Biplane fighter aces


Flight Sergeant Rinpei Tanaka

Rinpei Tanaka served with the 1st chutai of the 2nd Hiko Daitai (flight battalion) during the Sino-Japanese conflict prior the outbreak of the Second World War. Up until 3 April 1938 the unit used the Kawasaki Ki-10 Type 95 ‘Perry’ biplane fighter.

On 25 March 1938 the 1st chutai of the 2nd Daitai (Ki-10s), commanded by Captain Tateo Kato fought with Chinese I-15bis over Guide. Although outnumbered 5 to 18 the Japanese pilots took a heavy tool of the Chinese aircraft. Captain Kato shot down four I-15bis, Flight Sergeant Tanaka shot down two and Sergeant Major Hiroshi Sekiguchi shot down one. First Lieutenant Kosuke Kawahara (leading the second element) was seen to shoot down two and pursue a third to the ground, when his aircraft was hit from behind and burst into flames. He waved to his wingman, Sekiguchi, before diving into the ground. First Lieutenant Mitsugu Sawada shared in the destruction of a large aircraft. Also in this combat was Tanaka forced to make an emergency landing and Sekiguchi was badly wounded in the thigh but managed to land and being transported to hospital.
The 2nd chutai of the 2nd Daitai also took part in this combat claiming 9 more victories, one of these being claimed by Yonesuke Fukuyama. Totally the 2nd Daitai’s 16 fighters claimed 19 victories for the loss of Kawahara.
According to Chinese records it seems that at least the 3rd PG took part in this combat. They lost six I-15bis and got three pilots killed when they were attacked by 19 Kawasaki Type 95 (Ki-10) biplane fighters of the 2nd Daitai near Kwei-teh airfield (Koi-toh in Japanese).
On return Kato could not believe that such a brilliant pilot as First Lieutenant Kawahara had been lost, and waited at the airfield until sunset in the hope of his late return. Next day as a sign of mourning, he shaved off a much beloved moustache.

Tanaka ended the war with 2 biplane victories and a total of 5.

Kill no. Date Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 25/03/38 1 I-15bis (a) Destroyed Ki-10   Guide area 2nd Hiko Daitai
2 25/03/38 1 I-15bis (a) Destroyed Ki-10   Guide area 2nd Hiko Daitai
3 ??/??/?? 1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed        
4 ??/??/?? 1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed        
5 ??/??/?? 1 Enemy aircraft Destroyed        

Biplane victories: 2 destroyed.
TOTAL: 5 destroyed.
(a) In this combat the 2nd Daitai totally claimed 19 victories for the loss of 1st Lieutenant Kawahara.

Esa mezivalecneho obdobi vol.3 - Tomas Polak, 1996 Plastic Kits Revue 45/96, Ostrava, Czech Republic kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.
Historie 64.sentaj vol.1 - Jaroslav Novotny Jr, 1993 Plastic Kits Revue 16/93, Ostrava, Czech Republic kindly provided by Ondrej Repka.
Japanese Army Air Force Aces 1937-45 - Henry Sakaida, 1997 Osprey Publishing, London, ISBN 1-85532-529-2
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
Ki-27 'Nate' Aces – Nicholas Millman, 2013 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-662-2
Soviet Fighters in the sky of China, Part II - Anatolii Demin, 2000 Aviatsiia Kosmonavtika 10 (translated by George M. Mellinger)

Last modified 10 March 2020