Sino-Japanese Air War 1937 – 1945


January 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

The Japanese command supposed that after the fall of Nanking, which fell on 13 December 1937, the Central Government of China would collapse, and resistance would disperse to localised centres. But Chiang Kai-Shek relocated his capital westward to Hankou. In spite of fearsome losses, the Chinese demonstrated that they were ready to struggle further. New shipments of Soviet aircraft significantly increased the air strength of the Chinese Air Force, restoring its combat capability.
The Chinese maintain that by the beginning of 1938 their air force numbered 390 combat aircraft, primarily of Soviet origin.

The 26th PS received the I-16 at Lanzhou in January.

The 32nd BS was reinforced by the 34th, organised in December 1937 on the base of the local aviation school, and equipped with the obsolete American Atlas from the Guanxi Provincial Air Force. Although their mission also included regional air defence, during attacks the pilots attempted to avoid encounters with Japanese aircraft in the air.

The 10th Squadron under the command of Vincent Schmitt and manned with non-Soviet volunteers (including several Americans) received Vultee V-11s during January. The unit was at this time based at Hankou.

In January 1938 Japanese aircraft repeatedly conducted attacks on Nan Ning. On one occasion five V-11 light bombers rose to intercept the Japanese and shot down two aircraft, losing their own aircraft No. 507.

From January the Soviet voluntary bombers (SBs) started an intensive combat activity.


On 22 January the 2nd Daitai moved to Changte.


The Japanese aviation continued their air attacks on Nanking, but the main attention was now given to Wuhan (which actually was formed by three cities - Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang). From the beginning of January 1938 Japanese naval aviation sharply increased the portion of their attacks on these large Chinese cities.


4 January 1938
16 A5Ms of the 12th and 13th Kokutais escorting 16 bombers fought with a group of 18-20 I-15bis and I-16 fighters in a battle above Hankou. The Japanese claimed four victories without loss. Participating in this battle was the 24th and 25th PS in seven Hawk IIIs and one Fiat CR.32 along with the Soviet pilots.
Zhang Zhun, commander of the 24th PS (?), was shot down in Hawk no. 2303 together with Sung Enzhu of the 25th PS. Wang Feifen was able to return to the aerodrome with a damaged left wing.
Two Northrop Gammas and one Vought V-65 Corsair were destroyed on the ground along with another plane under repair.

5 January 1938
16 Chinese bombers from Hankou bombed the Wuhu airfield as well as ships in the vicinity. Five Japanese aircraft were claimed burnt on the ground.

6 January 1938
Leitenant Peter Ermolaevich Boykov was killed in combat over Nanking.
Boykov (born 1913) received a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.

7 January 1938
The Japanese Lieutenant Ryohei Ushioda (Class 57), division officer of the fighter group of the 12th Kokutai was killed while strafing the aerodrome at Nanchang.
This strafing attack was intercepted by Soviet volunteers and starshiy leitenant Konstantin Egorovich Zabaluev (born 1907) and leitenant Ivan Ivanovich Potapov (born 1909) were killed in air combat. Zabaluev was buried in Nanchang while Potapov was buried 10 kilometres from the city.
Zabaluev and Potapov were both decorated with a posthumous Order of the Red Banner later in 1938.

9 January 1938
Leitenant Aleksandr Vasilyevich Orekhov was killed in air combat. He was buried 10 kilometres from Nanchang.
Orekhov (born 1912) received a posthumous Order of the Red Banner later in 1938.

12 January 1938
Vasily Pavlovich Goryachev was killed in air combat.
Goryachev, born 1913, was buried in Wuhu and received a posthumous Order of the Red Banner later in 1938.

15 January 1938
Leitenant Aleksey Andreevich Iosifov, leitenant Aleksey Kirillovich Litvinov, Yakov Lavrentievich Lyubar and leitenant Andrey Markianovich Shuman were killed in an aircraft crash.
Iosifov (born 1908), Litvinov (born 1912), Lyubar (born 1912) and Shuman (born 1907) were buried in Nanchang and all received a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.

23 January 1938
Six SBs bombed the aerodrome at Wuhu while five more SBs bombed the aerodrome at Nangking. The bombers didn’t suffer any losses but two SBs landed with engine troubles.
An attack was repeated later in the day against the same airfields. It seems that totally eight aircraft was claimed at Wuhu (reconnaissance on 26 January confirmed three burned on the ground and five damaged).

Two missions of nine SBs each were flown to the railroad station at Shanching during the day. The fuel facilities were set afire.

The 10th BS flew its first mission during the day when four V-11s took off; one crashed, two turned back, and one flew to Anyang but was unable to find the airfield that was its target.

24 January 1938
Nine SBs bombed Japanese forces near Ninggofu without any losses.

Nine SBs bombed the front lines at Wuhu-Shanching. Bombs fell on an enemy concentration.

Seven of the SBs were unusable and in need of engine changes.

26 January 1938
Five SBs from Machin’s group twice attacked infantry in the Ninggofu region flying from Nanchang.

In January, Japanese fighters and bombers began to concentrate at Nangking aerodrome. Chinese intelligence presumed that they were preparing an attack against Hankow and decided to forestall it.
Before dawn on 26 January, Polynin’s group took off from Hankow with 13 SBs to attack Nanking. The uncamouflaged Japanese aircraft stood in a line along the airfield boundary. In the air there was a defensive patrol of A4N1 carrier fighters. They were to slow to intercept the SBs, which bombed in wedge formation. The Chinese bombers claimed that they burned 48 aircraft (In a report it was mentioned: “On the aerodrome at Nangking 40-50 aircraft burned”). They also destroyed or set on fire aircraft maintenance facilities, and fuel and ammunition dumps.
The Japanese admitted much lower losses; several G3M2 bombers burned and several more were damaged. The antiaircraft guns opened fire only after the first bombs had begun to explode and then the SBs were chased by eight A5M fighters. The SBs suffered losses both from antiaircraft fire and fighters. Bychkov’s aircraft was sent on fire in the air. The pilot and the navigator leitenant Vladimir Ivanovich Udovichenko parachuted over enemy territory but the gunner Grigory Petrovich Kostin was killed (although Russian sources reports his death on 21 January 1938). Udovichenko was also subsequently killed. One more machine was wrecked in a forced landing. Polynin’s own SB was hit and the cooling system of one engine was damaged. He made a forced landing in a bog having crossed the front lines.
In the event of forced landings, the Soviet airmen had sewn onto their flight overalls (or carried in their pockets) silk rectangles on which were printed in black hieroglyphs with a red rectangular seal requiring that the local inhabitants give all possible support to the bearer of this original warrant. Attentively studying the silken document, the peasants pulled Polynin’s aircraft from the bog and pulled it by hand to the bank of the Yangzi and with a tug towing a barge delivered the bomber back to Hankow.
Leitenant Udovichenko was born in 1913 and received a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.
Kostin (born 1913) was buried in Nanking and received a posthumous Order of the Red Banner later in 1938.
Mladshiy komandir Gregory Zakharovich Belitsky (born 1913), leitenant Aleksandr Nikolayevich Razgulov and leitenant Filipp Mikhaylovich Shevchenko (born 1910) were killed in this combat but it’s not known in which crew they were in. They received a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.

27 January 1938
The Japanese retaliated to raid on Nanking the previous day when nine (or eight) G3M2s bombed Hankou; dropping 58 bombs from 2000 meters (later the craters were counted). Chinese fighters intercepted the bombers but didn’t manage to inflict any losses. One bomber was shot down by antiaircraft fire and it fell not far from the airfield. Thanks to the Chinese warning system the airfield had been empty during the raid and all present SB bombers had managed to take off and waited out the attack in the air.
This was a tactic frequently used by the Chinese and at the signal for an air raid; all aircraft would take to the air and fly off about 50-60 km from the aerodrome. There, as a rule, beyond the hills, they would fly in a circle at low altitude for 15 to 20 minutes. Then the leader would fly back to the aerodrome, and discovering that the attack was concluded, he would lead the group in for a landing.

29 January 1938
Leitenants Ivan Fomich Gordienko, Aleksandr Vasilyevich Kryukov, Nikolay Vasil’yevich Sarayskiy and Grigorii Vasilyevich Tuzhilkin were killed in air combat.
Gordienko (born 1906), Kryukov (born 1908), Sarayskiy (born 1908) and Tuzhilkin were buried in Luoyang and they received a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.

30 January 1938
The 1st chutai of the 2nd Daitai (Ki-10s) took part in the first combat over Luoyang when eight of the unit’s fighters escorted 6th Daitai bombers over Luoyang. The fighters were engaged in combat with I-15bis and returned claiming 13 shot down for the loss of Sergeant Toshio Kawai (Sho-1), who was shot down and killed. Tateo Kato claimed two victories while First Lieutenant Kosuke Kawahara, who led the third element of the 1st chutai fought for 15 minutes against intercepting I-15bis, claiming three shot down. First Lieutenant Mitsugu Sawada claimed an additional three victories.

Nikolay Ivanovich Zaransky (born 1914) was killed. The reason for his death is unknown but perhaps he was part of the combat above.

February 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

By February 1938 retraining on the I-15bis and I-16 were finally concluded for the first Chinese air units and they began to take part in battle. By this time the Chinese had practically no combat worthy Hawk IIIs remaining. In 1938-1939 their factories managed to assemble or restore only 28 machines and this limited the role of the Hawk III in further battles. As a result of the rise in losses, on orders of the Aviation Committee, the squadrons transferred their remaining fighters to still operational air units (sometimes an entire squadron was transferred to a different air group), and were themselves sent back for retraining. Thus at the end of 1937, the 3rd PG was gradually combined with the 4th PG and familiarised with the I-15bis. On the eve of the fall of Nanking the 17th PS was transferred to the 5th PG and given I-15bis. The 26th PS was withdrawn from battle in January 1938 and sent to Lanzhou for I-16s. By the spring of 1938 most of the Chinese pilots had already transitioned to Soviet fighters.

According to some sources in the two first months of 1938 the Chinese and Soviet fighters completed about 250 combat flights and claimed about 30 Japanese aircraft. An additional 150 attacks were made on airfields and communications. In 27 air combats the Kuomintang Air Force lost 31 aircraft and 22 pilots.

The staff of the 5th PG was re-deployed to Guangzhou from Hankou in February 1938 to provide the 28th and 29th squadrons with combat-experienced leadership. The 29th PS had already suffered heavy casualties by the time of the redeployment after having run into the Japanese at Nangxiong.

The 28th PS with Gladiator Mk.Is was dispatched for the defence of Guangzhou on 23 February.

Shortly after its first mission the 10th BS was attacked one morning at Hankou by Japanese aircraft. The V-11s were gassed and armed for another raid when a Japanese bomb exploded under one wing and the entire row blew up. The squadron was sent to Chengdu and disbanded on 23 February (according to other sources during March) due to inactivity.

In February 1938, during the course of two days, all the SM.81Bs of the 13th BS (Heavy) were destroyed on the ground.



The Japanese began to go over to night attacks soon after their first misfortunes in the air battles of February 1938. They bombed Nanchang during the full moon, primarily with single aircraft or in flights but without causing any significant damage.


4 February 1938
Major Mikhail Ivanovich Zhuralev (born 1901), starshiy leitenant Aleksandr Moiseyevich Kaduk (born 1904), leitenant Nikolay Isayevich Kovalev (born 1908), major Yakov Grigorevich Kukushkin (born 1897) and Valentin Nikolayevich Osipov (born 1911) were killed in an aircraft crash.
Kaduk and Kovalev each received a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938 while Ospipov received a ”Badge of Honour”..

8 February 1938
Yang Jien of the 25th PS was shot down in air combat over Hankow. He baled out of Hawk no. 2306 (this was his second escape by parachute during the war), but was strafed and killed by the Japanese.

The Soviet volunteer Mikhail Dmitrievich Shishlov was killed in an aircraft crash in Hankow.
Shishlov (born 1908) was decorated with a posthumous Order of the Red Banner later in 1938.

9 February 1938
In the early hours of the 9 February, the commander of the 5th PG, Wong Pan-Yang took off from Heng Yang in a Vought V-92C Corsair in order to guide 11 Gladiators from the 28th PS up from Nanchang. When the group ran into a snowstorm Wong’s engine started to play up and he was forced to turn back to Heng Yang. The Gladiators continued on to Nanchang but only eight aircraft made it. Chin Shui-Tin (Gladiator no. 2801) flew low to see if he could find a landmark but ended up crashing into a hill, writing off the aircraft and suffering injuries to the orbit of his right eye. Chou Geng-Hsu (alternatively Flight Leader Chou Yung-Shu) (no. 2805) also got lost during this flight and he had to bail out. Chou Ling-Hsu (no. 2810) became lost and put down at Gaon.

15 February 1938
Valentin Sergeyevich Kozlov (born 1912) was killed in air combat over Hankow.
It seems that Moisey Isaakovich Kizilshtein (born 1913) and (born 1911) also was involved in this combat since he died from an unknown reason in Hankow on this date.
Vladimir Ivanovich Paramonov and leitenant Vasiliy Vasil’yevich Pesotskiy (born 1907) both died of wounds on this date.
Kizilshtein and Pesotskiy each received a posthumous Order of the Red Banner in 1938 while Kozlov and Paramonov each received a posthumous Order of the Red Star.

17 February 1938
Eight SBs bombed the Anyang airport. The bombers tangled first with six Japanese fighters and later with three more fighters escorting four bombers. No losses were reported on either side.
No aircraft were sighted at Anyang and the bombers hit a train station and a train instead.

Four SBs attacked Pengpu and four other attacked Japanese vehicles near Linhuaikuan. The later encountered two Japanese fighters and two of the SBs were slighted damaged with one aircrew wounded.
One SB went missing near Pengpu (starshiy leitenant Vasiliy Nikolayevich Fomin (born 1908) and starshina Mikhail Maksimovich Rumyantsev (born 1908)).
Mladshiy komandir Aleksandr Matveyevich Biryukov (born 1914) was reportedly killed in action on this date and it’s thus probable that he is included in the crew above.

18 February 1938
As Japanese troop advanced on Wuhan, the temporary capital of the Chinese government, the 4th PG was made responsible for the air defence of the city and was based at Fencheng.
On 18 February 1938 the Japanese attacked the town with a reported 16 bombers, escorted by 26 fighters. In fact the actual composition of the Japanese force was 15 G3M bombers escorted by 11 A5M carrier fighters. The G3Ms were from the Kanoya Kokutai and led by Lieutenant Commander Sugahisa Tuneru. The escorts were from the 12th and 13th Kokutais and led by Lieutenant Takashi Kaneko of the 12th Kokutai.
According to Japanese accounts, there were low clouds over Wuhan, which caused a lot of confusion. Following warning from the air raid warning net, the Chinese interceptors began taking off at 12:45. First came eight I-15bis from the 23rd PS based at Hsiao-Kan led by Captain Lu Ji-Chun. Then came eleven I-15bis from the 22nd PS led by Captain Lee Kuei-Tan, commander of the 4th PG, which took off from Hankow Airfield at 13:00. Finally, ten I-16s of the 21st PS led by the commander Captain Teng Ming-Teh took off from Hankow Airfield at 13:10.
The first Chinese interceptors to encounter the Japanese were the I-15bis from the 22nd PS led by Lee’s flight, which included Lieutenant Cheng Hsiao-Yu in the no. 2 position, Lieutenant Chang Kuang-Ming as no. 3 and Lieutenant Pa Ching-Cheng as no. 4, were climbing steeply at about 1500 meters south west of the airfield three minutes after take-off. Japanese planes from the upper rear intercepted them from an altitude thought to be at 4000 meters. Other Chinese accounts indicate that six A5Ms attacked the first six aircraft in the Chinese formation and another 6 (sic) attacked the two flights of five bringing up the rear. It would appear that it was the 12th Kokutai A5Ms led by Lieutenant Kaneko that attacked Captain Lee and the first two flights of the 22nd PS. Other A5Ms, including those from the 13th Kokutai, attacked the two rear flights of the 22nd PS. Caught by surprise, the 22nd PS was hard hit and the Chinese planes were badly scattered. Badly shot up in the initial attack, Lee managed to regain control and headed back to Hankow Airfield. Witnesses on the ground saw him attempting to land his stricken I-15bis. Unfortunately, it would appear that Lee’s fuel tanks had been hit and were leaking because, while on final approach, the I-15bis suddenly burst into flames and crashed. Lee, the youngest Commanding Officer of the 4th PG at the time, was killed. Cheng and Pa were hit at the same time and spiralled down. Chang was attacked by three Japanese aircraft more than a dozen times. He damaged one of the enemy aircraft, and landed without injury to himself but counted over 210 bullet holes on his aircraft, including three rounds lodged in his parachute pack seat. Pa was killed when his aircraft crashed but Cheng spiralled down and landed safely. After landing he found his rudder cable severed by a Japanese bullet.
At the rear of the 22nd PS formation, things were just as desperate when they engaged the Japanese at 3000 meters south-west of Hankow. Lieutenant Wang Yi was shot down and killed. Captain Liu Chi-Han, 22nd PS leader, claimed to have shot down the A5M attacking him in a turning fight. However, Liu’s own engine was also hit in the fight and it exploded shortly afterwards, forcing Liu to bail out. While descending in his parachute, two A5Ms came in to strafe Liu. Liu recalled that the Japanese bullets zipped by "like hailstones". After dodging couple of passes, Liu allowed his body to go limp and "played dead". Thinking that the Chinese pilot had been killed, the Japanese broke away allowing Liu to land safely. Lieutenant Li Peng-Hsiang, also in the rear of the formation, came under attack by a 13th Kokutai A5M flown by shotai leader PO1c Mitsuga Mori. Lieutenant Wu Ting-Chun tried to intervene by attacking from above and behind Mori. However, Mori turned sharply away from the attack, causing Wu to collide with Li. Wu managed to bail out and survive but Li was killed. According to other sources Wu claimed to have downed a Japanese fighter, and then crashed into another one. On returning, Mori claimed to have downed two other I-15bis (his first 4 victories of a total of 9 – 4 in China). Feng Yu-Ho claimed two Japanese aircraft and Chang Ming-Sheng claimed a Japanese light bomber.
Arriving from Hsiao-Kan, the 23rd PS I-15bis led by Captain Lu Ji-Chun saw the surviving 22nd PS planes being chased all over the skies by the Japanese A5Ms. Joining the melee, the eight I-15bis of the 23rd PS took the heat off the 22nd PS, allowing the badly mauled survivors to escape. The Japanese A5Ms, having come off their success against the 22nd PS, were fighting well with their flights largely intact. The 23rd PS soon found themselves at a disadvantage. It would appear that the Chinese fighters were not able to effectively support each other in the fight. Once again, individual Chinese fighters found themselves under attack by flights of three A5Ms. Somewhere in the melee, Captain Lu was isolated, shot down and killed. Lieutenant Wang Yu-Kun, after claiming to have downed two A5Ms, came under attack by three others. Wang’s controls were shot away and the I-15bis went into a long glide towards fields north east of Wuhan. The Japanese planes continued to fire on Wang’s plane but, fortunately, the Chinese pilot was not hit. The I-15bis eventually crash-landed in a field, Wang was knocked unconscious but he survived with only a bruised right leg. Liu Chung-Wu and Hsin Sau-Chuan each claimed a victory. Hsin was so close to the Japanese aircraft he shot down that lubricants of the Japanese aircraft splashed on his windshield and totally obstructed his vision and he had to break off action.
Just as it appeared that the 23rd PS was going to suffer the fate of its sister squadron, the tables were turned with the arrival of ten I-16s from the 21st PS. Having climbed to 3500 meters north-west of the airfield, the 21st PS led by Captain Teng, saw the A5Ms dive from approximately 4000 meters altitude and attack the 22nd PS south west of Wuhan. Arriving on the scene with an advantage in altitude, the I-16s were able to surprise the Japanese, which were tangled in a dogfight with the 23rd PS. This time, it was the turn of individual Japanese fighters to be attacked by the Chinese in flights of three. Lieutenant Liu Chi-Sheng scored a solo kill and then joined Captain Teng and Lieutenant Yang Ku-Fan to attack another A5M which was engaged in a turning fight with Lieutenant Liu Chung-Wu of the 23rd PS. Together, the four Chinese fighters shot down this hapless A5M. Lieutenant Yang Ku-Fan then joined with Lieutenant Li Wen-Hsiang, Lieutenant Wang Teh-Lian and Lieutenant Han Sen to down another A5M. Finally, Lieutenant Huang Yuan-Po, Lieutenant Wang Teh-Lian and Lieutenant Kung Yeh-Ti combined to down a fourth A5M.
Soviet volunteers also took part in this combat and according to the recollections of the volunteer Aleksey Dushin, about 10 o’clock in the morning they took off on an alert and at an altitude of 4500 m found themselves under cumulus clouds. An arrow on the ground pointed out the direction from which the Japanese would appear. After a ten-minute flight along this course they turned and flew back, and straightaway they discovered about 1500-2000 m beneath them, three flights, each of nine Japanese bombers flying in a tight formation. Moments later Japanese fighters appeared flying above the clouds. They began to dive on the Soviet volunteers on a meeting course, with the initiative remaining with them. Three Japanese attacked Dushin, and consequently he shot at all three. A cone of bullets, in his words, found one aircraft, but it did not burn. Two A5Ms began to fire at him, but he was rescued by the manoeuvrability of the I-15bis. Dushin was able to escape from them by diving, but on the way out the third Japanese caught him. But an I-16 came to his rescue, which later turned out to have been flown by Aleksey Blagoveshchenskiy (or Ivan Puntus according to other sources). Dushin then chased after “his” Japanese and opened fire at a distance of 25 meters. But the guns suddenly ceased, out of ammunition. Nonetheless the A5M made an unnatural climb upward and vanished from the pilot’s field of vision. Several days later a Japanese fighter was found in this region, in Dushin’s opinion, the very same one.
Blagoveshchenskiy fought an air-combat with a leader of a Japanese group of fighters and he shot down the Japanese fighter. His own fighter was however damaged and he suffered from a damage control stick, hits on the armour plate and tears on his flight suit.
It seems that Georgii Konev claimed an enemy aircraft in this combat while flying an I-16 and Ivan Puntus claimed an A5M. Leitenant Dimitriy Kudymov (I-16) also claimed an A5M.
In this combat was the commander of the I-15bis squadron N. A. Smirnov killed together with a second volunteer. After the death of Smirnov, the commander officially became A. S. Zingaev, though the “chief” of the group remained Blagoveshchenskiy himself.
Four Japanese pilots were lost in this combat. They were Lieutenant Takashi Kaneko (Class no. 57), leader of the escorting fighters, PO1c Shigeo Miyamoto (Otsu 1), Sea1c Hiroji Hayakgawa (Pilot 29), all from the 12th Kokutai and PO1c Inao Hamada (Pilot 34) of the 13th Kokutai. In addition, one A5M from the 13th Kokutai was damaged and the pilot, NAP3c Airora Sao, badly injured by two bullets. For their part, Japanese pilots claimed a total of 15 I-15bis (including one probable), two I-16s and one SB. The Chinese pilots totally claimed fourteen Japanese aircraft in this combat. Captain Lee Kuei-Tan, Captain Lu Ji-Chun, Lieutenant Pa Ching-Cheng, Lieutenant Wang Yi and Lieutenant Li Peng-Hsiang were killed during the battle.

According to Aleksey Dushin, the A5M2 shot down by him on 18 February was repaired and flown by Blagoveshchenskiy and Georgiy Zakharov. Finally, in the summer of 1938 they tried to ferry it to the Soviet Union. However, the commander of the bombers, S. V. Slyusarev, quoting Zakharov, asserts that the Japanese whose “Type 96” was later repaired, was forced down by Zakharov in an I-15bis and a young Chinese, Tun, in an I-16 during the first days of February. After two-three weeks the aircraft was restored. Zakharov himself dates this episode closer to the summer of 1938, but that the “Type 96” they had driven down, could not be retrieved for almost a year. About this incident Zakharov wrote that he and Tun landed nearby and then:

"As we approached the Japanese aircraft we heard a gun shot - the pilot had committed suicide. Then we smelled smoke and saw it seeping from the cockpit. I climbed up onto the wing and saw that the smoke was coming from burning maps and documents, the latter being a record of the missions flown and lists of active and dead pilots. The Japanese pilot had apparently been commander of a fighter unit (possibly Lieutenant Kaneko). We inspected the aircraft and soon determined the reason for the forced landing - the engine had been damaged, but in all other respects the fighter was completely untouched. We had captured a Japanese fighter, which was now available for thorough inspection."
After repairs and several test flights Zakharov was ordered to fly the A5M back to the USSR. He recalled:
"For three days I was kept on the ground as the weather along the route was terrible. When I was finally allowed to take-off, it turned out that some of my personal belongings had been stolen from the cockpit. All I had with me was what could be fitted into the cockpit, so I had left it there. Now I had nothing left apart from a tiny toy gun - a gift from my Chinese commander, which was in my hip-pocket.
Of course, I was worried about the intrusion in the cockpit of my aircraft. Our official representative was also concerned about it. The Chinese guard was immediately interrogated, and he reported that many people had visited the aeroplane, taken off the covers, taken photographs and generally interfered with it. After that the guard mysteriously disappeared from the base. We thoroughly inspected the aircraft for any evidence of sabotage but found nothing suspicious, so I took off for Xian. On the way I landed in Xianyang to refuel. I again took off immediately, not trusting the people there either.
The Xianyang to Xian leg was probably the hardest of the whole trip, so I was eager to get on with it as soon as possible. The flight was just within the fighters' maximum range. Secondly, I had to cross mountains with no emergency airfield available if I had to land. I cruised at an altitude of 13,000 ft.
The entire itinerary had been agreed prior my departure, and I was under close surveillance. I had to report to Moscow as soon as I arrived at the intermediate points in the journey. An hour after taking off from Xianyang the engine failed. It just coughed twice and stopped, leaving the propeller blades horizontal - they seemed like whiskers mocking me. The aircraft was going down fast, but I couldn't bail out because I couldn't see the ground. In any case, it was my duty to save this aircraft that had been captured after so much hard effort.
Soon I entered thick clouds, hoping that they would not go all the way down to the ground. Yet here I was going down and down but still in thick cloud. It seemed like a disaster in the making, with a mountain range somewhere down there. It was sheer chance that took me out of the clouds in between two steep hills. I was flying along a ravine, and there was a shallow river, or rather a creek, below. As the ravine ended the creek widened into a waterfall. I had neither height nor time left for any deliberation, so I just turned the aeroplane and decided to land it right onto the stones of the waterfall. The last thing I remember before the crash-landing was trying to ward off the inevitable blow by stretching out my left arm and pressing my hand against the instrument panel."
Zakharov came away from the crash-landing with a seriously injured left arm. A rescue team found him three days later and took him to Lanzhou for transfer to Moscow aboard a DB-3. It is possible that the discussion relates to different machines; in fact, two flyable A5M2s became trophies of the Soviet volunteers. The second was conveyed to the USSR along a different path, although S. V. Slyusarev maintains that the second A5M2 was lost in an accident through similar sabotage, injuring A. S. Blagoveshchenskiy. The Mitsubishi fighter delivered to the Soviet Union was tested at the NII VVS (Scientific Test Institute of the Air Forces) but was destroyed during a training battle against the I-153 in August 1939, killing the test pilot Vakhrushev.

Leitenant Fedor Semenovich Romanov was killed in a landing accident after a test-flight at Lanzhou. Romanov was decorated with a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.

19 February 1938
Six SBs attacked Japanese shipping near Anking.

21 February 1938
Six SBs from Hankou attacked targets near Fenyang.

Fifteen Chinese bombers from Nanchang attacked the Hangchou airfield.

Eight Japanese bombers hit Hengyang, hitting both the field hospital (causing heavy casualties) and destroying one aircraft under repair while damaging three others.
Three Hawks took off to intercept the attackers, with one plane on each side damaged.

23 February 1938
Two groups of SBs (28 from Hankou and 12 from Nanchang) attacked Taibei aerodrome on Taiwan. At Taibei the Japanese were assembling the Fiat BR.20 bombers (designated “Type 1”) bought from Italy and it was decided to try to destroy the new enemy bombers before they could reach the front.
In the first SB group were only Soviet crews, while the second group was mixed. For the sake of surprise, the course passed north of the island and at the western tip made a sharp right turn and descended with the motors on reduced power to an altitude of 4000 m. Only Polynin’s group from Hankou reached the target. The Nanchang group made a mistake and had to turn back.
The aerodrome appeared covered in a thick blanket of clouds, but the pilots pressed on and at the last a window opened in the cloud. The Japanese aircraft stood in two rows in the open and to the side of the field were yet unpacked containers. There were no Japanese efforts of camouflage and the SB group dropped 280 bombs. The antiaircraft opened fire late and fighters were unable to take off. Diving lower, the bombers dispersed and flew off to the sea.
The returning crew reported that saw about 40 assembled aircraft, hangers and a three year supply of aviation fuel burning. It is also reported that the commandant of the aerodrome committed suicide.
One SB from the Nanchang group was lost. A Chinese pilot after using up all his fuel made a forced landing in a lake which he mistook for the shallow waters of a rice paddy. The entire crew drowned, including the Soviet navigator, M. A. Tarygin (who was also the air group commissar) (according to some sources he is listed as killed on 24 February).

24 February 1938
The Chinese Gladiators made their combat debut on 24 February 1938 when the seaplane carriers Notoro and Kinugasa Maru despatched eight and five Type 95 (E8N) seaplanes to attacked Nan Hsiung. Some of the Japanese aircraft carried bombs while others served as escorts. A group of twelve Gladiators from the 28th (three Gladiators) and 29th (nine Gladiators) Squadrons were scrambled from Nan Hsiung Airfield led by 29th PS's Squadron Leader Wong Sun-Shui to meet the intruders.
They were divided into two groups immediately after becoming airborne. The first group was led by Wong and the other group by Squadron vice-commander Hsieh Chuan-Ho. Flying at 6000 feet, they sighted the E8Ns at the 9 o'clock position.
During this combat the Gladiators where hampered by jamming guns, few had all four functioning while two had all four jamming. (Art Chin recalled that the problem was attributed to a bad load of ammunition from Belgium).
Wong signalled the group to follow him to dive into the enemy formations. He single-handed shot up two Type 95's, one hit over Nan Hsiung, caught fire, dived to extinguish the flames and flew away to the south. The other streamed fuel after being shot up over Shaokuan but escaped towards the south-east. He also shot up another with the help of his wingmen Lieutenants Huang Kwang-ching, Chou Ling-hsu, Huang Neng-rong. The Japanese plane streamed fuel but also did not go down immediately.
Lieutenants Li Yu-Rong, Chou Ling-hsu, Fan Hsin-Min and Shang Deh-Ren each took turns to fire at another enemy aircraft. The Japanese aircraft was seen leaving trailing black thick smoke.
Meanwhile, Squadron vice-commander Lieutenant Hsieh Chuan-Ho and his wingmen Lieutenant Teng Chung-Kai and Lieutenant Yang Ru-Tong were attacking a floatplane when the nimble Japanese plane turned sharply and shot down and killed Yang (Gladiator no. 2902) in a head-on pass. Teng and Hsieh believed they hit the Japanese in turn but were unable to finish him off because of jamming guns.
A 28th PS pilot, Chen Chi-Wei chased an E8N 300 feet above the ground. Due to gun(s) jamming he pressed in too close to fire his remaining guns and lost control of his Gladiator no. 2808 and was unable to pull out of a tailspin. He crashed and was lost. The air battle ended at 10:00.
The Chinese Air Force lost two Gladiators and pilots in this combat. Additionally, Chou Ling-Hsu's Gladiator no. 2810 was hit by a rear gunner shattering a wing strut and damaging an aileron and a control cable when some of his guns jammed and he pressed in too close during his. Huang Kwang-Ching's no. 2907 hit a bomb crater during landing and its upper wing and elevators snapped. Squadron vice-commander Xieh Chuanwo's no. 2901 ran off the runway due to a brake failure inflicting minor damage to its right wings. no. 2909, which was grounded due to a leaking wing tank was hit by strafing Japanese aircraft.
No Japanese aircraft was seen to crash during the combat, but two floatplane wrecks were found after the action way to the south, one at Tseng Cheng, 160km directly south of Shaokuan (and only 80km from Hong Kong) and the other at Hsin Feng, 90km south of Nan Hsiung. The two that caught fire during the combat (one claimed by Wong and one by Lieutenants Li, Chou, Fan and Shang) were the most likely to have crashed. Japanese records states that the one Type 95 from each of the seaplane carriers "failed to return" and another from the Notoro was written off in a crash landing. This last Type 95 (no. 13 over 1) was hit 138 times (!) The observer was riddled with multiple hits and killed while the pilot was wounded in the right leg. In addition, Notoro and Kinugasa Maru each lost one other aircrew killed. From these casualty figures it appears that a total of 5 floatplanes were hit badly enough to have aircrew killed (Notoro; two lost on downed aircraft, one lost on aircraft written off in landing and one on another aircraft. Kinugasa Maru; two lost on downed aircraft, one on another aircraft.). This match with the Chinese claims of 5 Japanese aircraft being hit.

Leitenant Mikhail Mikhailovich Anosov (born 1908), leitenant Petr Ignat’yevich Chaban (born 1908) and batalonnyy komissar Mikhail Alekseyevich Tarygin (born 1900) were killed in an aircraft crash. They were buried in Nanchang, and they were decorated with a posthumous Order of the Red Star in 1938.

25 February 1938
35 land based G3M2s from the IJNAF escorted by 18 Japanese A5Ms from the 12th and 13th Kokutais attacked Nanchang. The escort intercepted a reported 50 I-15s and I-16s and in the ensuing combat the Japanese pilots claimed 42 victories and 13 probables (according other sources 27 victories were claimed). Victories were claimed by PO1c Toshio Kuro-iwa of the 12th Kokutai, who claimed two, PO1c Sada-aki Akamatsu of the 13th Kokutai, who claimed his first four victories (of a total of 27 – 11 in China), Shigetaka Omori of the 13th Kokutai, who claimed his first victory (of a total of 13 – 1 in China), Kiyonobu Suzuki of the 13th Kokutai and Tetsuzo Iwamoto of the 12th Kokutai, who claimed his first five enemy aircraft (he was later to be the top-scoring pilot of the China Incident with 14 victories and a total of approx. 80). Momoto Matsumura of the 12th Kokutai, who flew as number three in PO1c Tomokichi Arai’s unit, single-handedly claimed his first four and three probable enemy aircraft (of a total of 13 – 10 in China). PO2c Koizumi of the 12th Kokutai flew as a shotai leader and claimed his first two enemy fighters (of a total of 13 – 2 in China). Two Japanese pilots were lost when division officer Lieutenant Shigeo Takuma (57th Class) of the 13th Kokutai and PO1c Hisao Ochi (Pilot Training class 31) were killed. Suzuki who flew as number two wingman to Takuma was wounded in this combat.
According to Chinese records, the intercepting Chinese pilots claimed three victories and lost six aircraft.
According to Russian sources, the Soviet volunteer Nikolai Alekseevich Smirnov is listed as killed on 25 February and buried at Nanchang, together with leitenant Nikolay Ivanovich Vasil’ev and Sergey Dmitrievich Smirnov, also killed on this date. It is however also possisble that Smirnov, together with Nikolai Smirnov was killed on 18 February over Hankow. It is known that the following Russian piloted fighters were shot down (I-15bis no. 5807, I-15bis no. 5812 pilot killed, I-15bis no. 5813 pilot killed, I-15bis no. 5850 pilot wounded, I-15bis no. 5858, I-16 no. 5339 damaged, I-16 no. 5365 pilot killed).
The Nanchang airfield was hit hard with one SB (no. 1532) destroyed.
Nikolai Smirnov (born 1907), leitenant Vasil’ev (born 1909) and leitenant Sergey Smirnov (born 1908) were decorated with a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.

27 February 1938
The 28th Squadron’s vice-commander Louie Yim-Qun (5th PG) led five Gladiators on a mission to seek and destroy enemy planes in a response to an alarm indicating six unidentified aircraft heading for Shenzhen. Immediately after take off Chen Yuxin in Gladiator no. 2903 was forced to divert to Baoan due to a nagging engine problem. Louie and his wingmen, Wu Zhenhua, Chou Geng-Hsu and Li Yu-Rong continued their search. They met two E8Ns at 7000 feet above the Sun Yat-Sen University. As the Gladiators positioned themselves for an attack, the E8Ns wisely avoided confrontation. Louie and his wingmen thus had to return to base empty handed after 1 hour and 20 minutes in the air.

28 February 1938
Squadron Leader Wong Sun-Shui, 29th PS, took off for a CAP sortie from Tienhe airbase in Gladiator no. 2905. He intercepted four E8Ns along the Kowloon-Guangzhou railroad. He attacked the Japanese floatplanes, dispersing them and then hitting one of them hard enough to see it fell out of formation (the aircraft was claimed as shot down). Wong returned to base at 08:30. However the various sources disagrees on this combat since some sources claims that this combat took place on 25 February against a A4N1 which was destroyed while others claims the he actually claimed one of the E8Ns on the 28 February and 1 more as a probable.

Lieutenant Chen Huai-Min of the 23rd PS, 4th PG (Hawk IIIs) was wounded over Wuhan.

Nine Japanese bombers hit the Hsiangyang airfield and slightly damaged two aircraft on the ground.
13 fighters from the 3rd PG scrambled but there were no losses on either side.

March 1938

The ground war

In March 1938 began a fierce battle for Taierzhuang and Zaozhuang (Hubei Province).

Chinese Air Force

In March 1938 China was granted a credit of 50 million dollars from the USSR for the purchase of weapons and military equipment.

In March the Air Force Advance Command was replaced by three Air Route Commands (ARC).
The 1st ARC had its headquarters at Nanchang and was responsible for supporting the 3rd and 5th War Zones in Anhwei, Chekiang, Fukien, Kiangsi and Kiangsu Provinces.
The 2nd ARC had its headquarters at Canton and supported the 4th War Zone protecting the Hunan and the coasts of Kweichou, Kwangsi and Kwangtung Provinces.
The 3rd ARC had its headquarters at Sian and supported the 1st and 2nd War Zones in Honan and Hupei.
The infrastructure had also been re-organised, with the Central Air Academy having been moved inland from Hangchou before the Japanese landing and re-located at Kunming, in Yunnan Province, where an NCO School was also created to train more pilots and air gunners.

During March was the 7th PS (3rd PG) re-equiped with Polikarpov I-15bis at XiangYung. At the same time was the 8th PS from the same group re-equiped with I-15bis at Sian.

In March and April 1938, the 3rd PG based at Hsaio Kan and the 4th PG based at Hankou with a combined strength of over 40 I-15bis made long-distance flights to provide ground support for the army in the raging battle near Tai Er Chuang in southern Shantung Province.

In Ziaogan, for the support of the ground forces in the battle for Taierzhuang and Zaozhuang (Hubei Province), the 7th and 8th PS was ordered to conclud the re-training on the I-15bis.

In March the 17th and 25th PS with the I-15bis were concentrated to Sian (Shensi Province).


The Aiko Chutai was renamed to the 1st Provisional Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai on 12 March 1938.

Late in March the 10th I F Chutai moved to Nanking, then going on to Anqing and Jiujiang.

In the end of March the 1st chutai of the 2nd Daitai received a unit citation for its combat records.


Nine fighters from Kaga were dispatched to Nanking from 3 March through 4 April.

In 1938 the Ryujo joined with the Soryu to form the 2nd Carrier Division. For about twenty days starting the middle of March the units operated in the South China area in support of the Kwangtung operation.

As of 22 March the 13th Kokutai was reorganized as a predominantly land attack aircraft unit. It was equipped with two units (allowance fourteen aircraft) of land attack aircraft and one unit (allowance twelve aircraft) of carrier fighters. The number of A5Ms being made available, however, was lessening.
At the same time the 12th Kokutai was reorganized into a predominantly carrier fighter unit. As a result, the combination became a large fighter squadron that composed of two and one-half units (five divisions) with allowance of thirty A5Ms, as well as pilots in excess of fifty. In addition, another unit of carrier attack aircraft (allowance twelve aircraft) was added. After the newly organized 12th Kokutai had consolidated its strength, it used Anqing as its base.

In March the 1st Rengo Konutai – including the Kanoya Kokutai – was ordered back to Japan. At the same time was the fighter daitai disbanded and the Kokutai (a.k.a. Kokutai 253) only operated land attack aircraft from this on.


5 March 1938
On 5 March was Sergeant Itsuo Ida (Sho-2) of the 9th I F Chutai shot down over Yuzhou and became a POW.

8 March 1938
The 2nd Daitai (Ki-10s) took off from Yuncheng for a bomber escort mission to Sian. Over Sian, eight Ki-10s of the 2nd chutai claimed three Gladiators and three Polikarpov I-15s shoot down. The three Gladiators were claimed by Captain Juichi Morimoto, Warrant Officer Umekawa and Sergeant Major Hatanaka. One of the I-15s was claimed by Lieutenant Yonesuke Fukuyama, who pursued an I-15 into a valley near Sian at low altitude and shot it down for his first victory. A second I-15 was claimed by Sergeant Tokuya Sudo while flying as third pilot in First Lieutenant Iori Sakai’s section. The third I-15 was claimed by Segeant Majors Suzuki and Aito Kikuchi, who had turned back when their shotai mate, Tokuya Sudo’s aircraft had developed engine trouble.
Only five Chinese aircraft were able to take off to intercept the Japanese raid on Sian airfield but none of them were shot down. However, one SB and one I-15 under repair and another I-15 were hit on the ground.
While returning from Sian, the 1st chutai encountered four Chinese I-152s. Captain Tateo Kato claimed one and First Lieutenant Kosuke Kawahara claimed one while the chutai finished off the rest.
During the day, a combined group of twelve I-15bis from the 17th and 25th PS flew from Sian to attack Fenglingdu. After dropping 25kg bombs, they ran into Japanese fighters. They lost four I-15bis when the pilots Rong Guang-Cheng and Lo Chun-Tun were shot down and killed, Liu Jin-Guang and Liu Yi-Ji were wounded and Zhou Zin-Gyan parachuted. It is possible that these are fighters that run into to the 2nd Daitai.
Kawahara’s claim made him the Japanese Army Air Force’s first ace (in the Western tradition with five victories).

10 March 1938
The 8th Daitai intercepted three Tupolev SBs over Bangbu, Central China, and claimed all shot down.

Two Chinese aircraft from Hankou attacked the Japanese airfield at Nanking and claimed a number of aircraft destroyed on the ground.

11 March 1938
On 11 March 13 Ki-10s, led by the new 2nd Daitai commander, Major Tamiya Teranishi, escorted bombers to Sian. Lieutenant Yonesuke Fukuyama’s shotai of three Ki-10s encountered nine Chinese fighters and engaged them in a dogfight at 18,000 ft. Fukuyama engaged the leader (reportedly a Soviet volunteer) for ten minutes before finally shooting him down with eight bursts at 2,000 ft (according to some sources the enemy aircraft was a Gladiator). He then shared an I-15 with Sergeant Yohei Machiba. Sergeant Major Matsui claimed two more I-15s while Warrant Officer Umekawa claimed a forth I-15.

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

16 March 1938
While flying a patrol in the Hangchow five SBs were intercepted by Captain Isao Abe, Sergeant Major Katsura Kichise and Sergeant Shuzo Kogawa of the 10th I F Chutai. Two of the bombers were claimed shot down.

A TB-3 piloted by Guo Jiayang and Zhang Jun (or Jiongyi) crashed in a mountain ravine of Imphal (or Yingpan). According to reports this was due to the failure of one engine. Of the 25 Soviet volunteers on board, only two survived. How many of these that was pilots is unknown.
The fighter pilot Dimitriy Kudymov remembers that earlier he flew on this aircraft from Hankou to Lanzhou. The commander took off without even checking to assure he had sufficient fuel. The fuel ran out in the air. With difficulty the aircraft crossed the mountain ridge and landed at the foot of the mountain amongst the boulders, not getting more than about a kilometre from the landing strip. “We got out of the aircraft, wild with anger. The pilot of the TB laughed…”!
Killed Soviet volunteers included Kapitan Peter Ivanovich Aleynikov (born 1902), Nikolai Petrovich Bessons (born 1912), Ivan Ananevich Gavrilin (born 1901), Matvey Georgievich Gromov (born 1902), Anton Grigorievich Gusev (born 1912), Nikolay Andreevich Deryagin (born 1907), starshiy leitenant Stepan Nikolaevich Drokov (born 1907), Nikolay Larionovich Zuykov (born 1911), Andrey Nikolaevich Jerusalimov (born 1903), Nikolai Ivanovich Ionkin (born 1908) and Aleksandr Ivanovich Luzhkov (born 1910).

18 March 1938
On 18 March 1938, the 3rd PG was ordered to strafe and bomb Japanese Army positions around Teng Hsien near Hsuchow on the Northern Front. The 3rd PG commander Lieutenant Colonel Wu Yu-Liu led ten I-15bis from the 7th PS at Hsiao-Kan and 8th PS from Hsinyang to the forward base at Chu-Ma-Tien to refuel and arm with two 10kg bombs. After refuelling again at Kuei-Teh airfield, the group proceeded to the target area where they bombed and strafed Japanese positions during a Chinese Army counter-attack.
On their return journey, Zhu Jia-Xun spotted two Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) Type 93 twin-engine heavy bombers of the 6th Daitai (Group) on a reconnaissance mission. He single-handed attacked one of the bombers flown by Captain Saburo Towata and sent it crashing in flames, killing all onboard. The remaining bomber was set upon by the other Chinese fighters and badly shot up. The Japanese pilot Lieutenant Muto managed to crash-land his stricken aircraft but out of the crew of four, one gunner was killed and the rest wounded. During the action, other Chinese pilots spotted a Type 88 reconnaissance plane of the IJAAF 1st light bomber daitai of the 16th Hiko Rentai and shot it up, killing the observer and forcing it to crash land in no-man's land.
Three Chinese I-15bis were damaged; Lieutenant Colonel Wu Yu-Liu's no. 5897 was damaged by return fire during the action with the two bombers. He force-landed just short of the Kuei-teh airfield. The 7th PS commander Captain Lu Tien-Lung's aircraft was hit 30 times by ground fire while chasing the Type 88 but returned safely. Two other 7th PS aircraft, Lieutenant Ou-Yang Shen's no. 5867 and Lieutenant Chou Chun's no. 5869 were also damaged by ground fire. Ou-yang had his left ring finger shot off and had to force-land near Chinese positions near Hsu-Chow. He flew, however, back to base the following day.

24 March 1938
On 24 March fourteen I-15bis carrying 25 kg bombs, led by the commander of the 7th PS Wu Yu-Liu flew from Guide (Henan province) to attack the cities of Lingcheng and Hanzhuang in the Shandung province.
On the return flight Japanese fighters intercepted them and a sharp air battle developed. According to Taiwanese sources 6 Japanese aircraft were claimed shot down. The Chinese lost from the 7th PS aircraft nos. 5864 and 5860 shot down in flames, and no. 5866, which made a forced landing in a millet field. In the 8th PS were the squadron commander, Lu Guang-Giu in I-15bis no. 5871 shot down, his deputy He Ziangya in no. 5911, and pilot Mo Xiu in no. 5913. The latter two parachuted, but were killed by the Japanese. Additionally pilots Huang Minxiang and Likang were wounded and made forced landings.

25 March 1938
On 25 March 1938 the 1st chutai of the 2nd Daitai (Ki-10s), commanded by Captain Tateo Kato fought with Chinese I-152s over Guide. Although outnumbered 5 to 18 the Japanese pilots took a heavy tool of the Chinese aircraft. Captain Kato shot down four I-152s, Flight Sergeant Tanaka shot down two and Sergeant Major Hiroshi Sekiguchi shot down one. First Lieutenant Kosuke Kawahara (leading the second element) was seen to shoot down two and pursue a third to the ground, when his aircraft was hit from behind and burst into flames. He waved to his wingman, Sekiguchi, before diving into the ground. First Lieutenant Mitsugu Sawada shared in the destruction of a large aircraft. Also in this combat was Tanaka forced to make an emergency landing and Sekiguchi was badly wounded in the thigh but managed to land and being transported to hospital.
The 2nd chutai of the 2nd Daitai also took part in this combat claiming 9 more victories, one of these being claimed by Yonesuke Fukuyama. Totally the 2nd Daitai’s 16 fighters claimed 19 victories for the loss of Kawahara.
According to Chinese records it seems that at least the 3rd PG took part in this combat. They lost six I-15bis and got three pilots killed when they where attacked by 19 Kawasaki Type 95 (Ki-10) biplane fighters of the 2nd Daitai near Kuei-Teh airfield (Koi-toh in Japanese).
On return Kato could not believe that such a brilliant pilot as First Lieutenant Kawahara had been lost, and waited at the airfield until sunset in the hope of his late return. Next day as a sign of mourning, he shaved off a much beloved moustache.

On 25 March Iori Sakai of the 2nd chutai of the 2nd Daitai was flying as leader of the second element when he engaged I-15bis over Yanzhou, claiming one shot down.

During the day the 12th Kokutai attacked Nanchang. During the combat PO3c Yukiharu Ozeki claimed three enemy fighters (only victories in China of a total of 14) in his first combat.

April 1938

The Japanese government indirectly recognised the great effectiveness of the activities of the Soviet pilots, by demanding in April 1938, through diplomatic channels that the USSR should withdraw them from China. Naturally this demand was categorically and unequivocally rejected. The Komissar for Foreign Affairs, M. Litvinov replied officially that the USSR had the right to render assistance to any foreign government, and that “the claims of the Japanese government were even more incomprehensible, since according to the declarations of the Japanese authorities, there is not now a war in China, and Japanese are not fighting in China at all, and that what was happening in China qualifies only as an “incident”, more or less accidental, and having nothing in common with a state of war between two independent governments”. Soviet volunteers continued to fight in China.

The ground war

In April 1938 the Japanese suffered a major defeat at Taierchuang. Chinese regular troops and partisans numbering more than 200,000 soldiers under the command of General Li Conggeng cut off and surrounded a 60,000 strong Japanese army. Ultimately the Japanese broke through to the north losing about 20,000 killed and abandoning a large quantity of military equipment. The aircraft of the 3rd and 4th PG were committed and ordered to take active part in the battle supporting the ground forces.
The victory at Taierzhuang raised the fighting spirit of the Chinese, but did not bring them a strategic advantage as the Japanese forces regrouped and resumed the offensive. They temporarily began to advance north of Wuhan, but the Chinese capital remained the main target of Japanese aviation.

Chinese Air Force

In April the former Kwangtung aircraft factory was re-located to Kunming. The Central Aircraft Manufacturing factory (CAMCO) was also moved to Yunnan Province and establisged at Loi-wing near the Burma border, to receive dismantled aircraft brought in through Rangoon.

Unwarranted losses and delays due to meteorological conditions during ferrying resulted in that the “air bridge” soon was shut down and fighters were sent disassembled in trucks travelling to Hami (Sinjiang province). For this a thousand Soviet workers were sent to the region and under difficult conditions in a very short period of time built a road through the mountains and desert. The first trucks started down this “road of life” in April 1938, and at the end of the month the automobile convoy reached Hami. There the fighters were assembled, flown, and then ferried by air to Lanzhou. The entire journey took 18-20 days. Along this road the first 62 I-15bis were sent and also 10 complements of aviation bombs and cartridges for all the aircraft sent on the credit account, replacement parts and other materials, in all 2332 tons.

The second group of I-15bis was delivered and included in the Chinese Air Force order of battle by April 1938. In all, by the spring of 1938 the Chinese were sent 94 I-16s, 122 I-15bis, 8 UTI-4s, 5 UT-1s and also 62 SBs, 6 TB-3s and 40 loads of munitions.

Between 12 April and 7 June 1938 30 Curtiss Hawk IIIs were delivered to China. These were c/n 12726 through 12755, which cost $13,602.70 each (without engine). These Hawks were the last of a total of 102 Hawk IIIs delivered to China.

In the spring of 1938 Blagoveshchenskiy organized the first flight of night fliers, and Aleksey Dushin and A. Shiminas set about developing tactics to counter the Japanese. They set about using the searchlight projectors and broke down the area of operations into zones, considering the approach routes of the bombers, which as a rule oriented along the course of the River Yangtse and Lake Poyang. There was success from the very first combat sortie, when they shot down one bomber, but the remainder dropped their bombs without flying on to the aerodrome and the Japanese were forced to abandon bombing by the light of the full moon.

With the rotation of the returning Soviet aviators a new group of volunteers arrived. Already by the spring of 1938 a group of I-16 pilots led by Kapitan E. M. Nikolaenko (73 men, including 26 pilots) began to adopt combat lessons.

In April the 25th PS became an independent squadron.


By March 1938 a total of 32 series production Ki-27s had been manufactured, and on 3 April 1938 the first operational examples were delivered to the 1st chutai of the 2nd Daitai at Yangchow (now Yangzhou), in central China. At that time the 2nd Daitai was equipped with the Ki-10 and was engaged in supporting the 1st Army campaign against Chinese forces in Shensi Province (now Shaanxi). The chutai was part of the Yamase Unit (commanded by Colonel Masao Yamase), an ad hoc combat group consisting of a reconnaissance detachment, fighter chutai and two light bomber chutais from Major Geneneral Tadatsugu Chiga’s 3rd Hiko Dan (Air Brigade).

On 15 April the 10th Sentai reached Nanyang. This unit was dispatched from the Kwangtung Army.


In April the 13th Kokutai, having suffered great losses in the continuous air battles handed over its remaining A5Ms to the 12th Kokutai and was withdrawn to Shanghai to rebuild.

On 6 April 1938 the 14th Kokutai was formed in Japan for support of land operations in southern China, equipped with twelve A5Ms and six carrier bombers and 18 carrier attack aircraft. The new air unit was attached to the 5th Fleet.

On 25 April nine carrier fighters (Nakajima A4N1s or Mitsubishi A5Ms), eighteen carrier bombers (Aichi D1A2) and nine carrier attack aircraft (Yokosuka B4Y1s) from the Soryu were posted under the command of the 2nd Combined Air Group to participate in central China operations, especially in the Yangtze River upriver operation. The aircraft took off from the carrier from off the Ma-an-shan Islands and initially moved to the Nanking airport.
The fighter unit was engaged for a while in the air defence of Nanking and in support of land operations (carrying two 60 kg bombs).


9 April 1938
At 03:00 on 9 April, Liu Chi-Han’s 22nd PS and Liu Chung-Wu’s 23rd PS took off from Hankou to bomb Japanese positions near Tai Er Chuang. At dawn they refuelled at Zhumadian and landed again at Kuei Teh to be refuelled and bombed up, each plane carrying four 25kg fragmentation bombs. They then flew towards Zaozhuang and Tai Er Chuang to attack Japanese positions. Because of the limited range of the I-15bis they could only spend 15 minutes in the target area. After the planes refuelled at Kuei Teh and took off for Chou Chia-Kou, they saw six Japanese biplanes and three monoplanes over the field, but they did not attack.

10 April 1938
During the night of 9/10 April 4th PG received an order to attack Tai Er Chuang again on the following day. They took off in the early morning of 10 April, refuelled and bombed up at Kuei teh, and carried out their mission of bombing and strafing Japanese positions. On the way back to Kuei teh, the 23rd PS sighted enemy aircraft and veered off. Then the 22nd PS encountered enemy planes, and both sides mixed up in a melee. Chang Kuang-Ming lost sight of other planes momentarily after making a steep climb, and then witnessed dogfights between six Chinese aircraft and six Japanese Type 95 biplanes. The performance of the Type 95 and the I-15bis were about the same and both sides were chasing and making tight turns, but did not have a chance to get a clear shot. Most Chinese aircraft were low on fuel and had to break off action. Chang saw a Japanese monoplane (Nakajima Type 97) chasing an I-15bis at high speed, and dove after the Japanese aircraft. It turned to evade him and hit the tail of the I-15bis, and both aircraft tumbled out of the sky.
Then Chang was attacked by three Type 97s from above. He took evasive action, flipped over, made a half roll and tried to climb, and then was hit by enemy gunfire. The aircraft went into a corkscrew, and Chang became dizzy and lost his vision. The throttle control became totally unresponsive. He could feel hot lubricant slopping on his legs and feet. He knew the aircraft could catch fire any moment and decided to bail out. He released his lap belt and shouldered his way out of the cockpit door. He spun out in the air and the objects he carried in his leg pockets, including map, protractor, ruler, pen, goggle and revolver, all flew out into the air. Chang bent his legs and put his arms below his knees to stop the spinning. He estimated that he had fallen from 6000 meters to 3000 meters and pulled the ripcord. The parachute opened with a big thump. As he descended slowly, he was dreading that he would land to the north of the Yellow River occupied by the Japanese. Images from his past went through his mind. Suddenly, he regained some vision. From pitch black, he began seeing things in deep yellow, and then light yellow, and he saw the deep blue sky turn into light blue.
His joy suddenly turned into fright as he saw three Japanese aircraft flying towards him, with guns blazing. In the first attack, tracers burned several holes on his parachute and severed five cords. The parachute went lop-sided, accelerated its downward decent, and swung left and right. The second aircraft attacked and severed three more cords. The swaying and acceleration increased. The Japanese planes left him only when he was near the ground. Chang fell on a vegetable field in Hsia Yi County east of Kuei Teh. He injured his lower back on landing, and the injury bothered him all his life.
The villagers told him a Japanese aircraft and a Chinese aircraft had crashed about a mile south of the village. Chang rushed to the scene of the crash, and found Chen Huai-Min of the 23rd PS. The tail of his aircraft was damaged when a Japanese aircraft collided with him and he bailed out. He was also shot in the leg and he had used his shirt as a tourniquet. There was no medical facility in the village. Chang got an oxcart from the village and spent all night to get Chen back to Kuei Teh Air Base, and then transferred him to a hospital. He then found a damaged I-15bis from the 3rd PG at the base with the main strut damaged by bullets. As he did not want to spend two days and two nights on a train to Hankou, he flew the damaged plane back at low speed and high altitude. His squadron mates had given him up for dead after two days, and were overjoyed to see him back.
According to other sources it was Chen Huai-Min who crashed his aircraft into Japanese aircraft, not the other way around.

Later in the day, there was a second air combat in the Hsuchow area. In this Second Battle of Kuei teh, the Chinese sent 18 I-15bis from the 3rd and 4th PG to again attack Japanese Army field headquarters at the elementary school in the town of Chao Chuang.
Zhu Jia-Xun was flying one of the seven 3rd PG I-15bis led by Major Lin Tsuo. Of the remaining I-15bis five were from the 22nd PS, 4th PG and six from the 23rd PS, 4th PG. The Chinese planes bombed and strafed their target to great effect, setting many fires in the school compound and scattering many Japanese Army horses. On their return journey, the 3rd PG took the high cover position at 4,500m, 500m above the 4th PG aircraft. Near Ma Mu Chi, the lower formation of Chinese aircraft was attacked by three Ki-27s (Nakajima Type 97 monoplane fighters; this was the combat debut of this type) from the 1st chutai, 2nd Daitai, flown by Captain Tateo Kato, Warrant Officer Morita and Sergeant Major Risaburo Saito and 12 Ki-10s (Kawasaki Type 95 fighters) of the 2nd Daitai (HQ flight) led by Major Tamiya Teranishi.
The 3rd PG I-15bis were in a perfect position to "bounce" the Japanese fighters. Zhu Jia-Xun caught the Ki-27 of Sergeant Major Saito (NCO50) as it was diving on a 23rd PS I-15bis. Zhu Jia-Xun apparently hit the Japanese pilot with his fire and Saito crashed his plane into that of Lieutenant Chen Hui-Min. Chen managed to bail out with a wounded leg but Saito was killed. Afterwards, Zhu Jia-Xun was surrounded by a number of IJAAF fighters and his I-15bis was damaged. His engine cowling was shot away but Zhu Jia-Xun managed to land his I-15bis safety in a wheat field. Most of the Chinese fighters were already short of fuel when the fighting started, nevertheless, they gave a good account of themselves. In the melee, two other 4th PG I-15bis were shot down, one pilot bailed out and the other was lost. Three other 4th PG aircraft force landed due to damage and fuel starvation but they were recovered. The 3rd PG lost one I-15bis and its pilot. Two, including Zhu Jia-Xun, force-landed due to damage or fuel starvation but both aircraft were recovered. Two other 3rd PG pilots were slightly injured by Japanese gunfire but returned to base safely.
As for the IJAAF, in addition to Sergeant Major Saito, one other pilot, Lieutenant Yonesuke Fukuyama died of his wounds. Fukuyama, flying a Ki-10 and despite repeated gun stoppages, managed to claim three Chinese fighters shot down when being heavily engaged together with Sergeant Major Shimokata before being hit and severely wounded in the right arm and left leg. Fukuyama flew part of the way back to Ching Chow airfield while holding the stick with his mouth! He managed to crash-land his plane at the airfield after covering the 200-kilometre flight in 50 minutes. He was immediately removed to hospital but died of his wounds four days later. Two other damaged IJAAF fighters crash-landed back at Ching Chow airfield and two crashed landed at the battlefield. Of the latter, one of the IJAAF pilots was picked up by his wingman who landed in no-man's land between the Chinese and Japanese Armies.
Tokuya Sudo from the 2nd chutai of the 2nd Daitai claimed two I-15bis in this combat while Iori Sakai from the same chutai claimed three victories. Captain Tateo Kato’s 1st chutai of the 2nd Daitai (Ki-27s) fought against eight I-15bis and Kato personally claimed two of the Chinese fighters while Warrant Officer Morita claimed two more.
According to Japanese records fifteen Japanese fighters took part in this combat over Guide claiming 24 victories from 30 encountered while losing two fighters.

Corporal Tezio Kanamaru of the 10th I F Chutai shot and killed the crew of an SB, which had baled out over Bangbu, this episode creating some fame for him.

13 April 1938
On 13 April 1938 the Japanese carrier Kaga launched a strike on Canton consisting of three Type 95 (A4N) fighters, three Type 96 (A5M) fighters and 18 Type 94 (Aichi D1A1) dive-bombers. PO1c Jiro Chono in an A5M led the fighters and Lieutenant Nishihara led the dive-bombers. Chono had taken over when the original leader, Lieutenant Hideo Teshima, had to abort due to mechanical problems on his A5M.
At 10:10, jingbao (intelligence) announced the approaching enemy aircraft. Gladiators of the 5th PG were on alert and were scrambled at 10:20 from Tienho airbase. Squadron Leader Wong Sun-Shui led nine Gladiators from the 29th PS and Captain Clifford Louie led nine from the 28th PS to intercept.
Flying in an echelon formation at 15,000ft, the 29th PS Gladiators were to be responsible for CAP above Guangzhou while 28th PS, flying a 3,000ft higher in two formations, were to seek and destroy enemy aircraft. At 10:50 nine dive-bombers at 13,000ft and 15 "pursuits" (actually five fighters and nine dive-bombers) at 17,000ft were spotted by Wong Sun-Shui above Jiangchuan (a hamlet located north-west of Tienhe airbase). It was clear that they were heading for the Tienhe airbase and Wong Sun-Shui wiggled his Gladiator's (no. 2913) wings to warn his wingmen of the approaching enemy fighters and simultaneously accelerated towards the bogeys. He led his flight consisting of Lieutenants Li Yu-Rong and Huang Kwang-Ching in a diving pass on the nine lower dive-bombers, which were in their bomb run on Tienho Airfield.
Wong Sun-Shui shot up one of the D1A1 and sent it down in flames. The top cover of Japanese fighters came down to intervene. Wong Sun-Shui got into a turning fight with one of the A4Ns and claimed to have shot it down (a wreck was found on one of the islands in the Pearl River, which might have been this aircraft). The flight of A5Ms then turned towards Wong Sun-Shui who was, unfortunately, plagued by jamming guns. After only two firing passes, he had only one of his cowl machineguns still capable of firing. Nevertheless, he managed to down one of the A5Ms before another (the lead plane in the flight flown by PO1c Chono) hit him from the left. Wong Sun-Shui was wounded in the left hand and his engine caught fire, forcing him to bail out. His Gladiator came down near Tai-Ho City north east of Canton (the location of this crash was possibly recorded in error. It is likely that crash site was Tai-Ho Hsiang village in Pan-Yu County south east of Canton as the fight had moved to the south east of Canton). While parachuting down, he witnessed his wingman downing another A5M.
The other two Gladiators in Wong Sun-Shui’s flight also came under attack. Li Yu-Rong attacked and shot down a divebomber but he was himself hit from behind and killed by a pursuing A5M. His Gladiator no. 2910 fell in the south-eastern part of Canton City near Chungshan University. Lieutenant Huang Kwang-Ching tried to intervene but was too late. While he was dogfighting Li's assailant, two other Japanese fighters attacked him and hit him a dozen times, puncturing one of the tires on his landing gear. It was probably at this time when Lieutenant Teng Chung-Kai intervened, bouncing Huang's attackers from behind and disrupting their attack, thereby allowing Huang to escape to the north-west. Teng claimed to have downed one of the A4Ns in flames. Continuing his chase of the Japanese planes, Teng claimed to have downed another "Type 95" over Shi-Pai. It is unclear whether Teng claimed this type, i.e. an A4N, specifically as most other pilot-reports claimed only to have engaged "biplanes" (as opposed to monoplanes - i.e. A5Ms). In the heat of combat, it may have been difficult to differentiate between the A4Ns and the dive-bombers.
The remainder of the 29th PS was also kept busy actively attacking other Japanese fighters. Xieh Chuanwo and his wingman Huang Xiaolen fought on despite being outnumbered by the Japanese fighters.
Early in the action Clifford Louie and his 28th PS Gladiators also joined the combat. Clifford Louie and his wingmen Lieutenants Wu Bo-Jun and Chen Yu-Shen dived on the D1A1s as they were dropping their bombs. Louie claimed to have hit one of the D1A1s and sent it descending north east of Tienho Airfield streaming smoke. He then attacked another "biplane" (probably another D1A1) but his guns jammed after about a dozen rounds, forcing him to break off and climb up to a "covering position".
PO1c Tanaka commanded this D1A1 and it ditched after battle damage. Tanaka reported that he had just completed his bomb run when a Gladiator hit him from behind, damaging his engine, which spewed black smoke and sprayed oil over both crewmen. The D1A1 managed to limp out to the mouth of the Pearl River before the engine seized up. Trading height for distance, the D1A1 glided out to ditch. Tanaka and his crewman NAP1/c Katsumiha took to their dinghy but not before stripping the Type 89 machinegun (Japanese version of the Lewis gun) from its swivel mount. Using the gun, the two held off a number of Chinese armed junks long enough for a floatplane commanded by Lieutenant Yowahara to land alongside and picking them up.
As Louie pulled up to a higher altitude, his deputy Lieutenant Kwan Yen-Sun and wingman Leong Kongyung were diving into four A4Ns. Kwan fired a quick burst and the enemy fighters scattered. He managed to damage a fleeing A4N and seeing that the enemy fighter was trailing white smoke (probably from leaking fuel tank) he then attacked two other A4Ns. These returned the fire but his wingman Leong Kongyung broke off the attack from above. Leong then closed in on the tail on an A4N but he had to brake off the attack after malfunctioning machine-guns.
Lieutenant Chou Geng-Hsu followed Louie's Flight down on a firing pass at the D1A1s. He claimed to have fired over a hundred rounds at one of the dive-bombers while diving from 30 degrees above and behind it. He claimed to have pulled up and away after seeing the Japanese plane catch fire. At that point, Chou Geng-Hsu spotted Chono climbing up after him in his A5M. Chou Geng-Hsu dived at Chono and traded shots with the A5M forcing it to dive away.
PO1c Chono and the remaining A4N flown by PO3c Hatsu-o Hidaka attacked Louie's Flight, shooting down Wu Bo-Jun who was killed when his Gladiator no. 2810 crashed near Tai-Ho Hsiang (village) in Pan-Yu County south east of Canton. Chen Yu-Shen was also shot up and badly wounded when he crash-landed Gladiator no. 2812 at Bai-Ke Ao, also in Pan-Yu County. Totally Chono and Hidaka claimed two victories each in this combat.
Lieutenant Chou Ling-Hsu also followed Louie's Flight down on the D1A1s and spotted one circling. Diving from above and behind, Chou Ling-Hsu hit the D1A1 (which he identified as an A4N) making it stream smoke and descend. Fearing that the Japanese planes had an advantage at lower altitude, Chou Ling-Hsu climbed up to a covering position (clearly, the Chinese pilots were confusing the A4Ns with the D1A1s.). After two firing passes, Lieutenant Fan Hsin-Min also saw a Japanese biplane showing "signs of damage" and trying to escape.
Satoru Ono (8 victories – 3 in China) flying one of the D1A1s returned claiming one enemy fighter shot down.
The battle lasted for 40 minutes and the Gladiators landed at 11:40. Li Jahung returned with minor damaged to the wings of Gladiator no. 2908 and Huang Kwang-Ching returned with more than ten bullet holes and a punctured landing-gear tire on Gladiator no. 2917. The 28th and 29th Squadrons claimed at least nine victories in this air combat. It would appear that the Japanese lost at least 5 aircraft, one A5M, two A4Ns and two D1A1s while claiming 15 enemy fighters shot down and 3 probables. The fighter pilots lost were PO1c Naoshi Eitoku (Pilot 13), PO3c Yukio Miyasato (Otsu 3) and PO3c Yuji Mori (Otsu 3). The Chinese found a total of 4 wrecks, which would account for the 3 fighters and almost certainly one of the dive-bombers. One of the wrecks was found at Chi-Ao, which is on an island way out at the mouth of the Pearl River near Macao. That may have been one of the A4Ns that Teng chased away from Lieutenant Huang south east of Canton. The other 3 fell around Canton City, one at Shao-Ho just north east of Canton; one at the Chungshan University Agricultural Department south east of Canton and the third in an island on the Pearl River near Canton. Unfortunately, the types were not identified so it is difficult to match them up.

17 April 1938
The 34th PS was rebased to Hankou and its ancient aircraft passed on to the reconnaissance group at Chungqing, the training centre at Chengdu, and the branch flying school at Liuzhou. The pilots were sent to retrain on bombers.

26 April 1938
On 26 April 1938 Shen Tse-Liu, commander of a 3rd PG detachment equipped with Polikarpov I-15bis, shot down a Japanese reconnaissance aircraft over the airfield of Hsiao Kan near Wuhan.

29 April 1938
On 29 April 1938 (Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s birthday) 18 G3M2s of the 13th Kokutai Japanese Naval Air Force (IJNAF) escorted by 27 A5Ms of the 12th Kokutai under the command of Lieutenant Commodore Y. Ozono attacked Wuhan.
The 4th PG at Hankow Field had nine I-15bis, seven I-16s, and two I-16s from the 24th PS. The Russian volunteers had 23 I-15bis and 16 I-16s. The 3rd Group detachment based at Hsiao Kan was equipped with four I-15bis and six I-15bis were from the 17th PS, 5th PG.
Reconnaissance revealed the Japanese intentions in good time and early in the morning at Nanchang’s aerodromes (there were two) the order went out to all to fly to Hankow in flights, at treetop level (altitude no greater than 25 m). By 08:00 a lot of fighters had concentrated there. By 09:00 all the aircraft had been re-fuelled and the pilots were in the cockpits waiting the order to take off. That day dense clouds at several levels covered the sky, beginning at 2000-2500 m.
The first communications from the air warning system (VNOS) began to be received at 10:00. At 14:00, when the Japanese aircraft approached Wuhan fighters were already waiting in the air with sufficient altitude. According the previously drawn up plans, the I-15bis closed in on the Japanese fighters in a pincer attack while the I-16 formation fell upon the bombers.
Mao Ying-Chu, commander of the 4th PG, led nine I-15bis into the battle. Liu Chi-Han and Liu Chung-Wu took off first and met over a reported 20 Japanese aircraft. They each claimed a Japanese aircraft, as did Yang Shen-Yen. Moments later Liu Chung-Wu claimed a second Japanese aircraft. His aircraft was, however, also damaged in this battle.
Teng Ming-Teh led the I-16s of the 4th PG and 24th PS to patrol the airspace over the airfield. The Russians at first left the formation, but then turned around and joined in the battle near Liang Tze Lake. They claimed six Japanese bombers and seven fighters.
During the combat Lieutenant Chen Huai-Min of the 23rd PS claimed a Japanese plane. His plane was then badly damaged and he rammed another Japanese aircraft and both aircraft exploded in mid-air. Chen was killed.
While the combat was in full swing the four I-15bis of 3rd PG and the six I-15bis of 17th PS arrived overhead at 6500 feet south of Wuhan after that the Japanese bombers had dropped their bombs. They immediately joined combat and Shen Tse-Liu, commander of the 3rd PG detachment severely damaged one Japanese bomber. His vice-commander Li Chia-Hsun and Mo Ta-Yen each downed a Japanese bomber. Zhu Jia-Xun flew the fourth 3rd PG I-15bis. During the combat Zhu claimed to have downed one of the G3M2s south-east of Wuchang. This was near the position where two of the IJNAF G3M2s was downed. Many other Chinese and Russian volunteer pilots also made claims so Zhu should probably only be credited with a "shared" kill.
The Russian volunteer Aleksey Dushin told in his memoirs that they took of early, first Aleksey Blagoveshchenskiy, after him the entire group in established order. The I-15bis were to join battle with the fighters. At a height of about 3000m they moved off from Hankow about 100 km in the direction of Nanking, orienting themselves through the gaps in the clouds by the channel of the Yangtze. Not finding the fighters, on a return course, through gaps in the clouds they discovered a large group of bombers approaching on a parallel course. With a sudden attack at close range they right away set fire to three of the bombers, including the formation leader. The formation immediately fell apart and jettisoned its bombs in a rice paddy. In the air, developed dogfights and in various parts of the sky appeared the torches of burning Japanese aircraft. The “Chizhi” chased after the bombers for their full radius of action - more than 200 km. When his ammunition was completely exhausted Dushin ran into two A5Ms but there was nothing he could do to them. A. S. Zingaev’s group, with an advantageous position attacked a group of Japanese bombers on the approaches to the aerodrome, and in their first attack shot down two (Zingaev shot down the leader). In this combat Grigoriy Kravchenko shot down two (one bomber and one A5M) aircraft. But in the end, he was cut off from his formation and hard pressed by four Japanese who set his aircraft afire. He was saved by Anton Gubenko, who came to his help at the right moment.
Known Russian volunteers known to have claimed in this combat are Blagoveshchenskiy, Dushin, A. Grisenko, Gubenko, Kravchenko (two), I. Puntus, Georgiy Zakharov and A. Zingaev. The major success of the volunteers was explained by the Japanese fighters, which were late at the rendezvous with their bombers, and also by the Soviets’ successful use of the clouds.
AA at Wuchang also fired at the Japanese aircraft over Hanyang and claimed two of them.
A total of 21 Japanese aircraft, 11 fighters and 10 bombers, were claimed shot down in this fierce 30-minute battle and 50 aircrew were killed. Two parachuted and were captured. However, it has only been possible to verify two lost G3M2s.
Twelve aircraft of the Chinese and Soviet volunteers were lost and five pilots killed; identified are Chen Huai-Min, starshiy leitenant Lev Zakharovich Shuster (born 1914) and kapitan Aleksey Yevgen’yevich Uspenskiy (born 1906). Shuster was reportedly killed while colliding with a Japanese aircraft.
The Japanese reported that when their formation appeared over Hankow, a reported 78 I-15s and I-16s rose to intercept. They claimed that in a 30-minute battle they destroyed no fewer than 40 Chinese aircraft while themselves losing only two A5Ms (PO2c Ken-ichi Takahasi (Pilot 19) and PO3c Kinji Fujiwara (Pilot 29) being killed) and two G3M2s. During this combat Motonari Suho claimed his first victory (totally 15 victories – 11 in China) but his own aircraft received hits, however; on the way, back to base he had to make an emergency landing at Anking because he ran out of fuel. Lieutenant Takahide Aioi claimed his first two victories when he shot down two I-15s (totally 10 victories – 5 in China). The Japanese attribute the greatest part of their success to the inexperience of their opponents. In other accounts (also based on Japanese sources), 67 Soviet aircraft participated in the battle, of 19 I-15bis and six I-16s were flown by Soviet volunteers. According to these accounts the Chinese lost nine aircraft and four pilots.
After this fierce combat Japanese did not attack Wuhan for a month.

30 April 1938
Lieutenant Toyoki Eto of the 8th Daitai saw his first enemy aircraft, an SB bomber, over Bangbu on 30 April, but as he attempted to attack this, it was shot down by an aircraft of the 10th I F Chutai.

Captain Takatsuki led five Ki-10s of the 10th I F Chutai from Jiujiang during the day and intercepted three SBs over Bangbu. Sergeant Shuzo Kogawa claimed one and killed one of two crew members who took to their parachutes. Sergeant Major Katsura Kichise claimed a second while the third was claimed as a shared by Yutaka Kozuki and Warrant Officer Seitaro Awao.

Sergeant Major Shigeru Maeda (NCO58) of the 9th I F Chutai force-landed in Soviet territory at Dongning during the day.

May 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

In May 1938, the Kuomintang government again addressed a request to the USSR for the supply on credit of new shipment of weapons and aviation equipment. The next resolution was issued by the Council of Ministers on 17 May authorising the provision to China of 60 SBs and a complement of spares and armaments. An augmented quantity of fighters was not yet approved.

Between May and August 1938 30 Curtiss Hawk 75Ms were delivered to China.

Between March and May, the CAF and the Soviet volunteers flew 732 sorties and lost 71 aircraft with 21 pilots killed.


In late May, the 2nd Daitai received a unit citation for its combat records.


In May, the 14th Kokutai was sent to Santsao Island (south of Macao) and assigned operational duties in the South China area.


11 May 1938
Ten fighters from the 8th Daitai led by Captain Katsuji Sugiura, the commander of the 1st chutai, caught a number of aircraft landing at Baxian. They claimed five shot down and five more destroyed in flames on the ground.

19 May 1938
Someday between 19 and 25 May the Soviet volunteer leitenant V. G. Veligurov was killed in air battle over Anqin.

20 May 1938
At 14:00 19 May, Captain Hsu Huan-Sheng (CO of the 14th BS) standing by at Ningpo/Lo-shi airport cabled CAF Headquarters at Hankou that weather at Ningpo was fine. At 15:23, two Martin 139 bombers (the second was flown by First Lieutenant Teng Yan-Po, vice squadron leader of the 19th BS) took off from Hankou and were ferried via Nanchang and Chuchow to Ningpo arriving at 17:55.
At Ningpo the aircraft were readied for the flight to Japan. They were loaded not with bombs but leaflets. The purpose of the mission was to drop leaflets "calling up the" consciousness of the Japanese people. A secondary mission was to conduct a reconnaissance of Japanese ports and airfields.
At 23:48, Martin bombers Nos. 1403 and 1404 took off from Ningpo, headed for Kyushu. Not long after take off while flying in clouds near Tinhai Island searchlights from Japanese warships tried unsuccessfully to track the bombers by the sound of their engines. By 00:42 the moon was obscured by clouds and the bombers flew in darkness for nearly two hours.
With the return of moonlight, the bombers sighted the coast of Japan at 02:40 and by 02:45 were flying over Nagasaki at 3500 meters (about 11500 feet). The bombers stayed together until 02:50 when they separated. The city was not blacked out and the bombers spent several minutes before dropping a flare bomb after which city lights were extinguished. They dropped leaflets and then proceeded to Fukuoka where visibility allowed the identification of land and seaplanes bases, factories and warships. Leaflets were also scattered at Kurume, Saga and other cities. At no time did they encounter interception of anti-aircraft fire.
The bombers rejoined at 03:32 and less than half an hour later began their return trip. They soon encountered bad weather and lost contact with one another. At 04:52, Changsha began broadcasting followed by Hankou at 05:50. The bombers soon began receiving directional signals. At 06:15, Martin No. 1403 announced sighting the China coast. A few minutes later No. 1404 reported it was flying near the coast. No. 1403 reported difficulty picking up the directional signal due to weak transmission.
At 07:12, both bombers were over Sanmen Wan where they were fired upon at long range by Japanese warships at anchor. Neither bomber was hit.
The Chinese warning net was called upon to help pinpoint the bombers. At 07:37 they were reported over Linhai. The planes were then directed over Ningpo and then landed at Yushan (No. 1404) at 08:48 and Nanchang (No. 1403) at 09:32. After refuelling, they joined over Wuhan and returned to Hankou by midday.
Chinese press reports stated that the planes dropped leaflets over major Japanese cities and that the leaflets contained a message of goodwill to the Japanese people. The leaflets told of Japanese atrocities committed against Chinese civilians and solicited moral solidarity from the Japanese people. According to Japanese press reports only one plane was involved. It was over Kumamoto and Miyazaki but not any major city. In the Japanese version of events, the leaflets were described as violently anti-Japanese in content.
Despite Chinese assertions that they dropped leaflets in lieu of bombs for humanitarian reasons, pundits suggested the Chinese had to carry extra gasoline on such a long mission and this precluded carrying bombs. The mission profile related above (bombers over Japanese territory well in excess of an hour) suggests the Chinese could have carried bombs rather than the gasoline necessary to cruise over Japan and drop leaflets on several cities. The American version (B-10B) of the Martin bomber flown by the Chinese had a combat range of 1,240 miles or 15 per cent longer than the round trip (1,080 miles) between Ningpo and Nagasaki and its ferry range was over 1,800 miles.
The report of the U.S. Military Attaché in Chungking speculated whether the flight would cause apprehension among the Japanese population that a subsequent raid would carry something more lethal than leaflets or whether the failure to drop bombs would be taken as a sign of weakness. "The favourable reaction sure to be aroused in some foreign circles" the report opined "may, however, justify the risks involved in making such a flight."

In the spring of 1938, resisting the Japanese offensive the Chinese-flown I-15bis were often used in the role of ground attack. On 20 May, the 17th PS with I-15bis was ordered to attack the Japanese positions near Yifeng (Henan Province), with escorts by I-16s and Hawk IIIs. However, before take-off the I-16s received information about the appearance in the air of Japanese aircraft and the signal officer of the 3 Army ordered the I-15bis group to take off earlier. Near the target they were intercepted by the Japanese and an air battle ensued. Without protection of the I-16 group they suffered heavy losses. I-15bis no. 5883 of squadron commander Cheng Jiliu was damaged and he turned back. Four I-15bis (no.s 5905, 5909, 5903, 5910 and their pilots - Zhu Jiongtiu, Tang Weiliang, Qiu Ge and Zhang Shangren) were shot down. Two more I-15bis (no.s 5901 and 5899) made forced landings in the Japanese positions, but the pilots, Hu Zuolong and Deng Zhengsi managed to hide and return to their unit.

The same day the 22nd squadron dispatched two Hawk IIIs (no.s 2201 and 2205) of the 5th PG to bomb Lanfeng (Henan Province). In an air battle over the target both aircraft were shot down.

24 Ki-27s from the 2nd Daitai clashed with Chinese fighters over Lanfeng. Captain Mitsugu Sawada of the 1st chutai claimed three I-15s. A fourth I-15 was claimed by Katsumi Anma in his first combat when he was flying as the third pilot in Sawada’s element. Iori Sakai of the 2nd chutai claimed another victory. Totally, the 2nd Daitai claimed 12 victories over Lanfeng for no losses.

Corporal Tezio Kanamaru of the 10th I F Chutai claimed a Chinese bomber over Mengcheng.

22 May 1938
On 22 May Tokuya Sudo from the 2nd chutai of the 2nd Daitai claimed a victory over Lanfeng.

24 May 1938
On 24 May a SB (starshiy leitenant S. A. Mursyukaev, leitenant I. P. Makarov, and Jr. Commander G. F. Lebedev) went missing at an unknown location.

25 May 1938
On 25 May the vice-commander of the 3rd PG, Major Lin Zuo crashed during a training flight. He was developing ground attack tactics on an I-15bis, which had been overhauled at a maintenance factory.

29 May 1938
On 29 May 1938 Kapitan Anton Gubenko claimed a Mitsubishi A5M shot down whilst flying an I-15bis, but was then shot down himself.

31 May 1938
The Japanese executed a new attack on the aerodromes of fighters defending the Chinese capital. The Chinese had received advance information and were ready for them, having been able to concentrate aircraft at the Hankou aerodrome already the day before. In all, there were concentrated more than a hundred fighters.
At 10:15 18 enemy bombers were spotted over Tung Chin by Chinese air defence lookouts followed by a reported 36 enemy aircraft over Lu-Jiang at 10:45. 46 enemy aircraft were spotted over the Camel Pass at 11:45 followed by a report of 39 enemy fighters near Qing-Shan at 12:00.
Thus, at midday a reported 39 enemy fighters and 18 enemy bombers approached Wuhan. At 11:50 49 Chinese interceptors successively began taking off from Wuhan. The Chinese fighters were four I-15bis from the 3rd PG, eight I-15bis and six I-16s (of the 21st PS) from the 4th PG, 21 I-15bis and ten I-16s from the Soviet volunteers. The 31 Soviet volunteers become the main attack force according to a previously devised plan while the 18 Chinese fighters climbed higher to provide an echeloned covering detachment. The fighters patrolled between Hankou and Qing-Shan.
Even before the appearance of the bombers, one of the groups of fighters flown by the Soviet volunteers was attacked at 12:07 by 18 A5Ms at 4500 meters. The Japanese fighter formation was reported to be 39 aircraft flying in a ‘V’ formation with 18 fighters at 4500 meters, 12 at 5000 meters and the high-cover of 9 fighters at 6000 meters. Six I-15bis flown by Soviet volunteers arrived to reinforce but at the same time 18 A5Ms joined the fight, leaving only 3 A5Ms as high-cover. At this time the I-16s from the 21st PS also joined the combat while the rest of the slower I-15bis gradually also did this. The formation led by Captain Cheng Hsiao-Yu, consisting of four I-15bis from the 3rd PG and eight I-15bis from the 4th PG didn’t manage to join combat since they were farthest away when the combat started and when they arrived north-east of the airport the enemy evaded east.
After the bombers appeared, A. Zingaev’s group threw themselves upon them, and with the first attack shot down two. The remaining bombers of the first group and the two remaining groups were not able to force their way through to the aerodrome and they turned back.
According to the recollections of N. G. Kozlov, the encounter with a large group of A5Ms occurred about 15 to 20 km east of the aerodrome. The Japanese attacked leaving one flight at altitude. Following the manoeuvres of his leader, Kozlov in a banking turn gave a burst at a Japanese fighter, which was following K. Opasov. In the turning carousel, this Japanese finally flew directly into the gun sights of Kozlov’s I-15bis, but the burst went into an already burning aircraft. A second Japanese began an attack on Kozlov. For their part, the I-16s conducted a battle in the vertical, diving at a steep angle and hitting the Japanese and then soaring upwards, and opening fire at the moment when the Japanese was dependent on his motor, climbing through a half loop. Mainly attacking out of the sun, the Japanese quickly lost the initiative, which gradually passed to the Chinese, as the battle dissolved into a sharp dogfight and gradually dissipated. While departing Kozlov let off a burst at long range at a Japanese under attack by two I-15bis, and the A5M limply began turning wing over wing and tumbled out of control to the ground.
In this combat Anton Gubenko returned in his damaged aircraft and reported that he had shot down one Japanese and rammed another. Aleksey Blagoveshchenskiy also claimed an enemy aircraft in this combat while Grigoriy Kravchenko claimed two.
Totally the Chinese fighters claimed 14 enemy aircraft shot down after a battle that lasted for 30 minutes. The 21st PS Squadron Leader, Captain Lo Ying-Teh, claimed one enemy aircraft shot down, which crashed south of Hou Lake. Lieutenant Liu Chi-Sheng of the 21st PS returned claiming an A5M, which crashed 20 kilometres north of the airfield. The pilot was seen to bale out. Han Sen teamed up with Huang Yan-Po and jointly they attacked one enemy aircraft five times before it crashed near Tian-Xin Shoal. The Soviet volunteers claimed six enemy aircraft shot down; one crashed at She-Kou, killing the pilot while another crashed 30 kilometres from She-Kou with the pilot parachuting.
The Chinese and the Soviet pilots each lost one pilot and one aircraft and several aircraft were seriously damaged. The 21st PS flight leader, Zhang Xiao-Xian, in I-16 no. 2107 was shot down and crashed in the Dai-Jia Mountain killing Zhang. I-15bis no. 90, flown by a Soviet volunteer, crashed near Hang-Dian but the pilot managed to parachute safely.
The Japanese record that 35 A5Ms (eleven from the 12th and 24 from the 13th Kokutais) escorted 18 G3M2 bombers. Poor visibility in the region of the target led to the fighters of the 13th Kokutai failing to discover the enemy, and the A5Ms of the 12th Kokutai became engaged in a battle against a reported 50 fighters. Nine aircraft of the Yoshitomi chutai of the 12th Kokutai reported tangling with about 50 enemy fighters and during the combat PO3c Yoshimi Minami claimed one enemy aircraft (9 victories in China and a total of 15) and Momoto Matsumura clamed three. He then received a hit in his A5M’s fuel tank; moreover, he found himself surrounded by twelve enemy aircraft. Since he had run out of ammunition, he employed a ramming tactic. Then, despite the fact that the left wing of his aircraft had been sheared off from the red ball of the rising sun outward, Minami started on his way back to base. He made an emergency landing on the banks of the Yangtze River and set his aircraft on fire. Fortunately for Minami, friendly search aircraft were able to spot him; he was rescued by a patrol boat and returned safely to base. One Japanese fighter (Sea1c Hiromitsu Takahara (Pilot 36) of the 12th Kokutai was killed) was lost in the combat. The Japanese fighters totally claimed 18 victories (alternatively 12 and 6 probables) including an old, unarmed Bellanca 28/90 biplane (evidently a reconnaissance aircraft).

At 13:00 on 31 May 1938, nine IJNAF Type 95 (E8N) aircraft were spotted and phoned into the Chinese Air Raid Warning Net by ground observers. The IJNAF floatplanes were flying towards Hukou from Shu Sung in the Anhuei Province. Chin Shui-Tin and four pilots of 28th PS took off from Nanchang to engage the raiders. They sighted nine E8Ns in a 'V' formation at 6000 feet near Hukou. The Gladiators had a height advantage of 1500 feet and Chin immediately signalled to attack. Immediately he rolled his Gladiator and dived to attack the E8N formation with his wingmen in hot pursuit. Since the E8Ns were less manoeuvrable they resorted to abrupt rolling and banking to try to shake off the attacking Gladiators. After 30 minutes of attacks, Chin shot down an E8N. Its wreckage and two dead Japanese crewmembers were later found approximately 20km north of Chen Chia-Ying (Chen Jia-Ying in Pin-yin). This aircraft was from the seaplane carrier Kamikawa Maru and the crew of PO3c Sato (pilot) and PO3c Nakayam (observer) were KIA.
Chou Ling-Hsu also shot down an E8N. This aircraft crashed near Anqing and the survivors were rescued by a Japanese vessel. Chin’s other wingmen, Kwan Yen-Sun, Teng Chung-Kai and Fan Hsin-Min also inflicted damage to other E8Ns. The Gladiators withdrew from their attacks when they began to run low on fuel and all of them landed safely at 14:30.

June 1938

The ground war

On 12 June Anqin was captured by Japanese troops.

During the period the Japanese forces attempted to encircle and annihilate the main body of the Chinese Army near Xuzhou, but the latter was able to break out of the encirclement to the west during mid June, and operations then ceased.

Chinese Air Force

On June 5 the Kuomintang government in Wuhan held a festive ceremony in the memory of all the fallen air heroes, including Chen Huai-Min. At the ceremony, in addition to the Kuomintang authorities, attending and laying a wreath was one of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, Zhou Enlai.

After the escalation of the struggle at Wuhan, the Chinese delegation again raised the issue of the supply of aviation equipment to the USSR and on 17 June a decision was taken to provide China with a credit for 100 I-15bis fighters. These arrived in Lanzhou on 10 November.

In June the 41st PS was organised in Kunming (Yunan Province), and with it served French advisors-volunteers. Their main assignment seemed to have been the securing the purchase of the Dewoitine D.510 from France. At this time the Japanese began continuous attacks on the city but it seems that the unit practically never participated in battle.
However according to the Soviet bomber pilot M. T. Machin a group of French volunteers, supposedly based at Nanchang fought the Japanese with Curtiss Hawks. While repulsing one of the attacks by A5Ms, in his words, they lost four machines, from which two pilots baled out. After several days, the Japanese shot down three more and one pilot was killed. After this the group ceased to exist. Machin perceived the reason to be the significant superiority of the A5M over the Hawk.

Until June 1938 the Soviet volunteers fought only on the main approaches, defending the large cities of Nankin, Nanchang and Wuhan. By the summer of 1938 and the battle for Wuhan the Soviet volunteers had dispersed their aircraft to reserve aerodromes in the surrounding area.

In June 1938 a group of ten I-15bis led by Kapitan Mikhail Yakushin arrived.

During June the Polynin Group returned to Lanzhou for overhaul of aircraft. At Lanzhou they were replaced by a new group under the command of T. T. Khryukin, which had arrived along the southern route.

On 3 June Tkhor led 13 SBs to Ulan-Bator and another 15 arrived there on 7 June. Captain S. V. Slyusarev became the commander of the group formed from these pilots. Then across Mongolia flew yet one more group led by G. V. Titov. These aircraft were initially deployed to Wanxian since Hankou was under severe Japanese air attacks.


In the end of June the 10th Sentai returned to the Kwantung Army.


In June the Soryu detachment moved from Nanking to Wuhu in early June and by mid-June to the Anqing base.
At this time they flew air defence and ground support sorties.

By June 1938 Japanese attacks by the 14th Kokutai on Guangzhou become more frequent.

On 25 June the 15th Kokutai was organized at Omura and sent to reinforce the 14th Kokutai, but numerous losses required that they were equipped equally with the A5M2 and the A4N1.


1 June 1938
On 1 June 1938 Chin Shui-Tin was promoted to Captain, and became Commander of the 28th PS.

3 June 1938
Leitenant S. A. Moskal’ was killed in air combat over Anqin during the day.

8 June 1938
The Ki-27 of Captain Mitsugu Sawada, 1st chutai of the 2nd Daitai, was damaged during air combat.

9 June 1938
Four Hawk IIIs of the 25th PS from Hankou each carrying four 120lbs bombs attacked Japanese shipping near Tatung.

10 June 1938
Five SBs from Hankou attacked seven Japanese ships near Tungling, claiming one of them hit.

16 June 1938
On 16 June 1938 reports indicated that nine enemy fighters were sighted near Nan Hsiung. John Wong, commander of the 5th PG, and eight Gladiators were dispatched from Xiaoquan airbase to search for enemy planes. As they reached 13000 feet above Xixin, Teng Chung-Kai saw what they identified as six Ki-21 heavy bombers in two 'V' formations flying 2000 feet below him.
In fact the Japanese aircraft were six IJNAF Type 96 G3Ms from the Takao Ku. Lieutenant Yoneda led one flight of three while the second was led by Lieutenant (jg) Fumio Iwaya (author of "Chukoh").
Teng swirled his Gladiator (no. 2809) slightly to notify Wong who then gave the signal to attack. Wong (Gladiator no. 2909), Chin Shui-Tin (Gladiator no. 2802) and Teng took the lead to dive into the second enemy bomber 3-plane formation (Yoneda's flight).
Wong attacked Yoneda in the lead bomber with his favorite approach of diving from above and pulling up to shoot at the belly of the bombers. He hit the bomber's externally slung bomb-load (8 x 60kg bombs) under the belly and detonated one of the bombs, destroying the Japanese aircraft. The explosion possibly also damaged the other two bombers in the formation.
Chin shot down the aircraft flying to the left of the lead bomber and it went down in flames. Wong also claimed three additional shared destroyed in this combat. The Japanese Lieutenant (jg) Iwaya reported that he saw all three G3M's from Yoneda's flight descend into the cloud cover, one of them wrapped in flames from the explosion, a second aircraft streamed fuel from its right wing tank while a third was in a 90 degree bank. ROCAF records indicate that two wrecks were found in rice fields between Lok-Cheung (Le Chang) and Yun Fa (Ren Hua), almost certainly that of Yoneda and his no.2 wingman.
Other Gladiators followed and attacked the remaining bombers. After an hour of fierce combat, three more Japanese bombers were claimed shot down and the only surviving bomber sought refuge in thick clouds, escaping with a leaking wing tank trailing white smoke. The Chinese Air Force claimed five victories in this combat, which had taken place between 10:30 and 11:30 but in fact none of the G3Ms in Iwaya's flight was lost although all of them were damaged and streaming fuel from punctured wing tanks. One of the gunners from the no.2 in this flight was badly injured. The Chinese however lost two Gladiators in this combat. Kwan Yensun in Gladiator no. 2811 was hit by enemy fire and he was forced to bail out with minor facial burns. The other Gladiator lost was no. 2814, piloted by Shen Mu-Hsiu, which force-landed near Chennam due to damaged sustained from enemy fire. Louie Yim-Qun, who claimed a shared destroyed in this combat, landed with a punctured wing tank and Wong's Gladiator sported many holes caused by the explosion of the enemy bomber he hit.
The no.3 aircraft of Yoneda's flight also failed to return from this action, but it didn't go done at the same place as the other two. The Chinese found it farther away by Tong-Tse Wan (Tong-Tse Bay) at the Wu Shui River near Lok Cheung. Indications are that it was Chin who finished this G3M off since when he landed a mechanic ran to his aircraft and told him that the Air Raid Warning Net phoned in a report that there was a lone G3M flying along the coast. He took off once again and caught up with this G3M over the bank of the Wu Shui River that runs past the city of Lok Cheung (Le Chang). He fired his remaining ammunition into this bomber and sent it away smoking heavily. This is almost certainly the No.3 from the Yoneda flight. Perhaps it was damaged in the initial encounter with John Wong's flight and was searching for its bearings after descending through the cloud layer. In any event, Chin’s description of the lone aircraft and the crash site supports this theory. Chin only claimed this as a damaged at 12:00.

19 June 1938
Eight SBs in two groups attacked shipping near Anking, claiming to hit several vehicles. A dozen Japanese fighters attacked them but there were no losses on either side.

21 June 1938
Five SBs from Hankou ran into two Japanese bombers and fighters respectively near Pengtse and claimed one fighter shot down.

23 June 1938
Three SBs from Nanchang attacked Japanese vessels near Tungliu and claimed two hits.

24 June 1938
Three sorties totalling nine SBs from Nanchang plus another sortie of three SBs from Hankou attacked Japanese vessels near Tungliu.

25 June 1938
At 06:30, three SBs from Hankou attacked Japanese shipping near Anking, claiming three hits. Six Japanese fighters and one floatplane attacked the SBs, which escaped to Nanchang without loss.

At 06:50, ten SBs from Nanchang struck the Wuhu airfield and escaped when pursued by Japanese interceptors.

At 15:45, three SBs from Nanchang struck the Anking airfield with its 15 parked aircraft, and then eluded the three patrolling Japanese planes.

At 15:00, seven SBs escorted by seven I-15s departed from Nanchang to attack shipping near Tungliu. Several SBs were slightly damaged after being attacked by 21 Japanese fighters.

During one of these attacks, Warrant Officer Sakae Kato from the Soryu fighter detachment at Anking took off on an intercept mission. He claimed one enemy aircraft (probably an SB) but his aircraft lost speed and he destroyed it. It was assumed that the cause for this was a temporary loss of consciousness because of physical weakness on the part of the pilot.

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

Meanwhile, in the morning, 18 Japanese land-based bombers escorted by 28 carrier fighters attacked Nanchang. These were intercepted by Chinese fighters, which returned claiming five fighters and one heavy bomber (possibly a G3M). One of these claims were made by Liu Chi-Sheng of the 21st PS.
During the attack, Lieutenant Takahide Aioi of the 12th Kokutai took three A5Ms of the shotai with him and detached his group from the main force. They found themselves surrounded by about twenty enemy fighters and after a hard struggle, each of the aircraft claimed two of the enemy fighters. Aioi himself barely managed to elude his pursuers but did get back and land at Anking.
Totally, the returning Japanese fighters claimed 19 enemy fighters, 4 probables and 2 more destroyed on the ground without losses.

At 11:40, the six fighters in the first patrol returned for refuelling, leaving the others on alert. At 12:00, three Japanese bombers with six escorts emerged from the low clouds and dropped twelve bombs on the airfield, slightly damaging three SBs and one Hawk III under repair. Three Japanese fighters and one bomber were claimed in this second encounter. Two Russian piloted I-15s were shot down; no. 5904 (pilot KIA) and no. 5379 piloted by Kapitan Anton Gubenko, who escaped safely.

July 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

In July 1938 an agreement was signed for new credits from the USSR consisting of 50 million dollars.

During July the scale of resistance of Chinese aviation decreased dramatically even if there still were some sharp air battles.

On 9 July, the 25th PS began to train on the Hawk 75M under the direction of Claire Chennault.
Upon completion of its training on 28 July, the Squadron was assigned the duty of defending the areas of Hengyang.

From 14 July to 28 July the Japanese managed to intercept only a few of the 49 Chinese air attacks, which was flown.

In July the entire Chinese 4th PG relocated to Nanchang as a combat reserve, and was then transferred to the training centre (Main Fighter Unit) at Liangshan (Sichuan province) “for training”. The 21st PS of the 4th PG was sent there even before July.

From the end of July the 26th PS (I-16) participated in battle over Hankou.

The toll of the July air battles was heavy for the Soviet volunteers. During this month 11 pilots and crew members were killed, more than 10% of the combat losses for the period 1937 to 1939. This was attributed to the offensive of the Japanese ground forces, which made it possible for them to extend their network of aerodromes, while the number of Chinese air warning posts at the same time decreased. This decreased the time from the first notice to the appearance of the Japanese. According to the recollections of Nikolay Kozlov, constantly “the pilots were assigned to the exhausting duty flight, maintained at ‘readiness number one’, sitting in their aeroplanes in the broiling sun, shielding their heads with their map cases.”

In the middle of July two Soviet air groups were based on the aerodrome at Xiaogan and two more air groups were based at Hankou.

At the meeting of the Soviet and Chinese delegations on 22 July 1938 the first conclusions were summarised from the participation of Soviet volunteers in the Sino-Japanese war. Considering the interaction of the Soviet and Chinese pilots, the Soviet representatives observed that in the Chinese Air Force, alongside pilots who were courageous and fearless, there were also members of aircrews who not infrequently avoided fulfilling military assignments, intentionally disabled aircraft and so forth. As an example, 23 SBs of the latest group (27 SBs) were put out of service soon after delivery to China. The Kuomintang representatives expressed deep indignation on these accusations. The harsh Soviet comments were possibly the catalyst to the rapid cooling of relations between our volunteers and the Chinese authorities.
There were no such reports about the fighters, but the negligence of the Chinese military administration was noted; aviation suffered serious losses from untimely notification of the approach of Japanese aircraft. The alarm signal (“timbo”) often sounded only 5-10 minutes before the Japanese flew over. Pilots were unable to gain the necessary altitude and occupy a suitable tactical formation. Dimitriy Kudymov’s memoirs mentioned that the signal for take-off was perpetually tardy because the air observation and warning service in Nanking operated poorly, and that pilots could take off only when the enemy was already over the city or the airfield. The problem was made worse by the construction of the I-16’s undercarriage, which for retraction required the pilot to give more than 40 turns of a wheel, while taking care not to hit the control cables.
The general inability to organise on the part of the Chinese delayed introduction of new airfields which would permit the dispersal of aircraft, but also did not allow them to be evacuated to less exposed airfields in the rear.

Unfortunately, to reach a quantitative summary of the role of Soviet fighters in the beginning stage of the war, and to identify the most successful groups and individual pilots is almost impossible for a number of reasons. In addition to the commonplace registration of kills by foreigners to “volunteers”, according to agreements with Chinese aviation officials, the basic fact is that Soviet volunteers and the Chinese entered air battles in mixed groups, together they fought and shot down the Japanese and together they died. In addition to this, the membership of the Soviet volunteer groups was continually changing. In this connection, the Soviet aviation command manoeuvred the fighter groups according to reconnaissance data, rebasing them from Hankou to Nanchang as reinforcements and the reverse. Also, as a measure of the development of the aviation network, large groups splintered and were deployed as flights at small fields (at Nanchang there were two fields, a large and a small one, and later at Chengdu there were seven), which at the same time complicated the task of the Japanese bombers. The names of all the commanders of these small groups are unknown. Chinese records states that during various periods of the war the number of Soviet fighter groups varied from two to eight, though for the largest period of time there were five. Among the named commanders of the groups are V. M. Kurdyumov, G. M. Prokof’ev, Aleksey Blagoveshchenskiy, N. A. Smirnov, A. S. Zingaev, Georgiy Zakharov, E. M. Nikolaenko, F. F. Zherebchenko, G. P. Kravchenko, Mikhail Yakushin, S. P. Suprun, K. K. Kokkinaki, A. I. Lysunskii, S. K. Bdaitsiev, Nikolay Kozlov, T. Rakhmanov, Ivanov, Bol’shakov, Aleksey Baranov, etc.

By the summer of 1938 the period of the special detail expired for the first group of Soviet volunteer aviators. They returned to the Soviet Union via the southern route leaving all their aviation equipment to the Chinese.

In the summer of 1938 the commander of fighter aviation, Pavel Rychagov was recalled to the Soviet Union together with the volunteers, and was replaced by P. F. Zhigarev. Finally the chief aviation advisor became P. N. Anisimov. His deputies were S. P. Suprun (fighters) and V. A. Kartakov (bombers).

During the summer Chinese intelligence received information that off the southern coast, near Guangzhou a major landing assault was being organised. It was decided to send a group of Soviet volunteers to the area. The redeployment took place in small groups, because the intermediate aerodrome could not manage large groups, being tiny and bounded by a marsh. Landing there proceeded fairly well. Only one pilot (Andreev) touched down far from the landing “T” and at excessive speed ran into the swamp at the edge of the runway. Both the pilot and the aeroplane received “only a mild scare”. Most of the group landed at Guangzhou shortly before sunset, but Blagoveshchenskiy in the last I-15bis and A. G. Rytov with Colonel Zhang in a light four-seat aircraft could not make it before nightfall. At that time the Chinese airfields were not equipped for night take-off or landings. As Rytov later wrote, “they simply had no idea of the concept, and flew only during the day”. The native pilot with “Olympic” calmness descended into the dark toward the glowing lights of a large city. Barely missing collision with a large building, he turned sharply to the right and flew into a ditch. The aircraft was destroyed but the passengers were unhurt. Moments earlier, Blagoveshchenskiy somehow had managed to spot the airfield through the darkness, but while landing he snagged his wheels on something and ended up on his nose. It seems that in the darkness he had confused the runway with a sewage pipe.
During the night the Japanese bombed the airfield. However, losses were minimal - only one I-16 damaged, and several holes in the wing surfaces of Nikolay Kozlov’s I-15bis.
In the morning the I-15bis, loaded with 25-kg bombs escorted by the I-16s flew to bomb the port of Aomyn, at Macao, where a Japanese airbase was located. The Japanese had timely removed their aircraft away from the attack - the airfield was empty and the group was met with fierce antiaircraft fire. After dropping all their bombs on a nearby Japanese cruiser without effect, the pilots returned without loss to Guangzhou. Here they awaited the Japanese landing for a week, but the information proved false. Leaving a portion of the group behind to reinforce the local air defences, the rest returned to Nanchang.

From the middle of 1938 as the front lines drew closer, Lanzhou began to experience Japanese air attacks. According to the recollections of P. T. Sobin, in the second half of 1938 and first half of 1939, several times the Japanese conducted attacks on Lanzhou, but serious damage was not suffered because F. F. Zherebchenko’s group of ten I-16s met them on the approaches to the aerodrome and shot down several. Also among their duties was defense of the air corridor.


On 31 July the 8th Daitai split to form the 77th Flying Sentai and the 41st Airfield Daitai.

During July the 10th I F Chutai converted from the Kawasaki Ki-10 to the Nakajima Ki-27.


In the summer of 1938 the Japanese began a new offensive against Wuhan. After capturing Anking on 12 June the Japanese based the recently organised 15th Kokutai there and began to advance up the Yangtze River in the direction of Wuhan. Somewhat surprising for the Japanese, Chinese aviation became active, making 49 attacks during July on Japanese ships on the river and troops on the land.

During the period from the end of April 1938 to the 19 July attack on Hankou the 12th Kokutai claimed 112 enemy aircraft shot down (including 12 probables) while losing only five aircraft.

Due to the delays in organisation, the 15th Kokutai entered combat on 10 July from Anking, and then they included A5Ms from the aircraft carrier Soryu, stationed off the coast since April.
The several A5Ms located at Anking had been unable to provide adequate air protection for the Japanese forces until the arrival of the 15th Kokutai.
At this time the 15th Kokutai had a nominal strength of one unit of carrier fighters (12 aircraft), one unit of carrier bombers (12 aircraft) and a half unit carrier attack aircraft (6 aircraft). Actual strength was nine A4Ns, nine A5Ms, 18 carrier bombers and nine carrier attack aircraft. Primary duties were to cooperate in the army’s Hankou operations and in particular air defense in the areas along the Yangtze River.


June – July 1938
During the period from 14 June to 28 July the Japanese counted 49 enemy attacks on vessels and troops along the banks of the Yangtze River.

3 July 1938
On 3 July starshiy leitenant A. I. Matkin, Junior Commander I. S. Bastynchuk and the rest of the crew of an SB were missing in action in an air battle near Anqin.

4 July 1938
On 4 July the Chinese sent up 65 fighters over Nanchang against 23 A5Ms and 26 G3M2s. In the ensuing combat the Japanese claimed more than half of the defenders as destroyed.
According to Taiwanse sources in this battle seven I-15bis of the 22nd PS led by Squadron Commander Zhang Wei-Hua shot down one A5M, whose pilot was captured. The Squadron Commander himself was wounded, and baled out, and the pilot Zhang Zhichawu was killed. Another pilot baled out and was strafed in the air.
Motonari Suho of the 12th Kokutai claimed two aircraft in this combat. Totally the Japanese claimed 45 victories in this combat, 5 probables and 9 more destroyed on the ground. It seems that at least two A5Ms of the 12th Kokutai were lost when PO1c Kyushichi Kobayashi (Pilot 18) and PO2c Toku Murata (Pilot 32) were killed.

7 July 1938
On 7 July 1938, the first anniversary of the start of the Sino-Japanese war there was a huge air battle over Nanchang. At the sound of the alarm, everyone took off at once, on criss-crossing paths, I-16s, I-15bis and SBs. In this battle the Japanese adopted a very strange tactics, allowing the bombers to fly in advance without protection while the fighters, in compact groups came later, falling upon the Chinese fighters as they were exiting from their attack on the bombers. On this day four Japanese bombers and fighters were claimed shot down. In the first sudden attack B. Borodai, in an I-16 shot down a bomber. In all, the Soviet volunteers lost seven aircraft, and the I-15bis of Anton Gubenko and N. G. Kozlov were seriously damaged. Sukhorukov was killed in the battle, Gridin baled out, Rovnin was wounded and landed back at the airfield, and E. Vladimirov turned over in a rice paddy in his damaged I-15bis. K. Opasov shot down a bomber early in the battle and later baled out, but was killed in the air by the Japanese. Three days later fishermen pulled his body out of Lake Poyanghu. (The physician S. Belolipetskii has however described his death differently: K. Opasov shot down a Japanese aircraft and was preparing to land, but very close to the ground his aircraft suddenly went into a steep dive and crashed. There were no signs of bullet wounds in the body, but there were bullet holes in the coverings of the control surfaces and the stabilisers. Seemingly, the aircraft lost control at the moment when it was too low to bale out...”)
On the eve of this battle, Opasov’s I-15bis received a new motor and a heavy calibre “Colt” machine gun in addition to the four PV-1s.
In this battle three Chinese pilots were shot down. Afterward the group of Soviet fighters relocated to the reserve airfield at Tengsu.
According to the Soviet defence ministry archives, starshiy leitenant K. Opasov, and leitenants V.A. Kashkarov, E. I. Sukhorukov, and S. A. Khryukov were killed on 4 July 1938 so it is possible that there is some confusion regarding the battles on 4 and 7 July.

8 July 1938
On 8 July was Second Lieutenant Tokuo Obe (NCO38) of the 10th I F Chutai shot down and killed over Anking.

11 July 1938
On 11 July N. G. Kozlov was shot down in flames but managed to bale out.

12 July 1938
On 12 July A5Ms escorted groups of bombers attacking Wuchang. Totally 40 fighters escorted 20 bombers during the attack.
Nine more Japanese bombers attacked the airfield at Yichang.

On 12 July three SBs belonging to the 1st BS of the 1st BG flew from Jian to bomb enemy ships on the Yangtze River. On the return trip they were attacked by five Japanese fighters. The gunner Zhao Shulin claimed one of them before the SB was shot down in flames. The gunner and pilot safely baled out but the navigator perished in the burning wreck.

The same day three bombers of the 2nd BS of the 1st BG together with two Soviet crews were assigned to bomb ships near Angqing. During the return journey they were intercepted by Japanese fighters and one Chinese SB was shot down in flames. The navigator managed to parachute while the pilot and gunner also baled out but were killed.

Totally five SBs were shot down during the day and nine crewmen perished.

14 July 1938
On 14 July A5Ms escorted groups of bombers attacking Wuhan.

16 July 1938
On 16 July 15 A5Ms escorted groups of 18 land-based bombers attacking Nanchang and the aerodrome at Xiaogan, where two Soviet air groups were based.
The returning Japanese claimed 10 victories and 3 more destroyed on the ground without any losses.

In an air battle on 16 July Er Shi-Tong of the 32nd PS (Gladiators) claimed a Japanese aircraft. The group lost two of the five Gladiators (no.s 3204 and 3210) which took off to intercept, the pilot of the latter baling out.

Captain Kiyoshi Nishikawa died of disease in Nanking on 16 July 1938.

Fighters from the 15th Kokutai intercepted nine attacking SBs during the day, PO1c Ichiro Higashiyama and PO3c Yoshiharu Matsumoto claimed three of the invaders.

17 July 1938
During a night bombing training flight near Nanchang on 17 July the commander of the 1st BS, Li Cizhen, made a forced landing in a river near Jiujiang and drowned together with his crew.

18 July 1938
Kapitan Anton Gubenko seventh and last claim was made on 18 July.

On 18 July the 15th Kokutai dispatched 14 carrier bombers and five carrier attack aircraft under Lieutenant Commander Matsumoto, escorted by six A5Ms led by Lieutenant Mochifumi Nango (Class 55), to participate in the attacks on Nanchang. The carrier fighter squadron, however, was unable to rendezvous with the carrier bomber squadron at the appointed place. They clashed with a reported eleven Chinese fighters in an air battle over Lake Piyang and after finishing off a damaged enemy fighter Nango turned to search for a new opponent when another burning Chinese fighter crashed into him. Both machines tumbled into a lake. The Japanese fighters returned to claim 9 victories and two probables with only one loss. Two of the victories were claimed by PO3c Hatsu-o Hidaka. PO3c Ichiro Higashiyama, who flew as number two wingman to Nango and witnessed his demise, claimed two enemy aircraft (totally 6 victories – 6 in China).
Five I-15bis from the 8th PS at Xiaogang (Hubei Province) had been sent to Nanchang for early reaction to Japanese attacks. In the air battle Lieutenant Huang Qiu was first shot down, and then the Japanese surrounded and destroyed the entire group of I-15bis. According to English sources it was the Soviet volunteer V. Dadonov, which crashed into Nango, escaping by parachute.
At the same time Lieutenant (junior grade) Ogawa and Satoru Ono (who recently had been posted from the Kaga and was flying as number two wingman to Matsumoto) of the carrier bomber unit pulled off the stunt of landing on the Nanchang airfield, setting enemy aircraft on the ground afire, and then taking off! Totally 19 Chinese aircraft were claimed destroyed on the ground. Ono also claimed two additional enemy aircraft in the air.

19 July 1938
On 19 July fighters attacked an SB flown by Gao Weilian while he was approaching the landing strip. The crew managed to bale out, but only the gunner was saved when the two other parachutists came down into a lake and drowned.

August 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

In August 1938 the Soviet volunteers informed the home country that recently the relations with the Chinese administration had sharply deteriorated. In the opinion of the Soviets, the Chinese had begun deliberately to limit the participation of their own pilots in combat and to shift the entire burden of battle to the Soviet volunteers. A serious warning by the Soviet government forced the leadership of China to call to order their military officials. However, even after this, difficulties continued with maintenance, feeding and supply of the Soviet volunteers. The commander of a SB Group, S. V. Slyusarev remembers that at the end of the year relations with the higher Chinese command began to grow worse. “We noticed that the Chinese service personnel changed, in the mess hall different cooks and servers appeared. Food deteriorated. To our questions we almost never received answers. We were occasionally advised to get out of the dayroom, particularly in the evening. It was decided that we should go into town only in groups of three to five people.”

After the Japanese in the south captured Guangzhou, an attack on the provisional capital of China began from a southerly direction. On 26 August by order of the staff, the Air Force transferred the 7th and 8th PSs of the 3rd PG, equipped with the I-15bis, to the 2nd Army at Henyang (Hunan Province).

By order of the staff, the Air Force on 29 August moved the 32nd PS with Gladiators under the command of the commander of the 3rd PG, Captain Wu Yu-Liu, to Nan Hsiung for defence against enemy air attacks.


On 1 August the 2nd Hiko Daitai was amalgated with the 9th I F Chutai to form the 64th Sentai.


At the end of August the Japanese presumed that they had destroyed a large portion of the Chinese aeroplanes in the air or on the ground, and that to survive a large share of the Chinese aircraft had been evacuated to the rear to get beyond the combat range of the A5M, which began regularly to fly with underbelly fuel tanks. According to Japanese recoreds, from September 1937 to the end of August 1938, the A5M alone had destroyed more than 330 Chinese aircraft while losing less than 30 of their own machines. Chinese data confirm only a third of their claims.


3 August 1938
At 07:40 on 3 August 1938, 18 G3Ms were seen flying over Guangde. Later at 09:00, more than 70 Japanese fighters were reported heading for Hankou. In response to this treat, the Chinese Air Force scrambled 52 fighters consisting of 20 I-15bis, 13 I-16s, 11 Gladiators and 7 Hawk IIIs in four groups from Hankou to intercept the Japanese intruders. The 11 Gladiators were assigned to the 4th PG, which was divided into two subgroups. Subgroup A was led by Captain Wu Yu-Liu, Commander of the 3rd PG, who was flying an I-15bis and with four Gladiators under his leadership. Subgroup B was led by 28th PS leader Chin Shui-Tin, who was flying Gladiator no. 2809 and with six Gladiators under his leadership.
Subgroup A took off from Hankou at 09:55. Because Wu Yu-Liu's I-15bis not could match the speed of the Gladiators, he was forced to fly astern of the Gladiators and he therefore passed the command to Zhu Jia-Xun, Squadron Leader of 32nd Squadron. As Zhu led the Gladiators to move into the forward position, Wu's I-15bis was attacked by A5Ms. Since the I-15bis was obsolete in comparison to the more nimble Japanese fighters, Wu's situation was most critical but luckily Zhu and his Gladiators returned and attacked the A5Ms. Zhu and He Jermin took charge of the attack while the other Gladiators provided them with cover at a higher altitude. Zhu attacked the two A5Ms chasing Wu's I-15 and one of them abruptly turned and fled while the other was hit by Zhu, who punctured the A5Ms wing tank causing it to lose altitude rapidly. Zhu's wingman, He Jermin, shot down another A5M, which ditched into Lake Chaoping. Totally, Subgroup A was in combat with the A5Ms for more than 10 minutes and they landed at Hankou airbase at 11:30.
Subgroup B was airborne just a few minutes after Subgroup A departed. Chin led the seven Gladiators in a wide orbit in the south-west corner of Hankou climbing to 12000 feet. The height made the Chinese pilots groggy from hypoxia when they suddenly became aware that the sky to their left was speckled with A5Ms. Chin signalled the Gladiators to climb to 21000 feet but the Japanese fighters detected them. Over 30 A5Ms diving from 2000 feet above engaged the seven Gladiators. There were three I-16s from the 1st Air Group (probably from the 26th PS) attached to Subgroup B and these were lagging behind the Gladiators. The attacking A5Ms immediately cut these off. Squadron vice-commander Louie Yim-Qun in Gladiator no. 5732 was flying in the tail end Charlie position and he was attacked simultaneously from different directions but he was relieved by Chin and Shen Mushiu in Gladiator no. 2804. Louie Yim-Qun claimed a shared enemy aircraft destroyed in this combat.
An I-16 under attack from several A5Ms was helped by Chin’s wingman, Fan Hsin-Min in Gladiator no. 2805, who dived to his rescue but he was soon himself under attack from other A5Ms. Chin went to his wingman's aid and managed to shoot the A5M off his tail. Before Chin could deliver the coup de grace to his victim, he came under attack himself. The first indication he got of the attack was bullets bouncing off the newly installed armour plate, which probably saved his life. Chin turned tightly to evade the attack but his Gladiator was already damaged. Three A5M's lined up to making firing passes, diving from above, firing and then zooming back up for altitude, taking full advantage of the A5M's better performance in the vertical plane. After a few passes, Chin’s aircraft was badly shot up, with a number of wing-bracing wires shot away. His aircraft was almost uncontrollable and he decided to take one of the A5M's with him. As one of them completed his firing pass and began his zoom climb, Chin reversed his turn and rammed the A5M. His right wings and nose hit the tail of the A5M and tore it off. Chin’s head was slapped against the side of the canopy of the wildly spinning Gladiator before he was able to bail out. Landing in a field, Chin was presented with a machine gun salvaged from his crashed Gladiator. Hitching a ride back to Hankou in a Douglas O-2MC, Chin was sent to the infirmary when Chennault came to visit him. Chin joked about the machine gun by asking Chennault if he could swap it for a new plane to fight the Japanese. Chennault later embellished the story in "The Way of a Fighter" saying that Chin found the gun, carried it back to the airfield and asked to swap it for a plane. More dramatic but not quite the truth!
A fourth A5M was claimed by Liu Ling-Yang of 28th PS. His own aircraft was however damaged and he bailed out into the Yangtze River and swam to safety.
Subgroup B lost another Gladiator in this combat. This loss was attributed to an engine failure when the engine on Gladiator no. 5723 stopped in the middle of the combat. The Gladiator started to spin and with many difficulties was the pilot, Chou Ling-Hsu, able to get out of the cockpit in time since when he was hanging in his parachute, the Gladiator exploded in mid-air, sending debris flying several thousand feet in all directions.
In this combat claimed the commander of the 26th PS, Captain Wang Han-Hsun, an enemy aircraft before his I-16 was badly hit; in his cabin were more than 60 bullet hits. Liu Ling-Chi (no. 5922) also shot down a Japanese aircraft. When his I-16 was set afire the pilot baled out. I-16 no.5921 was shot down and no. 5920 made a forced landing.
The Japanese escort seems to have been 21 A5Ms, which returned claiming 27 enemy aircraft and 5 probables for the loss of three fighters from the 15th Kokutai (Lieutenant (junior grade) Naohisa Shinjo (Class 62) and PO2c Hitoshi Fukusawa (Pilot 27) were killed while PO3c Namitaro Matsushima (Pilot 30) was taken prisoner but later returned) after having been intercepted by a reported 50 Chinese aircraft.

Three SBs, flown by Soviet volunteers (Slyusarev, Kotov and Anisimov), made a surprise attack on the aerodrome at Anking from 7200 meters altitude during the day.
A shell fragment from AA fire hit the supercharger of Slyusarev’s aircraft and it began to lose altitude. At the same time they were intercepted by two Japanese fighters and then by more than twenty (mostly Type 96s but also some Type 95s). The flight closed up into a tight wedge and began to fight off the attackers.
When they all safely returned they claimed five Japanese fighters while one of the gunners was wounded in a leg. At the aerodrome the crews counted 50 to 70 holes in each of the aircraft.

5 August 1938
On 5 August the crew and ten passengers, who were lost in a fatal crash of a Soviet military transport aircraft, were buried in the region of Urumchi.

12 August 1938
A major air battle occurred over Wuhan on 12 August, in which forty fighters led by major E. M. Nikolaenko gave battle to a reported 120 Japanese aircraft. According to Soviet information, the Soviet volunteers shot down 16 Japanese aircraft while losing five of their own machines. According to reminiscences, I. N. Gurov was killed in this battle. As they watched from the ground, his I-15bis gradually descended completing a series of loops, one after another. When exiting from the last loop it hit the ground, tearing off the landing gear and damaging the propeller, and skimmed along the earth’s surface for a short distance on its belly. Gurov sat strapped into his seat, his right arm grasping the control stick, the left on the throttle, and feet on the pedals. In his chest were six bullets. (According to archival information I. N. Gurov is listed as killed on 3 August 1938 together with starshiy leitenant P. S. Filippov. Killed in air combat on August 12 were Kapitan A. P. Tikhonov, starshiy leitenant Kh. Kh. Churyakov, leitenant A. G. Maglyak, and Jr. Commanders A. P. Ivanov and P. G. Popov. They all, except for Maglyak, are listed as buried at Nanchang.)

On 12 August 1938 in one battle over Hankou the Japanese at once strafed two pilots who had baled out of Soviet fighters. A gunner-radio operator saved on 12 August from a shot down SB (the pilot and navigator perished) remembers: “How I opened the parachute I don’t know...Observing me, a Japanese fighter began to dive at the parachute and opened fire, with the result that there were several tears in the canopy of the parachute, but I remained unharmed. Then he drew very near to the canopy; to all appearances he wanted to hook me on his landing gear and drag me back to his own territory as a trophy. I actively defended myself and began to slip the parachute, rapidly losing height. Following three or four unsuccessful attacks, the Japanese left me in peace...”

16 August 1938
PO1c Masumi Tsutsumi (Pilot 24) from the Kaga’s fighter daitai was killed in the Canton area during the day. The cause is unknown.

18 August 1938
Three Japanese nine-aircraft flights attacked Hengyang in Hunan Province. Tang Pu-Sheng (???), squadron commander of the 25th PS, led three Hawk 75Ms and seven I-15bis to intercept the intruders. Commander Tang (Hawk 75M) attacked the Japanese aircraft five times. He shot down an enemy aircraft and single-handedly dove after nine Japanese aircraft. His aircraft was however hit and he went down in flames and was killed in action. Another Japanese aircraft was damaged but the other two Hawk 75Ms crash-landed. In this combat two more Chinese pilots were killed, one was seriously wounded, and one more killed on the ground.
SBs piloted by Soviet volunteers waited out the attack in the air without losses, although one impatient aircraft was almost hit by the bombs while making a landing approach.

SBs attacked a group of ships near the city of Hukou on 18 August 1938. The bombing was from high altitude and during the return trip a fragment of an antiaircraft shell cut the oxygen tube to the volunteer S. V. Slyusarev, who piloted a SB at 6500-7000 meters altitude. He became unconscious but did come to. He made a forced landing in a suburb of Yang (Qiangxi province). The crew survived but the airplane was destroyed.
The reasons to the high altitude bombing was the appearance of the new Japanese Ki-27 fighters (Type 97) with significantly greater speed and rate of climb. Until the middle of 1938 the Soviet bombers flew in China at altitudes of 2000 to 4000 meters. The Ki-27 forced them to increase the bombing altitude to7500-8500 m. At this time the ordinary aircrew of the Soviet air force were not trained for high altitude flights and the Chinese technical units often did not have an oxygen station and obtained oxygen from the repair depots. Often the oxygen was of doubtful quality and mixed with a large number of various impurities. At altitude the tubes and masks sometimes frozen and it was not uncommon that individual crewmembers lost consciousness. S. V. Slyusarev remembers that “... as a rule in spite of the norms, we opened the oxygen valves half way in order to extend the range of the aircraft at high altitude.”

19 August 1938
On 19 August 27 Japanese bombers flying in two groups against Hankou were met by a dozen Chinese fighters and anti-aircraft fire. Two Japanese were shot down and the bombs released from 3000-4000 m fell on an empty aerodrome, as on the eve the SBs had flown to another aerodrome at Juangxi.

20 August 1938
On 20 August, while taking off in a repaired I-16 the commander of the 22nd PS, Wang Yuan-Po was killed.

21 August 1938
During an attack on 21 August the Japanese shot down two aircraft of the 12th training unit. The new commander of the 24th PS Li Ke-Yuan managed to take off with his wingman, but while trying to gain height, he was shot down.

On 21 August six of the 77th Sentai’s Ki-10s led by Captain Shin-ichi Muraoka, strafed Hankou airfield. Here the top cover, Toyoki Eto and Captain Hajime Kawada, engaged I-16s and Avro fighters. Joined by four more of the unit’s aircraft, they claimed eight shot down, two of the by Lieutenant Eto, who was then obliged to force-land on the bank of the Yangzijiang, from where he was rescuedby a flyingboat.

On 21 August the new commander of the 1st BS, Lieutenant Tian Xiangchuo took off from Hankou for Chengdu, but along the way crashed into the Nantuo River and perished with his crew.

30 August 1938
At 09:50 on 30 August 1938, Nan Hsiung Command Post received a transmission that nine D1As had started from an airbase in Fujien to bomb Huizhou in the Guangdong Province. When it was confirmed that the D1As were crossing the Fujien/Jiangxi provincial border, Gladiators from the 3rd PG scrambled to intercept the enemy bombers. Once airborne the Gladiators divided into two formations. Captain Wu Yu-Liu led the first formation of five Gladiators while Zhu Jia-Xun, Squadron Leader of the 32nd Squadron, commanded the remaining four Gladiators. They were late, however, for at 10:30 the D1As had already completed their bomb run over Huizhou. It was estimated that over 30 bombs had been dropped creating extensive damage to the runway and the control building. When the Gladiators reached Huizhou, the D1As were already gone. Meanwhile military intelligence indicated that two more groups of enemy fighters and bombers were approaching Nan Hsiung. Wu thus led his Gladiators to report back to Nan Hsiung for CAP duties. While the Gladiators were racing for Nan Hsiung, the first group of 18 D1As arrived at Shaoguan at 10:50 to unload their bombs inflicting minor damage to the airbase facilities. The second group of eleven D1As escorted by an equal number of A5Ms reached Nan Hsiung at 10:40. The nine waiting Gladiators intercepted them. During the 45 minutes long combat Zhu Jia-Xun was credited with two victories while Squadron vice-commander Wei Dingleh and Wei Chienmu were credited with one victory each. Yang Yungjand and Tang Xingong each damaged an A5M. Japanese records shows that the Japanese Navy lost two pilots, Lieutenant Hideo Teshima (Class 58), Kaga's Division Officer, and PO2/c Seizaburo Sugino (Otsu 3). However the 32nd Squadron suffered heavily with the loss of six Gladiators. Capitain Wu Yu-Liu was killed in his Gladiator. Vice-commander Ma Yujen landed with a damaged Gladiator and a severe leg wound, and he later died in hospital due to his wounds. Zhu Jia-Xun crash-landed his Gladiator and was wounded in the left eye. Squadron vice-commander Wei Dingleh was forced to bail out of Gladiator no. 3206, which was written off. Wei Chienmu and Tang Xingong were both shot down by the Japanese fighters and they both were forced to leave their Gladiators in parachute. Yang Yungjan made an emergency landing on his return inflicting minor damage to his Gladiator. This meant that the Chinese Air Force only had three operational Gladiators left after this combat.
The Japanese force seems to have consisted of six A5Ms led by Lieutenant Teshima, five carrier based bombers and 4 carrier based attack planes from Kaga and the returning Japanese pilots claimed 17 Gladiators (Dewoitines and Hawks were also reported) for the loss of two pilots (Teshima and Sugino).
Jiro Chono, who served as leader of the 2nd shotai of the escort claimed three victories in this combat and one probable despite his aircraft had suffered fifteen hits. Two more Gladiators were claimed by Osamu Kudo.

September 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

According to Soviet data, by the beginning of September 1938 the Chinese government had received from the USSR 123 SBs, 105 I-16s and 133 I-15bis. Together with the Hawks, Martins and other aircraft from the USA, 26 Dewoitines, 36 English Gladiators, 12 German Henschels, and others, this comprise in all, 602 combat aircraft. Of these had 166 been destroyed in combat, 46 had been destroyed on the ground, 101 had been destroyed in landing accidents and 8 had been disassembled for the aviation factories. In total, the Chinese lost 321 aircraft, and in the fall of 1938 there remained only 281 airplanes, of which only 170 were serviceable, because most of them were used in the aviation schools.

After suffering major losses in battle the 3rd PG in the beginning of September was sent by a special train to Henyang for rebuilding. On 6 September (or 7th) there was a train accident at the outskirts of Henyang when the special train with the pilots ran into another train (according to a different version, at an unguarded railway crossing the train ran into a truck carrying pilots). Two pilots from the 7th PS were seriously injured and later died while several pilots in the 8th PS were injured and killed (in all twelve people were killed). The rest of the pilots were seriously battered.
On 10 September the Aviation Committee sent the 3rd PG to the training centre at Liangshan for rebuilding, reinforcing it with pilots from the 28th PS (later re-deployed to Lanzhou).

In September 21st PS of the 4th PG was sent to Lanzhou for new I–15bis.

The 24th PS was re-subordinated to the 4th PG at the end of September 1938 and sent to Sichuan Province.


In early September the 59th Sentai (Nakajima Ki-27s) moved to Anking. This unit had taken part in the Lake Khasan incident on the eastern Manchurian border against Soviet Union in July and August 1938.


On 25 September the Soryu proceeded to South China as the 1st and 2nd carrier divisions were ordered to participate in the battle for Kwangtung.
Soryu did not engage any aircraft during this operation.

The old A4N1s were replaced with A5Ms in September when the 15th Kokutai relocated to Yuan for attacks on Hankou. Totally the unit was strengthed with an allowance of 18 carrier fighters, 18 carrier bombers and nine carrier attack aircraft. The unit advanced to Kowkong (Chiu-chiang) but didn’t take part in any large-scale air engagements.


9 September 1938
On 9 September was the Soviet volunteer L. I. Lysunskii, a recently arrived commander of a new group, killed in a night battle, crashing beyond the aerodrome runway at Henyang.

13 September 1938
On 13 September Yoshi-o Fukui from the Kaga surprised and shot down a Curtiss Hawk during the attack on Liuchow. He also made repeated strafing attacks on ground targets.

October 1938

The ground war

On 12 October the Japanese landed in Ta-Ya (Bias Bay), and encountered no aerial resistance in their advance to Canton, which fell on 21 October.

Hankou fell on 25 October and the same day Wuhan was captured.
The Chinese government fled and Chungking became the new capital.

Chinese Air Force

As of 28 October only 87 combat aircraft of the Kuomintang Air Force remained in service (14.4% of the total quantity of machines received) while at the same time the number of warplanes in service with the Japanese Air Forces stood at about 700 machines.
The CAF had lost 202 aircraft with further 112 damaged, while the aircrew had suffered 284 casualties, including 132 dead and missing during the Wuhan campaing (June – October 1938).

In October was the 1st ARC transferred from Nanchang to Hengyang, Hunan Province, supporting 3rd, 5th and 9th War Zones.
The 2nd ARC moved from Canton to Liuchou, Kwangsi Province, supporting the 4th War Zones.
The 3rd ARC went to Chang-The, Honon Province, to support the 1st, 2nd, 8th and 10th War zones.
The ARCs were subsequently to be redeployed as new tactical situations arose.

On 13 October the 3rd PG received an order to relocate the ground staff and all ground equipment of the 7, 8, and 32nd Squadrons to Liuzhou (Guangxi Province), but the pilots were to remain at Lanzhou until further notice.

The 16th Squadron of the 6th BG, having earlier flown the V-92 Corsair light was re-organized into a fighter squadron on 1 October and was immediately sent to Zhijiang (Hunan Province) for nine new Hawk 75Ms. The pilots retrained under the leadership of Claire Chennault.

On 1 October 1938, the 28th PS was re-assigned to the 3rd PG and sent to Lanzhou to train on I-15bis. Chin Shui-Tin, as Squadron Leader went with them. The remaining Gladiators from the 28th and 32nd PS were sent to Liu-Chow in Kwangsi for overhaul.
The 26th, 27th and 29th PS remained on the strength of the 5th PG. They were also sent to Lanzhou for conversion to the I-15bis.

In October 1938 all the foreigners in the 41st PS were dismissed and the unit was disbanded. At first the Dewoitine D.510s were sent to the air school, and later to the 17th PS.

In October 1938 during the evacuation of Wuhan by air, a C-47 burned for unknown reasons. Twenty-two people were killed of which 19 were returning Soviet volunteers, including the fighter pilot Sokolov. The only two survivors were the aircraft mechanics V. Korotaev and A. Galagin.
Suspecting sabotage, for which there was every reason since 50% of the losses of Soviet aviators occurred due to accidents, the Soviet leadership categorically forbade their volunteers using air transport without special permission.

By October 1938 the engines on the Tupolev SBs of the Slyusarev’s group were in need of maintenance and the aircraft were ferried to Lanzhou. There an actual repair base had been formed, which repaired the equipment of Chinese and Soviet units.
The crews of Slyusarev’s group were then used to ferry new SBs from Irkutsk. By the spring of 1939 they had delivered about 60 aircraft to China. Most of these aircraft were handed over to the Chinese air force. The last pilots returned to the Soviet Union in February 1939 in a truck caravan. Of the beginning strength of the group of 60 men, only16 returned to the motherland. In all, about 200 volunteers perished in China.

Among the Chinese bomber units only the 1st and 4th BS remained combat capable, but only with a few aircraft remaining. The 2nd BS was withdrawn from the front to Nanyang and then to Liuzhou.



During October the 2nd Carrier Division (Ryujo and Soryu) operated in the South China area in support of the Kwangtung operation.

With the fall of Hankou the 12th Kokutai advanced its base to Hankou itself. The majority of experienced flight personnel were sent back to Japan. The unit itself stayed engaged in air defence duties.


2 October 1938
In a night battle over Chengdu on 2 (or 4) October, the Soviet voluntary pilot Kapitan S. K. Bdaitsiev was killed. He was subsequnetly buried at the Baishi airbase.

In air combat Soviet voluntary pilots and Chinese pilots claimed four bombers, with 27 killed and one falling into captivity.

4 October 1938
Japanese aircraft attacked Hankou during the day.

5 October 1938
On 5 October Saburo Sakai of the 12th Kokutai claimed his first victory (of a total of 64 – 2 in China) during an attack on Hankou. In the same combat claimed Gitaro Miyazaki of the same unit his first victory when he shot down an I-16 (of a total of 13 – 2 in China).
The 26th PS flew to Hankou during the day to provide defense against bombers and intercepted Japanese aircraft. The new squadron commander Huang Han-Wen was seriously wounded and made a forced landing at the outskirts of the city. He was sent to Hong Kong for medical treatment, but died 20 March 1939 during surgery.

Leitenant I. P. Podogov is listed as killed on 5 October but there is no information about the place of his burial (according to other data he is listed as killed in a flying accident and buried at Hami).

Sergeant Major Shigeo Yanagida (NCO59) of the 77th Sentai was shot down by AA fire over Daibieshan and killed during the day.

6 October 1938
On 6 October three Ki-10s from the 77th Sentai led by First Lieutenant Masaharu Okamoto, intercepted eight SBs over Xinyang and claimed two of them shot down.

8 October 1938
During the night of 8-9 October the Japanese bombed the airfield at Henyang, dropping up to 50 tons of bombs from 69 aircraft. They received a good orientation from fires started by saboteurs at military storehouses and also the Chinese switched on their searchlights too early, marking the locations of their airfields. On the ground six SBs and one fighter were damaged while one fighter was shot down in the air and the pilot killed.

9 October 1938
During the night of 9-10 October the Japanese bombed the airfield at Henyang.

10 October 1938
During the night of 10-11 October the Japanese bombed the airfield at Henyang.

18 October 1938
Japanese aircraft attacked Nanyang during the day.

19 October 1938
Japanese aircraft attacked Chang-sha during the day.

20 October 1938
During a transfer flight on 20 October four fighters flown by Soviet volunteers ran out of fuel and crashed while attempting to make a forced landing in a mountainous region under conditions of limited visibility. The leader, Kapitan N. P. Matveev and the other three pilots were killed. The composition of Matveev’s group is not known and buried together with N. P. Matveev in Lanzhou in 1938-1939 were 25 other volunteers, about whose combat activity there is no information.

23 October 1938
PO2c Hironori Shimomura from the 13th Kokutai was shot down and killed by AA fire over the Central China during the day.

November 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

In November 1938 the Soviet volunteers received an order to temporarily discontinue participation in battle. During air combat their burden was extraordinarily stressful. The period of a “special tour” (spetskommandirovka) the fighter pilot averaged between 150 to 250 combat hours (in K. K. Kokkinaki’s flight log, from June 1939 to June 1940 there are noted 166 combat sorties). All the aircraft were ordered to Lanzhou for major overhaul.
At the same time as the volunteers, the Chinese also ceased participation in battle to rebuild.

At the end of November the 21st PS of the 4th PG was re-based at Chengdu (Sichuan).

In November the 31st BS, after being decimated at Anyang, was sent for retraining to the bomber school at Hankou and was later re-deployed to Yichang (Hubei Province).

Until 1 November 1938 the 18th PS led by Squadron Commander Major Yang Yibai (???) had also been included in the 6th BG flying the Douglas O-2MC light bomber. After changing to fighters in November, it received nine Hawk 75Ms and independently began retraining at Yibin.

Yang Yibai in 1936
Image kindly provided by Donald Young

On 1 November 1938 the 34th PS was assigned to the 6th BG.


As the last chutai of the 64th Sentai, the 3rd chutai (the ex-9th I F Chutai) began to convert to the new Nakajima Ki-27 from the old Kawasaki Ki-10 during November. At this time the chutai was based at Changte, patrolling over northern China. The conversion was finished in March 1939.
The two first chutais of the 64th Sentai moved to Tianhe airfield, Canton on 9 November.

On 3 November the 59th Sentai moved to Hankou.


As a result of a reorganisation on 15 November the fighter daitai of the 13th Kokutai was eliminated and the unit became a land attack force only (allowance eighteen aircraft).
At the same date the 14th Kokutai’s strength was increased to one unit of land attack aircraft (18 G3Ms) and one unit of carrier attack aircraft (18 aircraft).


1 November 1938
A transport aircraft was lost under uncertain circumstances while flying from Lanzhou to Chungking in one of the outlying districts of the city of Hanzhong (Shansi Province). 21 Soviet airmen were killed in the crash.
Killed in the crash included starshiy leitenant Tikhon Leonidovich Avdeev (born 1903), leitenant Dmitry Petrovich Andreev (born 1913), leitenant Ivan Aleksandrovich Bobrov (born 1909), Aleksandr Maksimovich Vasyukov (born 1911), starshiy leitenant Leonid Tikhonovich Giryaev (born 1912), Andrey Vasilyevich Grishayev (born 1908), Arseny Fedorovich Zhokhov (born 1913), Petr Ivanovich Ivanov (born 1915), Trofim Aleksandrovich Kasyanich (born 1912), Arkady Zusevich Kirnes (born 1913), Aleksei Ivanovich Kolesnikov (born 1911) and Aleksandr Pavlovich Kodintsev (born 1909).

4 November 1938
1st Lieutenant Masaharu Okamoto (48th Class) of the 77th Sentai force-landed in the central China area.

14 November 1938
The Soviet volunteer starshiy leitenant Valentin Dodonov was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner for his service in China between January and August 1938.

December 1938

The ground war

Chinese Air Force

At the end of the year the 16th PS was re-based at Chungking and Yibin (Sichuan Province) for air defense of the temporary capital.

At the end of December at Zhuning the 34th PS of the 6th BG received four German Henschel Hs-123 dive-bombers. But there were not enough bombers, and it was decided to retrain the pilots once again on fighters.

In the end of 1938 the 14th BS (Light) became the 30th BS (Light) and was transferred from the 2nd BG to the 8th BG.



During December Kaga was placed in reserve status to undergo re-modeling for a period of about two years.
From December 1937 to December 1938 the carrier had steamed some 29,048 nautical miles.

On 1 December the Soryu returned to Japan.

The 14th Kokutai was reorganised on 15 December and its strength was increased to one unit of land attack aircraft (18 aircraft) and one unit of carrier attack aircraft (18 aircraft).

The 15th Kokutai was disbanded on 1 December.


1 December 1938
On 1 December 1938 Chin Shui-Tin was promoted to Major.

14 December 1938
Captain Kazumasa Mikura (41st Class) of the 33rd Sentai was killed in an accident during the day.

19 December 1938
A Soviet military transport aircraft crashed near Chengdu (Shangpang settlement, Pinglu region), killing 20 people including the crew and volunteers.
Killed in the crash were Ignat Antonovich Alexandrenko (born 1914), Dmitry Danilovich Badak (born 1915), Kapitan Vasily Izotovich Bondarenko (born 1906), military engineer Aleksandr Emelyanovich Degtev (born 1906), Dmitriy Gerasimovich Kolesnikov (born 1908), starshiy leitenant Aleksandr Emelyanovich Koval (born 1907), Aleksandr Ivanovich Kryukov (born 1907), Ivan Maksimovich Levin (born 1910), Nikolai Vasilyevich Maltsev (born 1913), Pavel Vasilyevich Mirotvortsev (born 1915), Stepan Mikhailovich Mikhailov (born 1911), Aleksandr Vasilevich Oborin (born 1913), Arkady Ivanovich Pogudin (born 1911), Mikhail Danilovich Popov (born 1909), Nikolai Fedorovich Smyshliaev (born 1911), Ivan Aleksandrovich Tovchennik (born 1914), Stepan Yakovlevich Toropovich, Sergey Vasilyevich Trifonov (born 1907), Nikolai Ivanovich Filimonov (born 1915) and starshiy leitenant Vasily Kupriyanovich Shitsin.
Koval received a posthumous Order of the Red Star later in 1938.

20 December 1938
Major Chin Shui-Tin became vice-commander of the 3rd PG.

The Soviet volunteer Aleksandr Alekseevich Kuznetsov (born 1913) died of unknown reason. He is buried in Hanzhong.

26 December 1938
Leitenants M. M. Gordeev and I. V. Isaev was shot down and killed in the air battles over Lanzhou during the day.

The Japanese started to attack Chungking during the day. These bombing attacks would continue spasmodically until mid-February.

28 December 1938
On 28 December leitenant M. E. Kunitsa was shot down and killed in the air battles over Lanzhou.

Known units taking part in combat during 1938

Chinese Air Force

Known units, commanders and stations
Squadrons Groups Commanders Stations Aircraft types Note
  1st BG     Tupolev SB Became operational again during the spring of 1938.
1st BS 1st BG Li Cizhen ( – 17/07/38)
Lieutenant Tian Xiangchuo (18/07/38 – 21/08/38)
  Tupolev SB  
2nd BS 1st BG Sun Tungan Nanyang
Tupolev SB  
  2nd BG     Tupolev SB  
9th BS (Light) 2nd BG     Tupolev SB
Vultee V-11
Partly re-equipped with Vultee V-11s from the beginning of 1938 until May 1938.
14th BS (Light) 2nd BG Captain Hsu Huan-Sheng   Martin 139 Became the 30th BS (Light) and was transferred to the 8th BG in the end of 1938.
  3rd PG Lieutenant Colonel Wu Yu-Liu ( – 30/08/38) Hsaio Kan
Liangshan (09/38 – )
Polikarpov I-15bis  
7th PS 3rd PG XiangYung (03/38 – )
Lu Tian-Long (1938 – 20/03/41)
Hsaio Kan
Liangshan (09/38 – )
Polikarpov I-15bis (03/38 – 01/41)  
8th PS 3rd PG Lu Guang- Giu ( – 24/03/38) Sian (03/38 – )
Liangshan (09/38 – )
Polikarpov I-15bis (03/38 – 01/41)  
25th PS 3rd PG
Captain Chow Ting-Fong (11/37 – 04/38)
Tang Pu-Sheng (??? ) ( – 18/08/38)
Liu Yi-Jun (???) (18/08/38 – 11/01/39)
Sian (03/38 – ) Curtiss Hawk III
Polikarpov I-15bis
Curtiss Hawk 75M (07/38 - 01/39)
Became an Independent squadron in April 1938.
32nd PS Independent
3rd PG
Zhu Jia-Xun Nan Hsiung (29/08/38 – )
Liangshan (09/38 – )
Gloster Gladiator Mk.I (03/38 – ) Assigned to the 3rd PG in April 1943.
  4th PG Captain Lee Kuei-Tan (11/37 – 18/02/38)
Mao Ying-Chu
Fencheng (02/38/ - )
Nanchang (07/38 – )
Polikarpov I-15bis  
21st PS 4th PG Captain Teng Ming-Teh (21/11/37 – 05/38)
Captain Lo Ying-Teh (05/38 – 1939)
Lanzhou (09/38 – )
Chengdu (11/38 – )
Polikarpov I-16 (09/37 – 09/38)
Polikarpov I-15bis (09/38 – )
22nd PS 4th PG Captain Liu Chi-Han
Zhang Wei-Hua ( – 04/07/38)
Wang Yuan-Po ( – 20/08/38)
Nanchang (07/38 – )
Curtiss Hawk III
Polikarpov I-15bis
Polikarpov I-16
23rd PS 4th PG Captain Lu Ji-Chun ( – 18/02/38)
Liu Chung-Wu (04/38 – )
Nanchang (07/38 – )
Polikarpov I-15bis
Curtiss Hawk III
24th PS 4th PG Liang Yi-Guan (27/10/37 – )
Zhang Zhun ( – 04/01/38?)
Li Ke-Yuan ( – 21/08/38)
Su Xian-Ren (22/08/38 – 04/02/39)
  Curtiss Hawk III Became an independent squadron in April 1938 and re-equipped with Polikarpov I-16s. Subordinated to the 4th PG in the end of September 1938.
  5th PG Ning Ming-Jie (03/09/37 – 1938)
Wong Pan-Yang (1938 – )
Guangzhou ( – 02/38)
Hankou (02/38 – )
Polikarpov I-15bis  
17th PS 5th PG Cheng Jiliu Sian (03/38 – ) Polikarpov I-15bis
Dewoitine D.510
26th PS Independent
5th PG
Captain Wang Han-Hsun (05/37 – 01/10/38)
Wong Han-Wen (1/10/38 – 05/10/38)
Xu Bao-Yun (11/38 – )
Lanzhou (10/38 – ) Polikarpov I-16 (01/38 – )
Polikarpov I-15bis
27th PS 5th PG Meng Kuang-Hsin (05/36 – 04/38) Lanzhou (10/38 – ) Polikarpov I-15bis (10/38 – )  
28th PS 5th PG
3rd PG
Major Chin Shui-Tin (01/06/38 – 20/12/38) Guangzhou (23/02/38 – )
Lanzhou (10/38 – )
Gloster Gladiator Mk.I
Polikarpov I-15bis (10/38 – )
Re-assigned to the 3rd PG on 1 October.
29th PS 5th PG Wong Sun-Shui (01/38 – ) Lanzhou (10/38 – ) Gloster Gladiator Mk.I
Polikarpov I-15bis (10/38 – )
16th PS 6th BG   Chungking (end/1938 – )
Yibin (end/1938 – )
Vought V-92 Corsair
Curtiss Hawk 75
Re-organised from a bomber squadron to a fighter squadron on 1 October 1938.
18th PS 6th BG Major Yang Yibai (???) (07/37 - 02/41) Yibin (11/1938 – ) Douglas O-2MC
Curtiss Hawk 75M
Re-organised from a reconnaissance/bomber squadron to a fighter squadron on 1 November 1938.
4th BS       Tupolev SB  
13th BS (Heavy)       Savoia SM.81B  
10th BS   Vincent Schmitt (01/38 – 23/02/38) Hankou ( – 02/38)
Chengdu (02/38 – 23/02/38)
Vultee V-11 (01/38 – 02/38) Disbanded on 23 February 1938 due to in-activity.
30th BS (Light) 8th BG       Previously the 14th BS (Light) and was transferred from the 2nd BG in the end of 1938.
19th BS 9th BG     Martin 139  
31st BS     Hankou (11/38 – )
32nd BS       Atlas ( – 04/38)  
34th PS 6th BG   Hankou (17/04/38 – ) Henschel Hs-123 Assigned to the 6th BG in November 1938.
41st PS     Kunming (06/38 – ) Dewoitine D.510 Organised in June 1938 and disbanded in October the same year.

Voluntary Soviet units
Unit Commander Station Aircraft type Note
Blagoveshchenskiy group Kapitan Aleksey Blagoveshchenskiy
N. A. Smirnov (– 18/02/38)
A. S. Zingaev (18/02/38 – )
  Polikarpov I-15bis  
Khryukin group T. T. Khryukin Lanzhou (06/38 – ) Tupolev SB Replaced the Polynin group in June 1938.
Lysunskii group L. I. Lysunskii ( – 09/09/38)      
Machin group Machin Nanchang (01/38 – ) Tupolev SB  
Nikolaenko group Kaptain E. M. Nikolaenko   Polikarpov I-16  
Polynin group F. P. Polynin Hankou (01/38 – 06/38)
Lanzhou (06/38)
Tupolev SB Travelled to China in three groups during November 1937 – January 1938.
Replaced by the Khryukin group in June 1938.
Slyusarev group S. V. Slyusarev Lanzhou (10/38 – ) Tupolev SB Arrived in China in June 1938 and withdrawn in Ocotber 1938.
Titov group G. V. Titov Wanxian (06/38 – ) Tupolev SB Arrived in Chine in June 1938.
Yakushin group Kapitan Mikhail Yakushin   Polikarpov I-15bis Arrived in June 1938


Known units, commanders and stations
Regiments Squadrons Commanders Stations Aircraft types Note
Light bomber daitai/16th Hiko Rentai       Type 88 reconnaissance aircraft  
2nd Hiko Daitai   Major Saburo Kondo (07/37 – 03/38)
Major Tamiya Teranishi (03/38 – 01/08/38)
Changte (22/01/38 – 01/08/38) Kawasaki Ki-10 Was amalgated on 1 August 1938 with the 9th I F Chutai to form the 64th Sentai.
2nd Hiko Daitai 1st chutai Captain Tateo Kato (07/37 – 05/38)
Captain Mitsugu Sawada (05/38 – 01/08/38)
Shihkiachwang (10/37 – 01/38)
Changte (22/01/38 – 01/08/38)
Kawasaki Ki-10
Nakajima Ki-27 (03/04/38 – )
Was amalgated on 1 August 1938 with the 9th I F Chutai to form the 64th Sentai.
2nd Hiko Daitai 2nd chutai Captain Juichi Morimoto (10/37 – 01/08/38) Tai Yuan (12/37 – 01/38)
Changte (22/01/38 – 01/08/38)
Kawasaki Ki-10 Was amalgated on 1 August 1938 with the 9th I F Chutai to form the 64th Sentai.
6th Hiko Daitai       Type 93 twin-engine heavy bombers  
8th Hiko Daitai   Colonel Sojiro Takeda (11/37 – 07/38) Nanking (11/37 – 04/38)
Hangchou (April 1938)
Nanking (04/38 – 05/38)
Pengpu (05/38 – 06/38)
Shanghai (06(38 – 07/38)
Nanking (July 1938)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (07/37 – 31/07/38) Split on 31 July to form the 77th Flying Sentai and the 41st Airfield Daitai.
8th Hiko Daitai 1st chutai Captain Katsuji Sugiura (07/37 – 07/38) Nanking (11/37 – 04/38)
Hangchou (April 1938)
Nanking (04/38 – 05/38)
Pengpu (05/38 – 06/38)
Shanghai (06(38 – 07/38)
Nanking (July 1938)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (07/37 – 31/07/38) Became the 77th Sentai on 31 July 1938.
8th Hiko Daitai 2nd chutai Captain Hiroshi Yoshioka (07/37 – 07/38) Nanking (11/37 – 04/38)
Hangchou (April 1938)
Nanking (04/38 – 05/38)
Pengpu (05/38 – 06/38)
Shanghai (06(38 – 07/38)
Nanking (July 1938)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (07/37 – 31/07/38) Became the 77th Sentai on 31 July 1938.
10th Hiko Sentai     Manchuria ( – 15/04/38)
Nanyuan (15/04/38 – end/06/38)
Manchuria (end/06/38 – )
12th Hiko Sentai     Anyang (09/38 – ) Fiat BR.20  
12th Hiko Sentai 1st chutai   Anyang (09/38 – ) Fiat BR.20  
12th Hiko Sentai 2nd chutai   Anyang (09/38 – ) Fiat BR.20  
15th Hiko Sentai     Nanyuan (09/38 – )   Reconaissance unit.
15th Hiko Sentai 1st chutai   Nanyuan (09/38 – )    
15th Hiko Sentai 2nd chutai   Nanyuan (09/38 – )    
27th Hiko Sentai     Northern China   Light bomber unit.
27th Hiko Sentai 1st chutai   Northern China    
27th Hiko Sentai 2nd chutai   Northern China    
30th Hiko Sentai     Northern China   Light bomber unit.
31st Hiko Sentai     Northern China ( – 11/38)
Canton (11/38 – )
  Light bomber unit.
45th Hiko Sentai     Northern China   Light bomber unit.
59th Hiko Sentai   Lieutenant Colonel Issaku Imagawa (07/38 – 12/39) Manchuria (07/38 – 09/38)
Anking (09/38 – 03/11/38)
Hankou (03/11/38 – 08/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/41)  
59th Hiko Sentai 1st chutai Captain Takeo Sato (07/38 – 03/39) Manchuria (07/38 – 09/38)
Anking (09/38 – 03/11/38)
Hankou (03/11/38 – 08/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/41)  
59th Hiko Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Kunio Yamada (07/38 – 07/40) Manchuria (07/38 – 09/38)
Anking (09/38 – 03/11/38)
Hankou (03/11/38 – 08/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/41)  
60th Hiko Sentai     Northern China Mitsubishi Ki-21  
64th Hiko Sentai   Major Tamiya Teranishi (01/08/38 – 03/39) Changte (August 1938)
Erhtaokou (08/38 – 11/38)
Tianhe (09/11/38 – 26/07/39)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (08/38 – 03/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41)
Was formed on 1 August 1938 from the 2nd Hiko Daitai and the 9th I F Chutai.
64th Hiko Sentai 1st chutai Captain Mitsugu Sawada (01/08/38 – 03/39) Changte (August 1938)
Erhtaokou (08/38 – 11/38)
Tianhe (09/11/38 – 26/07/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41) Was formed on 1 August 1938 from the 2nd Hiko Daitai and the 9th I F Chutai.
64th Hiko Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Tsuguroku Nakao (01/08/38 – 07/39) Changte (August 1938)
Yungchen (August 1938)
Erhtaokou (08/38 – 11/38)
Tianhe (09/11/38 – 26/07/39)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (08/38 – 03/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41)
Was formed on 1 August 1938 from the 2nd Hiko Daitai and the 9th I F Chutai.
64th Hiko Sentai 3rd chutai Captain Goro Suzuki (01/08/38 – 09/40) Changte (08/38 – 03/39) Kawasaki Ki-10 (08/38 – 03/39)
Nakajima Ki-27 (04/38 – 11/41)
Was formed on 1 August 1938 from the 2nd Hiko Daitai and the 9th I F Chutai.
The 3rd chutai was the ex-9th I F Chutai.
75th Hiko Sentai     Northern China   Light bomber unit.
77th Hiko Sentai   Colonel Sojiro Takeda (31/07/38 – 12/38) Anking (07/38 – 11/38)
Wuchang (11/38 – 10/39)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (31/07/38 – 10/39) Was formed from the 8th Daitai on 31 July 1938.
77th Hiko Sentai 1st chutai Captain Shin-ichi Muraoka (31/07/38 – 03/40) Anking (07/38 – 11/38)
Wuchang (11/38 – 10/39)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (31/07/38 – 10/39) Was formed from the 8th Daitai on 31 July 1938.
77th Hiko Sentai 2nd chutai Captain Masatane Tanimura (31/07/38 – 03/39) Anking (07/38 – 11/38)
Wuchang (11/38 – 10/39)
Kawasaki Ki-10 (31/07/38 – 10/39) Was formed from the 8th Daitai on 31 July 1938.
90th Hiko Sentai   Colonel Masao Yamase Northern China   Light bomber unit.
90th Hiko Sentai 1st chutai   Northern China    
90th Hiko Sentai 2nd chutai   Northern China    
98th Hiko Sentai     Northern China Fiat BR.20 Heavy bomber unit.
Independent 3rd Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Northern China   Heavy bomber squadron.
Independent 4th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Central China   Reconnaissance squadron.
Independent 6th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Central China   Reconnaissance squadron.
Independent 9th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai Captain Kumao Akita (07/37 – 03/38)
Captain Goro Suzuki (03/38 – 01/08/38)
Changte (22/01/38 – 01/08/38) Kawasaki Ki-10 Was amalgated on 1 August 1938 with the 2nd Hiko Daitai to form the 64th Sentai.
Independent 10th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai Captain Isao Abe (07/37 – 07/38)
Captain Kiyoshi Kimura (07/38 – 05/40)
Hangchow (12/37 – 03/38)
Nanking (03/38 – 10/38)
Anking (03/38 – 10/38)
Jiujiang (03/38 – 10/38)
Hankou (10/38 – 12/38)
Taiyuan (12/38 – 03/41)
Kawasaki Ki-10 ( – 07/38)
Nakajima Ki-27 (07/38 – 06/42)
Independent 11th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Central China   Reconnaissance squadron.
Independent 15th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Central China   Heavy bomber squadron.
Independent 16th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Northern China   Reconnaissance squadron.
Independent 17th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Northern China   Reconnaissance squadron.
Independent 18th Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai   Nanching (08/38 – )   Reconnaissance squadron.
Independent Aiko Chutai Captain Takeo Aoki Northern China Mitsubishi Ki-15 Renamed to the 1st Provisional Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai on 12 March 1938.


Known units, commanders and stations
Group Squadrons Commander Station Aircraft type Note
Kaga Fighter daitai Lieutenant Teshima ( – 30/08/38) off Shanghai (09/12/37 – 15/01/38)
off Nanking (09/12/37 – 15/01/38)
Nakajima A4N1
Mitsubishi A5M
Kaga Bomber daitai   off Shanghai (09/12/37 – 15/01/38)
off Nanking (09/12/37 – 15/01/38)
Aichi D1A1
Aichi D1A2
Kaga Attack daitai   off Shanghai (09/12/37 – 15/01/38)
off Nanking (09/12/37 – 15/01/38)
Mitsubishi B2M
Yokosuka B4Y1
Ryujo Fighter daitai   off South China (03/38 – 04/38)
off South China (10/38 – 11/38)
Ryujo Bomber daitai   off South China (03/38 – 04/38)
off South China (10/38 – 11/38)
Ryujo Attack daitai   off South China (03/38 – 04/38)
off South China (10/38 – 11/38)
Soryu Fighter daitai Lieutenant Mochifumi Nango (12/37 – 06/38) off South China (03/38 – 04/38)
off South China (10/38 – 11/38)
Japan (01/12/38 – )
Nakajima A4N1
Mitsubishi A5M
Soryu Bomber daitai   off South China (03/38 – 04/38)
off South China (10/38 – 11/38)
Japan (01/12/38 – )
Aichi D1A2  
Soryu Attack daitai   off South China (03/38 – 04/38)
off South China (10/38 – 11/38)
Japan (01/12/38 – )
Yokosuka B4Y1  
Notoro       E8N Seaplane carrier
Kamikawa Maru       E8N Seaplane carrier
Kinugasa Maru       E8N Seaplane carrier
12th Kokutai Fighter daitai   Daikojo (12/37 – 03/38)
Anking (03/38 – autumn/38)
Hankou (autumn/38 – 1940)
Mitsubishi A5M Reorganized on 22 March 1938 to a predominately (carrier-) fighter unit.
12th Kokutai Bomber daitai   Daikojo (12/37 – 03/38) Aichi D1A1 Reorganized on 22 March 1938 and disbanded.
12th Kokutai Attack daitai   Daikojo (12/37 – 03/38)
Anking (03/38 – autumn/38)
Hankou (autumn/38 – 1940)
Yokosuka B3Y1 Reorganized on 22 March 1938 to a predominately carrier fighter unit.
13th Kokutai Fighter daitai   Daikojo (12/37 – 03/38)
Shanghai (04/38 – 15/11/38)
Mitsubishi A5M Reorganized on 22 March 1938 to a predominately land attack unit.
The fighter daitai was disbanded on 15 November 1938.
13th Kokutai Bomber daitai   Daikojo (12/37 – 03/38) Aichi D1A2 Reorganized on 22 March 1938 and disbanded.
13th Kokutai Attack daitai   Daikojo (12/37 – 03/38)
Shanghai (04/38 – 11/40)
Yokosuka B4Y1
Mitsubishi G3M
Reorganized on 22 March 1938 to a predominately land attack unit.
14th Kokutai Fighter daitai   Sanqzao Island (04/38 – ) Mitsubishi A5M Formed during April 1938.
14th Kokutai Bomber daitai   Sanqzao Island (04/38 – )   Formed during April 1938.
14th Kokutai Attack daitai   Sanqzao Island (04/38 – )   Formed during April 1938.
15th Kokutai Fighter daitai Lieutenant Mochifumi Nango (06/38 – 18/07/38) Omura 25/06/38 – 10/07/40)
Anking (10/07/38 – 09/38)
Kowkong (09/38 – 01/12/38)
Nakajima A4N1 ( – 09/38)
Mitsubishi A5M
The Kokutai was organized on 25 June 1938 and disbanded on 1 December the same year.
15th Kokutai Bomber daitai   Omura 25/06/38 – 10/07/40)
Anking (10/07/38 – 09/38)
Kowkong (09/38 – 01/12/38)
  The Kokutai was organized on 25 June 1938 and disbanded on 1 December the same year.
15th Kokutai Attack daitai   Omura 25/06/38 – 10/07/40)
Anking (10/07/38 – 09/38)
Kowkong (09/38 – 01/12/38)
  The Kokutai was organized on 25 June 1938 and disbanded on 1 December the same year.
Kanoya Kokutai Fighter daitai   Shanghai (12/37 – 03/38) Nakajima A4N1  
Kanoya Kokutai Bomber daitai   Shanghai (12/37 – 03/38) Mitsubishi G3M  
Takao Kokutai Bomber daitai     Mitsubishi G3M  

Last modified 23 May 2022