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“Violet Lightning” and “Mighty Wind” – Japanese Late War Fighters

N1K Shiden

Two planes fielded by the Japanese late in WWII, the Kawanishi N1K1-J and N1K2-J fighters, became popular with the Japanese military, despite having an unusual development history.

In the history of aircraft design, it hasn’t been that unusual for land-based planes to be converted into seaplanes. It’s a natural step from the more familiar role to a somewhat more unusual one, removing wheels, adding floats, and making other adaptations.

For the Kawanishi N1K1-J, however, the pattern was the other way around. The N1K1-J Kyofu (meaning “mighty wind”) was a seaplane fighter. It was successful enough to be adapted into the land-based N1K1-J Shiden (meaning “violet lightning”).

By the time the N1K1-J Shiden went into production, the tide of war had already turned against Japan. The Allies, particularly the Americans, were pushing them back across the Pacific, island by island. On the mainland, the Chinese kept fighting with the help of international support, while the British pushed back in Burma. As the sphere of Japanese control shrank, so did the safe territory that the nation’s factories could operate in.

The result was production problems for the N1K1-J. Raids by Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers on factories on the Japanese mainland added to existing difficulties of supply and production.

The N1K1-J Shiden came into service late in the war. It started to be fielded across the Pacific theater in May 1944. Despite the production problems, large numbers of N1K1-J Shidens were produced – over 1,400 by the end of the war.

The titles given to these fighters by their creators were full of dignity and drama. The codename given to them by the Allies was less so. The Japanese used “Mighty Wind” and “Violet Lightning” whereas the Allied forces referred to the planes by the codename “George”, a Christian name common in England at the time.

One of the most successful features of the plane was its automatic combat flaps. This unique feature helped pilots to make extreme combat maneuvers by giving them extra lift. This made it one of the most successful all-round fighters in the Pacific theater, able to take on fighters and bombers alike.

The N1K1-J Shiden’s biggest downside was that it perform well at high altitudes. This was a problem for the Japanese air force, as they faced, the most powerful bombers of the war. The B-29 could reach an altitude of nearly 32,000 feet for bombing runs on Japan, and from the end of 1943, the Americans decided not to use any other bombers in their raids against the Japanese. Any Japanese plane that couldn’t perform well at high altitude would struggle to defend the homeland.

Early models of the Shiden had further problems. The mid-mounted wing produced poor visibility, a serious problem for pilots caught up in dogfights. The landing gear, the most important change from the seaplane version, was also inadequate. Changes needed to be made.

N1K2 “Violetbolt”

The result was a new model, the N1K2-J Shiden-Kai. The prototype for this version first flew at the end of December 1943 and it was soon rushed into mass production.

The N1K2-J was so successful that it soon became the standard land-based fighter and fighter-bomber of the Japanese military. It could hold its own in combat against almost anything the Allies threw against it. Though the tide of war was against them, Japanese fighter pilots at least had an edge in the skies.

The N1K2-J wasn’t just better because of its superior flying abilities. As with several of the best weapons in history, its advantage also came from being easy to produce. An N1K2-J could be completed in half the time it took to build one of its predecessors. With the losses mounting and the pressure on, this was a vital feature for the Japanese.

The N1K2-J was equipped with a mix of weaponry – in the wings were four 20mm cannons, while a pair of 550lb bombs were fixed underneath. This allowed the plane to act in a support role, not just as an interceptor. It could use its cannons in the skies against other planes, or to strafe enemy infantry and ships, which were also the targets for the bombs.

The presence of cannons rather than machine-guns was important. In the early war, many fighters on both sides had relied on machine-guns. But the experience of combat had taught the military that bullets were not enough to take out the latest planes and that cannons firing explosive rounds would be needed instead.

“George”

The N1K2-J had a maximum speed of 370mph and a rate of climb of 3,300 feet per minute. This put it on a par with the Spitfires and Messerschmitts doing much of the fighting in Europe. It also made it superior to the Grumman F4F Wildcat, a fighter widely used by the Americans in the Pacific.

It was, however, slightly out-matched for speed and climb by Grumman’s major late-war plane, the F6F Hellcat. The Shiden-Kai was a good enough plane to compete with its main adversaries, but American industry still held the edge.

Despite its superiority in the air, some N1K2-Js were deliberately crashed by their pilots.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

The official Taliban Suppository

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Armstrong – Albany, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 11th Airborne Division, Honor Guard

Milton Beatty – Baton Rouge, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Sea Bee

Leonard Davidson (99) – Auckland, NZ; NZ Home Defense, WWII, Sgt.

Jack Gucker – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, APO

Nicholas Kakos – MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Norris Leafdale – Banner County, NE; US Army, WWII, PTO

Quentin W. McCall – Union Church, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

Chester Posey – Clifton, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, navigator/gunner

Lyle Spalding – Louisville, KY; USMC, WWII

Garth Youd – Lakeshore, UT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 401st Field Artillery Battalion

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Post War Japan and Asia 1945-1951

Cold War map

In eastern Asia, the end of the war brought a long period of turmoil. In the European colonies occupied by Japan, liberation movements were established–some strongly Communist in outlook. In Indochina, Indonesia, and Malaya, wars were fought against the colonial powers as well as between rival factions.

The messy aftermath of war precipitated the final crisis of the old European imperialism; by the early 1950s, most of Southeast Asia was independent. In Burma and India, Britain could not maintain its presence. India was divided into two states in 1947, India (Hindu) and Pakistan (Muslim), and Burma was granted independence a year later.

San Francisco Treaty

Japan was not restored to full sovereignty until after the San Francisco Treaty was signed on September 8, 1951. The emperor was retained, but the military was emasculated and a parliamentary regime had been installed. Japanese prewar possessions were divided up. Manchuria was restored to China in 1946 (though only after the Soviet Union had removed more than half the industrial equipment left behind by the Japanese). Taiwan was returned to Chinese control. Korea was occupied jointly by the Soviet Union and the United States, and two independent states — one Communist, one democratic — were established there in 1948.

The most unstable area remained China, where the prewar conflict between Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists and the Chinese Communists led by Mao Zedong was resumed on a large scale in 1945.

After four years of warfare, the Nationalist forces were defeated and Chiang withdrew to the island of Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China was declared in 1949, and a long program of rural reform and industrialization was set in motion. The victory of Chinese communism encouraged Stalin to allow the Communist regime in North Korea to embark on war against the South in the belief that America lacked the commitment for another military conflict.

Korean War begins

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when the troops of Kim Il Sung crossed the 38th parallel, the agreed-upon border between the two states. By this stage, the international order had begun to solidify into two heavily armed camps.

In 1949 the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb. That same year, the U.S. helped organize a defensive pact, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to link the major Western states together for possible armed action against the Communist threat.

By 1951 Chinese forces were engaged in the Korean conflict, exacerbating concerns that another world war — this time with nuclear weapons — might become a reality. The optimism of 1945 had, in only half a decade, given way to renewed fears that international anarchy and violence might be the normal condition of the modern world.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Saturday Evening Post style – 

“I HOPE YOU’RE NOT ANGRY WITH ME FOR TAKING YOU AWAY FROM YOUR FRIENDS.”

 

“WELL NO…. BUT I DO HELP RUN IT.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dustin B. Ard – Idaho Falls, ID; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, 2nd Batt/1st Special Forces, KIA

Arthur Bruce – High Point, NC; US Army, WWII / US Navy, Korea

Glen Coup – Akron, OH; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Luis Deleon-Figueroa – Chicopee, MA; US Army, Afghanistan, MSgt., 7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Roy Ellefson – Barnesville, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 9T/8th Air Force

Henry Fager Jr. – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, 2nd Lt.

Jose Gonzalez – La Puente, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, MSgt., 7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Paul Manos – Laurel, MD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

R. Patrick Stivers – St. Matthews, KY; US Army, WWII & Korea

Leonard Stokes – Nelson, NZ; RNZ Army # 4211953, WWII

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Feeding and Occupying Japan

MacArthur’s first priority was to set up a food distribution network; following the collapse of the ruling government and the wholesale destruction of most major cities, virtually everyone was starving. Even with these measures, millions of people were still on the brink of starvation for several years after the surrender.  As expressed by Kawai Kazuo, “Democracy cannot be taught to a starving people”.  The US government encouraged democratic reform in Japan, and while it sent billions of dollars in food aid, this was dwarfed by the occupation costs it imposed on the struggling Japanese administration.

Initially, the US government provided emergency food relief through Government and Relief in Occupied Areas  (GARIOA) funds. In fiscal year 1946, this aid amounted to US $92 million in loans. From April 1946, in the guise Licensed Agencies for Relief,  private relief organizations were also permitted to provide relief.

MacArthur and Hirohito, first meeting

Once the food network was in place MacArthur set out to win the support of Hirohito. The two men met for the first time on September 27; the photograph of the two together is one of the most famous in Japanese history. Some were shocked that MacArthur wore his standard duty uniform with no tie instead of his dress uniform when meeting the emperor. With the sanction of Japan’s reigning monarch, MacArthur had the political ammunition he needed to begin the real work of the occupation.

While other Allied political and military leaders pushed for Hirohito to be tried as a war criminal, MacArthur resisted such calls, arguing that any such prosecution would be overwhelmingly unpopular with the Japanese people. He also rejected the claims of members of the imperial family such as Prince Mikasa and Prince Higashikuni and demands of intellectuals like Tatsuji Miyoshi, who sought the emperor’s abdication.

By the end of 1945, more than 350,000 U.S. personnel were stationed throughout Japan. By the beginning of 1946, replacement troops began to arrive in the country in large numbers and were assigned to MacArthur’s  8th Army, headquartered in Tokyo’s Dai-Ichi building.

Of the main Japanese islands, Kyushu was occupied by the 24th Infantry Division, with some responsibility for Shikoku.  Honshu was occupied by the 1st Calvary Division.  Hokkaido was occupied by the 11th Airborne Division.

By June 1950, all these army units had suffered extensive troop reductions and their combat effectiveness was seriously weakened. When North Korea invaded South Korea in the Korean War, elements of the 24th Division were flown into South Korea to try to fight the invasion force there, but the inexperienced occupation troops, while acquitting themselves well when suddenly thrown into combat almost overnight, suffered heavy casualties and were forced into retreat until other Japan occupation troops could be sent to assist.

Groups involved and running parallel to SCAP (MacArthur),

two women in Sasebo, Japan, Sept-Oct. 1945

The official British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF), composed of  Australian,  British, Indian, and New Zealand personnel, was deployed on February 21, 1946.  While U.S. forces were responsible for the overall occupation, BCOF was responsible for supervising demilitarization and the disposal of Japan’s war industries.  BCOF was also responsible for occupation of several western prefectures and had its headquarters at Kure.  At its peak, the force numbered about 40,000 personnel. During 1947, BCOF began to decrease its activities in Japan, and officially wound up in 1951.

The Far Eastern Commission and Allied Council for Japan were also established to supervise the occupation of Japan.  The establishment of a multilateral Allied council for Japan was proposed by the Soviet government as early as September 1945, and was supported partially by the British, French and Chinese governments.

Click on images to enlarge,

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Personal Shoutout – Hurricane Dorian appears to have his eyes on hitting here.  So, if I suddenly disappear, please understand that I might be out of power.

Thank you for understanding.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jeffrey Aylward – Plymouth, MA; 176th Ordnance/82nd Airborne Division

Harold Bakken – Kent, WA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Robert Coleman – Nashua, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Robert Fraley – Flora, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/187/11th Airborne Division

John Isbell – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, WWII

Jerry Koerner – Paducah, KY; US Army, Vietnam

Leslie May – NZ; RNZ Navy # MX117905, WWII, ETO

Thomas Rice – Columbia, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Robert Steiner – St. Paul, MN; US Army, 81mm gunner, 86th Infantry Division

Timothy Woos – Salem, VA; US Army, SSgt., 2nd Infantry Division

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Smitty Was HERE!!

Miyajima Hotel

Being that Smitty so enjoyed taking in the sights of 1945 Japan and it is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, this post will continue with the brochures he brought home with him. Above is the Inland Sea and Miyajima Island that is approximately 45 minutes from Hiroshima; the entire island is considered a park being that two parks are actually on the island, The Omoto and the Momijidani, both famous for their cherry blossoms in spring and colored leaves in autumn.

The Great Torii

The Great Torii (52′ tall [16 metres]) is the red religious structure within the bay is from the 16th century. The earlier one had been destroyed by a typhoon. The Itsukushima Shrine has stone lanterns that remain lighted throughout the night. Senjokaku is the hall of a thousand mats and beside the shrine is a hall filled with countless rice ladles offered by worshipers. There is a five-storied pagoda (100 feet high) for Buddha close by and in the Omoto Park is a two-storied pagoda built by “Hidari-Jingoro” an ancient famous artist.

The center photo showing a patio, Smitty indicated that that was where they ate. And the circle to the right, dad wrote, “Damn good fishing and crabbing here.” It seems you can’t even take the Broad Channel, NY fisherman out of the soldier.

At the bottom picture here, Smitty wrote, “I slept here in a room like this.” On the right-hand side of the page is written, “I managed to get behind the bar at this place.” (Can’t take the bartender out of the trooper either, I suppose.) If any reader is capable of translating any of the Japanese writing in these posts, please do so. I have wondered for many years what they meant.

Gamagori Hotel

At the Gamagori Hotel, above the bottom-left photo is written, “Good Food. Chef here studied under a Frenchman. Boy was the food tasty.” The right-hand photo has, “Fishing good here.”

Gamagori Hotel

On this page of the Gamagori brochure, Smitty marked on the center diagram where his general stayed. (If viewing is a problem, please click on the photo to enlarge.) The bottom-left photo is

Gamagori Hotel

marked, “Had a room like this at this place.”

 

From Christopher:

  1. I was a student in Hiroshima and spent numerous happy times on Miyajima, the sacred island near the city. I do read Japanese and was intrigued by your curiosity around the second hotel in Gamagori. I did a wee bit of snooping and there is one hotel called the Classic Hotel that looks to be on or at least very near the site of the old hotel where your dad was, judging by the angle of the view from the balcony out towards a small shrine island (you can tell by the torii gate at the far end of the footbridge that leads out to it). The interior photos of the hotel lead me to believe that it is in fact the selfsame establishment! Take a look at this link, and be sure to look at it in satellite view to judge the island/footbridge connection. https://www.google.com/maps/place/Gamagori+Classic+Hotel/@34.8146423,137.2284047,3536m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m18!1m9!2m8!1sHotels!3m6!1sHotels!2sGamagori,+Aichi,+Japan!3s0x6004c72269565b9d:0x9147f2ae0439082f!4m2!1d137.2197862!2d34.8259551!3m7!1s0x6004c71f1b063675:0x9e5a3ad8731c513e!5m2!4m1!1i2!8m2!3d34.8158288!4d137.2359435 Then click on the Classic Hotel link!

 

 

 

This brochure is entirely in Japanese and therefore unable to give the reader a clue as to where it was or still is located.  Thanks to our fellow blogger, Christopher, we have a translation here…… Please stop by his site where you will find a lot of very interesting data!!

  1. The colorfully illustrated brochure says “Sightseeing in Miyagi Prefecture” (観光の宮城縣)and lists several of the highlights (skiing, cherry blossoms, shrines). The 3-D illustrated map shows the whole area, featuring the famous destination of Matsushima. Now, today it’s considered old-fashioned, but there is this thing called “The Three Sights of Japan” (日本三景), pronounced Nihon Sankei, which refers to what were traditionally considered the three most beautiful places in the country: Matsushima, Miyajima, and Ama no Hashidate. It looks like your dad hit at least two of them — I wonder if he also made it to Ama no Hashidate! Here is a modern link to “things to do in Miyagi Prefecture”: https://www.google.com/search?ei=42UuXZ7LMc3B7gLEwpzACQ&q=%E5%AE%AE%E5%9F%8E%E7%B8%A3&oq=%E5%AE%AE%E5%9F%8E%E7%B8%A3&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0l2j0i30l8.29273.32641..38871…1.0..0.80.438.6……0….1..gws-wiz…….0i71j0i4i37.nNS_NTAA6-Y
    Fun stuff… Thanks for sharing!

 

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE!!

*****          *****          *****          *****

… and so was Smitty !!!!

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Beaudoin – Dover, NH; USMC, WWII, PTO

Charles Behrens – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Quartermaster 1st Class, USS Chikaskia

George Evans – Toronto, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Harold Feldman (100) – Great Bend, KS; US Army, WWII, Pfc

Wilbur Henry – York, PA; US Army, WWII, CBI, 10th Chinese Army

Walter Kippen – Quebec, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, pilot

John R. McGruther – NZ; RNZ Army, WWII, ETO, KIA

Robert Peters, Bradley, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Chadwick Rickey – Boise, ID; US Navy, WWII, underwater demolition

Albert Schmoker – Austin, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aviation instructor

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Occupation – Olympiad and Comfort !

11th Airborne troopers attempting to start a coal-burning vehicle.

 

While some of the troopers continued to await the arrival of the good ole’ American jeeps to replace the coal-burning vehicles in Japan, General Swing was striving to make the occupation as bearable as possible. They had endured some horrendous hardships and accomplished more than anyone expected from them and he felt they deserved whatever he could provide. On his orders, a Japanese auditorium was transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Aside from the sports theme, the coliseum contained a Special Services office, a snack bar, a Red Cross office and a library. I can just picture my father spending some off-duty time in the poolroom or bowling alley. When I was growing up, we had a pool table in the basement and Smitty would teach me how every shot was related to angles and geometry. My aim improved – once I figured it out.

NCO Club

In the fall of 1945, an Olympian was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Matsushima Park Hotel

On the reverse side of the photo seen above, Smitty wrote, “This is the hotel where we are now staying. That dot in the driveway is me.” The 11th A/B commander had made his home here on 16 September. After the occupation, it re-opened for business as a hotel, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire on 2 March 1969.

Smitty on far right

Smitty on far right

The division had a reputation for mission accomplishment despite being nearly half the size of other divisions. This was often attributed to their somewhat unorthodox methods. This carried over into their occupation of Japan. General Swing converted an old Japanese factory and had it turning out American-style furniture for the troops. General Headquarters wasn’t very happy about the project because they wanted the Japanese to build furniture for the entire command. But Swing was not one to wait for all the red tape. After General Eichelberger inspected the better-than-GHQ- standard brick barracks under construction, he said to Swing, “Joe, I don’t know whether to court-martial you or commend you.” (Later on, he was commending Swing.)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

TO GO BEFORE WE LEFT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Verne Budahn – Mankato, MN; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class, KIA

Harvey Dumsday – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO

Edward Fischer – Park Forest, IL; US Navy, WWII, LST Quartermaster

Lyman Hale Jr. – Syracuse, NY; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps

Leo Latlip – Hallowell, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Missouri

Walter McGill Jr. – Norwich, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea

Ray Rigby – Rexburg, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 Flight Engineer

Clarence Roberts – Brownwood, TX; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin

Philip Schwhitzer – York, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/221/11th Airborne Division

Ebert VanBuren – Monroe, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 96th Infantry Division

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The Timelessness of July 4th

SEEMS WE DON’T SAY IT ENOUGH – SO, I’M TRYING TO FIX THAT RIGHT HERE – GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

A 1940’s CELEBRATION WRAPPED AROUND A 1776 WAR SONG

HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!

HARK, hark the sound of war is heard,
And we must all attend;
Take up our arms and go with speed,
Our country to defend.

Our parent state has turned our foe,
Which fills our land with pain;
Her gallant ships, manned out for war,
Come thundering o’er the main.

There’s Charleton, Howe and Clinton too,
And many thousand more,
May cross the sea, but all in vain,
Our rights we’ll ne’er give o’er.

Our pleasant homes they do invade,
Our property devour;
And all because we won’t submit
To their despotic power.

Then let us go against our foe,
We’d better die than yield

We and our sons are all undone,
If Britain wins the field.

Tories may dream of future joys,
But I am bold to say,
They’ll find themselves bound fast in chains,
If Britain wins the day.

Husbands must leave their loving wives,
And sprightly youths attend,

Leave their sweethearts and risk their lives,
Their country to defend.

May they be heroes in the field,
Have heroes’ fame in store;
We pray the Lord to be their shield,
Where thundering cannons roar.

We can rant, we can complain and we can thank the troops for giving us the right to do so!  Today we celebrate our country’s birthday, traditional BBQ’s, fireworks, family and friends, we have a day off and have a ball!  – and to whom do we owe it all?  You guessed it_____

 

                                    THE SOLDIER’S POEM

When this is over

And we come home again,

Forget the band

And cheers from the stand;

Just have the things

Well in hand –

The things we fought for.

UNDERSTAND?

_____Pfc C.G. Tiggas

 

 

ONLY A SAILOR

He’s only a sailor on the boundless deep,

Under foreign skies and tropical heat.

Only a sailor on the rolling deep,

In summer rain and winter sleet.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE!

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4th of July Humor – 

Most Americans will celebrate and enjoy a day off work – some NOT all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Bryant – Canton, OH; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Anthony Debasio – Newburgh, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI

Alice Fellows (102) – Durham, ME; US Army WAC, WWII

Thomas Garvin – Burlington, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Hoke – Huntsville, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Charles Lapr – Rumford, RI; US Merchant Marines, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

John Roberts – Baltimore, MD; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart / US Army, Korea

Shane Shanem – UT & NV; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Louis Vetere – Flushing, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/675th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

William Woolfolk – Los Angeles, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

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TAKE A MOMENT FOR YOUR NATIONAL ANTHEM – in its entirety!!!

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Smitty, Still in Japan

Japan 1945

No matter where he is or what he’s doing, Smitty will be seen touring the sights. In Japan, he also did his best to absorb the culture that surrounded him.

Smitty’s travels

Inside the above brochure, Smitty wrote, “Right after we left this place, it burnt down. This was really a million dollar joint! Wow! The girls here, by the way, are very nice. I like these people much better than the Filipinos.” (Just to remind the reader, and in all fairness, Smitty had lost his best friend to a Filipino Japanese sympathizer (makipilli) with a grenade booby-trap in his cot)

In October 1945, General Pierson was transferred back home. He was replaced by General Shorty Soule who had commanded the 188th regiment in both training and combat. He was later promoted to assistant division commander of the 38th Division and at this point he began to head the Miyagi Task Force.

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Hereafter, the troopers began to return to the States as they collected their “points” and the replacements that were arriving were not jump qualified. Gen. Swing established yet another jump school, the fourth one in the history of the 11th Airborne. This one was established at the former Japanese Air Corps base near Yanome; about 15 miles from Sendai.

Following through with his own requirements that all men in the division be both paratroopers and glidermen, Swing started a glider school in the summer of 1946 at Yamoto Air Base. [renamed Carolus Field, in honor of Cpl. Charles Carolus, killed in a glider crash near Manila 22 July 1945]

Smitty in Japan

On the reverse side of the picture above, Smitty wrote, “a beauty of a flock of ducks were going by just as the jerk snapped the camera.”

The 187th Regiment, was by this time, now being called “Rakkasans” (umbrella men) by the Japanese, a name which stayed with them through four wars: WWII, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm and the Operations of today.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Erwin Bentlage – Oneida, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, LCI-968

James Cooper – Lexington, KY; US Navy, WWII, Korea

Alex Dzialo – South Glastonburg, CT; US Army, WWII & Korea (Ret.)

Vasil Fisanick – North Cambria, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Robert Klein – NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, SSgt., German interpreter

Tommy Land Jr. – Chesapeake, VA; US Army, WWII, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Warren McLain – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, Infantry scout

George Parquette – Luverne, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 76th Tank Reg/11th Airborne Division

Harold Sears – Cabot, AR; US Army, Korea

Arthur Susi – Dublin, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO

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THE “BETTY”

Mitsubishi Type 1 Attack Bomber Model 22 ‘Betty’ by Shigeo Koike

The G4M was a Japanese high-speed bomber-torpedo carrier. During World War II, it was in service with the naval aviation. In the system of codes of allies, this aircraft had the designation “Betty”.  The Mitsubishi G4M combines high speed, long range, and excellent aerodynamic shape. Due to these qualities, it was a symbol of Japanese naval aviation.

In all 2,416 Bettys were produced by Mitsubishi and saw action in almost every engagement in the South Pacific. They also served as transports and special-attack aircraft. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was aboard a Betty when it was shot down in 1943. Late in the war Bettys were used as Kamikaze aircraft. Indeed the Betty, which was there at the very start of the conflict, was also there at its end, being used as special transport aircraft for the Japanese delegation who arranged Japan’s surrender to the Allies in August 1945.

Betty bombers

The basis for the aircraft was a monoplane scheme with a mid-mounted wing and a large fuselage. The large fuselage of the oval section allowed to accommodate large loads and created comfortable working conditions for the crew. The wings of the aircraft had a trapezoidal shape, and the average position of the wings allowed even at high load to keep the centering of the aircraft.

On the G4M, instead of hydraulic drives, electric drives were used. They seemed more reliable in conditions of low temperatures and high altitudes. The design was all metal with two spars and a retractable landing gear. The power plant consisted of two, star-shaped two-row 14-cylinder air-cooled “Kasey” 11 engines. The maximum power of the engine was about 1530 hp (take-off). The engines were additionally equipped with a single-stage supercharger. The maximum speed was about 428 km/h. The G4M was equipped with screws with three blades and a diameter of 3.4 meters. Fuel equipment included eight fuel tanks with a total capacity of 4780 liters. They were located between the wing spars, electric gasoline pumps, and fuel lines. The maximum range was 6034 km, and an altitude of 9220 m.

Small arms included four 7.69mm “Type 92” machine guns and one 20mm cannon. Machine guns were placed in the cockpit of the navigator, in two lateral and upper blisters.  Type 92 Machine-guns were a copy of the English Vickers machine gun. The ammunition was from six to seven disc stores for each shooting point. On the ceiling between the blisters could be attached one spare machine gun.

Japanese Navy Type 1 land attack planes (Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty”) fly low through anti-aircraft gunfire during a torpedo attack on U.S. Navy ships maneuvering between Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the morning of 8 August 1942. The burning ship in the center distance is probably USS George F. Elliott (AP-13), which was hit by a crashing Japanese aircraft during this attack.

The G4M excellently showed itself at the initial stage of the Second World War. They bombed the territories of China and the Philippines, Port Moresby in New Guinea and Darwin in Australia. On December 10, 1941, near the coast of Malaysia, torpedoes of an G4M aircraft destroyed the British battleship Prince of Wales and the cruise liner Repulse.

In January 1942, 17 bombers (including GM4) took off from the Japanese military base in Rabaul and attempted to attack the US aircraft carrier Lexington. However, the American “Wildcat” fighters destroyed 15 of the Japanese bombers.

In the future, because of weak armor, G4M bombers became increasingly easy prey. They received the unofficial nickname “One-time lighter” or “Flying cigar“. During the war, the G4M was produced only at Mitsubishi plants, and 2,414 in all.

After the surrender of Japan, almost all Japanese aircraft were destroyed. The only surviving plane is a G4M1 located in the Museum of Aviation in Santa Monica, USA.

 

Guadalcanal-Tulagi Operation, 7-9 August 1942 Largely intact floating wreckage of a Japanese Navy Type 1 land attack plane (a type later code named “Betty”), which crashed during the aerial torpedo attack on the Allied invasion

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Aviation Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Moses Attaya – Picayune, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 waist gunner

Edward Corr – Lakeville, MA; USMC

Michael Ferazzi – Contoocook, NH; USMC / RI National Guard

Albert Mazza – Haverhill, NH; USMC

John Nock – St. Augustine, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Aaron Perry – Union, NH; USMC / NH Attorney General’s office

Daniel Pereira – Riverside, RI; USMC

Joseph Teriaca – Kansas, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Flight Engineer

Patsy Verrico – Brighten, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

Franco Zeffirelli – Florence, Italy; Italian partisan forces, WWII, POW / opera & film director

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11th Airborne – Movin’ On

Smitty in Japan

This photograph was signed by two of my father’s buddies, John S. Lodero and Phil Martorano, both of Brooklyn, New York. Smitty (Everett Smith) is circled, but which two men are John and Phil is unknown.

When the SCAP Headquarters was set up in Tokyo, MacArthur was determined to create a “Peaceful and responsible government…” He also had to administer to a nation with nearly 70 million near-starving civilians and a constantly growing population of soldiers. The Japanese made the transition of being under one totalitarian rule to another quite easily and the general proceeded to supervise the writing and implementation of a new constitution. This was adopted in 1947, retaining the Emperor as a constitutional monarch and reestablished the primacy of the Diet. The zaibatu industrial combines were broken up and women were given rights.

Smitty’s brochures

The 11th Airborne was amazed by the change of attitude of the populace; without ever having actually been invaded, the Americans were being accepted. It made their future missions so much easier to accomplish. The Americal Division relieved the 11th Airborne on 14 September at their present locations and the following day, they began moving out by truck and railroad to their newly assigned zones in northern Honshu. Gen. Swing requested Gen. Dorn, who had served with Gen. Stilwell in China, to head the convoy.

In the Sendai area and billeted at the Japanese arsenal [name to be changed to Camp Schimmelpfennig, [named after the chief of staff who was killed in combat] were the – Division Headquarters, 127th Engineers, 408th Quartermaster, 711th Ordnance, 511th Signal, 221st Medical, Parachute Maintenance and the 187th and 188th regiments. The 511th went to Morioka [ name would be changed to Camp Haugen, for their leader killed in combat], the 457th and the 152d moved to Akita, the 472d went to Yamagata, the 674th was divided and sent to Jimmachi and Camp Younghans and the 675th went to Yonezawa.

In the Sendai area, Japanese authorities turned over hotels in the Matsushima area for officer’s quarters and their staff, which explains how Smitty came home with these beautiful brochures you will see pictured here. If you click on and enlarge the photo, you can see where Smitty pointed to the sort of room he was given.

Smitty’s room (bottom-right)

At one point while moving supplies, Eli Bernheim (S-4 Section of the 187th reg.), remembered the convoy of 40 Japanese charcoal burning trucks always breaking down and they became lost. The interpreter and Eli took out their map and became surrounded by curious townspeople. Eli slung his rifle over his shoulder and they scattered. The interpreter suggested laying the weapon down, the civilians regrouped and began touching his hair – turns out they had never seen an American before.

I suppose the word must have spread, because after that incident, the convoy was warmly greeted in every town they passed through. Once in their respective areas, the first priority was living conditions and the Japanese barracks were primitive with ancient plumbing and sewage deposited in reservoirs to be picked up later by farmers and used as fertilizer. The division historian recorded that of all the traffic accidents within the 11th A/B’s zone, NO trooper was ever guilty of hitting one of those “honey carts.”

General Swing made General Pierson commander of the 187th and 188th joint group which became known as the Miyagi Task Force. They set up their headquarters in an insurance company building in Sendai. The principle responsibility of the Miyagi Task Force was to collect and destroy all arms, munitions and armament factories. They were also charged with seeing that General MacArthur’s edicts were all carried out. Many of the military installations had underground tunnels filled with drill presses and machine tools of all types. The entire zone needed to be demilitarized and equipment destroyed. Colonel Tipton discovered a submarine base for the two-man subs and a small group of men still guarding them. They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.

Smitty’s next move

Inside this brochure my father wrote, “No liquor here so didn’t have to go behind the bar, we drank our own. This is where I had my first real hot bath since coming overseas.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vernon Bly – Beaver Creek, MN; US Navy, WWII, / USNR, Lt. Comdr. (Ret.)

Charles Byers – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., 385/551 Bomb Squadron, Purple Heart

Francis Cooney – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt.

Nick Frank – Canton, OH; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, Armed Forces Press

John Hall – Natick, MA; US Merchant Marines / US Navy, WWII, Pto, Midshipman, USS Brill

Gregory Kristof – ID; US Navy, USS Rankin

Byron Otto – Bradenton, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Michael Stickley – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

James Thornberry – TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Elmer Upton – Port St. Lucie, MD; US Navy, WWII

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September 1945 in Japan

Dai Ichi Building in Tokyo flying both the American and United Nations flags

Soon after the official surrender of Japan, General MacArthur moved his headquarters into the Dai Ichi building in Tokyo. At noon, 8 September 1945, on the terrace of the U.S. Embassy, he met an honor guard from the 1st Calvary Division; they held the Stars and Stripes that had flown over the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on 7 December 1941 – Pearl Harbor Day. As the red, white and blue began to rise… MacArthur said, “General Eichelberger, have our country’s flag unfurled and in Tokyo’s sun let it wave its full glory as a symbol of hope for the oppressed and as a harbinger of victory for the right.”

 

Hideki Tojo

Immediately after the ceremony, Major Paul Kraus and his MPs and a throng of reporters, (including George Jones of the New York Times) surrounded the home of Hideki Tojo. The general shot himself in the chest before anyone could enter his office. The bullet missed his heart. At the 48th Evacuation Hospital, he told Gen. Eichelberger, “I am sorry to have given General Eichelberger so much trouble.” The general asked, “Do you mean tonight or the last few years?” The answer was, “Tonight. I want General Eichelberger to have my new saber.”

Prince Konoye – 3 times Premier of Japan lies dead

The night before Prince Konoye was to be sent to Sugamo Prison, he drank poison and died. (I personally feel that the prince might have been acquitted of war criminal charges at the trials. He had tried for years to bring peace, his mistake being, his having chosen the Soviets as mediators and Stalin blocked him at every step.)

In reply of Allied and liberated Japanese press opinions of the Emperor, MacArthur was determined not to humiliate him: “To do so,” the general said, “would be to outrage the feelings of the Japanese people and make a martyr of the Emperor in their eyes.” As a student of Asian cultures, he proved to be correct. It would take two weeks, but the Emperor requested an interview with the general himself.

MacArthur and Hirohito meeting

His Majesty arrived in his ancient limousine with Grand Chamberlain Fujita and was met with a salute from General Bonner F. Fellers. When Fellers’ hand dropped, the Emperor grabbed it. An interpreter quickly explained that the Emperor was happy to see him. Fellers replied, “I am honored to meet you. Come in and meet General MacArthur.” Nervously, Hirohito allowed himself to be escorted up the staircase to the general’s office.

Trying to ease the tension, MacArthur told him he had been presented to his father, Emperor Taisho, after the Russian-Japanese War and offered Hirohito an American cigarette. The Emperor’s hand shook as it was lit and the general then dismissed everyone except the interpreter. The conversation before an open fire was observed, unknowingly, by Mrs. MacArthur and their son, Arthur who hid behind the long red drapes.

Emperor Hirohito rides at the imperial palace in 1940 wearing the uniform of commander in chief of Japanese forces. Associated Press

The emperor had been forewarned not to assume any responsibility for the war, but he did just that.”I come to you, General MacArthur, to offer myself to the judgment of the powers you represent as the one to bear sole responsibility for every political and military decision made and action taken by my people in the conduct of this war.”

MacArthur freely admitted being moved “to the marrow of my bones. He was an Emperor by inherent birth, but in that instant I knew I faced the First Gentleman of Japan in his own right.”

The Japanese acknowledged, without reservations, the temporal power of the current shogun, but revered what was eternal. (The Imperial Palace)

Resources: U.S. Signal Corps; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; Gene Slover’s US Navy Papers; historyinanhour.com

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

“Cover me Johnson… I’ve got to Tweet this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elton Barber – Buckley, WA; US Navy, WWII, ETO, USS Chester

Robert “Sam” Carlson – MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

THANKS Veterans for walking the walk!

Eugene Duffy – Beach Grove, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/127 Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Willard Dykes – Meridian, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Albert Green – Sandy, OR; US Army, Korea, Co. G/187th RCT

James Heflin – Memphis, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO

Alice Jefferson – Stoneham, MA; US Coast Guard SPAR, WWII, Commander (Ret. 25 y.)

David Kesler – Berthoud, CO; US Navy, WWII, Baker 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA, (Pearl Harbor)

Robert Spence – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Benjamin Starr – Montgomery, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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