Beyond doubt, the iconic Japanese warplane was the Zero in its several manifestations Zeke, clipped-wing Hamp and float-equipped Rufe, and perhaps others. The Zeros were not the be-all and end-all of Japanese air capability, though. Descriptions and new-plane introduction clips, along with some evaluations of the JAF and the IJN air arm (many of which seem little better than trash-talking) and other related articles are listed here.
Early on, a Zeke was recovered in the Aleutians and brought to San Diego, where it was measured, inspected, tested and evaluated:
Later, a Hamp S-002, Zeke 32, A6M3-32 was recovered and received much the same treatment. It was featured in a Design Analysis article [ HTML ] , [ PDF, 12.8 MiB ] in the May, 1945.
- "Flight-Testing the Zero" [ HTML ] describes the plane and pilot impressions of the Zero recovered from Akutan Island in the Aleutians.
- "Japan is Not an Air Power" [ HTML ] is a dismissive analysis of Japanese capabilities.
- "Japanese Air Power" [ HTML ] is a highly optimistic dismissal of the air capability of the Japanese. It continues the propagandist "Japanese" are imitators" line. The article gives specs on about a dozen Japanese types. It also gives a capsule description of the command structure for Japanese air action.
- "Japanese Aircraft" [ HTML ] gives photos and capsule descriptions of 6 types and 3-view silhouettes of those and some 14 more. Many of the silhouettes are dimensioned.
The recognition article hammers home the point that "practically all" of the Japanese designs are copies of Western designs. Whether this was simple error, racism (as has been the popular claim in recent years), or a concerted effort to inure the public in this case the professional public along the West Coast to the already established policy of fighting the Germans first, with only secondary priority being assigned to the War in the Pacific, is not clear.
- "War in the Air" [ HTML ] describes the War in the Pacific in its first couple of months.
Like many early-war pieces, this article is very hawkish and hammers on the propaganda lines that the Japanese had inferior, copied, equipment and were inferior individual fighters, and that the nation's industrial capacity was not up to waging war against an industrial power like the USA.
- "The Japs Are Vulnerable" [ HTML ] includes a fairly comprehensive listing of companies involved in aircraft production in Japan, with a litany of reasons that Japan cannot win a war with the USA.
- The "Have You Seen?" section for July, 1942, has a photo of Japanese rations taken from downed planes after Pearl Harbor.
- "Jap Zero Fighter Shows Nipponese Copying Ability" [ HTML ] claims to show that the Zero is derivative from the Fw-190 and Fiat G-50. The article includes 3-view silhouettes of the Zero and the two Axis planes, as well as silhouettes of 4 other types by Mitsubishi. The article was apparently compiled before the system of assigning names to Japanese airplanes became common usage.
- "Japanese Air Power" [ HTML ] is a much more realistic estimation of Japanese ability to deploy and to manufacture warplanes.
- "I Have Flown With The Japs" [ HTML ] is a first-person account of Japanese aerial capabilities by a correspondent to the Daily Mail. He continues the myth that the Japanese sweep of Southeast Asia and the Pacific involved the use of Messerschmitt fighters along with the home-grown Japanese designs.
- "Pacific Enigma" [ HTML ] discusses Japanese loss rates and production capacity, debunking a popular idea that the Japanese air-fighting capacity was being destroyed in the Pacific.
- "New Jap Planes" [ HTML ] is a news clip announcing Tojo, Dinah, and Helen types and describing the Tony.
- A news clip about a new fighter over China [ HTML ] gives what would appear to be a garbled description of the Tojo.
- "Japanese Fighter Design" [ HTML ] discusses history and naming conventions of Japanese fighters with an emphasis on the Zero.
- "Tony Is Nips' 109" [ HTML ] is a short description of the new liquid-cooled-engine fighter.
- "This is the enemy" [ HTML ] discusses the history and organization of the Japanese air forces, both Army and Navy. There is a page showing uniforms and insignia of the various ranks.
- A news clip from September, 1944, [ HTML ] is an early mention of the Judy.
- A news clip from January, 1945, [ HTML ] introduces Ginga (Frances), Suisei (Judy), and Irving with questionable descriptions.
- A news clip from September, 1945, [ HTML ] mentions the Shu Sui, a reverse-engineered Me-163.
- "Japan is Not an Air Power" [ HTML ] includes several photos of Japanese planes in 1941"
In 1942 there were apparently few photos of Japanese planes available. Most of the articles seem to use pretty much the same set of stock photos.
- "Above are a typical Japanese pilot and gunner. They are generally inferior in quality to those of other nations." Plane is not identified, but seems to be Yokosuka B4Y Navy Type 96 Carrier Attacker (Jean).
- "Japanese pursuit ships above are Navy Type 96 fighters generally based aboard carriers." Seven Claudes taking off from a grass field.
- "Biplane at upper right is Army Type 94 reconnaissance machine now used in China." The plane seems to be a Nakajima Ki-4; this type does not seem to have been assigned a code name.
- "Center right is single-engined Navy 96 carrier-based bomber now with the fleet." The plane appears to be a Yokosuka B4Y Navy Type 96 Carrier Attacker (Jean).
- "Currently used by Japanese are Italian Fiat bombers like BR-20 directly right." Photo shows a Ruth nose and wings, seen from 11 o'clock; plane is on the ground.
- "Big bombs dropping from the above Japanese twin-engined bombers are headed for a Chinese city. These ships look like a small version of the Boeing Flying Fortress." Formation of Sally bombers dropping bombs in close trail; view is from 8 o'clock.
- "A standard trainer type is the Army 95-1 single-engined biplane above. New pilots for Japanese Army and Navy air forces can only be turned out at a rate of 600 yearly." Plane, a Spruce trainer, is on the ground, seen from 2 o'clock.
- "Japanese Aircraft" [ HTML ] (March, 1942) gives photos and capsule descriptions of 6 types:
- The "War in the Air" feature for March, 1942, [ HTML ] includes
- Mitsubishi Ki-21 Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber, Sally in flight, seen from 10 o'clock
- Mitsubishi A5M Navy Type 96 Carrier-based Fighter. Claude, misidentified as Nakajima Nate, in formation; small images, most from 10 o'clock.
- Mitsubishi Ki-30 Army Type 97 Light bomber, Ann in formation flight, seen from 8 o'clock; misidentified as Army type 98-1.
- Mitsubishi G3M Navy Type 96 Land-based Attack Aircraft, Nell in formation flight; best image seen from 4 o'clock
- Aichi D3A Navy Type 99 Carrier Bomber, Val misidentified as a fighter. Plane is going down in flames in Pearl Harbor raid.
- Nakajima B5N Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber, Kate shot down at Pearl Harbor; photo shows right wing and nose.
- Flying's "For Identification" feature typically includes a photo and three-view silhouette of :
- March, 1943
- Nell (Mitsubishi Navy Type 96) two-engine bomber
- April, 1943
- Claude (Mitsubishi A5M, Type 96 Navy) fighter, misidentified as "Nakajima 97 (Navy)".
- Sally (Mitsubishi Ki-21, Type 97 Army), also known as Jane, Gwen.
- May, 1943
- June, 1943
- Jean (Nakajima 96) biplane torpedo bomber
- Millie (Showa Sho 98) fighter-bomber; derived from license-built Vultee V-11GB attack bomber.
- Otori (identified as Mitsubishi 96-1); they have a picture and the "designed for a newspaper" story sounds familiar, but this plane is not represented in any of my other source material.
- August, 1943
- Zero (Mitsubishi 00) fighter; properly, Zeke, this early in the war they did not have a suitable photo for the ID entry.
- The "War in the Air" feature for July, 1942, shows four photos of a Japanese bomber in a Kamikaze attack on a US carrier; the plane appears to be a Betty.
Well, properly this wouldn't have been a Kamikaze attack, since the program with that name wasn't initiated until much later, but the intent and effect of suicide dives were the same.
- "Jap Zero Fighter Shows Nipponese Copying Ability" [ HTML ] includes 3-view silhouettes of 5 Japanese types:
- "Aviation's Yearbook" for 1943 includes 3-view silhouettes for 10 Japanese types, with photos for 6 of them.
The type names in the Yearbook show clearly the reason for the US name assignments to Japanese types. For example, there are Mitsubishi 96 fighter and Mitsubishi 96 bomber listed, along with Mitsubishi 97 fighter and Mitsubishi 97 bomber, and the differences between Japanese Army and Navy designation systems do not seem to have been recognized at all.
- A news clip with photo, "Float Zero for check-up" shows a Rufe hulk being offloaded for inspection.
- A news clip with photo, "Japanese bomb sight" shows a bombsight captured in the Aleutians. Type of aircraft that it's from is not indicated.
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" for October, 1943, [ HTML ] shows wing spar with aileron hinge from an Aichi 99 Val, recovered at Pearl Harbor.
- A news clip with photo, "Nip bomber nipped" shows wreckage of a Betty on New Georgia.
- A Sketchbook drawing shows a cutaway of a Zero drop tank.
- "Aviation's Yearbook" for 1944 includes 3-view silhouettes for 20 Japanese types, with photos for 8 of them.
- Oscar, fighter, seen from head-on, from "Japanese Fighter Design" [ HTML ], June, 1944.
- Hamp, fighter, on the ground, seen from 11 o'clock in US markings, from "Japanese Fighter Design" [ HTML ], June, 1944.
- Sally, medium bomber, seen from 8 o'clock high, from the "Bulletin Board" column in Air News, August, 1944.
- "Aviation's Yearbook" for 1944 includes 3-view line drawings for 25 Japanese types, with drawings for most and photos for a couple:
- A news clip with photo, "Nips' one-way express" shows a captured Ohka (Cherry Blossom) piloted rocket bomb Baka bomb on the ground, seen from 10 o'clock.
- A pictorial article, "New Jap Warplanes," has drawings of 4 new types reported:
- A news clip with photo, "Bag Nip V bag" shows a Japanese fire balloon, with two insets of the payloads.
- A pictorial article, "Improvements evident in new Jap seaplanes," has drawings of
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" for August, 1945, has three detail drawings of features on the Oscar:
- "Aviation's Sketchbook of Design Detail" for September, 1945, has two detail drawings of features on the Betty:
and one detail drawing of the Oscar:
- A pictorial article, "Nipponese Navy's Debut-at-finale Bombers" has drawings of
- A Sketchbook drawing from October, 1945, shows the bomb-release mechanism from a Mitsubishi Betty.