End of the JAAF and JNAF
by Peter Starkings
Originally published in JAS Jottings 1/3, 1995


       The Japanese Army and Navy forces as organizations were progressively demobilized and disbanded as soon as practical after their surrender in August 1945. This short three part article outlines the corresponding fate of their aircraft, a story beginning with the formation of Technical Air Intelligence Units (TAIUs) during 1943.



       As in Europe, the Allies in the Pacific theatre were also keen to learn as  much as possible about their opponents' equipment. With Americans having the major involvement there, it was appropriate that they predominated in all such evaluation, particularly in respect of captured aircraft. It was agreed in this regard that the US Navy would  lead  a  technical air intelligence joint organization which included USAAF, RAF and RN representatives.

       Thereafter, the first TAIU was set up as a joint USAAF/USN/RAAF organization in Australia in early 1943. This particular unit absorbed a small team from the Directorate of Intelligence, HQ Allied Forces, who were developing the Code Name system for Japanese aircraft they had started in 1942.  A second, known as the Allied TAIU for South East Asia (ATAIU-SEA), followed in Calcutta in late 1943 as a joint RAF/USAAF Allied unit. Then, in mid 1944, the USN personnel from the TAIU in Australia were withdrawn to NAS Anacosta, near Washington DC, to become the TAIC (Technical Air Intelligence Centre), whose purpose was to centralise and co-ordinate work of test centres in the United States with work of TAIUs in the field.

       The operation in Australia was reformed to function thereafter as TAIU for the South West Pacific Area (TAIU-SWPA) and eventually moved to the Philippines in early 1945. Two other operations were also set up, TAIU for the Pacific Ocean Area (TAIU-POA) as a USN unit to trawl the various Pacific Islands for aircraft and TAIU for China (TAIU-CHINA) under control of Chiang  Kai Shek's  Nationalists.


       It is outside the scope of this article to detail the aircraft test flown by the TAIUs, but here is a quick run down of the numbers before cessation of hostilities in August 1945:

TAIU (Australia) - approximately 5.

TAIU-SWPA (Philippines) - over 20.


TAIU- POA - None, but 14 sent to TAIC.


TAIC - at least 11.

       When war ended the Allies felt it necessary to assess the state of technological development still remaining intact in Japan. Although work of other TAIUs ended speedily, that of ATAIU-SEA and TAIU-SWPA continued to gather selected material for further evaluation; in order to do this the former moved to Singapore, with a flying unit at Tebrau in Malaya, and the latter to Japan itself.



       There were two periods of so called green cross flights by Japanese aircraft after capitulation. The first lasted from about 19th August to 12th September 1945, covering  flights of surrender delegations  and  flights of surrendering aircraft to assembly points.

       The second period  lasted from 15th September to 10th October 1945, covering general communications and taking surrender details to outlying forces. The longest survivors of these operations were probably those few which found their way into the Gremlin Task Force (see Part 3 ); the rest were destroyed.


       By early 1946 ATAIU-SEA in Singapore had gathered some 64 Army and Navy aircraft, most in  flyable condition, for shipment  to the UK for further evaluation. An unknown number of these aircraft were actually test flown at Tebrau. Lack of shipping space prevented this shipment and only four eventually arrived in England for Museum purposes. In any event,  funds for testing captured war material were by then severely restricted and most such work already stopped.


       By the end of 1945 TAIU-SWPA teams had scoured the Japanese  mainland and other territories to gather together in Yokohama Naval Base four examples of every Japanese aircraft type never previously tested by the Allies;  one of each was to be for the USAAF, USN, RAF and Museum purposes.

       In the event, those for the RAF have not been accounted for and of the remainder some 115 arrived in America during December 1945, 73 to Army bases and 42 to Naval bases. Once again funds and interest for further testing were drying up rapidly and only six of the aircraft were actually flown there, four by the Army and two by the Navy. Out of the 115 total, plus 11 TAIC  aircraft already there, 46 are in US Museums,  about two thirds of the remainder were scrapped and the rest are probably still corroding away somewhere out of sight.


  USED BY OTHERS         

       At the time the war ended Japanese forces were still either occupying or fighting in various areas of South East Asia including China, Korea, Manchuria, Indonesia, Indo China and Thailand. Many of the latest types of aircraft  had already been withdrawn for the defense of mainland Japan, but there still remained upwards of a thousand assorted aircraft in these territories, most of which were acquired by local Nationalist armies.

       In CHINA the situation was complicated by the presence of opposing Communist and Nationalist regimes. The Russians illegally turned over to the Communists most aircraft remaining in Manchuria which had been destined for the internationally recognized Nationalist government; this gave the former a  formidable air force which they manned with several  hundred Japanese aircrew and ground staff working as mercenaries. The Nationalists took over Japanese aircraft surrendered in their territory, but in far fewer numbers.

       Aircraft used by both sides included such types  as  OSCAR, FRANK, HICKORY, IDA, Ki-79, LILY, SALLY, SONIA, THORA, TOJO, TONY and TOPSY. Nearly all were progressively replaced by 1950 with Russian and American aircraft during the ensuing civil  war.

       In KOREA the country was artificially divided in two at the war end by the infamous 38th parallel,  Russians occupying the North and Americans the South of the country. A few surrendered WILLOW trainers were later used for a variety of roles in an embryo South Korean (ROK) air force until invasion by North Korean forces in mid 1950.  

       In INDONESIA Nationalist forces opposed to the Dutch again taking control formed a  makeshift airforce  from a number of surrendered aircraft in varying states of repair,  once more with Japanese air and ground crew help.   Types     used   included  DINAH, IDA, Ki-79 (1), LILY (1), MAVIS (1), OSCAR, SALLY (1), SONIA, SPRUCE and  WILLOW. Many of these aircraft were unserviceable by 1947, but some lasted until independence was obtained in 1949.

       In INDO CHINA pending arrival of the French to reclaim their former territory, a Gremlin Task Force was formed by the RAF utilizing surrendered Japanese aircraft and crews to fly in supplies as well as disarm and repatriate  surrendering troops. Types used included DINAH, HICKORY, IDA, Ki-79, LILY, PEGGY, SALLY, TABBY and TOPSY. The unit was disbanded in early 1946 when the French arrived and they took over some of the aircraft. They also quickly found the need for combat aircraft to use against Vietnamese Nationalists. Prior to arrival of Spitfires purchased from England, a number of other surrendered Japanese aircraft including JAKE and OSCAR types were restored to flying order and used for a  few more months.

       In THAILAND, an ally of Japan after invasion by them in 1941, there was already an airforce trained and equipped by the Japanese with such types as  ANN, DAVE, IDA, JAKE, Ki-79, NATE, OSCAR, SALLY and SPRUCE. These remained in Royal Thai service until their replacement in 1949 with more modern and serviceable American and British aircraft.


       As the Allies completed their occupation of mainland Japan, all remaining war service equipment was ordered to be destroyed or scrapped, a task which, as far as aircraft were concerned, took until well into 1947. By that time nearly 13,000 surviving military aircraft had been disposed of there. In addition, several hundred more found during this time on various islands in the Pacific were also destroyed. So set the Rising Sun in skies filled with oily smoke.

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