Khalkhin Gol/Nomonhan Incident 1939

This is an on-going project, which I have worked with on and off for some years, thus it is not finished yet. However, I've decided to publish what I have at the present anyhow to see if any of the readers of this site could add more info on this very little known but still very interesting conflict. So if any of you have anything to add or correct please contact me!

Also in the end of the document there is a link to an excel-document with all known claims and listed for comparison.

The Battle of Khalkhin Gol was the decisive engagement of the undeclared Soviet-Japanese Border War, fought between the Soviet Union, Mongolia and the Empire of Japan in 1939. The battle was named after the river Khalkhin Gol passing through the battlefield. In Japan, the battle was known as the Nomonhan Incident after a nearby village on the border between Mongolia and Manchuria.


After the occupation of Manchuria and Korea, Japan turned its military interests to Soviet territories. The first major Soviet-Japanese border incident, the Battle of Lake Khasan, happened in 1938 in Primorye. Clashes between Japanese and Soviet forces frequently occurred on the border of Manchuria.

In 1939, Manchuria was a puppet state of Japan, known as Manchukuo. The Japanese maintained that the border between Manchukuo and the Mongolian People's Republic was the Khalkhin Gol, which flows into Lake Buir. In contrast, the Mongolians and their Soviet allies maintained that the border ran some 16 kilometres (10 miles) east of the river, just east of Nomonhan village.

The principal occupying army of Manchukuo was the Kwantung Army of Japan, consisting of some of the best Japanese units in 1939. However, the western region of Manchukuo was garrisoned by the newly formed IJA 23rd Division at Hailar, under General Michitarō Komatsubara and included several Manchukuoan army and border guard units.

Soviet forces consisted of the 57th Special Corps, forward deployed from the Trans-Baikal Military District, responsible for the defence of the border between Siberia and Manchuria. The Mongolian troops mainly consisted of cavalry brigades and light artillery units, and proved to be effective and agile, but lacked armour and manpower in sufficient numbers.


Ground Operations

The incident began on 11 May 1939. A Mongolian cavalry unit of some 70-90 men had entered the disputed area in search of grazing for their horses. On this day, Manchukuoan cavalry attacked the Mongolians and drove them back across the Khalkhin Gol.
On 13 May, the Mongolian force returned in greater numbers and the Manchukoans were unable to dislodge them. Next day (14 May), Lieutenant Colonel Yaozo Azuma led the reconnaissance regiment of 23rd Division, supported by the 64th Regiment of the same division, under Colonel Takemitsu Yamaguta, into the territory and the Mongolians withdrew.

Soviet and Mongolian troops returned to the disputed region and Azuma's force again moved to evict them. This time things turned out differently, as the Soviet-Mongolian forces surrounded Azuma's force on 28 May and destroyed it. The Azuma force suffered eight officers and 97 men killed and one officer and 33 men wounded, for 63% total casualties.


At the start of operations, the Air Force of the 57th Special Corps consisted of the 70 IAP, which operated 24 I-16s and 14 I-15bis and the 150 SAP, which operated 29 SBs and 15 R-5s.

After the first combat, the 22 IAP, commanded by Mayor Nikolay Glazykin, was urgently sent to the area with four eskadrilyas (35 I-15bis and 28 I-16 tip 10s). On 26 May, they first ferried across near Baintumen and then onto Tamsag Bulag.
A short while later, the 38 SBAP commanded by Kapitan Vladimir Artamonov, were also relocated with its 59 SBs.

On 27-28 May, the Soviet air regiments suffered heavily losses in combat. In these combat 70 and 22 IAPs had taken part and Soviet officially admitted the loss of twelve pilots KIA and 14 fighters (mostly I-15bis and some I-16 type 5s) to the end of May 1939.


The Kwantung Army was supported by the Manchurian-based 2nd Hikoshidan, which had some 274 aircraft on strength (105 Ki-27s, 30 Ki-10s, 12 Ki-21s, 18 Fiat BR.20s, 16 Ki-15s, 50 Ki-30s, 28 Ki-28s, six Ki-36 and nine Ki-4s). The components included:
7th Hikodan with two Sentais, the 12th (three chutais with Fiat BR.20s) and the 15th (one chutai with Ki-4s, one chutai with Ki-15s and one chutai with Ki-36s)
8th Hikodan with three Sentais, the 16th Sentai (three chutais with Ki-30s), the 33rd Sentai (with three chutais of Ki-10s) and the 58th Sentai (three chutais with Ki-21s)
9th Hikodan with three Sentais, the 10th Sentai (two chutais with Ki-30s and one chutai with Ki-15s), the 59th Sentai (two chutais with Ki-27s) and the 61st Sentai (three chutais with Ki-21s)
12th Hikodan with two Sentais, the 11th (four chutais with Ki-27s) and the 24th Sentai (two chutais with Ki-27s).

As early as 12 May, an emergency detachment comprising units from 2nd Hikoshidan, the so-called Rinji Hikotai (Provisional Air Group) was dispatched to Hailar airfield about 160km north-east of Nomonhan. As for the fighter units, Rinji Hikotai initially comprised only of the 24th Sentai (Commander Lieutenant Colonel Kojiro Matsumura, who commanded the whole Rinji Hikotai) consisting of two chutais with 19 Ki-27s and the 10th Sentai with six Ki-15s and six Ki-30s. The 24th Sentai arrived in the Khalkhin Gol area on 18 May.
In the evening on 13 May, the commanding general of the Kanto-gun (Kwantung Army) placed the 10th and 24th Sentais under the command of the 23rd Division.

From 18 May, the 24th Sentai sent single chutais alternately to Kanjur Miao, from where their Ki-27 patrolled the Mongolian-Manchurian border.
On 24 May, it was joined by 11th Sentai (Commander Lieutenant Colonel Yujiro Noguchi) with four chutais of 56 Ki-27s.

A reconnaissance flight by a Ki-15 from the 10th Sentai in the end of May reported the presence of 66 Soviet aircraft on Tamsag Bulag airfield and two chutais from the 11th Sentai under the command of Colonel Yujiro Noguchi was despatched to the area to counter these numbers, the 1st and 3rd chutai moving to Caiyansua on 24 May.

Aerial Operations

20 May 1939
At about 18:10, a trio of Ki-27s from the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, led by Sentai CO Lieutenant Colonel Kojiro Matsumura encountered a Polikarpov R-Z ground support aircraft at 2,000 metres escorted by two I-16s within the border south of the Khalka River. It was attacked six times by First Lieutenant Shoichi Suzuki and Sergeant Major Hideo Tatsumi, and shot down for the first victory of the incident. The Japanese also reported that the Soviet I-16s fled at the contact.
This loss is not verified with Soviet records and in Soviet documents there is no mention of either the episode or indeed of any flights on that day, which makes the story of the lost R-Z rather a mystery.

21 May 1939
Chiyoji Saito of the 2nd chutai, 24th Sentai, claimed one Polikarpov R-Z (in fact a R-5) over the border as the second victory of the Incident.
This was a R-5 liaison aircraft on its way to the 6th MPRA Cavalry Division and the pilot Suprun was killed while the observer, Arkhipov safely parachuted.

22 May 1939
Three Ki-27s from the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, led by Captain Saji Kani (leader of the 1st chutai) patrolled over the Khalkhin Gol. Three I-16s were spotted crossing the border, but six more attacked. In the ensuing combat, Captain Kani and Sergeant Major Yutaka Kimura each were claiming one I-16 whilst Sergeant Major Tatsumi claimed a third from another formation of these aircraft.
The 70 IAP reported that three I-16s and two I-15bis encountered five A5Ms (in fact Ki-27s) during a border patrol over the river at 12:20. They lost one I-16, which was shot down and its pilot I. Lysenko was killed in a close combat after having been separated from the group. The other four Soviet pilots turned and brought their fighters home safely.

23 May 1939
An SB flown by pilot Koshkin was damaged while landing at Bain-Obo-Somon, an airfield that was unfamiliar to the pilot.

25 May 1939
Soviet fighters flew some 60 combat sorties during the day.

26 May 1939
Nine Ki-27s of 11th Sentai attacked twice that number of I-16s of 70 IAP claiming nine for no loss (other sources claim that one Japanese aircraft was lost.

At the same time, ten Ki-27s from the 24th Sentai attacked a Soviet formation over Lake Buir-nur, claiming three shot down (1 I-16, 1 I-15bis and 1 R-Z) without any losses.

Sergeant Major Shogo Saito of the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, fell behind his comrades. He pursued what he thought was the element leader's aircraft, only to find that he had caught up with a formation of I-15bis. Diving on these, he claimed two shot down.

First Lieutenant Shoichi Suzuki from the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, was on his way back to base with engine troubles when he encountered and shot down a large reconnaissance aircraft of unidentified type.

These losses aren't verified with Soviet records and in fact, it seems that no Soviet sorties was flown during the day, suggesting that the combats reported by the Japanese this day might have been those on 27 May.

27 May 1939
Eight I-16 tip 10s from 1st eskadrilya 22 IAP lead by Polkovnik Timofey Kutsevalov departed from Tamsag Bulag to Hamar Daba on a dry lakebed near the Khalkhin-Gol River and some 30km from forward enemy units and lay in wait there. Should Japanese aircraft appear, their job was to scramble and intercept them. The fighters instructed by their leader, not to cross the borderline even in hot pursuit of enemy aircraft. The day saw three group scrambles in pursuit of enemy incursors, none leading to any result but in the evening, a wing of three Japanese fighters appeared overhead flying over Mongolian territory at 2,500m.
Kutsevalov rapidly scrambled his pilots but unfortunately, his own aircraft refused to start together with another. The six that managed to take-off flew east without having formatted for combat, merely following each other in the order of departure. They had reached 2,000m by the time the encountered the Japanese fighters, two flights of six Ki-27s from 1st chutai, 11th Sentai, led by Captain Kenji Shimada. The Japanese attacked in a tight combat formation, diving from superior heights of about 1,000m and moving faster. Deputy eskadrilya CO Starshii Leitenant Nikolay Cherenkov tried to format his aircraft in a defensive circle but two I-16s were forced to leave the combat with failing engines making use of the I-16s superior dive speed and left westward, landing on the steppe without reaching their airstrip. As the pilots left their cockpit to signal that all was well, they instead witnessed Cherenkov's demise. His aircraft was fatally hit by Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara and left a black smoke trail on its way to impact and explosion.
Attempting to flee, the remaining I-16s dived nearly to the ground. A Ki-27 got rather to close for effective aiming, but was nevertheless attacked by Kapitan Savchenko, who's fire tore part of the fuselage and control surface covering. The Japanese aircraft made off trailing smoke. Savchenko's engine then begun to lose power. At extremely low level, he had no chance manoeuvring and while crash-landing, his aircraft flipped over, killing him instantly.
Leitenant Aleksandr Pyankov was attacked from behind when he tried to escape and he belly-landed wounded. As he did so, the last of the attackers strafed him. Though covered by armour, a 7.7mm bullet glanced across his face. He managed to keep cool despite the second wound, jumping clear after the last Japanese fighter had flown overhead and using the subsequent interval to run from his burning I-16. He then faced three exhaustive days on the steppe before coming across an armoured column, which rescued him.
The 1st eskadrilya was thus almost completely wiped put, only a shot-up I-16 returned from the encounter with 12 bullet holes. Two pilots died, one was wounded and the unit was left without airworthy aircraft.
The returning Japanese pilot (six or nine depending on source) reported that they had engaged twice as many I-16s at an altitude of 3,300m, claiming nine shot down for no losses. Four of the claims were credited to Warrant Officer Shinohara while three more were credited to Captain Shimada. Sergeant Major Eisaku Suzuki chased an I-16 over the Khalka River. He forced it to land, then strafed it and set it on fire for his first victory.

28 May 1939
Japanese fighters covered strike and reconnaissance aircraft over the front. At daybreak, 40 aircraft appeared over the Khalkhin Gol and struck Soviet and Mongolian troops there. This led to an order for the 70 IAP to bring two eskadrilyas of 20 aircraft to readiness at Tamsag Bulag. They were scrambled, but recalled after a single zveno of I-15bis had sortied. The three biplanes went off, never to return after encountering nine Ki-27s from the 11th Sentai.

The 22 IAP received a similar standby order at the same airfield. Aviopolk CO, Mayor Nikolay Glzykin led ten I-16 tip 10s and the same number of I-15bis in parade-like formations, but failed to find any enemies. On their return, as technicians began to readying the aircraft for further sorties, they were scrambled again. The monoplanes were always first to get ready and so the commander could only scramble them. The ten I-15bis of the 4th eskadrilya led by Deputy Aviopolk CO Mayor Pavel Myagkov were 25 minutes late in the air. Thus, tactical coordination was broken at the very outset of the coming encounter. Errors in ground directions and the lack of radios meant they lost the opportunity to finding the Japanese, and their limited fuel forced them to return after a short patrol.
Left without the cover of the faster I-16s, the ten I-15bis were surprised from above by 18 Ki-27s led by 11th Sentai CO Colonel Yujiro Noguchi. The Japanese had not only numerical superiority, but also tactical advantages in speed and height. Meeting the Soviets head-on, they first set the leader, Mayor Myagkov, alight. He dived for the ground and managed to put out the flames, but as he levelled off, his pursuer caught up with him and shot him dead.
Eskadrilya CO Kapitan Balashov was also shot. His head wound made him lose consciousness for an instant, but seconds before impact he came to and summoned the strength to bring his stricken machine to the airfield. Left leaderless, the Soviet fighters scattered in an attempt to flee their Japanese pursuers and the encounter was turning into a rout for the Soviets. Four of their pilots died, one was missing in action, two were wounded, one was forced to bale out from his burning fighter to rejoin the unit four days later, and a sole survivor managed to bring his shot-up I-15bis to the airfield.
It seems that the VVS suffered totally 10-11 aircraft shot down while claiming 3 victories.
The Japanese returned with the loss of a single Ki-27 when Lieutenant Mitsutoshi baled out and landed in hostile territory. Second Lieutenant Tomoari Hasegawa of the 1st chutai, 11th Sentai, landed in hostile territory and flew him out.
Totally during the day, the 1st and 3rd chutais of 11th Sentai claimed an extraordinary 42 victories (!) (21 victories by the 3rd chutai) during two combats for the loss of a single Ki-27 (Lieutenant Mitsutomi) during the day.
Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara of the 1st chutai claimed one R-Z and five I-15bis, cutting the cords of the parachute of one of his victims with his wingtip. Sergeant Major Masao Ashida of the 3rd chutai claimed one victory while Sergeant Major Tomio Hanada (3rd chutai) claimed two despite constant stoppages of his guns. Sergeant Major Saburo Kimura (3rd chutai) spotted four I-15bis and closed to within 10 metres of one, recognising it as a Russian aircraft before shooting it down at Hara Hill. Sergeant Major Bunji Yoshiyama of the 1st chutai claimed one I-15bis.

The 24th Sentai was also in the air during the day, but didn't claim anything.


Ground Operations

In June, a new Soviet commander arrived, Lieutenant General Georgy Zhukov.

Throughout June, there were continuing reports of Soviet and Mongolian activity on both sides of the river near Nomonhan, and small-scale attacks on isolated Manchukoan units.


On 29 May 1939, the Soviet Air Force sent a group of well-merited pilots from the Central Aerodrome Frunze in Moscow aboard three Douglas DC-3s to Mongolia (a second group was sent to Mongolia by train). Before they left they all had paid a visit to Marshal Voroshylov, Commissar of Defence, and Komkor A. Laktionov, Commander of the VVS.
The group consisted of 48 airmen, both fighter and bomber pilots and technical staff. Among the fighter pilots were Sergey Gritsevets, Ivan Lakeyev, Viktor Kustov, Grigoriy Kravchenko, Nikolay Gerasimov, Leonid Orlov, Yevgenii Stepanov, A. Nikolayev, Viktor Rakhov. Eleven of the pilots had been decorated with the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union.
Komkor Yakov Shmushkevich, who after arriving in Mongolia became the commander of the whole Soviet-Mongolian Air Force/Aviation Group, commanded the group. The group had been created immediately after the big defeat of the Soviet air regiments on 27-28 May.
The leading pilot in the DC-3s was Alexandr Golovanov (future Air Marshal of VVS during the Great Patriotic War and commander of the Long-Range Soviet Bombers). The other two pilots were Gratsov and Niuhtinow.
The group took off after midday and the trip lasted for three days before finally landing in Czita (near the border of Mongolia in the Transbaikalyan Military District and approximately 650km from the conflict).
At Czita they collected their aircraft and flew on to Tamsag Bulag, which was the main Soviet Air Base and which was situated approximately 120km east of the Khalkhin Gol.
The newly arrived pilots were distributed among the eskadrilyas of the 70 IAP (100 SAB) and 22 IAP (23 SAB). Mayor Sergey Gritsevets was posted to 70 IAP of the 100 SAB (Mixed Air Brigade) (150 BAP was also part of 100 SAB) as an advisor in tactical matters to Mayor V. Zabaluyev, commander of the 70 IAP.

One of the reasons to the Soviet weakness against 11th and 24th Sentais of the JAAF in May had been that most of the higher commanders in Soviet regiments based in Mongolia and Far-East Military District had been relived form their posts and arrested by NKVD during the 1937-1939 purges period. One example was the staff of 22 IAP, which during the transport to the front in Mongolia in May 1939 got their commanders down to the eskadrilyas commanders arrested. A second weakness was the the Polikarpov I-15bis, which was inferior to the JAAFs Ki-27s.

22 IAP had been the second regiment arriving in Mongolia.

70 IAP was based on an airfield called “Leningrad”, which was very primitive and out in the hot sun in an open space with no hangars, no trees and no shadow.

The 38 SBP had arrived in Mongolia by June. This unit was equipped with 59 SBs.
By this time the number of SBs in the 150 SAP had been brought up to 57 aircraft.
These two regiments, combined to form the 100 SAB, operated a total of 116 SB bobmers.

In the end of June, the first 20 I-153s arrived in Mongolia. The aircraft were transported to Czita where they were assembled and checked before being sent to Tamcag-Bulag. Totally Soviet sent 70 I-153s to this conflict (28 June - 15 November 1939). 17 of these were lost in combat and 6 were lost in non-combat accidents.
Shmushkevich ordered to pull out the best pilots from 70 IAP and to form an eskadrilya under the command of Mayor Sergey Gritsevets, who until this had flown the I-16.


The 1st Sentai with two chutais of Ki-27s was mobilised on 31 May and at once moved to Sunjia (near Harbin) from Kagamigahara on 2 June, coming under the command of the 7th Hikodan, 2nd Hikoshidan.
On 24 June, the unit’s 1st chutai moved to Kanjur airfield where it came under the command of the 24th Sentai.

On 23 June, the 11th Sentai's 1st and 3rd chutais moved to Hailar.

The greater part of the 1st Sentai arrived at Caiyansuo on 26 June, where the 1st chutai rejoined its parent unit.

In the end of June, the Japanese forces consisted of three fighter sentais, totalling between them eight chutais, together with six heavy bomber, one light bomber and two reconnaissance chutais.

Aerial Operations

1 June 1939
Japanese fighters (11th Sentai?) claimed one I-16.

11 June 1939
Starshii Leitenant Mitrofan Noga, eskardrilya leader of the 70 IAP claimed a shared enemy fighter with Leitenant Sergeev from the same unit.

12 June 1939
Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed a reported 'I-96'.

17 June 1939
Soviet aircraft began a series of attacks from this date and onwards.

19 June 1939
In the evening, IJAAF were ordered to move forward to airfields near Nomonhan (Nomen Kan).

22 June 1939
At 15:00, 22 I-16s and 14 I-15bis scrambled for the area of Khalkhin Gol River estuary and Chychy-Undur-Obo. At 15:42 they became entangled in combat with two groups of Ki-27s. The first enemy formation consisted of 12 fighters and the second of 27. Eight I-15bis were lost in air combat, two I-16s were set alight on the ground and one was shot down. In return the Soviet pilots claimed seven Japanese fighters as shot down. At 17:34 the Japanese pilots broke off the combat and escaped in direction of Gandzur.
At 15:40, twelve I-16s and 14 I-15bis from 22 IAP scrambled and became engaged with Ki-27s. They returned at 17:15 and three I-16s and six I-15bis failed to return (one I-16 and one I-15bis forced-landed in the area of Hill 704. One pilot was found wounded and admitted to the hospital).
At 16:57 twelve more I-15bis and ten more I-16s from 22 IAP took off for the battle area. They saw no enemy planes and returned at 18:10. According to the pilot Golubjev one Ki-27 was destroyed on the ground in enemy territory during the first mission.
The Japanese reported that Soviet fighters crossed the border at Amkuro, south-east of Kanjur, and the 2nd chutai of the 24th Sentai took off to intercept, followed by the 1st chutai. The 2nd chutai encountered a reported 60 fighters and in the ensuing combat claimed 18 shot down for the loss of four; including the CO Captain Shigenobu Morimoto (Class 42), Sergeant Major Yoshio Yoshino (NCO67), Sergeant Major Kunizo Ishizuka (NCO73), which all three were killed and Sergeant Major Yotutaka Miyajima (NCO54) who was taken POW. A fifth fighter force-landed and the pilot returned later. Meanwhile, the 1st chutai joined the combat somewhat later, claiming six more victories.
An hour later, there was another alarm and the 1st chutai took off again, engaging ten plus I-15bis and a similar number of I-16s. The 2nd chutai had followed, and at once entered the fight, the 24th Sentai’s units together claiming 25 further victories, this time without loss. It seems that eight probables were also claimed.
During the second engagement, Captain Saiji Kani (leader of the 1st chutai) claimed five victories and later described the combat:

"How many enemy aircraft there were; but we have the courage, like eagles pursuing swallows, and overwhelmed the enemy. About 5.30 pm I spotted 25-26 more flying at about 2,000 metres - on the first pass one was going down in flames, and one by one others went down in the same way - more new enemy aircraft appeared and entered the battle - they were all around - we left the area of fighting and returned. There were many hits in the wings and tail of my aircraft."
First Lieutenant Shoichi Suzuki of the 1st chutai claimed five victories during the day, but was hit and wounded in his right wrist. Attempting to head for home, he was chased persistently by three Soviet fighters, so turning on these, he shot down all three to bring his total for the day to eight. He was hospitalized next month after this combat.
During the day, Sergeant Major Koji Ishizawa of the 2nd chutai claimed two victories during his first combat flying in First Lieutenant Furakwa's element. However, in this engagement most of the Japanese pilots were hit and wounded, only Ishizawa and one other pilot escaping unscathed. Katsuaki Kira flew as wingman to First Lieutenant Furakawa and claimed one I-16 as his first victory in his first combat.
First Lieutenant Hyoe Yonaga a section leader of the 2nd chutai, 24th Sentai, experienced his first combat when Captain Morimoto led nine Ki-27 from the chutai over the Khalka River, where some 60 enemy fighters were seen in three groups. Yonaga was able to claim one and one shared, but Captain Morimoto was lost and First Lieutenant Furukawa was wounded, Yonaga having to take over as chutai leader until the arrival of Captain Tashiro at the end of the month.
Sergeant Major Goro Nishihara of the 2nd chutai, 24th Sentai, experienced his first combat when flying as third man in Lieutenant Hyoe Yonaga's element. He and eight other pilots attacked 60 Soviet fighters, the combat allowing him to claim three shot down and a fourth probably so.
Chiyoji Saito of the 2nd chutai, 24th Sentai, flew as third pilot in Captain Morimoto's element and claimed three and one probable, but lost sight of his leader, who failed to return.
Sergeant Major Yutaka Kimura of the 1st chutai reportedly claimed one enemy fighter, but then a large 'gaggle' of Soviet fighters attacked, breaking up the Japanese formation. Kimura pulled out of the melee, then dived back in, attacking one after another until he had claimed five destroyed. His own Ki-27 was hit 21 times, several bullets puncturing the fuel tanks, which started to leak. Overcome by fumes, he passed out whilst in a tight turn, and his aircraft fell out of the sky. Just above the ground, he recovered and managed to regain control, heading for base. Seven or eight I-16s gave chase persistently, but eventually he turned into these, evading their attacks for 30 minutes during which he managed to claim yet another shot down before shaking off the rest and making it back to base.
During the second sortie of the day, Sergeant Major Shogo Saito of the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, claimed three I-16s shot down, forced a fourth pilot of another I-16 to bail out, and then strafed the three downed aircraft. With his ammunition gone, he was attacked by eight I-16s. He at once flew at one of these head-on, and when the I-16 pilot sought to fly below him, cut off its tail with his right wing, seeing it go down. He managed to regain control of his aircraft, flying back to base with half the wing gone. His damaged Ki-27 was later exhibited in Tokyo.
During the two combats, it seems that 17 Japanese fighters totally claimed 47 victories in the air and on the ground (22 in the first combat and 25 in the second one) and 8 probables while losing seven fighters. At least five of the losses were fighters in the second combat (four pilots killed and one parachuted). No losses are noted in the first combat, so two losses remain “unattributed”.
Returning Soviet pilots claimed that they had been in combat with 120(!) Japanese fighters of which they claimed 31 shot down. Known claiming pilots from the 22 IAP were:
Mayor Nikolay Georgiyvich Glazykin (CO) two enemy aircraft
Grigoriy Kravchenko one enemy aircraft
Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) one enemy aircraft
Arseniy Vorozheikin (I-16) one enemy aircraft
R. Raykov one enemy aircraft.
Known claiming pilots from the 70 IAP were:
Mayor Sergey Gritsevets (I-16) one Ki-27
Unknown units:
Nikolay Semenovich Gerasimov one enemy aircraft
Viktorov one enemy aircraft.
Mayor Ivan Lakeev, a unit commander in the 1st Army Group, also claimed an enemy aircraft.
It seems that ten I-15bis and three I-16s were shot down while four aircraft was lost on the ground. Six pilots were killed and five parachuted. Among these was Mayor Nikolay Georgiyvich Glazykin, commander of 22 IAP, who was credited with two victories witnessed by his fellow pilots. Five more pilots of 22 IAP was killed along with five from 70 IAP. One pilot from each of the regiments survived being shot down.
Yevgenii Stepanov took part in this combat flying in the lead of his 4th Eskadrilya of 22 IAP (nine I-15bis) and three aircraft, including Stepanov’s I-15bis, made forced-landing after the combat. These three aircraft were destroyed by Japanese fighters strafing them but all three pilots survived. A fourth pilot, Sakin, commander of an eskadrilya of twelve I-16s was wounded when his force-landed I-16 was destroyed by strafing Japanese fighters.
Arseniy Vorozheikin of 22 IAP suffered damage to his fighter during his first encounter in this conflict.
The Soviets identified 25 wrecks on both sides of the front line (14 on the Soviet-Mongol side, eleven on the Japanese side). While they initially held all of those fallen on the Soviet side to be Japanese, it was afterwards discovered that “a lot” of them were Soviet. On the whole this data therefore confirms the total of 24 losses admitted by both sides.

23 June 1939
The 4th chutai of the 11th Sentai claimed one victory.

Sergeant Major Ken-ichi Nakanishi (Sho-2) of the 24th Sentai was killed during the day.

24 June 1939
A Ki-15 reconnaissance flight led by Lieutenant Colonel Mayoshi of the 10th Sentai flew over Tamsag Bulag. They observed 135 aircraft including four TB-3 heavy bombers on the airfield.

Captain Jozo Iwahashi (CO of the 4th chutai) led the 4th chutai of the 11th Sentai to attack some 60 hostile aircraft east of Buyr Nur despite at a tactical disadvantage, claiming 12 for no losses during a morning combat. Two of these were claimed by Iwahashi himself (this was his first engagement), six were claimed by Sergeant Major Shoji Kato (Iwahashi's wingman) and one by Corporal Jiro Okuda.
Corporal Naoharu Shiromoto, who also flew as wingman to Captain Iwahashi was attacked by several Soviet fighters and chased down to low level. He managed to escape their passes, returning to claim one victory.
It seems that the VVS lost two aircraft while claiming 25.

In the evening, the 2nd chutai of the 11th Sentai engaged ten-plus I-16s, claiming three for one loss when First Lieutenant Ippei Amano (NCO29) was killed.

Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed a shared 'I-97' while Leitenant Vasiliy Trubachenko (I-16) of the same unit claimed a Ki-27.

Platon Smolyakov of 70 IAP (I-16) claimed a Ki-27.

Lieutenant Colonel Kojiro Matsumura CO of the 24th Sentai led the whole Sentai to intercept a formation of SBs and their escorting fighters. Matsumura's newly appointed wingman Sergeant Major Yutaka Kimura claimed one SB destroyed, which raised his score to nine. His aircraft was then hit and he was wounded by several 7.7mm bullets, only with difficulty escaping and returning to the unit’s airfield. He was to spend six weeks in hospital.

26 June 1939
Mayor Sergey Gritsevets of the 70 IAP landed his I-16 alongside the aircraft of his commanding officer, Mayor V. Zabaluyev, who had been forced down in hostile territory, 60 kilometres behind the Japanese lines.
He first proposed to Zabaluyev to flown/escape in his aircraft but he couldn’t persuade him to leave Gritsevets behind and they returned successfully with both squeezed into the cockpit.
For his effort Gritsevets was decorated with a second Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union on 29 August.
This wasn’t a unique incident during the Khalkhin Gol conflict and Japanese pilots landed behind enemy lines at least on five times to pick up stranded pilots.

During the day, Mayor Sergey Gritsevets of the 70 IAP claimed two and one shared victories and it’s possible that these were claimed in combat with the newly arrived 1st Sentai, which was involved in combat during the evening on this day claiming six Soviet fighters without losses. Whilst on their way to Caiyansuo airfield, the third element, comprising Sergeant Major Mitsuyoshi Tarui and Corporal Shinji Arai, encountered some I-15bis. As they prepared to give battle, they were bounced by a reportedly 50-60 more hostile fighters from above. The sheer numbers obviously caused confusion amongst the attackers, for the two Japanese pilots, joined by First Lieutenant Fujio Honma, who sped to their aid, managed to shoot down two each of their opponents, and escape unscathed!

According to Japanese sources, Lieutenant Suzuki intercepted three SBs and reported shooting one of the down.
In fact, not a single SB was lost on this date.

Starshii Leitenant Iosef Geibo's unit from 70 IAP reportedly claimed ten Japanese aircraft for the loss of three I-15bis.

27 June 1939
The Japanese launched heavy air attacks when the Japanese 2nd Hikodan struck the Soviet air bases in Mongolia. At dawn, a force of 57 heavy and light bombers led by Lieutenant General Tetsuji Giga took off from Hailar Airfield. The force included nine Ki-30s of the 10th and 16th Sentais, nine Ki-21s of the 61st Sentai plus twelve BR.20s of the 12th Sentai. From forward airfields they were escorted by 74 Ki-27s from all three fighter Sentais with the 24th Sentai flying top cover. On reaching Mongolia the force was divided into two task groups.
At Tamsag Bulag, a Ki-15 reconnaissance aircraft was spotted above the airfield and quickly was brought down. Soon observation posts began reporting a large enemy aircraft formation approaching. The alert was signaled immediately and about ten minutes later, the bombing began with the Japanese releasing their bombs from 3,500 to 4,000m having to make their way through the anti-aircraft barrier. Meanwhile, some Soviet fighters had already taken off, while others hurriedly taxied to follow them thus the Japanese bombing failed to meet its objectives. 34 I-16s and 13 I-15bis entered a short clash with the Japanese escort that was seemingly reluctant to fight and soon disengaged to follow the retreating bombers. The Soviets did not give chase but reported five enemy aircraft as shot down, including two bombers. Mayor Grigoriy Kravchenko of 22 IAP reported ”an R-97 shot down after pursuit” (which implied a Ki-15 in Soviet terms) but must have mistaken it for a similarly shaped Ki-30. The Japanese reported three Ki-27s and one Ki-30 from the 10th Sentai as lost and acknowledged a single Ki-21 from the 61st Sentai making a forced landing in the Mongolian territory. The crew set the aircraft on fire before leaving aboard a similar bomber that landed nearby to collect them.
Meanwhile, the other group of Japanese bombers performed a raid on Bain Burdu Nor airfield where 70 IAP was deployed. Here the Japanese managed to take the enemy by surprise as Japanese saboteurs had cut the telephone lines between Russian observation posts and the regiment headquarters, and the Soviet fighters were caught on the ground. As a result, two I-16s were destroyed by direct bomb strikes, and a dozen fighters were shot down at take-off. The total losses amounted to nine I-16s and five I-15bis, and the human casualties included seven pilots killed and five wounded. The Japanese left the field unbeaten to celebrate their success.
On the same day, the Japanese bombed Bain Tumen, where SB bombers and an escort fighter squadron were deployed. Five Ki-30s and 21 Ki-27 participated and casualties were limited to an I-15bis fighter shot down in a dogfight with Ki-27s. Ground losses included one technician killed and 19 wounded.
Totally, the Japanese bombers claimed 49 Soviet aircraft destroyed on the ground.
During these raids, the 24th Sentai, providing top cover, was able to claim only three victories.
The 1st Sentai claimed 45 without loss. Future ace Hitoshi Asano (22 victories) of the 2nd chutai flew his first engagement as No. 3 in the commanding officer's flight. A number of I-15bis were surprised as they were climbing and Asano claimed eight shot down. Sergeant Major Megumu Ono of the 2nd chutai flew as the third aircraft in Captain Yamada's element. They attacked I-15bis climbing to intercept them, and against these, he claimed his two first victories. Muneyoshi Motojima of the 1st chutai claimed his first victory on his first mission.
First Lieutenant Yoshihiko Yajima of the 2nd chutai, 1st Sentai, claimed his two first victories during the attack on Tamsag Bulag.
Whilst on the way to Tamsag Bulag, First Lieutenant Fujio Honma of the 1st chutai, 1st Sentai, collided with Corporal Shinji Arai from the same chutai, and Honma was forced to bale out into hostile territory. Sergeant Major Mitsuyoshi Tarui from the same chutai at once landed beside him and flew him back to base.
The 11th Sentai claimed 50 for just two losses! The killed pilots were First Lieutenant Sadayoshi Mitsutomi (NCO46) and Sergeant Major Kiyoshi Hori (NCO58). Totally three fighters were lost.
The 1st chutai claimed 26 victories over Tamasagbulag. Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara of the 1st chutai, 11th Sentai, claimed eleven Soviet fighters shot down! Sergeant Major Koichi Iwase flew as wingman to Warrant Officer Shinohara in his first engagement. He fired off all his ammunition to no avail, receiving in return at least ten bullet holes in his own aircraft.
Sergeant Major Bunji Yoshiyama of the 1st chutai claimed three I-16s and one I-15bis. Whilst returning to base, he also landed to pick up Sergeant Major Eisaku Suzuki, who had force-landed east of Buyr Nur.
Warrant Officer Mamoru Hanada the leader of the 2nd chutai's third section claimed six aircraft destroyed.
Second Lieutenant Yamato Takiyama of the 2nd chutai flew as a member of the section of Captain Koji Motomura, the chutai leader. During the combat Takiyama claimed an I-16.
Sergeant Major Saburo Kimura of the 3rd chutai, 11th Sentai, was surrounded by eight or nine hostile aircraft, but although he was hit, he escaped, claiming to have shot down four I-16s and three I-15bis. Kimura was hospitalized after this combat. The rest of the chutai's pilots added four further claims to bring the day's tally to 11.
Takaaki Minami of the 4th chutai, 11th Sentai, was pressed by seven enemy aircraft but he managed to claimed three of them shot down even if his Ki-27was hit 36 times and he was pursued down almost to the ground. Here Sergeant Major Bunji Yoshiyama came to his aid, and he was able to get back to base.
Corporal Jiro Okuda of the 4th chutai, 11th Sentai, claimed three victories.
Corporal Naoharu Shiromoto of the 4th chutai, 11th Sentai, was strafing Tamsag Bulag when his aircraft was hit by AA fire and he was escorted back to base by Corporal Okuda, gliding the last few kilometres after his engine finally quit.
The Japanese strike had been ordered by the Kwangtung Army without getting permission from Imperial Japanese Army headquarters in Tokyo. Tokyo promptly ordered (on 29 June) the Japanese Army Air Force not to conduct any more strikes and reprimanded General Giga for the use of excessive force as the Japanese General Staff was haunted by the prospect of this 'local conflict' evolving into a full-scale war, for which Japan was not yet prepared. While this was all happening the two countries maintained diplomatic relations and kept on exchanging protest notes pertaining to any minor incident. The concern for the Japanese was that their mass raids on Mongolia could provoke the USSR to perform counterstrikes on targets in Korea and even Japan. As it turned out the Soviet Command had prepared plans for air raids against Japan, Korea and Manchukuo with dozens of military, industrial and transport targets pin-pointed. For instance, a route map was ready for a night raid on Tokyo to be carried out by two TB-3 heavy bomber regiments (up to 100 aircraft) and plans were also in place for heavy bombers to sweep along the Chinese Eastern Railway from Khabarovsk to a Trans-Baikal airbase and back. Two squadrons of the newest DB-3 long-range bombers had been already relocated to advanced positions along the Soviet bank of the Amur River. With the beginning of Khalkhin Gol combat operations, the Soviet Air Force regiments located along the South-eastern Pacific coast were placed in operational readiness, and their commanders received sealed envelopes with advance orders about the bombing targets. But the order to attack never came.

29 June 1939
Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed a Ki-27.


Ground Operations

At the end of June, the commander of the Japanese 23rd Division, Lieutenant General Michitarō Komatsubara, was given permission to "expel the invaders". The Japanese plan was for a two-pronged assault. Three regiments plus part of a fourth, including three from the 23rd Division – the 71st and the 72nd Infantry Regiments, plus a battalion of the 64th Infantry Regiment – and the 26th Infantry Regiment under Colonel Shinichiro Sumi, "borrowed" from the 7th Division, would advance across the Khalkhin Gol, destroy Communist forces on Baintsagan Hill on the west bank, then make a left turn and advance south to the Kawatama Bridge. The second prong of the attack would be the task of the Yasuoka Detachment, consisting of the 3rd and the 4th Tank Regiments, plus a part of the 64th Regiment, a battalion of the 28th infantry Regiment, detached from the 7th Division, 24th Engineer Regiment, and a battalion of the 13th Field Artillery Regiment, under overall command of Lieutenant General Yasuoka Masaomi. This force would attack Soviet troops on the east bank of the Khalkhin Gol and north of the Holsten River. The two Japanese thrusts would meet in the Soviet rear and encircle them.
The northern task force succeeded in crossing the Khalkhin Gol, driving the Soviets from Baintsagan Hill, and advancing south along the west bank. However, Zhukov, perceiving the threat, launched a counterattack with 450 tanks and armoured cars. The Russian armoured force, despite being unsupported by infantry, attacked the Japanese on three sides and nearly encircled them. The Japanese force, further handicapped by having only one pontoon bridge across the river for supplies (most of its bridging personnel had been sent south to assist in the war in China), was forced to withdraw, re-crossing the river on 5 July. Meanwhile, the Yasuoka Detachment (the southern task force) attacked on the night of 2 July, moving at night to avoid the Soviet artillery on the high ground of the river's west bank. A pitched battle ensued in which the Yasuoka Detachment lost over half its armour, but still could not break through the Soviet forces on the east bank and reach the Kawatama Bridge. After a Soviet counterattack on 9 July threw the battered, depleted Yasuoka Detachment back, it was dissolved and Yasuoka was relieved.

The two armies continued to spar with each other over the next two weeks along a four-kilometre front running along the east bank of the Khalkhin Gol to its junction with the Holsten River. Zhukov, whose army was 465 miles away from its base of supply, assembled a fleet of 2600 trucks to supply his troops, while the Japanese suffered severe supply problems due to a lack of similar motor transport.

On 23 July, the Japanese launched another large-scale assault, sending the 64th and 72nd regiments against the Soviet forces defending the Kawatama Bridge. Japanese artillery units supported the attack with a massive barrage that consumed more than half of their ammunition stores over a period of two days. The attack made some progress but failed to break through Soviet lines and reach the bridge.

The Japanese disengaged from the attack on 25 July due to mounting casualties and depleted artillery stores. They had suffered over five thousand casualties to this point but still had 75,000 men and several hundred planes facing the Communist forces. The battle drifted into stalemate.


The I-153s arrived at the front in the beginning of July and five of them were handed over to 22 IAP, which was commanded by Mayor Kravchenko, who had been a test pilot on the I-153 at the factory before the conflict.
The first combat involving a zveno of three I-153s was one day after arrival (there isn’t an exact date for this combat but it occurred before 7 July) and took place over Tamcag-Bulag.

In July, 56 IAP arrived equipped with a mix of I-16s and I-153s.

SB units carried out 224 combat sorties from 3 to 5 July and its highly likely that the twelve SBs reported as lost in the period from 28 June through 12 July were actually lost on 3-5 July.


The order from the Japanese High Command forbidding attacks on Mongolian soil restricted operations to only over the Khalka River, which formed the Mongolian-Manchurian border, and over Manchurian soil. Patrols were maintained constantly from dawn to dusk during this midsummer period, and even without aerial combat, the relatively few pilots gradually became exhausted.

During the first ten days of July, the fighters were regularly heavily engaged, the 1st Sentai recording combats on 3, 4, 5 and 10 July, during which 80 victories were claimed without loss!, The 11th Sentai claimed 205 destroyed and six probables between 23 June and 11 July, although ten pilots were killed and four more were wounded. The 24th Sentai made 43 claims (including some probables) during 3, 4 and 8 July.

By 21 July, the 24th Sentai had flown more than 170 missions, been engaged in 20 combats and claimed 157 victories.
On 23 July, the reported 22 serviceable Ki-27s available and in the next three consecutive days, they claimed a further 42 victories for the loss of three killed and two wounded.

Engagements on 23, 24, 25 and 29 July brought 117 more claims for the 11th Sentai.

Aerial Operations

2 July 1939
Sergeant Major Tomio Hanada of the 3rd chutai, 11th Sentai, claimed an enemy aircraft over Tamsag Bulag.

3 July 1939
Arseniy Vorozheikin (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed Ki-27.

Both 1st and 24th Sentais were involved in combat during the day.
During the evening, Corporal Jiro Okuda of the 4th chutai, 11th Sentai, pursued a formation of SBs for 12 minutes, shooting one down - one of the first bombers to be claimed during the Incident.

Near the Khamar-Daba Height, in conditions of heavy haze, one of the Soviet SB groups bombed friendly forces.

4 July 1939
While approaching their targets, Soviet SBs were fired upon by a group of Ki-27s that had come down from the clouds in a head-on attack. The Japanese fighters came under defensive fire from the twin ShKAS machineguns in the forward cockpit of the bombers. SB navigators reported shooting down four Ki-27s.

Both 1st and 24th Sentais were involved in combat during the day.

Sergeant Major Goro Furugori of the 3rd chutai, 11th Sentai, shot down a SB and then an I-16. He then cut the strings of his opponent's parachute with the right wingtip of his aircraft, returning with lengths of cord still attached. That night he found a string on his Shamisen (Japanese banjo-like instrument) had been cut!
During the evening, Sergeant Major Tomio Hanada of the 3rd chutai, 11th Sentai, had claimed three victories when Captain Takashi Fujita, leader of the chutai, was seen baling out of his blazing Ki-27; Hanada at once provided cover for his commanding officer's descent, then landed nearby and flew the badly burned pilot back to base.

In the evening, Captain Tashiro led the 2nd chutai of the 24th Sentai to intercept a formation of SBs and I-16s over Buyr Nur. In the fight that followed, Sergeant Major Koji Ishizawa claimed two but was hit, being wounded in the head and right leg. However, he only remained in hospital for two weeks before returning to combat. The Japanese fighters totally made claims for 53 destroyed and 15 probables

5 July 1939
The 1st Sentai was involved in combat during the day.
Sergeant Major Muneyoshi Motojimaof the 1st chutai claimed three enemy fighters shot down. Some ten others then surrounded him, but with a series of sharp turns, he eluded these, shot down one more, and returned to base.

A SB from 150 SBP, attacked by Japanese fighters suffered serious damage to the wing spars and fuel tanks but the pilot managed to hide in the clouds. Inexperienced in instrument flying, the pilot stalled the SB into a spin but managed to level off and land safely. When the aircraft was inspected, it was found that the aileron control rods, ailerons, engine cowlings, propellers, two fuel tanks, several fuselage frames, and many other load-carrying elements had been shot through. After the inspection and minor field repairs, the SB was ferried to Irkutsk for extensive repairs.

6 July 1939
17 Japanese fighters claimed 26 victories while losing two aircraft from 11th Sentai when First Lieutenant Naoyuki Daitoku (Class 48) was taken POW and Sergeant Major Ryuichi Kitayama (NCO60) was killed. Warrant Officer Mamoru Hanada of the 2nd chutai, 11th Sentai claimed two I-16s shot down, he then ran out of fuel. He force-landed but returned safely to base next morning.
First Lieutenant Datoku was captured unconscious and with his face badly burnt. He was released on 27 April 1940 together with Major Fumio Harada (captured on 29 July) but both were forced to commit suicide by the Kenpai tai shortly after their release.

7 July 1939
Nine I-153s of the 70 IAP patrolled along the border. They weren’t allowed to cross the border due to orders from Shmushkevich. Mayor Sergey Gritsevets led the formation and the I-153s were covered by a group of I-16s led by squadron leader Chistiakov from 22 IAP. Over the Khamar-Daba Mountain they encountered Japanese Ki-27s and according to a pre-planned plan Gritsevets turned his formation around as if fleeing. The Japanese, mistaking the I-153s for I-15bis took the bait and followed in hot pursuit. The I-153s turned around again and attacked the surprised Japanese. The Soviet pilots quickly claimed four Ki-27s without losses and the retreating Japanese was also attacked by the I-16s. According to Japanese sources, two Ki-27s were lost although no pilots were killed.
It is possible that Gritsevets claimed two of the Ki-27 since according to some sources he claimed two victories while flying the I-153. However, other sources claim that his I-153 claims were made on 26 August.

Aleksandr Smirnov (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed an enemy aircraft during the day.

8 July 1939
The 24th Sentai was involved in combat during the day.
Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 50 victories during the day for the loss of three aircraft and one pilot killed; Sergeant Major Kyusuke Goto (NCO72) of 24th Sentai.

9 July 1939
18 Japanese fighters were involved in combat and claimed 28 destroyed and 1 probable while losing two aircraft and one pilot killed; Sergeant Major Toshio Nakada (NCO69) of the 11th Sentai.

10 July 1939
The 1st Sentai was involved in combat during the day.

On take-off, Warrant Officer Mamoru Hanada (NCO38) of the 2nd chutai, 11th Sentai forgot his favourite brown muffler, which he usually wore in the air, and after claiming six I-16s shot down, he was hit in the thigh. He added a further victory, and then managed to land his Ki-27, which had only been slightly damaged, amongst friendly forces. He was at once removed to hospital where his leg was amputated, but he died on the morning on 12 July. In a period of about two weeks, the 26-year-old pilot had claimed 17 victories.

Totally 22 IJAAF fighters claimed 63 destroyed and 1 probable for the loss of 1 aircraft although no pilot were killed.

12 July 1939
20 fighters from the 1st Sentai claimed eleven victories but recorded its first losses when two pilots failed to return, Sergeant Masamitsu Wada (Sho-3) Corporal Masanao Ikegami (Sho-4) both being killed, whilst the unit commander Lieutenant Colonel Toshio Kato, baled out over Soviet-held territory. He had suffered severe burns but he was rescued when Sergeant Major Toshio Matsu-ura landed to pick him up and flew him back to base in the fuselage. Meanwhile Sergeant Majors Mitsuyoshi Tarui and Muneyoshi Motojima strafed approaching tanks, which were attempting to intervene. Matsu-ura was decorated with the Kinshi Order, 5th Grade, for this rescue.
Sergeant Takayori Kodama of the 2nd chutai described the combat in a letter to his family:

"I fight well to shoot down 100 planes as my goal. The most desperate fighting till today was that of 12 July. Over Buyr Nur, I found 70 enemy aircraft consisting of I-15s and I-16s ... fought desperately in the confused battle in 20 minutes ... I fought against ten plus enemies, receiving 25 hits on my plane ... the propeller ceased to turn, and gliding over enemy ground forces, I managed to force-land in territory held by friendly troops. I shall from now on try to demonstrate my fighting technique..."

Corporal Hiroshi Sato (Sho-4) of the 24th Sentai was killed during the day.

Starshii Leitenant Iosef Geibo of 5./70 IAP (I-153) claimed a shared Ki-27 together with two other pilots over ”Marker 704”.

13 July 1939
First Lieutenant Tokuro Fukuda, third element leader of the 4th chutai, 11th Sentai was wounded during the day. At the time, Fukuda had claimed 11 victories.

19 July 1939
Sergeant Major Buichi Namba (NCO65) of the11th Sentai was killed during the day.

20 July 1939
Starshii Leitenant Vitt Skobarikhin (I-16) of 22 IAP made a 'taran' ramming attack. This was the first of this kind during this conflict and he was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union for this feat.

21 July 1939
The 24th Sentai submitted claims for some 20 victories, whilst two of its own pilots force-landed.
Second Lieutenant Shoji Kurono of the 2nd chutai took off led by Captain Tashiro. Ten I-15bis and 30 I-16s were engaged over Hui Plateau. Kurono at once claimed two of the latter shot down, but became separated and landed at another airfield.

Sergeant Major Shogo Saito of the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai claimed four victories and one probable. With his guns then malfunctioning, he saw that his leader, Lieutenant Shoichi Suzuki, was in difficulties and went to his aid, driving off his attackers although unable to fire.

Captain Keisuke Yamada (Class 45), 2nd chutai leader of the 1st Sentai, baled out over enemy territory and failed to return.

Sergeant Major Akira Ina of the 2nd chutai, 11th Sentai, made two claims before his Ki-27 was hit by AA fire, which blow a hole a metre wide in one wing. Believing that he could not get back, he dived with the intention of killing himself, but when nearly at ground level he found that he had control, and was able to limp his fighter back to base in a barely flyable condition.

Totally 24 IJAAF fighters made claims for 38 destroyed and 7 probables while losing one Ki-27 during the day.

23 July 1939
The 11th Sentai was involved in combat during the day and lost two pilots when Second Lieutenant Sueo Yamaguchi (NCO50) and Corporal Terunari Miyatani (Sho-4) both were killed. Sergeant Major Masao Ashida of the 3rd chutai shot down one opponent and then he spotted a further formation of 30 approaching. After attempting in vain to warn his fellow pilots by hand signals, he attacked alone, shot one down, and made good his escape.

First Lieutenant Shozo Koizumi (Class 47), acting leader of the 1st chutai, 1st Sentai, was lost during the day.

Sergeant Major Shogo Saito of the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, claimed a SB bomber, but was wounded by the return fire from the nine bombers of the formation.
Despite this, he was soon back in action, and by the end of the Incident had become the Sentai's most successful pilot, having claimed 25 victories (including some probables).

Sergeant Major Kusuhiko Shimomura (NCO67) of the 24th Sentai was killed during the day.

Totally 40 Japanese fighters claimed 43 destroyed and 8 probables for the loss of four fighters.

24 July 1939
The 11th and 24th Sentais were involved in combat during the day.

First Lieutenant Shoichi Suzuki of the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, claimed two victories during the day.

Haruo Takagaki, the youngest pilot of the 2nd chutai, 11 Sentai, claimed two victories during the day bring his total to nine, whilst flying a Ki-27 carrying the legend "Tokyo Shiden-go" on its side.

First Lieutenant Suguru Ito (NCO43) (2nd chutai) and First Lieutenant Fujio Honma (Tokushi) of the 1st Sentai were killed during the day.
The loss of First Lieutenant Ito made First Lieutenant Yoshihiko Yajima the only officer pilot in the 2nd chutai and thus the acting leader of the unit.

Totally, 50 Japanese fighters claimed 29 destroyed and 14 probables for the loss of two fighters.

During a raid on Nomonhan-Burd-Obo, the 100 SAB lost twleve SBs.

25 July 1939
Mayor Grigoriy Kravchenko of 22 IAP destroyed a Japanese balloon together with Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) and Starshii Leitenant Vitt Skobarikhin (I-16).

Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) also claimed a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft during the day.

The 1st, 11th and 24th Sentais were involved in combat during the day.
The 1st Sentai fought 70 I-16s over Khalkhin Gol, claiming 21 victories and 6 probables but Second Lieutenant Chozo Tagushi and Sergeant Major Misao Inoue (2nd chutai) were both badly wounded but managed to return to base.
The 1st chutai, 11th Sentai totally claimed ten victories on this day. After having claimed four victories, Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara of the 1st chutai, 11th Sentai, was hit in the left wing tank, and he was obliged to force-land in Soviet held territory, where his aircraft was surrounded by tanks. At once Sergeant Major Yutaka Aoyagi from the same chutai landed within 70m of his downed comrade. However before they could take off again, Aoyagi was wounded by fire from the tanks. Sergeant Major Koichi Iwase (same chutai) after having claimed one victory saw Sergeant Major Shintaro Kashima of the 4th chutai baling out and landed alongside him. However, Sergeant Major Bunji Yoshiyama, who had claimed three victories during the combat, had already picked Kashima up, but Iwase's efforts was not to be in vain when he saw that Aoyagi's aircraft had been hit by fire from the Soviet tanks. Iwase therefore came down beside Shinohara's stricken Ki-27, taking off again with both Aoyagi and Shinihara in the rear fuselage of his Ki-27. The other pilots of the unit then strafed Aoyagi's Ki-27 to prevent it falling into enemy hands. Iwase was awarded a citation by the commander of the 2nd Hiko Shidan.
The 3rd chutai of the 11th Sentai claimed twelve victories during the day, five of these being claimed by Sergeant Major Tomio Hanada although his Ki-27 was damaged by debris from one of his victims.

First Lieutenant Shoichi Suzuki of the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, claimed one victory during the day.

Totally, IJAAF fighters claimed 59 destroyed and 5 probables for the loss of two pilots from 24th Sentai when Sergeant Major Kiyoshige Tatsumi (NCO66) and Corporal Shunji Takagaki (Sho-4) were killed.

26 July 1939
The 24th Sentai was involved in combat during the day.

29 July 1939
The 11th Sentai was involved in combat during the day.
Corporal Jiro Okuda of the 4th chutai, 11th Sentai, shot down one aircraft, cut the cords of the pilot's parachute with the wingtip of his aircraft as the later baled out, and then pursued and shot down another.

In the morning, some 20 I-16s made a surprise strafing attack on Arai airfield, where all the 2nd chutai, 11th Sentai's Ki-27s were rendered unserviceable.
A second wave of I-16s then pounced on five Ki-27s as they were in the landing circuit, Captain Saiji Kani (Class 44) (leader of the1st chutai) and First Lieutenant Shoichi Suzuki (Tokushi) of the 1st chutai, 24th Sentai, being shot down and killed and Sergeant Major Seki wounded. Kani reportedly tried to fight back but was shot down from an altitude of 200 meters, crashing north of the airfield. First Lieutenant Suzuki was hit in the head and killed.

Major Fumio Harada (Class 32), the new CO of the 1st Sentai, failed to return from his first sortie with the unit. He was shot down over Soviet territory and parachuted, He tried to commit suicide when he landed but was captured and taken POW. He was released on 27 April 1940 together with First Lieutenant Naoyuki Datoku (captured on 6 July) but both were forced to commit suicide by the Kenpai tai shortly after their release.

Corporal Takeo Fukuda (Sho-4) from the 1st Sentai was also reported as missing in action but was in fact taken POW.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 51 destroyed and 17 probables for the loss of at least four fighters.

Mayor Grigoriy Kravchenko of 22 IAP claimed five enemy aircraft during the day.

31 July 1939
Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 11 destroyed and 8 probables without losses.


Ground Operations

The Japanese regrouped, and planned a third major offensive against the Soviets for 24 August. They never got the chance. Zhukov had been massing a major armoured force in the form of three tank brigades (the 4th, 6th and 11th), and two mechanized brigades (7th and 8th, which were armoured car units with attached infantry support). This force was allocated to the Soviet left and right wings. In total, Zhukov had three rifle divisions, two tank divisions, two more tank brigades – in all, some 498 tanks – two motorized infantry divisions and an air wing of some 250 fighters and bombers to deploy against the Japanese. The Mongolians committed two cavalry divisions. The Kwantung Army, by contrast, mustered only two lightly armoured divisions at the point of attack, built around Lieutenant General Michitarō Komatsubara's 23rd Division whose headquarters had been at Hailar, capital of Hsingan, Manchu province, over 100 miles from the site of the fighting. Their intelligence had also failed to detect the scale of the Soviet build-up or the scope of the attack Zhukov was planning.

Zhukov decided it was time to break the stalemate. He deployed approximately 50,000 Soviet and Mongolian troops of the 57th Special Corps to defend the east bank of the Khalkhin Gol, then crossed the river on 20 August to attack the elite Japanese forces with three infantry divisions, massed artillery, a tank brigade, and the best aircraft of the Soviet Air Force. Once the Japanese were pinned down by the advance of the Soviet centre units, the armoured units swept around the flanks and attacked the Japanese in the rear, cutting lines of communication, overcoming desperate Japanese counterattacks (one Japanese officer drew his sword and led an attack on foot against Soviet tanks), and achieving a classic double envelopment. When the two wings of Zhukov's attack linked up at Nomonhan village on the 25th, the Japanese 23rd division was trapped. On 26 August, a Japanese attack to relieve the 23rd division failed. On 27 August, the 23rd attempted to break out of the encirclement, but failed. When the surrounded forces refused to surrender, Zhukov wiped them out with artillery and air attacks. The battle ended 31 August with the complete destruction of the Japanese forces. Remaining Japanese units retreated to east of Nomonhan.


In August, the VVS had 515 aircraft available in the area, 311 of which were I-153s and I-16s.

When they left Mongolia, Mayor Sergey Gritsevets and his pilots handed over their I-153s to fleet aviation pilots. Fleet aviation pilots (ten from VVS-KBF and five from the Black Sea Fleet regiments) had been selected and sent by train to fight in Mongolia. Commander of it was Mayor Novikov and among the pilots were future aces Kapitan Alexey Antonenko and Petr Brinko (both from KBF). They had arrived in the middle of June and been dispersed among the fighter eskadrilyas. In the first half of August they were all gathered again and after the recommendation from Gritsevets they reformed as a “fleet” eskadrilya with his unit’s I-153s.

Soviet pilots taking part in the Khalkhin Gol air war were awarded the highest rewards (including some Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union on 29 August. Sergey Gritsevets, Kravchenko and Shmushkevich received it all for the second time as the first double recipients of this award in the Soviet Army while Yevgenii Stepanov received it for the first time). Gritsevets also received a Mongolian medal at Ulan Bator on 26 August.


On 26 July, the 64th Sentai (which had formed from the 2nd Daitai), then based in Canton, received orders to reinforce the fighters in Manchuria, and after collecting its 3rd chutai from Taiyuan, the Sentai departed on 3 August, making the 5,000km trip to Hailar by the 7th.
On 15 August, the unit moved to Hosiu, commencing patrols over the front on 17 August.

The 11th Sentai claimed 87 destroyed and 11 probables during engagements on 1, 5, 7 and 12 August.
The unit, which had fielded 42 Ki-27s on 23 July, was down to 32 on 21 August. On 21, 25, 27, 29, 30 and 31 August and 1 September the unit claimed 74 enemy aircraft.

On 4 August, the 24th Sentai moved to Hosiu.
Following an engagement on this date, the unit withdrew to Hailar to rest. Here Major Hidemi Yusuhara arrived to take over command of the unit. He was a renowned fighter tactician, and after making an evaluation of the recent fighting, he stressed formation fighting rather than individual combats. While this was likely to reduce the number of victories that could be claimed, he considered that it would also bring down the recent level of pilot losses.
The unit returned to the fray on 24 August, moving its 19 Ki-27s to Caiyansuo on this date, and then to Baiyin East on 26 August. Between 25 and 31 August, the unit claimed 16 victories.

On 26 August, the 33rd Sentai was ordered its base at Xingshu to the Manchurian/Mongolian border, flying to Pingonzhen on 27 August 1939, although still equipped with the old Kawasaki Ki-10 (Type 95). The unit moved on to Debosi on 30 August, where its 31 fighters were to protect the railway from Baichengzi to Arshaan. Wuchagou was employed as an advanced landing ground, each chutai operating there on alternate days.

In the beginning of the Soviet offensive on 20 August, the 2nd Hikoshidan had four fighter sentais, one of heavy bombers, one of light bombers and two composite sentais.

The 1st Sentai had at the time some 20 Ki-27s, and led by a new commander, Major Naoshi Yoshida and the executive officer, Major Yasuo Makino, participated in combats on 20, 21 and 22 August, claiming 13 victories and seven probables. 24 and 25 August brought nine more, and then in four days commencing on 29 August, 19 more were claimed plus 11 probables.
On 4 August, Captain Iwao Masuda arrived to take command of the 2nd chutai.

Aerial Operations

1 August 1939
The 11th Sentai took part in combat during the day.

2 August 1939
Arseniy Vorozheikin (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed an enemy aircraft.

Colonel Katsumi Abe CO of the 15th Sentai was killed when caught in his Tachikawa Ki-36 on the ground by a surprise attack by I-16s over Chiangchunmiao.

3 August 1939
Kapitan Viktor P. Kustov (I-16) of 56 IAP claimed a Japanese bomber by a 'taran' ramming attack but was killed while doing so.
Kustov received a posthumous Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union.

4 August 1939
Leitenant Aleksandr Moshin of the 56 IAP claimed one aircraft shot down over the Khanov-Daban Mountains, and then deliberately rammed a second before successfully landing at his own airfield.
He was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union for this feat.

The 24th Sentai claimed seven victories over the front during the day. Lieutenant Colonel Kojiro Matsumura was hit and his aircraft was set on fire. He force-landed in Soviet territory, seriously burned. Sergeant Major Goro Nishihara of the 2nd chutai at once landed alongside the burning Ki-27 and pulled his unconscious CO out and transferred him to his own aircraft, flying him safely back to base.

Sergeant Major Muneyoshi Motojima (Sho-2) of the 1st chutai, 1st Sentai, flew the third aircraft in one element, but was shot down and killed in a fight with about 40 I-16s. At the time of his death, Motojima had claimed 16 victories during some 70 missions.

5 August 1939
The 11th Sentai took part in combat during the day.
Tokuyasu Ishizuka of the 2nd chutai he claimed an I-16 over the junction of two rivers before going to the aid of a hard-pressed colleague. In doing so, he collided with an I-15, which had approached from the side, being thrown out of his Ki-27 by the impact. He managed to open his parachute just before reaching the ground, landing on the west bank of Khalkhin Gol. Initially he hid on the blazing hot steppe, and then commenced walking for many kilometres. During the next three days, he dodged Soviet tanks and infantry, made his way across the river, and was found unconscious on the east bank by a Japanese patrol on the morning of 9 August. After a rest of ten days, he returned to his unit.
Sergeant Major Taro Kobayashi (NCO67) of the 2nd chutai took off as part of the third element of the chutai, engaging many Soviet fighters over the junction of two rivers. He was seen to shot down two and then ram a third; he did not survive this engagement.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 27 destroyed while losing 1 fighter (Kobayashi (NCO67) of the 11th Sentai).

7 August 1939
The 11th Sentai took part in combat during the day when Captain Taniguchi led the whole Sentai against an estimated 30 aircraft over Khalkhin Gol.
After having shot down one Soviet fighter, Sergeant Major Daisuke Kanbara of the 3rd chutai of the 11th Sentai saw the pilot bale out and land safely on the flat steppe below. Landing nearby, Kanbara leapt out with his samurai sword he always carried with him in the cockpit in hand, and cut down his opponent. This episode gained him considerable fame with the Japanese public at the time.
Sergeant Major Saburo Kimura (NCO67) of the 3rd chutai alone attacked a number of I-16s and shot one down (his 19th victory), but was then hit in the left thigh. Initially he lost consciousness, but recovered sufficiently to staunch the bleeding and fly to Uzursui airfield. Here however, the aircraft somersaulted as he attempted to land, and he died of his wounds and injuries next day.

Totally 50 Japanese fighters claimed 46 destroyed and 4 probables while losing 1 fighter (Kimura).
Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara of the 1st chutai, 11th Sentai claimed his 48th victory during the day.

12 August 1939
The 11th Sentai took part in combat during the day and lost two pilots when Sergeant Major Masao Ashida of the 3rd chutai (NCO67) and Corporal Jiro Okuda (Sho-4) of the 4th chutai were killed.
During his third sortie of the day, Sergeant Major Ashida's section fought nine aircraft which they spotted below them. Ashida was seen to shoot down one, but was then hit and rammed his 13th and last victim over Khalkhin Gol, but fell to his death while doing so.
Corporal Jiro Okuda of the 4th chutai claimed one aircraft in the afternoon over the junction of two rivers, then being engaged with a large formation of hostile aircraft, which were joined by others. Overwhelmed, he was shot down and killed about 20km south-west of the river junction. With 14 victories by this point, he was the most successful pilot of his Juvenile Flying Soldier class.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 14 destroyed while losing 2 fighters.

20 August 1939
During the day, the Soviet forces carried out a massive offensive against the Japanese positions.
Early in the morning, all SB bombers of the 100 SAB participated in delivering the first air strike.
At 05:00, nine SBs, which were used to locate the Japanese anti-aircraft defence, crossed the Khalkhin Gol line. The SBs then scattered while 46 I-16s of 22 IAP attacked the enemy's anti-aircraft gun positions. As soon as the suppression group had carried out its mission, 150 SBs arrived to bomb the enemy.
This day, the SBs of 100 SAB carried out about 300 combat sorties for the loss of two bombers.

During this conflict, the first use of the RS-82 missile was made and during the day, Mayor N. I. Zvonarev claimed the destruction of two Ki-27 fighters with these essential air-to-ground weapons.

Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed an enemy aircraft in an "taran" ramming attack.
Arseniy Vorozheikin (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed an enemy aircraft.

The 1st Sentai took part in combat during the day.

Sergeant Major Bunji Yoshiyama of the 1st chutai, 11th Sentai, claimed an enemy fighter. He then landed alongside his opponent's aircraft, killed the pilot and took his pistol and watch as souvenirs.

The newly arrived 64th Sentai flew six missions during the day, claiming 16 victories including a Tupolev SB, without loss. However, Hosiu airfield was then strafed and several Ki-27s were destroyed on the ground, so a move was made to Caiyansuo.
The third element of the 1st chutai, led by Second Lieutenant Katsumi Anma claimed eight victories during the day.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 32 destroyed and 9 probables without losses.

21 August 1939
During air strikes on Uzur-Nur, 143 combat sorties were carried out and eight SBs were lost to Japanese fighters.

In the morning, six Ki-30s of the 10th Sentai dive-bombed SB bombers parked at Tamsag Bulag Airfield, claiming two destroyed and meet no resistance in the air, only anti-aircraft fire.
A Ki-36 made a reconnaissance flight over the area for the planned afternoon raid.

In the early afternoon, 24 Ki-30s from 10th Sentai plus twelve Ki-21s from 61st Sentai and 15 Ki-36s from 15th Sentai escorted by 88 Ki-27s from the 1st Sentai, 11th Sentai and 64th Sentai attacked Tamsag Bulag. The Ki-30s attacked the northern runway at Tamsag, but found few targets and instead attacked a vehicle column. The 15th Sentai attacked the southern runway and attacked SB bombers on the ground. They were intercepted by I-16 and I-153s, which lost three I-16s and three I-153s in the dogfight.
The Japanese fighters claimed 54 victories and 8 probables while losing four fighters.

The 1st and 11th Sentais took part in combat during the day and Sergeant Major Tanaka Yagi (NCO59) of the1st Sentai was killed.
Sergeant Major Takeo Ishii, 1st chutai, 1st Sentai, took part in an escort mission to Tamsag Bulag as part of First Lieutenant Yasuhara's element. Ishii, who had claimed 18 victories during the Incident) was wounded in the left arm and right side during an hour long battle with an estimated 50 plus Soviet fighters, his aircraft sustaining about 60 hits and he consequently spent more than two years in hospital.
Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara of the 1st chutai, 11th Sentai claimed his 55th victory during the day.

The 64th Sentai made seven claims in three engagements, but lost three pilots when Warrant Officer Kazumi Yamauchi (NCO46), Sergeant Major Takeshi Sasaki (NCO51) and Sergeant Major Torao Kitamura (NCO59) were killed.
Second Lieutenant Katsumi Anma claimed one victory before his own Ki-27 was hit eleven times and when he reached his base, his aircraft was considered to have been half destroyed.

22 August 1939
The 1st Sentai took part in combat during the day and lost one pilot when First Lieutenant Saburo Yasuhara (Class 49) was killed.

Whilst on patrol over the battlefield, Captain Koji Motamura (Class 43) leader of the 2nd chutai, 11th Sentai, spotted about 30 Soviet aircraft strafing and bombing. He dived down alone to intercept these and he was shot down five kilometres from Usurouka airfield and killed. His loss being deeply regretted by his pilots.

23 August 1939
Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov (I-16) of 22 IAP claimed a Japanese bomber (reported as a 'SB-96') during the day.

24 August 1939
First Lieutenant Hyoe Yonaga's (24th Sentai) Ki-27 was damaged during the day in a head-on attack.

The 1st Sentai took part in combat during the day and Captain Iwao Masuda (Class 47), leader of the 2nd chutai, was killed. First Lieutenant Yoshihiko Yajima wrote in his diary:

"Aug 24th. Escorts to bombers, took off 1350. Score one destroyed and two probables - but Captain Masuda failed to return. Think, out of the officer pilots of the 1st Sentai who left Kagamigahara only Yajima remains, and now I have lost my new chutai leader. Lost - two Sentai commanders, two chutai leaders and all the officer pilots - why do only I live through it all? Shame on me, shame on me! I must die ten thousand times for this sin!"

25 August 1939
The 1st and 11th Sentais took part in combat during the day and First Lieutenant Yoshihiko Yajima (Class 50) of the 1st Sentai and Sergeant Major Eisaku Suzuki (NCO67) of the 11th Sentai were killed.
First Lieutenant Yajima of the 2nd chutai, 1st Sentai, led five other fighters together with aircraft from the 64th Sentai to escort bombers. Over the front they engaged some 30 enemy aircraft and Yajima was shot down and killed, his wingmen pinpointing the wreckage of his aircraft. At the time of his death, Yajima had claimed 16 victories in over 90 sorties.
Sergeant Major Suzuki took part in an afternoon patrol over Japanese ground forces. Whilst returning to base he was bounced by I-15bis and shot down four kilometres south-east of Jiangjun Miao. At the time of his death, he had claimed 11 victories in 78 sorties.

After four victories in two days, three pilots of the 64th Sentai failed to return, including Major Hachio Yokoyama, the CO. He was however rescued, but left the unit due to severe wounds. The Sentai executive, Captain Seizo Okuyama, was also amongst the missing, but returned on foot on 27 August, temporarily taking over command of the Sentai. Sergeant Major Matsuzo Kasai (NCO60) was killed during the day.

Totally, IJAAF fighters claimed 21 destroyed and 3 probables while losing 3 pilots.

The 22 IAP was in combat during the day and Mikhail Abzianidze (I-16) claimed a shared Ki-27 together with three other pilots while Alexandr Yakimov (Polikarpov biplane) claimed two shared Ki-27s with four other pilots.

26 August 1939
Mayor M. F. Burmistrov's (CO 150 SAB) SB was shot down. It is thought that the SB was returning from a combat mission when a group of I-16s armed with RS-82 rockets and headed by Kapitan Zvonaryov attacked it.

27 August 1939
Sergeant Major Tokuya Sudo of the 64th Sentai took off alone to intercept a reported 75 I-16s, attacking repeatedly by diving from above and zooming back to safety each time.
Next day he wrote to his mother:

“The situation is very different from that in China, and it’s worth doing, for the enemy’s fighting tactics are different and I am also learning a lot.”

Starshii Leitenant Viktor Rakhov of 22 IAP claimed a Ki-27 flown by a pilot reported to be named 'Morimoto' as his 8th victory in this conflict. However, in this combat he was critically wounded himself. He managed to land back at his own airfield, but died two days later. He had claimed 8 victories and 6 shared during the Khalkhin Gol Incident. He was decorated with a posthumous Gold Star of the Hero the Soviet Union. He had also been decorated with the Order of Lenin and the Mongolian Order of the Red Banner.

The 11th Sentai took part in combat during the day. In the evening, whilst escorting bombers Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara (NCO46) of the 1st chutai, 11th Sentai, was seen to shot down three intercepting fighters, but was then attacked from behind, his aircraft falling in flames into Mohorchi Lake, 10km south of Abdara Lake. His wingman, Sergeant Major Ohno, had been unable to assist. Shinohara was the top-scoring Japanese pilot of the incident.
Warrant Officer Suejiro Kakizoe (NCO36) was also killed in action during the day.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 17 destroyed and 3 probables while losing pilots.

29 August 1939
The 1st and 11th Sentais took part in combat during the day.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 16 destroyed and 4 probables while losing 1 pilot when Sergeant Major Tadashi Kikuchi (NCO66) was killed.

30 August 1939
The 1st, 11th and 64th Sentais took part in combat during the day.
The 64th Sentai submitted claims for seven destroyed.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 28 destroyed and 5 probables while losing 2 fighters and 1 pilot when Sergeant Major Katsutoshi Kato (NCO67) of the 1st Sentai was killed.

31 August 1939
The 1st, 11th and 64th Sentais took part in combat during the day.
The 64th Sentai submitted claims for eight destroyed.

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 21 destroyed and 5 probables without losses.


Ground Operations

The Soviets advanced no further than the border line they had claimed at the start of this battle. The Soviets and Japanese signed a cease-fire agreement on 15 September; it took effect the following day.


On 12 September, at least 20 Soviet pilots (fighters and bombers) were ordered back to Moscow (this was before the end of the Khalkhin Gol air war, but after Soviet land success with encircling and smashing of Japanese army forces in the Khalkhin Gol area). Included were Mayor Sergey Gritsevets, Shmushkevich (who became aviation commander on the Ukrainian Front) and Mayor Grigoriy Kravchenko. They travelled by a DC-3. The trip took two or three days and they arrived in Moscow on 14 or 15 September.

On 15 September, Sergey Gritsevets received his second HSU during a celebrated meeting with Stalin.

The selected pilots and commanders were then directly transported to the Kiev and Byelorussia Military Districts to take command or act as advisers in Soviet regiments/command staff preparing the invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939. Sergey Gritsevets was to act as an adviser in a fighter brigade at Orsha.
Gritsevets chose to fly a fighter during this transport.

At 19:07 on 16 September, three I-16s took off for Bolbasovo. When they landed at 19:50, Gritsevets was killed when Mayor Petr I. Khara’s (also a veteran from Spain) aircraft stalled whilst landing and crashing into Gritsevets, who was taxiing on the airfield of Bolbasovo. Khara survived the crash.
According to other sources, Gritsevets was killed on 17 September.


On 1 September, the 4th chutai of the 11th Sentai moved to become the 1st Sentai's 3rd chutai, whilst a 3rd chutai for the 24th Sentai was formed from scratch, commanded by Captain Toshio Sakagawa. Thus, all three Sentais of the 12th Hikodan became three chutai formations, and the establishment of the 11th Sentai was reduced to 24 Ki-27s.

In September, the 59th Sentai was moved to Saienjo, near Nomonhan to take part in the Incident.

In the end of September, the 33rd Sentai returned to Xingshu.

Aerial operations

1 September 1939
During the afternoon, the 64th Sentai (and possibly the 1st and 11th Sentais since they were involved in combat during the day) fought about 80 enemy aircraft over Noguchi airfield for half an hour. Sergeant Major Tokuya Sudo was seen to shoot down one (10th victory) but was then overcome by numbers and killed.
Sergeant Takayori Kodama (Sho-3) of the 2nd chutai, 1st Sentai, who had been flying as wingman to the acting commanding officer Major Makino since the end of July was shot down and killed about 20km south of Jiangjun Miao. At the time, he had flown 46 sorties and claimed 11 victories.
This combat seems to have been confusing since the returning Japanese claimed 32 destroyed and 8 probables (the 64th Sentai claimed 11 destroyed and three probables) while losing four aircraft and pilots (Sudo (Sho-1), Captain Shuichi Anzai (Class 44) of the 64th Sentai (leader 2nd chutai), Sergeant Kodama (Sho-3) of the 1st Sentai and First Lieutenant Yosokichi Kato (NCO41) of the 64th Sentai). The Soviet pilots claimed 41 victories without any losses!

2 September 1939
Three Ki-10s from the 33rd Sentai's 2nd chutai led by First Lieutenant Soichi Okamoto, met some 30 I-16s, claiming four for the unit's first victories of the Incident. Sergeant Major Shozo Saito tried in vain to ram one, but was obliged instead to force-land.

Sergeant Yukio Kijima (Sho-4) of the 1st Sentai was killed during the day.

4 September 1939
Seven of 33rd Sentais Ki-10s led by Captain Takeo Kawada, encountered a reported 20-30 Soviet aircraft at a height of 5,000 metres. Kawada had been personally forbidden to engage, but Second Lieutenant Tadashi Harada (NCO54) and Sergeant Major Akira Ishikawa (Sho-1) charged in, followed by the rest of the formation.
Nine and three probables were claimed, including three by Ishikawa personally, although he force-landed after suffering severe wounds, from which he died next day. Harada and Sergeant Major Seizo Hiraki (NCO66) were also killed.
On this date, the Sentai's 3rd chutai was also engaged in combat claiming 13 victories and 13 probables.

5 September 1939
The 1st and 2nd chutais of the 33rd Sentai engaged Soviet fighters and Sergeant Tameyoshi Kuroki, who flew as wingman to the 1st chutai leader, Captain Tadashi Ishikawa, claimed three shoot down on this, his first combat, although he was hit in return, and wounded.
Totally the 1st and 2nd chutais claimed 15 victories and 5 probables in this combat while losing 1 fighter.
The 33rd Sentai didn’t see any more action during the “incident” before the fighting ended.

Warrant Officer Hirokichi Matsushita (NCO45) of the 64th Sentai was killed during the day.

12 September 1939
Reconnaissance flights from the IJAAF over Tamsag Bulag and Buir Nur observed 16 twin-engined aircraft and 68 fighters on the ground.

14 September 1939
IJAAF attacked Tamsag Bulag airfield during the day.

15 September 1939
IJAAF attacked Tamsag Bulag airfield during the day.
Sergeant Major Megumu Ono of the 2nd chutai, 1st Sentai, claimed his 15th and last victory over Tamsag Bulag, having flown more than 70 operational sorties (he had claimed seven victories in July during 45 sorties).
During this two-day attack on Tamsag Bulag, the 24th Sentai claimed nine I-15s and four I-16s, the 64th Sentai claimed two victories for one loss, but the 11th Sentai lost Captain Kenji Shimada (Class 45) (leader of the 1st chutai) and his wingman Sergeant Major Bunji Yoshiyama (Sho-1) of the 1st chutai. They were last seen over Tamsag Bulag, pursuing some I-16s, but neither returned.
The 59th Sentai, participating in its first and last engagement, suffered the loss of six pilots when the 2nd chutai was taken by surprise, although the surviving pilots claimed 11 shot down in return. Sergeant Major Takeomi Hayashi of the 2nd chutai claimed two victories, one of them over Tamsag Bulag while his own aircraft was hit 13 times. Isamu Kashide of the 2nd chutai claimed to have shot down two of eight fighters which attacked him, then escaping at low level. Yasuhiko Kuroe claimed two victories over Tamsag Bulag while Katsutaro Takahashi claimed two more victories. Killed pilots were Captain Mitsugu Yamamoto (Class 46) (leader 1st chutai), Sergeant Major Kiyoji Noguchi (Sho-2), Sergeant Yoshinori Kono (Yobi NCO), Warrant Officer Tadamasa Ishizaki (NCO39), Sergeant Major Munetoshi Nakano (NCO59) and Sergeant Major Masashi Saruta (NCO72).

Totally IJAAF fighters claimed 39 destroyed and 8 probables while losing 8 pilots.

Soviet fighters claimed 20 destroyed while losing 6 aircraft.

16 September 1939
The truce came into force and the Incident was over.


At the end of the conflict, the VVS had claimed 589 victories for the loss of 207 aircraft (160 fighters) and 211 men.
The most successful fighter pilot was Kapitan Nikolai Zherdev, an eskadrilya leader in the 70 IAP, who claimed 14 victories.

According to official sources, SB losses from 16 May through 15 September 1939 were as follows:
Period Combat losses Non-combat losses
16 May-3 June 0 1
4 June-16 June 0 0
17 June-27 June 0 1
28 June-12 July 12 3
13 July-20 July 0 0
21 July-8 August 14 1
9 August-20 August 4 2
21 August-31 August 0 0
1 September-15 September 15 0
Total 45 8

Two SB pilots were merited the honour of being awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union during the Incident: Kapitan Artamonov, CO of 38 SBP and Mayor M. F. Burmistrov of the 150 SAP (posthumously)

Known claims and losses during the Incident

Claims and losses in excel-format.

Known units taking part in combat during the Incident


Known units, commanders and stations
Squadron Group Commanders Stations Aircraft types Note
19 IAP          
22 IAP   Mayor Nikolay G. Glazykin ( – 22/06/39)
Mayor Grigoriy Kravchenko
Tamasagbulag (26/05/39 - ) Polikarpov I-16
Polikarpov I-153
38 SBP 100 SAB Kapitan Vladimir Artamonov   Tupolev SB  
56 IAP       Polikarpov I-153
Polikarpov I-16
Arrived in July 1939.
70 IAP 100 SAB Mayor Vyacheslav M. Zabaluyev ’Leningrad’ Polikarpov I-15bis
Polikarpov I-16
Polikarpov I-153
150 SAP 100 SAB   Mayor M. F. Burmistrov ( - 26/08/39) Tupolev SB
Polikarpov R-5
73 OIA   V. A. Sudets     Based in the area when hostilities started.


Known units, commanders and stations
Regiment Squadrons Commanders Stations Aircraft types Note
1st Sentai   Lieutenant Colonel Toshio Kato (07/38 - 12/07/39)
Major Fumio Harada (12/07/39 - 29/07/39)
Major Naoshi Yoshida (beginning 08/39 - 09/40)
Kagamigahara (05/20 – 02/06/39)
Sunjia (02/06/39 – 26/06/39)
Caiyansuo (26/06/39 – 09/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter)  
1st Sentai 1st chutai Captain Tatsuo Takanishi (08/38 - 07/39)
First Lieutenant Shozo Koizumi (07/39 - 23/07/39)
Captain Shigetoshi Inoue (08/39 - 06/40)
Kagamigahara (05/20 – 02/06/39)
Sunjia (02/06/39 – 24/06/39)
Kanjur (24/06/39 – 26/06/39)
Caiyansuo (26/06/39 – 09/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter)  
1st Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Keisuke Yamada (07/39 - 21/07/39)
Captain Iwao Masuda (04/08/39 - 24/08/39)
Captain Takejiro Koyanagi (08/39 - 05/41)
Kagamigahara (05/20 – 02/06/39)
Sunjia (02/06/39 – 26/06/39)
Caiyansuo (26/06/39 – 09/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter)  
1st Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Jozo Iwahashi (01/09/39 - 10/39)   Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Formed on 1 September 1939 by taking over 4th chutai of 11th Sentai.
10th Sentai       Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
10th Sentai ? chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Army Type 97 Light Bomber)  
10th Sentai ? chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Army Type 97 Light Bomber)  
10th Sentai ? chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-15 (Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance)  
11th Sentai   Colonel Yujiro Noguchi (03/38 - 09/39)
Major Tadashi Okabe (09/39 - 03/42)
Harbin (06/32 - 06/39)
Saienjo (05/39 - 09/39)
Harbin (09/39 - 10/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter)  
11th Sentai 1st chutai Captain Kenji Shimada (08/38 - 15/09/39)
Captain Kiso-o Beppu (09/39 - 07/41)
Caiyansuo (24/05/39 – 24/06/39)
Hailar (23/06/39 – )
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter)  
11th Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Kojo Motamura (03/39 - 22/08/39)
Captain Masayoshi Taniguchi (08/39 - 12/42)
Arai ( – ) Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter)  
11th Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Takashi Fujita (11/38 - 10/39) Caiyansuo (24/05/39 – 24/06/39)
Hailar (23/06/39 – )
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter)  
11th Sentai 4th chutai Captain Jozo Iwahashi (08/38 - 31/08/39)   Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Became 3rd chutai of 1st Sentai on 1 September 1939.
12th Sentai       Fiat BR.20  
12th Sentai 1st chutai     Fiat BR.20  
12th Sentai 2nd chutai     Fiat BR.20  
12th Sentai 3rd chutai     Fiat BR.20  
15th Sentai   Colonel Katsumi Abe (- 02/08/39)      
15th Sentai ? chutai     Nakajima Ki-4 (Army Type 94 Reconnaissance)  
15th Sentai ? chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-15 (Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance)  
15th Sentai ? chutai     Tachikawa Ki-36 (Army Type 98 Direct Cooperation (light bomber))  
16th Sentai       Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Army Type 97 Light Bomber)  
16th Sentai 1st chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Army Type 97 Light Bomber)  
16th Sentai 2nd chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Army Type 97 Light Bomber)  
16th Sentai 3rd chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-30 (Army Type 97 Light Bomber)  
24th Sentai   Lieutenant Colonel Kojiro Matsumura (09/38 - 04/08/39)
Major Hidemi Yusuhara (09/39 - 09/40)
Hailar (09/38 - 07/39)
Arai (07/39 - 08/39)
Hosiu (04/08/39 - )
Hailar (04/08/39 - 24/08/39)
Caiyansuo (24/08/39 - 26/08/39)
Baiyin East (26/08/39 - )
Saienjo (08/39 - 10/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97)  
24th Sentai 1st chutai Captain Saiji Kani (09/38 - 07/39)
Captain Seijiro Moroshita (08/39 - 03/41)
Hailar (09/38 - 07/39)
Arai (07/39 - 08/39)
Hosiu (04/08/39 - )
Hailar (04/08/39 - 24/08/39)
Caiyansuo (24/08/39 - 26/08/39)
Baiyin East (26/08/39 - )
Saienjo (08/39 - 10/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97)  
24th Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Shigenobu Morimoto (09/38 - 22/06/39)
Captain Shoichi Tashiro (06/39 - 07/41)
Hailar (09/38 - 07/39)
Arai (07/39 - 08/39)
Hosiu (04/08/39 - )
Hailar (04/08/39 - 24/08/39)
Caiyansuo (24/08/39 - 26/08/39)
Baiyin East (26/08/39 - )
Saienjo (08/39 - 10/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97)  
24th Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Toshio Sakagawa (01/09/39 - 03/40) Saienjo (01/09/39 - 10/39) Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97) Formed on 1 September 1939.
33rd Sentai   Lieutenant Colonel Buzo Aoki (08/38 - 08/40) Xingshu (09/38 - 27/08/39)
Pingonzhen (27/08/39 - 30/08/39)
Debosi (30/08/39 - 09/39)
Xingshu (end 09/39 - )
Kawasaki Ki-10 (Army Type 95)  
33rd Sentai 1st chutai Captain Tadashi Ishikawa (09/38 - 03/40) Xingshu (09/38 - 27/08/39)
Pingonzhen (27/08/39 - 30/08/39)
Debosi (30/08/39 - 09/39)
Xingshu (end 09/39 - 08/42)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (Army Type 95 Fighter)  
33rd Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Takeo Kawada (12/38 - 09/41) Xingshu (09/38 - 27/08/39)
Pingonzhen (27/08/39 - 30/08/39)
Debosi (30/08/39 - 09/39)
Xingshu (end 09/39 - )
Kawasaki Ki-10 (Army Type 95 Fighter)  
33rd Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Akira Watanabe (09/38 - 12/40) Xingshu (09/38 - 27/08/39)
Pingonzhen (27/08/39 - 30/08/39)
Debosi (30/08/39 - 09/39)
Xingshu (end 09/39 - )
Kawasaki Ki-10 (Army Type 95 Fighter)  
58th Sentai       Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
58th Sentai 1st chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
58th Sentai 2nd chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
58th Sentai 3rd chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
59th Sentai   Lieutenant Colonel Issaku Imagawa (07/38 - 12/39) Yuncheng (02/39 - 09/39)
Saienjo (09/39 - 10/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Arrived in September 1939.
59th Sentai 1st chutai Captain Mitsugu Yamamoto (03/39 - 15/09/39)
Captain Takeyo Akera (10/39 - 09/41)
Yuncheng (02/39 - 09/39)
Saienjo (09/39 - 10/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Arrived in September 1939.
59th Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Kunio Yamada (07/38 - 07/40) Yuncheng (02/39 - 09/39)
Saienjo (09/39 - 10/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Arrived in September 1939.
61st Sentai       Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
61st Sentai 1st chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
61st Sentai 2nd chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
61st Sentai 3rd chutai     Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber)  
64th Sentai   Major Hachio Yokoyama (0/39 - 25/08/39)
Captain Seizo Okuyama (27/08/39 - 10/39)
Canton (11/38 - 03/08/39)
Hailar (07/08/39 - 15/08/39)
Hosiu (15/08/39 - 20/08/39)
Caiyansuo (20/08/39 - 09/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Arrived in August 1939.
64th Sentai 1st chutai Captain Fumio Maruta (03/39 - 05/41) Canton ( - 03/08/39)
Hailar (07/08/39 - 15/08/39)
Hosiu (15/08/39 - 20/08/39)
Caiyansuo (20/08/39 - 09/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Arrived in August 1939.
64th Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Shuichi Anzai (07/39 - 01/09/39)
Captain Iori Sakai (09/39 - 07/41)
Canton ( - 03/08/39)
Hailar (07/08/39 - 15/08/39)
Hosiu (15/08/39 - 20/08/39)
Caiyansuo (20/08/39 - 09/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Arrived in August 1939.
64th Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Goro Suzuki (08/38 - 09/40) Taiyuan ( - 03/08/39)
Hailar (07/08/39 - 15/08/39)
Hosiu (15/08/39 - 20/08/39)
Caiyansuo (20/08/39 - 09/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (Army Type 97 Fighter) Arrived in August 1939.

Air War Over Khalkhin Gol: The Nomonhan Incident - Vladimir R. Kotelnikov, 2010 SAM Publications, ISBN 978-1-906959-23-4
All aces of Stalin 1936–1953 – Mikhail Bykov, 2014
Battle of Khalkhin Gol - Wikipedia
Bombers of the Imperial Japanese Army 1939-1945 - Eduardo Cea, AF Editores, ISBN 978-84-96935-23-5
Japan Against Russia In The Sky Of Nomonhan - Dimitar Nedialkov, 2005 Propeller Publishing, Sofia, ISBN 954-9367-33-9
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
Nakajima Ki-27 Nate - Leszek A. Wieliczko and Zygmunt Szeremeta, 2004 Kagero, Lublin, ISBN 83-89088-51-7
Nomonhan – Japan Against Russia, 1939 – Alvin D. Coox, 1985 Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, ISBN 0-8047-1835-0
Polikarpov I-15, I-16 and I-153 Aces - Mikhail Maslov, 2010 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84603-981-2
Additional information kindly provided by Michael Buescher and Börje Henningsson.

Last modified 18 January 2017