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Japanese BF-109's ?

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SHAEF1944
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2008/04/24 20:58:10 (permalink)
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Japanese BF-109's ?

In reading through several issues of the Navy BuAer News, I have noticed mention made several times of Japanese operated Bf-109's being encountered by American pilots. Navy even gave them the codename  " Mike".  I have heard of this before, but have never seen any documentation of it.  Anybody know if this was just a case of mistaking another Japanese plane for the 109, or ever seen any pictures of them in Japanese markings ?  Just wondering if it's documented that they were used operationally ( as opposed to just having a couple for evaluation purposes )

SHAEF1944
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    PA.Dutchman
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/04/24 22:04:51 (permalink)
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    This site gives plenty of information of the exchanges of aircraft design by Germany and Japan during and before the war. It includes the ME 109.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese-German_pre-WWII_industrial_co-operation

    This is a direct quote from the article.

    The Messerschmitt company sold Messerschmitt Me Bf 109 E-3/4, Messerschmitt Me 110, Messerschmitt Me 210 A-2, Messerschmitt Me 163 A/B "Komet" (a Japanese design was based only on partial drawings received was built as the Mitsubishi J8M/ Ki-200 "Shusui" Rocket Intercepter) and Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a whose design influenced Nakajima Ki-201 "Karyu"; and studied the possibility of the use of the Messerschmitt Me 264 - also sent the design of the Messerschmitt Me 509, (which may have influenced the design of the Yokosuka R2Y1 Keiun reconnaissance plane).
     
    Here is a little more information on all the coutnries known to use the ME 109 and Japan is listed here as well.

    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgaria]Bulgaria


    [/link]


    [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Flag_of_Finland.svg]
     Finland


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germany]Germany


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary]Hungary


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy]Italy


    [/link][link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_Social_Republic]Italian Social Republic


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan]Japan


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania]Romania


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovakia]Slovakia


    [/link][link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_State]Spanish State
    • Spanish Air Force operated some D-1s, E-3s and 15× F-4s, may have received several older B-types.


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland]Switzerland
    • Swiss Air Force operated ten D-1s, 80 E-3a variants, 12 G-6s and some others.


    [/link] [link=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugoslavia]Yugoslavia


    Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/04/25 21:30:04 (permalink)
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    In spite of having two or three examples in inventory, the Japanese did not use the 109 in combat.
     
    Intelligence on Japanese aircraft types was somewhat lacking in the early days.  At Coral Sea USN VF pilots from VF-2 and VF-42 were facing IJN carrier type aircraft for the first time.  General IJN nomenclature/designations were somewhat unknown and, thus, one finds reference to Type 96 or Type 97 fighters, Zeroes (Type 0), Nagoya Zeroes (Type 00s), and other oddities, including Me 109s.  VF-2s CO Paul Ramsey was even given credit for downing a 109.  And in the fast paced back and forth of aerial combat mistakes in identification could be made.  
     
    Much of the problem with identification came from intell briefings that were somewhat less than helpful in the long run.  Me 109s are the prime example of this problem.  There was, apparently, some discussion of Japanese types at Pearl Harbor and this information was being disseminated to squadron personnel . . .  as late as the run-up to Midway and even beyond.  So, one finds Ramsey reporting action against Me-109s at Coral Sea and Bert Earnest of VT-8 (Det) reported being shot up by the same at Midway.  There were even reports of 109s wandering around in the early days of the Solomons campaign.  One evening in Pensacola, Earnest gave me a wry grin when I mentioned it and said “We were told at Pearl to expect to see 109s, so that’s what I reported.  I really didn’t know or care, all I cared about was they were shooting at me.”
     
    Was Ramsey the only one who saw 109s at Coral Sea?  No, he was not.  For example, in an interview at BuAer on 16 June 1942, Lieut Noel Gayler in discussing the Coral Sea action states:
     
    “. . . After we ran out to the end of our navigational leg we were in very poor weather and no sign of the Japs.  So Commander Ault, who was the Group Commander, directed the torpedo plane commander by radio to fly a box.  He turned 90º to the left and after about two minutes on that leg came to a comparatively large clear area.  Under the rail squalls on the far left side of the area, say 20 miles away, we saw the Jap outfit.  The first thing we saw was the smoke of some big ship burning.  She had been attacked by the YORKTOWN’s air group.  Then you could see white wakes over there.
                “We immediately headed toward them.  The Group Commander tried to get the bombers back in contact with us and directed the torpedo planes to circle and wait for them, so the attack could be coordinated, but without any success.  The dive bombers never did find the target, and finally had to jettison their bombs and go home.  Four dive bombers, lead by the Group Commander, did attack with the VF.
    After about two minutes in this clear space, we were jumped by fighters from the Jap carriers.  I should say there were probably four or five Jap fighters.  At first they were all air–cooled type Zeros or some modification – it was the first I’d seen of them.  Then, after a minute or two of fighting, more fighters appeared on the scene that were liquid–cooled jobs that looked very similar to the ME–109F.  I can’t say definitely what they were, but they were planes similar to them.  Those planes I never saw take any real part in the action.  All I saw was them coming at us.
                The Jap fighters have excellent performance; their rate of climb is as good as that of any plane I’ve ever seen.  They can climb at an attitude that most planes won’t climb in, and their general maneuverability is very good.  They have big ailerons on the trailing edge and are extremely maneuverable.  The Jap pilots, however, make mistakes and quite often give you a good shot at them.  A typical attack is for them to take the topside from you if they can and come out on your tail at so much speed that they overrun.  That’s a typical mistake they make.  Realizing they’re in a bad spot they will pull out directly in front of you.  They climb so fast that they open the range on you as you’re shooting at them.  About the time you get well on them your Grumman will run out of flying speed and you drop out of it.  Then they come back at you.  However, they do give you a good shot at them and if you can shoot you should be able to hit them.  If they came down with reasonable speed they could stay behind you and ride you all afternoon long – there’d be nothing to it.  On the other hand, the Zero fighter is apparently not protected at all and in addition it has very poor armament; two light machine guns and two slow firing 20 mm cannon which are not as damaging as you might think, even if they get hits.  And they don’t get hits.”
     
    What we are working against is the reporting of events, i.e., encounters with enemy types based on the knowledge that the individual unit had at the time.  It has been related to me that the folks in VF-42 never heard of the possibility of encountering Me 109s, which explains why they never made such a report.  On one hand, VF-42s pilot’s knowledge of actual Japanese types and nomenclature was sketchy at best (even though BuAer’s write up of the Naval Air Attache for China’s report on the new Japanese fighter had floated through the ready room during the late summer of 1941).  VF-42 had been deployed on Yorktown in the Coral Sea/Solomons area for more than 80 days at that point and had not received the dubious benefit of the latest thinking of the intell types.  On the other hand, VF-2 was freshly deployed from it’s transition to F4Fs from F2As and had the opportunity to partake of the intell wisdom . . .  which spoke of various breeds of Zeroes and warned of the presence of Messerschmitt fighters. 
     
    You don’t see Me 109s being reported by VFs at Midway.  Probably because VF-3 pretty much carried the ball, VF-wise in the battle and Thach was already up on Japanese VF types, at least so far as to not expect to see an Me 109.  The majority of his divisions and sections were led by VF-42 veterans, and they were still un-tainted by the possibility of sighting wayward 109s.  The 16 pilots from VF-42 that filled out Thach’s VF-3 went from landing their F4F-3s at Ewa and the next day riding over to Kaneohe to report to Thach.  The rest of their time was spent getting organized and squared away in the new F4F-4s.  There was no intell briefing on Japanese aircraft before Midway for VF-3 . . . for sure, that from the Exec.
     
    Nonetheless, it was not until after Midway that identification of enemy types started to settle down and become standardized.  The early reported sightings, though, insured that the 109 would receive a code name as a Japanese type fighter.
     
    A USAAF (ah! here’s the connection to this site, saved by the paperwork) intelligence report entitled “German Technical Aid To Japan” published in August 1945 notes the following about the Me 109:
     
    ME-109:  It is possible that manufacturing rights for the ME-109 single-engined fighter were acquired by Japan in late 1942. In the following year the Japanese Army purchased several models of the E and G-types (with DB 601Aand DB 805 engines respectively); at least one ME-109 F-4 with spare parts was among the aircraft left behind at Bordeaux in 1944 and returned to the GAF.  Two prototype aircraft were delivered to the Japanese in Germany in January 43. According to Bringewald and Ruf, Messerschmitt technicians captured on the U-234, one ME-109 successfully was transported to Japan in 1942 or 1943.  It is probable that this aircraft, believed to be a G-4 subtype, went to Japan with Stöhr, a former Messerschmitt pilot who joined the staff of the German Air Attaché in Tokyo in 1943. In October 44 Japanese representatives investigated the Henschel aircraft production methods as applied to wings for the ME-109.”
     
    Bringewald and Ruf were captured aboard U-234 at the end of the war along with “plans for installations to manufacture 500 ME-262’s a month, data on high performance German aircraft, data on electronic equipment, uranium oxide.  General Kessler and party. . . . Soji – Aircraft expert, Tomonaga – Submarine expert.”
     
    August Bringewald was described in the listing of technical personnel aboard U-234 in the report:  “Messerschmitt mass production engineer who was to direct manufacture of ME-262 in Japan.  Formerly was designing technician and chief of the fuselage and armament section of Henschel Company where he worked on the HS 123, HS 123 and HS 130.”
     
    Earnest Ruf was described:  “Mechanic in the mass production of the ME-262.  Messerschmitt Company's chief technical expert in the manufacture of jig tools. Was to have supervised the construction of a ME-262 factory in Japan.” 
     
    Contrary to some of the more fantastic stories one reads of submarines transporting whole airplane within their hulls (and from my perspective, obviously repeated by folks who have never been inside a WWII era submarine, US, German, or otherwise) there is no listing of whole airplanes as cargo on any submarines running the blockade to Japan in the 1942 – 1943 period,  Certainly some carried components and raw materials, but whole airplanes? No, not by submarine.  There is a reference in this report noting that the MSV Osorno, 6,951 tons, made a successful run between Mar 43 and May 43, carrying aircraft, aircraft engines, zinc sheeting, mercury, weapons, and ammunition.  This may be how whatever many Me 109s the Japanese had got there.
     
    Some will tell you that what these early encounters were describing were run ins with the Ki-61, however, all of them occurred before the Ki-61 entered combat service and all of them occurred where the opposition were Japanese Navy, not Japanese Army.  Interestingly enough, when the Ki-61 did make it’s debut it was originally thought by Allied intelligence to be an Italian Macchi MC 202 type, hence the “Tony” code name to allude to its supposed Italian origins.  The Intell types knew it wasn’t an ME 109 for they had already “identified” that type in the Japanese inventory.
     
    Regards,
     
    Rich
    PA.Dutchman
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/04/25 22:12:23 (permalink)
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    You really have done your homework. I greatly appreciate your work and thank you for a job well done. 
     
    Again I thank you.

    Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
    Son of T/Sgt. Ray "Bud" Heilman

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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/04/29 19:51:55 (permalink)
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    I got this answer from a Col. Landers concerning another question. It may answer some of your question. Here is the link and the answer he sent in to another question I had.

    http://forum.armyairforces.com/m_152421/tm.htm

    Hi 'Dutchman',

    Yes, I have an old Aircam Mag that was done on captured aircraft, and in it there is a sequence of shots, of two B-17 in Jap markings...flying information with two P-40's and .....would you believe...a loaned Me109E !!
     
    Cheers
     
    Nate

    Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
    Son of T/Sgt. Ray "Bud" Heilman

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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/04/30 23:16:51 (permalink)
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    Here is a link claiming the Japanse had 5 109s
     
    http://www.j-aircraft.com/captured/testedby/me109/me109.htm

    Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
    Son of T/Sgt. Ray "Bud" Heilman

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    Ian White
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/01 03:15:19 (permalink)
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    Hi all..
    I was drawn to this post, despite it being totally way off my own interest....
    Previous threads have touched upon the German Government I think (?) sharing some aircraft technology with the Japanese. Logical, considering they were after all axis partners in WW2. I am sure Ive read articles in recent past of single shipments of Me-109's being sent to Japan quite early on, for evaluation by the Japanese Air Force. I also understand that at least one of their (Japanese) own developements, refered to by the allies as 'TONY' shared a striking resemblence to the 109. A lot of the 109 was copied and improved perhaps from those early exchange examples. By coincidence we just had a repeated TV documentary (BBC Timewatch?) over here in UK, of a last ditch effort by the Nazi's in Feb 1945, to send some of their own technology, which included heavy water and equipment to develope same (for an atom bomb), plus parts of Me262's. It was all packed into one of the German's latest U-Boat designs, with improved range and capable of extended periods submerged, and was making a dash to Japan. Fortunately for the allies, it was tracked and sunk before it got very far..... Memory tells me that on board were several high ranking Nazi party members, scientists, plus a number of Japanese counterparts, who were heading home with the precious cargo. I guess the intent was to carry the war on in the far east, and to finish the work started by German specialists. A what if question arises here......
     
    As an side, prior to WW2, you can fnd several examples of countries having sold examples of their own aircraft and other military hardware, in the prospects of making a sale. In the mid 1930's the British as just one such example had helped with engine sales to the German's, which ended up being copied then developed into the early Luftwaffe machines. You could say, unwittingly or perhaps not so, the Britsh had excelerated the war machine in Germany. I'm sure the same happened elsewhere, like it does even today, with commercial-financial needs and the duplicity of governments all contributing to some very strange friendships.
     
    Others on here who are more involved in Pacific Theatre warfare will hopefully confirm the exact spec of the TONY.
     
    Ian W

    Ian White - 1st VP 2012-2013, 305th BGMA Hon. Life Associate, UK-European Contact and 305th BGMA Historian  

    martyjhawk
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/01 14:04:12 (permalink)
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    Was the engine in the Ki-61 "Tony" a licensed-built version of the German D-B engine, or was it a derivative just based on that engine?
     
    Marty
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/02 10:18:08 (permalink)
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    Hi Marty    the Ki.61 series had licence built DB.601A engines made by Kawasaki as the Ha.-40 Army Type 2 .
    The Directorate of Intelligence (SWPA) named it "Tony" (for Antonio) as it had similar features to some Italian aircraft ( specifically the Macchi C.202).
    In fact it was an original Japanese design ,officially the Army Type 3 "Hien" (Swallow) . By summer 1943 it had been identified correctly as the Ki.61.
    Early models had Mauser 20mm cannon.
    Incidentally with the Allies anticipating licence-production of the Me.109 by Japan, the German fighter was allocated the code name "Mike".
    Regards  Nick
    Ian White
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/02 14:00:42 (permalink)
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    I knew I had put my size 10's in my mouth when assuming the TONY was a part copy of a ME-109!!!
    Thanks to prompting from Marty and clarification from our erstwhile 'Fighter' specialist Nick, the answer has been made deffinative. Now I think about it,  think either FLYPAST or AEROPLANE magazine here in UK just a few months ago ran a two part article on a captured TONY, which was evaluated by the USAAF.
     
    I must try not to slip into a Homer Simpson moment too many more times, openin mouth before first gear has engaged...!!
     
    An aside, I personally think the late design TONY did have some purposeful, dare I say elegant lines. Do I remember that the few tha flew in combat acredited themselves well against B-29s and Escorting fighters, P-51's??
     
    Ian
     
     

    Ian White - 1st VP 2012-2013, 305th BGMA Hon. Life Associate, UK-European Contact and 305th BGMA Historian  

    PA.Dutchman
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/02 14:23:10 (permalink)
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    This gives a lttle more detail and photos.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawasaki_Ki-61

    Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/05 23:02:49 (permalink)
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    I thought that this might be of interest on this thread:

    AVG pilot Parker Dupouy thought that he had encountered a Japanese operated Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Burma in late 1941.

    From Daniel Ford's "FLYING TIGERS" page 131 and 132:

    "Dupouy...made a head-on attack against a Japanese fighter 'with square wingtips and an in-line engine.' (He identified it as a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and RAF pilot Peter Bingham-Wallis confirmed the sighting, though the JAAF had no such aircraft in service.)  Dupouy watched his victim crash in the flats below Thongwa..." 

    Note: the correct designation is Bf 109, not Me 109. 

    TonyM. 
    PA.Dutchman
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/05 23:27:16 (permalink)
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    That is terribly interesting. Thank you.

    Sincerely, PA.Dutchman
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/06 07:08:29 (permalink)
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    Tony      there's been a lot of discussion over the years about this designation; official German documents say Bf.108, 109 and 110, then Me.210 / 410 onwards. German authors seem to use either, but all the American pilots (and the few British ones) I've spoken to called them Me.109s and did so in their reports.
    So did recognition journals; it's really academic now I suppose but I'm sure Me.was the more familiar term during the war.
    Regards    Nick
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    RE: Japanese BF-109's ? 2008/05/06 07:23:12 (permalink)
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    Nick,et al,
    According to "Janes Fighting Aircraft", 'The design of the 109, originally known as the Bf 109 was begun in 1934, the prototype flying in the following year". This was followed later by the Bf 109B- C.
    With the reconstruction of the company as Messerschmitt A.G. the designation of the 109 was changed to ME 109. The first production version to carry this designation being the ME 109E with which the Luftwaffe went to war with in 1939. 

    Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
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