x planes

RSS

Posts tagged with "warstories"

On August 20th 1944, 69 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses of XX Bomber Command were engaged by over a hundred Japanese Army and Navy fighters over Yawata. this was the seventh mission for the B-29s over Japanese soil.


This mission also saw the first instance of a ramming attack over Japan when Sgt Shigeo Nobe, flying a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (屠龍, “Dragon Slayer”), sliced into the wing of B-29 "GERTRUDE C", piloted by Lt. Col. Robert Clinkscales. The collision caused the bomber’s wing tank to explode - disintegrating both aircraft and hurling wreckage into the B-29 formation. Nobe and his gunner, Sgt Denzo Tagaki, were killed instantly.


The "POSTVILLE EXPRESS", piloted by Maj Don Humphrey, narrowly avoided burning debris. However, the "CALAMITY SUE", piloted by Capt. Ornell Stauffer, went down after wreckage struck the tail.

There were no survivors from “GERTRUDE C”, which was named after Lt. Col. Clinkscales mother. Also aboard was “Sally”, his pet spaniel.

"CALAMITY SUE" was named after Capt. Stauffer’s baby, born just before the crew departed from America. Only three crew members survived - 2nd Lt. A. Charles Shott (Flight Engineer), 2nd Lt. Irving Newman (Navigator-Bombardier), and Staff Sgt. Walter Dansby (Radio Operator) bailed out and were captured. The peace declaration saved them from excecution.

(The co-pilot, 1st. Lt. James Wine, bailed out and evaded capture for eleven days. He was shot dead on the early morning of August 31st while attempting to steal a plane from Ashiya Airfield.)


The photograph above was developed from a camera found in the wreckage of the “CALAMITY SUE”, showing the moment of impact on the left.

On August 20th 1944, 69 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses of XX Bomber Command were engaged by over a hundred Japanese Army and Navy fighters over Yawata. this was the seventh mission for the B-29s over Japanese soil.


This mission also saw the first instance of a ramming attack over Japan when Sgt Shigeo Nobe, flying a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (屠龍, “Dragon Slayer”), sliced into the wing of B-29 "GERTRUDE C", piloted by Lt. Col. Robert Clinkscales. The collision caused the bomber’s wing tank to explode - disintegrating both aircraft and hurling wreckage into the B-29 formation. Nobe and his gunner, Sgt Denzo Tagaki, were killed instantly.


The "POSTVILLE EXPRESS", piloted by Maj Don Humphrey, narrowly avoided burning debris. However, the "CALAMITY SUE", piloted by Capt. Ornell Stauffer, went down after wreckage struck the tail.

There were no survivors from “GERTRUDE C”, which was named after Lt. Col. Clinkscales mother. Also aboard was “Sally”, his pet spaniel.

"CALAMITY SUE" was named after Capt. Stauffer’s baby, born just before the crew departed from America. Only three crew members survived - 2nd Lt. A. Charles Shott (Flight Engineer), 2nd Lt. Irving Newman (Navigator-Bombardier), and Staff Sgt. Walter Dansby (Radio Operator) bailed out and were captured. The peace declaration saved them from excecution.

(The co-pilot, 1st. Lt. James Wine, bailed out and evaded capture for eleven days. He was shot dead on the early morning of August 31st while attempting to steal a plane from Ashiya Airfield.)


The photograph above was developed from a camera found in the wreckage of the “CALAMITY SUE”, showing the moment of impact on the left.

One of the constant issues to haunt the participants of the Second World War in the air was that of non-combat accidents.

One heartbreaking example that has always stood out for me are the deaths of Free French Air Force pilot Pierrot Degail and Acting Flight Lieutenant Douglas Walker of the Royal Air Force, seventy years ago on December 14th 1942. 

Whilst on a training mission, Degail’s Supermarine Spitfire crashed on Cadair Berwyn, a mountain in North Wales. Walker was sent to search for Degail in a Westland Lysander, and crashed a few hundred yards from the Spitfire. Both pilots perished near their aircraft. (via)

The French fighter ace Pierre Clostermann, in his book The Big Show, recounts the incident amongst others:

"…One of our Belgian comrades’ Spitfires exploded in mid-air during an aerobatics practice. Two of our R.A.F. friends came into collision and were killed before our eyes. Then Pierrot Degail, one of the six Frenchman on the course, crashed one misty evening into an ice-covered hill-top. It took two days to reach the debris through the snow. His body was found in a kneeling position, his head in his arms, like a sleeping child, by the side of his Spitfire. Both his legs were broken and, unable to move, he must have died of cold during the night."

(photographs - with immense thanks -  from Ian D B’s Flickr - top and bottom)

One of the constant issues to haunt the participants of the Second World War in the air was that of non-combat accidents.

One heartbreaking example that has always stood out for me are the deaths of Free French Air Force pilot Pierrot Degail and Acting Flight Lieutenant Douglas Walker of the Royal Air Force, seventy years ago on December 14th 1942.

Whilst on a training mission, Degail’s Supermarine Spitfire crashed on Cadair Berwyn, a mountain in North Wales. Walker was sent to search for Degail in a Westland Lysander, and crashed a few hundred yards from the Spitfire. Both pilots perished near their aircraft. (via)

The French fighter ace Pierre Clostermann, in his book The Big Show, recounts the incident amongst others:

"…One of our Belgian comrades’ Spitfires exploded in mid-air during an aerobatics practice. Two of our R.A.F. friends came into collision and were killed before our eyes. Then Pierrot Degail, one of the six Frenchman on the course, crashed one misty evening into an ice-covered hill-top. It took two days to reach the debris through the snow. His body was found in a kneeling position, his head in his arms, like a sleeping child, by the side of his Spitfire. Both his legs were broken and, unable to move, he must have died of cold during the night."

(photographs - with immense thanks - from Ian D B’s Flickr - top and bottom)

"April 15 was Osterkamp’s birthday…and he invited me to come over. As a present I packed a huge basket of lobsters with the necessary bottles of champagne into my ME-109F and took off, with Oberfeldwebel Westphal piloting the companion plane. Again it was too tempting not to make a little detour on the way and to pay a visit to England. 

Soon I spotted a single Spitfire. After a wild chase fate decided in my favour. My tough opponent crashed in flames in a little village west of Dover. A few moments later we saw a flight of Spitfires climbing ahead of us. One of them lagged behind the formation. I approached him unnoticed and shot him to smithereens from a very short distance. We flew right on close to the formation, where I shot down a third Spitfire, which I nearly rammed. I was unable to observe the crash. 

Westphal was now in a good firing position but suddenly all his guns jammed. Now it was time to bolt as the Spitfires waded in on us. Throttle full open in a power dive down to the Channel! We were heavily attacked. Westphal was noticeably faster than I. Something was wrong with my crate.

As I came in to land at Le Touquet the ground staff waved frantically and fired red light signals. At last Iunderstood their gestures: I had nearly made an involuntary crash landing. When I worked the
mechanism to let down the undercarriage it did not go down but retracted instead. It must have been down the whole time. I must have touched the button with my knee during the action over England. I remembered that I had had to do some readjusting and that the flying properties of the plane had definitely changed. 

Lobster and champagne bottles were safe. Hunter’s luck! Together with the report of the Spitfires I handed the birthday present to Osterkamp…”

(from The First And The Last, by Adolf Galland. photo via)

"April 15 was Osterkamp’s birthday…and he invited me to come over. As a present I packed a huge basket of lobsters with the necessary bottles of champagne into my ME-109F and took off, with Oberfeldwebel Westphal piloting the companion plane. Again it was too tempting not to make a little detour on the way and to pay a visit to England.

Soon I spotted a single Spitfire. After a wild chase fate decided in my favour. My tough opponent crashed in flames in a little village west of Dover. A few moments later we saw a flight of Spitfires climbing ahead of us. One of them lagged behind the formation. I approached him unnoticed and shot him to smithereens from a very short distance. We flew right on close to the formation, where I shot down a third Spitfire, which I nearly rammed. I was unable to observe the crash.

Westphal was now in a good firing position but suddenly all his guns jammed. Now it was time to bolt as the Spitfires waded in on us. Throttle full open in a power dive down to the Channel! We were heavily attacked. Westphal was noticeably faster than I. Something was wrong with my crate.

As I came in to land at Le Touquet the ground staff waved frantically and fired red light signals. At last Iunderstood their gestures: I had nearly made an involuntary crash landing. When I worked the
mechanism to let down the undercarriage it did not go down but retracted instead. It must have been down the whole time. I must have touched the button with my knee during the action over England. I remembered that I had had to do some readjusting and that the flying properties of the plane had definitely changed.

Lobster and champagne bottles were safe. Hunter’s luck! Together with the report of the Spitfires I handed the birthday present to Osterkamp…”

(from The First And The Last, by Adolf Galland. photo via)

"Vertical photograph taken during the night attack on the German tank and lorry depot near Mailly-le-Camp, France, by 346 Avro Lancasters of Nos. 1 and 5 Groups. A Lancaster, silhouetted by the large explosion, clears the target area during the raid which, although successful in the destruction caused, was costly in terms of aircraft losses, 42 being shot down by Luftwaffe night fighters." (via)

"The R/T [Radio Telephone) discipline, I’m afraid to say, was bad. There were many skippers calling for the OK to go in and bomb; their language was fruity to say the least, the night sky was blue!! One pilot was heard to say that he was on fire and for the markers to “pull their fingers out”. An Australian voice came in reply “If you are going to die, die like a man – quietly."..

..In my diary, I record that a “scarecrow” exploded immediately beneath us. As previously mentioned, we are now sure that it was an actual aircraft blowing up. The bomb-aimer, who was lying down in the nose, saw the explosion and the blast and flames rising rapidly towards us. He had no time to say anything before the blast hit us. We were blown nearly completely upside down…

…When we became straight and level again, I checked the crew for injuries. All seemed OK until I checked with Taffy, Idris Arndell, the wireless operator. On hearing him call “Blood, Blood!” I looked back through the navigator’s curtain to see Taffy wiping his face and head. Little did I know that it was our “pee can” that had tipped over him in the mêlée…” (via Flight Lieutenant Russell “Rusty” Waughman, DFC, AFC)

"Vertical photograph taken during the night attack on the German tank and lorry depot near Mailly-le-Camp, France, by 346 Avro Lancasters of Nos. 1 and 5 Groups. A Lancaster, silhouetted by the large explosion, clears the target area during the raid which, although successful in the destruction caused, was costly in terms of aircraft losses, 42 being shot down by Luftwaffe night fighters." (via)

"The R/T [Radio Telephone) discipline, I’m afraid to say, was bad. There were many skippers calling for the OK to go in and bomb; their language was fruity to say the least, the night sky was blue!! One pilot was heard to say that he was on fire and for the markers to “pull their fingers out”. An Australian voice came in reply “If you are going to die, die like a man – quietly."..

..In my diary, I record that a “scarecrow” exploded immediately beneath us. As previously mentioned, we are now sure that it was an actual aircraft blowing up. The bomb-aimer, who was lying down in the nose, saw the explosion and the blast and flames rising rapidly towards us. He had no time to say anything before the blast hit us. We were blown nearly completely upside down…

…When we became straight and level again, I checked the crew for injuries. All seemed OK until I checked with Taffy, Idris Arndell, the wireless operator. On hearing him call “Blood, Blood!” I looked back through the navigator’s curtain to see Taffy wiping his face and head. Little did I know that it was our “pee can” that had tipped over him in the mêlée…” (via Flight Lieutenant Russell “Rusty” Waughman, DFC, AFC)

"A Bristol Blenheim Mark IV, V5589, of No. 113 Squadron RAF based at Asansol, India, veers out of control as it is shot down by Japanese fighters while carrying out a low-level bombing attack on two Japanese merchant vessels moored at Akyab, Burma. The attack, comprising thirteen Blenheims drawn from Nos. 34, 60 and 113 Squadrons RAF, sank the two vessels and badly damaged the jetty for the loss of three Blenheims. The crew of V5589, Sergeants John Reid (pilot), Peter Wilson (navigator), and Len White (wireless operator/air gunner), were captured by the Japanese.” (via)

"A Bristol Blenheim Mark IV, V5589, of No. 113 Squadron RAF based at Asansol, India, veers out of control as it is shot down by Japanese fighters while carrying out a low-level bombing attack on two Japanese merchant vessels moored at Akyab, Burma. The attack, comprising thirteen Blenheims drawn from Nos. 34, 60 and 113 Squadrons RAF, sank the two vessels and badly damaged the jetty for the loss of three Blenheims. The crew of V5589, Sergeants John Reid (pilot), Peter Wilson (navigator), and Len White (wireless operator/air gunner), were captured by the Japanese.” (via)

Dec 6
"Dear Parents :

Please congratulate me. I have been given a splendid opportunity to die. This is my last day. The destiny of our homeland hinges on the decisive battle in the seas to the south where I shall fall like a blossom from a radiant cherry tree.

I shall be a shield for His Majesty and die cleanly along with my squadron leader and other friends. I wish that I could be born seven times, each time to smite the enemy…

…Thank you, my parents, for the 23 years during which you have cared for me and inspired me. I hope that my present deed will in some small way repay what you have done for me. Think well of me and know that your Isao died for our country. This is my last wish, and there is nothing else that I desire.

How glorious is the Special Attack Corps’ Giretsu Unit whose Suisei bombers will attack the enemy. Our goal is to dive against the aircraft carriers of the enemy. Movie cameramen have been i here to take our pictures. It is possible that you may see us in newsreels at the theater.

We are 16 warriors manning the bombers. May our death be as sudden and clean as the shattering of crystal.

Written at Manila on the eve of our sortie. [28th October 1944]

Isao

Soaring into the sky of the southern seas, it is our glorious mission to die as the shields of His Majesty. Cherry blossoms glisten as they open and fall.”

Kamikaze letters: [1] [2]

(Above: Kamikaze attack on the USS Colorado, 27th November 1944 - killing 19 and wounding 72)
"Dear Parents :

Please congratulate me. I have been given a splendid opportunity to die. This is my last day. The destiny of our homeland hinges on the decisive battle in the seas to the south where I shall fall like a blossom from a radiant cherry tree.

I shall be a shield for His Majesty and die cleanly along with my squadron leader and other friends. I wish that I could be born seven times, each time to smite the enemy…

…Thank you, my parents, for the 23 years during which you have cared for me and inspired me. I hope that my present deed will in some small way repay what you have done for me. Think well of me and know that your Isao died for our country. This is my last wish, and there is nothing else that I desire.

How glorious is the Special Attack Corps’ Giretsu Unit whose Suisei bombers will attack the enemy. Our goal is to dive against the aircraft carriers of the enemy. Movie cameramen have been i here to take our pictures. It is possible that you may see us in newsreels at the theater.

We are 16 warriors manning the bombers. May our death be as sudden and clean as the shattering of crystal.

Written at Manila on the eve of our sortie. [28th October 1944]

Isao

Soaring into the sky of the southern seas, it is our glorious mission to die as the shields of His Majesty. Cherry blossoms glisten as they open and fall.”


Kamikaze letters: [1] [2]

(Above: Kamikaze attack on the USS Colorado, 27th November 1944 - killing 19 and wounding 72)

Dec 6
”..The classic engagement of the day [21st March 1945] occurred later that day when Capt Sedvert observed an Me 262 at only 500ft flying over Ostofen. He dived on the jet just as it dropped a bomb on the town, and good strikes were seen on the fuselage, slowing its speed considerably as it crossed the Rhine River. 

Sedvert then pulled up astern of his target, only to find that he was out of ammunition. He drew up alongside the jet and became furious when the German pilot thumbed his nose at him. Sedvert rolled back his canopy and emptied his 0.45 pistol in the direction of his foe with no result. He continued to follow the Me 262 all the way to Wiesental where he watched it belly in..” (via)

(image - not of the same incident - via)

”..The classic engagement of the day [21st March 1945] occurred later that day when Capt Sedvert observed an Me 262 at only 500ft flying over Ostofen. He dived on the jet just as it dropped a bomb on the town, and good strikes were seen on the fuselage, slowing its speed considerably as it crossed the Rhine River.

Sedvert then pulled up astern of his target, only to find that he was out of ammunition. He drew up alongside the jet and became furious when the German pilot thumbed his nose at him. Sedvert rolled back his canopy and emptied his 0.45 pistol in the direction of his foe with no result. He continued to follow the Me 262 all the way to Wiesental where he watched it belly in..” (via)

(image - not of the same incident - via)

Test Pilot Engine Trouble, England, 1940

From Adventure With Fate, by Harald Penrose:
“..Having rumbled in with one engine stopped, it was impossible to taxi, so I switched off the other, clambered out, and began walking to the distant office and hangars.

A small phalanx of RAF personnel came marching towards me armed with rifles and bayonets. Half way we met. They halted with guns pointing aggressively.

‘What is that aeroplane?’ demanded the corporal in charge.

‘A Whirlwind.’

‘Never ‘eard of it. Where are you from?’

I had forgotten that the machine was still on the Secret List. ‘From Yeovil,’ I said. ‘I’m a test pilot.’

‘Then why are you wearing civilian clothes? You could ‘av stole that machine. You’re under arrest. Fall in.’

I tried to explain. It was no good. The scene was ludicrous. ‘Mind those damned guns don’t go off,’ I hopefully said, but he took no notice. Two sharp bayonets were pointing at my tail, and I was forced to march to the Duty Officer for interrogation. Because this had only been a local flight I carried no identity card, so it was not until he had telephoned Westland that my story was believed, and then with charm and apology I was given a cup of tea.”
(photo via)

Test Pilot Engine Trouble, England, 1940

From Adventure With Fate, by Harald Penrose:

“..Having rumbled in with one engine stopped, it was impossible to taxi, so I switched off the other, clambered out, and began walking to the distant office and hangars.

A small phalanx of RAF personnel came marching towards me armed with rifles and bayonets. Half way we met. They halted with guns pointing aggressively.

‘What is that aeroplane?’ demanded the corporal in charge.
‘A Whirlwind.’
‘Never ‘eard of it. Where are you from?’
I had forgotten that the machine was still on the Secret List. ‘From Yeovil,’ I said. ‘I’m a test pilot.’
‘Then why are you wearing civilian clothes? You could ‘av stole that machine. You’re under arrest. Fall in.’

I tried to explain. It was no good. The scene was ludicrous. ‘Mind those damned guns don’t go off,’ I hopefully said, but he took no notice. Two sharp bayonets were pointing at my tail, and I was forced to march to the Duty Officer for interrogation. Because this had only been a local flight I carried no identity card, so it was not until he had telephoned Westland that my story was believed, and then with charm and apology I was given a cup of tea.”

(photo via)
Mar 2
Grief During Wartime

Up next, a series of posts about Harald Penrose, a remarkable British test pilot and author.

In the meantime: the following story is taken from a chapter in his autobiography, Adventure With Fate. Penrose was chief test pilot at Westland Aircraft during the Second World War - which was a major contributing manufacturer of the Supermarine Seafire, the naval version of the Spitfire:
"Aircraft awaiting collection were parked in a line behind the steel mesh, barb-topped tall fence that surrounded the aerodrome. That made it impossible for saboteurs to gain access. Yet at dawn one day a guard patrolling the factory frontage spotted a Seafire with hood open and the propeller spasmodically jerking. 

He unlocked the gate and rushed to the aeroplane. In the cockpit was a lad of fifteen pressing the button of a starter-battery he had linked to the machine. Brusquely interrogated, he said ‘The Germans have killed my brother, so I was going to fly away with this aeroplane to kill a German,’ and brandishing a revolver he broke free and ran away, escaping over a distant part of that unscalable fence…”

(photo of Seafires - in the pre-test flight shed with Welkin fighters in the background - via)

Grief During Wartime

Up next, a series of posts about Harald Penrose, a remarkable British test pilot and author.

In the meantime: the following story is taken from a chapter in his autobiography, Adventure With Fate. Penrose was chief test pilot at Westland Aircraft during the Second World War - which was a major contributing manufacturer of the Supermarine Seafire, the naval version of the Spitfire:

"Aircraft awaiting collection were parked in a line behind the steel mesh, barb-topped tall fence that surrounded the aerodrome. That made it impossible for saboteurs to gain access. Yet at dawn one day a guard patrolling the factory frontage spotted a Seafire with hood open and the propeller spasmodically jerking.

He unlocked the gate and rushed to the aeroplane. In the cockpit was a lad of fifteen pressing the button of a starter-battery he had linked to the machine. Brusquely interrogated, he said ‘The Germans have killed my brother, so I was going to fly away with this aeroplane to kill a German,’ and brandishing a revolver he broke free and ran away, escaping over a distant part of that unscalable fence…”
(photo of Seafires - in the pre-test flight shed with Welkin fighters in the background - via)
Nov 8
Avro Vulcan over the wreck of the B-24 “Lady Be Good”, Libya, date unknown (via)

UPDATE:  not the “Lady Be Good”, as reasoned here. More to follow…

Avro Vulcan over the wreck of the B-24 “Lady Be Good”, Libya, date unknown (via)

UPDATE: not the “Lady Be Good”, as reasoned here. More to follow…

On August 20th 1944, 69 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses of XX Bomber Command were engaged by over a hundred Japanese Army and Navy fighters over Yawata. this was the seventh mission for the B-29s over Japanese soil.


This mission also saw the first instance of a ramming attack over Japan when Sgt Shigeo Nobe, flying a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (屠龍, “Dragon Slayer”), sliced into the wing of B-29 "GERTRUDE C", piloted by Lt. Col. Robert Clinkscales. The collision caused the bomber’s wing tank to explode - disintegrating both aircraft and hurling wreckage into the B-29 formation. Nobe and his gunner, Sgt Denzo Tagaki, were killed instantly.


The "POSTVILLE EXPRESS", piloted by Maj Don Humphrey, narrowly avoided burning debris. However, the "CALAMITY SUE", piloted by Capt. Ornell Stauffer, went down after wreckage struck the tail.

There were no survivors from “GERTRUDE C”, which was named after Lt. Col. Clinkscales mother. Also aboard was “Sally”, his pet spaniel.

"CALAMITY SUE" was named after Capt. Stauffer’s baby, born just before the crew departed from America. Only three crew members survived - 2nd Lt. A. Charles Shott (Flight Engineer), 2nd Lt. Irving Newman (Navigator-Bombardier), and Staff Sgt. Walter Dansby (Radio Operator) bailed out and were captured. The peace declaration saved them from excecution.

(The co-pilot, 1st. Lt. James Wine, bailed out and evaded capture for eleven days. He was shot dead on the early morning of August 31st while attempting to steal a plane from Ashiya Airfield.)


The photograph above was developed from a camera found in the wreckage of the “CALAMITY SUE”, showing the moment of impact on the left.

On August 20th 1944, 69 Boeing B-29 Superfortresses of XX Bomber Command were engaged by over a hundred Japanese Army and Navy fighters over Yawata. this was the seventh mission for the B-29s over Japanese soil.


This mission also saw the first instance of a ramming attack over Japan when Sgt Shigeo Nobe, flying a Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (屠龍, “Dragon Slayer”), sliced into the wing of B-29 "GERTRUDE C", piloted by Lt. Col. Robert Clinkscales. The collision caused the bomber’s wing tank to explode - disintegrating both aircraft and hurling wreckage into the B-29 formation. Nobe and his gunner, Sgt Denzo Tagaki, were killed instantly.


The "POSTVILLE EXPRESS", piloted by Maj Don Humphrey, narrowly avoided burning debris. However, the "CALAMITY SUE", piloted by Capt. Ornell Stauffer, went down after wreckage struck the tail.

There were no survivors from “GERTRUDE C”, which was named after Lt. Col. Clinkscales mother. Also aboard was “Sally”, his pet spaniel.

"CALAMITY SUE" was named after Capt. Stauffer’s baby, born just before the crew departed from America. Only three crew members survived - 2nd Lt. A. Charles Shott (Flight Engineer), 2nd Lt. Irving Newman (Navigator-Bombardier), and Staff Sgt. Walter Dansby (Radio Operator) bailed out and were captured. The peace declaration saved them from excecution.

(The co-pilot, 1st. Lt. James Wine, bailed out and evaded capture for eleven days. He was shot dead on the early morning of August 31st while attempting to steal a plane from Ashiya Airfield.)


The photograph above was developed from a camera found in the wreckage of the “CALAMITY SUE”, showing the moment of impact on the left.

How do you solve a problem like Minoru Honda?

What happens when a fighter pilot amazingly and unexpectedly returns from the dead? Well, in Ensign Minoru Honda’s case, you send him immediately back out to his death..

In September 1942, Honda - of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service was forced to make an emergency landing on Kolombangara - one of the Solomon Islands, where:
”..He was approached by a group of curious natives. Honda held up a bag of candy in one hand and a Browning automatic in the other. The natives were friendly, and tended for Honda’s needs until he was rescued”

It seems that, on his return to his unit after ten days missing, Honda was chastised by his superiors. Having been officially written off for dead - and given a rare double posthumous promotion - he was sent on lone long-range combat missions into enemy territory for seven consecutive days - in the hope that he would not return alive.

"Finally, when a senior officer learned of this matter, he was taken off the suicide missions, brought back to ‘life’, and stripped of his double promotion - such an increase in rank for a living enlisted man would have been unprecedented.."

Later in the war, Honda fought in the Philippines, and finally in the defence of Japan. He has been credited with achieving 17 kills.

Honda survived the war.

more
———————————-
(Bottom image from (and of!)  Flickr user trumpetsaxdrums: a wrecked Zero fighter on Kolombangara. Honda’s, perhaps…?”) How do you solve a problem like Minoru Honda?

What happens when a fighter pilot amazingly and unexpectedly returns from the dead? Well, in Ensign Minoru Honda’s case, you send him immediately back out to his death..

In September 1942, Honda - of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service was forced to make an emergency landing on Kolombangara - one of the Solomon Islands, where:

”..He was approached by a group of curious natives. Honda held up a bag of candy in one hand and a Browning automatic in the other. The natives were friendly, and tended for Honda’s needs until he was rescued”
It seems that, on his return to his unit after ten days missing, Honda was chastised by his superiors. Having been officially written off for dead - and given a rare double posthumous promotion - he was sent on lone long-range combat missions into enemy territory for seven consecutive days - in the hope that he would not return alive.

"Finally, when a senior officer learned of this matter, he was taken off the suicide missions, brought back to ‘life’, and stripped of his double promotion - such an increase in rank for a living enlisted man would have been unprecedented.."
Later in the war, Honda fought in the Philippines, and finally in the defence of Japan. He has been credited with achieving 17 kills.

Honda survived the war.

more

———————————-

(Bottom image from (and of!) Flickr user trumpetsaxdrums: a wrecked Zero fighter on Kolombangara. Honda’s, perhaps…?”)

"Jock" McLuckie versus the Aces

On 22nd May 1942, a lone Bristol Blenheim bomber, of No 60 Squadron Royal Air Force and piloted by Warrant Officer Martin Huggard, was flying at wave-top height over the Bay of Bengal, after a strike against the Japanese airfield at Akyab in Burma..
"Despite their element of surprise the Blenheim crew had spotted a number of 64th Sentai Ki-43s scrambling after them as they flew over Akyab. First off in pursuit of the enemy bomber was 10-victory ace Sergeant Yoshito Yasuda, who soon caught up with the Blenheim and dived in to attack. 

Fortunately for the three-man Blenheim crew (Sgt Jack Howitt was the third member, serving as navigator), their turret gunner in [Flight Sergeant] ‘Jock’ McLuckie proved to be a crack shot, despite having never before fired his guns in anger. He hit Yasuda’s ‘Oscar’ in its first pass, and the JAAF pilot was forced to return to Akyab. 

Captain Masuzo Otani then took up the attack, but he too fell victim to a well-aimed burst from the Vickers ‘K’ gun and had to retire back to Burma. Finally, after almost 30 minutes of constant attack, three Ki-43-I-Heis appeared on the scene, with Lt Col [Tateo] Kato in the lead fighter. This did not phase the brave McLuckie, however, and as Kato pulled up after making his first diving pass on the Blenheim, the gunner raked the Hayabusa’s exposed belly with a long burst and the Ki-43 began to burn. 

Realising that he would never make it back to Akyab, Kato half-looped his stricken ‘Oscar’ and purposely dove into the sea - he had advised his pilots on numerous occasions in the past to perform just such a manoeuvre if hit badly over the water. The remaining two Japanese pilots immediately returned to Akyab to report the terrible news 

The Blenheim returned to India unscathed by the Japanese attacks, and once British Intelligence had ascertained just who was flying the Ki-43 downed by McLuckie, No 60 Sqn received the following signal from Air Officer Commanding Burma, Air Vice-Marshal D. F. Stevenson, on 2 August 1942: 

“Please convey my congratulations toward Warrant Officer Huggard, Sergeant Howitt and Sergeant McLuckie on the successful action they fought against four enemy fighters which took place over Akyab on 22 May, and which resulted in Lt Col T A Keo Kato [sic], leader of the Japanese fighter force being shot down.”” (via)

 (painting via here, by Hinoki Yohei - an Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) ace) "Jock" McLuckie versus the Aces

On 22nd May 1942, a lone Bristol Blenheim bomber, of No 60 Squadron Royal Air Force and piloted by Warrant Officer Martin Huggard, was flying at wave-top height over the Bay of Bengal, after a strike against the Japanese airfield at Akyab in Burma..

"Despite their element of surprise the Blenheim crew had spotted a number of 64th Sentai Ki-43s scrambling after them as they flew over Akyab. First off in pursuit of the enemy bomber was 10-victory ace Sergeant Yoshito Yasuda, who soon caught up with the Blenheim and dived in to attack.

Fortunately for the three-man Blenheim crew (Sgt Jack Howitt was the third member, serving as navigator), their turret gunner in [Flight Sergeant] ‘Jock’ McLuckie proved to be a crack shot, despite having never before fired his guns in anger. He hit Yasuda’s ‘Oscar’ in its first pass, and the JAAF pilot was forced to return to Akyab.

Captain Masuzo Otani then took up the attack, but he too fell victim to a well-aimed burst from the Vickers ‘K’ gun and had to retire back to Burma. Finally, after almost 30 minutes of constant attack, three Ki-43-I-Heis appeared on the scene, with Lt Col [Tateo] Kato in the lead fighter. This did not phase the brave McLuckie, however, and as Kato pulled up after making his first diving pass on the Blenheim, the gunner raked the Hayabusa’s exposed belly with a long burst and the Ki-43 began to burn.

Realising that he would never make it back to Akyab, Kato half-looped his stricken ‘Oscar’ and purposely dove into the sea - he had advised his pilots on numerous occasions in the past to perform just such a manoeuvre if hit badly over the water. The remaining two Japanese pilots immediately returned to Akyab to report the terrible news

The Blenheim returned to India unscathed by the Japanese attacks, and once British Intelligence had ascertained just who was flying the Ki-43 downed by McLuckie, No 60 Sqn received the following signal from Air Officer Commanding Burma, Air Vice-Marshal D. F. Stevenson, on 2 August 1942:

“Please convey my congratulations toward Warrant Officer Huggard, Sergeant Howitt and Sergeant McLuckie on the successful action they fought against four enemy fighters which took place over Akyab on 22 May, and which resulted in Lt Col T A Keo Kato [sic], leader of the Japanese fighter force being shot down.”” (via)

(painting via here, by Hinoki Yohei - an Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) ace)

Hero of the Soviet Union Vitt Skobarikhin - in his battle-damaged Polikarpov I-16 - after successfully ramming into a Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 during the Khalkhin Gol campaign, 27th May 1939

During the first few months of the campaign, the Japanese pilots had the upper hand over their Soviet counterparts - having generally more experience, and an aircraft that outmanoeuvred the Soviet I-16’s in a dogfight and was a complete match for the older I-15 biplane fighter. The Soviets soon changed tactics - favouring more of a “hit and run” approach and taking full advantage of the superior firepower and armament of the I-16.

I-16 ace Ivan Krasnoyurchenko recalled one engagement:

"We managed to force one Japanese pilot away from the main formation. Six of us surrounded him and we signalled him to land - we were over friendly territory, of course. Refusing to comply, he just kept turning his aircraft so as to stop us from firing at him, trying all the while to escape towards Japanese-held territory. 

But Dmirriy Medvedev and Nikolay Arsenin wouldn’t let him go, cutting off his escape route with bursts of machine gun fire. Then this “Samurai” zoomed up and immediately dived vertically toward the ground. We thought he was committing suicide, but not at all. He bailed out, and when he landed he started running for the frontier, which was very close.

Immediately deciding that he had to be stopped at all cost, I landed my I-16 alongside him, jumped out of the cockpit and pursued the Japanese pilot. When I was within 10 ft of him he decided that he’d had enough. Drawing his pistol, he fired at me three times, but missed. After that he stopped and raised his hands. I’d heard about Japanese tricks, and I couldn’t believe that a samurai would just give up and yield to captivity. I approached him cautiously, step by step, with my pistol at the ready.

When I was 30 ft from him he suddenly pulled out another gun from underneath his jacket - he had ostentatiously dropped the first - and fired twice. This time the bullets narrowly missed my head, whizzing by my ear. I aimed and fired. The Japanese wavered, as I had hit him in the shoulder. I fired again and he collapsed. Soon afterwards, Mongolian horsemen arrived and I handed my wounded captive over to them.” (via) Hero of the Soviet Union Vitt Skobarikhin - in his battle-damaged Polikarpov I-16 - after successfully ramming into a Japanese Nakajima Ki-27 during the Khalkhin Gol campaign, 27th May 1939

During the first few months of the campaign, the Japanese pilots had the upper hand over their Soviet counterparts - having generally more experience, and an aircraft that outmanoeuvred the Soviet I-16’s in a dogfight and was a complete match for the older I-15 biplane fighter. The Soviets soon changed tactics - favouring more of a “hit and run” approach and taking full advantage of the superior firepower and armament of the I-16.

I-16 ace Ivan Krasnoyurchenko recalled one engagement:

"We managed to force one Japanese pilot away from the main formation. Six of us surrounded him and we signalled him to land - we were over friendly territory, of course. Refusing to comply, he just kept turning his aircraft so as to stop us from firing at him, trying all the while to escape towards Japanese-held territory.

But Dmirriy Medvedev and Nikolay Arsenin wouldn’t let him go, cutting off his escape route with bursts of machine gun fire. Then this “Samurai” zoomed up and immediately dived vertically toward the ground. We thought he was committing suicide, but not at all. He bailed out, and when he landed he started running for the frontier, which was very close.

Immediately deciding that he had to be stopped at all cost, I landed my I-16 alongside him, jumped out of the cockpit and pursued the Japanese pilot. When I was within 10 ft of him he decided that he’d had enough. Drawing his pistol, he fired at me three times, but missed. After that he stopped and raised his hands. I’d heard about Japanese tricks, and I couldn’t believe that a samurai would just give up and yield to captivity. I approached him cautiously, step by step, with my pistol at the ready.

When I was 30 ft from him he suddenly pulled out another gun from underneath his jacket - he had ostentatiously dropped the first - and fired twice. This time the bullets narrowly missed my head, whizzing by my ear. I aimed and fired. The Japanese wavered, as I had hit him in the shoulder. I fired again and he collapsed. Soon afterwards, Mongolian horsemen arrived and I handed my wounded captive over to them.” (via)