Interrogation Nav 67, Commander Koichi Shimada

12 Nov 1945

ww2dbaseBiography

SHIMADA was a regular officer of 18 years service. He was not a naval aviator but had served as a naval aviation observer. As Air Officer on the Staff, Northeast Area Fleet from March 1944 to November 1944 he was well informed on the air bases and employment of units of the 12th Air Fleet in the North PACIFIC during that period. SHIMADA was cooperative and thorough in giving information. He spoke from memory, but took some time and pains to produce a table of employment of air units given in the record of interrogation.

Staff, 11th Air Fleet FORMOSA December 1941-November 1942
Student, Staff College TOKYO November 1942-May 1943
Staff, Combined Fleet, Musashi (F)  May 1943-March 1944
Air Officer, Staff, Northeast Area Fleet Chitose  
SHIMUSHU  March 1944-November 1944
Air Officer Staff, Southwest Area Fleet PHILIPPINES November 1944-February 1945
Air Officer Staff, South Area Army SAIGON February 1945-May 1945
General Affairs Section, Naval Air Headquarters TOKYO May 1945-October 1945

Interrogation

INTERROGATION NAV NO. 67
USSBS NO. 311
ALEUTIAN CAMPAIGN
JAPANESE TWELFTH AIR FLEET IN THE KURILES AND NORTH PACIFIC

TOKYO
12 NOVEMBER 1945

Interrogation of: Commander SHIMADA, Koichi, IJN; served as Air Officer on the Staff of the Combined Fleet, flagship Musashi, from May 1943 until March 1944 when he became Air Officer on the Staff of the North East Area Fleet, based ashore at KATAOKA, SHIMUSHHU, in the KURILES and at CHITOSE
on HOKKAIDO.

Interrogated by: Captain J.S. Russell, USN

SUMMARY

The location, strength and losses of units of the Twelfth Air Fleet, March to November 1944, while operating under the Northeast Area Fleet, are given. The sinking of two U.S. submarines by Japanese aircraft, one in April, 1944, one in August 1944, is claimed and the circumstances described. Some results of U.S. air and surface bombardment are given.

NARRATIVE

As of March, 1944, the Northeast Area Fleet was made tip of a surface force, the Fifth Fleet, comprised of one cruiser division and a destroyer squadron, and an air force, the Twelfth Air Fleet.

The Twelfth Air Fleet organization was as follows:Twelfth Air Fleet, Vice Admiral TOTSUKA Michitaro.27th Air Flotilla, Vice Admiral MATSUNAGA Teiichi.
36land-based attack planes -- Type 1(BETTY 22)
36fighters -- Type Zero(ZEKE)
36carrier-based attack planes -- Type 97(KATE)
12reconnaissance float planes, 3-seat(JAKE)
12flying boats -- Type 2(EMILY)
Air Flotilla, Rear Admiral YAMADA Sadayoshi.
72fighters -- Type Zero(ZEKE)
9night fighters -- GEKKO(IRVING)
36land-based attack planes -- Type 1(BETTY 22)
36carrier-based attack planes -- Type 97(KATE)
72carrier-based bombers -- Type 99(VAL 22)
9transports -- DC-3(TABBY)


The Twelfth Air Fleet had available to it in the KURILES the following air bases:

KATAOKA, SHIMUSHU

  1. A regular landplane base with ample runways and a permanent detail of about 150 aviation personnel.
  2. A seaplane base, ice-free in summer only, on Lake BETTOBI. Here there were buoys, but no runways, and water revetments dug into the shore line.


PARAMUSHIRO

  1. KAKUMABETSU -- A secondary land and sea plane base with a single 1200 meter (4,000 ft.) runway.
  2. SURIBACHI -- Landplane base with two 1200 meter runways.
  3. MUSASHI -- Landplane base with two or three 1200 meter runways.


MATSUWA

A landplane base with one 1200 meter (4,000 ft.), and one 1,000 meter (3,280 ft.) runway. No seaplane facilities ashore.

ETOROFU

  1. TENNEI -- A landplane base with one 1200 meter and one 1,000 meter runway.
  2. TOSHIMOYE Lake -- A seaplane base, ice-free in the summer.


The mission of the North East Area Fleet was to provide general escort and defensive cover for shipping between CHISHIMA BETTO (KURILES) and HONSHU.

In March 1944 the 27th Air Flotilla was based at TATEYAMA at the end of the CHIBA Peninsula, TOKYO Area, and at TOYOHASHI in the NAGOYA Area. In April, 36 fighters went to MISAWA, at the northern end of HONSHU, and were to continue moving north, as weather improved, to three airfields on HOKKAIDO in the vicinity of SHIBETSU. However the HOKKAIDO airfields were not ready in June, 1944. When the SAIPAN operation took place most of the fighters were ordered to IWO JIMA. From IWO, this detachment went to the KANTO Plain (TOKYO Area). The remainder of the 27th Air Flotilla joined the Combined Fleet in June, 1944.

In March 1944, the 51st Air Flotilla was in the main islands of JAPAN at TSUIKI and OITA on KYUSHU, at TOYOHASHI near NAGOYA, and at MOBARA in the TOKYO Area. In late April and early May the Flotilla moved to HOKKAIDO, thence deployed into the KURILES to provide air cover for convoys. In August the Flotilla returned to HOKKAIDO, leaving 12 carrier-based attack planes at KATAOKA. Of these, 6 returned in November and the other 6 stayed all winter. From HOKKAIDO the remainder of the 51st Flotilla returned to the KANTO Plain area and to KYUSHU, because of the LEYTE Operations. Three or four transports stayed in the north. Later some of the Flotilla went to FORMOSA and some to the PHILIPPINES.

Commander Northeast Area Fleet maintained his headquarters at CHITOSE on HOKKAIDO, but moved north by air transport to base at KATAOKA during the period 20 April to 10 August 1944.

The deployment of units of the Twelfth Air Fleet is shown in the table of appendix (A). During the summer there were almost daily American air attacks against Japanese bases and shipping in the North KURILES. There was severe damage to a picket boat line which was maintained on a 200 mile radius from KATAOKA, -- 5 or 6 boats were sunk. Some damage was done ashore, with 2 or 3 planes destroyed on the ground at MUSASHI.

Between June and September there were four bombardments by surface ships. Two against MUSASHI destroyed 12 or 13 planes, damaged some buildings, and caused light personnel casualties. Two against MATSUWA damaged buildings and installations. No ship above 500 tons was sunk by air or surface action, however there were many sunk by submarine, about 20.

During Commander SHIMADA's duty on the Staff of Commander Northeast Area Fleet, the sinking of 2 United States submarines was claimed by Japanese aircraft. In April 1944 a carrier type bomber dove from 500-600 meters (1,640-1,970 ft.) on a U.S. submarine which was cruising at periscope depth off ETOROFU. The plane released one 250 kilogram bomb fuzed with a time fuze to detonate at a fixed depth. A direct hit was made and one end of the submarine lifted out of water as the submarine sank. There were no survivors, and no identification of the submarine was made. In August 1944, off PARAMUSHIRO, a twin-float reconnaissance plane made a diving attack on a U.S. submarine. After the underwater explosion of a 250 kilogram bomb the submarine made a 180 degree submerged turn trailing oil and was presumed to sink immediately thereafter because the oil slick ended in a concentrated patch of oil which persisted for 4 days.

Japanese plane losses during the period were:

In combat -- 1 night fighter, GEKKO (IRVING)
Operational -- 50-60 total of all types
Bombing -- 5-6 planes total
Naval bombardment -- 12-13 planes total


Operational losses were particularly high in the 51st Air Flotilla because of inexperienced pilots operating from icy runways. The heaviest losses were in fighter planes. Two or more planes ran into mountains in snow storms, 5 or 6 were lost in fog. There was much trouble due to icing of wings, control surfaces, and windshields. Fog was a great hazard and frequently flights were weathered out of their own fields and had to land in fields on the lee side of mountains. Radio beacons were installed at all principal air bases and radio direction finders were used in planes, but not too successfully.

The loss of two American planes was considered confirmed by Commander SHIMADA. In June or July 1944, a B-25 or Ventura was shot down over the sea off SHIMUSHU by Japanese fighters, and was seen to crash in the water. In August or September a B-25 strafing and bombing a picket boat collided with the mast of the craft and crashed in the sea. 3 survivors were picked up. In about 10 other instances Japanese fighters reported that planes smoked, but descended into the fog so that destruction could not be ascertained. American plane types identified in air attacks against the North KURILES were the B-25, B-24, and the Ventura. The last, he said was a difficult target for fighters because of its high speed and maneuverability.

1944
27TH AIR FLOTILLA
Type and StrengthMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAug.Sept.Oct.Nov.
Fc 36TATEYAMAMISAMA.............IWO
TATEYAMA
KISARAZU
.................................................................
Fo 36TATEYAMAMISAMA..............................................................................
Flo 36TATEYAMAMISAMA..............................................................................
Fsr 12TATEYAMAMISAMAETOROFUETOROFU, 6
SHIMUSHU, 6
.......................................FORMOSA
FORMOSA
.............
Fd 12YOKAHAMAMISAMAETOROFUETOROFU, 6
SHIMUSHU, 6
.......................................FORMOSA
FORMOSA
.............
51ST AIR FLOTILLA
Fe 72.............CHITOSECHIMUSHU, 36
CHITOSE, 36
.......................................BIHORO, 72..........................
Fo 36.............SHIMUSHU, 6
BIHORO, 30
......., 9
....., 27
.......................................SHIMUSHU, 12
BIHORO, 24
.............SHIMUSHU, 6
Fb 72.............ETOROFU, 6
MATSUWA, 6
BIHORO, 80
 MATSUWA, 6
PARAMUSHIRO, 12
BIHORO, 75
CHITOSE, 75.............CHITOSE, 90..........................
Flo 36.............CHITOSEPARAMUSHIRO, 18
CHITOSE, 30
.......................................BIHORO, 36..........................
Fnc 9.......................................SHIMUSHU, 4
CHITOSE, 6
..........................CHITOSE, 9..........................


The figures given are for normal plane complement. Additionally an immediate reserve of one-third of complement was kept on hand.

Fe -- Fighter
Fo -- Carrier attack
Fb -- Carrier bomber
Flo -- Land attack
Fsr -- Float reconnaissance
Fd -- Flying boat
Fnc -- Night fighter ww2dbase

Source: United States National Archives, Modern Military Branch
Added By: C. Peter Chen





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