IJ Navy Air Service

Yokosuka D4Y Judy Dive Bomber

The Yokosuka D4Y Suisei (Comet) Judy was the fastest carrier based dive bomber in service during WWII. Inspired by the German Heinkel HE-118 dive bomber, the Judy first flew in December 1940. Due to extensive problems, the Judy was first accepted for use as a reconnaissance aircraft. It took until March of 1943 for the development problems to be corrected so that the Judy was able to be used as a dive bomber. Used at the battles of Midway, Marianas and the Philippines, the Judy was not very successful due to it's lack of self sealing fuel tanks and armor. The D4Y3 replaced the original liquid cooled engine with an air cooled radial engine. The new engine was a great improvement and the D4Y3 saw combat in the battle of Okinawa. On March 19, 1945 a Judy attacked the carrier USS Franklin putting her out of commission with a loss of 724 lives. At the end of the war the Judy was used as a Kamikaze aircraft. The last Judy sortie of the war was on the last day of the war when Vice Admiral Ugaki Matome led 11 D4Y's in a final suicide attack on US ships off Okinawa. The Judy was typically armed with two forward firing 7.7 mm Type 97 machineguns, one 7.92 mm machinegun in the rear cockpit and 1100 lbs of bombs. 2,038 D4Y Judy's were built.

Yokosuka D4Y3 Judy Navy Dive Bomber

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Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe Floatplane

The Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe was a single seat seaplane based on the Mitsubishi A6M Zero Model 11. The Rufe was developed to support amphibious operations and defend remote bases. The A6M2-N was used throughout the war in the Pacific serving in the Aleutians, Solomon Islands, Dutch East Indies and North Kuriles. It also served aboard seaplane carriers and Japanese raiders. In spite of being a seaplane, the Rufe was fast and maneuverable and could even outmaneuver many Allied fighters. Japanese Navy aces Master Sergeant Kawai and Master Sergeant Maruyama each shot down four American Grumman F4F Wildcat fighters using the Rufe. During the final year of the war the remaining Rufes were based at Lake Biwa and were used as interceptors in defense of Central Honshu but suffered very heavy losses. Total production of 'Rufe' amounted to 327 before being halted in September 1943. The Rufe also successfully engaged P-38 Lightning's and B-17 Flying Fortresses. Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe was armed with 2 7.7 mm Type 97 machineguns and 2 20 mm Type 99 cannons and cold carry 2 132 lb. bombs.

Nakajima A6M2-N Rufe Navy Float Plane Fighter

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Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka Kamikaze Flying Bomb

The Yokosuka MXY-7 Model 11 Ohka (cherry blossom) was a human piloted rocket with 2,646 lbs. of Ammonal in the nose. It was designed to be carried close to its target by a Mitsubishi G4M Betty bomber and then dropped to make a final high speed suicide kamikaze attack. While the final approach was almost unstoppable because the Ohka could fly at 403 mph in level flight and 650 mph in a dive, it had to be carried to within 23 miles of its’ target by a very slow mother plane. This made it very vulnerable to interception by USN carrier fighters. While several versions were designed, the only operational Ohka was the Model 11. It was basically a 2,646 lb. bomb with wooden wings, powered by three Type 4 Model 1 Mark 20 solid-fuel rocket motors. About 855 were built. Only 7 US ships were damaged or sunk by Ohkas throughout the war. The USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) was the first Allied ship to be sunk by Ohka aircraft near Okinawa on April 12, 1945. In a typical raid on March 21, 1945, 16 Ohka carrying Bettys were to be escorted by 55 Zeros to attack Task Group 58.1. 25 Zeros had to turn back or could not take off. The Ohka attack force was intercepted by USN Hellcats and the Ohkas were immediately jettisoned by the Bettys about 70 miles from the target. None of the Bettys returned, no ships were attacked, 16 kamikaze pilots were lost and only 15 damaged Zeros made it back. United States sailors gave the aircraft the nickname Baka (Japanese for fool or idiot).

Yokosuka MXY7 Model 11 Ohka Navy Kamikaze Bomb Fool

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Mitsubishi F1M Pete Floatplane

The Mitsubishi F1M Pete was a Japanese reconnaissance floatplane and was last biplane used by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Navy designation was Type Zero Observation Seaplane. First flying in 1936 production continued until 1944 with 1,118 built. The F1M1 was powered by the Nakajima Hikari MK1 radial engine, delivering 820 hp, had a maximum speed of 230 mph and a range of 670 miles. The Pete was originally built as a catapult launched reconnaissance float plane, specializing in gunnery spotting. However it took on a number of roles including area-defense fighter, convoy escort, bomber, ASW, maritime patrol, rescue and transport. It also ended up fighting in dogfights in the Aleutians and the Solomons. In one memorable battle, four Petes attacked and sunk PT-34 near Kauit Island while they were attempting to evacuate from The Philippines. The Mitsubishi F1M2 Pete was armed with 2 7.7 mm Type 97 machineguns and one flexible mount rearward firing 7.7 mm Type 92 machinegun and could carry 2 132 lb. bombs.

Mitsubishi FI M2  Pete Navy Float Plane Scout

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Mitsubishi A6M5 Type 52 Zero Carrier Fighter

The Mitsubishi A6M Zero was a long range carrier based fighter flown by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. Design work on the A6M began in October 1937 in response to a specification issued to improve on the A5M based on combat experience in China. The requirements of the new design were so stringent that the only way to achieve them was to strip the aircraft of all armor and self sealing gas tanks and to use a special lightweight but brittle aluminum alloy for the airframe. The final design was one of the most modern in the world when it was introduced; highly maneuverable, fast and well armed. The first Zeros became operational in July 1940 and on September 13, 1940 the Zero scored it’s first victory when 13 Zeros fought 27 Polikarpov I-15s and I-16s, shooting down all the fighters for no losses. At the time of Pearl Harbor 420 Zeros were active in the Pacific. Because of its combination of maneuverability and firepower the Zeros easily destroyed it’s Allied opponents in 1941. While the Zero quickly gained a fearsome reputation at the beginning of the war with a kill ration of 12:1, as the war went on the Zero became outclassed by newer Allied fighters and tactics and the critical lack of protection was to prove a major weakness. By 1943 the inherent design weaknesses and lack of more powerful engines meant that the Zero was obsolescent but it had to soldier on until the end of the war due to a lack of a replacement. It is estimated that the Zero shot down about 1,550 US aircraft. The A6M5 Type 0 Model 52 was the most effective Zero variant and was developed in response to the appearance on the F6F Hellcat and F4U Corsair. It was a development of the A6M3 Model 22 and added non-folding wing tips and thicker wing skinning to permit faster diving speeds, plus an improved exhaust system and the clipped wings of the A6M3 which gave the M5 an improved roll-rate. The A6M5 had a maximum speed of 340 mph and was armed with 2 13.2 mm Type 3 Machineguns and 2 20 mm Type 99 cannons in the wings and 2 7.7 mm Type 97 machineguns in the engine cowling. 10,939 Zeros of all types were produced. This model shows a Mitsubishi A6M5 Type 52 Zero flown by Japanese Ace Naval Air Pilot 1st class Takeo Tanimizu flying out of Kagoshima, Japan in March 1945. Tanimizu had 32 victories, survived the war and passed away on March 12, 2008 at the age of 88.

Mitsubishi A6M5 Model 52 Type 0 Zero Navy Fighter

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Aichi D3A Val Carrier Dive Bomber

The Aichi D3A Val was a carrier based IJN dive bomber. Designed in 1936 and influenced by the HE-70 the Val first flew in 1937. After extensive redesign work to correct directional instability and power problems the Val entered service in 1940 qualifying on the carriers Akagi and Kaga. The Val was the primary dive bomber of the IJN during WWII. It participated in almost all of the carrier actions throughout the war beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. The Val often attacked in conjunction with other aircraft, especially torpedo planes, so it is difficult to determine just how many ships were sunk by the Val. However it is credited with sinking 2 heavy cruisers, 6 aircraft carriers, 12 destroyers, 1 merchant cruiser and a seaplane tender making it the most successful Axis naval attack plane of WWII. On rare occasions the Val was also forced into the fighter role where, in the early years of the war, it had some success due to it’s maneuverability. When the IJN introduced the Yokosuka D4Y Judy the Val was relegated to land bases and smaller aircraft carriers. During the last year of the war the Val was used as a kamikaze plane. One Val survives today at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California and one at National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. The Aichi D3A Val was armed with two 7.7 mm Type 97 machineguns in the cowling and one 7.7 mm Type 92 machine gun in a rearward facing flexible mount and could carry one 551 lb. and two 132 lb. bombs. This model shows an Aichi D3A Val flown by Lt. Commander Takashige Egusa leader of the 21st section of the 1st squadron off of the carrier Soryu during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941.

Aichi D3A Val Carrier Dive Bomber

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