Air Progress - Japanese Air Force After World War I
November 1954 Air Trails Hobbies for Young Men

November 1954 Air Trails
November 1954 Air Trails Cover - Airplanes and RocketsTable of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

Japanese involvement in World War I is generally not as well known as it is for World War II. The surprise attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, has permanently implanted itself as one of the nation's most memorable events, and obviously the U.S. and Japan were mortal enemies until the Japs' unconditional surrender on September 2, 1945, following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Conversely, Japan was part of the Allied (aka Entente) powers in World War I, and was considered an ally of America, Great Britain, Italy, and France (primarily) in their war against Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire. It was one of those "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" scenarios. Japan played a major role in barricading German sea lanes in the South Pacific. Being a relatively small island nation, Japan's air force consisted of many amphibious airplanes and floatplanes. This Douglas Rolfe feature in a 1954 issue of Air Trails magazine reviews many of the Japanese aircraft in the era following World War I.

See the next month for Air Progress: Japanese Air Force World War II Fighters

Air Progress - Japanese Air Force After World War I

Air Progress - Japanese Air Force After World War I, November 1954 Air Trails - Airplanes and RocketsBy Douglas Rolfe

Sopwith seaplane Scout (110 hp rotary engine). Several of these modified Schneider Cup racers were acquired by the Japanese Naval Service at the end of WWI.

Mitsubishi torpedo bomber (450 hp Napier engine) appeared in 1921 when Japanese naval aviation was strongly influenced by British design.

First Jap-built fighter was this Nakajima-Nieuport 29c-1. (300 hp Hispano-Suiza engine.) 1922.

Kawasaki fighter of 1932 was reputed to make 205 mph with a 500 hp engine. Note curious interplane strut arrangement.

Kawanishi 90-11 (450 hp Jupiter engine). This shipboard catapult observation plane was an obvious copy of the Vought Corsair.

Mitsubishi torpedo bomber (450 hp Mitsubishi-Hispano engine). Another example of British influence in 1928.

Tellier two-place flying boat (200 hp Hispano-Suiza engine). One of the many foreign aircraft acquired in 1918-1919.

Nakajima 91 (450 hp Jupiter engine). This 1933 fighter betrayed French influence.

Kawasaki 88-11 (450 hp Kawasaki-B.M.W. engine). 1933 long-range army observation.

Nakajima biplane fighter of 1932-33 showed U.S.-British characteristics.

Mitsubishi 92 (420 hp Mitsubishi-Jaguar engine).1932 army observation.

Hiro Navy Yard 90-1 (three 700 hp Mitsubishi-Hispano engines). All-metal patrol-bomber was mixture of Short/Dornier design.

The Japanese air arm dates from about 1912 and was orginaly formed as one body without distinction between naval and military wings. It was later re-organized to include separate naval and military forces. Early equipment was entirely foreign and included Curtiss and Farman bi-planes plus few Deperdussin monoplanes. After World War I a number of fighters were purchased, but it was about this time that a British mission arrived,  and for some while thereafter a strong British influence became apparent, particularly in Japanese naval aircraft. There was also a marked German influence. The Japanese continued to rely on foreign-built aircraft until about 1921, and even after they commenced to produce their own planes these were mostly copies of foreign types. Then for a long period of time the Nipponese maintained great secrecy about their air force - and in 1941 they flung hundreds of first-class aircraft against us which few realized they had the capacity to design and produce... The second part will take up some of the more interesting and formidable types employed in World War II.



Posted January 2, 2021