Saturday, December 1, 2018

Color Photos of World War II Part 14: Japan's Final Days

Color Photos of the Japanese Empire's Final Days

Here we have color pictures of the military forces of the Empire of Japan as they approached defeat. Some of these photos appear to be color in the original, and others appear to be colorized. As always, no guarantees are made as to the original nature of any photo here. It is best to assume that all photos are colorized unless an original color source is definitively established.

You may find more color photos of World War II on page 1 and page 2 and page 3 and page 4 and page 5 and page 6 and page 7 and page 8 and page 9 and page 10 and page 11 and page 12 and page 13 and page 14 of this series.

Japan Stares at Defeat


Japanese military color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com

The Japanese turned to the defensive following their heavy naval losses at Midway in June 1942 and the American invasion of Guadalcanal in August 1942. Days of expansion turned into nightmarish counterattacks that almost never succeeded.

Kokoda attack Japanese military color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Lieutenant Colonel Hatsuo Tsukamoto and infantryman attacking Kokoda village and airfield in Papua New Guinea, July 1942). This was the limit of Japanese expansion.

Things just got worse and worse as the United States brought its economic might to bear. By late 1944, the Japanese were organizing suicide squadrons which had some success at first.

Japanese suicide pilots color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
Pilots of the Imperial Japanese No. 244 Sentai Takenaka "Special Attack" (suicide) Squadron at Chofu Airfield west of Tokyo in November 1944.

Sacrificing brave pilots, however, proved ineffective as the Americans developed countermeasures. These included stationing destroyers in picket lines to give aircraft carriers time to launch their defending fighters before the suicide planes could approach.

Japanese pilot and Ki-61 fighter color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
An airman in front of a late-war Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Flying Swallow) "Tony" fighter. 

The Japanese did keep planes in the air right to the end. However, they were no match for the air fleets of the US Army Air Force.

Japanese Ki-51 color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
A disabled Mitsubishi Ki-51 TYPE 99 Assault Plane / Recon plane (Sonia).

The atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki settled the issue once and for all.

The Surrender

You know all about the Japanese surrender, right? It took place on that battleship parked in Tokyo Bay and everybody signed a big book and then went home. Well, sure, that was the official surrender. But there was an entirely different and much more meaningful event two weeks prior to the Toky Bay affair which was the real Japanese surrender.

Obviously, the Japanese surrender in mid-August 1944 was a very big deal, and war correspondents covered it in great detail. The Japanese delegation arrived aboard two bombers. These photos appear to be original color photos.

Betty bomber Japanese surrender color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com

Above, the first Japanese plane arrives at the bleached coral airfield at Ie Shima with thousands of onlookers. There is an all-metal Douglas C-54 waiting at left for the delegation's arrival.

Betty bomber Japanese surrender color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The second Japanese plane arrives (Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron).

The captain of the second Mitsubishi Betty can be seen standing up to direct his co-pilot so as not to hit the crowd lining the runway.

Betty bomber Japanese surrender color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
The second Japanese Betty moves into position (Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron).

The pilot of the second Green Cross Betty parked the plane near the awaiting C-54 transports. In doing so, the plane's engines blasted the crowd lining the runway. The waiting men in the photo above have their backs turned against the dust storm. The two Bettys were slightly different - this one does not have a window panel just behind the nose glazing under the chin of the aircraft like the first plane.

Betty bomber Japanese surrender color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com

The Americans did not know what to expect. The Japanese plane which arrived at Ie Shima was a specially painted G4M Betty bomber. The Americans took the delegates to Manila aboard the Douglas C-54 to meet with General McArthur for peace talks. Note that the plane has been painted white with green crosses, per U.S. instructions. This was done very hastily and crudely due to the exigencies of the situation. The Americans did not specify what shade of green, so here the crosses were dark green and appear black. Other planes painted elsewhere had much lighter green crosses.

Betty bomber Japanese surrender color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
This photo was taken by a photographer standing in a gully next to the airfield. It shows the Betty which carried the name Bataan One.

The planes, incidentally, never returned to Japan and was stripped at Ie Shima by US Army Air Force personnel, some of whom took parts of the plane home as souvenirs.

Japanese surrender Ki-46 color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com

The practice of painting surrendering Japanese aircraft white with green crosses soon spread to many other Japanese units. Above a Japanese ground crew painted a Mitsubishi Ki-46 Dinah. Note that the crew either had only a small amount of white paint or they didn’t have time to paint the whole aircraft. The Dinah was photographed at Atsugi Airfield, which is a naval air base located near the cities of Yamato and Ayase in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.

Japanese surrender USS Missouri color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com
General Douglas MacArthur supervises the Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri, 2 September 1945.

All of these events were the real surrender - the signing of surrender documents on the USS Missouri on 2 September 1945 was a formality long after hostilities had ceased.

Japanese surrender USS Missouri color photos worldwartwo.filminspector.com

2018