Aviation of World War II
In 1938, the German airline Bücker Flugzeugbau GmbH brought two training aircraft to Japan for demonstration: a two-seat Bu 131B for initial flight training and a single-seat acrobatic Bu 133C. The flight data of these machines appealed to the Japanese fleet, which decided to test the Jungmann with the Hirt HM 504 engine in 11 Rengo kokutai. The aircraft turned out to be easy to operate, and the maintenance personnel noted the simplicity of design and maintenance. As a result, in 1939, the fleet ordered a dozen more aircraft from Bucker, which received the designation Aircraft for initial training of the marine experimental type Bu (KXVu1). These machines were used in the work of flight schools, which were completely satisfied with the aircraft - only the instructors complained that the aircraft was too easy to fly.
In 1939, the Navy assigned Watanabe (future Kyushu) a 14-Ci assignment for a training aircraft modeled after Jungmann. Watanabe proposed two different aircraft, both powered by a 110 hp Hitachi Type 1 engine - one was a biplane and the other a monoplane. Experimental aircraft of each of the options, as well as a competing aircraft developed by Hitachi, were ready in 1941. But during comparative tests, the Japanese aircraft lost to the same Bu 131. As a result, it was decided to simply purchase a license for Jungmann. In August 1942, the negotiations were successfully completed, and the Bu 131 was put into mass production at Watanabe under the designation Naval Type 2 Initial Training Aircraft Model 11 K9W1. It had a welded metal structure with duralumin and fabric lining. The engine was installed 4-cylinder in-line Hitachi GK4A Hatsukaze 11 air-cooled. It soon became the fleet's standard training aircraft. A total of 339 K9W1s were produced.
In 1937 Mitsubishi Yukoge K.K. acquired from North American Aviation Inc. two advanced flight training aircraft MA-16. In September 1937, the first of them arrived in Japan - the NA-16-4R, equipped with a 450 hp Pratt & Whitney engine. and a three-bladed propeller, and the second -MA-16-4RW with a Wright engine and a two-bladed propeller - in three months. The aircraft immediately came into the possession of the fleet, which assigned them the designation "experimental transitional training aircraft of marine type A" KXA1 and KXA2.
After successful testing, the fleet acquired through intermediaries the rights to licensed production of the aircraft. It was decided to organize production at Watanabe after making the necessary modifications to the aircraft. Watanabe, on assignment from 14-C, produced the first aircraft, which received the designation K10W1 in 1941.
The car was quite different from the American one, although it retained the same design scheme. The K10W was a low-wing monoplane similar to the American aircraft. But unlike its predecessor, it had a non-retractable tailwheel undercarriage, a completely new tail unit and was equipped with a 600 hp Nakajima Kotobuki 2 Kai radial engine. The aircraft also featured a new keel. Soon it was decided to launch the aircraft in a series under the designation "Transitional Training Aircraft Marine Type 2".
After manufacturing 26 K10W1s by November 1942, Watanabe handed over all equipment and blueprints to Nippon Hikoki KK, which produced 150 more aircraft between February 1943 and March 1944. In the fleet, the K10W1 replaced the K5W1 as a training aircraft.
The concept of training future bomber crews "in a heap", as part of one flying training class, is, in general, not new. In the prewar years, many countries had in their aviation training aircraft designed for the comprehensive training of the crew of multi-seat bombers - the British Airspeed Envoy, the American Beechcraft model 18, the German Focke Wulf FW-58 Weihe and a number of others.
This style of training made it possible to eventually get a crew of a pilot, navigator, bombardier, shooters already worked out among themselves, capable of interacting with each other in flight, which was important in battle.
Since the beginning of the 1930s, Japanese naval aviation has been using the Mitsubishi K3M training aircraft in this capacity. A five-seat single-engine parasol monoplane, it was built in a large series and was a school desk for all first-class crews of pre-war naval bombers.
But in the 30s, progress in aviation was by leaps and bounds, the obsolescence of aircraft was very fast. And by the middle of the 1930s, the fleet began to think about replacing the "Pine" - such a designation was given to the K3M training aircraft by the allies in a future war
In 1936, the 11-Ci terms of reference were formulated, according to which the same Mitsubishi company developed a new training aircraft, known as the K7M. Compared to the K3M, the volume of the fuselage was significantly increased, which made it possible to simultaneously train 6-7 cadets for the grown crews of the new G3M bombers. Based on these tasks, a twin-engine layout of the machine was chosen. But in the end, this ruined, in general, a successful project. The fleet refused to launch a series of a rather expensive and high-tech machine, limiting itself to the release of new modifications of the old proven K3M.
The next approach to the search for a replacement for the Pine occurred in 1940, when the technical department of the fleet headquarters - Kaigun Koku Hombu, included the development of a new training aircraft in the next 15-Ci technical task. Conceptually, the car was supposed to repeat the 5-seat single-engine layout of the K3M.
Since in 1940 Japan was more and more drawn into the fighting in China, with the prospect of entering the war with the West, all the eminent aircraft manufacturers were busy developing and manufacturing first-line aircraft - fighters, bombers, carrier-based vehicles. For this reason, it was decided not to hold a design competition, and the development of the fleet training aircraft was entrusted to the Fukuoka Metallurgical Company Watanabe Tekko-jo, which had a small aircraft manufacturing division, by that time had already gained experience in the production of a number of training aircraft, including the aforementioned K3M .
Armament. One 7.7 mm machine gun type 92, on a mobile rear mount or Haisu type photo machine gun, two 30 kg training bombs or 2x60 kg depth charges
In June 1941, the development of a new machine at Watanabe was entrusted to engineer Nojiri Kozo. The first prototype of the aircraft was ready in November 1942. It was an all-metal monoplane, equipped with a Hitachi "Tempu" 9-cylinder radial engine, model 21, with a take-off power of 515 hp at a nominal 480 hp. The wide, pot-bellied fuselage of rectangular section with aluminum skin had two levels to accommodate the crew. At the top there was a glazed common cockpit for the pilot and gunner-radio operator, on the lower level there were places for the bombardier, navigator and instructor. On the right side of the fuselage was the entrance door to the "lower deck". The pilot and gunner fell into place through the sliding sections of the canopy. Characteristically, depending on the training program, the composition of the equipment and the location of the seats could easily change.
The wing was located in the middle part of the fuselage, its skin was plywood. The control surfaces were sheathed with canvas. The chassis were made non-retractable, covered with fairings. Under the wing there were two bomb racks for hanging 30-kg bombs intended for bombing training.
Testing of the new machine went relatively smoothly. Despite the revealed some directional instability, in April 1943 the aircraft was adopted by the fleet aviation under the designation "Kijo Sage Renshuki", which can literally be translated as "training aircraft of one crew" and the proper name "Shiragiku" - "White chrysanthemum" . The short name K11W1 was also given. The traditional for the Japanese fleet "Type" design was not assigned to the aircraft. It is characteristic that by the time the K11W was adopted in 1943, the Watanabe aircraft building department was separated into a separate Kyushu hikoki KK enterprise, in the city of Kasuga, near the head office.
K11W1. Combat Use
Since the autumn of 1943, "White Chrysanthemums" began to en masse enter the training regiments of the Japanese naval aviation. Among the users of the K11W1 aircraft were "Tsukuba", "Yatabe" and "Hyakurihara" kokutai for training crews of basic bomber aircraft; "Suzuka" and "Oi" kokutai - for the training of reconnaissance aviation crews; "Usa" kokutai - for training crews of carrier-based bombers, reconnaissance and torpedo bombers; "Omura" kokutai - for carrier-based bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Chrysanthemums were also listed as part of Kochi, Tokushima, Komatsujima, Shinchiku, Shanghai, Tsuchiura, Kagoshima, Mie, Miho, Matsuyama, Shinozaki , "Tarumi", "Kanoya No.2" and "Fujisawa" kokutai.
The importance of Shiragiku aircraft for Japanese naval aviation is hard to underestimate. The situation on the fronts in the second half of the war developed for Japan in such a way that hundreds of bomber crews died, the time to prepare new ones was constantly decreasing, and this pot-bellied, short-haired aircraft with a beautiful name was a training desk for them. The use of "Shiragaku" took place far from the front line, so American intelligence learned about its existence only at the very end of the war, and it did not receive the traditional code designation from the Allies.
In March 1944, a new version of the Chrysanthemum went into production, in which the position of the instructor was eliminated. This model, K11W2, was intended for use as a light transport aircraft. K11W2 was also used to a limited extent as anti-submarine. Apparently, no search equipment was installed on it, only a pair of 60-kg depth charges were hung on underwing bomb racks. At the final stage of the war, these machines were used to patrol coastal waters off the coast of the metropolis, but, apparently, they did not have much success.
Nevertheless, the Chrysanthemums still had a chance to make war, writing down several glorious pages to their credit.
On January 8, 1945, by order of the Navy, the standard training of naval aviation pilots was discontinued, and all efforts were directed to the training of the flight personnel of the Tokkotai "Special Attack" units. In this regard, the released material resources of the training kokutais of the fleet were allocated for the formation of new kamikaze units. The Shiragiku training aircraft was also not ignored, the number of which in the ranks made it possible to form several shock detachments from them.
Previously intended "for slaughter" "Chrysanthemums" were modernized. Initially, it was planned to place two 250-kg bombs inside the cabin, but in the end they settled on a standard external suspension of two such ammunition under the wing. The suspension was rigid, not providing for a reset in flight. The bomb fuse fuse was displayed on the pilot's dashboard. It was assumed that the kamikaze suicide bomber, immediately in front of the ram, would remove the bombs from the fuse. In addition, the standard fuel supply of 480 liters was increased to 700 liters by installing an additional gas tank in the rear cockpit. Thus, the crew of "Siragiku" was reduced to one person. As a result of this modernization, the takeoff weight of the aircraft increased to 3 tons, which made it very difficult to take off. The already not high speed decreased to 180 km / h.
It is clear that it would be difficult for a low-speed unarmed training aircraft to count on something in the daytime suicidal attacks on the American fleet, therefore, the concept of combat use of Chrysanthemums at night was defined, when they had at least some chance of success .
From the beginning of February 1945, the formation of the first Tokkotai units equipped with Shiragiku began. On the basis of "Tokushima" kokutai, a separate shock detachment "Tokushima-Shiragiku-tai" was formed. On the basis of the "Kochi" kokutai, the strike force "Kikusui butai Shiragiku-tai" was formed. A little later, the Oyashima-tai strike detachment appeared at the Oi Kokutai base, and the Waka Kikutai strike detachment appeared at the Suzuka Kokutai base.
The "White Chrysanthemums" went into battle at the height of the grandiose battle for Okinawa, when the American fleet was within reach of aviation from bases in the metropolis.
The first sortie of the K11W "Tokushima-Shiragiku-tai" group against the American fleet took place on the night of May 24-25, 1945. The 14 bomb-laden vehicles took off from Kushira Air Base, one of the main kamikaze bases in Kagoshima Prefecture.
However, soon 11 of the launch vehicles were forced to return due to technical problems, but three Chrysanthemums managed to get closer to the American ships of the radar patrol. The 5th Fleet Aviation Headquarters, which commanded the Special Attack forces at the Battle of Okinawa, intercepted an American radio message that US Navy destroyers had detected enemy aircraft approaching at a speed of 150-160 km / h. One of the Japanese officers, having heard this message, bitterly joked that "an American destroyer is chasing White Chrysanthemums", to which one of the ideologists for the creation of Tokko detachments, Admiral Ugaki, objected: "Rabbits also have horns at night."
However, that night the Americans managed to destroy all three aircraft before the start of the attack.
The next Chrysanthemum attack took place on the night of 27/28 May. 9 Shiragiki from the Tokushima strike force took part in the attack, flying out at short intervals in two groups of 7 and 4 vehicles and another 9 vehicles from the Kikosui Butai strike force. The target of the attack was the destroyers of the radar patrol "Drexler" and "Lowry". The first two "Chrysanthemums" appeared around 7 am on May 28. One kamikaze was set on fire by a patrol Hellcat and finished off by anti-aircraft fire from destroyers. The second managed to break through. The Drexler anti-aircraft gunners shot it down already in the immediate vicinity of the ship, the Japanese plane, falling, ricocheted off the water and crashed into the stern of the destroyer, exploded, interrupting the steam pipeline and flooding the Drexler deck with burning gasoline. The ship lost its course and burned in several places. However, this did not prevent him from conducting accurate anti-aircraft fire, shooting down three more Shiragikas. At 7:03 the immobilized, burning ship was hit by a second K11W that crashed into the ship's starboard side. The Drexler capsized and sank in less than a minute, taking 158 of her crew with her.
The next morning, May 29, the destroyer Shabrik (DD-639) was attacked by two Chrysanthemums. The explosion of one of them caused the detonation of depth charges on the destroyer, as a result of which 35 crew members were killed and 25 injured. And although the ship was kept afloat, it was no longer restored and after the war went for scrap.
On June 21, 1945, a group of five K11Ws from the Kikusui Butai and three from the Tokushima managed to sink the old flashdecker destroyer Barry, by then already seriously damaged by previous attacks, and the medium landing craft LSM-59. On the same day, another landing ship LSM-213 became a victim of Chrysanthemums, which, despite heavy damage, was still saved.
By the end of the battle for Okinawa, special attack units armed with training Shiragiku used a total of 108 vehicles in suicide attacks, 56 from the Tokushima-Shiragiku-tai and 52 from the Kikusui Butai Shiragiku-tai. Curiously, that one of the special attack pilots in the Tokushima strike force was 22-year-old Akira Nishimura, in the future, a famous Japanese film actor who starred in a number of Kurosawa films Nishimura was one of the few who managed to stay alive, returning to base from for aircraft malfunctions.
By the time of Japan's surrender, 370 "Chrysanthemums" out of 798 issued during the war years survived. Most of them were concentrated in the Oyashima-tai and Waka Kikutai kamikaze units, which were in operational reserve, waiting for the Allied landings on the Japanese islands.
Most of them went to the landfill. A number of winners used as transports. Repainted white with green crosses in place of the Hinomaru, the White Chrysanthemums carried orders for Japan's surrender to distant parts.
At the very end of the war, the project included a modification of the Siragiku, designed for anti-submarine defense. The car was designated Q3W1 "Nankai" (South Sea). The Nankai was a two-seat aircraft, outwardly different from the K11W with a more "square" keel and solid wood construction. The fate of this project is not completely clear. According to one source, the Nankai was never built, according to others, it made only one test flight, ending with a belly landing.