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Jeff Bailey
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Detail I’ve never seen – Japanese Aircraft Detail

May 20, 2019 · in Aviation · · 10 · 2.4K

Greetings, fellow iModelers! I was watching a short 1952 movie entitled "Okinawa." In it were some great shots of Japanese pilots (actually filmed by Japanese photographers) manning their planes (dive & torpedo bombers) before flying to their targets. I saw a quick 1-2 second clip of a pilot running up to the left landing gear and hoisting himself up to the cockpit with the help of a rope. This rope hung down over the leading edge of the wing and was attached somewhere in the pilot's portion of the cockpit. I'd never seen this particular detail on any parked aircraft before ... has anyone else? This was from actual wartime film, so I know it wasn't a Hollyweird invention.

This is only a tiny detail, and maybe not used a lot, but I thought it could be used by anyone super-detailing a diorama here, so I thought to post it. I hope it helps someone!

Have fun!

Reader reactions:
6  Awesome

2 additional images. Click to enlarge.

10 responses

  1. You're not seein' things, Jeff...I've noticed that same thing from time to time as well.
    (Don't forget, they were pretty much all 5-foot-nuthin' and needed all the help they could get to climb up in there)... 🙂

  2. Never noticed that detail before, but despite the average Japanese men height back then the Judy looks like a tall plane even for today standards IMO. Just wondering where the heck was that rope tied to? 😉

  3. Probably the seat frame or the fuselage framework would be my guess.

  4. The D4Y Judy is actually no bigger than a Zero - there's one out a Planes of Fame, only one left, and when it was sitting next to the Zero a few years back, it was amazing it was that small. The D4Y was also the most-common IJNAF kamikaze.

    • Tom, when my wife and I visited Japan in '86 or '87, we went to the Yasukuni shrine and museum. At that time there was a D4Y1 or 2 on display in the museum. A Japanese man, don't remember if he was museum staff or another visitor, was moved almost to tears by our visit and insisted on giving us a memorial gift with a D4Y2 image on it, which we accepted gratefully. Is this the same D4Y as at Planes of Fame, or is theirs a different D4Y3 or 4?

      • From what I understand, the Japanese Judy is a D4Y1 (c/n 4316) with in-line Ha-40 engine, while the PoF is actually based on another D4Y1 airframe (c/n 7483), but equipped with an American radial engine and made to look like a D4Y4.

  5. Thanks Jeff, funnily enough the rope you noticed can also be seen in the films I am building from in the movies thread. Japanese blockbuster films about Kamikazes. Although their content is extremely controversial, I think the scenes involving aircraft were well researched and some of the CGI stuff is state of the art (if you can get past the politics). Still that would also be true of a war era propaganda film, too, I'd guess. I'd never seen that rope before then (although I can't profess to having looked too hard at Japanese aircraft either up to this point!). With your help now, citing it as an historically accurate detail, I will certainly add it to my builds!

  6. Thanks, friends for all the comments!

    Craig, when I saw the rope (& the pilot using it) I figured it was probably tied to the seat frame. Tom, that is interesting ... it looks to be a MUCH larger plane than the Zero, but I've never seen one in person.

  7. On page 33 of Nicholas Millman's Ki-27 'Nate' Aces Osprey title there is a photo of a Ki-27 with a rope dangling from the cockpit.

    1 attached image. Click to enlarge.

  8. Coming back to this 4 years on, I can add that this rope was common on E13As, which were much larger airplanes and especially much higher to mount due to the floats. There was a step on the front support for each float (the Nichimo kit molds this more like a stubby pitot or spike, but it should have a flat step area on top) and straight grab handles that extended from the fuselage sides (totally missing from the Nichimo kit), but the rope was also present to assist the pilot's entry in some of the few photos available.

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