Saburō Sakai

Sub-Lieutenant Saburō Sakai (坂井 三郎 Sakai Saburō, 25 August 1916 – 22 September 2000) was a Japanese naval aviator and flying ace ("Gekitsui-O", 撃墜王) of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Sakai had 28 aerial victories (including shared) by official Japanese records,[1] while his autobiography Samurai!, co-written by Martin Caidin and Fred Saito, claims 64 aerial victories.[2] Such discrepancies are common, and pilots' official scores are often lower than those claimed by the pilots themselves, due to difficulties in providing appropriate witnesses or verifying wreckage, and variations in military reports due to loss or destruction.

Saburō Sakai (坂井 三郎)
Sakai Cockpit A5M
PO2/c Sakai in the cockpit of a Mitsubishi A5M Type 96 fighter (Hankow airfield, China in 1939)
Nickname(s)Sky Samurai
Born25 August 1916
Saga, Japan
Died22 September 2000 (aged 84)
Atsugi Naval Air Station, Japan
Allegiance Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service (IJN)
Years of service1933–45
Rank海軍中尉 (Kaigun-chūi)
UnitTainan Air Group
Yokosuka Air Wing
Battles/warsSecond Sino-Japanese War
Pacific War

Early life

Saburō Sakai was born on 25 August 1916 in Saga in Japan. Sakai was born into a family with immediate affiliation to samurai and their warrior legacies and whose ancestors (themselves samurai) had taken part in the Japanese invasions of Korea between 1592 to 1598, but who were later forced to take up a livelihood of farming following haihan-chiken in 1871.[3] He is the third-born of four sons (his given name literally means "third son"), and had three sisters. Sakai was 11 when his father died, leaving his mother alone to raise seven children. With limited resources, Sakai was adopted by his maternal uncle, who financed his education in a Tokyo high school. However, Sakai failed to do well in his studies and was sent back to Saga after his second year.

On 31 May 1933 at the age of 16, Sakai enlisted in the Japanese Navy as a Sailor Fourth Class (Seaman Recruit) (四等水兵). Sakai described his experiences as a naval recruit:

Sakai as young pilot
Sakai posing in front of the hinomaru on his Mitsubishi A5M Type 96 fighter (Wuhan, 1939).
"The petty officers would not hesitate to administer the severest beatings to recruits they felt deserving of punishment. Whenever I committed a breach of discipline or an error in training, I was dragged physically from my cot by a petty officer. 'Stand tall to the wall! Bend down, Recruit Sakai!' he would roar. 'I am not doing this because I hate you, but because I like you and want you to make a good seaman. Bend down!' And with that he would swing a large stick of wood and with every ounce of strength he possessed would slam it against my upturned bottom. The pain was terrible, the force of the blows unremitting."[4]

After completing his training the following year, Sakai graduated as a Sailor Third Class (Ordinary Seaman) (三等水兵). He then served aboard the battleship Kirishima for one year. In 1935, he successfully passed the competitive examinations for the Naval Gunners' School. Sakai was promoted to Sailor Second Class (Able Seaman) (二等水兵) in 1936, and served on the battleship Haruna as a turret gunner. He received successive promotions to Sailor First Class (Leading Seaman) (一等水兵) and to Petty Officer Third Class (三等兵曹). In early 1937, he applied for and was accepted into a pilot training school. He graduated first in his class at Tsuchiura in 1937 and earned a silver watch, presented to him by Emperor Hirohito himself. Sakai graduated as a carrier pilot, although he was never assigned to aircraft-carrier duty.

Promoted to Petty Officer Second Class (二等兵曹) in 1938, Sakai took part in aerial combat flying the Mitsubishi A5M at the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938–1939 and was wounded in action. He shot down a Soviet built Ilyushin DB-3 bomber in October 1939. Later, Sakai was selected to fly the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighter in combat over China.

Service in World War II

Southeast Asia

Saburō Sakai as a petty officer wearing life preserver

When Japan attacked the Western Allies in 1941, Sakai participated in the attack on the Philippines as a member of the Tainan Air Group. On 8 December 1941, Sakai flew one of 45 Zeros[5] from the Tainan Kōkūtai (a Kōkūtai was an Air Group) that attacked Clark Air Base in the Philippines. In his first combat against Americans, shot down a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk and destroyed two B-17 Flying Fortresses by strafing them on the ground. Sakai flew missions the next day during heavy weather.

On the third day of the battle, Sakai claimed to have shot down a B-17 flown by Captain Colin P. Kelly. Sakai, who has often been credited with the victory, was a Shotai leader engaged in this fight with the bomber, although he and his two wingmen do not appear to have been given official credit for it.[6]

Early in 1942, Sakai was transferred to Tarakan Island in Borneo and fought in the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese high command instructed fighter patrols to down all enemy aircraft encountered, whether they were armed or not. On a patrol with his Zero over Java, just after shooting down an enemy aircraft, Sakai encountered a civilian Dutch Douglas DC-3 flying at low altitude over dense jungle. Sakai initially assumed it was transporting important people and signaled to its pilot to follow him; the pilot did not obey. Sakai descended and approached the DC-3. He then saw a blonde woman and a young child through a window, along with other passengers. The woman reminded him of Mrs. Martin, an American who occasionally had taught him as a child in middle school and had been kind to him. He ignored his orders and flew ahead of the pilot, signaling him to go ahead. The pilot and passengers saluted him.[7] Sakai did not mention the encounter in the aerial combat report.[8]

During the Borneo campaign, Sakai achieved 13 more victories before he was grounded by illness. When he recovered three months later in April, Petty Officer First Class Sakai joined a squadron (chutai) of the Tainan Kōkūtai under Sub-Lieutenant Junichi Sasai at Lae, New Guinea. Over the next four months, he scored the majority of his victories, flying against American and Australian pilots based at Port Moresby.

On the night of 16 May, Sakai and his colleagues, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa and Toshio Ota, were listening to a broadcast of an Australian radio program, when Nishizawa recognized the eerie "Danse Macabre" of Camille Saint-Saëns. Inspired by this, Nishizawa came up with the idea of doing demonstration loops over the enemy airfield. The next day, his squadron included fellow aces Hiroyoshi Nishizawa and Toshio Ōta. At the end of an attack on Port Moresby that had involved 18 Zeros,[9] the trio performed three tight loops in close formation over the allied air base. Nishizawa indicated he wanted to repeat the performance. Diving to 6,000 ft (1,800 m), the three Zeros did three more loops, without receiving any AA fire from the ground. The following day, a lone Allied bomber flew over the Lae airfield and dropped a note attached to a long cloth ribbon. A soldier picked up the note and delivered to the squadron commander. It read (paraphrased): "Thank you for the wonderful display of aerobatics by three of your pilots. Please pass on our regards and inform them that we will have a warm reception ready for them, next time they fly over our airfield". The squadron commander was furious and reprimanded the three pilots for their stupidity, but the Tainan Kōkūtai's three leading aces felt Nishizawa's aerial choreography of the "Danse Macabre" had been worth it.[10]

Pacific Theater

On 3 August, Sakai's air group was relocated from Lae to the airfield at Rabaul.

Saburo Sakai flightgear
Sakai in flightsuit

On 7 August, word arrived that U.S. Marines had landed that morning on Guadalcanal. The initial Allied landings captured an airfield, later named Henderson Field by the Allies, that had been under construction by the Japanese. The airfield soon became the focus of months of fighting during the Guadalcanal Campaign, as it enabled U.S. airpower to hinder the Japanese attempts at resupplying their troops. The Japanese made several attempts to retake Henderson Field, resulting in continuous, almost daily air battles for the Tainan Kōkūtai.

U.S. Marines flying Grumman F4F Wildcats from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal were using a new aerial combat tactic, the "Thach Weave", developed in 1941 by the U.S. Navy aviators John Thach and Edward O'Hare. The Japanese Zero pilots flying out of Rabaul were initially confounded by the tactic. Saburō Sakai described their reaction to the Thach Weave when they encountered Guadalcanal Wildcats using it:[11]

For the first time Lt. Commander Tadashi Nakajima encountered what was to become a famous double-team maneuver on the part of the enemy. Two Wildcats jumped on the commander’s plane. He had no trouble in getting on the tail of an enemy fighter, but never had a chance to fire before the Grumman’s team-mate roared at him from the side. Nakajima was raging when he got back to Rabaul; he had been forced to dive and run for safety.

On 7 August, Sakai and three pilots shot down an F4F Wildcat flown by James "Pug" Southerland, who by the end of the war became an ace with five victories. Sakai, who did not know Southerland's guns had jammed, recalled the duel in his autobiography:[12]

In desperation, I snapped out a burst. At once the Grumman snapped away in a roll to the right, clawed around in a tight turn, and ended up in a climb straight at my own plane. Never before had I seen an enemy plane move so quickly or gracefully before, and every second his guns were moving closer to the belly of my fighter. I snap-rolled in an effort to throw him off. He would not be shaken. He was using my favorite tactics, coming up from under.

They were soon engaged in a skillfully maneuvered dogfight. After an extended battle in which both pilots gained and lost the upper hand, Sakai shot down Southerland's Wildcat, striking it below the left wing root with his 20 mm cannon. Southerland parachuted to safety.[13]

Sakai was amazed at the Wildcat's ruggedness:[14]

I had full confidence in my ability to destroy the Grumman and decided to finish off the enemy fighter with only my 7.7 mm machine guns. I turned the 20 mm cannon switch to the 'off' position and closed in. For some strange reason, even after I had poured about five or six hundred rounds of ammunition directly into the Grumman, the airplane did not fall, but kept on flying. I thought this very odd — it had never happened before — and closed the distance between the two airplanes until I could almost reach out and touch the Grumman. To my surprise, the Grumman's rudder and tail were torn to shreds, looking like an old torn piece of rag. With his plane in such condition, no wonder the pilot was unable to continue fighting! A Zero which had taken that many bullets would have been a ball of fire by now.

Not long after he downed Southerland, Sakai was attacked by a lone Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber flown by Lt. Dudley Adams of Scouting Squadron 71 (VS-71) from USS Wasp. Adams scored a near miss, sending a bullet through Sakai's canopy, but Sakai quickly gained the upper hand and succeeded in downing Adams. Adams bailed out and survived, but his gunner, R3/c Harry Elliot, was killed in the encounter.[15] According to Saburō Sakai this was his 60th victory.[2]

Serious wounds

During the air group's first mission of the battle of Guadalcanal, having just shot down Southerland and Adams, Sakai was seriously wounded in a fight near Tulagi against eight SBD Dauntlesses, a mixed flight from Bombing Squadrons Five and Six (VB-5 and VB-6).[16] Mistaking the SBDs for more F4F Wildcat fighters, Sakai approached from below and behind, targeting a VB-6 Dauntless. The dive bombers, with their rear-mounted twin 7.62 mm (0.3 in) .30 AN/M2 guns, destroyed the canopy of Sakai's Zero.[17] Saburō Sakai's account of this battle is different.[2] He spotted eight aircraft in two flights of four and initially identified them as F4F Wildcat fighters. After he attacked with three other A6M2 Zero fighters, he discovered that the aircraft were Grumman TBF Avengers because he clearly distinguished the top turret. He shot down two of the TBF Avengers (his 61st and 62nd victories) which were verified by the other three Zero pilots but during this day, no Avengers were reported lost.[2]

Sakai sustained serious injuries from the return fire of rear seat gunner. He was hit in the head by a 7.62 mm (0.3 in) bullet, blinding him in the right eye and paralyzing the left side of his body. The Zero rolled inverted and was descending toward the sea. Unable to see out of his uninjured eye due to blood from the head wound, Sakai's vision started to clear somewhat as tears cleared the blood from his eyes, and he was able to pull his plane out of the dive. He considered ramming an American warship: "If I must die, at least I could go out as a Samurai. My death would take several of the enemy with me. A ship. I needed a ship." Finally, the cold air blasting into the cockpit revived him enough to check his instruments, and he decided that leaning the fuel mixture he might be able to return to the airfield at Rabaul.

Sakai wounded
Rabaul, 8 August 1942: A seriously wounded Sakai returns to Rabaul with his damaged Zero after a four-hour, 47-minute flight over 560 nmi (1,040 km; 640 mi). Sakai's skull was penetrated by a machine-gun bullet and he was blind in one eye, but insisted on making his mission report before accepting medical treatment.

Although in agony from his injuries[18] from a bullet that had passed through his skull and the right side of his brain, leaving the entire left side of his body paralyzed, and was left blind in one eye.[19] (The wound is described elsewhere as having destroyed the metal frame of his goggles, and "creased" his skull, meaning a glancing blow that breaks the skin and makes a furrow in, or even cracks the skull, but does not actually penetrate it.) Sakai managed to fly his damaged Zero in a four-hour, 47-minute flight over 560 nmi (1,040 km; 640 mi) back to his base on Rabaul, using familiar volcanic peaks as guides. When he attempted to land at the airfield he nearly crashed into a line of parked Zeros but, after circling four times, and with the fuel gauge reading empty, he put his Zero down on the runway on his second attempt. After landing, he insisted on making his mission report to his superior officer before collapsing. His squadron mate Hiroyoshi Nishizawa drove him to a surgeon. Sakai was evacuated to Japan on 12 August, where he endured a long surgery without anesthesia. The surgery repaired some of the damage to his head, but was unable to restore full vision to his right eye. Nishizawa visited Sakai while he recuperated in the Yokosuka hospital in Japan.

Recovery and return

After his discharge from the hospital in January 1943, Sakai spent a year training new fighter pilots.[20] With Japan clearly losing the air war, he prevailed upon his superiors to let him fly in combat again. In November 1943, Sakai was promoted to the rank of Flying Warrant Officer (飛行兵曹長). In April 1944, he was transferred to Yokosuka Air Wing, which was deployed to Iwo Jima.

On 24 June 1944, Sakai approached a formation of 15 U.S. Navy Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters which he mistakenly assumed were friendly Japanese aircraft. William A. McCormick saw four Hellcats on the Zero's tail but decided not to get involved. Sakai demonstrated his skill and experience. Despite facing superior enemy aircraft, Sakai eluded attacks by the Hellcats, returning to his airfield untouched.[21]

Sakai claimed to have never lost a wingman in combat; however, he lost at least two over Iwo Jima.[22]

Sakai said as follows: he was ordered to lead a kamikaze mission on 5 July, but he failed to find the U.S. task force. He was engaged by Hellcat fighters near the task force's reported position, and all but one of the Nakajima B6N2 "Jill" torpedo bombers in his flight were shot down. Sakai managed to shoot down one Hellcat, then escaped the umbrella of enemy aircraft by flying into a cloud. Rather than follow meaningless orders, in worsening weather and gathering darkness, Sakai led his small formation back to Iwo Jima.[23] While, according to the aerial combat report, his mission was to escort bombers to and from their targets, and it was afternoon 24 June the day Sakai joined the attack on the U.S. task force.[22]

In August 1944, Sakai was commissioned an Ensign (少尉). After Sakai was transferred to 343rd Air Group, he returned to Yokosuka Air Wing again.

About the same time, Sakai married his cousin Hatsuyo, who asked him for a dagger so she could kill herself if he fell in battle. His autobiography, Samurai!, ends happily with Hatsuyo throwing away the dagger after Japan's surrender, saying she no longer needed it.

He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant (中尉), after the war ended.

Saburo Sakai participated in the IJNAS's last wartime mission, attacking two reconnaissance Consolidated B-32 Dominators on 18 August, which were conducting photo-reconnaissance and testing Japanese compliance with the cease-fire. He initially misidentified the planes as Boeing B-29 Superfortresses. Both aircraft returned to their base at Yontan Airfield, Okinawa. His encounter with the B-32 Dominators in the IJNAS's final mission was not included in Samurai!.

Back to civilian life

Saburo Sakai Zero
Sakai's A6M2 Zero, tail code V-173, preserved at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra[24]

After the war, Sakai retired from the Navy. He became a Buddhist acolyte - vowing to never again kill anything that lived, not even a mosquito.[19]

Likewise, although Japan had been defeated in the Second World War with great loss of life, Sakai serenely accepted this outcome: "Had I been ordered to bomb Seattle or Los Angeles in order to end the war, I wouldn't have hesitated. So I perfectly understand why the Americans bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima."

Times were difficult for Sakai: he had trouble finding a job; Hatsuyo died in 1947.[25] He remarried in 1952 and started a printing shop.

Sakai sent his daughter to college in the United States "to learn English and democracy."[26]

Sakai visited the US and met many of his former adversaries, including Harold "Lew" Jones, the tail-gunner who had wounded him.[27]

Following a US Navy formal dinner in 2000 at Atsugi Naval Air Station where he had been an honored guest, Sakai died of a heart attack at the age of 84.

Claims have been made that his autobiography Samurai! includes fictional stories, and that the number of kills specified in that work were increased to promote sales of the book by Martin Caidin. The book was not published in Japan and differs from his biographies there.[28]

Saburo Sakai was survived by his wife Haru, two daughters, and a son.[29]



  1. ^ Sakai saburo research book, pp.277.
  2. ^ a b c d Sakai et al. 1978
  3. ^ Sakai et al. 1978, pp. 1, 3.
  4. ^ Forquer, John A. "The Kamikaze: Samurai Warrior, A New Appraisal." Retrieved: 5 April 2015.
  5. ^ "A6M2b Zero Model 21 - Saburō Sakai, V-107, Tainan Kōkūtai." Retrieved: 5 April 2015.
  6. ^ Shores, Cull and Izawa 1992, p. 182.
  7. ^ Interview from April 2000 Archived June 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Japan Center for Asian Historical Record, Tainan Air Group action report Reference code C08051602100.
  9. ^ "V-173, a Mitsubishi Zero A6M2, flown by Sakai during summer of 1942." Archived 2012-02-04 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 9 April 2015.
  10. ^ Guttman, Jon. "Hiroyoshi Nishizawa: Japan's World War II Ace of Aces.", 12 June 2006 (originally published in Aviation History, July 1998 issue). Retrieved: 27 December 2015.
  11. ^ "Naval Aviation News" July/August 1993 Archived June 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine Archived copy at the Library of Congress (April 10, 2010).
  12. ^ Sakai, S. "Samurai!" p. 160-162
  13. ^ "Dogfight with James Southerland flying F4F Wildcat." Pacific Wrecks. Retrieved: April 5, 2015.
  14. ^ Saburo Sakai: "Zero"
  15. ^ Sakaida 1985, pp. 74-75.
  16. ^ Winged Samurai, pp. 74-76.
  17. ^ 'Sakaida 1985, pp. 76, 78-79.
  18. ^ "Original flight helmet Sakai wore on his fateful mission when he was wounded." Retrieved: April 5, 2015.
  19. ^ a b "
  20. ^ Hards, Scott."An afternoon with Saburo Sakai.", 1998. Retrieved: 9 April 2015.
  21. ^ Sakaida 1985.
  22. ^ a b Japan Center for Asian Historical Record, Yokosuka Air Group action report Reference code C13120487500.
  23. ^ Sakaida 1998.
  24. ^ "REL/08378 - Mitsubishi A6M2 Model 21 Zero Fighter Aircraft: Japanese Navy Air Force." Archived 2012-03-25 at the Wayback Machine Australian War Memorial. Retrieved" 13 April 2012.
  25. ^
    • Sakaida, Henry. Winged Samurai: Saburo Sakai and the Zero Fighter Pilots. Phoenix, Arizona: Champlin Fighter Museum, 1985, ISBN 0-912173-05-X.
  26. ^ Pike, Francis. Hirohitos War (The Pacific War, 1941-1945), p. 449
  27. ^ Taylan, Justin R. "Saburo Sakai and Harold 'Lew' Jones meet on Memorial Day 1982. Sakai holds his tattered and damaged flight helmet from his near fatal mission to Guadalcanal." Pacific Wrecks, 26 October 2012. Retrieved: 5 April 2015.
  28. ^ Kodachi 2010, pp. 315-325.
  29. ^


  • King, Dan. The Last Zero Fighter, Firsthand Accounts from WWII Japanese Fighter Pilots. Oakland, California: Pacific Press, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4681-7880-7.
  • Kodachi, Naoki. Fighters of Our Grandfathers (in Japanese). Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd., 2010. ISBN 978-4-0621-6302-6.
  • Leckie, Robert. Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: the Turning Point of the War. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1968. ISBN 0-306-80911-7.
  • Sakaida, Henry. "Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No. 22 - Imperial Japanese Navy Aces 1937-45" London: Osprey Publishing, 1998. ISBN 978-1-8553-2727-6.
  • Sakaida, Henry. Winged Samurai: Saburo Sakai and the Zero Fighter Pilots. Phoenix, Arizona: Champlin Fighter Museum, 1985, ISBN 0-912173-05-X.
  • Sakai, Saburo, Martin Caidin and Fred Saito. Samurai!. New York: Bantam, 1978. ISBN 978-0-5531-1035-7.
  • Sakai, Saburo. Sakai saburo kusen kiroku, Volume 1 (in Japanese). Tokyo: Kodansha, 1995. ISBN 978-4-0625-6087-0.
  • Ruffato, Luca and Michael J Claringbould. Eagles of the Southern Sky: The Tainan Air Group in WWII, Volume One: New Guinea. Tainan City, Taiwan: Tainan Books, 2014. ISBN 978-0-473-21763-1.
  • Shores, Christopher, Brian Cull and Yasuho Izawa. Bloody Shambles: Volume One: The Drift to War to the Fall of Singapore. London: Grub Street, 1992. ISBN 0-948817-50-X.
  • Yositake, Kori. Saburo Sakai in Japanese). Tokyo: Kojinsha, 2009. ISBN 978-4-7698-1442-9.

External links

1916 in Japan

Events in the year 1916 in Japan. It corresponds to Taishō 5 (大正5年) in the Japanese calendar.

2000 in Japan

The following lists events that happened during 2000 in Japan. It corresponds to the year Heisei 12 in the Japanese calendar.

25th Air Flotilla

The 25th Air Flotilla (第二五航空戦隊,, Dai Nijūgo Kōkū Sentai, "Nijūgo Kōsen") was a combat aviation unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the Pacific Campaign of World War II. The flotilla, mainly consisting of land-based bombers, fighters, and reconnaissance aircraft, reported to the IJN's 11th Air Fleet. As originally organized, the flotilla's core units were the 4th Naval Air Group, Tainan Naval Air Group, and Yokohama Naval Air Group. The 4th flew bombers, the Tainan fighters, and the Yokohama reconnaissance aircraft.

The 25th Air Flotilla, under the command of Rear Admiral Sadayoshi Yamada, was deployed to Rabaul, New Britain on 29 March 1942. From this location, the unit supported Japanese military operations in the New Guinea and Solomon Islands Campaigns. During these campaigns, the unit was augmented by aircraft from other flotillas. The operational title for this hybrid organization was the 5th Air Attack Force. The organization took heavy losses in air combat over Guadalcanal.

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Lieutenant Junior Grade Hiroyoshi Nishizawa (西澤 広義, Nishizawa Hiroyoshi, January 27, 1920 – October 26, 1944) was an ace of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service during World War II.

He is officially credited in Japan with the following aerial victories:

victories - 36

damaged - 2

shared damaged - 49It is possible that Nishizawa was the most successful Japanese fighter ace of the war; he personally claimed to have had 102 aerial victories at the time of his death. Some uncertainty is due to the Japanese habit of recording victories for pilots' units, rather than the individual, after 1941, as well as the often wildly exaggerated claims of aerial kills that were frequently accepted. Some sources credit Nishizawa with over 120 to 150 victories.

Junichi Sasai

Lieutenant Commander

Junichi Sasai (笹井 醇一, Sasai Jun'ichi, February 13, 1918 – August 26, 1942) was a Japanese naval aviator and fighter ace of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II. Lieutenant (j.g.) (中尉) Sasai was killed leading his fighter squadron during an attack on Henderson Field during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Kaneyoshi Muto

Kaneyoshi Muto (武藤 金義, Mutō Kaneyoshi, June 1916 – 24 July 1945) was a Japanese naval aviator and flying ace known for his great skill in fighter aircraft. Fellow ace Saburō Sakai called him "a genius in the air."

List of military instructors and trainers of the Empire of Japan

A list of Imperial Army-Navy personnel with responsibility for military teaching and training of new recruits.

Commandants and Directors in Army War College

Sadao Araki:- Commandant, War College,

Yaezo Akashiba:- Director War College

Shuichi Miyazaki:- Deputy Commandant, War College

Toshiro Obata:- Deputy Commandant, War College

Jo Iimura:- Deputy Commandant in War College

Tsunenori Kaya:- Commandant in War CollegeCommandments and Directors in the Imperial Japanese Army Academy

Hideki Tōjō:- Commandant, Military Academy

Kenzo Kitano:- Commandant, Military Academy

Renya Mutaguchi:- Commandant, Military Academy

Akira Mutō:- assigned Direction in Military AcademyCommander of the Naval War College

Chuichi Nagumo:- Commander of Naval War CollegePresident and Commander of the Naval War College

Nobutake Kondō:- President of the Japanese Naval War College

Sokichi Takagi:- Commander of the Japanese Naval War CollegeCommandants and Directors in Army and Navy academies and school

Yoshikazu Nishi:- Commandant of the Field Artillery School

Masatake Yasuoka:- Commandant of the Army Tank School

Hitoshi Imamura:- Commandant, Narashino Army School

Jirō Minami:- direction of Cavalry School

Kyoji Tominaga:- Commandant, Kungchuling Army Tank School (Manchuria)

Michio Sugawara:- Commandant, Shimoshizu Army Air School, Commandant, Military Air Academy, Air Training Army Commander

Rikichi Tsukada:- Commanding General, Airborne Operations Training Unit

Jisaburo Ozawa:- President of the Japanese Naval Academy

Shigetarō Shimada:- Commandant, Imperial Navy Submarine School

Kumaichi Teramoto:- Director, Hamamatsu Army Air School

Heisuke Yanagawa:- Commandant of the Army Cavalry School

Yoshitoshi Tokugawa:- Commandant of Akeno Army Aviation School and Tokorozawa Army Aviation SchoolMilitary Superintendents

Rikichi Andō:- Superintendent, Toyama Army School

Harukichi Hyakutake:- attached/Superintendent to Army Signal School, Superintendent, Hiroshima Military Prep School

Korechika Anami:- Superintendent, Tokyo Military Preparatory School

Mitsuo Nakazawa:- Superintendent, Military Preparatory Academy

Tasuku Okada:- Superintendent, Army Tank School

Ichiro Shichida:- Superintendent, Army School of Science, Superintendent, Toyama Army School

Sizuichi Tanaka:- Superintendent, War College

Kumaichi Teramoto:- Superintendent, Hamamatsu Army Air School

Toshimichi Uemura:- Superintendent, Tokyo Army Preparatory School

Otozō Yamada:- Superintendent, Military AcademyMilitary professors and instructors

Heisuke Yanagawa:- Instructor at the War College

Tsunenori Kaya:- Instructor at the War College

Yasuhiko Asaka:- Instructor at the Military Academy

Un Yi:- Instructor at Military Staff College

Haruhito Kanin:- Instructor Attached to Chiba Army Tank School and War College

Kenzo Kitano:- Commanding Officer, Senior-Course Cadet Unit

Keisuke Fujie:- Instructor (Military Academy) also Director, Field Artillery School, Superintendent, War College

Okikatsu Arao:- Instructor, Infantry School

Masaharu Homma:- Instructor, War College

Shōjirō Iida:- Instructor, Infantry School

Tomitaro Horii:- attached to 3rd Infantry Regiment-Training Officer, Waseda University

Kanji Ishiwara:- Instructor, War College

Tadasu Kataoka:- Instructor, Army Cavalry School

Masakazu Kawabe:- Commanding Officer, Training Regiment, infantry School

Torashirō Kawabe:- Instructor (Tactics), War College, Hamamatsu Army Flying School

Kiyotake Kawaguchi:- Instructor, Army Heavy Artillery School

Heitarō Kimura:- Instructor, War College, Artillery Department, Office of Military Training

Seiichi Kita:- Instructor, War College

Koiso Kuniaki:- Instructor, Military Academy

Shiro Makino:- Instructor, Military Academy also Senior Instructor/Superintendent, Military Preparatory Academy

Jinsaburo Mazaki:- Instructor, Training Unit Military Academy

Shuichi Miyazaki:- Instructor Cadet Unit, Military Academy Preparatory School, Military Instructor, War College, Deputy Commandant, War College

Takeshi Mori:- Instructor, Cavalry School; Instructor, War College

Toshizō Nishio:- Instructor, War College, Section Chief, Office of Military Training

Fukutaro Nishiyama:- Instructor, Military Academy

Tetsuzan Nagata:- Office of Military Training

Masutaro Nakai:- Instructor, Military Academy (tactics)

Mitsuo Nakazawa:- Instructor, War College, Superintendent, Military Preparatory Academy

Kanji Nishihara:- concurrently Instructor, War College

Kengo Noda:- Instructor, Infantry School, Commanding Officer, Training Unit, Infantry School

Shihei Oba:- Commanding Officer, Infantry Unit, Toyohashi Reserve Officer School

Hideyoshi Obata:- Instructor, War College, Commandant, Akeno Army Air School

Sanji Okido:- Instructor, War College, November

Ichiro Shichida:- Instructor, Infantry School, Superintendent, Military Preparatory Academy, Director, Military Academy, Superintendent, Army School of Science, Superintendent, Toyama Army School

Takuma Shimoyama:- Instructor, Military Academy, Office of Military Training, Instructor, War College

Hisakazu Tanaka:- Instructor, War College

Rikichi Tsukada:- Attached, Training Unit, Shimoshizu Army Air School, Instructor, Hamamatsu Army Air School and Commanding General, Airborne Operations Training Unit

Jun Ushiroku:- attached to Training Unit, Military Academy

Otozō Yamada:- Instructor, War College, Instructor, Cavalry School Chief, Army Signal School, Superintendent, Military Academy

Takeo Yasuda:- Instructor, Artillery and Engineering School, Member, Research Branch, Army Signal School, LtCol, May Member, Research Branch, Army Signal School

Hitoshi Asano:- Instructor, Akeno and Narashino Air base

Ichiki Kioyonao:- Instructor, Army Infantry School

Sokichi Takagi:- instructor of the Naval Staff college

Shigetarō Shimada:- Instructor, Naval War College, Commandant, Imperial Navy Submarine School

Nobuo Fujita:- Instructor Japanese Navy Air force

Saburō Sakai:- Instructor, Ohmura Navy Airbase

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa:- Instructor, Yokosuka Navy Airfield

Tetsuzo Iwamoto:- Instructor, Yokosuka and Tokushima Navy AirfieldTechnicians, researchers and experts in military sciences

Takushiro Hattori:- General Staff Headquarters-Army Tank School, Research Section, Army Engineer School, Research Section

Ichiki Kioyonao:- Member, Research Branch, Toyama Army School, Instructor, Army Infantry School

Jo Iimura:- Instructor and Deputy Commandant in War College, Member, Research Staff, War College; Chief, Total Warfare Research Institute, he made extensive trips throughout East Asia, to collect instructional materials and operative practices.

Kanji Nishihara:- Director, Research Department, Infantry School Deputy Commandant, Narashino Army School, concurrently Instructor, War College

Teiichi Suzuki:- Member, Research Division, War College

Takeo Yasuda:- Member, Research Branch, Army Signal School

Michio Sugawara:- Major (Air Force); Section Chief, Army Aeronautical Department

Kumaichi Teramoto:- LtCol (Air Force), Officer attached; later Member in Army Aeronautical Department

Takeo Yasuda:- Officer attached to Army Air Technical Laboratories (MajGen)

Yoshitoshi Tokugawa:- Director of the Research Department and Director of Technical Training Department, Tokorozawa Army Aviation School

Masaaki Shimakawa

Masaaki Shimakawa (島川 正明, Shimakawa Masaaki) was a warrant officer and ace fighter pilot in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the Pacific theater of World War II. In aerial combat over the Pacific he was officially credited with destroying eight enemy aircraft with 12 or 13 assists.

Shimakawa was a member of the Tainan Air Group at the beginning of the Pacific War. Often assigned as a wingman to legendary ace Saburō Sakai, Shimakawa fought in the conquest of the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies campaign. In April 1942, Shimakawa was transferred to the aircraft carrier Kaga's fighter group, with which he participated in the Battle of Midway.

Surviving the loss of his carrier at Midway, Shimakawa was reassigned to the 204th Air Group with which he was assigned to the Solomon Islands campaign in August 1942. Based on Bougainville, Shimakawa and his comrades frequently tangled with the Cactus Air Force over Guadalcanal during the battle for that island. Stricken with malaria, Shimakawa was evacuated to Japan in March 1943.

After recovering from his illness, Shimakawa served as an instructor pilot with the Omura Air Group and various other units until the war ended in September 1945. Shimakawa died on 25 September 1997.

No. 32 Squadron RAAF

No. 32 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force unit based at RAAF East Sale in Victoria. It currently flies training and transport operations. The squadron was raised in February 1942 for service during World War II. Equipped with Lockheed Hudsons, the squadron was tasked with anti-submarine, anti-shipping operations, bombing and reconnaissance missions in New Guinea. In late 1942, the squadron was withdrawn to Sydney and re-equipped with Bristol Beauforts, which it operated along the east coast of Australia until the war ended. The squadron was disbanded in November 1945, but was re-formed in 1989 and currently operates King Air 350s.


Saburō or Saburo (さぶろう, サブロウ) is a masculine Japanese given name.

Sakai clan

The Sakai clan (酒井氏, Sakai-shi) was a Japanese samurai clan that claimed descent from the Nitta branch of the Minamoto clan, who were in turn descendants of Emperor Seiwa. Serata (Nitta) Arichika, a samurai of the 14th century, was the common ancestor of both the Sakai clan and the Matsudaira clan, which the Sakai later served. In the Sengoku period, under Tokugawa Ieyasu (who was the head of what was formerly the main Matsudaira family line), the Sakai became chief retainers. In the Edo period, because of their longstanding service to the Tokugawa clan, the Sakai were classified as a fudai family, in contrast with the tozama ("outsider clans").


Samurai! is a 1957 autobiographical book by Saburo Sakai co-written with Fred Saito and Martin Caidin. It describes the life and career of Saburō Sakai, the Japanese combat aviator who fought against American fighter pilots in the pacific theater of World War II, surviving the war with 64 kills as one of Japan's leading flying aces. Caidin wrote the prose of the book, basing its contents on journalist Fred Saito's extensive interviews with Sakai as well as on Sakai's own memoirs.

Tainan Air Group

The Tainan Air Group (台南海軍航空隊, Tainan Kaigun Kōkūtai) was a fighter aircraft and airbase garrison unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the Pacific campaign of World War II. The flying portion of the unit was heavily involved in many of the major campaigns and battles of the first year of the war. The exploits of the unit were widely publicized in the Japanese media at the time, at least in part because the unit spawned more aces than any other fighter unit in the IJN. Several of the unit's aces were among the IJN's top scorers, and included Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, Saburō Sakai, Junichi Sasai, Watari Handa, Masaaki Shimakawa, and Toshio Ōta.

Thach Weave

The Thach Weave (also known as a Beam Defense Position) is an aerial combat tactic developed by naval aviator John S. Thach and named by James H. Flatley of the United States Navy soon after the United States' entry into World War II.

It is a tactical formation maneuver in which two or more allied planes would weave in regularly intersecting flight paths to lure an enemy into focusing on one plane, while the targeted pilot's wingman would come into position to attack the pursuer.

Watari Handa

Watari Handa (半田 亘理, Handa Watari) (August 22, 1911 - 1948) was an officer and ace fighter pilot in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific theater of World War II. In aerial combat over China and the Pacific, he was officially credited with having destroyed 13 enemy aircraft.

On 13 May 1942, as a member of the Tainan Air Group based at Lae, New Guinea, Handa asked fellow Tainan ace Saburō Sakai to lend him his wingman, Toshiaki Honda, for a reconnaissance mission over Port Moresby. During the mission, the Japanese pilots were ambushed by enemy P-39 fighters and Honda was shot down and killed. Broken in spirit by Honda's death, Handa soon developed tuberculosis and was evacuated to Japan. After fighting the disease for six years, Handa died in 1948, telling his wife on his deathbed, "I have fought bravely all my life, but I could never forgive myself for having lost Sakai's wingman at Lae."


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