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Nakajima Ki.44 Shoki Ia,b,c/IIa,b,c in Japanese Army Air Force Service (Aircam Aviation 25)
By Richard M. Bueschel
Publisher: Osprey Publishing 1971 52 Pages
PDF 13 MB
Lifting off from hand-built Chinese airfields under the orders of their newly appointed youthful commander, thirty-seven-year-old Major General Curtis Le-May, the massive B-29 Superfortresses of the 468th Very Heavy Bombardment Group of the USAAF 20th Bomber Command fell in line overhead and turned to the north-east. The date was 26 September 1944 and the target was the Showa steel producing complex at Anshan, Manchoukuo. It was the ninth B-29 raid of a long war, and the test of new tactics against intercepting fighters after the frightful loss of 14 bombers out of 72 over Yawata, Japan, in the seventh raid over a month earlier, followed by the further loss of three bombers out of 90 over Anshan in the unit's eighth raid on 8 September. The lessons of defeat were to be applied with the largest concentration of bombers-over-target of any raid since the B-29 bombings began from Chinese bases in June. With 109 bombers airborne it was to be a rehearsal for the coming battle for Japan.
Far to the north, on their largely untested and unoccupied airfields in Manchoukuo, the pilots of the 59th Fighter and 70th Fighter Air Combat Regiments of the Japanese Army Air Force were itchy for action. Unit after unit had been pulled out of Manchoukuo over the years, with hundreds of Army pilots lost in the bloody maw of New Guinea. In the summer of 1944 more transfers were made to reinforce the Philippines against an anticipated Allied invasion, while other units were returned to the treasured homeland itself to protect the skies of Japan. The JAAF had been preparing itself for years to protect the Emperor and the Imperial family, as well as the nation and the Asiatic mainland against the intrusion of non-Asiatics. Now the aerial defence test was at hand over the Japanese protectorate, exactly where the Japanese Army had anticipated it in its planning a decade earlier.