KITS 01/2022

c/n 5379, PO1c Tsuguo Matsuyama, Hiryū Fighter Squadron, aircraft carrier Hiryū, December 7, 1941

During second attack against Hawaii the Hiryū aircraft carrier sent nine Zeros under the command of Lt. Sumio Nōno. His pilots

attacked Kaneohe and Bellows bases, claiming two destroyed aircraft and one car. Third Shōtai was led by PO1c Matsuyama, who

shot down in coopeartion with his wingman P-40s piloted by 2nd Lieutenants George Whiteman and Samuel Bishop of the 44th

Pursuit Squadron. Matsuyama had combat missions with the 13th Kōkūtai in China on his account already. On February 25, 1938, as

wingman of the legendary Sadaaki Akamatsu, he participated in shooting down four aircraft. During the raids on Ceylon on April 9,

1942, Matsuyama's shōtai shot down a Blenheim Mk.IV, probably of S/Ldr Kenneth Ault´s crew, who was leading formation of No. 11

Squadron RAF in an attack on Japanese ships. Matsuyama later served on the aircraft carrier Hiyō and was killed on April 7, 1943

in combat with the Wildcats off Guadalcanal. The airplane BII-124 was shot down on February 19, 1942 during the raid on Darwin.

After being hit by anti-aircraft fire, Seaman 1st class Hajime Toyoshima landed on Melville Island and was captured by Aboriginal

Matthias Ulungura. Toyoshima was the first captured Zero pilot and used alias "Tadao Minami". He became one of the organizers

of the largest prisoner escape in World War II. On August 5, 1944 at Cowra POW Camp he gave signal to escape. Total of 1,104 POWs

attempted to espace, 231 were killed and four Australians lost their lives as well. Toyoshima was mortally wounded, so he lighted

a cigarette and committed suicide.

PO1c Saburō Sakai, Tainan Kōkūtai, Lakunai airfield, Rabaul, New Britain island, August 1942

Saburō Sakai is best known Japanese fighter pilot, thanks to his memoirs and meetings with Allied airmen after World War II. He

was born in 1916 and served from September 1938 with the 12th Kōkūtai in China. In October 1941, he was assigned to the newly

organized Tainan Kōkūtai in Taiwan and took part in campaign heading South until he was wounded on August 7, 1942 off Guadalcanal. After recovering, he served as an instructor with Ōmura Kōkūtai, and later, despite bad eyesight, was combat deployed

with Yokosuka Kōkūtai on Iwo Jima. At the end of war he served with Kōkūtai 343 (II) and Yokosuka Kōkūtai. He is listed as an ace

with 64 victories, but Sakai himself claimed the number of his victories was lower. With the first two units he actually achieved

12 individual victories, 8 shared and 4 probables. The V-128 was also flown by PO2c Arita and PO1c Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, who is

credited with 87 victories. The color of the stripes is chosen from Sakai's recollection, but there are other interpretations, such as

a black or yellow stripe on the fuselage. During a fighter escort to Guadalcanal on August 7, Sakai shot down Wildcat "F12" from

VF-5 piloted by "Pug" Southerland in an epic dogfight. Sakai was later severely wounded in the face by fire from VB-6 Dauntless

near Tulagi Island. After nearly five hours and more than 1,000 km, he managed to land back at Rabaul. Sakai died in 2000 after

formal dinner with members of the US Navy.

PO2c Kōtarō Koyae, Zuihō Fighter Squadron, Rabaul, New Britain island, April 1943

Petty Officer 2nd Class Koyae was born in 1923 in Miyazaki Prefecture and completed his flight training in November 1942. He

was than assigned to the fighter unit of the aircraft carrier Zuihō in March 1943. In April, the unit moved to Rabaul and Koyae flew

the aircraft during Operation I-gō. In this period, green paint was applied to Zeros in field conditions. It was usually painted by

hand, the edges of the green fields being softened with thinner sometimes. However, according to the unit log, Koyae did not fly

combat sorties in April 1943. In fact he did not encounter the enemy until November 1943 over Rabaul. During the same month he

was transferred to Kōkūtai 253 at Rabaul and by early 1944 he was undergoing intense fighting. Upon his return to Japan, he was

assigned to the Ōmura Kōkūtai. While on leave, on February 17, 1944, he spotted a Japanese bomber circling in the rain at night

over the village of Goda, Miyazaki Prefecture. Koyae, with the help of the villagers, established a navigation signal and after some

time he managed to guide the crew to right heading. For this achievment he received a written commendation from commander

of Ōmura Kōkūtai. In July 1944, Koyae was assigned to Hikōtai 701 and fought in the defense of the Philippines. After returning

to Japan, he was assigned to Hikōtai 701 (II) and served with Ōmura Kōkūtai at the end of the war. After the war he worked as a

fireman and published his memories. According to the local press, he achieved 20 victories, but these may be victories achieved

by fighter formations in which he took part.

INFO Eduard - January 2022