“Boeing B-29”: The Japanese and their nice toys.

At first sight nothing out of the ordinary in this quite well-made “B-29” wooden mock-up. Looks just like another airfield decoy, don’t you think?…,wrong. Taken at the Irumagawa AB (Japan), this was one of the three full-size B-29 mock-ups constructed in Japan during the war. Another, the one at the Imperial Japanese Army Academy at Saitama, was employed as a demolition trainer to develop the tactics to be employed for the “Operation Gi-gou” on Okinawa.

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Nakajima B4N1: Incom T-65’s Ojiisan.

The B4N1 was an unsuccessful Nakajima entry in an Imperial Japanese navy (IJN) 1932 carrier attack bomber contest. The IJN wanted the usual biplane, and Nakajima produced this stunning aircraft characterised by its drum-shaped welded steel tube fuselage and a bizarre backwards folding wooden “X-wing” structures. Two prototypes appeared in 1933. Their performance proved to be poor, thanks to their asthmatic and troublesome Hikari II engines, and they also suffered stability problems produced, it seems,  by the straight  outer sections in the lower pair fo wings. In the end neither the B4N1 nor its Mitsubishi competitor gained acceptance into service.

It was really something, don’t  you think so?

Yokosuka E14Y: The consolation goal.

The E14Y was conceived in the late 1930’s to replace the E9W biplane as a reconnaissance seaplane for the Imperial Japanese Navy incredible submarine aircraft carriers. Destined to be built in larger number than any other submarine-borne aircraft (126 in total) , this tiny mixed-construction monoplane undertook recon missions over Aleutians, Madagascar and the Australian and New Zealand coastlines. The North American coastline was not only observed. On 9 September 1942, an E14Y became the only Japanese manned aircraft type to ever drop bombs on the United States mainland during WW2 in the so-called “The Lookout Air Raid”. Launched from the B1-type class submarine I-25 off the coast off Oregon, the one only  E14Y was send to initiate some fires with its small incendiary bombs. It was a puny effort that caused no casualties and almost no damage. The attack was repeated a month later with similar results.

This magnificent artwork depict that event. The cylindrical sealed container before the sub tower is clearly depicted near the recovery crane. The whole operation presented a number of difficulties and serious perils, specially  during recovery, demanding a highly proficient personnel.

Heinkel He 116: こんばんは !!!

The very little known Heinkel He 116 was originally conceived in 1936 to be an ultra long-range mail plane intended to deliver airmail between Germany and Japan. Heinkel wisely chose to create a derivative of their classic He 70. Sadly, problems with the intended power plants stopped somehow the full potential of the scheme. That apart, the aircraft was basically sound. In total, 14 were produced; some for its intended role and a bunch specially developed for long-range recon military purposes. Not a world-shattering success in the end, but it wasn’t its fault.

Lovely Japanese publicity poster. Japan bought a pair of them. Arrived to Japan in April 1938, they’re operated by the Manchuria Aviation Company.