Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units Book Review

Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” Units

Series:  Osprey Combat Aircraft 140

By Mark Chambers, Illustrated by Jim Laurier

Softcover, 96 pages, index, 30 color profiles

Published by Osprey Publishing, September 2021

ISBN-10: ‎1472845048

ISBN-13: ‎978-1472845047

Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches

The D4Y Suisei (Comet) was a Japanese carrier-based dive bomber, designed to replace the Aichi D3A “Val”.  It was initially powered by a license-built Daimler-Benz DB 601 twelve-cylinder inline engine which gave it an impressive speed and sleek profile.  Later versions were powered by a Mitsubishi Kinsei 42 fourteen-cylinder radial engine due to reliability and maintenance issues with the inlines.  The type suffered from an unusually long developmental period while various bugs were worked out, which delayed its service introduction until the middle of the Pacific War.  By then Japan had suffered numerous setbacks, and the general decline in pilot training and loss of aircraft carriers reduced the potential impact of the design.

The book covers the Judy’s design history and operational service, along with reconnaissance, dive bombing, nightfighter, and Kamikaze variants.  The type was first used operationally when a developmental aircraft was used for reconnaissance, flying from Soryu during the Battle of Midway.  Similarly, the fourth prototype operated from Shokaku during the Battle of Santa Cruz in October 1942.  Notable successes were the sinking of USS Princeton (CVL-23) by a Judy Kamikaze, and the near-sinking of the USS Franklin (CV-13) by conventional dive-bombing attack.  Kamikaze operations are covered in detail, with a number of pages devoted to the tactics and procedures which they employed.  The final section is devoted to the use of the Judy as a nightfighter.

Like the rest of the Osprey Aircraft of the Aces series the highlight of the book is the full-color profiles.  These are well-rendered and thoroughly researched.  However, like most Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft, the camouflage was limited to the green over gray scheme with only some variation in the standard markings so there is not much variety.  The earliest profiles are of 1943 machines, so if you’re looking for the Midway or Santa Cruz Judys you’ll need to keep looking.  Despite that the book is well-researched and enlightening, and any book on Japanese aircraft (particularly in English) is most welcome.  Recommended.

Chance Vought F4U Corsair Mishaps Part I

A birdcage Corsair of VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” bounces high during a landing attempt aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). The squadron was working up their new mounts during the first half of 1943, but a high accident rate led the US Navy to initially declare the Corsair unsuitable for carrier operations. Note the ammunition coveres prominent on the wings.
This Corsair has suffered a landing gear collapse and tail separation as the pilot is assisted from the remains of his aircraft. The ammunition covers on the upper wing were interchangeable, and this has led to the white bar of the national insignia being scrambled – a common occurrence and an interesting detail for modelers.
One of several Corsair mishaps aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) is this VF-17 Corsair, showing details of the undersurfaces. VF-17 would deploy from land bases in the Solomons later in 1943, where they fought against Japanese aircraft operating from Rabaul. They went on to become the most successful Navy fighter squadron of the war.
A Corsair misses the wire and noses over aboard the USS Essex (CV-9) in 1945. The paintwork is very sloppy, showing overspray on the tail and runs on the side number. The shuffling of the ammunition covers on the wings has again scrambled the markings and contributes to the disheveled appearance.
A deck crane is used to right this Corsair aboard the USS Bunker Hill. The ailerons appear to be replacements and are much darker than outer wing panels. The position and style of the insignia are standard for the first half of 1943.
A Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Corsair loses its drop tank while recovering aboard HMS Victorious during the Sumatra Raid, January 1945. While the Royal Navy Carriers embarked fewer aircraft than their American counterparts, their armored flight decks proved more resistant to damage.
A bad day aboard the USS Prince William (CVE-31), a Bogue-class escort carrier. The Prince William spent most of the war ferrying aircraft to the combat zone.
CorsairMishap_08_VF-17 on the deck of the USS Charger, May 1943
A Corsair crashes through the barrier aboard USS Charger (CVE-30). Charger operated as a training carrier off the Atlantic coast.
CorsairMishap_09_F4U-7 15F-2 aboard the Bois-Belleau
A French Navy F4U-7 has nosed over aboard the carrier Bois Belleau. The ship was commissioned into the US Navy as the Independence-class light carrier USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24). She was transferred to the French Navy in 1953 and served until 1960.
The Corsair served as the primary US Navy carrier fighter in the years immediately after the war, until new jet aircraft were introduced. Here a F4U-4 goes over the side of the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42). Note the twin 20mm Oerlikon mount in the catwalk beneath the aircraft.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/07/28/chance-vought-f4u-corsair-mishaps-part-ii/

Grumman F6F Hellcat Color Photographs Part I

An early F6F-3 Hellcat positioned in front of the island of the Essex-class carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10). The first Hellcats were delivered in the standard Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme with national insignia in six locations. This photograph was taken in May, 1943.
Yorktown again, but three months later. These Hellcats are finished in the graded scheme and feature the barred insignia with blue outline in four locations. The wings have extensive cordite staining from the guns.
Hellcats recovering aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-3). Saratoga survived the war, only to be expended as a target for atomic bomb tests.
F6F_04_USS Lexington (CV-16), en route near New Guinea, early April, 1944
F6F Hellcats and SBD Dauntless dive bombers warm up aboard the USS Lexington (CV-16) off New Guinea in April, 1944. Close examination of the photo shows kill markings displayed on Hellcats 5 and 20.
Plane handlers sunbathing on the wing of a Fleet Air Arm Hellcat Mk.1 of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable, 18 January 1945.
Hellcats warming up on the light carrier USS Cowpens (CV-25) prior to the strike on Wake Island. US aircraft carriers stained their decks Deck Blue to make the ships harder to detect from the air.
Pilots and deck crew await the order to start engines. (LIFE magazine photograph)
Rocket-armed F6F-5’s of VF-11 Sundowners prepare for launch aboard USS Hornet (CV-12) in the summer of 1944. Avengers and Helldivers await their turns at the aft end of the flight deck.
F6F-5’s being serviced on the flight deck. The -5 Hellcats were finished in an overall glossy Sea Blue scheme. Here they are fitted with white drop tanks, a hold over from the previous graded camo scheme.
An F6F-5 secured to the deck of the USS Randolph (CV-15) with a Fletcher-class destroyer in the background. US carriers typically operated in Task Groups of four aircraft carriers, screened by battleships, cruisers, and up to sixteen destroyers.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/05/12/grumman-f6f-hellcat-color-photographs-part-ii-drones/

New York City Vintage Photographs Part III

A flight of Boeing Y1B-17 Flying Fortresses banks in to fly over Manhattan on 28 March 1937. The bombers were assigned to the 96th Bombardment Squadron, which had twelve Y1B-17s on strength. At the time these were the only heavy bombers in the USAAC inventory. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

The Royal Mail Ship Queen Elizabeth pulls into the pier with the skyscrapers of New York in the background. The Queen Elizabeth was a huge ship even by today’s standards – 1,031 feet in length and displacing 83,000 tons.

Here is the RMS Queen Mary in her gray warpaint. She served as a troop transport during World War Two and was capable of carrying as many as 15,000 troops at a time. Because of her high speed she was thought to be immune to attacks by German U-boats and made the majority of her trans-Atlantic crossings unescorted. She is pictured returning U.S. servicemen home on 20JUN45. Currently Queen Mary is preserved as a museum in Long Beach, California. She is reputed to be haunted.

The French battleship Richelieu on her way to the Brooklyn Naval Yard on 18FEB43 for repairs and modernization. While under Vichy control she was hit by the British battleship HMS Barnham and suffered an internal explosion in her number seven 15” (380 mm) gun in turret two. After her defection to the Free French she was outfitted for service in the Pacific.

The Dornier Do-X makes an eye-level pass along New York’s skyline on 7 August 1931. The largest aircraft of her time, the Do-X was powered by twelve 524 horsepower Bristol Jupiter engines which can be clearly seen in this view.

A Swedish Airlines DC-4 seen over Manhattan in 1946. It did not take long after World War Two for the international airline industry to establish regular routes between major cities around the world.

Three U.S. Coast Guard Grumman JRF-2 Goose (Geese?) fly formation over New York on 10 April 1940. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

Another Coast Guard amphibian in pre-war livery, this time it is a Hall Aluminum PH-3. This photograph was taken on 21 February 1940. (NASM Rudy Arnold collection)

The USS Nautilus (SSN-571) enters New York harbor on 13 May 1956. The Nautilus was the world’s first nuclear powered submarine, and the first to travel to the North Pole under the ice sheet.

The aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) travels up the Hudson River in 1939.  Considered too slow for combat in the Pacific she operated in the Atlantic for the majority of the war.  She supported the landings in North Africa on 8 November 1942, where her fighters engaged Vichy French aircraft and her dive bombers hit the French Battleship Jean Bart.

Part IV here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/02/10/new-york-city-vintage-photographs-part-iv/

Shattered Sword Book Review


Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

By Jonathan Parshall and Anthony Tully

Hardcover in dustjacket, 640 pages, appendices, notes, and index

Published by Potomac Books, November 2005

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1574889230

ISBN-13: 978-1574889239

Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.8 x 10.0 inches

The Battle of Midway is regarded by many historians as the turning point of the war in the Pacific.   Many articles and books have been written about the battle.  Most of them are wrong.

Shattered Sword examines primary source material to tell the story of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective.  Furthermore, the analysis does not just start with the battle, but examines the Japanese plans from a strategic perspective and shows the effect of the Imperial Navy’s doctrine on the conduct of the battle.  The internal competition with the Imperial Army had a much larger role in Japanese naval operations than is generally realized, and this had huge implications in both the campaign planning and distribution of forces.

The authors also take a deep dive into the design and equipment of the four Japanese aircraft carriers at Midway and how these factors affected the operation and employment of the air groups.  By determining what was possible for the ships and crews to do, they have ruled out several persistent myths about what the Japanese did do and have set the record straight.  Doctrine also plays a huge role in the decisions which are made in any engagement, as navies fight as they train.  An Admiral decides what to do when, doctrine determines how those orders are to be executed.  Here again the authors have been able to show why the Japanese fought as they did.

The surviving records have provided several details which are not present in other works on the subject.  The authors have been able to pin down the times of launch for individual aircraft as well as the names of aircrew.  From this they have been able to determine the number of Zeros over the Japanese fleet at any given time during the morning of 04JUN42.  This also conclusively dispels the myth that the Japanese were launching their own strikes against the American carriers when the Dauntless’ dives began.  There are also a few surprising facts revealed in these records, such as the ineffectiveness of the Japanese anti-aircraft fire, which only accounted for two American aircraft.

I am confident that this book will be the definitive history of the Battle of Midway from the Japanese perspective for the foreseeable future, at least in the English language.  There is room for the story to be told from the American viewpoint with the same scholarly rigor and level of detail, but that history is more readily available to the reader even if it is not compiled in one volume.  This is not a quick read, but well worth the time for anyone wanting to understand the Battle of Midway.  Recommended without reservation.


SB2C Helldiver Mishaps Part II

A VB-18 Helldiver seen flat on the deck of the USS Intrepid (CV-11). The flight deck shows no visible damage but the prop tips are bent.
The US Navy continued to operate the Helldiver briefly in the post-war era. Here an SB2C-5 comes to a spectacular end aboard the USS Kersarge (CV-33) in September 1948.
A VB-92 Helldiver goes over the side of the USS Lexington (CV-16) with a second Essex-class carrier in the background. US Navy doctrine at the time was to operate carriers in Battle Groups of four, along with numerous escorts.
Another mishap aboard the USS Lexington (CV-16) as the prop of this Helldiver chews up the deck. On advantage of the wooden deck is that it could be repaired quickly.
Crash crews aboard the USS Hornet (CV-12) respond quickly as this VB-2 Helldiver impacts the island.
The Helldiver was notoriously hard to control at low speeds resulting in another collision with the after 5”/38 gun mounts aboard the USS Wasp (CV-18).
With a long nose and a short tail the Helldiver displayed a tendency to nose over if the tailhook missed the arresting wires but the landing gear did not. This mishap occurred aboard the USS Shangri-La (CV-38) on 13MAR45.
A Helldiver hangs suspended over the side of the USS Intrepid (CV-11) on 30OCT44 after the Battle of Leyte Gulf. The odd thing is the tail markings indicate the aircraft was assigned to the USS Hancock (CV-19) at the time.
A view of the same Helldiver from below shows just how precarious the situation is. Aside from the bent prop the aircraft appears relatively undamaged.
This SB2C-4E has come in too low and struck the ramp of the USS Shangri-La (CV-38).

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/10/21/sb2c-helldiver-mishaps-part-i/

SB2C Helldiver Mishaps Part I

A Helldiver noses over next to the island structure of the USS Hancock (CV-19) revealing details of the underside. Modelers should note the oil staining from the radial engine and the cordite streaks on the wings from the shell casing chutes for the 20 mm cannon.
The tail gunner of this SB2C-1 searches for the missing tail of his Helldiver after recovering aboard the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17). The aircraft is from VB-17 during her workups on 19JUL43. VB-17 would fly their Helldivers against the Japanese at Rabaul in November during the type’s first combat action.
This overall Glossy Sea Blue Helldiver has nosed over and bent its prop, as well as damaging the wooden deck to the right of the frame. The deck crew appears interested in the starboard wheel.
Fire crews move in on this SB2C aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). The fuselage has suffered a structural failure just behind the cockpit.
This Helldiver from VB-15 appears to have lost its tail surfaces due to a collision with another aircraft. Ideally recovered aircraft would have been spotted forward of a wire crash barrier to prevent just such an occurrence but this one did not make it in time. The carrier is the USS Hornet (CV-12) on 02JAN44 during work-ups.
The tail hook has missed the wire but the landing gear did not, causing this Helldiver to nose over aboard the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14), January 1945.
An SB2C-1 of VB-17 misses the wire and careens into the island of the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17).
The geometric triangle recognition symbol identifies this SB2C-4 as belonging to VB-87 from the USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). The aircraft went into the water on 06JUN45.
Another USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) Helldiver having a bad day. The leading edge extension on the outer wings were interlocked with the landing gear and extended to increase lift at low speed.
A training accident aboard USS Charger (CVE-30) has left this SB2C-3 of VB-82 over the side with damage to the wing. The crew has already thrown the pilot a life ring. Escort carriers did not operate the Hellcat in combat.
The SB2C-4E has lost her engine after impacting the after 5”/38 twin turret on the deck of the USS Lexington (CV-16).
This SB2C-4E has become tangled in the arresting wires aboard USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). By this time the Ticonderoga’s airgroup has traded in their geometric triangle recognition symbol for the more easily described letter “V”.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/11/04/sb2c-helldiver-mishaps-part-ii/

Grumman TBM Avenger Color Photographs Part 2

An atmospheric color photograph of an Avenger making an arrested landing aboard an escort carrier as plane handlers rush to release the arresting wire and move the aircraft forward.  The large yellow “buzz numbers” indicate a training aircraft.  The national insignia carry the red border which was only authorized from 28JUN43 to 14AUG43.
A similar photograph showing the buzz number carried on the starboard wing.  Also note where the national insignia further outboard on the wing has been painted over in accordance with directives.  On the yardarm the ship is displaying the two black ball dayshapes which indicate that she is restricted in her ability to maneuver while conducting flight operations.   Escorting ships quickly learn to keep a close watch on aircraft carriers as they will often alter course to steer into the wind with little or no notice.
As American wartime production became sufficient to meet the needs of the front-line units, older aircraft were rotated back to the States, often to be used in training commands.  This Avenger shows heavy fading and wear to the Blue Gray over Light Gray camouflage along with areas where the paint has been touched up.
This perspective shows details of the wing fold and landing gear.  The interior of the wing fold is finished in the upper surface color Blue Gray, the landing gear is finished in the under surface color Light Gray.
Carrier aircraft often displayed small numbers in various locations to help crews in identifying specific airframes when the side numbers were not easily visible.  This aircraft carries the number “7” on the cowl sides and wing leading edges.  Interestingly, this does not appear to correspond to the aircraft’s buzz number on the wing upper surface.
A sailor ties off an Avenger at the landing gear attachment point.  The decks of U.S. aircraft carriers were provided with slotted steel strips to anchor the lines, one of which is faintly visible in the lower left-hand corner of this photograph.  As soon as the aircraft was spotted on the deck the wheels were chocked and it was secured with lines or chains – aircraft could easily roll of the deck of a ship underway.
A fine view of the Avenger’s Wright R-2600-8 powerplant.  The engine was rated at 1,700 horse power.  The Avenger was the heaviest single-engine aircraft to serve during WWII with a maximum weight of 13,667 pounds – just 400 pounds more than the P-47 Thunderbolt.  (NASM, Rudy Arnold Collection)
The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm was a major user of the Avenger, taking over one thousand aircraft into service.  In FAA service it was called the Tarpon until 01JAN44 when the American name was adopted.  These 846 Squadron Tarpon are shown on a training flight in the U.S. in late 1943, they would be assigned to the escort carrier HMS Ravager.
The FAA also operated the Avenger in the Pacific.  This obviously staged photograph gives us a good look at the uniforms of both the flight and ground crews which differ little from their American counterparts.  Note the upper wing roundel which has minimized the white area and eliminated the red altogether to reduce the possibility of confusion with Japanese markings.
A yellow-nosed torpedo is wheeled into position.  Red has also been removed from the Avenger’s fin flash.  Friendly fire incidents remain a problem to this day in spite of precautions to minimize their likelihood.

Part I here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/grumman-tbm-avenger-color-photographs-part-1/

British Aircraft Carriers Book Review



British Aircraft Carriers: Design, Development and Service Histories

By David Hobbs

Hardcover in dustjacket, 400 pages, heavily illustrated, gatefold plans

Published by Naval Institute Press January 2014

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9781591140740

ISBN-13: 978-1591140740

ASIN: 1591140749

Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.0 x 11.2 inches

This is a massive large-format book that covers a lot of ground – the history of aviation ships in the Royal Navy.  It details every RN aviation effort from the earliest trials with floatplanes and take-off platforms mounted to warships through to the recently commissioned Queen Elizabeth class of today.

Each class of ship is treated to its own chapter.  The ship’s design and specifications are described along with any modifications which may have occurred during her career.  Then the ship’s operational history is detailed.  An interesting and very useful touch is the inclusion of the composition of the ship’s airwing at various times which lists the squadrons assigned and aircraft types.

The book also devotes chapters to comparing the carriers of the Royal Navy with their foreign contemporaries, not surprisingly these are mostly American or Japanese types, with a few nods to the French.  The designs and equipment of each are compared showing the influences the various navies had upon one another and these are fascinating.

While the majority of the carriers covered are familiar to students of military history, the more obscure types are not forgotten.  The MAC ships are prime examples. These were cargo ships or tankers which were modified by adding flight decks while still retaining their ability to transport cargo.  They were able to support 3 – 6 Swordfish for anti-submarine protection of convoys.  An even more unusual concept was Project Habbakuk which was intended to be a massive unsinkable aircraft carrier made of ice.  While this was attractive on paper, the impracticability of actually constructing this vessel prevented her from ever seeing service.

The book is very well illustrated throughout with several photographs which were new to me.  The center section features general arrangement builders’ drawings of various carriers.  Here the internal details are shown in profile, the star of which is a double-gatefold profile of HMS Ark Royal.

Altogether a fascinating history of Royal Navy aircraft carriers which I can recommend without hesitation and an outstanding reference to add to your collection.  I purchased my copy online at a substantial discount from Edward R. Hamilton Booksellers.







Curtiss SBC Helldiver Color Pictures Part 1

A beautiful in-flight shot of Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver BuNo 1813 of the New York Naval Air Reserve, 1940.  The aircraft displays the red cowling and fuselage band of a Squadron Leader.  (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)
BuNo 1815 is aircraft number three of the first section, as identified by the Insignia Red lower cowling.  Only the Section Leader’s aircraft carried the fuselage band in the section color.  The tails of the section’s first and second aircraft are just visible in this picture.  (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)
The entire first section in flight.  The Helldivers here are BuNo 1813 (Number One), BuNo 1814 (Number Two) and BuNo 1815 (Number Three). (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)
Navy Squadrons were composed of eighteen aircraft organized into six sections of three.  The sections were identified by color.  Section colors were Insignia Red, Insignia White, Insignia Blue, Black, Willow Green, and Insignia Yellow. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)
Some sources state that the U.S. Navy did not possess belly tanks at the beginning of the Second World War, but it is not at all uncommon to see pictures of dive bombers with auxiliary tanks mounted on the centerline during the Yellow Wings era. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)
Sailors receive instruction on the .30 caliber defensive armament of the SBC-4.  This photo gives a good view of the fuselage decking aft of the rear cockpit, which is collapsed to allow the gunner a clear firing arc.  The collapsible section was known as a “turtledeck” or “turtleback”. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)
Another view which shows the gun to better advantage.  The complex front sight was designed to compensate for windage.  Note the brown framing on the sliding canopy section. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)
Two sailors loading practice bombs into panniers mounted on the wing bomb racks.  The practice bomb dispensers are commonly seen on wing racks of various types of naval aircraft of the period. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)
SBC-3 BuNo 0517 of “Scouting Six” spotted on the deck of the USS Enterprise (CV-6).  Enterprise’s air wing was identified by the Insignia Blue tail surfaces, her radio call sign was “Blue Base”.  (LIFE Magazine)
The SBC-3 BuNo 0524 of the VS-6 Third Section leader has come to grief alongside Enterprise’s island.  The landing gear has collapsed and the propeller is bent. (LIFE Magazine)
A fine shot of BuNo 0542 on the deck of the Enterprise.  The U.S. carriers would have their Mahogany stained decks and yellow markings painted over in the months preceding Pearl Harbor, by the time the war started they were stained with Deck Blue. (LIFE Magazine)
A screen capture from the Warner Brothers movie “Dive Bomber” staring Fred MacMurray and Errol Flynn.  The film is noteworthy for its color footage of several USN aircraft types.  The shift from the Yellow Wings markings to the overall Light Gray camouflage seems to have escaped the producers as shots of both finishes are intermixed throughout the film.

Part II here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2020/03/25/curtiss-sbc-helldiver-color-pictures-part-2/