Tainan Kōkūtai (II), Tainan airbase, Taiwan, summer 1944
The designation of this training unit is the Katakana
characters "Ta" and "I". The dark green paint on the
upper surfaces indicates that the aircraft has been
overhauled. The machine was acquired from a funds
raised by the Tokyo Fruit and Vegetable Commercial
Association. The second Tainan Kōkūtai was established in April 1943 as an operational training unit.
Its home base was again Tainan, as with the previous
unit of that name, which became Kōkūtai 251 in late
1942. When Allied air raids on Taiwan began in the
second half of the war, the airmen of Tainan Kōkūtai
(II) joined in its defense. They fought both four-engine bombers and escort fighters based in China and
US Navy aircraft. Its first commander was Capt.
Shigematsu Ichimura, who was commander of the
14th Kōkūtai in China in 1940. The most famous instructor who served with the unit was CPO Takeo Tanimizu, an ace with 18 kills to his credit. In January 1945,
a special attack unit was organized from part of the
Kōkūtai and participated in Kamikaze missions.
Tsukuba Kōkūtai, Tsukuba airbase, Japan, 1944
The marking of this training unit is the Katakana
character "Tsu". The dark green paint on the upper
surfaces indicates that the aircraft has been overhauled. The horizontal white markings on the fuselage were probably to facilitate formation flight training. Originally a purely training Tsukuba Kōkūtai,
which was established in 1938, became part of the
Japanese air defence system from 1944. It engaged
in combat against B-29 bombers, US Navy aircraft
and long-range P-51 escorts. At the end of the war,
unit was involved in the Kamikaze missions during
the fighting for Okinawa as part of Operation Kikusui.
Pilots who served as instructors with the unit included Ensign Kazu-o Sugino, who had 32 victories to
his credit and had previously served on the aircraft
carrier Zuikaku and with Kōkūtai 253. Among the airmen who joined the unit at the very end of the war
was Lt.(jg) Shigeo Sugi-o. He had more than 20 victories to his credit and had also fought over Australia
with the 3rd Kōkūtai.
Kōkūtai 204, Rabaul, New Britain, April 1943
This machine wears green camouflage applied
in field conditions and has radio equipment removed to reduce weight. It is also equipped with long-barrelled guns and a newer rudder trim that could
be operated from the cockpit. Known aircraft of this
unit that have yellow fuselage markings have identification numbers below 148. In March 1943, Lieutenant Zenjirō Miyano took over position of Hikōtaichō
of this unit. He sought to modernize combat tactics
and therefore introduced four-man formations to
the unit instead of three-plane formations, He also
considered deploying Zeros in the role of fighter-bomber with 30kg bombs under the wing. The unit
was in heavy combat during the first half of 1943.
In the last raid on Guadalcanal, on 16 June 1943, thirteen Val bombers were shot down and the fighter
escort from Kōkūtai 204 lost four pilots and three
others were wounded. Among the dead were Lieute-
nant Miyano and his deputy. This left the unit without
flying officers. Miyano had a total of 16 victories to
his credit, was posthumously promoted to Commander, and his name was cited in the All Units Bulletin.
Miyano's position was taken over the following month
by Lt. Cdr. Saburō Shindō of Kōkūtai 582.