Group portrait of carrier Shokaku's fighter squadron, Japan, Oct or Nov 1941; A6M Zero fighter in background

Caption   Group portrait of carrier Shokaku's fighter squadron, Japan, Oct or Nov 1941; A6M Zero fighter in background ww2dbase
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A6M Zero   Main article  Photos  
Added By C. Peter Chen
Added Date 18 Dec 2009

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
23 Dec 2009 05:22:21 PM

Pilots of the Imperial Japanese Navy were
well trained, well equiped and highly
motivated. The men who went through flight-
training in the 1930's, experienced the most
rigorous course in the world 1,300 would
apply for training however, about 200 would
pass the training.
Their training would be the best in the world the demanding training would weed out
the best, and the very best and all that would be left, would be the very, very best.
This type of weeding out, left only the very
very best this would be critical and leave Japan short of trained pilots.
By 1943 many of the veteran pilots were killed in the air battles, and the ranks of
the very, very best were gone and the very
best and the best, were not their to make up the high losses.
Japan paid a high price in pilots and planes and put hastily trained second and third rate replacements against, by now the highly
trained and experienced Americans.
2. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
25 Dec 2009 02:36:21 PM

After the battle of Midway in June 1942 faced with the loss of four Aircraft Carriers,its skilled crews, the loss of many
experienced pilots and aircrews, Japan was
never able to make up the losses.
Veteran pilots should have been rotated to
train new pilots, and pass on their combat
Pilot training was shortened, due to lack of
fuel, training planes,spare parts to
maintain them. Accidents also cut into the loss of this pilot pool. By 1944/1945 many Japanese pilots has as little as 100 hrs. of flight training, where as the American pilots
had over 350 hrs.
3. Bill says:
26 Dec 2009 02:54:34 PM

Imperial Japanese Naval Air Strength 1941:

3,089 Aircraft Types and Trainers
1,830 First-Line Aircraft
660 Fighters
330 Carrier Based Strike Aircraft
520 Seaplanes
Pilots were: Commissioned Officers, Warrant
Officers, Chief Peddy Officers and Peddy
Officers. Plus Flight Crews, Maintenance Crews and Non-Flying Officers.
The loss of over 300 pilots at Midway, would
have taken Japan two or three years to train at pre-war training cycles.
To make up the losses, training was rushed,
and many student pilots were killed and
injured in flying accidents, pushed to fly
fast and unforgiving aircraft many novices were lost,due to lack of experience,training
and gunnery skills.
During the early years of the Pacific War,
naval aircraft losses to all causes were about 500 aircraft per-month. To over 2,000
aircraft lost to all causes in the latter
months of the Pacific War.
This worked out about 40% combat losses and
60% training, ferrying and other non-combat
losses. In 1941 the Navy had 12,000 flying
personnel, by 1945 it reached 35,000.
Pre-war pilots had over 650 hrs. in training
and opernational flying experience.
Between 1941 and 1945 Japan produced over
76,000 aircraft. Japanese aircraft losses to
all causes were over 43,100.

By 1945 The Imperial Japanese Navy had lost
334 Ships, 150 Submarines, Thousands of
Aircraft and suffered over 300,000 Battle

This is General Information only, it is not
a Definitive sourse.
4. Bill says:
26 Dec 2009 09:06:58 PM

In 1940 a new program was proposed to make
pilot training shorter, less rigorous, more
productive, and to build a trained force of
15,000 pilots.
This was rejected and once war started the Imperial Navy was losing pilots faster, than
they could be replaced.
The 29 pilots lost during the Pearl Harbor
Attack, was about 1/4 of an annual pilot
training class. At that rate, the losses will add up. As the war continued the loss
of aircraft would be a ratio of (10)Japanese
aircraft lost, for every (1) US Aircraft.
5. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Dec 2009 01:51:08 PM

Information continued from number (4)
26 Dec. 2009 09:06:58 PM

Japanese losses at Pearl Harbor in equipment
and men:

General Information Only

(9)Aircraft Lost in First Wave
(20)Aircraft Lost in Second Wave
(40)Aircraft Hit by Ground Fire & Air Attack
Adding to the Casualities, were several
opernational losses.

Lost were (55) Pilots and Crewmen
(9)Mitsubishi A6M2 Fighters
(5)Nakajima B5N2 Torpedo & Level Bombers
(15)Aichi D3A1 Dive Bombers
The 29 Pilots lost during the attack were 1/4 of an annual pilot training class, the rest of the losses were aircrew members.

(4) Midget Submarines were lost, plus one
that went aground.
Losses (9) Submariners KIA /(1) Captured.

Zero Fighter/Crew (1)
Torpedo & Level Bombers/Crew (3)
Dive Bombers/Crew (2)
6. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
26 Apr 2010 04:47:25 PM

Navy pilots flying fighters, were trained to
work in a three-plane section (Shotai) many
pilots developed high team-work, a sort of
six-sense for each other's reaction.
Japanese aces did not receive the same attention as Allied aces However, enlisted
pilots would be rewarded with promotion and
pay raise.
Officer pilots ran the risk of being promoted
out of command of a flying unit.
Japanese pilots had no system of rotation,
they continued to fly until they were eather killed or crippled in combat, or operational accidents.
7. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
27 Apr 2010 09:21:12 AM

Japanese Navy Ground Crews, like their pilot
counter-parts, were trained in keeping the
aircraft serviced and ready for combat. The
best maintenance crews, were assigned to the
fleet carriers.
After the losses suffered at Midway, in Jun.
1942 the Navy found itself short of these highly trained crews.
The service schools started a crash program to make up the losses. However,The navy still
kept a policy, of assigning the most capable
maintenance crews, to the most experienced
pilots. As the war continued maintenance
personnel suffered heavy losses, some units without planes, to service were used as infantry.
Japan was never able to keep up with the
demand, with a shortage of trained personnel,
spare parts, replacement aircraft and fuel
many units could not continue to operate.
Unlike most men in Europe and the USA, very
few Japanese men, had experience with engines
and automobiles, the training schools took
only the best that had the necessary aptitude
for machinery.
8. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
23 May 2010 02:57:44 PM

Japanese Navy Training Aircraft:

Trainee pilots learned to fly the Yokosuka
K5Y "Willow" Intermediate trainer, biplane
a floatplane variant was also built.
The Willow continued to be built, until the
end of the war.

Another single-seat fighter that was rebuilt
into a trainer, was the Mitsubishi A5M2 known
as "Claude". To meet the demands of training new pilots, a two-seat variant was built as
the A5M4-K with open cockpits, student pilot
in front, and instructor in back.
Serving as an advanced trainer, both the single-seat fighter and two-seat trainer were
kept in Japan by second-line and training
The A5M4-K trainer and single-seat fighter ended their service life in Kamikaze attacks.

To meet the demands of pilot training, the
single-seat A6M2 Zero or "Zeke" was rebuilt as a two-seat advanced fighter trainer known
as the A6M2-K.
The student pilot sat in front, in an open
cockpit,the instructor sat behind in a fully
enclosed cockpit canopy.
The A6M2-K trainers were assigned to combat
units,replacement pilots after completion of primary and intermediate training, would receive as much on-the-job training as possible.
The Imperial Navy's goal was to conduct all
conversion training in line units, saving
three to six months from what used to be a
one and one half year training schedule with pilots of natural ability the idea worked,
but with the rush of replacement pilots that Japan needed, the Navy had to accept hastily trained second and third-rate replacements, who could not fight and survive in air combat
against the now highly trained Americans.
By 1944 shortages of fuel,training accidents
spare parts even flying hours were cut. Under such conditions the demands could not
be met.
Like most Japanese combat aircraft,the A6M2-K
were used in Kamikaze attacks.
With all the shortages Japan faced,the A6M2-K
was still being built, the last example was
completed less than three weeks before the
end of the Pacific War.
9. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
5 Nov 2010 08:41:59 PM

Japan trained 61,000 pilots, half of them in
Pilot losses were about 40,000 due to all
causes killed in action, training accidents.
Not counting the student pilots injured and not able to finish training added to the
overall operational losses.

The skill of Japanese pilots started to fall
by late 1942, the veteran pilots were not
rotated to the training schools, to pass on combat experiences.
Many of those veteran pilots had been killed
the instructors did the best job possible, but many lacked the quality of combat flying
, true a few veteran pilots were instructors
they never had enough time, to really train the replacement pilots.


Toshirou Mifume the Great Japanese Actor,was
drafted in 1940 into the Manchoukuo Air Force
and trained as a aerial photographer.
He crewed in different types of aircraft like
the Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah and the Tachikawa
Ki-55 Ida.
After WWII he became interested in acting and
his famous role "Seven Samurai", "Red Sun"
and other films. He died in 1997 age 77
10. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
11 Nov 2010 12:24:05 PM

As the Pacific War continued, and the losses
mounted, so did pilot training the system
lacked enough fuel and instructors to train the replacement pilots.

During 1943-1944 advanced training was ended
for the best pilots graduating from basic
and intermediate training,later this decision
was reversed, but the damage was done many
potentially good pilots had been killed or
injuried in accidents they were rushed fast into operational units, with too few flying
hours and no combat experience.

The average training was cut to six-months
not enough time to really become qualified
in flying combat aircraft.
Before the war, pilots averaged forty-two
months of training!
11. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
19 Oct 2015 07:25:51 PM


By 1943 Japan lost over 10,000 pilots and aircrew
that's 5,000 for the Navy and 5,400 for the Army
The veteran crews were dead, missing or wounded, not counting the thousands of aircraft lost to enemy action, missing or accidents.

The Japanese started out with highly trained crews many of them veterans of China when these men were lost, there was no second-line pilot pools to replace them.
As the war continued the replacements lacked enough training to go against Allied forces. The few veteran combat pilots alive were not enough to hold off the might of Allied power.
12. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
20 Nov 2015 07:27:07 PM


Before the Pacific war the Imperial navy had the best trained pilots in the world. In the 1930s on average about 1,300 men would apply for pilot training, those that didn't wash out numbered less than 200 trained pilots per year.
Did you know the 29 pilots lost over Pearl Harbor made up 1/4 of the annual pilot training intake.

Posing in front of their Mitsubishi A6M2, Model 21
Zero fighters. Eight of carrier Shokuaku fighter pilots, have been identified...

Front row far left Ichiro Yamamoto, 2nd from left Masao Sasakibara.

2nd row from left Masao Iizuka, 3rd Lt. Takumi Hoashi.

3rd row 3rd from left Jiro Matsuda, 4th Kenji Okabe, 5th Sadamu Komachi.

4th row 2nd from left Yoshimi Minami

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