Friday 25 October 2013

Ki-54 of 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan Shireibu

Bob Alford has very kindly sent these additional photographs of the 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan Shireibu Ki-54 'Hickory" used to transport Lieutenant General Masao Baba's surrender delegation and of General Baba himself. 

Major Gen. Shozo Mitsunari commanded the 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan which had the 83rd Sentai under command and operated within the 37th Air Sector of 3rd Air Army. The Hikodan Shireibu (Air Brigade HQ) was usually responsible for directing the flying operations of units under command as well as overseeing ground support administration, usually under the auspices of the Air Army in which it served. The relationship of the  Dokuritsu Hikodan within IJAAF organisation is a little more obscure and in this case rather than just being independent of Air Army command it was directly engaged under local ground forces command - e.g. 37th Army for (mainly) direct co-operation and support duties. Other IJAAF units operating in the 37th Sector and which illustrate the logistical and support elements (often overlooked in the study of this subject for preferential interest in the 'teeth' arms) were the 100th, 110th, 111th Airfield Battalions, the 113th Airfield Construction Unit, the 4th Detached Depot, the 16th Field Air Depot. the 1st Branch of the 20th Field Air Supply and Repair Depot, the 1st Branch of the 25th Field Air Supply and Repair Depot, the Borneo Section of Southern Air Ways Department, the North-Australia Air Ways Department, a detachment from the 13th Field Meteorological Regiment, a detachment from the 14th Field Meteorological Regiment, the 4th Air Communication Unit, the 5th Company of the 2nd Meteorological Regiment and the Borneo Detached Party of  the 11th Air Communication Regiment.

According to Minoru Akimoto the 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan Shireibu was redesignated from a former 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan Shireibu on 23rd October 1944. The original HQ unit had been established in Manchuria on 1st December 1940 and served in Thailand, Burma, the Philippines and Borneo. The transport section operated the Army Type 1 Transport Model Hei (Tachikawa Ki-54c) and evidently the Mitsubishi Ki-51 'Sonia', probably as liaison and command aircraft, the flying units under command being predominantly equipped with this type.

The 83rd Sentai has one of the most complex and confusing genealogies of IJAAF units, originally established in March 1941 as a mixed unit from the three Chutai of the 10th Sentai with the Type 97 light bomber (Mitsubishi Ki-30 'Ann') and Type 98 Direct Co-operation Aircraft (Tachikawa Ki-36 'Ida'). In July 1941 it was re-designated Independent 38 Air Group (Dokuritsu No.38 Hikotai) bringing under command a HQ unit, and the Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai (Independent Air Squadrons - DHC) 71st, 73rd and 89th to operate over Indo-China, Burma and the Dutch East Indies. In April 1944 it was reconstituted as the 83rd Sentai. The 71st DHC originally operated the Ki-51 but in December 1943 returned to Japan and re-equipped with the Type 1 fighter  (Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa 'Oscar'), operating that type in air defence duties over Sumatra and later forming a special attack (suicide) unit the 'Shichisho Shoken Tai' in Formosa. The 73rd and 89th DHC both operated the Ki-51 as principal equipment mainly in the convoy escort and anti-submarine role but Akimoto-san reports that the latter unit also operated the Type 2 two-seater fighter (Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu 'Nick') in the anti-shipping role.

Lieutenant General Baba was Supreme Commander of Japanese Forces in Borneo and commanded the 37th Japanese Army. He formally surrendered to Allied forces during a ceremony at the Headquarters of 9th Division on Labuan Island. General Baba was subsequently found guilty of war crimes in relation to the Sandakan Death Marches, sentenced to death and hanged at Rabaul on 7 August 1947.

Image credits: © 2013 Bob Alford


Ken Glass said...

Thanks for the addition info, Bob and Nick,

Ken Glass

Ronnie Olsthoorn said...

Great photos. Check your e-mail ;)