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Japanese and Allied Air Forces in the Far East Please use this forum to discuss the Air War in the Far East.

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  #71  
Old 10th October 2017, 09:48
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Good morning Luftwaffe8,

thanks for your assessment and for sharing your interview experience.
Yes, there was no confirmation process, which makes the Japanese issue rather challenging for those who fancy figures, like me.

Have a nice Tuesday,

Michael
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  #72  
Old 10th October 2017, 20:39
Luftwaffle8 Luftwaffle8 is offline
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Another point to remember about Japanese pilot's aerial claims:
Japan is a group oriented society and we Westerners simply are not aware of just how important this is. Ever since they were children, group orientation is pounded into them. When an individual fails, it affects the group.

An individual who fails brings dishonor to himself, his family, his clan, his school, his associates, and his friends. He is ostracized from the group. No one will associate with him. When he walks down the street, friends and acquaintances look away or go back into the house. They practice "Don't ask, don't tell." No one speaks his name.

Credit always went to the group, not the individual. There are no "Donald Trumps" in Japan, no flamboyant characters. In America and Europe, advancement in rank or social status is merit based. Not in Japan. Everyone in Japan knows their niche. They strictly adhere to the chain of command. You NEVER embarrass your superiors.

If the boss of your company takes his junior execs out to dinner, and he orders Suntory, all the execs orders the same. If you order anything else, you will be silently scorned and marked as a "maverick." Not good for your future.

If you score the winning game, you do NOT get credit. The credit goes to the team. If you claim credit, you will have committed a major social blunder. You dishonor the contributions of your team. You are history.

During WWII, it was standard practice to award credit to the unit, not the individual. Pilots did record their claims in their logbook, but it was just a personal notation. When a pilot was killed, the unit or the CO would build him up by stating that so-and-so was killed in aerial combat after shooting down an enemy plane. Maybe he never fired a shot. An accidental collision becomes an intentional ramming.

Pilots did talk amongst themselves. When asked about their credits by comrades, they will state their claims, but there was no motive to inflate totals. You were supposed to shoot down as many planes as you could.
It was like asking a lumberjack "How many trees did you cut down today?"
"I chopped down 5." The response would be something like: "Good for you! Maybe tomorrow, you can double the score!" That's about as far as it went.

When veterans talked about their pilot friends, they would freely say, "Oh, Isozaki-san shot down over a hundred planes!" So when I met Mr. Chitoshi Isozaki, I would mention that his friend said that he shot down over a hundred planes. He would laugh, wave his hand, and say "Nonsense!"
A friend of Warrant Officer Sadamu Komachi told me that he shot down over 40 planes, and I asked Komachi if this was true. He laughed and said, "Maybe half!" These pilot veterans always spoke highly of their comrades and attributed them with high scores because high scores impressed score-obsessed Westerners.

Sakai was ostracized from the Zero Fighter Pilots Association because members were critical that he made his living off the Zero fighter. Think of the Seal Team 6 members who claimed that they killed Osama Bin Laden. While the public think he was a great hero, the guys are looked down upon my their comrades who have chosen to remain silent. If you are a survivor of a unit and almost everyone else was killed, and you start making $$$$ with books, talks, interviews, movies...you will be perceived as making money off their dead comrades. Can you live with that?

When Sakai's movie OZORA NO SAMURAI came out in 1976, Zero pilot veterans shunned it. The ZFPA did not support Sakai nor his movie.

So when you look at Japanese aerial victory claims, remember all this, and you will understand my position on their claims. Japanese "aces"is a postwar Western creation. The Japanese did not have tank aces, sniper aces submarine aces, and fighter aces. They just didn't exist.

What would you think if some foreigner comes out with US ARMY INFANTRY ACES OF THE VIETNAM WAR? Anyone who claimed they killed 5 Viet Cong have their names and scores listed.

Now you know.
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  #73  
Old 11th October 2017, 14:06
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Yes, figures, lists and rankings are among the most enjoyable aspects of airwar enthusiasm.
You cannot easily express the achievements of infantry men in figures. That's why they always stood in the shade of the air aces.
The Third Reich wanted to assign a figure to successful infantry men by counting those days of action in which close combat was fought.
Those soldiers with many close combat days were rewarded the Close Combat Clasp:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_Combat_Clasp
Hitler once said that he considers the Close Combat Clasp (in Gold) more honorable than the Knight's Cross.

Have a nice Wednesday,

Michael
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  #74  
Old 11th October 2017, 21:17
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is online now
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Luftwaffle8

No real surprises in what you say, very logical indeed.
However, how did the Japanese High Command work?

If no one 'dared' to state anything upon return, how did they determine the outcome of a battle? To me (but then again I am a Westerner...), hiding inside the Group has a lot of inherent drawbacks especially in wartime.

Did the High Command (Navy and Army) believe in the often very fanciful claim (group?) reports? How did they ensure relevant supplies etc were forthcoming to various battlefronts? What I mean is that if they believed the Allies had basically been destroyed at some front line, they were bound to make mistakes due to, in the end, totally faulty feed back from their own pilots.

Then again there were a few flamboyant characters both in JAAF/JNAF, but perhaps they were far too few to be really counted?

The Japanese mentality is interesting, but beyond the scope of this site/topic, but I cannot help wondering at what level individual thinking/initiative began. It had to start somewhere, since otherwise the Emperor would have been completely overwhelmed in five seconds flat if he would have had to make every decision at every point in every Japanese life.....

Cheers
Stig
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  #75  
Old 12th October 2017, 04:33
NickM NickM is offline
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luftwaffle8 View Post
The last word on TAINAN KU pilots comes from the masterpiece EAGLES OF THE SOUTHERN SKY by Lucas Ruffato and Michael Claringbould.

When I met the Zero pilots, they would never mention scores, but would tell me that so and so was a great pilot, "he survived Rabaul" or "he fought at Guadalcanal" or "he flew against B-29s..."
And if said pilot survived all three and made it to the end of the war? I would certainly be impressed-regardless of their score;

Anyway, I remember a reviewer of The Sakai/Caidin book who mentioned The IJN pilots puzzlement & frustration at why, no matter now many allied aircraft they shot down down there were always just as many the next day. Almost certainly it's because these aircraft they're shooting at are not actually getting destroyed.
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  #76  
Old 12th October 2017, 16:11
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Is it known how many US aircraft were lost in combat in the PTO/CBI ?

Michael
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  #77  
Old 13th October 2017, 00:17
Luftwaffle8 Luftwaffle8 is offline
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stig Jarlevik View Post
Luftwaffle8

No real surprises in what you say, very logical indeed.
However, how did the Japanese High Command work?

If no one 'dared' to state anything upon return, how did they determine the outcome of a battle? To me (but then again I am a Westerner...), hiding inside the Group has a lot of inherent drawbacks especially in wartime.

Did the High Command (Navy and Army) believe in the often very fanciful claim (group?) reports? How did they ensure relevant supplies etc were forthcoming to various battlefronts? What I mean is that if they believed the Allies had basically been destroyed at some front line, they were bound to make mistakes due to, in the end, totally faulty feed back from their own pilots.

Then again there were a few flamboyant characters both in JAAF/JNAF, but perhaps they were far too few to be really counted?

The Japanese mentality is interesting, but beyond the scope of this site/topic, but I cannot help wondering at what level individual thinking/initiative began. It had to start somewhere, since otherwise the Emperor would have been completely overwhelmed in five seconds flat if he would have had to make every decision at every point in every Japanese life.....

Cheers
Stig
The HQ staff made battle decisions based upon intelligence information. And of course, there was politics involved, and saving face.

You can be severely punished for showing any initiative if it violated orders. A case in point is the Nomonhan Incident, the summer border war between the Soviet Union and Mongolians vs the Japanese and the Manchurians. If the Japanese unit is being overwhelmed, it would make logical sense to fall back and regroup. Such was not permitted. If the unit commander gave orders to retreat without permission from HQ, he was branded a coward and executed. So he elected to die at his station.

Then there was this policy of protecting the unit's flag (colors). Many men died to protect it, and they even sent out teams to try and recover it.

Then there was the policy of trying to recover their dead...and once again, many men died doing this.

The Japanese military structure was extremely rigid. And soldiers were expendable in order to achieve victory. You know the old saying, "Uncommon valor was a common virtue" ??? In the Japanese unit, there was no valor. You were expected to kill and sacrifice your life for Japan.

Here is an example of cannon fodder. Zero pilot Minoru Honda didn't come back from a mission, so he was written up as KIA. Then he returned 3 days later, and the paperwork was already submitted stating that he was KIA. None of the officers wanted to take the time to correct it so when he returned, he was sent on mission after mission, against impossible odds, but he returned each time! They were hoping that he was killed so that there would be no need to correct the paperwork!!!! Boy, he was pissed!!!
Luckily he survived the war.

Conduct which awarded our guys with the Medal of Honor, was common amongst the Japanese military. They would hurl themselves with explosives against tanks, crash dive into enemy ships and positions, and charge the Americans single-handedly in the face of deadly fire. We called those Japanese "FANATICS" - but if they were Americans, we called them 'HEROES!"

Our military commanders must show initiative and be flexible and fluid.
Sometimes, orders are violated or ignored, or "not received" or "garbled in transmission." If we win the battle, the unit commander is awarded and praised...if not, he is relieved of command, but not executed. We Americans are not hung up on "saving face" as the Japanese were.

So that is why Japanese soldiers were extremely tough. But they were hampered by the chain of command, and the inability of officers to take the initiative.
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  #78  
Old 13th October 2017, 00:38
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is online now
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Hmm

So what you basically are saying is that due to rigid thought the Japanese were boxed into their own system and could not get out.
Rigid thinking and non flexibility in one mind.
It works for awhile I guess.....and then you are gone....

Must say my sympathies are with Honda....

Cheers
Stig
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  #79  
Old 13th October 2017, 02:13
PMoz99 PMoz99 is offline
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Re: Saburo Sakai

The contradictory thing about the Honda story is that, when a more senior officer found out about it, he ordered them to fix the problem ............
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  #80  
Old 13th October 2017, 11:54
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Re: Saburo Sakai

Quote:
Originally Posted by knusel View Post
Is it known how many US aircraft were lost in combat in the PTO/CBI ?

Michael
...I mean the Americans scored ~14.000 kills against the Japanese.
I they lost about the same number of planes in combat, then some of the Japanese victory scores might the realistic.

Michael
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