c/n 3647, Warrant Officer Tora-ichi Takatsuka, Tainan Kōkūtai, Lakunai airfield, Rabaul,
This aircraft was produced by Mitsubishi on March 3, 1942. It was flown in legendary Tainan Kōkūtai by
the also famous fighter aces Saburō Sakai and Hiroyoshi Nishizawa. It is believed that with this Zero,
on September 13, 1942 over Guadalcanal, Shōtai leader W. O. Takatsuka was shot down in a dogfight
with Wildcats from VF-5 and VMF-223. Three of his wingmen were also shot down in the same action.
The wreckage of this Zero was found in 1993 in a swamp about five miles east of Henderson Field.
Remnants of code and markings remained on some parts. Takatsuka had served in the IJN aviation
since 1933. In the 12th Kōkūtai he was one of the fighter pilots who achieved the first victories with
Zeros in aviation history on September 13, 1940. He was promoted to Warrant Officer in October 1941
and demobilized. However he was soon called back into service by the IJ Navy and from June 1942 was
assigned to Tainan Kōkūtai in Rabaul. He mainly took part in the fighting over New Guinea. In total he
was credited with 16 victories including three in China. Fighting with the Wildcats had already nearly
proved fatal to him once. During the raid on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942, although he claimed four
victories, he flew in front of one of his opponents and immediately was hit. The victor was Thomas
Rhodes of VF-6 (USS Enterprise). Takatsuka's Zero caught fire, but he managed to put it out and escape.
A large number of A6M2 aircraft served throughout the war in Japan with training units. Pictured here
is a Nakajima-built machine serving with the Tsukuba Kōkūtai.
(Photo: San Diego Air and Space Museum)
Lt. Hideki Shingō, Shōkaku Fighter Squadron, October 1942
This aircraft manufactured by Mitsubishi carries an unusually large yellow identification stripe. Hideki
Shingō (NA, 1931) served from 1934 in the Tateyama Kōkūtai, on the HIJMS Ryūjō, he became an instructor in the Yokosuka Kōkūtai, and then held Buntaichō position in the Ômura Kōkūtai. In the second half
of 1937 he fought in China with the Kaga Fighter Squadron. He then served as Buntaichō at Kanoya, Saiki,
Kasumigaura, Ôita and 14th Kōkūtai. In October 1941, Shingō became Hikōtaichō in charge of training at
Tainan Kōkūtai, Taiwan. He trained primarily the long-range flying. On December 8 he led 44 Zeros in an
attack on the Philippine airfields of Iba and Clark Field. From April 1942 he served briefly with the 6th and
Genzan Kōkūtai, then in July he became Hikōtaichō of the Shōkaku Fighter Squadron and participated in
the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. At the end of August he led a detachment operating from Buka airfield.
He was shot down over Guadalcanal but avoided capture. During the Battle of Santa Cruz (October 1942),
he led five Zeros in the second attack wave and descended to a lower altitude in order to draw the anti-aircraft fire away from the dive bombers. He was promoted to Lt. Commander in November 1942 and in
the following years served as a Hikōtaichō of Tsuiki Kōkūtai in Japan, in Indonesia and Burma with Kōkūtai
331 and Hikōtai 603, and till April 1945 with Kōkūtai 252 in Japan. After the war, he worked in the police,
later joined the JSDAF, and retired in 1967 with 6,000 hours flying time and rank of Lieutenant General.
Shingō-san passed away in 1982.
Battle of the Philippine Sea: the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku (center) and the destroyers Akizuki and
Wakatsuki maneuvering, while under attack by U.S. Navy carrier aircraft, during the late afternoon of June 20,
1944. “Zui” hit by several bombs during these attacks, but survived. She was sunk in October 1944 as last of the
carriers that took part in Pearl Harbor attack.
(Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)
c/n 1503, Warrant Officer Kan-ichi Kashimura, Kōkūtai 582, Buin airfield, Bougainville
Island, March 1943
Nakajima machine built ca August 1942. Its wreckage was found on Pavuvu Island and it is
believed that W. O. Kashimura was lost with it on March 6, 1943. He remained missing after an
air battle off Russel Island while escorting bombers, probably shot down by S/Sgt Robert H.
Bahner, SBD gunner from VMSB-132. American crew described color of Kashimura´s Zero as
“greenish yellow”. Kashimura served successively with Ômura, Tokosuka and Kanoya Kōkūtai
from 1934. In late 1937, he was transferred to 13th Kōkūtai in China. During the battle near
Nanchang on December 9, 1937, he shot down one enemy aircraft and collided with another.
Kashimura's A5M lost big part of port wing, but he managed to regain control just above the
ground. He flew about 600 km back to his base in Shanghai and managed to make an emergency landing. The circumstances of this action were detailed in the Japanese press and his
aircraft was displayed in Japan. In March 1938, Kashimura was transferred to the Yokosuka
Kōkūtai, but he returned to the Chinese battlefield in late 1939 and served three months
with the 12th Kōkūtai. He then returned to the Yokosuka Kōkūtai. During the Doolittle Raid,
Kashimura was in the air but mistook a B-25 bomber for a Japanese aircraft. In December
1942, he was transferred to Kōkūtai 582 stationed in Rabaul. He was considered an excellent
aviator and theoretician but used very harsh training methods. He had a total of 12 victories
including 10 in China.
An A6M2 fighter from Kōkūtai 261 photographed at Saipan after U.S. forces occupied the island.