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Kawasaki Ki.48-I/II Sokei in Japanese Army Air Force - CNAF & IPSF Service (Aircam Aviation 32)
By Richard M. Bueschel
Publisher: Osprey Publishing 1972 52 Pages
PDF 30 MB
The cruise would make any thoughtful man worry about the progress of Imperial Japan's war in the Pacific, and Commander Tadao Kuwahara, a reserve officer of the Japanese Navy, was concerned. But Kuwahara had other more pleasant things to think about. He was back at sea, once again a ship master in command of the Nitta-Maru, one of the luxurious pre-war tour vessels of the N.Y.K. line. Only this time the hull was camouflaged, the envied passenger quarters had been gutted, and the deck was flat. Even the name of the vessel had been changed, for now it was the Chuyo, a 17,830 ton converted liner that came out of the Kure Navy Yard in November 1942 as an auxiliary aircraft carrier. Strapped securely to its flight deck was a varied assortment of Japanese army and navy aircraft, including a dozen or more Ki.48 Type 99 two-engine light bombers of the 208th Light Bomber Air Combat Regiment, an aircraft more commonly known by the brief title of 99 Sokei.
The short days of February 1943 began to lengthen as the Chuyo ploughed south on this voyage from the Empire to Truk in the Caroline Islands, the Japanese Navy's largest base outside of the homeland, and headquarters for the Imperial Navy's defence of the Central Pacific. There was no escaping the fact that Truk was naval territory, and the aircraft on board were army, and short-ranged. So short-ranged in fact, that it required carriers to bring them south. They obviously would not stay at Truk, and it was well known that the Imperial Navy was responsible for the operations further south in the Solomons and New Guinea. Moving army air south could only mean one thing. Trouble.