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E13A Reisu. Combat Use.

E13A on IGN Aoba

Deliveries of E13A scouts to combat units began at the end of 1940. The first unit that mastered the Reisu was the Yokosuka Kokutai, an experimental naval aviation regiment staffed with the most experienced personnel. In October 1941, six E13A1s from the Yokosuka Kokutai were tested in combat conditions in China. These machines were temporarily assigned to the 14th Kokutai operating on the continent, and made several raids on the Canton-Hankou railway, and also provided cover for their ships.

By the beginning of hostilities against the Western allies in December 1941, the Reisu were in service with several coastal units on the territory of the metropolis proper:

Chichijima kokutai - 6 pieces; Ominato kokutai - 8 pieces; Sasebo kokutai - 6 pieces.

Outside of the Japanese Islands, 8 Reisu units were based as part of the 16th Kokutai in Palau; 6 pieces in the 17th kokutai on Iwo Jima; 8 pieces in the 19th kokutai on Kwajalain.

Unlike their lighter F1M2 counterparts, which were primarily delivered to coastal bases, Aichi long-range reconnaissance aircraft were already actively used on large warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy by the beginning of the Pacific War.

This is due precisely to the purpose of the E13A hydroplane, intended for strategic reconnaissance.

One aircraft each "Reis" was supposed to be based on the catapults of light cruisers of the old types. According to the Japanese naval strategy, light cruisers served as leaders of destroyer squadrons and long-range reconnaissance, in view of this, it was simply necessary to have a long-range reconnaissance aircraft on board with a 10-hour autonomy. True, not all cruisers managed to get new scouts, the need for new hydroplanes was quite high and many light cruisers of the Japanese fleet were forced to make do with the old E7K biplanes until 1943-44, when catapults began to be massively removed from the old type cruisers.

Japanese heavy cruisers received "Reisa" a little later, after the start of hostilities. As a rule, two F1M2 and one E13A1 were based on heavy cruisers. The exception was the heavy cruisers "Tone" and "Tikuma" with the composition of the air group increased to five aircraft, two of which were "Reisu". Also, by removing two aft towers, it was converted in 1943 into the Mogami aircraft-carrying cruiser, on which three F1M2 and four E13A1 were based.

Later than other "Jacks" - such a code designation was received from the Allies hydroplanes E13A - were received by ejection links of Japanese battleships. Battleships of the old types "Kongo", "Haruna"; "Kirishima" and "Hiyei" were the first capital ships to receive new aircraft, approximately at the end of the summer of 1942. They had one "Jake" and two "Pete". The remaining battleships were re-equipped with new seaplanes much later, towards the end of 1943. The composition of the air units also varied greatly, the state battleships were supposed to have one "Jake" and two "Pete". But on the battleship "Nagato", apparently, there were no "Jacks" at all, and before the battle in Leyte Gulf, "Nagato" transferred three of his "Petes" aboard the battleship "Yamato". The superlinkers "Yamato" and "Musashi" were supposed to have up to seven hydroplanes, three of which were Jake. True, in reality, more than four scouts of all types were never based on them. The battleships-aircraft carriers "Hyuga" and "Ise" also did not have a single aircraft on board during the battle at Cape Enganye.

In the conditions of a fair lag in radar compared to their opponents, the importance of long-range air reconnaissance for Japanese admirals acquired an extremely important role. The actions of the E13A scouts from the ejection squadrons of the warships of the fleet did not abound with exciting combat episodes involving air battles. As a rule, these were routine hours-long flights over the ocean, with the sole purpose of finding and assessing enemy forces. Despite the fact that not a single operation of the Japanese fleet could do without the participation of long-range reconnaissance "Reis", these modest war workers always remained in the shadow of their shock "colleagues". Fighters, bombers and torpedo bombers got both glory and honor, and hydroplane pilots were usually not even mentioned.


Before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, seaplanes from the heavy cruisers of the Combined Fleet were already over Pearl Harbor an hour before the attack. "Jake" from the cruiser "Tone", which was piloted by Itto Hiko Heiso (Chief Petty Officer) Yoichi Takahashi, observer Hiko Heisosho (Midshipman) Ryozo Narukawa, and gunner - nito Hiko Heiso (Petty Officer 1st Class) Nobuo Oku, headed for the anchorage of Lahaina Rhoads (near Maui, 80 miles southwest of Oahu). It was a priority target for the Japanese attack, since that was where the American aircraft carriers were supposed to be. Fortunately for the Americans, there were no aircraft carriers at the base. At 0735 Narukawa radioed: "The enemy fleet is not in the parking lot."

Parallel to the second E13A from the cruiser "Tikuma", pilot - itto hiko heiso (chief foreman) Akira Ito, observer - joto hiko heiso (chief foreman) Masaaru Fukuoka, gunner - santo hiko heiso (foreman 2nd class) Fushanobu Kasamori, surveyed the Oahu site.

At 0645, the Reisu was detected by the US Army radar at Opana Ridge, which, however, did not affect the mission in any way. At 0735 the Japanese crew reported: "Enemy formation at anchor: 9 battleships, one heavy cruiser, six light cruisers." Fukuoka also transmitted meteorological data. After that, the scout headed south, trying to find the American aircraft carrier formation.

Half a year later, Jake from the cruiser Tohne "famous" at Midway, failing to warn Nagumo in time about the discovered American aircraft carriers. Either his radio worked on a different frequency, or something else, but the fact remains that the result was the death of four Japanese aircraft carriers, a lost battle and the loss of the Japanese strategic initiative in the entire war.

During the naval battles of the second half of the war, "Jakeys" from Japanese cruisers and battleships also continued to be used for their intended purpose, tracking down allied ships. True, in the face of the loss of initiative, sometimes the result of such flights was the death of the aircraft and crew, who, having discovered the enemy fleet, only had time to transmit its coordinates by radio before being shot down. Of course, the Reis crew had no chance to escape from enemy fighters, or to defend themselves with a single machine gun.

The most characteristic example of suicidal reconnaissance raids by the crews of the Reis hydroplanes was the naval battle near the Mariana Islands on June 19-21, 1944. In the absence of radars, it was the scouts from the Japanese cruisers who were assigned the task of searching for and detecting the American fleet. As part of the cover forces of Admiral Ozawa, there were 43 hydroplanes, from the bottom 28 Jakes.

An hour before sunrise on June 19, at 04:45, the commander of the Japanese fleet, Jisaburo Ozawa, ordered the release of 16 Jake seaplanes from the battleships and cruisers of the avant-garde, which by 07:00 reached the search limit. On the way back, at 0730, one of them discovered Admiral Harril's group of escort aircraft carriers and Admiral Lee's battleships. American fighters shot down 5 out of 16 scouts. The second group of 14 airborne scouts from the ships of the vanguard, which started at 0515, discovered only the destroyers from the curtain of the Lee group. On the way back, she was intercepted by American scouts and shot down by 7 cars. Of the 13 scouts of the third group (11 "Judy" dive bombers from the "Shokaku" and 2 airborne "Jakes" from the heavy cruiser "Mogami"), three did not return, and both "Jakes" were shot down. The rest reported three aircraft carriers far to the north and three to the south (this was an erroneous contact due to a compass malfunction on the reconnaissance).

Based on incorrect data from Japanese reconnaissance, the subsequent attacks by strike vehicles from Japanese aircraft carriers on the afternoon of June 19 were carried out inconsistently, at different times, against secondary targets. At times, many strike groups of aircraft did not find targets at all. Outcome is known. Most of the Japanese strike aircraft were mercilessly killed by American fighters guided by radar data. By the evening of June 19, Ozawa had lost about 330 of his carrier-based aircraft out of 440 available before the start of the battle.

The next morning at 05.30, 9 seaplanes took off from the heavy cruisers of the Japanese avant-garde for reconnaissance in a southeasterly direction. Finding nothing, they lost three. At 06.45, Rear Admiral Obayashi sent six Jakes to reconnaissance. At 09.15 one of them managed to transmit by radio that he was fighting with the American "Hellkets", after which no one else saw alive any of the 18 crew members of these "Reisu".

During the day, June 20, in the course of retaliatory actions by American aircraft and the retreat of the Japanese fleet, the Americans further reduced the number of float scouts aboard Japanese ships. Two Jakes were burned aboard the damaged battleship Haruna and one was thrown overboard by the heavy cruiser Maya due to a nearby bomb explosion.

When the remnants of Jisaburo Ozawa's battered fleet returned to Japan by the evening of June 21, 15 of the 43 airborne seaplanes survived and only 2 of them were long-range reconnaissance E13A1. And only 35 serviceable aircraft remained on board the surviving aircraft carriers.

In addition to the catapult units of battleships and cruisers, the E13A scouts were very active from seaplane carriers and coastal bases.

Organizationally, there were no kokutais, naval air units, functionally close to our air regiment, equipped with E13A scouts alone in Japanese naval aviation. In view of the specialization of the "Reisu", the specifics of its use, when it is simply impractical to bring dozens of seaplanes into one armada. The Japanese naval command preferred to have several seaplanes in various mixed kokutai.

As a rule, specialized kokutai of seaplanes were created, which included cars of various classes, of which the Reisu's share was only no more than a dozen cars. At the same time, hydroaviation kokutai were not localized in one place, but acted in small groups over vast territories.

It is useful to recall the hydroaviation base in Shortland Harbor - a bay at the western tip of the Solomon Islands. It was a well-equipped parking lot with seaplane piers and seaplane carriers. Shortland Harbor was captured by the Japanese in the spring of 1942 and by the end of the summer became the largest Japanese hydroaviation base in the central Pacific. Until the autumn of 1943, the 851st kokutai heavy flying boats were permanently based there; 802 kokutai hydrofighters; 958 kokutai reconnaissance seaplanes. In each of these divisions, along with machines of other types, there were also E13A.

Special mention deserves the mobile unit "Homen Koku Butai" or otherwise "Strike Force R", also stationed at Shortland Harbor with a forward base in Rekata Bay on Santa Isabel Island northwest of Guadalcanal.

Compound R was formed on August 28, 1942 as temporary compensation for the aircraft carriers lost off Midway. Four hydrocarriers - Chitose, Kamikawa Maru, Sanyo Maru, Sanuki Maru - were consolidated into the 11th division of hydrocarriers under the command of shosho (rear admiral) Jojima Takatsugi (Jojima Takatsuga), organizationally divided into two hikotai (the closest analogue in terms of functionality in the Russian army is a squadron). Later, the 11th division of aircraft carriers was reorganized into the 11th kokutai, and the materiel from air tenders was transferred to the shore.

As part of the air groups of seaplane carriers "Compounds R" there were hydroplanes of three types - three-seat long-range reconnaissance aircraft Aichi E13A1 Type 0 "Jake", short-range reconnaissance aircraft Mitsubishi F1M2 Type 0 "Pete", which also performed the functions of strike machines, and Nakajima A6M2-N Type 2 "Rufe" reconnaissance aircraft. ". The number of "Jacks" in the formation was not large and amounted to only nine cars - seven on the "Chitose" and two on the "Sanyo Maru". Seaplanes "Reysu" "Compound R" made sorties for reconnaissance, bombardment of enemy targets, carried out search and rescue operations.

In the period from September to November 1942, the pilots of "Formation R" made 360 ​​sorties and destroyed 14 enemy aircraft while losing 9 of their pilots.

Actually, the actions of E13A1 from Japanese seaplane carriers deserve to be told about them in more detail.

It just so happened that the actions of these ships remained in the shadow of their "adult" relatives - the classic aircraft carriers of the United Fleet. However, the service of simpler and cheaper hydrocarriers during the Pacific campaign was much more intense than that of the classic aircraft carriers, which the Japanese nevertheless tried to protect, and their use was ultimately reduced to six major fleet battles and several small episodes.

The successful use of air tenders during the 2nd Sino-Japanese incident prompted Japanese strategists to develop this class of warships during the 2nd World War. And I must say that during the first year of the war, this strategy gave its results. Seaplanes from aircraft tenders more or less compensated for the lack of classic aircraft carriers and land airfields, acting very intensively from the polar regions of the Aleutian Islands to the tropics of the Solomon Islands. Later, however, it became apparent that the Americans were able to commission their new classic aircraft carriers faster than the Japanese compensated for the losses in their seaplanes. And naturally, even very progressive Japanese seaplanes could not fight on an equal footing with deck wheeled vehicles.

One way or another, but during 1942, hydrocarriers were used very intensively, and Reisu scouts were present at various times on most of them. The number of them in the process varied from two to 8 pieces per air group of the ship, depending on the receipt of replenishments and losses.

The most "combat" of the seaplane carriers, the Kamikawa Maru, received new aircraft from 14 seaplanes (8 "Pit" and 6 "Jacks" plus two in disassembled form in reserve) in November 1941.

On December 7, 1941, the Kamikawa Maru, paired with the seaplane carrier Sagara Maru, was part of the Southern Expeditionary Fleet of the invasion force assigned to capture Malaya.

At 0820 local time in the Gulf of Thailand, 20 miles northwest of Panjang Island, one of the Reisu from the Kamikawa Maru, tail number ZI-26, piloted by sei (junior lieutenant) Ogata Eiichi, spotted a British flying boat "Catalina" W8417 from 205 squadron. Ogata attacked the flying boat, ordering his gunner to shoot it down with the tail gun. Apparently, they managed to immediately disable the Catalina's radio, since the Englishman's crew did not report anything to the base about the attack.

The Reisu pursued the Catalina, piloted by Warrant Officer William Webb, for 25 minutes. Shooter Ogata completely emptied 8 magazines of his Type 92 machine gun, using up ammunition. But the rugged American vehicle held up well, absorbing 7.7mm bullets without any apparent damage to itself. Only half an hour later, five army Ki-27 fighters from the 1st sentai managed to finish off the Catalina, whose crew of 8 was the first loss of the British in the Far East.

Operating in the north at the beginning of the war, the Kimikawa Maru seaplane carrier used its Reisu hydroplanes for reconnaissance flights over the territory of the USSR. In the period from February 22 to February 27, 1942, six E13As from Kimikawa Maru several times penetrated into the airspace of the Soviet Union in the Ust-Bolsheretsky region of Kamchatka.

In June 1942, Kimikawa Maru took part in the invasion of Kiska Island in the Aleutian Ridge, handing over eight of her Jakes to shore. Later, these hydroplanes became the materiel of the 5th Kokutai seaplanes, formed in August 1942, stationed on the island of Kyska. In November, the 5th Kokutai was reorganized and became 452 Kokutai, equipped in addition to eight Jakes with Ruth hydrofighters and Pete float biplanes.

Until May 1943, 452 Kokutai successfully covered the garrison of the island, although by the time the Japanese garrison was evacuated, the Jakes were no longer in the unit. All of them were lost, and without the participation of the enemy. The bad weather of the northern latitudes did its job no worse than enemy fighters and anti-aircraft guns.

With the narrowing of the zone of influence of the Japanese Empire, the loss of dominance at sea and in the air, there was less and less work for the Reis hydroplanes. A large number of aircraft of this type were subjected to a real beating in the Philippines in October - December 1944.

By the time the battle for Okinawa began in April-June 1945, the few surviving Reisu were used in kamikaze detachments.

Detachments of "special attacks" were completed on the basis of air units that were armed with seaplanes.

On the basis of the equipment "Kitaura" and "Kashima" kokutai in April 1945, detachments "Sakigake-tai" No.1 and No.2 were formed

On the basis of "Takuma" kokutai was formed a detachment of "special attacks" - "Kotohira-Suishin-tai"

These units were equipped with E13A1 and E7K2 hydroplanes, which had the ability to carry a 250 kg bomb. During May 1945, the crews of these units faithfully fulfilled their duty to the emperor, giving their lives in desperate attacks on the American invasion fleet off Okinawa.

At the end of the war, a fairly large number of surviving "Jacks" were scattered across the vast expanses of the former Japanese Empire. Most of them found their end in the dumps of captured aircraft.

Five seaplanes E13A1 in the post-war period were used by the French naval aviation in Indochina. As part of the 8S squadron, they made patrol and communication flights. The last of them was decommissioned after an accident in December 1947.

Six aircraft of this type went to the Royal Thai Air Force, where they served until the end of the 40s. It is curious that in 1942 Thailand bought three Jakes from Japan, three more were transferred to Thailand as a "thank you" from an ally for the downed British B-24 bomber. Judging by the photo, one of the Thai Jakes had individual exhaust pipes.

One of the Thai hydroplanes was destroyed in the summer of 1945 during an allied air raid, the rest survived safely until 1948.

Of the combat units of naval aviation, which had E13A1 hydroplanes during the war years, the following are known:

"Amakusa" Ku.; "Chinkai" Ku.; "Hakata" Ku.; "Kure" Ku.; "Tateyama" Ku.; "Yokogama" Ku.; "Toko" Ku; "Takuma" Ku; "Kitaura" Ku.; "Kashima" Ku.; "Otsu" Ku.; "Kasumigaura" Ku.; "Fukuyama" Ku. "Chichijima" Ku.; "Komatsushima" Ku.; "Maizuru" Ku; "Ōminato" Ku.; "Sasebo" Ku.; Suzuka Ku.

4; 5; eleven; 14; sixteen; 17; eighteen; nineteen; 21; 22; 23; 36; 211; 212; 301; 302; 452; 453; 802; 851; 901; 902; 903; 932; 933; 934; 936; 938; 951; 952; 954; 955; 958 kokutai.

As the main aircraft armament, "Reisu" were part of the air groups of the hydro-aircraft carriers "Chitose"; "Chiyoda"; "Kamikawa Maru"; "Kimikawa Maru"; "Kiyokawa Maru"; "Kunikawa Maru"; "Sanuki Maru"; "Sagara Maru"; "Sanyo Maru"; "Kinugasa Maru".

As mentioned above, the "Jakes" were based in the ejection units of the battleships "Yamato"; "Musashi"; "Hyuuga"; "Ise"; "Fuso"; "Yamashiro"; "Congo"; "Haruna"; "Hiei"; "Kirishima".

Heavy cruisers "Aoba"; "Kinugasa"; "Myoko"; "Ashigara"; "Nati"; "Haguro"; "Takao"; "Shokai"; "Mayan"; "Atago"; "Mogami"; "Suzuya"; "Kumano"; "Tone"; "Tikuma".

Light cruisers: "Kuma"; "Tama"; "Kiso"; "Kitakami"; "Oi"; "Jintsu"; "Sendai"; "Take that"; "Agano"; "Noshiro"; "Yahaghi"; "Sakawa"; "Oyodo".

Training cruisers: "Katori"; "Kashima"; "Kashii".

Light cruisers "Abukuma"; "Nagara"; "Natori"; "Kinu"; "Isuzu", apparently, did not have time to get a new type of scouts, being content with the old E7K2 until 1943, when the catapults were removed from them.

The cruiser "Yura" also did not have time to receive the "Reisa" before its death.

There were E13A hydroplanes aboard auxiliary cruisers-raiders: "Kinryu Maru"; "Noshiro Maru"; possibly "Kiyoshimi Maru"; "Aikoku Maru"; "Gokoku Maru"

The Japanese squadron minesweeper Tsugaru also carried the Jake hydroplane and may have managed to receive an aircraft of this type from Okinoshima shortly before its death in the Bismarck Sea in May 1942.

Despite the weak defensive armament, the lack of armor protection for the crew and the protection of fuel tanks, the Aichi E13A1 turned out to be a very successful vehicle. For use as a reconnaissance aircraft, its flight time of up to 10 hours and high reliability were invaluable. Of the almost 1,500 Reisu issued, 250 of which served on the catapults of Japanese ships, only one has survived in relative safety. Caught from the bottom of the sea, it is under restoration at the Mansei Japanese Museum in the city of Satsuma. But quite a few Jakes have survived as wreckage scattered across the vast expanses of the Pacific region, stuck in the jungle or sunk in picturesque lagoons.

Evgeny Aranov

Bibliography

  • "Japanese float planes" /Evgeny Aranov/
  • "Japanese Aviation" /Andrey Firsov/
  • "World War II Japanese aircraft." /O. Doroshkevich/