Lt. Kunio Kanzaki, CO of Hikōtai 311 of Kōkūtai 381, Kendari airfield, Celebes island, May 1944
Kōkūtai 381 was established in October 1943 at Kendari Base on the island of Celebes. It was a mixed Kōkūtai with 48 fighter-bombers (Hikōtai 602), 24 night fighters (Hikōtai 902) and 48 fighter aircraft in Hikōtai 311, the latter commanded by Lt. Kanzaki.
During the 1944 he operated from bases on islands in Indonesia and the Philippines. Their most frequent opponents were U.S. Army
aircraft. Kanzaki's unit used special phosphorus anti-aircraft bombs to attack enemy bombers. Kanzaki's aircraft, manufactured
by the Nakajima company, has been reconstructed in the past with various color markings. It is assumed that the vertical tail surfaces and part of the upper wing surfaces were painted the same color like lower surfaces. The front part of the engine may also
have been painted grey or yellow. It is not entirely clear from the photograph of the aircraft whether the white stripes on the lower
fuselage are joined. It may have been designed to improve the mutual identification of Army and Navy aircraft when fighting Allied
fighters. Another reason for this camouflage may have been for easier identification during night fighter flights. For example,
Lt. Kanzaki and his wingman shot down a B-24 of the 380th BG over Balikpapan on the night of January 12-13, 1944. Some aircraft
of Kōkūtai 331 were also painted in the same upper and tailplane camouflage. Both units operated in one tactical group during part
Lt. Nobuo Miyatake, Kamikaze Tokubetsu Kōgekitai, 1. Shichisei-tai, Kanoya airbase, Japan, April 1944
From the April 3, 1945 a total of eight special attack units with the battle name "Shichisei" were organized from the airmen serving
in Genzan Kōkūtai (II) and Hikōtai 306 (part of Kōkūtai 721). Lt. Miyatake, who was 24 years old at the time, led the 1st Shichisei-tai
in an attack on a convoy off Okinawa on April 6, 1945. During that day, eleven other airmen from Genzan Kōkūtai (II) sacrificed their
lives along with him. They took off successively in four formations. Their formation was part of the 524 aircraft of special attack
units and escort fighters from IJN and IJA sent against Allied vessels off Okinawa as part of Operation Kikusui I. The U.S. Navy lost
destroyers USS Bush and Colhoun and other ships were severely damaged. "Shichisei" units were sent against ships off Okinawa,
Yoronjima, Kikai, and Tanegashima islands in several missions till May 14. Only one of them returned to base due to bad weather.
Lt. Miyatake was born in Kagawa Prefecture and graduated from the Etajima Naval Academy in 1942. Before the mission, he wrote
farewell letters to his mother and three sisters. His father was interned in Siberia at the time. Nobuo Miyatake was posthumously
promoted to the rank of Commander. His aircraft from Nakajima production is designated "Ke-113".
INFO Eduard - January 2022