Biplane fighter aces


First Lieutenant Masao Hideshima

Hideshima graduated with the 1th Class from the Juvenile Flying Soldier programme.

At the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War he served in the 8th Daitai. This unit was at the time equipped with Kawasaki Ki-10s.

On 14 March 1938, Lieutenant Kiyoshi Nishikawa and Sergeant Hideshima of the 8th Daitai shot down a SB over Wuhu.
The Russian crew consisted of leytenant Pavel Vasilyevich Muravyev, leytenant Ivan Nikolaevich Kushchenko, and Voentech 2nd rank M. A. Domnin. News arrived of only one of them, M. A. Domnin, who was captured by the Japanese and executed.
Leytenant Muravyev (born 1909) and leytenant Kushchenko (born 1911) are reported as killed on this date and both later received a posthumous Order of the Red Banner.
During the same date the 8th Daitai also claimed one or two other victories.

In July 1938 the 8th Daitai became the 77th Sentai.

On 4 January 1942 32 Ki-27s from the 77th Sentai appeared over Rangoon on an offensive sweep led by Major Yoshio Hirose. Fourteen P-40s from 2nd Squadron (Panda Bears), AVG were scrambled at 12:30 and they climbed through the clouds to 20,000 feet, only to find that they had lost radio contact with Mingaladon. Eight aircraft kept the altitude while the other spiralled down in hopes of regaining communications with fighter control. The descending Tomahawks also divided. Frank Swartz led one three-plane element, with Gil Bright and Hank Geselbracht as his wingmen. Bert Christman led the other, tailed by George ‘Pappy’ Paxton and Ken Merritt.
They broke through the clouds at 11,000 feet and were immediately attacked by the Ki-27s from the southeast. The Japanese fighters were below the AVG top cover and therefore invisible to them, but they held the altitude advantage over the six descending Tomahawks. The American fighters were hard hit and Christman came under attack from five Ki-27s and baled out. He was then fired at as he floated down. Paxton went to his aid but his own aircraft was then badly shot-up and he suffered multiple wounds. With two bullet holes through his right side and one through his left shoulder, incendiary burns on his arm and leg, and fragments of another bullet in his back, Paxton crash-landed on the airfield, where 61 bullet holes were subsequently counted in his aircraft.
Meanwhile Ken Merritt claimed the Ki-27 (identified as a ‘Navy 96’) which had shot down Paxton, and Geselbracht a second as probably destroyed, but Bright’s aircraft was also hit and badly damaged, which caused him to force-land in a paddy field. As he raced away from his smoking aircraft, it suddenly burst into flames and exploded, causing him slight facial burns. Swartz also claimed hits on Japanese fighters in the combat.
The 77th Sentai actually suffered no loss in this engagement, but claimed four destroyed and one probable. Warrant Officer Hideshima made one claim, the others going to other 3rd chutai pilots; Sergeant Kobayakawa, Warrant Officer Yoshida and Warrant Officer Honma each received credit for one confirmed, and Lieutenant Shigeru Suzuki for the probable.

On 8 January 1942 the 3rd chutai of the 77th Sentai moved to Singora to provide air defence.

On the evening on 12 January three Catalinas of 205 Squadron set out to raid Singora’s railway yards. Commencing at 18:35, they departed Seletar at 10 minute intervals, each aircraft carrying eight 500 lb bombs. As Flight Lieutenant Garnall (W8406/T) swept across the target area, his observer, Sergeant R. D. Bonnar, stood by the waist blisters, throwing incendiaries out by hand! W8409/Q flown by Squadron Leader Maxwell Francis Campbell Farrar DFC (RAF no. 37498) failed to return from this raid.
The Catalina had been intercepted by a Ki-27 flown by Warrant Officer Hideshima who shot it down into the sea; there were no survivors.

On 21 February five P-40s of the 1st AVG Squadron escorted four 45 Squadron Blenheims to bomb Kawbein, 16 miles east of Martaban, where a column of over 300 vehicles was attacked.
As they headed for the target, 23 Ki-27s from the 77th Sentai were seen escorting a dozen 31st Sentai Ki-21s in the other direction. Estimating the Japanese fighters to be about 40 strong, the Americans attacked, claiming four and three probables without loss, although several P-40s were damaged. Claims for the AVG were submitted by Flight Leader George Burgard (two), Robert H. Smith and John W. Farrell (one and one probable apiece) and Flight Leader Bond (one probable).
Lieutenant Kawabara claimed one of the US fighters shot down, while probables were claimed by Lieutenant Ogata and Warrant Officer Hideshima. Only one Ki-27 sustained minor damage.
During the raid two Blenheims were hit by ground fire and both were obliged to crash-land during the return flight; one crew survived unscathed but the pilot of Z7770, Second Lieutenant F. A. L. de Marillac, SAAF, and his observer were both wounded.

In December 1944, Hideshima served with the 25th Sentai.

On 4 January 1945, First Lieutenant Hideshima, Sergeant Major Tadao Tashiro (NCO81), Sergeant Major Kyushiro Ohtake and one other pilot were the only remaining pilots of the 25th Sentai in China when the rest had returned to Japan to collect replacements after having lost most of the aircraft.
On this day, the 5th Air Army HQ ordered them to attack Laohekou airfield with Ta Dan bombs.
They departed, prepared for death, but Ohtake was forced to return early with engine trouble. The other three were all shot down by P-51s and lost.
They had run into fighters from the CACW, which reported scrambling two P-40s flown by 1st Lieutenant Jose A. Muniz and 1st Lieutenant Heyward Ainsworth Paxton Jr. from the 7th FS (CACW) at 06:45 together with four P-51s to intercept an incoming Japanese attack and found six bombers with two Ki-43s about 5 miles south-east of Laohekou airfield. 1st Lieutenant Muniz and 1st Lieutenant Paxton Jr. claimed one 'Oscar' each on their first diving pass at 3,000ft. After this attack the Japanese bombers salvoed their loads and ran for home before any more attacks could be made.
The fighters from the 7th PS landed again at 07:15.

At the time of his death, Hideshima was credited with 1 shared biplane victory and a total of 2.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  14/03/38 ½ SB (a) Shared destroyed Ki-10   Wuhu area 8th Daitai
1 04/01/42 1 P-40 (b) Destroyed Ki-27   Mingaladon area 77th Daitai
2 13/01/42 1 Catalina (c) Destroyed Ki-27   Singora area 77th Daitai
  21/02/42 1 P-40 (d) Probable Ki-27   Kawbein area 77th Daitai

Biplane victories: 1 shared destroyed.
TOTAL: 2 and 1 shared destroyed, 1 probably destroyed.
(a) SB flown by the Russian volunteers Leytenent P. V. Murav’yov, Leytenent I. N. Kushchenko, and Voentech 2nd rank M. A. Domnin. News arrived of only one of them, M. A. Domnin, who was captured by the Japanese and executed.
(b) Claimed in combat with P-40s from 2nd Squadron, AVG, who lost two aircraft and got one badly damaged while claiming 1 and 1 probably destroyed. 77th Sentai lost no aircraft while claiming four destroyed and one probable.
(c) Catalina W8409/Q from 205 Squadron flown by Squadron Leader Maxwell Francis Campbell Farrar DFC (RAF no. 37498) shot down; there were no survivors.
(d) Claimed in combat with P-40s from the 1st AVG Squadron which claimed four destroyed and three probables without losses. The 77th Sentai claimed one destroyed and two probables without losses.

Bloody Shambles Volume One - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Yasuho Izawa, 1992 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-50-X
Bloody Shambles Volume Two - Christopher Shores and Brian Cull with Yasuho Izawa, 1993 Grub Street, London, ISBN 0-948817-67-4
Japanese Army Air Force fighter units and their aces 1931-1945 - Ikuhiko Hata, Yasuho Izawa and Christopher Shores, 2002 Grub Street, London, ISBN 1-902304-89-6
Soviet Fighters in the sky of China, Part III - Anatolii Demin, 2000 Aviatsiia Kosmonavtika 11 (translated by George M. Mellinger)

Last modified 08 April 2020