We conclude this series on the Rufe seaplanes in the North with the last chapter in the history of 452Ku. Starting from next year we will cover the Rufe presence in the South. These postings will be updated as new information comes in.
The 452 Kokutai was reorganized on May 18, 1943 with Nakajima A6M2-N "Rufe", Aichi E13A "Jake" and Mitsubishi F1M "Pete". The Pete group with eight planes advanced to Paramushir Island in the Kuril/Chishima Islands around the end of May. The Rufe group was in Yokohama (or Yokosuka according to Izawa) training, the Jake were in Tateyama also training. On June 24, after a brief stop at Ominato, the Rufe group with ten seaplanes advanced to Shumshu Island on the northern tip of Paramushir using a base at Betobinuma. Early July the rest of the planes followed with reconnaissance, patrol and air defence duties. The Jake and Pete were usually doing anti-submarine patrols.
On October 1, 1943 the Rufe group was disbanded. The reconnaissance floatplanes remained in the Kuril Islands from Spring until summer 1944 then returned to the mainland. The 452Ku was in Japan and Taiwan until January 1, 1945 when the unit was disbanded.
We will not tire you with the many Kodochosho entries of patrols without enemy encounters but instead focus on the dates when there were.
July 19, 1943
At 06:25 all the force of eleven Rufe took off on patrol and found five B-24 but the enemy escaped in high speed. Rufe pilots: Lt Araki, WO Nagase, PO1c Hoshi, PO1c Osa and PO2cs Katsuki, Naoi, Endo, Nagasako, Hamaya, Suzuki and Iijima.
The publication “Combat Chronology 1941 - 1945”, Compiled by Kit C. Carter, Robert Mueller (Center for Air Force History Washington, DC 1991), (hereafter CC) has the following on the day: “7/18/43 Eleventh AF - 2 B-24’s and 6 B-25’s bomb Gertrude Cove and Main Camp at Kiska. 6 B-24’s bomb shipping tgts between Paramushiru and Shimushu and completed runway at Murakami Bay on Paramushiru, which is also photographed. They observe fires among buildings S and E of this runway. Some of observed aircraft take to the air and vainly pursue the attackers.” “The Thousand-Mile War - World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians” by Brian Gardfield has the following on that day's events: “It was a warm 68° even at 18,000 feet, where the mission leveled off. Over Shimushu (a small island just north of Paramushiro) the weather was broken; a low-lying haze was moving in from the southwest. The Liberators followed the Shimushu coast around to the south side of the island and crossed the narrow strait to Paramushiro. Three Liberators peeled off to bomb the air base; three others—Major Frederick R. Ramputi, twenty-seven; Major Lucian K. Wernick, twenty-six; Major Richard Lavin, twenty-seven—made a straight run over the harbor strait, sighting on a big concentration of several dozen warships, transports and fishing vessels. Paramushiro was the headquarters of all Japan's northern commands; it was a big base. Startled Japanese stared up, not sure what was happening. At first they thought the planes were off-course Russian patrol ships. But then the bomb-bay doors yawned open and sticks of 500-pounders tumbled toward the air field. The Japanese ran for cover. In his headquarters office, Vice Admiral Shiro Kawase heard the first string of bombs explode on a nearby taxiway and wheeled to the window, incredulous. Paramushiro's defenses were not on the alert (even though the American submarine Narwhal had shelled the nearby air field at Matsuwa only three days before). A few antiaircraft guns went into frantic operation, but only managed to fire four or five bursts. Pilots ran to their planes and fired up cold engines, but they would be too late to get up to the high bombers. Bomb explosions rocked several buildings. Craters pocked the main runway. Over the harbor, Ramputi, Wernick, and Lavin circled to make a second bomb run on the anchored ships—their bomb racks had frozen the first time, and Lavin was having engine trouble. Wernick and Ramputi triggered their bombs by hand while their cameras clicked at high speed. The bombs blew up one ship and damaged two or three others. Lavin could not release his bombs. With one engine feathered, he followed the flight away and shoved his throttles forward, trying to keep up. The other flight—Major Robert E. Speer, twenty-eight; Major Edward C. Lass, twenty-seven; Captain Jacques Francine, thirty-four—was just completing its bomb run over the air base. Thick smoke unrolled across the field. Five Zeroes dodged craters, taxied down a secondary (unhit) runway and reached take-off speed. On a nearby lake, twenty seaplane-fighters rested at their moorings, but only two were manned; these chugged into life and swung out onto flat water to take off. Speer gathered his planes, circled east and headed home. Lavin, on three engines, fell behind. The Zeroes appeared to be catching up to him, but none of them was fully fueled or armed; they gave up the chase after a few minutes. Speer cut speed to accommodate Lavin, and at dusk the six planes reached Adak in neat formation and landed at regular two-minute intervals. They had not suffered a single bullet hole or flak scratch.”
At 07:15 ten Rufe took off to intercept four B-24s. Inflicted serious damage but no enemy aircraft were shot down. At 07:45 all Rufe returned to base. Three aircraft, those flown by Hoshi, Osa and Naoi received bullet holes. The Rufe group was split into two shotai of five aircraft each. First shotai Araki, Hoshi, Suzuki, Iijima, CPO Nose. Second shotai Osa, Naoi, Hachigo, Nagasako, Hamaya. A group of eight Pete and Nakajima Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (Oscar) IJAAF fighters of the 54 Sentai based on Paramushir also participated.
CC: “8/11/43 Eleventh AF - B-24’s, B-25’s, A-24’s, and P-38’s pound Kiska tgts in 11 attack missions. Later, 10 rcn, strafing and photo missions to Kiska are flown by 3 P-38’s, 26 P-40’s, 4 F-5A’s and 1 B-24. 9 B-24’s from Attu drop bombs and incendiaries on Paramushiru I tgts, including Kashiwabara A/F and Shimushu I where Kataoka naval base and staging area are hit. 40 enemy aircraft challenge the attackers, which score 4 confirmed kills, 1 probable, and 4 possibles.” Gardfield describes: “General Butler asked Lucian Wernick to lead a second Paramushiro raid, identical with the first. Wernick refused to volunteer for the job; he pointed out that the first raid had only succeeded because it had taken the enemy by surprise. Next time the enemy would be waiting. When the second Paramushiro mission took off on August 11, 1943, Wernick was not part of it. The only veteran of the first raid was Major Louis C. Blau, who had been a co-pilot in Speer's flight. Blau led the mission; there were nine planes. Paramushiro, and the alternate target at the Kataoka naval base on Shimushu, were overcast at 2000 feet. The nine bombers circled down to make low-level bomb runs—and found that Wernick had been right. The enemy was waiting. Puffs of barrage flak smoke covered the sky above the targets, flung up by dozens of ground batteries and every ship in the harbor. Zeroes and Rufes were already in the air and climbing. Once again, flame and smoke spread rapidly across Paramushiro. Bombs—incendiaries and high explosives—struck a dozen buildings, a waterfront pier, a cargo ship, warehouses and supply depots. But just outside the savage flak barrage, thirty-seven Japanese fighters waited to pounce on the emerging B-24s. Captain Harrel F. Hoffman's Liberator, cornered by Zeroes, torched into a death spin. For the next forty-five minutes the eight remaining bombers fought a running battle with swarms of Japanese fighters—Zeroes, Rufes, Oscars, Haps. They attacked the B-24s from five- and seven-o'clock angles where the bombers' vertical stabilizers shielded their own turret and tail guns. Japanese cannon and tracers slammed through every bomber; the fighters made thirty and forty passes at some of the fleeing B-24s. The sky was a chugging battlefield. Lieutenant Robert Lockwood's plane, limping on three engines, was punctured from every angle. His gunners hurled back fusillades, but the B-24 lost altitude. The crew threw everything overboard but couldn't lighten the ship enough—and then, at 200 feet, fuel starvation muzzled Lockwood's carburetors and all three engines stopped dead. With instant presence of mind, Lockwood jabbed his con-trols—tank selectors, turbos and booster pumps. The belly turret took a frosting of ocean spray; and the three engines roared into life. Lockwood nursed it forward at zero altitude. Lieutenant Leon A. Smith, last plane in "C" flight, was an easy target for the enemy; for more than ten minutes he had three fighters on each wing and four on his tail. His gunners raked the air and Zeroes went down flaming on all sides—by the end of the incredible fight, the American bombers had shot thirteen Japanese fighters into the sea. Somehow, all eight B-24s, including Lockwood's, made it back to Attu. Through great good luck and uncanny flying, the mission had lost only one plane.”
At 08:55 one shotai with two Rufe, flown by Koda and Nagasako located one B-24 and attacked but the enemy aircraft dropped her bombs and escaped. The bomber received heavy damage but as she was not confirmed as shot down, it is recorded as a probable. According to Izawa Ltjg Koda Katsumi and PO2c Nagasako shared this kill.
At 09:40 a formation of escaping B-24 is located. Following an attack by the Rufe seaplanes one of the bombers emitted white smoke the rest also received damage.
At 09:24 a shotai of five Rufe flown by Kato, Katsuki, Hachigo, Endo and Osugi located a formation of nine B-24s and B-25s. Two B-24s were shot down. The crew of one B-24 tried to escape with a rubber boat and was attacked.
A third shotai with 3 Rufe flown by Osa, Hamaya and Machise took off later the same day but didn’t locate the enemy.
As before "Hayabusa" from the 54th Sentai took part in the battle.
CC: “9/11/43 Eleventh AF - 12 B-25’s and 8 B-24’s attack Paramushiru for the third and last time this year. 6 HBs bomb Kashiwabara staging area. Shipping is bombed and strafed in Kashiwabara harbor and Paramushiru Straits. 1 freighter and 1 large transport is sunk while 1 transport and 2 cargo ships are damaged. 2 other cargo vessels sustain possible hits. Tgts hit on land include 2 bldgs and a AA battery on Shimushu. Of 40 ftrs giving battle, 13 are shot down and 3 more are probables. 2 HBs force-land in USSR, one with mechanical defect, the other after being hit. 1 B-24 is downed by AA fire. Losses are 7 B-25’s and 2 B-24’s in this most disastrous day for the Eleventh. It will be another 5 months before it is able to strike at the Kurils again.” Again Gardfield has a few more details: “Exploratory missions had probed Paramushiro before the end of the Campaign. Now, as one of his last acts as Alaskan Air Commander, General Butler ordered a full-scale bombardment mission, to hit Paramushiro on September 11, 1943. As a parting shot, it was to prove the Eleventh Air Force's greatest disaster of all. The withdrawal of squadrons had left Butler severely understrength. He could assemble only seven B-24s and twelve B-25s for the strike. The Japanese were waiting for them. During a 50-minute dogfight against sixty enemy fighters, the Americans dropped about twelve tons of bombs on Paramushiro and Shimushu-To and shot down thirteen enemy planes, but lost three of their own planes on the spot—and seven shot-up American bombers had to crash-land at nearby Petropavlovsk in Soviet Kamchatka. The United States obtained the return of the seven air crews; the Russians impounded the bombers. Of the nineteen planes that flew the mission, only nine came home. In one stroke the Eleventh Air Force had lost more than half its striking power.”
Flight leader Takahashi Masaru who was on Shumshu from July 10, 1943 has the following to say in the publication “Kaigun Suijoki-tai” (Navy Seaplane Units) by various authors, Kojinsha 2013.
“It was a very relaxed place and we didn't see much action. Everybody thought that since it was the very northern front we expected to see plenty of combat, but that was not the case. The daily life was peaceful and not that hard with good food, spending time fishing at Betobinuma in the morning and having the fish for dinner the same night. The crew were in tents giving the feeling of a camping park. The tents were quite apart from each other to avoid getting hit during enemy raids. Walking around them at night took about an hour and a half. There were 200 IJN members with twelve Rufe and six Pete. The 452 Ku was under the command of the 12 Koku Kantai (Air Fleet). Even though it was a front base nobody really cared to dig air shelters and the air defence facilities were shabby. There were lookouts but no towers. The sentries were just posted on top of hills. The air raid sirens were simple, hand operated. So in general we were not capable to locate the enemy on our own and had to rely on radio warnings from Paramushir. So the officer in charge listened to Paramushir for enemy sighting warnings and then started the siren. The seaplanes were parked around the lake and when they all took off at the same time, they converged towards the center of the lake. Quite scary to look at but the pilots were highly skilled and there were no accidents. The bombers flew at low altitude and at high speed, and the warnings gave us very little time to react. So everybody taking off at the same time was the best way to catch them in time.”
According to Watanabe Yoji the unit used the tail marking "V2-" while on Shumshu and in his book “Ginyoku Minami E Kita E” (Silver wings in the South and the North), Kojinsha 2013 there is a not very clear photo which shows a Rufe, that Watanabe says has the tail marking "V2-111". Recognizing that he probably has access to higher quality material, Devlin Chouinard created artwork.
And Hasegawa has released a kit in 1/48.
There is a small number of photos of 452Ku pilots and Rufe seaplanes during their time in the Kurils. Three particularly interesting photos are featured in Watanabe Yoji's "TatakauZeroSen - TaiintachinoShashin-shu" (Fighting Zero Fighter - Members' Photo Album), published by Bungei Shunju.
The first is on page 187 and according to the caption the pilot is Rufe unit commander LTJG Araki ready to raise his arm signalling that he is ready for take-off. In the background there are proper wooden buildings so it is safe to assume that this photo was taken in Yokosuka when the Rufe unit was undergoing training. Of particular interest is the state of the main float of the seaplane compared to the pristine paint of the rest of the aircraft. Note also how clean the port supporting float is.
Another very clear photo on page 186 reveals many small details. Although only partially visible it shows that the tail markings were yellow, not white.
Another detail is the lack of head rest in the cockpit. According to Watanabe these were removed in order to protect the pilot if the plane flipped over.
Of interest also is the well defined with broad white surround fuselage hinomaru; but those on the wings seem to have the white surround overpainted by hand.
The not-painted or silver prop spinner is also worth mentioning.
And finally notice a small detail lost to most modellers. The supporting float is quite weathered where the mooring line is attached.
A second photo on the same page shows two Rufe seaplanes taking off. Of particular interest is the seaplane on the left.
Note the bands on the fuselage and the wings signifying that this was probably the aircraft of commander Araki. According to Watanabe these were red with white surround; let's remember that Watanabe-san has access to the original higher quality photos. Unfortunately the tail marking is not clear and Watanabe-san doesn't mention what it could be. Devlin Chouinard created artwork with the speculative "V2-101" tail marking, we are sure you will find inspirational.
According to Izawa the Rufe unit starting from Toko Ku until the end shot down 17 enemy aircraft, with six unconfirmed. During air battles 12 Rufe seaplanes were destroyed and ten pilots were lost. From July 1942 until March 1943 the Kimikawa Maru and other ships transported to Kiska 35 Rufe seaplanes.
On November 1st, 1942 the 5th Kokutai changed name for the third time to 452 Kokutai.
At that time Nakajima was able to produce only twelve Rufe seaplanes per month.
The Izawa entries are indicated with the letter I- in the beginning, the Kodochosho with the letter K-.
Kimikawa Maru ferried three reconnaissance seaplanes and six Rufe to Attu which were to fly the next day to Kiska. But due to heavy rain and strong wind all aircraft were damaged.
In the book “Air War Pacific: Chronology: America’s Air War Against Japan in East Asia and the Pacific, 1941 – 1945” Eric Hammel has the following entry for this day: “November 7, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: In the first tactical mission following a week of harrowing storms, an Eleventh Air Force weather plane over Attu strafes two A6M2-Ns that appear to have been washed into a creek bed, no doubt by the 80 mile per hour winds common during the storms.”
I located two photos of these Rufe on Attu. The first from Wikipedia:
The caption says: “B-24 bombing photo of Holtz Bay, Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, US Territory of Alaska, 7 Nov 1942; note A6M2-N floatplanes”
Also note that all aircraft are in overall gray paint.
Attack by P-38, all planes on Attu destroyed.
Hammel: “November 9, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Two 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-26s and four XI Fighter Command P-38s attack but do not hit a cargo ship at Kiska; and one B-17 and four P-38s attacking Attu Airdrome and base facilities claim the destruction of eight moored A6M2-Ns.
The Eleventh Air Force will be grounded by bad weather for most of the rest of November and a large part of December.”
Kimikawa Maru brings seven Rufe to Attu. Three pilots also arrive as reinforcements.
K- One B-24 is spotted and four Rufe take off from Attu but the enemy aircraft was too fast and escaped in the clouds. Rufe pilots: Nagase Masao (?), Naoi Teruyuki, Sasaki Giichi, Osa (?) Misao (?).
The publication “Combat Chronology 1941 - 1945”, Compiled by Kit C. Carter, Robert Mueller (Center for Air Force History Washington, DC 1991), (hereafter CC) has the following on the day: “12/25/42 Eleventh AF - A-24 takes photos of Kiska and Attu and unsuccessfully bombs 6 barges between Gertrude Cove and Kiska Harbor. The B-24 then sights 8 float Zeros. 3 unsuccessfully attempt to attack the HB.”
I- Two Rufe seaplanes fight against one B-25, seven P-38 and one PBY. CPO Nagase and PO2c Naoi share one B-25 shot down and the PBY was forced to make emergency landing. WO Nakamachi, PO1c Sasaki Giichi, PO2c Naito and one more take off and fight against nine P-38, shooting down one. Two Rufe attack the landed PBY and destroy it. Five Rufe also attack another PBY which trailed black smoke but was not shot down.
K- Two Rufe seaplanes on patrol over Kiska, an enemy force of one B-25, seven P-38 and one PBY-2 are spotted flying at an altitude of 200meters near Segula Island. One B-25 is shot down, the PBY crash landed and the seaplanes fought against the enemy fighter group inflicting heavy damage. The two Japanese pilots were: Nagase and Naoi. Together they spent 20mmX240, 7.7mmX1200 and got two bullet holes as souvenirs.
Later on the same day four more Rufe seaplanes take off and at an altitude of 300meters locate an enemy force of nine P-38s. During the aerial battles one P-38 is shot down and all the rest receive damage. The Japanese pilots were: Nakamachi Kunichugu, Osa, Sasaki and Naito. They spent 20mmX270, 7.7mmX1100, receiving three bullet holes which they used to grate Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Again on the same day the PBY is located alighting at Segura Island, is strafed and set on fire.
Four Rufe seaplanes take off yet again, find the PBY crew swimming towards the island and strafe them. The pilots were: Sasaki, Naito, Nagase and Naoi.
One last time Nagase, Osa, Naoi, Sasaki and Naito take off on patrol, locate one PBY west of Segula Island, attack but the enemy aircraft escape in the clouds trailing black smoke.
Hammel: “December 30, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-25s and 343d Fighter Group P-38s mount a low-level attack against two ships and three submarines in Kiska harbor. A 343d Fighter Group P-38 pilot downs one of four A6M2-Ns that engage the attack force near Kiska at 1145 hours, but two other P-38s are downed, as is one B-25. A Patrol Wing 4 PBY later reports that it has picked up several survivors, but it fails to return to its base. In a second attack against Kiska, five 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s, four B-25s, and four B-26s, attack the ships once again, claiming direct hits on both surface vessels.” CC: “12/30/42 Eleventh AF - B-25’s and 14 P-38’s approach Kiska Harbor at minimum altitude for a bombing and strafing attack. 2 ships and 3 submarines, newly arrived, are covered by Zeros. 4 of them engage the approaching P-38’s in a dogfight. 2 P-38’s are shot down and 4 Zeros are scored as probable. The B-25’s meanwhile attack the ships with unobserved results. One B-25 is shot down off Little Kiska. A PBY picks up survivors, but fails to return. Kiska Harbor is then attacked once more by 5 B-24’s, 4 B-25’s, and 4 B-26’s. They claim 2 hits on both vessels observing explosions on the smaller ship. A B-24 photographs Amchitka. Weather rcn of Near Is is canceled due to weather. Aerial rcn observes for first time Japanese use of smoke screen at Kiska Harbor.” Conclusion:The Japanese claimed one B-25 (confirmed), one PBY (confirmed) in the first battle and one more P-38 (confirmed) later the same day, without any loses. The US forces claim one Rufe shot down (unconfirmed) and four probable (unconfirmed) while admiting losing one B-25 and two P-38s, plus losing the PBY.
January 1, 1943
I- Five Rufe on patrol locate and fight against six P-38. Yamada and Nakamachi shoot down one P-38 each.
K- An enemy force of six B-24 is located but they escaped in the clouds. Later the same day a force of six P-38 is also located and during the battles 1st Shotai Yamada and 2nd Shotai Nakamachi claim one P-38 shot down each. The 1st Shotai comprised of Yamada, Nagase and Naoi, the 2nd Shotai of Nakamachi and Osa. The Japanese pilots spent 20mmX200 and 7.7mmX830.
Hammel: “December 31, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Six 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s and nine 343d Fighter Group P-38s claim direct hits on two cargo ships in Kiska harbor, and two 343d Fighter Group P-38 pilots down an A6M2-N over Kiska at 1430 hours.” CC: “12/31/42 Eleventh AF - 6 B-24’s, covered by 9 P-38’s, attack Kiska Harbor, hitting 2 cargo vessels. 1 of 6 intercepting ftrs is probably shot down. 1 B-25 searching for a Navy aircraft missing since the previous day also flies rcn over Semisopochnoi, Segula, Little Sitkin, Gareloi, and Amchitka.” Conclusion:The Japanese claim two P-38s (unconfirmed) admiting no loses, the US forces claim one Rufe (unconfirmed) also admiting no loses. The five Rufe claim the fought against six P-38s, the nine P-38s claim they fought against six Rufe.
Hammel has the following entry: “January 12, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Covered by a small force of Eleventh Air Force aircraft, a small U.S. Army ground force lands without opposition at Amchitka Island. The reinforced 813th Engineer Aviation Battalion immediately starts work on a new advance airfield.”
Two Rufe found five transport ships with escorting cruisers at Constantine Harbor on Amchitka. They attacked with 60kg bombs. Continued attacks on January 25, 26 and 28.
Hammel: “January 24, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: 28th Composite Bombardment Group bombers dispatched against Kiska are thwarted by bad weather over the target.
Japanese aircraft open a series of minor attacks against the U.S. ground forces occupying and constructing an airfield on Amchitka Island. In this first attack, two IJN aircraft are able to bomb Amchitka harbor before the arrival of six XI Fighter Command P-38s from Adak Airdrome.”
CC: “1/24/43 Eleventh AF - 6 HBs and 6 MBs attempt attack on Kiska. MBs abort over Semisopochnoi. HBs circle Kiska until weather closes in. 2 aircraft bomb Amchitka harbor area before US interceptors, 6 P-38’s and 1 B-24, arrive. 2 P-38’s return due to mechanical troubles. The others fly negative search over Kiska.”
January 25 K- Sasaki Giichi and Morita Hiroshi bomb enemy ships at Constantine Harbor inflicting heavy damage on one transport. Together the spent: 60kgX4, 20mmX70, 7.7mmX50 receiving three bullet holes for better air conditioning. “January 25, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: 28th Composite Bombardment Group bombers dispatched to Kiska abort in the face of bad weather.
Two A6M2-Ns bomb and strafe Amchitka Island.” CC: “1/25/43 Eleventh AF - P-38’s are dispatched too late to engage 2 float-planes bombing Amchitka. Rcn is flown over Kiska, Buldir, Semichis, Attu, and Agattu. 1 B-24 and 4 P-38’s fly 2 patrol missions over Amchitka. An attack mission to Kiska is turned back by weather. B-25’s unsuccessfully search for missing aircraft.”
K- Morita and Sasaki bomb again enemy ships at Constantine Harbor. One enemy transport set on fire. They spent: 60kgX4, 20mmX110, 7.7mmX150. “January 26, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: All Eleventh Air Force aircraft are grounded by bad weather, but two UN aircraft strafe the harbor at Amchitka.” CC: “1/26/43 Eleventh AF - All missions canceled due to weather. 2 enemy airplanes strafe Constantine Harbor.”
K- Morita and Sasaki pay again a bombing visit to Constantine Harbor but with unknown results due to fog. They dropped four 60kg bombs and spent 20mmX120, 7.7mmX300. They also got a bullet hole which they repaired with Tamiya putty.
CC: “1/27/43 Eleventh AF - Negative weather rcn sortie over Kiska. 4 P-38’s fly protective patrol over Amchitka. Upon their departure, 3 Japanese aircraft appear and unsuccessfully bomb shipping but cause 3 casualties.”
I- Kimikawa Maru ferried six Rufe and one Jake to Kiska.
K- Sasaki and Nakamachi didn't forget to attack enemy ships at Constantine Harbor dropping four 60kg bombs with unknown results.
CC: “1/31/43 Eleventh AF - Weather and photo rcn aircraft flies twice over Kiska. During first mission near Attu the airplane is jumped by 6 ftrs which it eludes. 4 B-17’s, 2 B-24’s, 6 B-25’s, 4 P-38’s, and 4 P-40’s then attempt attack on Kiska. P-40’s turn back with mechanical troubles. The other aircraft find Kiska closed in and abort mission. 2 patrol missions, each by 1 B-25 and 4 P-38’s, fly over Amchitka. 2 enemy float-planes bomb Constantine Harbor without results.”
I- Eight Rufe and one Jake attacked Amchitka island. Two Rufe shot down by a/a fire. Dead pilots CPO Okawa and PO2c Naito.
K- Eight Rufe and one Jake bombed you-know-where inflicting heavy damage to various ships dropping twenty 60kg bombs. The Japanese pilots were: Yamada, Sasaki, Nakamachi, Osa, Nagase, Naoi, Okawa Kaiji and Naito Hitoshi. The last two pilots failed to return. The Jake crew were: pilot Tominaga, observer Okano and communications Sawabe.
Hammel: “February 1, 1943 ALEUTAN ISLANDS: Eleventh Air Force aircraft are grounded by bad weather, but IJN aircraft bomb and strafe Amchitka harbor.” CC: “2/1/43 Eleventh AF - All missions canceled due to weather. Enemy aircraft bomb and strafe Amchitka harbor and shipping without inflicting damage.”
I- Fought against a mixed force of B-24 and B-25. Four Rufe and one Jake also attack Amchitka Island.
K- Rufe pilots Nagase and Osa take off at 04:50, find one B-24 which escaped in the clouds. Returned at 05:25.
Later the same day an enemy force of five B-25 and four B-17 is located, five Rufe take off at 08:05 but the enemy escaped. Pilots: Nakamachi, Osa, Nagase, Naoi, Sasaki returned at 08:25.
Sasaki took-off again at 12:15 and located a submarine which he strafed.
Four Rufe and one Jake take off at 01:30 to attack enemy positions at Constantine Harbor. They dropped twelve 60kg bombs with unknown results. Rufe pilots: Yamada, Nagase, Nakamachi, Naoi. Jake crew: pilot Fujii, observer Shimizu, communications Matsuyama.
Hammel: “February 4, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Three 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-17s, three B-24s, three B-25s, four 343d Fighter Group P-38s, and eight P-40s attack the Kiska submarine base, a cargo ship, and the main encampment, and the P-40s strafe ground targets. Definite signs of a new IJN fighter strip are discovered. Five IJN bombers attack Amchitka.” CC: “2/4/43 Eleventh AF - The weather rcn plane over Kiska, jumped by 3 ftrs, shoots 1 down. It is followed by 3 B-17’s, 3 B-24’s, 3 B-25’s, 4 P-38’s, and 8 P-40’s. The B-24’s blast North Head submarine base, and score near misses on cargo ship. The B-25’s hit vicinity of Main Camp area. 3 of 5 float-planes which intercept are shot down. The P-40’s strafe Kiska ground installation and sight a ftr strip SW of Salmon Lagoon. 2 Amchitka ftr patrols are flown. The first also strafes gun emplacements on Vega Pt. 5 enemy bmrs strike Amchitka.”
I- Battle against 17 B-25 and P-39. Sasaki and Naoi shared one P-39 shot down. Three Rufe and three Jake also attacked Amchitka island.
K- Three Rufe take-off at 06:45 spotted enemy aircraft, tried to follow but they escaped in the clouds. Rufe pilots: Nakamachi, Osa and Nagase returned at 07:40.
Two Rufe took off again at 06:45, found an enemy force of 17 aircraft. One enemy plane shot down by Sasaki and Naoi. They used 20mmX120, 7.7mmX440 and returned at 07:40.
Four Rufe and three Jake take off at 12:40 to bomb enemy installations and ships at Constantine Bay with unknown results. They dropped 60kgX18 and used 20mmX240,7.7mmX800. Rufe pilots were: Nagase, Naoi, Sasaki and Osa. Jake crew: pilots Tominaga, Kato and Mukai, observers Totsu, Koiwai, Ika (?), communications Uehara, Sasaki and Kamata.
Hammel: “February 13, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: 28th Composite Bombardment Group heavy and medium bombers attack Kiska, where 54th Fighter Squadron P-38 pilots down three A6M2-Ns between 1150 hours and noon.” “February 14, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Seven A6M2-Ns attack the anchorage at Amchitka.” CC: “2/13/43 Eleventh AF - Weather rcn is flown over Kiska, Attu, Agattu, the Semichis, and Buldir I. 5 HBs, 6 MBs, and 10 P-38’s bomb and strafe Kiska tgts including Camp area, landing strip, and shipping. Of 5 float-type ftrs which attack, P-38’s shoot down 3. 4 P-38’s and 1 B-25 fly patrol mission over Amchitka and Little Kiska. A B-25 shoots down a floatplane.” “2/14/43 Eleventh AF - Weather rcn airplane turns back due to weather, as does morning patrol of 1 B-25 and 4 P-38’s flying over Amchitka. Other missions from Adak are also called off. 7 enemy float-type planes bomb and strafe Constantine Harbor area without effect.” Conclusion: The Japanese claim one US fighter shot down (unconfirmed), the US forces claim three Rufe shot down (all unconfirmed) plus one more floatplane, also unconfirmed.
Amchitka attack unknown results
Hammel: “February 15, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Six A6M2-Ns attack the Amchitka Airdrome runway.”
“February 16, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Eleventh Air Force bombers and fighters dispatched to attack Kiska are thwarted by bad weather.
Japanese aircraft conduct what turns out to be their final nuisance raid against the U.S. installation on Amchitka Island, following which eight P-40s and a cargo plane land at the newly operational Amchitka Airdrome.” CC: “2/15/43 Eleventh AF - Weather rcn B-24 is soon called off due to weather. All other missions canceled. 6 float-type enemy aircraft bomb and strafe Amchitka, hitting runway and inflicting casualties.”
Reconnaissance over Amchitka island. WO Nakamachi and PO1c Sasaki Giichi killed. The latter's score was four enemy aircraft shot down, one probable and five shared.
Few planes operational. Supply difficult. Fight whenever possible.
Hammel: “February 18, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: P-40 pilots from the Seventh Air Force's 18th Fighter Squadron, on loan to the Eleventh Air Force, down two A6M2-Ns over Amchitka at 1900 hours.” CC:“2/18/43 Eleventh AF - Weather rcn B-24 determines 3 ships at Attu to be friendly. P-40’s on local patrol over Amchitka encounter and shoot down 2 ftrs.”
CC: “3/10/43 Eleventh AF - Rcn airplane is attacked by 5 aircraft. Kiska attack mission is flown by 10 B-25’s, 6 B-24’s, 12 P-38’s (4 of them flying top cover), and 1 F-5A. 8 of the P-38’s strafe ground installations. The B-25’s bomb radar site and pound North Head, silencing AA fire. The B-24’s hit Main Camp area. 4 Amchitka-based P-40’s bomb submarine base.”
CC: “3/13/43 Eleventh AF - A B-24 on rcn returns early because of adverse weather. 12 P-40’s strike Kiska beach, camp and runway. Hits are observed on these tgts and among 14 parked airplanes. 8 P-38’s with 8 P-40’s flying top cover again take off for Kiska. Only 3 of the P-38’s reach the tgt and strafe aircraft on beach. Another sights a submarine SW of Rat I.”
CC: “3/15/43 Eleventh AF - 6 B-25’s, with 4 P-38’s flying top cover, bomb North Head, hitting Main Camp and gun emplacements. 6 B-24’s with 4 P-38’s for top cover then bomb Main Camp. Revetments and hangar area are strafed by the P-38’s one of which is lost to AA. Next, 5 B-24’s and 16 P-38’s bomb and strafe Main Camp area and North Head. 4 P-40’s then unsuccessfully search for 3 enemy ftrs which had earlier attacked weather airplane. Main Camp is hit two more times, by 3 B-25’s and by 8 P-38’s.”
Seven Rufe fight against a force of ten P-38. Two P-38 shot down.
Last Kiska air battle.
Hammel: “March 16, 1943 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Eleventh Air Force aircraft mount numerous small strikes against Kiska amounting to 13 B-24 sorties, 16 B-25 sorties, 32 P-38 sorties, and eight P-40 sorties. One B-25 is lost.” CC: “3/16/43 Eleventh AF - 16 B-25’s, 13 B-24’s, 8 P-40’s and 32 P- 38’s (cover/escort) sorties are flown to Kiska in one weather rcn and 2 attack missions from Adak, and in 3 more missions from Amchitka. Tgts hit are North Head, Main Camp area, radar sites and submarine base. On last Amchitka mission 1 enemy floatplane is shot down with 2 more probables. 4 HBs are hit and 1 B-25 does not return.”
Pilots escape by submarine. Return to Yokosuka and reorganized with buntaicho LTJG Araki.
A news reel dated April 21 shows for a few seconds a Rufe and a Jake on Kiska island getting refueled.
The narrator explains: "With the coming of spring white nights also arrive on Kiska. All the island is covered with tundra and nothing can be grown, not even a morsel of rice. On the colorless islands only small puppies bring some joy to the men between battles. The harsh conditions sttrengthen the spirit of our men to give their best. We have to send our prays to these hard fighting men. The men at the anti-aircraft posts have no momment to rest. During these ten months since the capture of the island, America felt the preassure on their mainland and were continuously forced into battle.The Americans are especially good at blind bombing which occur daily. Look! Another enemy aircraft has come. A twin-fuselage P-38 is clearly shot-down!"
While Akimoto and Izawa record the tail marking of the 452Ku during the Aleutian campaign as "52-", Nohara Shigeru in Model Art #510, 1998, for the first time in print showed the marking to be "M1-" based on photos of destroyed Rufe and Jake seaplanes found by the US forces. Here are two such photo from here. Note the narrow white surround of the red fuselage hinomaru.
In combination with the photo on MA#510 which shows the same aircraft, the tail markings can be discerned to be "M1-112" and "M1-113" and Devlin Chouinard created artwork of them.
There are a few more photos or wrecked Rufe and Jakes floatplanes I found here, here and here.
The Rufe above was found on Attu so it is very probable she is one of those lost between November 6~10, 1942.
Below are a few very short but very interesting films from YouTube featuring Rufe and Jake floatplanes found on Kiska by US forces.
In the bottom two clips two Rufe tail markings are visible. In the fifth clip there is the number "M1-116" and in the last video it is probably "M1-111". Devlin Chouinard didn't miss the chance to create artwork.
All sources agree that on August 5 the 5th Kokutai was organized with 12 Rufe seaplanes as optimum number in their strength. Six of the seaplanes were those of the Toko Ku and the newly founded unit also received a half compliment of three Aichi E13A "Jake" reconnaissance seaplanes.
We were not able to find the kodochosho of the 5th Ku but interestingly the one of the Toko Ku continues until August 11. As before the Izawa entries are indicated with the letter I- in the beginning, the Kodochosho with the letter K-.
K- Yamada and another pilot patrol, No Enemy Contact.
K- Okawa, ENS Saihara and Suzuki flew patrols in pairs, NEC.
K- Yamada and another pilot patrol, NEC.
K- At 04:55 Okawa and another pilot took-off on a patrol mission but NEC. At 13:50 Yamada, Saihara and Suzuki patrol in pairs. Yamada spots two enemy seaplanes on reconnaissance mission to Kiska, attacks and one of the seaplanes is shot down. The second escaped. Ammunition used: 20mmX120, 7.7X300. The other two pairs didn't spot enemy.
At 14:50 Okawa and PO2c Uchiyama take-off to patrol in pairs. Okawa spotted two enemy reconnaissance floatplanes at 15:40, attacked and the enemy escaped. At 15:50 the US fleet was discovered by Uchiyama and Okawa and the pilots make strafing and bombing attacks while relating the enemy position back to base. Ammunition used, Okawa pair: 30kgX4, 20mmX210, 7.7mmX1200. Uchiyama pair: 30kgX4, 20mmX240, 7.7mmX2000.
I- A US fleet with cruisers and destroyers was spotted and attacked. One Rufe destroyed. On the same afternoon there were air battles three times with seaplanes from the US fleet. Lt Yamada and PO2c Sasaki Giichi fought with two US seaplanes shooting down one. PO2c Okawa, PO3c Uchiyama, PO2c Minazawa strafed and bombed the US fleet.
In the book “Air War Pacific: Chronology: America’s Air War Against Japan in East Asia and the Pacific, 1941 – 1945” Eric Hammel mentions: “August 7, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Four of seven 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s dispatched to attack Kiska return to base because of mechanical problems, and the others are unable to attack because of cloud cover over the target. A USN surface battle force bombards Japanese positions and facilities on Kiska. Spotter planes launched from several USN cruisers are chased into clouds by A6M2-Ns, which then serve as spotters for shore batteries. One A6M2-N strafes a USN destroyer and one H6K fails in its attempt to bomb a cruiser. Among other damage, one H6K is destroyed at its mooring. Patrol Wing 4 PBYs dispatched to bomb Kiska sink a damaged freighter at its mooring.”
“The Thousand-Mile War - World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians” by Brian Gardfield has the following on that day's events: “Navigating through the fog by radar and dead reckoning, Smith headed west through four days of risky voyaging, plunged into clear weather at 7:30 on the evening of August 7, and heard a lookout shout "Land Ho!" Smith had found Kiska—no mean feat. As he moved into position, he called in an air strike from the bombers waiting overhead; Eareckson's planes plastered the harbor, and a few minutes later Admiral Smith launched six observation planes from the catapults of his cruisers. Admiral Theobald had ordered him not to go in close to the island; reefs were too plentiful and the waters were not well charted. The task force stood out, five miles offshore, hidden from its targets by high ridges. Gun crews waited for the observation planes to signal target coordinates. Kiska's two remaining Rufe float-fighters had taken off valiantly to chase Eareckson's bombers. They were still in the air when the American catapult observation planes appeared. Kiska's deadly nests of flak guns filled the sky with black orchid bursts so heavy that the American SOCs could not get a clear view of the targets; harassed by the two fast Rufes, the clumsy old SOCs had to take refuge in the clouds. A Rufe shot one of them down; another came chug-ging down onto the water beside Indianapolis, splintered by 167 bullet holes (one of them in the pilot's foot). The four other observation planes got shot up and chased into the clouds. With his aerial eyes blinded, Admiral Smith was ready to abandon the effort when the two Rufes slithered into sight overhead and started calling target fire for Kiska's batteries. In a ludicrous reversal, Japanese shore guns began to bombard the American ships. Incensed, Admiral Smith put his ships into line astern and steamed back and forth, five miles offshore, loosing enormous salvos in the general direction of the Japanese base. More enraged than worried by the long-range Japanese gunnery, he pounded Kiska with every ton of high explosives in his magazines. The barrage was so heavy that he ran out of ammunition in seven minutes. Thereupon he recovered two of his catapult planes (the others flew to Umnak) and retired into the fog. None of his ships was damaged except for chipped paint here and there. The Air Force immediately dubbed it "The Navy's Spring Plowing." Admiral Smith's huge broadsides had dug a spectac-ular great hole in the tundra half a mile from the nearest targets of any importance. A few stray shells had done small damage—two Japanese soldiers were killed, holes were blown in a barracks and two landing barges and three beached, previously wrecked flying boats. The only real harm was done to a small freighter, hit by a wild, random four-inch shell that set her on fire and made her an easy target for a PBY which sank her later in the evening.”
K- At 02:00 Suzuki pair took-off on patrol, NEC, returned to base at 14:40. At 05:10 Yamada pair patrol, NEC, returned to base 07:30. At 05:45 Okawa pair patrol, spotted five enemy aircraft attacked but the enemy escaped without any damages. Returned to base at 06:20 having spent 20mmX180, 7.7mmX300. At 05:30 Uchiyama pair patrol, NEC, returned at 08:30. At 07:40 Saihara and Sasaki took-off in pairs to patrol, NEC, returned at 08:55 and 08:50 respectively. At 09:05 Okawa pair patrol, spotted two B-24, attacked enemy escaped. No damage. Ammunition spent: 20mmX110, 7.7mmX280. After that Saihara and Suzuki took-off twice in pairs but NEC.
Hammel: “August 8, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: USAAF heavy bombers and P-38s dispatched against Kiska abort their mission, but Patrol Wing 4 PBYs attack a freighter, a transport, and several ground targets.”
K- Yamada and Okawa took-off twice , Suzuki and Uchiyama once on patrol in pairs between 11:00 and 14:50. NEC.
K- At 03:35 Saihara pair patrol mission, NEC, returned at 04:30. At 04:35 Suzuki pair patrol, NEC, returned at 07:00. At 06:30 Yamada pair patrol, NEC, returned at 09:30. At 08:00 Saihara pair patrol, NEC, returned at 08:55. At 09:00 Okawa pair patrol, at 09:40 spotted two B-24, air battle, received one bullet hole, seriously damaged the enemy but was able to escape. Ammunition spent: 20mmX150, 7.7mmX250.
Saihara pair and Suzuki alone spotted two B-24 at 09:50, attacked, enemy probable damage but escaped. Ammunition spent, Saihara pair: 20mmX200, 7.7mmX400, Suzuki: 30kgX2, 20mmX120, 7.7mmX200.
After that more patrols by Uchiyama, Yamada, Saihara in pairs and Sasaki alone but NEC.
Hammel: “August 10, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Five 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-17s and three B-24s attack Kiska. One B-24 is downed by antiaircraft fire, and only the pilot is rescued.”
Hammel: “August 28, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Three 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-17s attack Kiska. One B-17 is lost. A scheduled mission against Attu is canceled because of bad weather.”
August 14 and 31
Both days five Jake seaplanes were ferried in by Kimikawa Maru.
On August 30 US forces landed on Adak Island, closing the distance to Kiska and Attu. A landing strip was put together in the incredible space of only ten days and US fighters could escort heavy bombers which had to fly from Umnak near Alaska until that time.
Gardfield has an excellent piece about that on page 159: “On August 31, the day after the landings, the Engineers were ready to drain the lagoon. They left the gate open until the tide emptied out of the lagoon. At dead low tide the gate was slammed shut and sealed. Before morning, the Engineers had rolled their weasels and graders into the muddy lagoon. The steel mat designed for the runway had sunk with a capsizing barge; Colonel Whitesell's Engineers did without, by bulldozing a flat airstrip of hard-packed sand. The storm quit four days after the landings. Fighters from Umnak flew relays of air-cover umbrellas over Adak, but the Japanese did not come; they were too busy at Kiska, where Eareckson was using every hour of flyable weather to pin them down and keep them from flying search missions eastward. Pilots took extraordinary risks to stay over Kiska as long as possible and keep the Japanese busy; one P-38 strafed a mess line of Japanese soldiers, beat up several Rufes on the water, and stayed over Kiska for four hours. It returned to Umnak after nearly nine hours in the air, with a teaspoon of fuel remaining. A few days later, Captain Fred M. Smith flew the weather mission to Kiska, and did his bit to keep the enemy occupied: he had no bombs aboard, but his machine guns were loaded, and when he saw a Japanese destroyer-minelayer at Kiska, he went in shooting... In the meantime there were no Japanese attacks on Adak. Uninhibited by enemy discovery, the Engineers rushed ahead. General Butler had feared it would take four months to build the air field. In the end, it took Talley's Engineers a flat ten days.” According to Hammel: “September 3, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Six B-24s and five P-38s are dispatched from Umnak/Fort Glenn Airdrome against Kiska in the longest over-water attack of the war to date. Five B-24s and three P-38s abort in the face of bad weather, but the remaining three aircraft destroy as many as four moored IJN seaplanes, and all return safely from the 1,260-mile round trip. Seventh Air Force B-24s from the 30th Heavy Bombardment Group's 21st Heavy Bombardment Squadron arrive at Umnak/ Fort Glenn Airdrome from Hawaii for temporary duty with the Eleventh Air Force's 28th Composite Bombardment Group.” September 7 PO2c Sasaki fought against PBY. Many hits but no kill. Hammel: “September 6, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: A 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24 on patrol duty sinks an IJN minelayer and strafes a tender at Tanaga Island.” September 8 ENS Saito and PO2c Minazawa found and fought against three very low flying B-24. 2 B-24 black smoke but not shot down. Saito’s plane received many hits and was written off. Around that time US bombers changed from high to low altitude bombing since they often couldn’t see the target due to many clouds. As a result air battles became fierce. Hammel: “September 7, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Three 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s bomb targets in Kiska Harbor and down one IJN float fighter.” September 14 One B-24 and two P-38 attacked at low altitude. LT Yamada, PO2c Suzuki and PO2c Narita took off to intercept. One P-38 was forced to make emergency landing. Hammel: “September 13, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: While an Eleventh Air Force LB-30 photographs Kiska, two 54th Fighter Squadron P-38s strafe a seaplane tender and ground targets. One P-38 pilot downs an A6M2-N over Kiska, but one P-38 is damaged by ground fire and the LB-30 is damaged by an A6M2-N. All three USAAF aircraft return safely. This is the last time combat aircraft based at Umnak/Fort Glenn Field mount a mission directly against Kiska.” Gardfield has more details: “It was September 13, exactly two weeks after the Adak landings, when the Air Force flew its last long-range 1200-mile Umnak-to-Kiska flight of the war. Lucian Wernick flew the photorecon mission, in one of the old LB-30 Liberators escorted by two Lightnings. It proved a stirring climax to the Umnak phase of the Aleutian Campaign. Wheeler wrote: "Two Zeroes were laying for us at the base of the overcast. They were flushed out and engaged by our escort. [A P-38 shot one Zero down in flames.] Coming out of our bomb-photography run, one Zero paralleled our course until a few bursts of our waist gun dissuaded his attempts to cut in on us. Shortly after, we saw two fighters flying under a cloud base at 3 o'clock. Captain Wernick turned to a head-on course to them, thinking they were our escort. It turned out they were Zeroes. One Zero, completely surprised, pulled up and fled into the overcast. The other attacked, put one explosive 20mm shell through our left bomb-bay door, cutting a fuel line and just missing the nose fuses of our 500 lb. bombs." Wernick's turret guns had jammed. When the Zero circled wide to make another pass, Wernick turned toward it, to give the Zero the smallest target and the shortest possible time-on-target. Wernick was flying a collision course toward the enemy plane. "He didn't know what kind of secret weapon I had," Wernick recalls. "He fired one more burst and ran for home." Newspapers later picked up the story and dubbed Wernick the only four-engine pursuit pilot in the Air Force."” September 15 A mixed force of 12 heavy bombers and 28 fighters were encountered by four Rufe. ENS Saito Kiyomi and PO3c Uchiyama Katsutaro failed to return.PO2c Minazawa shot down one P-38, plus one trailed smoke and one was forced to make emergency landing. PO2c Sasaki Giichi shot down three P-38 and one F4U (?) but received damage. Made emergency landing and during alighting his plane flipped over. At the end of that day only one Rufe remained operational. Hammel: “September 14, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Thirteen 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s and one B-17, escorted by 14 XI Fighter Command P-38s and 14 P-39s, mount the first USAAF attack against the Japanese submarine base at Kiska from the new USAAF advance airfield at Adak Island. P-39s strafe three IJN submarines with their 37mm nose guns, two minesweepers are sunk by bombs, and several ships and barges are damaged. In addition to strafing antiaircraft emplacements and shore installations, 54th Fighter Squadron P-38 pilots and 42d Fighter Squadron (54th Fighter Group) P-39 pilots down four A6M2- Ns and a biplane over Kiska. Two P-38s and their pilots are lost in a mid-air collision.”
Again Gardfield has more details: “On September 14, the new base launched a combined maximum effort—a deck-level attack by two squadrons of heavy bombers and twenty-eight fighters. It was the first combined zero-altitude strike of World War II. Eareckson led. Escorted by fourteen P-38 Lightnings and fourteen P-39 Aircobras (going into their Aleutian baptism of fire), his twelve Liberators droned across the 240 miles to Kiska at wave-top level, hoping to take Kiska by surprise. But visibility was good and the Japanese observation post on Little Kiska picked up the approaching airplanes far out at sea. Kiska's antiaircraft opened up at ten miles and rode the mission all the way in. At fifty feet, risking dunking in the waves, Eareckson took evasive action. The heavies banked and sideslipped through the enemy flak with only a few minor hits. They roared in like meteors, too fast and too low for the 75-mm flak guns to follow, but big targets for Kiska's machine-gun bunkers. Splattered with bullets, Eareckson's twelve B-24s dropped an avalanche of explosive in the space of three minutes which caused more damage than all previous raids combined (not exluding the Navy's bombardment of the previous month). They sank two Japanese ships, set three others afire, destroyed three midget submarines and their pens, collapsed half a dozen antiaircraft guns, smashed several buildings to junk and set fire to a dozen shore installations. More than two hundred Japanese soldiers were killed or wounded. One flight of P-38s came in low, strafed the harbor, destroyed a flying boat and chewed up seven anchored Rufes. Overhead, the P-39 Aircobras swirled into wheeling dogfights with the five Rufes that had managed to take off. The five Japanese pilots were weatherbeaten, fatigued, and outnumbered. Their reactions were slow; they flew badly. One by one, the American pursuit planes cut them out. All five Rufes went down flaming. None of them had hit any American planes, but two P-38s, chasing the same Rufe down, collided in midair and crashed; one had been flown by Major W. M. Jackson, commander of the 54th Fighter Squadron.”
AAHS Journal, Vol. 49, in the article “The Fighting 54th, The Forgotten Squadron of the Forgotten War” it is confirmed that the P-38s of “Major Jackson and Lieutenant Crow collided over North Head while going after one of the float fighters.”
Six Rufe and two Jake arrived to Kiska on board Kimikawa Maru.
Early morning LT Yamada and PO2c Morikawa fought against a mix force of more than 20 B-24 and P-39. Yamada shot down 1 P-39 but Morikawa didn’t return.
After noticing the enemy planes five Rufe attempted to take off. While doing so, Sasaki Tadashi (?)and Sasaki Giichi were hit and damaged by P-39s. Sasaki Yoshikazu continued to attack but didn't shoot down any enemy aircraft.
Hammel: “September 25, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: In the first of two missions against Kiska, nine 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s, a B-17, and a B-24 photo-reconnaissance bomber—escorted by eleven 42d Fighter Squadron P-39s, seven 11th Fighter Squadron, and eleven 11 RCAF Squadron P-40s—attack the island. An 11th Fighter Squadron P-40 pilot downs an A6M2-N over Kiska at 1000 hours, as does an 11 RCAF Squadron P-40 pilot. This is the last aerial victory credited to the 11th Fighter Squadron in World War II.
In the day's second mission, two B-24s, a B-17, and 15 P-39s attack shipping, buildings, and stores at Kiska and Little Kiska islands. One large transport is severely damaged by a direct hit. Also, the P-39s strafe two IJN submarines at the Kiska submarine base as well as destroy between five and eight floatplanes on the water.”
I found in THIS extremely interesting and well done site that the 111 Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron's Daily Diary has the following entry regarding the events of that day: “September 25, 1942 Summary of Operational Mission on Kiska Squadron Leader K.A. Boomer, Flying Officers R. Lynch, J. G. Gohl, and Pilot Officer H.O. Gooding departed from Fort Glenn at 1330 hours, 22-9-42 to refuel at Fireplace, then to strafe Kiska. The mission consisted of 9 B-24's, 12 P-39's and 20 P-40's. The aircraft landed at Fireplace at 1600 hours, 22-9-42, refueling by all crews was carried out, and the following morning at 0900 hours the aircraft took off to complete the mission. Heavy rainstorms and poor visibility was encountered for approximately one hour's flying, and the aircraft were forced to turn back, weather necessitating the aircraft ascending to 17,000 feet on the return trip. One American aircraft was lost, supposedly due to weather, and the planes landed at 11:45 hours. Continued bad weather prevented the operation from being carried out until the morning of the 25th. At 0800 hours, 25-9-42 the aircraft again took off, and the weather was good throughout the trip. We arrived at Kiska harbour at approximately 10:00 hours. The Canadian Flight crossed Little Kiska Island, experiencing little fire from that point. Crossing the north head of the Harbour they heavily attacked naval gun emplacements and also several 50 calibre guns, continuing they attacked the main camp area and Squadron Leader Boomer with Pilot Officer Gooding also attacked enemy Radar Stations. Turning right the formation re-crossed the north head again attacking gun emplacements. Inside the Harbour area one enemy zero fighter float plane was encountered and destroyed by Squadron Leader Boomer. After circling the harbour, an enemy submarine was discovered also being attacked by American pilots. Canadians joined in this and made several attacks each. The formation then joined the B-24's, five miles east of Segula Island and returned to the base at Fireside (sic), landing at 11:50 hours. The Canadian Pilots expended their full load of ammunition and returned safely with no damage to the aircraft. The time of the trip was 3 hours and 50 minutes.” The book “War on Our Doorstep: The Unknown Campaign on North America's West Coast” by Brendan Coyle, Heritage House Publishing Co, has the following on that day: “On September 25 the first fighter-escorted bomber missions took place, with Jack Chennault leading the 343rd Fighter Group of Aleutian Tigers and four RCAF P40s of the 111th under Squadron Leader Boomer flying escort. The fighters took off from Adak at eight in the morning to make the treacherous 400-kilometre trip to Kiska. Overhead the fighters rendezvoused with seven B24 Liberators of the 36th Bombardment Squadron flying out of Cold Bay. Nearly two hours later the Canadians regrouped east of Kiska. They would attack the harbour from the east while the Americans would come at it from the west. The Liberators first plastered the harbour with incendiaries to soften up Japanese gun positions. Six minutes later it was the fighters' turn, giving the enemy on the ground enough time to come out of the bunkers. The Canadians made the first run on Kiska where, because of unusually clear weather, the Japanese spotted them with time to send up their two remaining Rufes. Pom-pom bursts of flak went up from Little Kiska, the small island sentinel in the harbour, as Kittyhawk machine guns threw back tracer fire. At dock in the harbour's north head were some of the larger Japanese float planes—the big four-engined Mavis bombers and Pete twin-wing reconnaissance planes. The Kittyhawks ripped through them as the aircrews frantically scrambled to get them into the air. Once past the harbour, the Canadians sent the construction crews that were returning to work on the roughed-in airstrip diving for cover. Immediately on the tails of the Canadians, Chennault's Tigers appeared to take their turn at tearing into the float planes in the bay and the shore gunners firing on the swarming fighters. The Canadian planes regrouped over the uninhabited west side of the island and had come back over the harbour when Squadron Leader Boomer saw a Rufe on the tail of a Warhawk, laying into him with machine-gun fire. The battle-seasoned Boomer pulled back hard and, in his words, "climbed to a stall practically, pulled up right under him. I just poured it into him from underneath. He flamed up and went down."' The pilot rode it down as long as he could, then bailed out, hitting the water before his chute opened. The plane exploded on impact. Jack Chennault brought the other Rufe corkscrewing down, trailing a plume of black smoke... It was the strongest show of force yet against the enemy, and the first combined U.S.-Canadian fighter mission of the Alaskan war. The attack on Kiska had claimed as many as eight Pete float planes in the harbour and the two Rufe fighters...”
Early morning five Rufe took off after radar warning. Found four enemy aircraft and attacked. One PBY trailed black smoke.
Later the same day five B-24 came to attack. Two Rufe on patrol plus three more took off. One B-24 trailed black smoke from two engines.
Hammel: “September 27, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Fourteen 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s and one B-17 dispatched in two waves attack shore and harbor facilities at Kiska. Thirteen of 18 escort fighters abort in the face of bad weather.”
The publication “Combat Chronology 1941 - 1945”, Compiled by Kit C. Carter, Robert Mueller (Center for Air Force History Washington, DC 1991), (hereafter CC) has the following on the day:
“9/27/42 Eleventh AF Shore and harbor areas of Kiska are bombed: 8 B-24’s and 1 B-17, escorted by 1 P-38, 13 P-39’s and 4 P-40’s take off first, and are followed by 6 unescorted B-24’s. Weather turns back 13 of the ftrs. An LB-30 flies photo-weather rcn over Attu, Buldir, the Semichis, Agattu, and Amchitka.”
Two Rufe against a force of 20 B-24, P-39, P-40 and other types. One P-39 shot down. Sasaki Tadashi dead. Three more Rufe took off. Miyazawa didn’t return. Two Rufe received hits. One Rufe left operational, two under repairs.
Hammel: “September 28, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: 28th Composite Bombardment Group heavy bombers attack Attu and Kiska islands. A 54th Fighter Squadron P-38 pilot downs an A6M and a 57th Fighter Squadron (54th Fighter Group) P-39 pilot downs two A6M2-Ns over Kiska. One P-39 is lost with its pilot.”
CC:“9/28/42 Eleventh AF 2 bombing missions are flown to Kiska and Attu by 7 B-24’s, 1 B-17, and 1 LB-30, escorted by 17 ftrs. Installations on Kiska and a freighter nearby are bombed. 1 of the B-24’s and the LB-30 bomb village and Chichagof Harbor on Attu and on returning silence AA guns on a freighter. 5 float-planes are shot down, and 1 submarine is sunk. 1 P-39 is shot down.”
Gardfield has the following: “From its Adak base, Eareckson's Bomber Command stepped up its Kiska missions. Canada's 111th Fighter Squadron came down to join in, and by late September regular missions were going out with a dozen heavy bombers, a dozen mediums, and thirty fighters. They would rendezvous off Little Kiska. The fighters had three minutes to knock out flak guns before the bombers made their run. Fighter strafing helped keep Japanese heads down while the bombers attacked. A flight of fighters flew top cover, close to the photorecon plane. One flight of bombers would go for the ships in harbor; the other flight would paste ground facilities —particularly the air field the Japanese were trying to build. Eareckson sometimes came in as low as ten feet off the water, to stay under the field of fire of the ships' flak guns. One fighter was assigned to scout for submarine nets, another to search Gertrude Cove and other bays for hidden submarines. Pilots were warned not to be fooled by dummy float planes. Kiska had a Japanese radio operator who knew just about every American pilot by name; he would call in, trying to confuse the pilots: "Jim, where's Red at?" American pilots cursed him, tried to find his radio shack and bomb it, but never succeeded; the radio room was underground.”
Seven B-24 against four Rufe. One B-24 trailed black smoke.
Hammel: “September 30, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Seven of nine 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s dispatched against Kiska and Attu attack their targets. Eight IJN fighters attack the bombers over Kiska, but no losses result.
Japanese aircraft mount the first of many nuisance raids against Adak Airdrome.” CC: “9/30/42 Eleventh AF Of 9 B-24’s off to bomb Kiska and Attu, 2 turn back. The others blast Attu Camp area, and at Kiska Harbor score at least 1 direct hit and near misses on a ship. 8 ftrs intercept over Kiska and Little Kiska but inflict no losses.”
Small air battle
Hammel: “October 1, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: While seven 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s attack the Kiska seaplane base, P-39 pilots of the 54th Fighter Group's 42d Fighter Squadron down four A6M2-Ns over Kiska at 1040 hours.” CC: “10/1/42 Eleventh AF A Japanese rcn airplane over Adak establishes US occupation on the island. 7 B-24’s on a searchattack and photo rcn mission over Kiska hit hangars and ramps, starting several fires. 4 ftrs appear and are engaged. 1 probable victory is claimed. 2 other B-24’s take off, after Navy Catalinas contact transport, but cannot locate it.” The book “Jungle Ace: The Story of One of the USAAF's Great Fighter Leaders, Col. Gerald R. Johnson” by John R. Bruning has the following dramatic narration: “October 1, 1942, a time to avenge Miller's death. Jerry, Art Rice, and two other men from the group were ordered to escort another B-24 strike to Kiska. A flight of P-40s was also supposed to cover the bombers, but en route to Kiska they all aborted, leaving just four Airacobras to shepherd the vulnerable Liberators. The small formation continued on to Kiska at 16,500 feet, flying through scattered clouds. Just before the bombers began their run over the harbor, Jerry spotted a glint of sunlight on the canopy of a Japanese fighter, which he called out on the radio. The formation watched the lone plane, but it veered well clear of the Americans, so the bomb run was completed without interception. The quartet of Airacobras weaved protectively over the B-24s, keeping their airspeed between 250 and 300 mph as the pilots scanned the skies for any other intruders. From his perch, Jerry watched the bomb run, keeping one eye on the sky around him, and one eye on the explosions walking along Kiska's docks and harbor facilities. The Liberators had really plastered the target this time, much to everyone's satisfaction. The Americans turned for home, unhindered save for scattered antiaircraft fire. Jerry and his comrades ignored the ugly black smears, reasoning, "By the time you see them (the bursts), they are harmless." On the way out, though, that lone Rufe decided to make a run at the last box of Liberators. Jerry's earphones crackled with a call for help from a distraught bomber crew. He searched the sky below him until he found the Rufe, already beginning a firing pass at the B-24. Quickly, Jerry rocked his wings to signal his wingman, Lieutenant Malcolm Moss, then rolled Scrap-Iron on its side and turned towards the Japanese fighter. He reached it just after the Rufe finished a gunnery pass on a Liberator from dead astern. It started climbing over the B-24 it had singled out, getting ready to make another pass. That was when Jerry and Moss swept down on it, catching the Japanese pilot by surprise. Jerry opened on with all his guns at long range, hoping to scare the Rufe away from the bomber, but his guns fired only a split-second burst before all seven jammed. His guns had frozen in the bitter cold over Kiska! Still, Jerry kept his P-39 pointed at the Rufe, which he briefly considered ramming. Instead, he blazed past his target, passing so close he could clearly see the Japanese pilot in the cockpit. He banked away from the Rufe, a mistake that allowed it to take a snap shot at him. Tracer rounds zipped by, just off either wing, and one round put a hole in his propeller blade just above cockpit level. With the Rufe behind, Jerry pulled up and tried to disengage so he could try and get his guns working. The Japanese pilot stayed on his tail, climbing after him as Jerry charged and recharged his guns. When the Rufe started to gain on him, he turned into it, forcing a head-on pass. As the two planes tore at each other, Jerry prayed that his guns would work. Later, he wrote, "It was a funny feeling 'cause I didn't know if my guns were going to fire." The Rufe quickly came into range, and Jerry jammed his entire hand down on the trigger. His four .30-calibers barked in reply, sending out a stream of bullets that ripped into the Rufe's cowling and wings. Simultaneously, the Japanese pilot opened up as well, his tracers filling the sky around the P-39. Neither pilot would break, and the planes hurtled towards each other on a collision course, each one spitting tracers at the other. Finally, just a split second before impact, Jerry shoved the stick forward and plunged beneath the float plane. As he did, he looked back over his shoulder to see the Rufe spiraling down, a long tongue of smoke and flame trailing behind it. Lieutenant Moss's voice filled Jerry's earphones, "You got the son of a bitch, Johnson! Let's go home!" Far below, the Rufe plummeted into the sea.”
Eleven B-24 and eight P-38 against two Rufe seaplanes. One P-38 shot down, one not confirmed kill. Two more Rufe took off later, one B-24 trailed black smoke.
Hammel: “October 2, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Eleven 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s and six P-39s attack two cargo ships in Kiska harbor and the seaplane ramp, and drop demolition charges throughout the main Japanese encampment. IJN aircraft attack the U.S. base at Adak, but no damage results.”
CC: “10/2/42 Eleventh AF 11 B-24’s and 6 P-39’s bomb 2 cargo ships at Kiska Harbor (no hits observed) drop demolition charges throughout Main Camp area, and hit hangar S of seaplane ramp. 4 float-planes and 1 biplane are shot down. Enemy aircraft bomb Adak A/F without inflicting damage.”
Radar warning. Three Rufe against five B-24, five P-38 and five P-39. Naito claimed one P-38. Sato didn’t return. Utachu damaged plane. No operational Rufe seaplanes left.
Hammel: “October 3, 1942 ALEUTIAN ISLANDS: Six 28th Composite Bombardment Group B-24s, four 343d Fighter Group P-38s, and eight 54th Fighter Group P-39s bomb and strafe seven ships in Kiska harbor.
P-38 and P-39 pilots down five IJN twin-float fighters over Kiska Island. IJN aircraft attack the U.S. base at Adak, but no damage results.”
CC: “10/3/42 Eleventh AF 6 B-24’s, 4 P-38’s, and 8 P-39’s bomb and strafe 7 vessels in and around Kiska Harbor hitting a beached cargo vessel and the camp. The ftrs down 6 float ftrs attempting interception. Enemy bombs Adak A/F but inflicts no damage.”
The 5th Kokutai during that time period used the letter "R-" for their tail marking.
The photos below, from vintage magazines, were taken between August and December 1942.
An excellent photo showing an A6M2-N under maintenance. The tail marking is censored but the letter "R" is visible. Note the Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" in the background.
Two more Rufe seaplanes of the 5th under canvas covers protecting the more sensitive parts of the aircraft from the elements.
"Umi no Arawasitachi" (Sea Wild Eagles), as the original caption calls them, spend their time playing quoits, "wanage" in Japanese. In the background is a Rufe on the left and a Jake on the right. Note the twin binoculars made by "Nippon Kogaku Kogyo" (present day "Nikon") and what looks like a bullhorn on the left.
Final instructions before taking off from Kiska island on another patrol mission.
Lunch time on Kiska. The pilots are wearing winter Type 17 (1942) one-piece flying suit and although the kanji are not clear enough the pot in the foreground is probably a “hango” (here).
Here's another photo I found here. The same photo is featured in the “Japanese Naval Fighter Aces: 1932-45” by Ikuhiko Hata, Yashuho Izawa, Christopher Shores (Stackpole Books) and the caption says: “Pilots of 5 Ku float fighter unit at Kiska in August 1942. Back row, extreme left, Sea2c Hachiro Norita,; 2nd from left, PO2c Giichi Sasaki. Note "R-106" on the tail of A6M2-N. Several of the unit's pilots, including the leader, are not present in this photograph.”
Here's artwork from our friend Devlin Chouinard and compare the color of the tail marking above with the fuselage hinomaru.
Devlin Chouinard created artwork of two other 5th Ku Rufe based on photos featured in the “Koku Journal” article with tail marking R-102 and R-107. These two aircraft were clearly painted green on the upper surfaces.