replace the Mitsubishi K3M. The idea was that the aircraft could be used to train an entire bomber crew in one go, and so it needed to be able to carry a pilot, radio operator, navigator and bombardier as well as the instructor.

Kyushu responded with a single engined mid-winged monoplane. The five crewmen were carried in two cabins. The pilot and radio-operator/ rear gunner sat in a cockpit covered with a greenhouse canopy, while the remaining two trainees and the instructor sat in an internal cabin mounted under the wing. The aircraft had a very wide wingspan, half-as wide again as the length, and with a straight trailing edge and tapering leading edge.

The prototype K11W1 made its maiden flight in November 1942, and was ordered into production as the Navy Operations Trainer Shiragiku (White Chrysanthemum) Model 11. When used as a training aircraft it was armed with one rear firing flexibly mounted 7.7mm machine gun and could carry two 66lb bombs.

The K11W1 was followed by the all-wooden K11W2. This aircraft was used as a transport aircraft, and to fill the lack of suitable anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Work began on a dedicated anti-submarine warfare version, the Kyushu Q3W Nankai (South Sea), but this never progressed beyond the prototype stage.

Towards the end of the war some of the surviving K11Ws were converted into kamikaze aircraft, carrying a single 551lb bomb.

Engine: Hitachi GK2B Amakaze 21 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
Power: 515hp at take-off, 480hp at 4,920ft
Crew: 5
Wing span: 49ft 1 3/4in
Length: 33ft 7 9/32in
Height: 12ft 10 21/23in
Empty Weight: 3,697lb
Loaded Weight: 5,820lb
Max Speed: 143mph at 5,580ft
Cruising Speed: 109mph at 3,280ft
Service Ceiling: 18,440ft
Range: 1,093 miles
Armament: One rear-firing 7.7mm machine gun
Bomb-load: Two 66lb bombs for training, one 551lb on kamikaze missions


Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chrsanthemum) - History


The Kyushu K11W Shiragiku ("White Chrysanthemum") was designed late in 1940 as a replacement for the Mitsubishi K3M in naval crew training. The aircraft went into service in the summer of 1943 and remained in production until August 1945. A total of 798 planes were built. To solve the problems created by the use of a single engine, the designers developed a particularly deep fuselage split lengthwise by the wing system. The trainee pilot and radio operator-gunner were housed in the upper cockpit, while the student navigator and bombardier sat in the lower cockpit with the instructor. Late in the war an all-wood version of the K11W1 was developed. This was the K11W2, which was used for transport and in antisubmarine warfare. Kyushu K11Ws were also used in suicide missions at the end of the war.

Kyushu K11W Shiragiku


Additional information on this aircraft can be found at Wikipedia
HERE .

For a very nice scale color drawing of this aircraft, see here .

Additional color schemes for this aircraft can be found here.

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Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chrsanthemum) - History

1/72 KYUSHU K11W SHIRAGIKU

THE JAPANESE NAVY'S FLYING CLASSROOM

PAVLA NO. 72007

The Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chysanthemum) was a single-engined trainer designed for coordinated instruction of an complete bomber crew. The long greenhouse canopy housed a pilot and radio operator/gunner, while an instructor, navigator, and bombardier were housed below in a deep "two-story" fuselage. Designed as an economical successor to the obsolete Mitsubishi K3M series, the type entered service in late 1942. The aircraft was nothing if not obscure never dignified with a catchy Allied code name, it is only superficially described even in Japanese-published references.

To my knowledge, the only previous kit of the K11W was a resin molding from the Japanese cottage industry. Most modelers would hardly describe the Shiragiku as an exciting-looking machine, and probably won't add Pavla's new kit to their list of "must-haves." But its uncluttered lines and straightforward construction are rather appealing, in a form-following- function sort of way, and anyone with an interest in Japanese wartime aircraft, or in trainers of the war era, will want to seek this one out.

Packaging of the kit is exceptional by limited-run standards, the box sporting a well-rendered color profile painting and eye-catching white-over- blue graphics. Contents are protectively bagged, and consist of 26 injection- molded parts on a single tree of light gray plastic, 10 etched brass components, two vacuform canopies to ease the fears of the uncoordinated, film instrument panels, and a spare sheet of clear plastic. The excellent instructions are in the form of a small booklet. They include a short history, exploded drawings of each assembly step, detail drawings to aid in component alignment and detail placement, and small three-view drawings illustrating camouflage and markings.

The molded parts are thick in section, with a fair amount of flash and largish injection gates, though the trailing edges of flying surfaces are commendably thin once cleaned up. The plastic works quickly, but is so soft that one has to be on guard against removing too much inadvertently. Wing, stabilizers, and fin attach via simple butt joints that require careful alignment and significant filling. Ejection pins are gigantic but at least located on out-of-sight interior surfaces. There are no alignment pins on fuselage or wing halves. As noted in "The Styrene Sheet's" September review of Pavla's Q1W "Lorna," parts preparation is much like a vacuform minus the parts cutout stage.

Overall accuracy is acceptable. The kit appears to be based on small three- view drawings from the Czech magazine "Letectvi + Kosmonautika," which in turn borrow heavily from Francillon's classic Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. The better (if still oversimplified) drawings printed in several recent Japanese books seem not to have been consulted. Lines, angles, and proportion are generally very good, though the wingspan is about a scale foot short of the published 14.98 meters. Several detail shortcomings are evident upon close comparison to published photographs. The oil cooler should be rounded on the bottom and have a small opening at the rear the scoop given in the kit is rectangular and fairs completely into the fuselage. The wing root fairings are overly curvaceous above and below the wing, with no panel line to denote the edge of the fairing. As befits the Shiragiku's simple construction, the real wing butted straight into the fuselage except for a short, non-compound-curved fillet on part of the upper surface.

The wing root fairings are molded solidly to the fuselage, i.e. there is no corresponding hollow in the cockpit area, so they could be removed and reworked by the sufficiently ambitious. The front fuselage immediately behind the cowl should be circular in section but is instead slightly pear-shaped the thickness of the plastic here will allow correction. Panel lines are finely done and generally accurate, but one vertical line on the port rear fuselage is noticeably out of plumb. A significant portion of the panels will need to be reworked after seam filling. Smaller parts are a mixed bag.

The engine detail is a little indistinct, fortunately a superior rendition of the little Hitachi mill, detailed down to the distinctive crankcase ribbing, is available in the Fujimi Ki-36 "Ida" kits. The prop is encased in flash, but looks usable, and the etched hub is a nice touch. The instructions recommending stretched sprue for attaching the prop in your hand- drilled locating hole, though this job is a natural for telescoping brass tubing. The exposed fixed landing gear struts are overly thick and better replaced from the proverbial spares box, or built-up from plastic rod or metal tubing. The main tires and tailwheel are finely done. Little cockpit detailing is provided outside of the etched instrument panel, intermediate bulkhead (which also contains instruments), rudder pedals, and seatbelts. The seats are a simplified angular shape, but probably usable with a little work. Most troublesome of all are the windows in the fuselage. The four large openings molded into the fuselage sides and bottom need considerable cleanup, and the many smaller windows are omitted entirely. I would bypass the butyrate sheet provided for these, and cut oversize holes to accept thick plastic inserts that could be blended, polished, masked, and painted into shape. The large entry hatch behind the canopy could be replaced with one formed from thin clear sheet with windows masked off. Quicker alternates would be Kristal-Kleer or perhaps even just black or silver rectangles of paint or decal. There are a myriad of minor external features--firewall vents, access panels, scoops and the like--that are omitted from the moldings and so must be added to taste based on reference photos.

Besides the items mentioned, the photoetch sheet includes nice torque links for the gear struts, and a rudder actuator. The excellent decals do not include the Propagteam logo, but are of similar high quality if a little on the translucent side. On my example the white hinomaru borders are a little off-register as well. Markings for three different machines are provided, a dark green over gray China-based aircraft, a green over orange trainer from the Tokushima Kokutai, and an all-white post- surrender transport with green crosses. Pavla kits are not quite of MPM quality, perhaps the current standard-bearers of the limited- run genre, and this kit is quite expensive with a suggested retail in the mid-20's. On the other hand, the K11W is eminently buildable by any modeler of intermediate skill, and is certainly unlikely to be followed by a better effort from elsewhere.

Pavla's Shiragiku is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in this unusual subject.

"Letectvi + Kosmonautika" magazine, vol. 59 (1983), nos. 12 and 15.

Japanese Military Aircraft Illustrated, vol. 3, Bunrin-Do, 1983.

Koku-Fan Illustrated, nos. 38 (1987), 68 (1992), and 83 (1995), Imperial Japanese Navy Aircraft.

Koku-Fan Illustrated, no. 50 (1990), Japanese Military Aircraft Illustrated.


Contents

In the IJN designation system, "J" referred to land-based fighters and "W" to Watanabe Tekkōjo, the company that oversaw the initial design. [2] [3]

The idea of a canard-based design originated with Lieutenant Commander Masayoshi Tsuruno, of the technical staff of the IJN in early 1943. Tsuruno believed the design could easily be retrofitted with a turbojet, when suitable engines became available. [4] [5] His ideas were worked out by the First Naval Air Technical Arsenal (Dai-Ichi Kaigun Koku Gijitsusho), which designed three gliders designated Yokosuka MXY6, featuring canards. [4] [6] These were built by Chigasaki Seizo K. K. and one was later fitted with a 22 hp Semi 11 (Ha-90) 4-cylinder air-cooled engine. [7]

The feasibility of the canard design was proven by both the powered and unpowered versions of the MXY6 by the end of 1943, [7] and the Navy were so impressed by the flight testing, they instructed the Kyushu Aircraft Company to design a canard interceptor around Tsuruno's concept. Kyushu was chosen because both its design team and production facilities were relatively unburdened, [7] and Tsuruno was chosen to lead a team from Dai-Ichi Kaigun Koku Gijitsusho to aid Kyushu's design works. [4]

The construction of the first two prototypes started in earnest by June 1944, stress calculations were finished by January 1945, [8] and the first prototype was completed in April 1945. The 2,130 hp Mitsubishi MK9D (Ha-43) radial engine and its supercharger were installed behind the cockpit and drove a six-bladed propeller via an extension shaft. Engine cooling was to be provided by long, narrow, obliquely mounted intakes on the side of the fuselage. [9] It was this configuration that caused cooling problems while running the engine while it was still on the ground. This, together with the unavailability of some equipment parts postponed the first flight of the Shinden.

Even before the first prototype took to the air, the Navy ordered the J7W1 into production, [9] with a quota of 30 Shinden a month given to Kyushu's Zasshonokuma factory and 120 from Nakajima's Handa plant. [9] It was estimated some 1,086 Shinden could be produced between April 1946 and March 1947. [8]

On 3 August 1945, the prototype first flew, with Tsuruno at the controls, from Itazuke Air Base. [4] [10] Two more short flights were made, a total of 45 minutes airborne, one each on the same days as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred, before the war's end. Flights were successful, but showed a marked torque pull to starboard (due to the powerful engine), some flutter of the propeller blades, and vibration in the extended drive shaft. [10]

The two prototypes were the only examples of the Shinden ever completed. After the end of the war, one was scrapped the other was claimed by a U.S. Navy Technical Air Intelligence Unit in late 1945, dismantled, and shipped to the United States. [11] (Some sources claim that the USN took the first built while others state that it was the second.)

The sole surviving J7W1 was reassembled, but has never been flown in the United States the USN transferred it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1960. [12] Its forward fuselage is currently on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center annex (at Dulles Airport) of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. [4] [10] According to the NASM, 'miscellaneous parts' are stored at Building 7C at the older storage/annex facility, the Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland. [13]


Kyushu J7W1 Shinden Interceptor Fighter

Masayoshi Tsuruno (also spelled Masaoki) was a member of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s (IJN) Aviation Research Department. Around 1940, Tsuruno first began to investigate designs of a pusher aircraft with a canard layout. Tsuruno’s research led him to believe that such a configuration would enable an aircraft to achieve a very high level of performance. In addition, the basic configuration could be easily adapted to turbojet power if such an engine became available.

Kyushu J7W1 Shinden was an unorthodox fighter designed to intercept US bombers at high speed and high altitude. Although just two were completed, it was the only canard aircraft ordered into production during World War II. Exhaust from two cylinders flowed out the two ejector slits atop the engine cowling.

In early 1943, the IJN issued 18-Shi Otsu specification calling for a land-based fighter capable of intercepting enemy bombers. The aircraft should achieve 460 mph (740 km/h) at 28,543 ft (8,700 m), reach 26,247 ft (8,000 m) in 10.5 minutes, have a service ceiling of 39,370 ft (12,000 m), and carry four 30 mm cannons. Tsuruno worked up a design for such an aircraft and submitted it to the IJN. The IJN liked the design but was hesitant to move forward with the radical, untested configuration. Tsuruno was able to work with the First Naval Air Technical Depot (Dai-Ichi Kaigun Koku Gijitsusho) at Yokosuka to develop a proof of concept, designated MXY6.

The Yokosuka MXY6 was a glider of all wooden construction possessing a canard layout with fixed tricycle landing gear. The aircraft featured a foreplane with elevators mounted to its nose for pitch control. The swept wings were mounted to the rear fuselage, and each wing had a vertical stabilizer with a rudder mounted near its mid-point. Three of the gliders were built by Chigasaki Industry Ltd (Chigasaki Seizo KK). Piloted by Tsuruno, the MXY6’s first flight was made in January 1944. Later, one of the gliders was fitted with a 22 hp (16 kW) Nippon Hainenki Semi 11 [Ha-90] engine turning a wooden, fixed-pitch, two-blade propeller. The engine was not intended make the MXY6 fully operational under its own power, but it would enable the aircraft to sustain flight and prolong its glide. The MXY6’s flight tests indicated that Tsuruno’s design was sound. The aircraft handled well at low speeds and resisted stalling. Based on the positive preliminary tests of the MXY6, the IJN decided to proceed with Tsuruno’s 18-Shi Otsu design in February 1944. The aircraft would be built by the Kyushu Airplane Company (Kyushu Hikoki KK), and it was designated J7W1 Shinden (Magnificent Lightning).

One of the Yokosuka MXY6 gliders that survived to the end of the war and was found by US forces. The glider validated the basic configuration that was later applied to the J7W1.

Kyushu Airplane Company was founded in October 1943 as a subsidiary of the Watanabe Iron Works Ltd (Watanabe Tekkosho KK). Kyushu was selected as the manufacturer because it had both workers and production facilities that were available. Kyushu had no experience designing high-performance fighter aircraft, but the company would be aided by Tsuruno and the First Naval Air Technical Depot. An official order for the J7W1 was issued in June 1944, with the prototype’s first flight expected in January 1945.

The Kyushu J7W1 Shinden used the same layout as the MXY6, having a canard configuration with a swept, rear-mounted wing and tricycle undercarriage. The aircraft consisted of an aluminum airframe covered by aluminum panels, forming a monocoque structure. Depending on location, the panels were either flush riveted or spot welded in place. The control surfaces were skinned with aluminum. The foreplane had two spars and was mounted to the extreme nose of the aircraft at a one-degree angle of incidence. A leading-edge slat was deployed with the flaps. On the foreplane’s trailing edge was a two-section flap. The first section acted as a traditional flap that extended 26 degrees. The second section on the trailing edge acted as an elevator.

Mounted in the fuselage between the foreplanes were four 30 mm Type 5 cannons, each with 60 rounds per gun. Each cannon was 7 ft 2 in (2.19 m) long and weighed 154 lb (70 kg). The cannons were slightly staggered to allow for clearance of their respective feed belts and keep the fuselage as narrow as possible. A compartment under the cannons collected the spent shell casings because of concerns that they would strike the propeller if they were ejected from the aircraft. Two 7.9 mm machine guns with 75 rounds per gun were planned for the very front of the nose and could be used for either training or target ranging. As ranging guns, they would help ensure that the cannon shells hit the intended target and not waste the limited ammunition supply. No armament was fitted to the prototype, and ballast weight was used to simulate the cannons.

The wheels under the vertical stabilizers were added after the aircraft’s first flight attempt ended with bent propeller blades. Note the long landing gear’s relatively short wheel base.

Behind the cannons was the single-seat cockpit, which was covered by a rearward-sliding glazed canopy. The pilot was protected by 2.76 in (70 mm) of armored glass in the front windscreen and a .63 in (16 mm) bulkhead by the cannons. Passageways ran on both sides of the aircraft between the cockpit and outer skin. Flight controls, hydraulic lines, and wiring ran in these passageways, which were accessible via removable outer skin panels. Under and slightly behind the cockpit was a 106-gallon (400-L) self-sealing fuel tank made of .87 in (22 mm) thick rubber.

Directly behind the cockpit was a 44-gallon (165-L) oil tank, followed by a Mitsubishi [Ha-43] 42 (IJN designation MK9D) engine. The [Ha-43] was a two-row, 18-cylinder, air-cooled engine. The [Ha-43] 42 had two-stage supercharging, with the first stage made up by a pair of transversely-mounted centrifugal impellers, one on each side of the engine. The shaft of these impellers was joined to the engine by a continuously variable coupling. The output from each of the first stage impellers joined together as they fed the second stage, two-speed supercharger mounted to the rear of the engine and geared to the crankshaft. As installed in the J7W1, the engine produced 2,030 hp (1,514 kW) at 2,900 rpm with 9.7 psi (.67 bar) of boost for takeoff. Military power at 2,800 rpm and 5.8 psi (.40 bar) of boost was 1,850 hp (1,380 kW) at 6,562 ft (2,000 m) in low gear and 1,660 hp (1,238 kW) at 27,559 ft (8,400 m) in high gear.

The prototype was unarmed, but four 30 mm cannons, each capable of firing 500 rounds per minute, were to be mounted in the nose. The projectile from each 30 mm shell weighed 12.3 oz / 5,401 grains (350 g).

The engine was mounted in the center of the fuselage and atop the wingbox. An extension shaft approximately 29.5 in (750 mm) long extended back from the engine to a remote propeller reduction gear box. The extension shaft passed through an extended housing that was mounted between the engine and the propeller gear reduction. The gear reduction turned the propeller at .412 times crankshaft speed and also drove a 12-blade cooling fan that was 2 ft 11 in (900 mm) in diameter. A screen was placed in front of the fan to prevent any debris from exiting the rear of the aircraft and hitting either the fan or propeller. Mounted to the propeller shaft was a 11 ft 2 in (3.40 m) diameter, metal, six-blade, constant-speed, VDM (Vereinigte Deutsche Metallwerke)-type propeller built by Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd, Propeller Division (Sumitomo Kinzoku Kogyo KK, Puropera Seizosho). The propeller had approximately 29 in (740 mm) of ground clearance with the aircraft resting on all of its landing gear. If bailing out of the aircraft was needed, the pilot could detonate an explosive cord that would sever the propeller and gear reduction.

Cooling air for the [Ha-43] engine was taken in via an oblique inlet mounted on each side of the fuselage just behind the cockpit. Flaps at the inlet’s opening were raised to decrease the flow of cooling air to the engine. Cooling air entered the inlets, passed through the fins on the engine’s cylinders, traveled along the outside of the extension shaft housing, passed through the cooling fan, and exited around the spinner or an outlet under the rear of the aircraft. Two intakes, one on each side of the aircraft, were mounted to the cooling inlet. These intakes ducted induction air through the cooling air duct and directly into the transversely mounted superchargers.

The Mitsubishi [Ha-43] 42 engine installed in the J7W1 as seen post-war. The front of the aircraft is on the left. One of the two transversely-mounted, first-stage superchargers can be seen left of the engine. The oil cooler duct is in place and blocking the view of the extension shaft to the right of the engine. On the wing is the middle panel of the supercharger’s inlet scoop.

On each side of the fuselage directly behind the induction scoop was an inlet for an oil cooler. For each of the two oil coolers, after air passed through the cooler, it was mixed with the exhaust of four cylinders and ejected out a slit on the side of the fuselage just before the spinner. The ejector exhaust was used to help draw air through the oil coolers. The same philosophy applied to the exhaust from six cylinders on the bottom of the engine. These were ducted into an augmenter that helped draw cooling air through the cowling and out an outlet under the spinner. The exhaust from the remaining four cylinders, which were located on the top of the engine, exited via two outlets arranged atop the cowling to generate thrust.

The leading edge of the J7W1’s wing was swept back 20 degrees, and the trailing edge was swept back six degrees. The wings were mounted with no incidence angle. The inner wing from the wingbox to the rudder had 2.5 degrees of dihedral, and the outer wing from the rudder to the tip had zero dihedral. The structure of each wing was formed with three spars. The front spar ran along the wing’s leading edge. The center, main spar was swept back 14.5 degrees and ran in front of the main landing gear wells. A rear spar was swept forward 3.5 degrees and ran from the wingbox to just behind the main gear mount. A vertical stabilizer extended above and below the rear spar. The vertical stabilizer was mounted at approximately the midpoint of each wing and extended past the wing’s trailing edge. Initially, nothing was mounted under the vertical stabilizers, but a wheel was later added under each stabilizer to prevent propeller ground strikes. A rudder ran the entire 7 ft 3 in (2.20 m) height of each vertical stabilizer. Each wing housed a 53-gallon (200-L) fuel tank and a 20-gallon (75-L) anti-detonation fluid (water/methanol) tank for injection into the engine. Split flaps were positioned along the trailing edge of the wing between the vertical stabilizer and the fuselage. The flaps on the main wing extended 20 degrees. Two hardpoints under each outer wing could accommodate 66 or 132 lb (30 or 60 kg) bombs.

Rear view of the J7W1 showing its six-blade propeller and the engine’s 12-blade cooling fan in the rear of the cowling. The exhaust augmenter outlet can be seen on the bottom of the cowling. Note the rudders extending the entire height of the vertical stabilizers.

When deployed, the legs of the main gear were angled forward more than the nose gear. This effectively extended the nose gear and caused the aircraft to sit five-degrees nose-high while on the ground. This stance minimized the rotation needed to achieve liftoff, which is very important in the pusher aircraft. The main gear was mounted forward of the vertical stabilizers. The swiveling but non-steerable nose gear retracted forward, and the main gear retracted inward. Gear retraction and extension were powered hydraulically. At approximately 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m) long, the landing gear was quite tall to allow clearance for the propeller. The gear had a fairly wide track of 15 ft (4.56 m), but the wheelbase was short at only 10 ft 2 in (3.11 m). The short wheelbase combined with the tall gear legs and the aircraft’s high center of gravity could have given the J7W1 undesirable ground handling characteristics.

The J7W1 had a 36 ft 5 in (11.11 m) wingspan, was 32 ft (9.76 m) long, and was 12 ft 10 in (3.92 m) tall. The aircraft had a top speed of 466 mph (750 km/h) at 28,543 ft (8,700 m), a cruising speed of 276 mph (444 km/h), and a stalling speed of 107 mph (172 km/h). The J7W1 could climb to 26,247 ft (8,000 m) in 10 minutes and 40 seconds and had a 39,370 ft (12,000 m) service ceiling. The aircraft had an empty weight of 7,639 lb (3,465 kg), a normal weight of 10,864 lb (4,928 kg), and a maximum weight of 11,526 lb (5,228 kg). Cruising at 9,843 ft (3,000 m) gave the J7W1 a 528-mile (850-km) range. The aircraft was stressed for a maximum speed of 575 mph (926 km/h) and 7 Gs.

The various ducts on the side of the J7W1 are illustrated in this image. The flaps to reduce cooling air can be seen just before the oblique inlet on the side of the aircraft. The smaller scoop that fed air into the supercharger is mounted to the outside of the cooling air inlet. The oil cooler inlet can be seen just behind the tapered fairing for the induction scoop.

While the prototype was still under construction, the IJN ordered the J7W1 into production in May 1944 to counter the imminent threat of American bombing raids with the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. Ultimately, the production schedule called for Kyushu to produce 30 aircraft per month, and the Nakajima Aircraft Company, Ltd (Nakajima Hikoki KK) would build 120 units per month. In June 1944, the United States Army Air Force began conducting bombing raids against Japan using the B-29. To intercept these bombers and disrupt these raids were the exact purposes for which the J7W1 was designed. In September 1944, a mockup of the J7W1 was inspected by the IJN, and wind tunnel tests of a scale model had yielded positive results.

The J7W1 was built at Kyushu’s Zasshonokuma Plant, near Fukuoka city. The airframe was nearing completion in January 1945, when the first flight was originally scheduled to be conducted. Bombing raids delayed delivery of the [Ha-43] 42 engine, which finally arrived in April. The J7W1 was finally completed on 10 June and was subsequently disassembled and moved to Mushiroda Airfield (now Fukuoka Airport) in Fukuoka city on 15 June. Reassembled, the aircraft was inspected on 19 June, but bombing raids caused some delays. Ground tests were soon conducted and indicated a tendency for the engine to overheat due to a lack of cooling airflow. Tsuruno attempted the first flight in July, but as the J7W1 began to take flight, the engine’s torque induced a roll to the right. The aircraft’s nose went high and caused the propeller tips to strike the ground, bending the tips back.

Following World War II, the J7W1 was repaired and then painted before the aircraft was shipped to the United States. The new panels are easily seen in this image prior to the aircraft being repainted. Note that there is no cockpit glass.

The J7W1 was repaired, and the second prototype’s propeller was installed. A tailwheel from a Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (White Chrysanthemum) trainer was added under each vertical stabilizer so that during an over-rotation, a propeller strike would not occur again. Yoshitaka Miyaishi took over the flight tests and started over with ground runs to assess the aircraft’s handling. The J7W1 made its first flight on 3 August 1945. Liftoff occurred at 126 mph (204 km/h), and the aircraft was not flown above 1,312 ft (400 m). The speed did not exceed 161 mph (259 km/h), and the flight lasted under 15 minutes, with the aircraft landing at 115 mph (185 km/h). The J7W1’s tendency to roll to the right persisted and needed much left aileron input to correct, but the aircraft behaved reasonably well otherwise. Two further flights were made on 6 and 8 August, each about 15 minutes in length. The aircraft’s basic handling was evaluated, and the landing gear was never retracted during the tests. The roll to the right was made worse with the flaps deployed and the engine producing more torque to maintain airspeed. The J7W1 exhibited a tendency for its nose to pitch down, which was countered by a steady pull on the control stick. The engine, extension shaft, and remote gear reduction caused some vibration issues.

Modifications were contemplated to neutralize the engine’s torque reaction and correct the aircraft’s handling. A proposition was made to increase the foreplane’s angle of incidence to three degrees and change the main wing’s flap deployment to 30 degrees. In addition, the oil cooler needed to be improved. It was decided that speed tests would be initiated on the aircraft’s next flight, scheduled for 17 August. However, all work was stopped with the Japanese surrender on 15 August, and much of the aircraft’s documentation was burned on 16 August.

The J7W1 on display in Japan after it was repaired and painted. The inlet for the right oil cooler can be seen just behind the induction scoop, and the oil cooler’s exit can be seen right before the propeller. Note that the flaps are partially deployed.

At the end of the war, the second J7W1 was nearly complete and waiting on its [Ha-43] 42 engine, and the third aircraft was under construction. No other examples were completed to any meaningful level. The third J7W1 was planned to have the three-degree foreplane angle of incidence and a [Ha-43] 43 engine that produced an additional 130 hp (97 kW) for takeoff. This engine would have a single impeller for its first-stage, continuously-variable supercharger. The intake for the engine was moved to the inside of the J7W1’s cooling air inlets. The fourth and later aircraft would incorporate the changes from the third and also have a four-blade propeller 11 ft 6 in or 11 ft 10 in (3.5 m or 3.6 m) in diameter. The four-blade propeller had wider blades, was easier to manufacture, and was intended to cure some of the J7W1’s tendency to roll to the right. Beginning with the eighth aircraft, a 2,250 hp (1678 kW) [Ha-43] 51 engine would be installed. The [Ha-43] 51 had a single-stage, three-speed, mechanical supercharger instead of two-stage supercharging with a continuously-variable first stage.

The second and third J7W1 were both destroyed following the Japanese surrender. The first prototype, with around 45 minutes of flight time, was captured by US Marines and found to have all of the cockpit glass removed and some body panels damaged, possibly from a typhoon. For many years, it was thought that the first prototype was destroyed and that the second aircraft was captured by US forces, but this was later found to be incorrect. Under US orders, the aircraft was repaired and repainted while still in Japan. Most pictures of the J7W1 are immediately after the repairs have been made or shortly after it was painted. In almost all of the pictures, the cockpit glass is missing. In October 1945, the J7W1 was disassembled and shipped to the United States.

Six US Servicemen and four Japanese dignitaries pose next to the J7W1. Masayoshi Tsuruno, the aircraft’s designer, is the fourth from the left. The men give a good indication of the aircraft’s tall stance and overall size.

The surviving J7W1 was assigned ‘Foreign Evaluation’ FE-326 (later T2-326), and attempts were made to bring the aircraft to a flightworthy status. It is believed that most of this work, including new cockpit glass and installing several American flight instruments, was conducted in mid-1946 at Middletown Air Depot (now Harrisburg International Airport) in Pennsylvania. In September 1946, the aircraft was moved to the Orchard Field Airport (now O’Hare Airport) Special Depot in Park Ridge, Illinois. Instructions indicated that the J7W1 could be made airworthy if an overhauled engine was found, but this never occurred and the aircraft was not flown in the United States. The J7W1 was transferred to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 1960. The aircraft is preserved in a disassembled and unrestored state, with the [Ha-43] 42 engine still installed in the fuselage. Amazingly, video of the aircraft’s aborted first flight attempt and eventual first flight can be found on YouTube.

Around 2016, a full-size model of the J7W1 was built by Hitoshi Sakamoto. The model was on special display at the Yoichi Space Museum in Hokkaido, but it is not known if it is still there.

A turbojet version of the aircraft had been considered from the start, but a suitable powerplant had not been built in Japan by the close of the war. Designated J7W2 Shinden-Kai, the jet aircraft most likely would have had shorter landing gear, with additional fuel tanks in the wings occupying the space formerly used by the longer gear. There is no indication that the J7W2 had progressed beyond the preliminary design phase before the war’s end.

Today, J7W1 is disassembled but fairly complete. However, the years of storage have led to many bent and dented parts. The aircraft was long stored in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Paul E. Garber facility, but the cockpit and foreplanes are on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. (NASM image)


Japanese Navy Aircraft Popular Names

In contrast to the Japanese Army aviation, most types of Navy aircraft received Popular Names. This began about July 1943 and coincided with the practical abandonment of broadcasting determinations by numbering Type (Koji Gata) and the classification determinations by short code symbols (Kana Gata). These systems had provided allied intelligence too much information as to he planned use of new aircraft and the year of its entry into production. Names were widely used, particularly by Japanese propaganda. Their assignment to particular types of aircraft are based on certain key, and are broadcast fighter aircraft names derived from the weather (in particular sea and windz), land based fighters from lightning, night fighters from the phenomena of light ), bombers (including, in particular torpedo and carrier based) from celestial bodies, medium and heavy bombers from the mountains and mountain chains, special aircraft (including, in particular kamikaze) from flowers, observation airplanes from clouds, transport airplanes from celestial phenomena, training aircraft from grasses, trees and other plants, patrol airplanes from the seas and oceans, various unusual aircraft and other flying objects for special purposes from dragons. The names were generally descriptive, poetic and very rarely coincide with the lethal purpose of the aircraft. An additional difficulty is the exact translation of the Japanese language.


Divine Wind: Reflections from Two Kamikaze Veterans

At first glance, “kamikaze veteran” will undoubtedly read as an oxymoron to most Americans. Best parodied in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, producer/actor Larry David muses how one can be a kamikaze pilot and yet still be alive. My own introduction to this concept is traceable to a handful of biographical articles I had read within The Japan Times. There, these elder Tokubetsu Kogekitai (or, “Special Attack Unit”) aviators recounted their military experiences as well as the life they enjoyed after the war. Captivated, I sought to learn from those still alive.

Seventy-five years later, the imagery of Imperial Japan’s devastating kamikaze attacks remains an inexorable part of World War II’s Pacific Theater. Ultimately, the direct hits, or damaging near miss impact hits of these aircraft claimed more than 15,000 Allied causalities and an estimated 466 ships either sunk or damaged. For some, not even the passage of time could erode the clarity of such dramatic events. Daniel Kitchen, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant who served onboard Landing Craft Tank (LCT)-746, recalled one such kamikaze attack near the island of Iejima during the Battle of Okinawa in May 1945. “I witnessed the conclusion of this pilot’s flight and tried to imagine what went through his mind.” Kitchen then shared with me an excerpt of an essay he had penned on this event:

“I watched as the pilot died…instantly and in vain. I hope that he was distracted by gunfire and concentrating on precision flying…and never noticed the deserted decks, unmanned guns and empty bridge of his target. It was LST 808, wrecked and abandoned, gutted by a torpedo attack a few days earlier, but with decks and superstructure intact, still resting upright on the coral sand in the shallows of our anchorage.”

Like Kitchen, numerous U.S. sailors had also shared with me their own encounters with kamikaze aircraft seeking to menace their ships and crew. Yet, would it be possible for me to contact such surviving pilots? Where would I start? How could I navigate not only the language barrier but also potential cultural sensitivities of those vanquished combatants? Of the nearly 4,500 elder military veterans I would ultimately interview over the span of a decade, those with an allegiance to Imperial Japan constitute a small fraction. Unlike their former Japanese counterparts, more than two hundred Wehrmacht veterans were indeed very receptive to my correspondence and queries. Among them was nonagenarian Hans-Joachim “Hajo” Herrmann, once a colonel in the German Luftwaffe and confidant of Reichsmarschall Göring.

Inspired by the psychological fear imposed by kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, Herrmann devised a similar tactic to unnerve Allied bomber crews over Europe. Ultimately hoping to compel the Allies to suspend their bombing raids, albeit, if only temporarily, Herrmann sought to buy more time for the production of Germany’s jet fighters, ballistic missiles, and other Wunderwaffe (or, “Wonder Weapons”). On April 7, 1945, more than 180 unarmed Me-109 and Fw-190 fighters were dispatched into the skies over Germany to deliberately ram their aircraft into American B-17 and B-24 bombers. Less than two-dozen such bombers were ultimately brought down.

Seventy-five years later, the exploits of the Third Reich’s Sonderkommando Elbe pilots in Europe are all but overshadowed by Imperial Japan’s larger, longer, and costlier kamikaze campaign throughout the Pacific. Yet, I had still managed to identify and correspond with the brainchild behind Germany’s obscure squadron of doomed one-way flyers. Surely, I could just as easily connect with the handful of ever-dwindling Japanese pilots who held the rare distinction of “kamikaze veteran.” Ron Werneth, author of Beyond Pearl Harbor: The Untold Stories of Japan’s Naval Airmen and Fall of the Japanese Empire: Memories of the Air War 1942–1945, offered to me some candid thoughts on the matter. “Most Americans don’t realize is that these Japanese veterans are very private people. It took ten years of my life to get to know them and I had to move to Japan to do that.”

Luckily, I began to make inroads among a network of military scholars, journalists, government officials, and others like Werneth who each undertook a similar research effort. The Zero Fighter Pilots Association – a Japanese organization comprised of surviving World War II Mitsubishi A6M Zero (or “Zeke”) aviators – introduced me to Masami Takahashi. An Assistant Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, Takahashi had produced the documentary The Last Kamikaze: Testimonials from WWII Suicide Pilots. Appreciative of my interests, Takahashi applauded my efforts and shared that a Japanese veteran I previously engaged through the Zero Fighter Pilots Association “was a good friend of my deceased father who was also trained as a kamikaze pilot.”

Later, I became acquainted with Risa Morimoto who produced the documentary Wings of Defeat, which also amplified the stories of surviving kamikaze pilots. Like Takahashi, a direct family connection inspired Morimoto’s interest. “My uncle served in the military,” she explained. “[He] trained as a kamikaze.” At the time of our initial dialogues, Morimoto was serendipitously only a few weeks away from traveling to Japan to reconnect with the kamikaze pilots featured in her documentary. To my surprise, she even volunteered to personally initiate my long-distance correspondence interview with Takehiko Ena, one of the pilots. What incredible luck!

A native of Tokyo, Ena had been conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1943. In the spring of 1945, Ensign Ena joined a kamikaze unit at twenty-two years of age and well aware of the risks. “At the emergency of my country,” he wrote, “I, enduring my fear of death, resolutely carried out self-sacrifice.”

Subsequently assigned to a Seiki Squadron of the Hyakurihara Naval Air Group in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture, Ena awaited his orders to join Kikusui (or, “Floating Chrysanthemums”). Throughout this two and a month campaign, Imperial Japan would dispatch more than 1,400 kamikazes to disrupt Allied ships during the Battle of Okinawa. These attacks would ultimately claim the lives of nearly 4,900 U.S. sailors. “My duty was the kamikaze attack of the US ships near Zanpa Point, on the west coast of Okinawa,” Ena shared with me. “The drill was to hit a US ship from a low altitude…in my plane.”

Despite limited flying experience, Ena became a pilot of one of only seven available aircraft within his unit: the Nakajima B5N torpedo-bomber. Commonly dubbed the “Kate” by Allies, these three-person aircraft were equipped with a 1,760 lb bomb and enough fuel for a one-way mission. Given the scarcity of aircraft throughout Japan in the final months of the war, kamikaze units would often receive older, below average equipment for their largely inexperienced flyers. Indeed, mechanical problems were quite common and forced many pilots to abort their missions or return shortly after takeoff. For Ena, and a handful of others, such malfunctions would become their salvation.

On April 28, 1945 – the fourth large-scale Kikusui mission – Ena’s aircraft struggled to stay airborne and subsequently crash-landed at a nearby airbase due to engine failure. On May 11, 1945 – the sixth large-scale Kikusui mission – Ena made yet another attempt but fate would continue to spare his life. “On the way to the target,” he shared, “my plane had a trouble and landed on the sea near a solitary island. I swam for 1 km to the island.” Ena and his crew spent the remainder of the war marooned on Kuroshima, a mountainous six square mile island in the northern Ryukyu archipelago.

Returning to the mainland at the end of the war, Ena sought to pay tribute to the handful of islanders who ensured his survival. In 2004, exactly fifty-nine years from the date he ditched in the waters off Kuroshima, an eighty-year-old Ena helped unveil the first of three such monuments on the island: a statue of Kannon (or, the Buddhist Goddess of mercy). The following is an excerpt of the engraved text, as translated from Japanese to English, at its base:

“Many Special Attack planes attacked by sea from the western side of Okinawa…by way of Kuroshima in order to avoid enemy fighters waiting for them…Along the way in the skies above Kanmuri Peak here on Kuroshima, they looked back and saw beautifully shaped Mount Kaimon above the horizon receding into the distance. Departing from the mainland full of emotions, they prayed for peace and security for their homeland…they went bravely to faraway floating clouds above the vast expanse of the seas and died for their country…We pray for eternal rest for their souls.”

Ena’s wartime experience is one of many that illustrate the larger statistical record of Japan’s kamikaze pilots. Of the nearly 3,000 sorties launched from October 1944 until the war’s end, roughly a third successfully reached a point in which the pilots could commence an attack upon Allied ships. Meanwhile on the Japanese mainland, thousands more awaited orders that never arrived. This was the case for Sen Genshitsu, the second kamikaze whom I interviewed (albeit via long-distance correspondence much like Ena, though separately).

Born as Sen Masaoki, Genshitsu possesses a rather unique family linage to the sixteenth century founder of a School of Japanese tea known as Urasenke. A native of Kyoto, Genshitu joined the aviation arm of the Imperial Japanese Navy in December 1943 at twenty-one years of age. Enrolled in college at the time, Genshitu explained to me that he was “taken into [the] service at the time of the fourteenth enlistment of student reserves.”

Initially assigned to the Tokushima Air Group in Japan’s Tokushima Prefecture, Naval First Lieutenant Genshitu flew training missions in the Mitsubishi K3M3 high-wing aircraft, dubbed the “Pine” by Allies. Formed in 1942, the Tokushima Air Group groomed flight observers for reconnaissance missions. In March 1945, all trainings were discontinued and recruits were eagerly sought for the newly created kamikaze units. “I volunteered,” Genshitu wrote. “I felt that I would give my life in order for my beloved family to soon be able to exist in a peaceful world.”

Later assigned to a Shiragiku (or, “White Chrysanthemum”) unit within the Tokushima Air Group, Genshitu flew the outfit’s namesake aircraft: the Kyushu K11W Shiragiku. A modest trainer aircraft, the K11W could carry a singular 550 lb bomb and reach a maximum speed of only 140 mph. Certainly not the fastest for a kamikaze strike. Genshitu recalled to me the strenuous, daylong drills of his unit, from practicing aerial diving runs and night flying off Japan’s southern coast. “It was extremely hard training, and even to remember it, I am amazed that I managed to endure it.” Like Ena, Genshitu shared that his targets were U.S. ships of his own choosing near Okinawa.

Genshitu was soon dispatched to an airbase near the city of Matsuyama in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture. There, he hoped to participate in the ninth or tenth large-scale Kikusui missions, launched from June 3-22, 1945. “As a pilot in the kamikaze corps, it was a matter of variously coming and going between the realm of life and the realm of death,” he described to me. While he awaited orders that never arrived, Genshitu watched many of his fellow aviators depart, never to return. “I lost many pals and it all was so sad,” he reflected. “I want never to experience war again.”

In the aftermath of the war, Genshitu returned to his roots and, within two decades, became the fifteenth generational head of Urasenke. “I have been traveling the world, appealing for everyone to achieve ‘Peacefulness Through a Bowl of Tea,’” he explained. “Since coming home alive from the war, I have made more than 300 trips abroad, and been to about 62 countries of the world, to make this appeal of mine for achieving peace.” On July 19, 2011, an eighty-eight-year-old Genshitu – in partnership with the National Park Service and the U.S. Navy – led a sacred Urasenke tea ceremony onboard the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor as a gesture of peace and reconciliation between the United States and Japan. Considered a high honor in Japanese culture, this gathering featured several American veterans who bore witness to the “Day of Infamy” seventy years prior.

It is estimated more than 3,800 kamikaze aviators perished during World War II. Perhaps after years of reflection, both Ena and Genshitu discovered and accepted the true mission previously unknown to them in 1945: to live.

About The Author: Kyle Nappi is an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, a Fortune 500 management-consulting firm in the Washington, D.C. metro area. In April 2020, the NHF featured Mr. Nappi’s “Die letzten Wölfe: Veterans of the Kriegsmarine’s U-Boat Force” article in Thursday Tidings. Mr. Nappi is also a recipient of the NHF’s Volunteer of the Year award for efforts to return photographs and memorabilia seized on the island of Saipan to families of fallen World War II Japanese combatants.

This article was prepared by the author in his personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion, or position of their employer.


Divine Wind: Reflections from Two Kamikaze Veterans

At first glance, “kamikaze veteran” will undoubtedly read as an oxymoron to most Americans. Best parodied in an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, producer/actor Larry David muses how one can be a kamikaze pilot and yet still be alive. My own introduction to this concept is traceable to a handful of biographical articles I had read within The Japan Times. There, these elder Tokubetsu Kogekitai (or, “Special Attack Unit”) aviators recounted their military experiences as well as the life they enjoyed after the war. Captivated, I sought to learn from those still alive.

Seventy-five years later, the imagery of Imperial Japan’s devastating kamikaze attacks remains an inexorable part of World War II’s Pacific Theater. Ultimately, the direct hits, or damaging near miss impact hits of these aircraft claimed more than 15,000 Allied causalities and an estimated 466 ships either sunk or damaged. For some, not even the passage of time could erode the clarity of such dramatic events. Daniel Kitchen, a U.S. Navy Lieutenant who served onboard Landing Craft Tank (LCT)-746, recalled one such kamikaze attack near the island of Iejima during the Battle of Okinawa in May 1945. “I witnessed the conclusion of this pilot’s flight and tried to imagine what went through his mind.” Kitchen then shared with me an excerpt of an essay he had penned on this event:

“I watched as the pilot died…instantly and in vain. I hope that he was distracted by gunfire and concentrating on precision flying…and never noticed the deserted decks, unmanned guns and empty bridge of his target. It was LST 808, wrecked and abandoned, gutted by a torpedo attack a few days earlier, but with decks and superstructure intact, still resting upright on the coral sand in the shallows of our anchorage.”

Like Kitchen, numerous U.S. sailors had also shared with me their own encounters with kamikaze aircraft seeking to menace their ships and crew. Yet, would it be possible for me to contact such surviving pilots? Where would I start? How could I navigate not only the language barrier but also potential cultural sensitivities of those vanquished combatants? Of the nearly 4,500 elder military veterans I would ultimately interview over the span of a decade, those with an allegiance to Imperial Japan constitute a small fraction. Unlike their former Japanese counterparts, more than two hundred Wehrmacht veterans were indeed very receptive to my correspondence and queries. Among them was nonagenarian Hans-Joachim “Hajo” Herrmann, once a colonel in the German Luftwaffe and confidant of Reichsmarschall Göring.

Inspired by the psychological fear imposed by kamikaze attacks during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, Herrmann devised a similar tactic to unnerve Allied bomber crews over Europe. Ultimately hoping to compel the Allies to suspend their bombing raids, albeit, if only temporarily, Herrmann sought to buy more time for the production of Germany’s jet fighters, ballistic missiles, and other Wunderwaffe (or, “Wonder Weapons”). On April 7, 1945, more than 180 unarmed Me-109 and Fw-190 fighters were dispatched into the skies over Germany to deliberately ram their aircraft into American B-17 and B-24 bombers. Less than two-dozen such bombers were ultimately brought down.

Seventy-five years later, the exploits of the Third Reich’s Sonderkommando Elbe pilots in Europe are all but overshadowed by Imperial Japan’s larger, longer, and costlier kamikaze campaign throughout the Pacific. Yet, I had still managed to identify and correspond with the brainchild behind Germany’s obscure squadron of doomed one-way flyers. Surely, I could just as easily connect with the handful of ever-dwindling Japanese pilots who held the rare distinction of “kamikaze veteran.” Ron Werneth, author of Beyond Pearl Harbor: The Untold Stories of Japan’s Naval Airmen and Fall of the Japanese Empire: Memories of the Air War 1942–1945, offered to me some candid thoughts on the matter. “Most Americans don’t realize is that these Japanese veterans are very private people. It took ten years of my life to get to know them and I had to move to Japan to do that.”

Luckily, I began to make inroads among a network of military scholars, journalists, government officials, and others like Werneth who each undertook a similar research effort. The Zero Fighter Pilots Association – a Japanese organization comprised of surviving World War II Mitsubishi A6M Zero (or “Zeke”) aviators – introduced me to Masami Takahashi. An Assistant Professor at Northeastern Illinois University, Takahashi had produced the documentary The Last Kamikaze: Testimonials from WWII Suicide Pilots. Appreciative of my interests, Takahashi applauded my efforts and shared that a Japanese veteran I previously engaged through the Zero Fighter Pilots Association “was a good friend of my deceased father who was also trained as a kamikaze pilot.”

Later, I became acquainted with Risa Morimoto who produced the documentary Wings of Defeat, which also amplified the stories of surviving kamikaze pilots. Like Takahashi, a direct family connection inspired Morimoto’s interest. “My uncle served in the military,” she explained. “[He] trained as a kamikaze.” At the time of our initial dialogues, Morimoto was serendipitously only a few weeks away from traveling to Japan to reconnect with the kamikaze pilots featured in her documentary. To my surprise, she even volunteered to personally initiate my long-distance correspondence interview with Takehiko Ena, one of the pilots. What incredible luck!

A native of Tokyo, Ena had been conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1943. In the spring of 1945, Ensign Ena joined a kamikaze unit at twenty-two years of age and well aware of the risks. “At the emergency of my country,” he wrote, “I, enduring my fear of death, resolutely carried out self-sacrifice.”

Subsequently assigned to a Seiki Squadron of the Hyakurihara Naval Air Group in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture, Ena awaited his orders to join Kikusui (or, “Floating Chrysanthemums”). Throughout this two and a month campaign, Imperial Japan would dispatch more than 1,400 kamikazes to disrupt Allied ships during the Battle of Okinawa. These attacks would ultimately claim the lives of nearly 4,900 U.S. sailors. “My duty was the kamikaze attack of the US ships near Zanpa Point, on the west coast of Okinawa,” Ena shared with me. “The drill was to hit a US ship from a low altitude…in my plane.”

Despite limited flying experience, Ena became a pilot of one of only seven available aircraft within his unit: the Nakajima B5N torpedo-bomber. Commonly dubbed the “Kate” by Allies, these three-person aircraft were equipped with a 1,760 lb bomb and enough fuel for a one-way mission. Given the scarcity of aircraft throughout Japan in the final months of the war, kamikaze units would often receive older, below average equipment for their largely inexperienced flyers. Indeed, mechanical problems were quite common and forced many pilots to abort their missions or return shortly after takeoff. For Ena, and a handful of others, such malfunctions would become their salvation.

On April 28, 1945 – the fourth large-scale Kikusui mission – Ena’s aircraft struggled to stay airborne and subsequently crash-landed at a nearby airbase due to engine failure. On May 11, 1945 – the sixth large-scale Kikusui mission – Ena made yet another attempt but fate would continue to spare his life. “On the way to the target,” he shared, “my plane had a trouble and landed on the sea near a solitary island. I swam for 1 km to the island.” Ena and his crew spent the remainder of the war marooned on Kuroshima, a mountainous six square mile island in the northern Ryukyu archipelago.

Returning to the mainland at the end of the war, Ena sought to pay tribute to the handful of islanders who ensured his survival. In 2004, exactly fifty-nine years from the date he ditched in the waters off Kuroshima, an eighty-year-old Ena helped unveil the first of three such monuments on the island: a statue of Kannon (or, the Buddhist Goddess of mercy). The following is an excerpt of the engraved text, as translated from Japanese to English, at its base:

“Many Special Attack planes attacked by sea from the western side of Okinawa…by way of Kuroshima in order to avoid enemy fighters waiting for them…Along the way in the skies above Kanmuri Peak here on Kuroshima, they looked back and saw beautifully shaped Mount Kaimon above the horizon receding into the distance. Departing from the mainland full of emotions, they prayed for peace and security for their homeland…they went bravely to faraway floating clouds above the vast expanse of the seas and died for their country…We pray for eternal rest for their souls.”

Ena’s wartime experience is one of many that illustrate the larger statistical record of Japan’s kamikaze pilots. Of the nearly 3,000 sorties launched from October 1944 until the war’s end, roughly a third successfully reached a point in which the pilots could commence an attack upon Allied ships. Meanwhile on the Japanese mainland, thousands more awaited orders that never arrived. This was the case for Sen Genshitsu, the second kamikaze whom I interviewed (albeit via long-distance correspondence much like Ena, though separately).

Born as Sen Masaoki, Genshitsu possesses a rather unique family linage to the sixteenth century founder of a School of Japanese tea known as Urasenke. A native of Kyoto, Genshitu joined the aviation arm of the Imperial Japanese Navy in December 1943 at twenty-one years of age. Enrolled in college at the time, Genshitu explained to me that he was “taken into [the] service at the time of the fourteenth enlistment of student reserves.”

Initially assigned to the Tokushima Air Group in Japan’s Tokushima Prefecture, Naval First Lieutenant Genshitu flew training missions in the Mitsubishi K3M3 high-wing aircraft, dubbed the “Pine” by Allies. Formed in 1942, the Tokushima Air Group groomed flight observers for reconnaissance missions. In March 1945, all trainings were discontinued and recruits were eagerly sought for the newly created kamikaze units. “I volunteered,” Genshitu wrote. “I felt that I would give my life in order for my beloved family to soon be able to exist in a peaceful world.”

Later assigned to a Shiragiku (or, “White Chrysanthemum”) unit within the Tokushima Air Group, Genshitu flew the outfit’s namesake aircraft: the Kyushu K11W Shiragiku. A modest trainer aircraft, the K11W could carry a singular 550 lb bomb and reach a maximum speed of only 140 mph. Certainly not the fastest for a kamikaze strike. Genshitu recalled to me the strenuous, daylong drills of his unit, from practicing aerial diving runs and night flying off Japan’s southern coast. “It was extremely hard training, and even to remember it, I am amazed that I managed to endure it.” Like Ena, Genshitu shared that his targets were U.S. ships of his own choosing near Okinawa.

Genshitu was soon dispatched to an airbase near the city of Matsuyama in Japan’s Ehime Prefecture. There, he hoped to participate in the ninth or tenth large-scale Kikusui missions, launched from June 3-22, 1945. “As a pilot in the kamikaze corps, it was a matter of variously coming and going between the realm of life and the realm of death,” he described to me. While he awaited orders that never arrived, Genshitu watched many of his fellow aviators depart, never to return. “I lost many pals and it all was so sad,” he reflected. “I want never to experience war again.”

In the aftermath of the war, Genshitu returned to his roots and, within two decades, became the fifteenth generational head of Urasenke. “I have been traveling the world, appealing for everyone to achieve ‘Peacefulness Through a Bowl of Tea,’” he explained. “Since coming home alive from the war, I have made more than 300 trips abroad, and been to about 62 countries of the world, to make this appeal of mine for achieving peace.” On July 19, 2011, an eighty-eight-year-old Genshitu – in partnership with the National Park Service and the U.S. Navy – led a sacred Urasenke tea ceremony onboard the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor as a gesture of peace and reconciliation between the United States and Japan. Considered a high honor in Japanese culture, this gathering featured several American veterans who bore witness to the “Day of Infamy” seventy years prior.

It is estimated more than 3,800 kamikaze aviators perished during World War II. Perhaps after years of reflection, both Ena and Genshitu discovered and accepted the true mission previously unknown to them in 1945: to live.

About The Author: Kyle Nappi is an Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, a Fortune 500 management-consulting firm in the Washington, D.C. metro area. In April 2020, the NHF featured Mr. Nappi’s “Die letzten Wölfe: Veterans of the Kriegsmarine’s U-Boat Force” article in Thursday Tidings. Mr. Nappi is also a recipient of the NHF’s Volunteer of the Year award for efforts to return photographs and memorabilia seized on the island of Saipan to families of fallen World War II Japanese combatants.

This article was prepared by the author in his personal capacity. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, opinion, or position of their employer.


1940 wurde bei Watanabe Tekkosho (später umstrukturiert zu Kyushu Hikoki, daher die Typbezeichnung) mit der Entwicklung eines Prototyps der K11W1, auch als „Schulflugzeug für die Arbeit an Bord“ (機上作業練習機, kijō sagyō renshū-ki) bezeichnet, begonnen. Dies geschah auf Grund einer Forderung der japanischen Marine einen modernen Ersatz für die Mitsubishi K3M zu finden. Die Maschine wurde als kompakter und simpler Mitteldecker in Metallbauweise entworfen und sollte Ausbildungsflugzeug für Piloten, Schützen, Funker, Navigator und Bombenschützen in einem sein. Während Pilot und Schütze/Funker (diese Positionen wurden von einer Person eingenommen) in dem verglasten Platz fanden, war der untere Teil des Rumpfes für Navigator, Bombenschütze und Ausbilder vorgesehen. Die Sicht aus dem unteren Rumpfbereich wurde durch mehrere Fenster ermöglicht. [2] Die erste Produktionsreihe der K11W war mit einem starren, also nicht einziehbaren Fahrwerk ausgestattet. [3] [4] Der Erstflug des ersten Prototyps fand im November 1942 statt. Aufgrund der raschen Weiterentwicklung wurde der Produktionsauftrag 1942 erteilt und die ersten Maschinen im Sommer 1943 in Dienst gestellt. [5]

Die K11W wurde zu Beginn, wie vorgesehen, als reine Ausbildungsmaschine verwendet. Später entwickelte man die Version K11W2, eine auf U-Boot-Jagd und Transport ausgerichtete Holzbauvariante der K11W1, die außerdem über ein einklappbares Fahrwerk verfügte. Des Weiteren begann die Entwicklung des Flugzeuges Q3W1, namentlich bereits als U-Boot-Jäger ausgewiesen (Buchstabe Q), welches stark auf der K11W2 basierte. Die Arbeit wurde allerdings auf Grund unbefriedigender Testflugergebnisse und schließlich des Kriegsendes eingestellt. [6] In der Endphase des Pazifikkrieges wurde die K11W auch zu Kamikazeeinsätzen (Shimpū Tokkōtai) herangezogen. Die entsprechenden Maschinen des Types K11W wurden hierfür mit jeweils einer 250-kg-Bombe bestückt. Folgende Versionen der K11W existierten:


Vývoj [ editovat | editovat zdroj ]

Prototyp K11W1, zalétaný v listopadu 1942, měl ještě zatažitelný podvozek, sériové stroje létaly s pevným samonosným. Pohon zajišťoval hvězdicový devítiválec Hitači GK2B Amakaze 21 o maximálním výkonu 378 kW, opatřený krytem NACA a pohánějící dvoulistou dřevěnou nestavitelnou vrtuli. V horní kabinové části nad křídlem byla pod průběžně zaskleným krytem nejprve pilotní kabina, za ní se nacházelo pracoviště radisty/střelce. Ten ovládal směrem vzad zaměřený pohyblivý kulomet vzor 92 ráže 7,7 mm. Ve spodní části trupu za zadním křídlovým nosníkem byla druhá kabina pro bombometčíka a navigátora. Spolu s nimi seděl instruktor. Další výzbroj mohly tvořit dvě pumy po 30 kg.

Vzhledem k deficitu barevných kovů byla v roce 1944 zkonstruována a následně vyráběna celodřevěná verze K11W2. Příležitostně byla nasazována pro přífrontovou dopravu a k protiponorkovému hlídkování při pobřeží.

Vývoj pokračoval z K11W2 odvozeným prototypem speciálního protiponorkového letounu Q2W1 Nankai s technologicky zjednodušeným drakem. Při premiérovém letu v lednu 1945 havaroval během přistání a celý vývojový program byl zrušen.

Před kapitulací Japonska byly obě verze Širagiku upravovány na sebevražedné demontáží veškerého nepotřebného vybavení s instalovanou 250 kg pumou v trupu.


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