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LEBillfish
02-23-2011, 10:12 AM
Tail Markings of the 78th Hikousentai Type 3 Fighters / Ki-61 / Hien's

<span class="ev_code_RED">Note: The author (myself) is a novice student of Japanese air combat, aircraft, markings and units of New Guinea and makes no claims to the accuracy of the following information. All of the following is what I have been able to gleen from a number of publications, questions to the true experts on the subject like those found at http://www.j-aircraft.com , and is nothing more then my interpretation of it. The work SHOULD be questioned, and is presented solely seeking corrections and additions to firm up my knowledge my educational process done publically so we may all learn from it.</span>

Like most Japanese Army Air Corps units, the 78th hikousentai had a very visible, creative and attractive unit emblem. It is very important to reinforce that word "emblem" instead of unit marking. Like many as well, it was not simply just some casual design, yet a unique aesthetic representation of the actual hikousentai or flying regiment number. Wherein some units utilized stylized arabic numerals, others kanji, still even others roman, the 78th emblem is based upon a combination of an arabic 7 repeated 8 times forming a blossom.

http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/Blossom.GIF http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/Blossom.jpg
Credits: K2 / FAOW #17, Type 3 Fighter, Hien

The image on the right shows the ONLY currently known photograph of a 78th emblem. What we are seeing however is still a source of great debate some believing it to be a flag or banner, yet others feeling it is the tail of an aircraft. We can clearly see part of a uniform of a soldier, yet as to the marking itself a few points need to be made. First off, the emblem seems to have been retouched in the original photograph. Secondly, though there seems to be a crisp bend or crease like we might expect to see on a vertical stabilizer and rudder, the image background seems to show through where components would have to be as though translucent. In any case (and again applicable to both flag or tail marking), the emblem is described as being "White on a red background for the 1st chuutai, red on a white background for the 2nd chuutai, and yellow on a white background for the 3rd chuutai. The word "background" confusing at least to this author hinting at either the main color of a flag, or a vertical tail section fully painted.

As to it being the regiment's tail marking that is also a source of great debate. One of the best accountings of the use of the 8-7's emblem as a tail marking I have read can be found on Nick Millman's blog, and found here 78th Sentai "Chrysanthemum" or "Cherry Blossom" Marking (http://www.straggleresearch.com/2008/08/78th-sentai-chrysanthemum-or-cherry.html). Aspects of what is reported concern me however as Mr. Nohara without explination "I know of" changes what are considered to be the chuutai colors, does not present photographs, or reference any documentation to back up his findings. That said I believe the marking to be correct based upon its style and creative use of an arabic numeral repeated. Though debatable as to whether it was ever used on a 78th Hien, I strongly have faith that somewhere there is a photograph of a Ki-27 or perhaps Ki-43 with this marking from the year the unit spent in Manchuria.

Never the less to date there is no known photograph of any aircraft utilizing this marking much less a Ki-61, most of all applicable to markings used in New Guinea the 78th Sentai's only known are of combat.

The following is a collection of known and actual, as well as "published" (though not all correct or accurate), 78th hikousentai tail markings utilized on Type 3 Fighters AKA Ki-61's with the following restrictions.:

1. Aircraft camouflage is not considered, the aircraft considered either bare metal or camouflaged nothing more. The following representations either intended to mean camouflaged or not. (Each camouflage pattern so unique they alone differentiating each aircraft and obscuring the intent of the image).
2. Colors of the markings are simply a general representaion and not to be taken as actual. The following simply to represent a general shade and shape.
3. Three terms will be utilized to describe each emblems authenticity. Confirmed, meaning the author has seen actual "photographs" containing that emblem. Unconfirmed, meaning the author has "not" seen a photograph. Unconfirmed does "NOT" mean they did not exist, or are incorrect/untrue, it simply means I cannot confirm that marking as being factual. Never Existed, meaning the marking is incorrect for whatever the noted reason and was never used by the 68th hikousentai.
<span class="ev_code_RED">4. Corrections, additions, and subtractions to this are sought and encouraged. The point of its public presentaion is to get it right, and for all interested in the subject to learn, especially myself.</span>

Contrary to typical representations grouping marking types together based upon chuutai, in this presentation I have decided to present most based upon first witnessed dates of photograph confirmed markings, the point being to try and discover the actual unit marking. In kind, due to the inconsistant variety of markings we find, descriptions will be in greater detail to try and unravel the confusion of 78th markings.

http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/78ttmaster4.jpg
Credit: K2, distribute freely.


Chuutai Colors:To the best of our knowledge, the 78th Sentai chuutai colors were as follows. Light or "Robin's Egg" blue for the command flight, white for 1st chuutai, red for 2nd chuutai, yellow for 3rd chuutai. Though reported as simply "blue" in all sightings, we have one debatable color photograph of a command flight tail section that barring photograph degradation demonstrates the color. As to typically reported outlining of 78th blossom markings, what might of very well of been trying to be conveyed was that dark colors may have been made more visible through "halo" effects though that is unconfirmed.

1-4, Horizontal Stabilizer Markings, Confirmed: It is important to note that many 78th aircraft utilized horizontal stabilizer striping as is shown in items 1-4. Though probably more the standard then not, not all aircraft had these surfaces marked as shown in item (1). Item (2) showing the typical marking (for the 1st chuutai), item (3) to demonstrate how the stripe width was not consistant. Finally, item (4) shown in 3rd chuutai color though seeming logical and practical given the rudder markings found, has not been seen in any photograph used in this presentation so remains "unconfirmed", it being unknown as to why fabric surfaces were often left unmarked.

5-8, 78th Sentai Standard Tail Marking and Color, Confirmed: Based upon the earliest reports, items 5-8 represent what I believe to be one of if not "the" official marking of the 78th Hikousentai. Basic and utilitarian looking all too similar to the 12th Bomber Sentai (unrelated in any way), it was made up of three uniform stripes separated by the split between the vertical stabilizer and rudder. Utilizing light blue for the command flight (5), white for 1st chuutai (6), red for 2nd chuutai (7), and yellow for the 3rd chuutai (8). Understanding that many of the senior officers had come from the 24th hikousentai when flying Ki-27's and earlier it is easy to see how such a simplistic marking would be so easily accepted (the 24th's having been made up of stripes at that time).

It is unknown to the author if this was perhaps the standard marking for all aircraft, or if perhaps it represented the 3rd shoutai of a chuutai, other markings utilized to represent the 1st and 2nd. However this is the recognized marking initially in New Guinea and noted before losses would of forced changes due to time and urgency.

9-11, Initial Marking Recognition, Confirmed: G-3 Intelligence Summary No. 207 notes that on July 24th, 1943 a Ki-61 was noted near Asaloka, New Guinea with this marking in red (9). The summary telltail also notes that in September of 1943 the same marking in both blue and yellow was noted at Lae, New Guinea (10 & 11). A similar telltail summary of unknown origin notes that these same markings were noted on what had to be captured aircraft one in yellow (11) at Lae coded s/n 276 (decoded 176), and at Asaloka in red (9) coded s/n 239 (decoded 139). Whether the same aircraft or not from the previous recognition is unknown though is likely.

Further, the Asaloka aircraft as noted in Mr. J. Long's "Airtell Research Report No. 86-1, Estimated Assembly Date for a WWII Japanese Aircraft" cites "Japanese Aircraft Makers' Plates and Markings, Report No. 68, by the U.S. War Dept. Military Intelligence Service" that the Ki-61 noted near Asaloka (14 miles N.W. of Asaloka, N.G.), coded s/n 239, crashed there the July 24th, 1943 (H.I.S. noting the only loss that day being Sgt. Kurajiro Umezawa). Further that it had a likely manufacturing date of early April, 1943 (reinforced by Airtell Research Report No. 99-3). Without question considering the arrival date in the region (July 5th, 1943), this aircraft would of been one of the original brought with the 78th to New Guinea.

Hien coded s/n 276 (11) along with s/n 244 (see item 12), and s/n 183 of an undisclosed unit, according to Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report No. 17 (U.S. Military Intelligence?), notes that all three were captured at Lae, New Guinea on September 15th, 1943. Considering the uncoded serial numbers of these aircraft (manufactured number) of 83 (disregarded), 139, 144 and 176, it is reasonable to conclude coupled with known replacement dates that since s/n 239 was of the original compliment, it is possible/probable that s/n 244 may have been as well, s/n 276 debatable. Never the less, in that those aircraft of the initial compliment brought to New Guinea, and perhaps even those immediately subsequent had markings that were deliberate considering the available time, to that end at least initially, items (5-8) are believed to be the official 78th Sentai marking (with reservations retained for new information coming to light).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/9-11.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F. Official, R.Dunn

12, Cannibalized Rudder, Confirmed: Captured at Lae, New Guinea September 15th, 1943, what we see in this telltail and as noted in U.S. Intelligence reports is of a 78th command flight aircraft coded s/n 244 utilizing a canibalized 2nd chuutai, 68th Sentai rudder. Debatable if the same aircraft yet after a repair noted as item (10) (as the exact date of 10 is not known), such aircraft found would be likely and possibly explain some other aircraft encountered subsequently.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/12.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F. Official, R.Dunn

13-17, Sept. 27th & Oct. 16th, 1943 Strike Photographs, Confirmed: After the raid of August 18th, 1943, the 78th Sentai is listed in MacArthur's Eagles, by Lex McAulay as having zero (0) aircraft. On the 19th of August withdrawn to Manila, P.I. for replacement aircraft Hata, Izawa & Shores notes that the 78th had returned by late August, yet by Sept. 17th, 1943 (2 days after the the aircraft noted at Lae) was withdrawn once more to Manila to re-equip (Lex McAulay). Oct. 1st-14th the 78th is listed as having no aircraft available once again. Yet by the 15th of Oct. the 78th was listed as having 7 Ki-61 on hand, and by the 16th the number had risen to 11. After the Oct. 16th raid the unit was once more reduced to just 4 aircraft, and would fluctuate between 4 and 12 Type 3 Fighters for the entire sentai much of the remainder of their time in New Guinea until disbanded.

Telltail (13) we are fortunately able to see in strike photographs from both the 498th B.S. of the 345th B.G. on Sept. 27th, 1943, and by the 497th B.S. on Oct. 16th. Odd in that though the landing gear had clearly collapsed yet the rudder was intact in September, on the 16th of October the aircraft is up on its gear (or made to look as such) with the rudder missing. Camouflage sparse, unique and severely worn, the horizontal stabilizers destroyed beyond repair in both cases yet the ruse I assume bearing fruit in that the aircraft is taking rounds, has what appears to be a rather ragged 3rd chuutai yellow (or perhaps command flight blue) single band of a medium width placed high on the vertical stabilizer. In the Sept. 27th photograph where the rudder is still intact no markings can be made out. It is my opinion that this aircraft has been unserviceable for some time ultimately used for spare parts and as a decoy. To that end it makes it impossible to estimate whether it is of the first or second re-equip, yet is doubtful being of the original aircraft due to the lack of markings upon the rudder (though the rudder may have been a replacement).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/13.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (14) we are fortunate to have a moderate resolution photograph of. Freshly applied camouflage which generated an interesting effect upon the vertical tail section, primer spinner, and No. 34 or 54 possibly the same color as the tail marking in small numerals upon the landing gear cover. The marking shown in light blue for the command flight could possibly be yellow for the 3rd chuutai instead. Further the aircraft does not seem to have horizontal stabilizer striping as of yet. What makes this aircraft interesting is a combination of aspects. Fresh camouflage appearing to be the initial coat, prop, spinner and wing step areas seeming not to be worn. Most of all, the marking so rough and in such an odd place with nothing more hints at unfinished work (debatable). Combined leaving me with the impression it is a newly arrived aircraft in the midst of being prepped, and possibly the tail marking simply begun ultimately to look like telltail (5).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/14.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (15) in contrast to (14) another moderate resolution image shows heavily worn sparse poorly applied camouflage in a palmfron pattern, a large poorly written number "19" in white upon the landing gear covers and the leading 1/4 of the spinner is painted white. In the midst of being heavily serviced, the aircraft clearly has white horizontal stabilizer striping to the elevator's edge seeming as rough as the tail marking itself. One of the most narrow or thin examples of a vert. stab. stripe in white, poorly applied, it is deliberately finished off with what seems to be possibly a replacement rudder, yet most of all having a small katakana "Ki" upon it. It is clear the marking is deliberate having departed from the 3 stripes we have seen to this point. Obvious that the tail marking is finished even though shoddy or rushed work, there no degree of quality to any of the markings or camouflage. I'm left with the impression this would be a second generation (first group of replacements) aircraft or older made serviceable once again.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/15.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltails (16 & 17) are both of out of action aircraft. (16) relatively intact shown in a very well known low resolution photograph where a formation of three 500th B.S. B-25's fly past. The camouflage well covering and dark and other markings in good shape, it's gear collapsed and rudder missing, further camouflaged with copious foliage. Seeming to possibly have horizontal stabilizer striping in white, they would match the wide width and crispness of the vertical stabilizer stripe in white as well, the impression I'm left with is this is an older generation 78th Hien being preserved for some unknown reason. Telltail (17) of a totally destroyed aircraft having taken a direct bomb hit. Difficult to determine if the tail section is being removed to use elsewhere or simply blown off of the aircraft, the camouflage very dark and seeming quite fresh, the marking of a single line narrower then (16).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/16-17.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

The aircraft shown in strike photos of Sept. 27th & Oct. 16th suggest a number of points. Now heavily pressured the squadron had already forsaken formalized carefully applied markings no matter how simplistic for more pressing matters at hand. What had started as simple yet bold markings making identification easier had already degenerated to a rushed imitation of what I suppose to be the standard. Add to that we see something new in the form of a katakana added in place of the rudder stripes. I suspect that what we are seeing in that aircraft numbers on gear covers would identify aircraft on the ground to crew is during such pressing times a bit of individuality and personal pride was allowed, the katakana due to their size most likely worthless for identification in combat.

18, Jan. 22nd, 1944 Guncamera, Confirmed: Though the image is slightly clipped we have an image from a gun camera of a 78th Hien over Astrolabe Bay. Though not much information can be gleened from the photograph except that it is reversed, we can clearly see the 78th marking upon it starkly contrasting with the balance of the aircraft, no horizontal stabilizers stripes seen. Assumed to be white of the 1st chuutai (though could be blue or yellow), the marking is quite obviously like those noted in telltails (5-8). This photograph once more reinforcing that the bold three stripes were a common 78th marking.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/18.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official / J. Long

19-22, Feb. 3rd, 1944 Strike Photographs, Confirmed: By far some of the most famous airstrike photographs taken during the New Guinea campaign were those of the February 3rd, 1944 raid upon Dagua, New Guinea or "But East". Contained within the photographs are numerous Ki-61 and Ki-43 out in the open and unobscured. On that date the 78th Sentai is noted as having five Ki-61 available, however due to the low resolution of the scans in my possession of the thirteen Ki-61 easily visable I can sadly only make out vaguely a few. By this time the 78th was regularly replacing their aircraft. In that I suspect the fluctuating numbers also reflect repaired or even "Frankensteined" aircraft (made up of many others cannibalized) we can expect to find some new mixed with a few replaced previously.

Telltail (19) first of the 78th aircraft on the line being attacked, due to the low resolution makes it impossible to determine if an older or newer replacement (though it is suspected to be older due to fuel spill striping). Possibly a 1/3rd painted spinner of a lighter color, unreadable gear cover numbers, and horizontal stabilizer striping unable to be determined, what we can see is the narrow and jagged rudder stripe in white. Poorly applied, seeming to overlap onto the vertical stabilizer, and worst still added parallel to the ground as the aircraft sits contrary to the axis of the aircraft.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/19.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (20) is of an extremely interesting yet also confusing Hien being next on the line beside Telltail (19). Though difficult to pin down in the low resolution photographs, it has a flek pattern comouflage scheme, fully painted yellow spinner, the number "84" poorly written upon the gear covers in red, and possibly yellow horizontal stabilizer striping. The rudder though seeming to have a massive kana upon it though most likely simply a result of camouflage and likely a replacement has no further markings upon it. However, the vertical stabilizer clearly has a medium width stripe in yellow upon it, yet oddly seems to have a second above it. If the second stripe is true then this would be a new type of marking or perhaps explain some others we are finding.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/20.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (21) third in the grouping of 78th Hiens appears to be the most wore of the three though sadly at the lowest resolution. A heavy fuel spill stripe along with sparse camouflage, fully painted spinner in white, undetermined numbers upon the gear covers and no visible striping upon the hor. stab.. The only tail marking able to be made out being a single narrow red stripe low on the rudder however the rudder does not seem to be a replacement.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/21.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (22) is another hien seen in the raid of great debate. Sparse wore camouflage, half of the spinner painted in white along with unreadable numbers upon the landing gear doors and no visible horizontal stabilizer striping. The source of debat being its only clear tail marking. Often referred to as a "shark tip" resembling some allied fighter markings, is absolutly contrary to the common 78th markings. The marking is so different in fact, some speculate that it may not be a 78th Hien at all. I'm of the opinion that if not, then this is very possibly the unknown 14th Hikoudan marking. However, at this time most attribute it to the 78th.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/22.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

<span class="ev_code_RED">The Dagua strike photographs of February 3rd offer us a unique glimpse into to camouflage and markings of many Japanese fighters. Unfortunately at this time however, though someone must have higher resolution scans (the best I can access being 72d.p.i.), they are unfortunately not publically available. I am of the firm opinion that a thorough high resolution review of the aircraft at Dagua would reveal much of the Hiens and Hayabusa of New Guinea there clearly some very interesting aircraft shown, yet simply cannot be made out.</span>

23-25, Hiens of Hollandia, Confirmed: Just as surprising as the lack of Dagua photographs available, those taken at Hollandia are even more so. Though numerous strike, survey and personal photographs were taken there, very have been made available online or in print and those that are of just the same select few. One aspect of this however is the lack of markings on a number of the Hiens found there. Debatable as to being 68th or 78th, those unmarked however offer little for the report.

Telltail (23) just a tail section shown in two different photographs yet very important. It is from the one in color which we discover the command flight blue. The second in B&W however demonstrates that this aircraft very likely had a katakana marking upon it which was cut out probably as a souvenir. Crisp, wide and bold, the tail section also having obvious moderate width horizontal stabilizer stripes possibly in white (though may be blue like the marking).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/23.jpg
Credit: J.Lansdale / D. Cooper

Telltail (24) perhaps being one of the more instantly recognizable of all the 78th Hiens, has numerous views of it from both sides as taken by U.S. and Australian forces once they had captured Hollandia in late April. Though clearly having been wrecked for some time and weathered the camouflage and markings are still rather clear. In a typical palm fron having been repainted at least once so it seems, the aircraft has yellow horizontal stabilizer stripes to match the wide high placed stripe upon the vertical stabilizer. What is most concerning however is the much more narrow and higher placed rudder stripe. In a prime position for the standard 3 stripe marking, roughly applied and at an odd angle off the aircraft axis it instantly gives the impression of a replacement rudder. The trouble is however that the reapplied camouflage matches up from the vert. stab. to the rudder. Though just a guess I assume what we are seeing is a camouflage repaint with the replacement rudder in place, and for whatever reason the out of alignment rudder stripe was left somewhat intact perhaps to keep the marking larger. Closer scrutiny makes one even question if the rudder stripe is yellow and just darker, or perhaps even blue.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/24.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (25) actually a very important marking for us. The aircraft in relatively good shape though obviously shot up in a standard palm fron pattern with no horizontal stabilizer striping has a simple katakana marking of a "ya" crudely applied in white. There are no other unit markings that we can see including horizontal stabilizer stripes yet we can tell it has been camouflaged just one time and very possibly just at the factory or depot.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/25.jpg
Credit: J. Lansdale

26-32, Miscelaneous Aircraft, Confirmed: After the fall of Hollandia and though there would be some further air combat farther West, for the 78th Sentai the war had basically turned into one of ground combat as foot soldiers. As bases farther West and those bypassed began to be taken by the allies, aircraft previously only seen by the crews that bombed them and the fighters that drove them to the ground began to be revealed once more.

Telltail (26), Korako/Tadji, Aitape: A bonus in a photograph meant to capture a Ki-43 tail marking. What we are seeing confused many for some time unsure of the assumed yellow or perhaps red wedge, and white or perhaps yellow respectively marking of a katakana "A" in a circle. Debatable which is over the other, yet to be sure what we are seeing is either a 78th tail section with a 68th wedge marking applied over it (the entire tail section used as a replacement), or vice a versa. Once more however it reinforces item (25) as a valid marking. The presence of hor. stab. striping unknown.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/26.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official / Bueschel

Telltail (27), Wasile, Halamara Island: Being another instantly recognizable aircraft besides being intact is as important as telltail (25) in that it confirms its importance. Basic palm fron camouflage having been retouched, the only unit marking we can find upon it is a rather large katakana "wa" believed to be in yellow of the 3rd chuutai possibly.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/27.jpg
Credit: M.Toda / Bueschel

Telltail (28), Dagua/But East: Well wore and heavily weathered so having been static for some time in a standard palm fron camouflage, we are unsure if the aircraft has hor. stab. striping yet what is clear is the moderate to narrow red stripe on the horizontal stabilizer and some type of katakana in white upon the rudder possibly being a more vertical (odd) "ya".
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/28.jpg
Credit: Australian War Memorial

Telltail (29), Unknown Location: Dark dense covering camouflage and heavily damaged, this aircraft bearing a wide white stripe of the 1st chuutai upon its vertical stabilizer the horizontal stabilizer striping unknown. Further, the aircraft has the fabric of its rudder destroyed to the pint we can make out nothing there though does not appear to have striping which would of reached the back edge of the vert. stab.. Most likely this is a mid-era aircraft (late 43 to early 44).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/29.jpg
Credit: J. Lansdale

Telltail (30), Unknown Location: Dense yet well worn from time in active combat (freshly downed, Japanese photograph) this marking comes from a pair of outstanding high resolution photographs shown in another thread on the 78th forum, The Hero of Wewak, Maybe.. (http://78sentai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=367). The markings upon it in white of the 1st chuutai. What makes it so odd is that though having a moderately sized stripe upon the vertical stabilizer, it clearly also has the remnants of a stripe upon the rudder yet in an extremely low position. So low in fact it could not of been deliberate perhaps being a replacement rudder. In any case it is of an early enough version of the aircraft (a Ko, coded s/n 114-500) that it is believed to be a 1943 supplied and possibly wrecked aircraft.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/30.jpg
Credit: C. Shapan

Telltail (31) Unmarked, Various Locations: All over New Guinea and the surrounding islands there are numerous examples of unmarked Ki-61. Be they 78th or 68th is unknown without deeper investigation frankly not worth doing. What we do know however is the 5th Air Force pressured the Hien units of the 14th Hikoudan so heavily that it would not be uncommon to find an unmarked Hien in combat.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/31.jpg
Credit: Lansdale, Cooper, U.S.A.F., Lansdale, U.S.A.F., Ethell, U.S.A.F.

Telltail (32), Unmarked and Uncamouflaged: The only known locations of such aircraft would be found at Akeno before the 78th's transfer to New Guinea.

33-37, Unconfirmed: Telltails 33-37 represent possible yet unconfirmed markings as a finished and intended mark. (33) in that it is difficult to believe that high locations of stand alone vertical stabilizer or rudder markings were as intended and in that it is obvious that painting upon the rudder was not forbidden (this also brings into question hor. stab. stripes extending onto the elevators). (34) being a stand alone marking with or without hor. stab. stripes. We simply do not know in that we have numerous examples of rudderless aircraft which show this, and in kind aircraft with rudders painted lending themselves to being continued over the vert. stab.. Lastly in that katakana used along with seem almost to be an after-thought. (35) we have examples of stand alone rudder markings both high and low with nothing upon the vert. stabilizer. It begs the question of whether they were unfinished markings, repacement rudders, or as intended. (36) lastly begs the question of "if" telltail (20) is correct, then would (36) be? Too many markings clearly are out of a normal position to make (5-8) the intended marking, yet (36) like the others in this section are simply logical speculation. Telltail (37) though inline with what we have discovered thus far, comes from an often reproduced profile. It can not be confirmed as having been a complete marking though I suspect at one time it may have very well been as such (the artist accurately combining the 78th marking found on telltail (26), and the striping often found).

38-40, Initial Reports of the Blossom 8-7's on Hien, Unconfirmed: As reported on Nick Millman's blog, and found here 78th Sentai "Chrysanthemum" or "Cherry Blossom" Marking (http://www.straggleresearch.com/2008/08/78th-sentai-chrysanthemum-or-cherry.html), we find the classic 78th Blossom so often applied to bare metal / un-camouflaged Hiens. Though they may have existed in these colors on earlier aircraft, I personally believe these markings to have "Never Existed" especially as applied to their respective chuutai. This is stated in the regard that later Mr. Nohara alters the colors and order more in line with conventional systems. Take it for what you will, Mr. Nohara's work is exceptional and his contributions to the J-Aircraft community vast, so any questioning of his work should be done with respect.

41, The Ugly Blossom, Unconfirmed: Another oft times reported 78th marking irregardless of color. 7's shown as stick figures vs. the ornate 7's we have come to know. Though once more never seen in photos and so frankly grotesque it is difficult to force ourselves to believe such a marking existed, it simply a poor representation of the blossom, I hesitate at noting it as "Never Existed". As ugly as it may be, and though having no proof of it, it is easy to see how a 78th pilot of ground crewman wishing a bit of Regiment Pride might of applied such a rudimentary marking. To that end though I would not add such to a profile, artwork or skin without proof, I'll consider this marking "unconfirmed", yet not advised.

42-44, Finalized Blossom, Unconfirmed: Though shown on a camouflaged telltail contrary to Mr. Millman's reporting of Mr. Nohara's findings, I have done such in that this is how often we find 78th Blossoms on artworks and profiles. Often shown as being outlined in a contrasting red for the white blossom of the 1st chuutai, white outlines for the 2nd in red, and 3rd in yellow (command flight blue oddly always neglected), they are more often then not reported as being upon a "background" vs. being outlined. However, there is no evidence at this time of the emblem being used as a marking (and the descriptions sounding more as upon a flag or banner to me). As to being applied to bare metal aircraft I'll leave this set as "Unconfirmed", however as to being applied to camouflaged aircraft I'll list them as "Never Existed", outlined or not.

45-48, Striped Blossom, Unconfirmed: Telltail (45) has been shown on more profiles then I can count (though typically uses the "Ugly Blossom"). Whether we are seeing someones attempt to grasp the blossom in use with confirmed markings, or perhaps there is some obscure photograph found in the Easter Block countries I cannot say. However, as much as I'm inclined to discount it as being listed as "Never Existed", there has to be some reason it is shown so often and almost always originating from the same regions. Considering that it might be possible, and considering Mr. Nohara's reporting and all others stating the use of the blossom at Akeno, it begs the consideration of telltails (46-48) to be listed as "Never Existed", yet something to think on. There are a number of photographs at Akeno (on various types of aircraft) showing a stripe like we find on 78th aircraft, often outlined in a contrasting color upon the vertical stabilizer, and upon the rudder following the Akeno Flight School marking.

If we grant acceptance to all of the unconfirmed accounts based upon general concept, yet then apply it to more known and confirmed markings we have found both at Akeno and for the 78th once to New Guinea, suddenly (45-48) and more so (42-44) becomes somewhat more reasonable. Though simply speculation, "what if" some 78th aircraft at Akeno were marked as such? It is difficult to imagine considering the vast open spaces of typical palm fron camouflage that some remnant of a large blossom would not of been found. However, a small Akeno sized blossom "with a contrasting background" could of easily been covered over. The stripe to remain and then added to upon the rudder with two more, making the earliest known markings......However, at this time these markings should be considered "Unconfirmed" or more better still "Never Existed" until proven otherwise.

49-52, Summation, The Tail Markings of 78th Hikousentai Type 3 Fighters: As we review the various markings discovered we very quickly through them can visualize the chronological experience of the 78th hikousentai once to New Guinea. Fresh to a combat area and realizing the need for quick identification, large broad stripes were added to the vertical and horizontal tail areas in the stated chuutai colors (49).

However, as of August 18th, 1943, all aircraft lost, and time for such luxuries as markings unavailable, crops needing to be grown, airstrips and aircraft repaired and maintained, the regiment marking became much less regimented. Sometimes ragged stripes over only either control or stabilizing surfaces, their size and placement no longer uniform. Be they simply caught unfinished or not, it is clear that in many cases they were deliberate. Added to many katakana (the use of chuutai colors debatable, most in white, some possibly other colors), and though suggested by some to designate the airfield the aircraft was based at, or perhaps to designate an aircraft (which wheel cover markings do well enough), I'm more inclined to believe (though guessing) that were seeing a permittance to add a bit of personal pride perhaps representing the pilots name during a time when moral had to be at its lowest. Once the pressure of combat had been acclimated to (roughly late November, 1943), we see the markings once more though now forsaking the 3 stripes become more standardized. Vertical and horizontal stabilizer striped in chuutai color though much cleaner and precise in its application, and often a katakana utilized generating a finished marking (50).

Once pulled back to Hollandia and elsewhere (estimating late February through March, 1944) we find markings often reduced once again to nothing more then a single katakana often poorly scribbled on. My assumption being the pressure had finally taken its toll and time itself not available. By this time belief of help coming had to have been non-existant, and wherein 2-7 aircraft do not make a Sentai, why bother even carrying the mark (51).

Lastly, there are countless examples of unmarked Hiens scattered all over New Guinea. Debatable as to whether intended for the 68th or 78th, many clearly left unmarked at rear bases for whatever reason never moved up. However, we find many at forward bases as such. Some most likely destroyed before ever having a marking applied, yet others clearly seeing combat and be it pressure to get the aircraft in the air, a general malaise due to low moral and illness, or perhaps even a blunt apathy, many Hien or "Flying Swallows" in the skies over Kunai grass hills fighting for their lives against Kenny "the Beast", his Boeing, Consolidated and North American dragons, or "Fork Tailed Devils" would never wear the markings in any form of the 78th Hikousentai (52).

<span class="ev_code_RED">As a final plea to the community, I seek to finalize the markings of the 78th and other units of New Guinea for the publics general knowledge. It is my hope that many of the blurry low resolution scans out on the web of attacks upon the bases can be replaced with higher resolution images as all it takes is a scan at a higher resolution. There is NO mystery to the markings of many units including the 78th. There is simply just information and images that have not been made available and I for one would like to see this bit of history not slip into oblivion and ignorance.</span>

K2

Credits to follow with final revision........

LEBillfish
02-23-2011, 10:12 AM
Tail Markings of the 78th Hikousentai Type 3 Fighters / Ki-61 / Hien's

<span class="ev_code_RED">Note: The author (myself) is a novice student of Japanese air combat, aircraft, markings and units of New Guinea and makes no claims to the accuracy of the following information. All of the following is what I have been able to gleen from a number of publications, questions to the true experts on the subject like those found at http://www.j-aircraft.com , and is nothing more then my interpretation of it. The work SHOULD be questioned, and is presented solely seeking corrections and additions to firm up my knowledge my educational process done publically so we may all learn from it.</span>

Like most Japanese Army Air Corps units, the 78th hikousentai had a very visible, creative and attractive unit emblem. It is very important to reinforce that word "emblem" instead of unit marking. Like many as well, it was not simply just some casual design, yet a unique aesthetic representation of the actual hikousentai or flying regiment number. Wherein some units utilized stylized arabic numerals, others kanji, still even others roman, the 78th emblem is based upon a combination of an arabic 7 repeated 8 times forming a blossom.

http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/Blossom.GIF http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/Blossom.jpg
Credits: K2 / FAOW #17, Type 3 Fighter, Hien

The image on the right shows the ONLY currently known photograph of a 78th emblem. What we are seeing however is still a source of great debate some believing it to be a flag or banner, yet others feeling it is the tail of an aircraft. We can clearly see part of a uniform of a soldier, yet as to the marking itself a few points need to be made. First off, the emblem seems to have been retouched in the original photograph. Secondly, though there seems to be a crisp bend or crease like we might expect to see on a vertical stabilizer and rudder, the image background seems to show through where components would have to be as though translucent. In any case (and again applicable to both flag or tail marking), the emblem is described as being "White on a red background for the 1st chuutai, red on a white background for the 2nd chuutai, and yellow on a white background for the 3rd chuutai. The word "background" confusing at least to this author hinting at either the main color of a flag, or a vertical tail section fully painted.

As to it being the regiment's tail marking that is also a source of great debate. One of the best accountings of the use of the 8-7's emblem as a tail marking I have read can be found on Nick Millman's blog, and found here 78th Sentai "Chrysanthemum" or "Cherry Blossom" Marking (http://www.straggleresearch.com/2008/08/78th-sentai-chrysanthemum-or-cherry.html). Aspects of what is reported concern me however as Mr. Nohara without explination "I know of" changes what are considered to be the chuutai colors, does not present photographs, or reference any documentation to back up his findings. That said I believe the marking to be correct based upon its style and creative use of an arabic numeral repeated. Though debatable as to whether it was ever used on a 78th Hien, I strongly have faith that somewhere there is a photograph of a Ki-27 or perhaps Ki-43 with this marking from the year the unit spent in Manchuria.

Never the less to date there is no known photograph of any aircraft utilizing this marking much less a Ki-61, most of all applicable to markings used in New Guinea the 78th Sentai's only known are of combat.

The following is a collection of known and actual, as well as "published" (though not all correct or accurate), 78th hikousentai tail markings utilized on Type 3 Fighters AKA Ki-61's with the following restrictions.:

1. Aircraft camouflage is not considered, the aircraft considered either bare metal or camouflaged nothing more. The following representations either intended to mean camouflaged or not. (Each camouflage pattern so unique they alone differentiating each aircraft and obscuring the intent of the image).
2. Colors of the markings are simply a general representaion and not to be taken as actual. The following simply to represent a general shade and shape.
3. Three terms will be utilized to describe each emblems authenticity. Confirmed, meaning the author has seen actual "photographs" containing that emblem. Unconfirmed, meaning the author has "not" seen a photograph. Unconfirmed does "NOT" mean they did not exist, or are incorrect/untrue, it simply means I cannot confirm that marking as being factual. Never Existed, meaning the marking is incorrect for whatever the noted reason and was never used by the 68th hikousentai.
<span class="ev_code_RED">4. Corrections, additions, and subtractions to this are sought and encouraged. The point of its public presentaion is to get it right, and for all interested in the subject to learn, especially myself.</span>

Contrary to typical representations grouping marking types together based upon chuutai, in this presentation I have decided to present most based upon first witnessed dates of photograph confirmed markings, the point being to try and discover the actual unit marking. In kind, due to the inconsistant variety of markings we find, descriptions will be in greater detail to try and unravel the confusion of 78th markings.

http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/78ttmaster4.jpg
Credit: K2, distribute freely.


Chuutai Colors:To the best of our knowledge, the 78th Sentai chuutai colors were as follows. Light or "Robin's Egg" blue for the command flight, white for 1st chuutai, red for 2nd chuutai, yellow for 3rd chuutai. Though reported as simply "blue" in all sightings, we have one debatable color photograph of a command flight tail section that barring photograph degradation demonstrates the color. As to typically reported outlining of 78th blossom markings, what might of very well of been trying to be conveyed was that dark colors may have been made more visible through "halo" effects though that is unconfirmed.

1-4, Horizontal Stabilizer Markings, Confirmed: It is important to note that many 78th aircraft utilized horizontal stabilizer striping as is shown in items 1-4. Though probably more the standard then not, not all aircraft had these surfaces marked as shown in item (1). Item (2) showing the typical marking (for the 1st chuutai), item (3) to demonstrate how the stripe width was not consistant. Finally, item (4) shown in 3rd chuutai color though seeming logical and practical given the rudder markings found, has not been seen in any photograph used in this presentation so remains "unconfirmed", it being unknown as to why fabric surfaces were often left unmarked.

5-8, 78th Sentai Standard Tail Marking and Color, Confirmed: Based upon the earliest reports, items 5-8 represent what I believe to be one of if not "the" official marking of the 78th Hikousentai. Basic and utilitarian looking all too similar to the 12th Bomber Sentai (unrelated in any way), it was made up of three uniform stripes separated by the split between the vertical stabilizer and rudder. Utilizing light blue for the command flight (5), white for 1st chuutai (6), red for 2nd chuutai (7), and yellow for the 3rd chuutai (8). Understanding that many of the senior officers had come from the 24th hikousentai when flying Ki-27's and earlier it is easy to see how such a simplistic marking would be so easily accepted (the 24th's having been made up of stripes at that time).

It is unknown to the author if this was perhaps the standard marking for all aircraft, or if perhaps it represented the 3rd shoutai of a chuutai, other markings utilized to represent the 1st and 2nd. However this is the recognized marking initially in New Guinea and noted before losses would of forced changes due to time and urgency.

9-11, Initial Marking Recognition, Confirmed: G-3 Intelligence Summary No. 207 notes that on July 24th, 1943 a Ki-61 was noted near Asaloka, New Guinea with this marking in red (9). The summary telltail also notes that in September of 1943 the same marking in both blue and yellow was noted at Lae, New Guinea (10 & 11). A similar telltail summary of unknown origin notes that these same markings were noted on what had to be captured aircraft one in yellow (11) at Lae coded s/n 276 (decoded 176), and at Asaloka in red (9) coded s/n 239 (decoded 139). Whether the same aircraft or not from the previous recognition is unknown though is likely.

Further, the Asaloka aircraft as noted in Mr. J. Long's "Airtell Research Report No. 86-1, Estimated Assembly Date for a WWII Japanese Aircraft" cites "Japanese Aircraft Makers' Plates and Markings, Report No. 68, by the U.S. War Dept. Military Intelligence Service" that the Ki-61 noted near Asaloka (14 miles N.W. of Asaloka, N.G.), coded s/n 239, crashed there the July 24th, 1943 (H.I.S. noting the only loss that day being Sgt. Kurajiro Umezawa). Further that it had a likely manufacturing date of early April, 1943 (reinforced by Airtell Research Report No. 99-3). Without question considering the arrival date in the region (July 5th, 1943), this aircraft would of been one of the original brought with the 78th to New Guinea.

Hien coded s/n 276 (11) along with s/n 244 (see item 12), and s/n 183 of an undisclosed unit, according to Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report No. 17 (U.S. Military Intelligence?), notes that all three were captured at Lae, New Guinea on September 15th, 1943. Considering the uncoded serial numbers of these aircraft (manufactured number) of 83 (disregarded), 139, 144 and 176, it is reasonable to conclude coupled with known replacement dates that since s/n 239 was of the original compliment, it is possible/probable that s/n 244 may have been as well, s/n 276 debatable. Never the less, in that those aircraft of the initial compliment brought to New Guinea, and perhaps even those immediately subsequent had markings that were deliberate considering the available time, to that end at least initially, items (5-8) are believed to be the official 78th Sentai marking (with reservations retained for new information coming to light).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/9-11.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F. Official, R.Dunn

12, Cannibalized Rudder, Confirmed: Captured at Lae, New Guinea September 15th, 1943, what we see in this telltail and as noted in U.S. Intelligence reports is of a 78th command flight aircraft coded s/n 244 utilizing a canibalized 2nd chuutai, 68th Sentai rudder. Debatable if the same aircraft yet after a repair noted as item (10) (as the exact date of 10 is not known), such aircraft found would be likely and possibly explain some other aircraft encountered subsequently.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/12.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F. Official, R.Dunn

13-17, Sept. 27th & Oct. 16th, 1943 Strike Photographs, Confirmed: After the raid of August 18th, 1943, the 78th Sentai is listed in MacArthur's Eagles, by Lex McAulay as having zero (0) aircraft. On the 19th of August withdrawn to Manila, P.I. for replacement aircraft Hata, Izawa & Shores notes that the 78th had returned by late August, yet by Sept. 17th, 1943 (2 days after the the aircraft noted at Lae) was withdrawn once more to Manila to re-equip (Lex McAulay). Oct. 1st-14th the 78th is listed as having no aircraft available once again. Yet by the 15th of Oct. the 78th was listed as having 7 Ki-61 on hand, and by the 16th the number had risen to 11. After the Oct. 16th raid the unit was once more reduced to just 4 aircraft, and would fluctuate between 4 and 12 Type 3 Fighters for the entire sentai much of the remainder of their time in New Guinea until disbanded.

Telltail (13) we are fortunately able to see in strike photographs from both the 498th B.S. of the 345th B.G. on Sept. 27th, 1943, and by the 497th B.S. on Oct. 16th. Odd in that though the landing gear had clearly collapsed yet the rudder was intact in September, on the 16th of October the aircraft is up on its gear (or made to look as such) with the rudder missing. Camouflage sparse, unique and severely worn, the horizontal stabilizers destroyed beyond repair in both cases yet the ruse I assume bearing fruit in that the aircraft is taking rounds, has what appears to be a rather ragged 3rd chuutai yellow (or perhaps command flight blue) single band of a medium width placed high on the vertical stabilizer. In the Sept. 27th photograph where the rudder is still intact no markings can be made out. It is my opinion that this aircraft has been unserviceable for some time ultimately used for spare parts and as a decoy. To that end it makes it impossible to estimate whether it is of the first or second re-equip, yet is doubtful being of the original aircraft due to the lack of markings upon the rudder (though the rudder may have been a replacement).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/13.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (14) we are fortunate to have a moderate resolution photograph of. Freshly applied camouflage which generated an interesting effect upon the vertical tail section, primer spinner, and No. 34 or 54 possibly the same color as the tail marking in small numerals upon the landing gear cover. The marking shown in light blue for the command flight could possibly be yellow for the 3rd chuutai instead. Further the aircraft does not seem to have horizontal stabilizer striping as of yet. What makes this aircraft interesting is a combination of aspects. Fresh camouflage appearing to be the initial coat, prop, spinner and wing step areas seeming not to be worn. Most of all, the marking so rough and in such an odd place with nothing more hints at unfinished work (debatable). Combined leaving me with the impression it is a newly arrived aircraft in the midst of being prepped, and possibly the tail marking simply begun ultimately to look like telltail (5).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/14.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (15) in contrast to (14) another moderate resolution image shows heavily worn sparse poorly applied camouflage in a palmfron pattern, a large poorly written number "19" in white upon the landing gear covers and the leading 1/4 of the spinner is painted white. In the midst of being heavily serviced, the aircraft clearly has white horizontal stabilizer striping to the elevator's edge seeming as rough as the tail marking itself. One of the most narrow or thin examples of a vert. stab. stripe in white, poorly applied, it is deliberately finished off with what seems to be possibly a replacement rudder, yet most of all having a small katakana "Ki" upon it. It is clear the marking is deliberate having departed from the 3 stripes we have seen to this point. Obvious that the tail marking is finished even though shoddy or rushed work, there no degree of quality to any of the markings or camouflage. I'm left with the impression this would be a second generation (first group of replacements) aircraft or older made serviceable once again.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/15.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltails (16 & 17) are both of out of action aircraft. (16) relatively intact shown in a very well known low resolution photograph where a formation of three 500th B.S. B-25's fly past. The camouflage well covering and dark and other markings in good shape, it's gear collapsed and rudder missing, further camouflaged with copious foliage. Seeming to possibly have horizontal stabilizer striping in white, they would match the wide width and crispness of the vertical stabilizer stripe in white as well, the impression I'm left with is this is an older generation 78th Hien being preserved for some unknown reason. Telltail (17) of a totally destroyed aircraft having taken a direct bomb hit. Difficult to determine if the tail section is being removed to use elsewhere or simply blown off of the aircraft, the camouflage very dark and seeming quite fresh, the marking of a single line narrower then (16).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/16-17.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

The aircraft shown in strike photos of Sept. 27th & Oct. 16th suggest a number of points. Now heavily pressured the squadron had already forsaken formalized carefully applied markings no matter how simplistic for more pressing matters at hand. What had started as simple yet bold markings making identification easier had already degenerated to a rushed imitation of what I suppose to be the standard. Add to that we see something new in the form of a katakana added in place of the rudder stripes. I suspect that what we are seeing in that aircraft numbers on gear covers would identify aircraft on the ground to crew is during such pressing times a bit of individuality and personal pride was allowed, the katakana due to their size most likely worthless for identification in combat.

18, Jan. 22nd, 1944 Guncamera, Confirmed: Though the image is slightly clipped we have an image from a gun camera of a 78th Hien over Astrolabe Bay. Though not much information can be gleened from the photograph except that it is reversed, we can clearly see the 78th marking upon it starkly contrasting with the balance of the aircraft, no horizontal stabilizers stripes seen. Assumed to be white of the 1st chuutai (though could be blue or yellow), the marking is quite obviously like those noted in telltails (5-8). This photograph once more reinforcing that the bold three stripes were a common 78th marking.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/18.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official / J. Long

19-22, Feb. 3rd, 1944 Strike Photographs, Confirmed: By far some of the most famous airstrike photographs taken during the New Guinea campaign were those of the February 3rd, 1944 raid upon Dagua, New Guinea or "But East". Contained within the photographs are numerous Ki-61 and Ki-43 out in the open and unobscured. On that date the 78th Sentai is noted as having five Ki-61 available, however due to the low resolution of the scans in my possession of the thirteen Ki-61 easily visable I can sadly only make out vaguely a few. By this time the 78th was regularly replacing their aircraft. In that I suspect the fluctuating numbers also reflect repaired or even "Frankensteined" aircraft (made up of many others cannibalized) we can expect to find some new mixed with a few replaced previously.

Telltail (19) first of the 78th aircraft on the line being attacked, due to the low resolution makes it impossible to determine if an older or newer replacement (though it is suspected to be older due to fuel spill striping). Possibly a 1/3rd painted spinner of a lighter color, unreadable gear cover numbers, and horizontal stabilizer striping unable to be determined, what we can see is the narrow and jagged rudder stripe in white. Poorly applied, seeming to overlap onto the vertical stabilizer, and worst still added parallel to the ground as the aircraft sits contrary to the axis of the aircraft.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/19.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (20) is of an extremely interesting yet also confusing Hien being next on the line beside Telltail (19). Though difficult to pin down in the low resolution photographs, it has a flek pattern comouflage scheme, fully painted yellow spinner, the number "84" poorly written upon the gear covers in red, and possibly yellow horizontal stabilizer striping. The rudder though seeming to have a massive kana upon it though most likely simply a result of camouflage and likely a replacement has no further markings upon it. However, the vertical stabilizer clearly has a medium width stripe in yellow upon it, yet oddly seems to have a second above it. If the second stripe is true then this would be a new type of marking or perhaps explain some others we are finding.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/20.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (21) third in the grouping of 78th Hiens appears to be the most wore of the three though sadly at the lowest resolution. A heavy fuel spill stripe along with sparse camouflage, fully painted spinner in white, undetermined numbers upon the gear covers and no visible striping upon the hor. stab.. The only tail marking able to be made out being a single narrow red stripe low on the rudder however the rudder does not seem to be a replacement.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/21.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (22) is another hien seen in the raid of great debate. Sparse wore camouflage, half of the spinner painted in white along with unreadable numbers upon the landing gear doors and no visible horizontal stabilizer striping. The source of debat being its only clear tail marking. Often referred to as a "shark tip" resembling some allied fighter markings, is absolutly contrary to the common 78th markings. The marking is so different in fact, some speculate that it may not be a 78th Hien at all. I'm of the opinion that if not, then this is very possibly the unknown 14th Hikoudan marking. However, at this time most attribute it to the 78th.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/22.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

<span class="ev_code_RED">The Dagua strike photographs of February 3rd offer us a unique glimpse into to camouflage and markings of many Japanese fighters. Unfortunately at this time however, though someone must have higher resolution scans (the best I can access being 72d.p.i.), they are unfortunately not publically available. I am of the firm opinion that a thorough high resolution review of the aircraft at Dagua would reveal much of the Hiens and Hayabusa of New Guinea there clearly some very interesting aircraft shown, yet simply cannot be made out.</span>

23-25, Hiens of Hollandia, Confirmed: Just as surprising as the lack of Dagua photographs available, those taken at Hollandia are even more so. Though numerous strike, survey and personal photographs were taken there, very have been made available online or in print and those that are of just the same select few. One aspect of this however is the lack of markings on a number of the Hiens found there. Debatable as to being 68th or 78th, those unmarked however offer little for the report.

Telltail (23) just a tail section shown in two different photographs yet very important. It is from the one in color which we discover the command flight blue. The second in B&W however demonstrates that this aircraft very likely had a katakana marking upon it which was cut out probably as a souvenir. Crisp, wide and bold, the tail section also having obvious moderate width horizontal stabilizer stripes possibly in white (though may be blue like the marking).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/23.jpg
Credit: J.Lansdale / D. Cooper

Telltail (24) perhaps being one of the more instantly recognizable of all the 78th Hiens, has numerous views of it from both sides as taken by U.S. and Australian forces once they had captured Hollandia in late April. Though clearly having been wrecked for some time and weathered the camouflage and markings are still rather clear. In a typical palm fron having been repainted at least once so it seems, the aircraft has yellow horizontal stabilizer stripes to match the wide high placed stripe upon the vertical stabilizer. What is most concerning however is the much more narrow and higher placed rudder stripe. In a prime position for the standard 3 stripe marking, roughly applied and at an odd angle off the aircraft axis it instantly gives the impression of a replacement rudder. The trouble is however that the reapplied camouflage matches up from the vert. stab. to the rudder. Though just a guess I assume what we are seeing is a camouflage repaint with the replacement rudder in place, and for whatever reason the out of alignment rudder stripe was left somewhat intact perhaps to keep the marking larger. Closer scrutiny makes one even question if the rudder stripe is yellow and just darker, or perhaps even blue.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/24.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official

Telltail (25) actually a very important marking for us. The aircraft in relatively good shape though obviously shot up in a standard palm fron pattern with no horizontal stabilizer striping has a simple katakana marking of a "ya" crudely applied in white. There are no other unit markings that we can see including horizontal stabilizer stripes yet we can tell it has been camouflaged just one time and very possibly just at the factory or depot.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/25.jpg
Credit: J. Lansdale

26-32, Miscelaneous Aircraft, Confirmed: After the fall of Hollandia and though there would be some further air combat farther West, for the 78th Sentai the war had basically turned into one of ground combat as foot soldiers. As bases farther West and those bypassed began to be taken by the allies, aircraft previously only seen by the crews that bombed them and the fighters that drove them to the ground began to be revealed once more.

Telltail (26), Korako/Tadji, Aitape: A bonus in a photograph meant to capture a Ki-43 tail marking. What we are seeing confused many for some time unsure of the assumed yellow or perhaps red wedge, and white or perhaps yellow respectively marking of a katakana "A" in a circle. Debatable which is over the other, yet to be sure what we are seeing is either a 78th tail section with a 68th wedge marking applied over it (the entire tail section used as a replacement), or vice a versa. Once more however it reinforces item (25) as a valid marking. The presence of hor. stab. striping unknown.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/26.jpg
Credit: U.S.A.F./N.A. Official / Bueschel

Telltail (27), Wasile, Halamara Island: Being another instantly recognizable aircraft besides being intact is as important as telltail (25) in that it confirms its importance. Basic palm fron camouflage having been retouched, the only unit marking we can find upon it is a rather large katakana "wa" believed to be in yellow of the 3rd chuutai possibly.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/27.jpg
Credit: M.Toda / Bueschel

Telltail (28), Dagua/But East: Well wore and heavily weathered so having been static for some time in a standard palm fron camouflage, we are unsure if the aircraft has hor. stab. striping yet what is clear is the moderate to narrow red stripe on the horizontal stabilizer and some type of katakana in white upon the rudder possibly being a more vertical (odd) "ya".
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/28.jpg
Credit: Australian War Memorial

Telltail (29), Unknown Location: Dark dense covering camouflage and heavily damaged, this aircraft bearing a wide white stripe of the 1st chuutai upon its vertical stabilizer the horizontal stabilizer striping unknown. Further, the aircraft has the fabric of its rudder destroyed to the pint we can make out nothing there though does not appear to have striping which would of reached the back edge of the vert. stab.. Most likely this is a mid-era aircraft (late 43 to early 44).
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/29.jpg
Credit: J. Lansdale

Telltail (30), Unknown Location: Dense yet well worn from time in active combat (freshly downed, Japanese photograph) this marking comes from a pair of outstanding high resolution photographs shown in another thread on the 78th forum, The Hero of Wewak, Maybe.. (http://78sentai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=367). The markings upon it in white of the 1st chuutai. What makes it so odd is that though having a moderately sized stripe upon the vertical stabilizer, it clearly also has the remnants of a stripe upon the rudder yet in an extremely low position. So low in fact it could not of been deliberate perhaps being a replacement rudder. In any case it is of an early enough version of the aircraft (a Ko, coded s/n 114-500) that it is believed to be a 1943 supplied and possibly wrecked aircraft.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/30.jpg
Credit: C. Shapan

Telltail (31) Unmarked, Various Locations: All over New Guinea and the surrounding islands there are numerous examples of unmarked Ki-61. Be they 78th or 68th is unknown without deeper investigation frankly not worth doing. What we do know however is the 5th Air Force pressured the Hien units of the 14th Hikoudan so heavily that it would not be uncommon to find an unmarked Hien in combat.
http://78sentai.org/78V/albums/recon/10001/31.jpg
Credit: Lansdale, Cooper, U.S.A.F., Lansdale, U.S.A.F., Ethell, U.S.A.F.

Telltail (32), Unmarked and Uncamouflaged: The only known locations of such aircraft would be found at Akeno before the 78th's transfer to New Guinea.

33-37, Unconfirmed: Telltails 33-37 represent possible yet unconfirmed markings as a finished and intended mark. (33) in that it is difficult to believe that high locations of stand alone vertical stabilizer or rudder markings were as intended and in that it is obvious that painting upon the rudder was not forbidden (this also brings into question hor. stab. stripes extending onto the elevators). (34) being a stand alone marking with or without hor. stab. stripes. We simply do not know in that we have numerous examples of rudderless aircraft which show this, and in kind aircraft with rudders painted lending themselves to being continued over the vert. stab.. Lastly in that katakana used along with seem almost to be an after-thought. (35) we have examples of stand alone rudder markings both high and low with nothing upon the vert. stabilizer. It begs the question of whether they were unfinished markings, repacement rudders, or as intended. (36) lastly begs the question of "if" telltail (20) is correct, then would (36) be? Too many markings clearly are out of a normal position to make (5-8) the intended marking, yet (36) like the others in this section are simply logical speculation. Telltail (37) though inline with what we have discovered thus far, comes from an often reproduced profile. It can not be confirmed as having been a complete marking though I suspect at one time it may have very well been as such (the artist accurately combining the 78th marking found on telltail (26), and the striping often found).

38-40, Initial Reports of the Blossom 8-7's on Hien, Unconfirmed: As reported on Nick Millman's blog, and found here 78th Sentai "Chrysanthemum" or "Cherry Blossom" Marking (http://www.straggleresearch.com/2008/08/78th-sentai-chrysanthemum-or-cherry.html), we find the classic 78th Blossom so often applied to bare metal / un-camouflaged Hiens. Though they may have existed in these colors on earlier aircraft, I personally believe these markings to have "Never Existed" especially as applied to their respective chuutai. This is stated in the regard that later Mr. Nohara alters the colors and order more in line with conventional systems. Take it for what you will, Mr. Nohara's work is exceptional and his contributions to the J-Aircraft community vast, so any questioning of his work should be done with respect.

41, The Ugly Blossom, Unconfirmed: Another oft times reported 78th marking irregardless of color. 7's shown as stick figures vs. the ornate 7's we have come to know. Though once more never seen in photos and so frankly grotesque it is difficult to force ourselves to believe such a marking existed, it simply a poor representation of the blossom, I hesitate at noting it as "Never Existed". As ugly as it may be, and though having no proof of it, it is easy to see how a 78th pilot of ground crewman wishing a bit of Regiment Pride might of applied such a rudimentary marking. To that end though I would not add such to a profile, artwork or skin without proof, I'll consider this marking "unconfirmed", yet not advised.

42-44, Finalized Blossom, Unconfirmed: Though shown on a camouflaged telltail contrary to Mr. Millman's reporting of Mr. Nohara's findings, I have done such in that this is how often we find 78th Blossoms on artworks and profiles. Often shown as being outlined in a contrasting red for the white blossom of the 1st chuutai, white outlines for the 2nd in red, and 3rd in yellow (command flight blue oddly always neglected), they are more often then not reported as being upon a "background" vs. being outlined. However, there is no evidence at this time of the emblem being used as a marking (and the descriptions sounding more as upon a flag or banner to me). As to being applied to bare metal aircraft I'll leave this set as "Unconfirmed", however as to being applied to camouflaged aircraft I'll list them as "Never Existed", outlined or not.

45-48, Striped Blossom, Unconfirmed: Telltail (45) has been shown on more profiles then I can count (though typically uses the "Ugly Blossom"). Whether we are seeing someones attempt to grasp the blossom in use with confirmed markings, or perhaps there is some obscure photograph found in the Easter Block countries I cannot say. However, as much as I'm inclined to discount it as being listed as "Never Existed", there has to be some reason it is shown so often and almost always originating from the same regions. Considering that it might be possible, and considering Mr. Nohara's reporting and all others stating the use of the blossom at Akeno, it begs the consideration of telltails (46-48) to be listed as "Never Existed", yet something to think on. There are a number of photographs at Akeno (on various types of aircraft) showing a stripe like we find on 78th aircraft, often outlined in a contrasting color upon the vertical stabilizer, and upon the rudder following the Akeno Flight School marking.

If we grant acceptance to all of the unconfirmed accounts based upon general concept, yet then apply it to more known and confirmed markings we have found both at Akeno and for the 78th once to New Guinea, suddenly (45-48) and more so (42-44) becomes somewhat more reasonable. Though simply speculation, "what if" some 78th aircraft at Akeno were marked as such? It is difficult to imagine considering the vast open spaces of typical palm fron camouflage that some remnant of a large blossom would not of been found. However, a small Akeno sized blossom "with a contrasting background" could of easily been covered over. The stripe to remain and then added to upon the rudder with two more, making the earliest known markings......However, at this time these markings should be considered "Unconfirmed" or more better still "Never Existed" until proven otherwise.

49-52, Summation, The Tail Markings of 78th Hikousentai Type 3 Fighters: As we review the various markings discovered we very quickly through them can visualize the chronological experience of the 78th hikousentai once to New Guinea. Fresh to a combat area and realizing the need for quick identification, large broad stripes were added to the vertical and horizontal tail areas in the stated chuutai colors (49).

However, as of August 18th, 1943, all aircraft lost, and time for such luxuries as markings unavailable, crops needing to be grown, airstrips and aircraft repaired and maintained, the regiment marking became much less regimented. Sometimes ragged stripes over only either control or stabilizing surfaces, their size and placement no longer uniform. Be they simply caught unfinished or not, it is clear that in many cases they were deliberate. Added to many katakana (the use of chuutai colors debatable, most in white, some possibly other colors), and though suggested by some to designate the airfield the aircraft was based at, or perhaps to designate an aircraft (which wheel cover markings do well enough), I'm more inclined to believe (though guessing) that were seeing a permittance to add a bit of personal pride perhaps representing the pilots name during a time when moral had to be at its lowest. Once the pressure of combat had been acclimated to (roughly late November, 1943), we see the markings once more though now forsaking the 3 stripes become more standardized. Vertical and horizontal stabilizer striped in chuutai color though much cleaner and precise in its application, and often a katakana utilized generating a finished marking (50).

Once pulled back to Hollandia and elsewhere (estimating late February through March, 1944) we find markings often reduced once again to nothing more then a single katakana often poorly scribbled on. My assumption being the pressure had finally taken its toll and time itself not available. By this time belief of help coming had to have been non-existant, and wherein 2-7 aircraft do not make a Sentai, why bother even carrying the mark (51).

Lastly, there are countless examples of unmarked Hiens scattered all over New Guinea. Debatable as to whether intended for the 68th or 78th, many clearly left unmarked at rear bases for whatever reason never moved up. However, we find many at forward bases as such. Some most likely destroyed before ever having a marking applied, yet others clearly seeing combat and be it pressure to get the aircraft in the air, a general malaise due to low moral and illness, or perhaps even a blunt apathy, many Hien or "Flying Swallows" in the skies over Kunai grass hills fighting for their lives against Kenny "the Beast", his Boeing, Consolidated and North American dragons, or "Fork Tailed Devils" would never wear the markings in any form of the 78th Hikousentai (52).

<span class="ev_code_RED">As a final plea to the community, I seek to finalize the markings of the 78th and other units of New Guinea for the publics general knowledge. It is my hope that many of the blurry low resolution scans out on the web of attacks upon the bases can be replaced with higher resolution images as all it takes is a scan at a higher resolution. There is NO mystery to the markings of many units including the 78th. There is simply just information and images that have not been made available and I for one would like to see this bit of history not slip into oblivion and ignorance.</span>

K2

Credits to follow with final revision........

TheCrux
02-23-2011, 04:17 PM
Looks like exhaustive research, but it makes interesting reading about an intriguing A/C. It may not be the best combat plane in the game, but it has some good qualities that make it my favorite plane to fly in the game.

Thanks for posting.