Kamikawa Maru fighter planes on her cruise in the summer of 1942 during a transport to the Solomon Islands area.
Of note on the YII-101 is the number on the front of the main float pylon and the convex cover on the top of the float,
which covered part of the tank purge system located in the float.
Lt. Cdr. Simpler. In combat, which ended low
over the terrain, the high maneuverability
and stability of the Rufe impressed American
opponents. However all Japanese were shot
down and killed. One of them was gunned while
on a parachute by Wildcat pilot.
During the afternoon of the same day, twenty
observation floatplanes escorted by two Rufe
arrived at Guadalcanal. Their crews were
tasked with attacking ground targets with 60kg
bombs. The attack took place at dusk and was
opposed by five Wildcats from VMF-224 and six
machines from VF-5.
The Rufe seaplanes, piloted by Ôno and PO2c
Matsutarō Ômura, clashed with Stover and
Byler of VF-5. In a dogfight that included frontal
attacks, Stover managed to shoot down Ômura.
Ôno escaped the fight and claimed one of the
Wildcats as downed.
The seaplane bases in Shortland area were
attacked in the early hours of 5 October by
Avengers and Wildcats from the USS Hornet
(CV-8). There was very poor visibility over
the target, and coincidentally two Petes from
Sanuki Maru and two Rufes as their escort
took off to join seven more floatplanes already
patrolling. They were tasked to cover the
destroyers Oyashio, Kuroshio and Hayashio
on their voyage to Guadalcanal. In sudden
defense of their own base, they were credited
with shooting down five fighter planes.
An even more dramatic encounter occurred on
October 10, 1942 during an attack on the Tokyo
Express (a convoy of two light cruisers and four
destroyers) including the light cruiser Tatsuta,
on board of which was Lt.Gen. Hyakutake. Two
Rufe seaplanes from Kamikawa Maru and two
Pete biplanes from Sanuki Maru were deployed
to cover them.
The Americans sent fifteen USMC Dauntlesses
and six USMC Avengers against the vessels,
accompanied by eight Airacobras and fifteen
The chunky gray-blue fighter planes of VMF-212,
223, and 224 were mistaken for bombers by
the Japanese aviators, who attacked the group
of “bombers” from above. The surprise of the
Americans must have been no small one when
they were attacked by two biplanes and two
float Zeros, as the Rufe was then referred to by
All the Japanese machines were shot down.
A total of seven claims were made for the
destruction of the two Pete aircraft, indicating
the ferocity of the fight. While 2nd Lt. Gutt, Capt.
Marvin and Maj. Smith of VMF-223 each claimed
a Rufe shot down. They killed Seaman 1st Class
Maruyama (in YII-107) and CPO Kawai (YII-104).
Two American aircraft were shot down by
artillery fire from the decks of the ships, and
the vessels were not hit. Maruyama and Kawai
were among the most experienced seaplane
pilots in the area. In September 1942, their
aircraft were cited in a commendation by the
Commander of the Combined Fleet.
The Kamikawa Maru’s fighter Buntai pilots
scored 14 victories and had flown a total of 360
combat sorties in 211 missions by November 7,
1942. But nine of them were killed. After that
date, remaining fighter planes and pilots were
taken over by Kōkūtai 802.
Seaman 1st class, Takio Maruyama, aviation unit of seaplane
tender Kamikawa Maru, Shortland, September 1942
c/n 15, Lt.(jg) Keizō Yamazaki, Kōkūtai 802,
Shortland Island, February 1943
Kōkūtai 802, Faisi-Poporang base, Shortland Islands, February 1943