Thread: Saburo Sakai
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Old 28th September 2016, 15:57
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: Saburo Sakai

While an interesting discussion in itself I feel it is rather futile.

Being a totally non-Japanese speaking /reading individual this is what I have picked up through the years.

I doubt there ever was an 'official' Japanese victory board (or its equivalent) either during or after the war. You will not find any official Japanese score list sanctioned by any Japanese Government body. What we have are historians and enthusiasts trying to put Japan on par with the rest of the scoring nations during WW 2. If this has changed I would very much like to know where and how this 'official' body in Japan works and on what grounds it bases its findings.

The Japanese never to my knowledge acknowledged any scores or aces during the war. Presumably the leadership, schooled in old traditional warrior values such as Bushido and Samurai, saw little use in doing that.

Rather naturally this provoked a reaction at the front and and at local level (unit), something was felt to be done. This probably ensured that each unit kept records and unofficially gave credits in a rather hap hazard way since no real set up rules existed. No doubt differences also existed between units not to mention between IJAAF and IJN.

Neither did there exist any real post mission control. What a pilot said stood. No one question if 'his word' was correct or not, if witnesses existed etc. It was a question of honour, of not loosing face etc.
Hence the very varied listings which keep appearing over and over again.

As far as I know, shared victories did not exist during the war. If six pilots took part in a shoot down, each pilot was entitled to one victory. Why has Sakai for example only one claim in his log book, but in other sources two?
Most probably the compiler of victories deemed his presence enough for him to be 'allowed' also the second victory (if two victories was the final score).
This also ensured that first record keeper did it one way and second one in a different way. No set rules existed, so these discrepancies is what we have left.

Also the practice with shared victories is interesting. Only Japan and France (in 1940) had the system that all pilots involved in a shoot down received a full credit for the downed aircraft.

We also have to remember that when it came to Japan they had a very, very different approach to the war and even on an individual level this effected pilots rather differently then their western foes. Trying to approach such a system with a western way of seeing things will always fail. For instance we know the Japanese pilots made extreme claims during the war, especially in the beginning, and to me it is more interesting to search for an answer as to why they did so, than trying to find out the relation between claims and true losses and so on.

I am also quite certain that regardless if Sakai (for example) only scored 4, 14 or 64 victories, none of us would have stood a chance meeting him in the air....

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