Color Photos of the Japanese Empire's Final DaysHere 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 and page 15 and page 16 of this series.
Japan Stares at Defeat
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.
|Lieutenant Colonel Hatsuo Tsukamoto and infantryman attacking Kokoda village and airfield in Papua New Guinea, July 1942). This was the limit of Japanese expansion.|
|Pilots of the Imperial Japanese No. 244 Sentai Takenaka "Special Attack" (suicide) Squadron at Chofu Airfield west of Tokyo in November 1944.|
|An airman in front of a late-war Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (Flying Swallow) "Tony" fighter.|
|A disabled Mitsubishi Ki-51 TYPE 99 Assault Plane / Recon plane (Sonia).|
The SurrenderYou 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 at American-held Ie Shima on 19 August 1945 aboard two bombers. These photos appear to be original color photos.
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.
|The second Japanese plane arrives (Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron).|
|The second Japanese Betty moves into position (Fred Hill, 17th Photo Recon Squadron).|
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.
|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 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.
|General Douglas MacArthur supervises the Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri, 2 September 1945.|