Biplane fighter aces


Captain Kiyonori Sano

At the start of the Chinese Incident, Sano served in the 10th Independent Flying Chutai. This unit was at the time equipped with Kawasaki Ki-10s.

During the night of 25 October 1937, Sergeant Major Sano of the 10th I F Chutai (Ki-10s) shot down a bomber over Shanghai. This was both the unit’s first victory and the first Japanese victory by night.
Chinese nightly single plane sorties against target in Shanghai continued, this time carried out by three Douglas O-2MCs of the 6th RG, which didn’t suffer any losses.

At 07:00 on 26 June 1938, three Chinese SB bombers flown by Soviet volunteers took off from Nanchang to attack the Japanese airfield at Anking. During June the 10th I F Chutai flew patrols in the Yangtze area and now four Ki-10s from the unit led by First Lieutenant Shizuzo Tsuruta (45th Class) were scrambled to intercept them.
The Japanese recalled only seeing two SBs and chased them back to Nanchang. The SBs managed to land at Nanchang at 10:30 (the landing gear of B-1573 collapsed on landing, causing slight damage).
The Japanese pilots reported that 60 Polikarpov I-16s were encountered over Nanchang. Despite the disparity in numbers, they attacked, claiming nine shot down, but First Lieutenant Tsuruta and Sergeant Major Katsura Kichise where both shot down and killed, while Sergeant Major Sano returned with more than 20 bullet holes in his aircraft; only Second Lieutenant Tokuo Obe’s aircraft escaped damage.
In fact, the Chinese 1st Route Command at Nanchang scrambled only six I-16s in two separate flights flown by Soviet volunteers to intercept the four Ki-10s. The first flight of three intercepted the Japanese fighters north-east of the airfield. Kapitan Anton Gubenko was credited with shooting down both Ki-10s claimed that day. One crashed on Yangze Zhou and the other on the beach at Qingzhou.

Sano was later commissioned, reaching the rank of Captain.

From April 1945 to the end of the war he served as Hikotai leader of the 246th Sentai.

Sano ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 25/10/37 night 1 Enemy bomber Destroyed Ki-10   Shanghai 10th I F Chutai

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Claimed in combat with Douglas O-2MCs from the 6th RG, wich didn’t suffer any losses.

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
Additional information kindly provided by Edward Chan and Raymond Cheung.

Last modified 26 January 2011