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Mitsubishi G3M1 from above

Mitsubishi G3M1 from above

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Mitsubishi G3M1 from above

Here we see a flight of three Mitsubishi G3M 'Nells', identified as either the G3M1 or G3M2 Model 21 by the lack of the upper gun position added in the G3M2 and G3M3.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, commonly referred to as 'Evo', [1] is a sports sedan based on the Lancer that was manufactured by Japanese manufacturer Mitsubishi Motors from 1992 until 2016. There have been ten official versions to date, and the designation of each model is most commonly a Roman numeral. All use two litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder engines and all-wheel drive systems. [2]

The Evolution was originally intended only for Japanese markets, but demand on the "grey import" market led the Evolution series to be offered through Ralliart dealer networks in the United Kingdom and in various European markets from around 1998. Mitsubishi decided to export the eighth generation Evolution to the United States in 2003 after witnessing the success Subaru had in that market with their long-time direct rival, the Subaru Impreza WRX STi. [3]

Japanese-spec [ citation needed ] versions of all Evos until the release of the Evo IX in 2005 were limited by a gentlemen's agreement to advertise no more than 280 PS (206 kW 276 hp). However, sources say Mitsubishi had already been producing cars with more power but had been underrating the official power outputs in order to be in compliance with the agreement. [4] Therefore, each subsequent version has unofficially evolved above the advertised power figures, with the Japanese-spec Evolution IX reaching an alleged output of around 321 PS (236 kW 317 hp). Various versions available in other markets, particularly the UK, have official power outputs up to 446 PS (328 kW 440 hp).

The tenth and final generation of the Lancer Evolution (Evo X) was launched in Japan in 2007, and overseas markets in 2008. The Evo X was produced for almost 10 years until it retired in April 2016.

Mitsubishi G3M1 from above - History

By Arnold Blumberg

The sun was just rising and the day promised clear skies overhead. Since 5 am maintenance crews had been running the engines, making last minute adjustments, and arming the scores of aircraft sitting on the steel flight deck of the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi. She had started life as an Amagi-class heavy battlecruiser but had been converted to an aircraft carrier. On February 19, 1942, Akagi served as the flagship of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s First Air Fleet, commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo.

Directly behind Akagi, at a distance of about 8,000 yards, was her sister ship Kaga, the other member of the 1st Carrier Squadron. On Akagi’s port side, 8,000 yards away, sailed the carrier Soryu, flagship of Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi. Behind and equidistant from Soryu and Kaga was the carrier Hiryu. Like Soryu, her partner in the 2nd Carrier Squadron, Hiryu was smaller and a bit faster than Akagi and Kaga. As on the Akagi, the sailors of the Kaga, Soryu, and Hiryu were scurrying on and below the decks readying their warplanes for action.

An array of Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) vessels supported the carriers. These included the bristling shapes of the heavy cruisers of the 8th Cruiser Squadron: Tone, Chikuma, Maya, and Takao, sporting 10 8-inch guns each, stationed 10,000 yards from each carrier. Between them, in front, and behind, was a screen of nine destroyers from the 17th and 18th Destroyer Divisions, 1st Destroyer Flotilla, under the control of the light cruiser Abukuma. These craft were each armed with six 5-inch guns and eight excellent Long Lance torpedoes.

Objective: Darwin

Surveying the frenetic activity of the Akagi’s personnel that morning was Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, the task force air leader. The 39-year-old Fuchida, who had entered the Navy in 1921, was a specialist in horizontal bombing in the naval air arm. His ability as a tactician and administrator led him to command the attack against the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. On that fateful day, he coordinated the entire Japanese aerial assault against that bastion of American power in the Pacific. Once again, 10 weeks after he and his comrades had wrought such thorough destruction on the naval might of America, Fuchida would be leading another airborne strike force against the enemy.

At 7:30 am, Fuchida signaled all the carriers that the launching of their planes was to begin. The sea breeze freshened from the northwest, which required that the flattops turn while the aircraft took off. When the fleet reached nine degrees south latitude and 129 degrees east longitude 220 miles northwest of the target, Nagumo ordered reversal to a reciprocal course to bring the carriers into the wind. The other warships also turned, and the entire fleet commenced to steam away from its objective and would continue to do so, though at a reduced speed, until the aerial strike force returned three hours later. Having completed their turns, heading full into the wind, the carriers increased speed until velocity over their flight decks reached 25 miles per hour.

After a final briefing the pilots and their crews climbed into their cockpits. Fuchida and his two crewmen boarded their three-seater Nakajima B5N2 Kate level bomber. When all planes were ready, the Akagi’s skipper, Captain Taijiro, ordered them to take off. Eighteen Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighters roared from the flight deck followed by 18 Aichi D3A1 Val dive-bombers, and 27 Kates.

Commander Mitsuo Fuchida of the Imperial Japanese Navy led the attack on Darwin harbor and in some respects duplicated his success at Pearl Harbor.

Astern of Akagi the warbirds of the other carriers hurtled into the blue. When all were airborne at 8:45 am, Fuchida brought the attacking force of 188 aircraft, comprised of 36 Zero fighters, 71 Val dive bombers, and 81 Kate high-level bombers, onto a compass bearing of 148 degrees, with the Zeros, flying above and ahead of the others, acting as a protective screen against possible enemy fighter interception. With the prevailing northwest wind the Japanese expected to be over their objective in a little more than an hour. That objective was the Australian port city of Darwin, and the IJN air branch planned to deliver a destructive blow only surpassed by that visited upon Pearl Harbor.

Allied Military Buildup in Darwin

The massive IJN air raid winging its way to Darwin in mid-February 1942 was a response to a joint military command set up by the Allied Western governments designed to stem the Rising Sun’s advance across Southeast Asia. ABDA (American, British, Dutch, and Australian, as the command was named, became operational in January 1942 and established its main supply base at the port of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. From Darwin vital military supplies were funneled to the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, and the Philippines. Further, Darwin was critical to the transfer of Allied fighter aircraft that staged from Timor to Bali, then to Java. Without these air assets Java would fall to the Japanese, and the entire Dutch East Indies, with its vast oil and rubber resources crucial to the Japanese war effort, with it.

The Japanese were aware of the Allied buildup at Darwin, whose prewar population was 5,800, and contemplated attacking it in late January 1942. However, an argument among the high command as to whether Darwin or Ceylon should be struck first postponed any decision to assault the city. The impasse was finally broken by Commander Minoru Genda, a brilliant naval staff officer and one of the chief architects of the Pearl Harbor attack. He advised Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto, commander in chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet: “Darwin poses a threat to current and planned operations in the Netherlands East Indies and recommend it should be the first target.” Genda went on to observe that “there had been a substantial buildup of [enemy] army and air forces in the area and do not want it to be used as an offensive base against us.”

Persuaded by Genda’s logic, on February 9 Yamamoto ordered a carrier strike on Darwin “to annihilate the enemy strength in the Port Darwin area and to intercept and destroy enemy naval and transport fleets….” The attack would also provide support for the Japanese effort to capture the island of Timor and thus cut off Allied air reinforcements to Java. Genda was assigned to plan the operation. He not only crafted the carrier attack but added a second strike to be made by 54th Army Air Force twin-engine bombers based at the recently captured Dutch airfields at Ambon in the Maluku and Kendari in the Celebes Islands. After the war Genda recalled that the Japanese had reliable information about the state of Darwin’s defenses and that as a result, “We did not expect serious opposition.”

Early Warnings of the Raid

Departing Palau (in today’s Indonesia) on the night of February 15, Nagumo’s task force reached Kendari on the 17th and made a highspeed run across the Banda Sea the next day. During the early hours of the 19th, the Japanese entered the Timor Sea, where Nagumo launched his aircraft toward Darwin.

Commander Thomas H. Moorer received the Purple Heart when his U.S. Navy PBY Catalina patrol plane was shot down during the Darwin raid. Moorer later rose to the rank of admiral and served as Chief of Naval Operations and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

About 9:30 am near Bathurst Island, Lieutenant Thomas Moorer’s U.S. Navy PBY Catalina flying boat, Patrol Wing 22, became the first victim of the large Japanese force heading to Darwin. Pounced on by up to nine Zeros, the PBY was forced into the sea before it could radio an alarm to Darwin. Later, its crew was rescued by a friendly merchant ship.

Some early warnings of the enemy raid were received but were not acted upon. Lieutenant John Gribble transmitted a sighting at 9:15 am, while a few minutes later Father John McGrath, a coastwatcher at the Catholic Mission on Bathurst Island, at 9:37 am radioed Darwin, “An unusually large air formation bearing down on us from the northwest.” Both messages were ignored at the Naval Communications Center at Darwin. Meanwhile, Commander Fuchida’s attack force crossed the east coast of Australia, turned northwest, and headed for the city. Without radar, the port was unaware of the surprise enemy assault, which commenced at 9:58 am.

The Ill-Fated B Flight

On the morning of the Japanese attack the only air assets defending Darwin were 10 Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk American-built fighters of Major Floyd “Slugger” Pell’s 33rd Pursuit Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Returning to Darwin after aborting a flight to Java due to heavy rains, Pell ordered five of his command, designated B Flight under Lieutenant Robert G. Oestreicher, to stay aloft at 15,000 feet and act as a combat air patrol over the Darwin area, while Pell landed the five P-40s of A Flight at the Darwin Royal Air Force airfield for refueling. The time was about 9:55 am.

A flight of Japanese Navy Mitsubishi G3M Nell bombers wings its way toward a distant target. These bombers were heavily engaged during the attack on Darwin harbor on February 19, 1942.

As B Flight, in two two-plane elements with Oestreicher above them, climbed over Darwin harbor, it was attacked from 2,000 feet above by Zeros, which broke the P-40s’ formation. Oestreicher later recalled how Lieutenant Jack R. Peres’s P-40 was hit by cannon fire from a Zero chasing him and seeing Peres’s plane “slowly rolled over and down.” Moments later, Lieutenant Elton S. Perry was shot out of the sky, plunging into the bay.

Oestreicher climbed into the sun and was hit by a passing Zero but managed to get in a burst of machine-gun fire on his attacker. At 12,000 feet he counted 18 enemy fighters “in a lazy circle at … 20,000 feet” waiting for their turn to dive at the hapless and vastly outnumbered P-40s of B Flight. As the flight leader frantically ordered his unit to head for the clouds south of Darwin, Lieutenant William R. Walker, who had been hit in the left shoulder, landed his plane at Darwin RAAF airfield, which was later strafed, bombed and burned to the ground on the runway.

As Walker taxied to the RAAF airdrome, Lieutenant Max R. Wiecks found himself surrounded by “wild and frenzied” air action. His P-40 was soon riddled with bullets and out of control, forcing the 27-year-old pilot to bail out of his stricken machine. He hit the water 10 miles from land.

Of B Flight, only Oestreicher stayed in the air until the raid ended. He shot down two Japanese dive-bombers, the first aerial victories by the Allies over Australia. After he landed at 11:45 am, his plane was being repaired when it was destroyed by the second Japanese air raid of the day. He spent the rest of the 19th hunkered down at the bomb-ravaged RAAF base.

A Flight On the Ground

While B Flight fought and died in the sky over Darwin, A Flight was being destroyed on the ground at the RAAF base by fighters from the Hiryu. Commander Fuchida later commented that as his force flew over Darwin, “There were 20-odd planes of various types on the airfields. Several U.S. P-40s attempted to take off as we came over but were quickly shot down and the rest were destroyed where they stood.” Spotting approaching enemy fighters, Major Pell and the rest of his element attempted to get airborne. While rolling down the runway, he was strafed by Zeros as his plane lurched 80 feet into the air. Pell parachuted and hit the ground, injured but still alive. As he crawled away, he was machined gunned and killed by Zeros making another pass over the airfield.

Following Pell was Lieutenant Charles W. Hughes. He never got off the ground. He was strafed as he gathered speed and crashed and died in his cockpit. Twenty-one-year-old Lieutenant Robert F. McMahon tried to get into the air after seeing his commander sprint to his plane. After almost colliding with the injured Walker’s incoming B Flight plane, McMahon took off, and the next few minutes found him dueling with a score of Zeros over the harbor. Wounded in the leg, his aircraft’s engine on fire, he had to hit the silk, landing in the harbor alive after being machine gunned by the Japanese as he helplessly floated in the air.

Lieutenants Burt R. Rice and John G. Glover were the last of A Flight to lift into the air. Rice was shot down and machined gunned by Japanese Zeros as he swung below his parachute. Viewing Rice’s predicament, Glover sought to protect his helpless comrade. In doing so he downed an opposing fighter before his own plane was critically damaged by enemy fire. Crashing into the airfield, Glover miraculously survived the enemy strafing that followed as he walked away from the wreckage that had once been his aircraft. Rice landed in a swamp and was found several hours later.

Outnumbered and outfought by the more experienced Japanese pilots, B Flight had been wiped out. Some Japanese World War II historians claim that the destruction of the four B Flight planes was accomplished by one Zero airman, Naval Air Pilot 1st Class Yoshikazu Nagahama, who is also credited with shooting down the luckless PBY flown by Lieutenant Moorer.

Nine Vessels Sunk

As Pell’s airmen fought and died in the skies over Darwin, the air force and civilian airstrips in the region were repeatedly bombed and strafed by the Japanese, making them unserviceable. Besides the nine P-40s of 33rd Squadron, 11 other RAAF aircraft were destroyed in the initial Japanese 32-minute raid on Darwin.

Trailing the Japanese fighters were the Kates and Vals. At 10 am, the former began their runs over Darwin’s harbor at 14,000 feet. Fuchida wrote, “The harbor was crowded with all kinds of ships which we picked off at our leisure.” There were 46 vessels, many of them merchantmen, in port that morning. A cyclone had shut down the port from February 2-10, then a dock workers strike had created a logjam of vessels waiting to unload war material. Their stay had been prolonged even more by the fact that Darwin’s small single wharf could only unload two ships at a time.

Smoke billows from Australian ships hit by Japanese bombers during the raid on Darwin harbor. In the foreground the troop transport SS Zealandia has been hit near the stern. In the distance, the cargo motor vessel Neptuna blazes.

A rain of Japanese bombs wrecked the wharf, water mains, oil pipes, and much of the pier. The destruction slowly moved across the administrative district of the town, demolishing the hospital, post office, and police barracks. Dozens of civilians were killed or wounded and trapped in the rubble. After the war Fuchida declared, “I personally gave orders to the pilots not to attack the town.” Whether this is true or not, civilian eyewitnesses attested to the fact that the Japanese methodically struck the city, adding that the “machine gunning harried the town more than the bombs.”

As the Kates completed their fiery work, the Vals, attacking singly, in pairs, or in waves of three, concentrated on the shipping in the harbor. The USS William B. Preston, an American tender, and the Australian sloop Swan got underway and were hit and damaged, losing a total of seven killed and 22 wounded. The USS Peary, a 1,190-ton U.S. Navy destroyer, was buried by five bombs that gutted her engine room and exploded a forward magazine. Peary lost 80 killed, including her captain, Lt. Cmdr. John M. Bermingham, and all her officers. Forty crew members, most of them wounded, survived. By the time the last Japanese carrier planes left the area at 11 am, Darwin harbor had witnessed the sinking of nine vessels with 12 more badly damaged 25 other ships in the port escaped serious damage or were untouched. Three Catalina flying boats were destroyed in the harbor as well, while two U.S. Navy freighters were sunk northwest of Bathurst Island by Vals from Hiryu and Soryu.

A Sledgehammer to Crack an Egg

When the Japanese bombers began to unload their deadly cargo on the port and the Zeros started strafing the harbor, the defending antiaircraft batteries of the 2nd AA and 14th Heavy AA Batteries, sporting 3.7-inch guns for highaltitude fire, and a small number of Lewis machine guns for low-flying intruders, opened fire from locations at Darwin Oval, Fannie Bay, and other strategic locations around the city. Joined by the 19th Light Horse Machine Gun Regiment, which had mounted its weapons on oil tanks near the port, the Australian guns sent a lot of lead into the air above the harbor but managed to damage only a few enemy planes and shot down one Val. The problem for the gunners was that their pieces were just too slow to effectively engage the attacking aircraft at short range.

Around noon, 27 Japanese Army Mitsubishi G4M1 Betty bombers from Kendari and 27 Mitsubishi G3M1 Nell bombers staging from Ambon appeared above Darwin. Flying at 18,000 feet, the bombers separated into two groups. They ignored the town and port, instead concentrating their attention on the military airfield. While one formation flew in from the southwest, the other roared in from the northeast, both arriving over the base and dropping their ordnance at the same time. They then turned and made a second pass over the field. Two hangars, four barracks, the mess hall, the hospital, and a number of storage buildings were obliterated. The attack also took out six Lockheed Hudson light bombers and damaged another while two P-40 fighters, the ones landed by B Flight, 33rd Squadron after their aerial encounter of that morning, and a U.S. Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber were blown to pieces. Six RAAF personnel were killed.

A catastrophic explosion signaled the end of the cargo motor vessel Neptuna, hit by Japanese bombers during the air raid. Neptuna was launched in 1924 and served in the merchant marine fleets of both Germany and Australia.

After the attacking aircraft were recovered, Admiral Nagumo steered for Kendari, arriving there on February 21. The Darwin operation had been a complete success, topped off by the capture of Timor on the 20th. Both actions severed vital supply lines needed by the Allies to prevent the fall of Java, which was soon invaded from the sea and taken by the Japanese. After the war, Fuchida expressed some reservations about the action, appearing not to want to identify the leader of the Pearl Harbor raid as the leader of the Darwin raid. He candidly admitted that the Darwin blow ”seemed hardly worthy of us. If ever a sledgehammer was used to crack an egg it was then.”

Eliminating Darwin as a Supply Base

Unlike Pearl Harbor, where Nagumo’s airmen failed to hit fuel stocks, repair facilities, and other storage installations, these were thoroughly destroyed in the Darwin raid by 206 bombers dropping 681 bombs. As a result, Darwin was eliminated as an Allied supply and transport base from which aid to the Dutch East Indies could be delivered.

The cost to the defenders of Darwin was 191 killed and more than 400 wounded. About 68 of the dead and injured were civilians. Japanese aircraft losses are in dispute, ranging from two to seven planes, with crew losses totaling seven, of which two were killed, one taken prisoner, and the remainder rescued by friendly forces. Four Japanese aircraft losses, including a Val hit over Darwin that came down in the sea at East Point, a Zero struck over the harbor that crashed on Melville Island, and two divebombers shot out of the sky by Lieutenant Robert Oestreicher, have been verified.

The port of Darwin would later be rebuilt as a major supply depot ringed by numerous new airfields. After the February 19, 1942, raid the Allied navies largely abandoned the Darwin naval base, dispersing their units to Brisbane, Fremantle, and other ports. Darwin would be attacked by Japanese airpower 62 more times between March 1942 and November 1943, the heaviest raid coming on June 16, 1942, when the Japanese inflicted great damage on the harbor oil fuel and railroad yards. However, improved radar along with strengthened antiaircraft and fighter defenses assured that another Australian Pearl Harbor did not occur.

Acquaintances commented in his later years that it was difficult to tell his age most of his face had been burned away and the scar tissue now covering it was smoother than his natural skin would have been. He had been movie-star handsome, but about all that was left of his original face were his eyes, protected from the inferno by his goggles. How did those eyes keep their twinkle?

Art Chin, in China. Photo courtesy of John Gong.

Especially after all he had been through – frustrations crashes, defeats after his first wife had died in his arms, shielding his terribly wounded body from Japanese bomb fragments? Yet, after all that, he had stood erect at a microphone in New York, with then-superstar George Raft by his side, campaigning for war bonds, posing for photos with his pipe jutting out at a jaunty angle. And when he was well enough, he went back to flying, this time in transports over the Himalayas, on a route so dangerous that it became known as the “Aluminum Trail” because of the hundreds of airplane wrecks that marked its course. Born and raised in America, Art entered history as an ace fighter pilot of the Chinese Air Force with eight air-to-air kills to his credit, all achieved in the skies of China before his own country officially entered World War 2.

Crossing the Pacific to Save China

Arthur Tien Chin (“Art” Chin as he was known) was born on October 23rd, 1913, to Fon Chin (from Taishan, Canton, China) and Eva Wong (possibly of Peruvian descent), and grew up in Portland, Oregon. Despite her name, his mother was listed on his birth certificate as “mulatto,” and, as a guess, may have been from Macao.

In the early 1930s, echoing the call of “Saving China by Aviation” by Sun Yat-sen, Art and a number of other promising young Chinese-American pilots entered flight training with the Al Greenwood flying school in Portland, his tuition and fees being paid by the local Chinese community. This is especially significant because flight training was expensive, i making this a substantial sacrifice. The Japanese Empire was on the march in Asia, and its annexation of Manchuria in 1932 simply confirmed the suspicions of many about Japan’s designs on China. Determined to save their ancestral homeland and buoyed by the best wishes of their neighbors and friends, Art and eleven other young Chinese-Americans set forth in 1933 to volunteer to fly for the Chinese Air Force. ii

They ran into a brick wall, figuratively speaking. Unfortunately, the central government was not interested in their services. Although details aren’t available, it seems likely that this was a case of the bureaucracy facing a situation without precedent or instructions and being unwilling to make a decision. Although China was seeking help from abroad it hadn’t solicited this particular assistance from these particular people. Added to this was their status as Overseas Chinese, which, to many, implied suspicious links to foreign powers (much as it did, ironically, in their countries of residence). Although, taken in isolation, this would seem to be little short of paranoid, there were some legitimate grounds for general mistrust.

In certain respects Japan was just one of several forces vying for power in China at that time. The 1911 Revolution that signaled the end of the Qing Dynasty had not led to the firm establishment of a successor regime and, despite high hopes for Sun Yat-sen’s Republic, China had fragmented into a patchwork of chiefdoms headed by warlords. By 1930, Sun’s party, the Kuomintang (KMT – by then under Chiang Kai-shek) had suppressed most of these warlords and established a central government widely recognized internationally, but many provinces offered only token allegiance and groups such as Mao Tse-tung’s Communists still remained to be dealt with. iii

Oddly, this situation gave Art and most of his colleagues a “back door” into the air force. By the early ’30s there had been something on the order of sixteen separate air forces in China, ranging in size from one or two airplanes to a nominal strength of several hundred. iv Through much of the decade there were five besides that of the central government: those of Guangdong province (in which Canton is located), Guangxi province, Shanxi province, Sichuan province, and Yunnan province. v Perhaps because of their Cantonese ancestry, most of the Americans who were finally accepted started out flying for the Canton Air Corps of Guangdong. This was the largest and best-equipped of the provincial air arms, serving as “top cover” for Chen Chidang, the de-facto warlord of Guangdong. Art was one of these, being accepted as a Warrant Probationary Pilot on December 1st, 1933. vi In stark contrast to the pilots of the later American Volunteer Group (that was formed eight years later and existed for less than one year), who were paid $500 a month, their pay was equivalent to $25 US per month! vii

Craig Chinn provided an anecdote about Art‘s recruitment: “Back in the early 1930’s Harold [Harold Chinn, Craig‘s father] and Art went to the head of the Canton Air Force (Renee’s [Renee Robertson‘s] father Gen Arthur Lim) looking to join. Gen Lim told them their pay would be $25 (can’t remember the amount exactly) and they would have to buy their own uniforms. Both of them looked at each other, turned around and started walking out. Gen Lim then barked out to them and said, ‘What do you want to do? Go back to America to be laundrymen?’ They joined up.” viii
Art “enlisted” in the national air force during the summer of 1936. In a bid for power, Chen Chidang revolted against Chiang Kai-shek that May. Perhaps motivated by the sense that China needed unity in order to face the threat from Japan, in June and July of 1936 the Canton Air Corps defected as a group to the central (KMT) air force (the role in this of American pilots such as Art is not clear, but they don’t appear to have been the instigators). This was more than simply a shuffle of allegiances: Cantonese pilots actually flew all of their planes to KMT airfields. At a stroke the national air force was substantially augmented, and, as might be expected, the revolt fizzled. ix

Another major event in 1936 was Art and four other pilots being selected for advanced flight training, ironically in Germany with the nascent Luftwaffe. This may seem odd in light of the World War 2 German-Italian-Japanese Axis, but during the 1930s China was a major arms purchaser from Germany and relied on the Germans for advice and training in many military specialties. x The course was conducted at the historic Lager Lechfeld airfield in Bavaria, at that time used by the Bavarian Aircraft Works, manufacturer of Messerschmitt-designed aircraft such as the Me-109 and Me-110.

Art Chin, far right, in Germany. Photo courtesy of John Gong.

On his return from Germany Art flew as a flight leader with the 6th Squadron and then from February until June, 1937, as an instructor. That month he was assigned to the 28th Pursuit Squadron, 5th Pursuit Group, as Vice Squadron Commander under another American, Captain Chan Kee-Wong. xi The 28th was equipped with Curtiss Hawk II biplane fighters, an export model of the US Navy’s F11C-2 (in 1934 re-designated as the BFC-2). xii China had purchased fifty of these in 1933, the same year it went into service with the US Navy, but only four years later the design was already long in the tooth. It was an open cockpit, fabric-covered biplane with a fixed landing gear and armament of two rifle-caliber machine guns.

Life in China wasn’t all preparation for war. Handsome and outgoing, Art sported a classically pencil-thin mustache and smoked a pipe. Reputedly one of his few social impediments was speaking Cantonese with a pronounced American accent, but he had enough charm to overcome that. He developed a reputation as something of a ladies’ man, one that would follow him the rest of his life. Nevertheless, about this time he met and married a Sumatra-born ethnic Chinese named Eva Wu (Ng Yue-ying in Cantonese). According to Chin family tradition and some Chinese sources, xiii Eva was the daughter of the illustrious Wu Tingfang (1842-1922) first Chinese barrister in Hong Kong, Minister (ambassador) to the United States, Peru and Cuba during the periods 1896 to 1902 and 1907 to 1909, Minister of Justice and later of Foreign Affairs in 1912, and Acting Premier of China in 1917. xiv Eva and Art had two children, Gilbert and Steve.

Art Chin and wife Eva Wu. Photo courtesy of John Gong.

Meanwhile, friction with Japan’s Kwantung Army escalated into open war on July 7th, 1937. On August 10th the 17th and 28th Pursuit Squadrons were stationed at Chuyung Airfield near Nanking, capital of the central government. The 17th was commanded by still another American, John Wong, and was equipped with the export version of the Boeing P-26 “Peashooter,” the Boeing 281. Although it was an all-metal monoplane, the P-26/Model 281 was a transitional design and retained many old-fashioned features. xv Even so, China was happy to have it. On August 13th Japanese forces attacked Shanghai and began their drive inland to the capital.


Art made his first kill, a Mitsubishi G3M2 twin-engine bomber, on August 16. xvi It was a difficult combat for him for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that his fighter wasn’t much faster than the bomber (if at all). According to researcher and personal friend Raymond Cheung, Art recalled that once he was in firing position he was virtually a stationary target for the bomber’s gunners. This combat highlights the rapid pace of aeronautical development during the 1930s. Although fielded only a few years apart (1933 and 1936 respectively), the Hawk II and G3M2 came from different generations. The Hawk II would not have looked out of place in a lineup of WW I aircraft, while the G3M2 was state-of-the-art: an all-metal monoplane with an enclosed cockpit, retractable landing gear, and defensive armament in rotating turrets. Although itself obsolescent by the beginning of the broader Pacific War, the G3M’s performance was still good enough for it to play a major role in sinking the HMS Repulse and the Prince of Wales off Malaya on December 10th, 1941. xvii

Curtiss Hawk II. Photo courtesy of Weibin Chang.

The 28th PS detached a flight to defend the Shaokwan Aircraft Factory in Canton Province, and Art was selected to command it. On September 27, 1937 his flight and one from the 29th (they being mounted on retractable-gear Hawk III’s) intercepted three G3M2s. Art didn’t claim a kill, but Japanese records show that one bomber was forced to ditch on the way back to its base and evidence suggests that he was responsible for the major part of its damage. xviii
The following month China obtained 36 Gladiator Mk. I’s from Britain. The 17th, 28th, and 29th Pursuit Squadrons were re-equipped with this type and worked up on it during January and February, 1938. xix The Gladiator was a step up from the Hawk II, being faster, armed with four machine guns, and featuring an enclosed cockpit, but it was still a fabric-covered biplane with fixed landing gear and an enormous, two-bladed wooden propeller. Like most fighters of the time it also lacked the armor and self-sealing fuel tanks which would come to be seen as so vital later on.

Art went on to score most of his kills while flying this type of aircraft, but on the flip side crashed three of them. The only loss that can be chalked up as an accident occurred on February 9, 1938. While leading a flight to Nanchang he ran into a snowstorm. This being an era before GPS – and even before a comprehensive net of radio navigational aids had been established in China – fighter navigation was primarily by pilotage. Leaving his flight above the murk, Art descended to see if he could locate some recognizable landmarks. As anyone who’s ever been out in a snowstorm can attest, the ground and sky tend to blend together. Art flew into a snow-covered hill. Miraculously, although the airplane was totaled he suffered relatively minor injuries, the most serious being below his right eye. xx

It seems obvious to say that an airplane crash is a traumatic event, especially when personal injury is involved. Some have quit flying after so much as witnessing one. Art’s only interest, however, seems to have been getting back into the fight. By the end of May he had recovered enough to be back in action, shooting down a Nakajima E8N floatplane. In June he was appointed to command the 28th squadron and promoted to Captain. xxi On the 16th of that month he scored a victory over another G3M2. In one of those eerie coincidences that occur in wartime, on the second day of August Art’s ground crew installed armor salvaged from a Russian-built fighter in his Gladiator. This would prove to be crucial in the events of August 3rd. xxii

On this date, Art is reported to have engaged three Japanese Mitsubishi A5M (probably A5M4) fighters by himself. According to Claire Lee Chennault – later of “Flying Tigers” fame but at that time an advisor to the Chinese Air Force – Art “deliberately rammed the Jap leader as he came in for the kill. Both planes burst into flame but Art hit the silk safely. . . . He was wounded and slightly burned, yet when we found him he was directing the salvage of the precious machine guns from his wrecked plane.” Art presented one to Chennault with the request: “Sir, can I have another plane for my machine gun?” xxiii

Japanese Navy Mitsubishi A5M2 fighter.

Although exaggerated somewhat, the basic outline of this story appears to be accurate. According to the best available account, the A5M that Art rammed was one of three that were taking turns shooting his Gladiator up until it was almost uncontrollable. He could hear bullets ricocheting off the (newly installed) armor plate behind his seat and, realizing that the time had come for desperate measures, rammed one of his adversaries. He barely managed to bail out of what was left of his own aircraft as it tumbled toward the ground, but landed safely and was taken to an aid station. A soldier brought him a machine gun salvaged from his Gladiator, and when Chennault visited him, Art joked about getting another airplane to go with it.

The Imperial Japanese Navy’s Mitsubishi A5M Type 96 was primary fighter faced by Art and his colleagues during this time. Designed by Jiro Horikoshi (who also designed its better-known successor, the A6M Type Zero), it was another 1930s transitional design, with an open cockpit, fixed landing gear, and armament of two machine guns. xxiv However, it was also an all-metal monoplane, faster than any fighter China had except the Polikarpov I-16 monoplane, and flown by superbly trained pilots.

In October, 1938, the surviving Gladiators were withdrawn for overhaul and the 28th Pursuit re-equipped with . . . still another biplane, the Russian Polikarpov I-15Bis (or I-152). xxv Decimated by accidents and enemy action, the Chinese air force had declined to a fraction of its former strength despite an infusion of Russian aircraft and reinforcement by Russian “volunteers” that had begun as early as the autumn of 1937. Fast twin-engine Tupolev SB bombers, and fighters such as I-15Bis and I-16, became mainstays of Chinese airpower. xxvi

Art Chin, right, standing next to a Russian-built Polikarpov I-152 biplane fighter. Photo courtesy of John Gong.

On December 20th, 1938, Art was appointed Deputy Commander of the 3rd Pursuit Group. xxvii It appears that, like the rest of his comrades in the 28th, Art qualified in the Russian fighters but he didn’t claim any victories while flying them. When a Gladiator became available (only three appear to have been returned to service) he went back to his old mount. On November 2nd, 1939, Art and a wingman attacked a Mitsubishi Ki-15 reconnaissance aircraft – because of its speed considered by the Japanese to be virtually immune to interception by Chinese fighters – but didn’t down it. According to Art’s personal account he set up the kill by silencing the Ki-15’s gunner, but his wingman failed to follow through. Later that month Art claimed a twin-engine bomber, probably a G3M2, which he downed by diving below and attacking from the blind spot beneath its tail. xxviii (Early-model G3M2s had a gun in a retractable “dustbin” ventral turret that covered attacks from this angle, but it created so much drag that crews were reluctant to lower it unless they really had to. Later-model G3M2s dispensed with it entirely, depending on guns in waist blisters. This installation reduced drag but couldn’t cover an attack from directly below and behind the aircraft.)

Japanese Navy Mitsubishi G3M1 bombers. Photo courtesy of Weibin Chang.

Art’s combat career ended in a suitably climactic fashion on December 27, 1939. On this date he led a mixed formation consisting of an I-15Bis and another Gladiator escorting three Russian-flown SB bombers on a raid against the Japanese Army in the vicinity of the Kunlun Pass. After a savage fight during which Art’s flight fell one by one but appear to have shot down two Japanese fighters and damaged a third in return (personal credit for the kills is not certain), Art’s Gladiator was hit in the fuel tank and caught fire. He nursed his flying inferno back over Chinese lines and bailed out, but was terribly burned. xxix To compound his suffering, although rescued by Chinese soldiers he didn’t receive proper medical treatment for three days. Considering that infection is one of the worst dangers burn victims face, it is likely this was a factor in his difficult recovery.

A panel from ‘China’s Warhawk,’ a wartime comic about Art’s exploits. Photo courtesy of John Gong.

The sacrifice was not in vain all three bombers got through. After the bloody fight, KMT forces regained Kunlun Pass.

Carrying On

While recovering from his burns Art stayed with his family in a small house on Liuchow Airfield and was nursed by Eva. Unfortunately, only two days after Art’s return, the airfield came under attack by Japanese bombers. Eva took the children to the air-raid shelter first and went back for Art, who was virtually immobilized by the bandages over his face – including over his eyes – and on his hands and arms. In what must have seemed like a slow-motion nightmare they could hear the bombs exploding closer and closer. Too late to run, Eva threw herself on top of Art and was killed by shrapnel when the next explosion destroyed the house. During an interview many years later Art said simply “I held her dead body to mine until help came.”

Hong Kong, then a British colony, was neutral at that time. Art and his children were evacuated there where, in seven operations over two years, doctors at the Hong Kong Sanitarium in Happy Valley tried to repair the damage to Art’s face and hands. xxx In the chaos following the Japanese attack on December 8th, 1941, Art (still swathed in bandages) got out of his hospital bed, tracked down his boys – whose caregivers had either abandoned them or been killed – and managed to escape back across enemy lines to friendly territory. Finally, friends such as Chennault and Madame Chiang Kai-Shek (Soong Mei-Ling, wife of the Nationalist Chinese Generalissimo) persuaded Art to return to the States for treatment. As commanding officer of the “1st American Volunteer Group,” Chennault drafted a letter dated June 10th, 1942, requesting US air transportation for Art. xxxi At a hospital in New York, Art suffered a series of twenty operations over a period of twenty months to rebuild his face and hands, leaving him heavily scarred but reasonably whole. xxxii

According to Craig Chinn (who qualified his comments with: “a lot about Uncle Art’s grafts is hearsay from my parents”), “his skin grafts came from the back of his calves, upper arms and thighs. I recall him showing me the wide swaths of scarring from the removal of skin. We never paid attention to his facial features as that was Uncle Art.
. . . I recall my mother telling me that they took little hairs from other parts of his body to create eye brows. He never completed the facial reconstruction because it was very painful (1940’s medicine). He did not have any feeling where he had skin grafts. When eating he learned to constantly wipe his mouth since he could not feel if anything was rolling down or stuck there.” xxxiii

Clearly, Art had “done his bit” and no one could blame him if he had decided to rest on his laurels, retire to a quieter line of work, and hide his scarred face from the world . . . but that wasn’t Art’s style.

He spoke at war bond rallies and on radio broadcasts with such celebrities as movie star George Raft. A particularly notable event was the “Gung Ho” War Bond rally in New York, which was sponsored by Chinese-American community and attended by dignitaries including Mayor LaGuardia. “Gung Ho” is actually from a Chinese phrase meaning “Work Together,” and was a perfectly reasonable name for an organization and a rally to support the joint war effort of China and the United States.

Art Chin, far right, with George Raft, second from left. Photo courtesy of John Gong.

Around this time Art met, charmed and married a nurse named Frances Murdoch. They had one child, a daughter named Susan. After the war, while sailing to meet Art in Shanghai, she fell in love with another passenger. The divorce was amicable, with Art asking only for the custody of the child. xxxiv

Over the Hump with CNAC

Finally, Art returned to duty as a transport pilot with the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC). He qualified for a Second class medical on March 28, 1945. xxxv This, and a letter signed by Major General P.T. Mow xxxvi that certified that he had 3000 hours of flight time from his service with the Chinese Air Force, launched his airline career. During the final stage of China-Japanese war, he flew supplies over the “Hump” route through the Himalayas from India into China. This was not soft duty. A former commander of USAAF portion of the airlift, Lt. Gen. William Tunner, later wrote that “flying the Hump was considered as hazardous as flying a combat mission over Germany.” xxxvii Sixty years later an estimated three hundred aviation personnel are still listed as missing in action in the region. xxxviii

At the end of the war Art stayed on in China to fly with CNAC, by then as a fully qualified airline captain. Captain Chin was certified as an Authorized Check Pilot for the airline on October 15, 1947, xxxix at which time he held single engine, multi engine, instrument and Airline Transport Pilot ratings. During this time he was specifically rated to fly DC-3, C-46 and C-47 aircraft. xl

During this time he met Vivienne Yang, then employed in CNAC’s Shanghai office. Vivienne had been warned by a coworker not to fall asleep while riding on a plane piloted by Art: “Don’t doze off, if Captain Chin wakes you and you open your eyes to see his face, you might get an awful fright!” xli Vivienne evidently was able to see beyond Art’s scars, and they married in 1948. Craig Chinn said of Vivienne that she “added a softer side to Uncle Art. She was quiet and very proper. I recall she was a great cook, with a Shanghai flair.” xlii They had one child together, a son named Matthew.

Return to Portland

In 1949 Art returned to Oregon. He seems to have sought work as a pilot, as suggested by his getting a second-class commercial medical on September 20, 1950, xliii but was apparently unsuccessful. He did land a job with the postal service, and worked there until retirement. According to Mr. John Johnson, a co-worker, Art worked swing shifts in the letter-sorting section of “Zone 19” of the Portland post office. This was a “bid” job, which implies that it was desirable. He remembers Art as friendly, sociable, and even then fond of flirting with attractive women. xliv However, it appears that he may have chosen a night shift due to self-consciousness, according to Craig Chinn: “He was always conscious of people staring at him so he preferred to work the late night shift at the Post Office.” xlv

Mr. Chinn also recalls that “Uncle Art always seemed like a strong, tough guy to me. We saw them often along with Gilbert, Steve, Susie and Matthew when we traveled as kids to [Art‘s home in] Portland (on 3 acres off Idyllwild). John has a picture of Susie (his mother), my sister Dale, myself, my brother Allan and John’s uncle Matthew eating watermelon. Their dog Rusty is watching us. Each time we visited it would take Rusty a few days to get used to us and to allow us to get close to him. That was Uncle Art’s guard dog since he was not home at night.” xlvi

His daughter Susan (“Susie”) remembers that he was very fond of “smoking a pipe. He always had a pipe in his mouth whether he was actually smoking it or not. He had a special tobacco mix which he smoked. He ordered it from a shop in New York City. He came to use this shop since World War 2 when he was undergoing all of his surgeries. I always associated this tobacco scent to him. I managed to hang onto one of his favorite pipes . . . he is photographed in uniform with this particular pipe. As a child he always made me clean his pipes. I rather enjoyed this particular chore because he had such an interesting array of pipes from all over the world. There was one in particular where the bowl of the pipe was hand carved out of ivory. I believe that pipe came from India. My mother gave away all of his pipes. I can’t believe it. I used to roll cigarettes for my father as well. And, he loved a good cigar.” xlvii

Overseas Chinese, Chinese-American?

Not long before his death Art was asked by a newspaper reporter why he had gone. His response was “China called me.” xlviii This begs any number of questions, and can be best understood by exploring how Chinese expatriates and their descendants relate to China.

The status of an Overseas Chinese can be seen as of a perpetual foreigner the individual is seen in their country of residence as linked with China, and in China as linked with their country of residence. As touched on earlier Art and his colleagues were unable to sign on with the Chinese national air force, despite the country’s desperate straits and clear need for trained pilots. This was also despite an outreach program (that is still in existence) that had been in operation since 1926. xlix It appears that although the KMT sought the support of Overseas Chinese it preferred to keep them at arm’s length and had very definite ideas about what form the support should take, e.g. funds and publicity. A group of eager young quasi-foreigners who appeared out of nowhere, speaking Cantonese (some of them badly) and falling over themselves begging to be thrust into harm’s way, apparently did not fit the profile.

The other side, in Art’s case, was not so visible, at least at the time. Although contemporary US accounts often describe him as an Oregon native, they also call him Chinese. For example, a September 6, 1944 newspaper article in The Oregonian about Art preparing to return to China was titled “Chinese Set to Go Back.” l In his high-profile bond drives Art wore a Chinese Air Force Major’s uniform and served, in essence, as a charismatic spokesman for China. With China and the US as wartime allies this was not a problem. However, when the interests of China and the US diverge it certainly can be, as several more recent cases in the United States illustrate.

Relating this back to Art and why he went, in his late teens he would almost certainly have been feeling that characteristic surge of idealism and optimism of youth. The tragic events in China were widely publicized and deplored, and as a youngster of Chinese heritage he would have been both better-informed and more strongly motivated than most to do something about it. His decision was not in isolation, either he went in the company of a dozen of his peers, one of whom, Clifford Louie Yim Qun, ended up (many years later) as a General in the Republic of China’s Air Force, li and another of whom, Hazel Ah Ying Lee died serving as a Women’s Air Service Pilot in the USAAF. lii

Having gone, why did he stay, through all the tragedy, horror and pain? How did he carry on, head high through everything that was thrown at him?

That would have to be something internal to Art, not external, not exclusive to any particular ethnic group, and not easily quantifiable. Let’s call it “character.”

With Art’s credentials as a hero in China well established, what about the American side of the equation? Although a native-born US citizen, he distinguished himself while serving with the armed forces of China, which would seem to disqualify him. However, there are a few wrinkles in this picture. Prominent among them is the fact that other Americans were also serving with foreign air forces. By the time of Pearl Harbor the war in Europe had been raging for over two years and in China for four. On December 7, 1941, Americans were flying with the RAF and RCAF in Europe (most notably with the three Eagle Squadrons) and the American Volunteer Group was on the verge of operational capability in China and Burma. Speaking of the latter, the AVG was actually formed and, soon after the Pearl Harbor attack, operated, as a unit of the national Chinese air force — the famous Flying Tigers. Certainly most US historians would be loath to disown the Flying Tigers on that basis alone.

Another is that he may have been among America’s first aces of World War 2. Strictly speaking, after the US entered the war the first Army AF ace was Lt Boyd D. “Buzz” Wagner and the first Navy ace was Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare. liii Within this boundary the picture is fairly clear, but looking beyond it things become more complicated. If we’re willing to include the contributions of Americans serving before this time then, besides Art and his colleagues in China, we need to look at pilots such as Frank Tinker and “Ajax” Baumler who served in the 1936 to 1939 Spanish Civil War. And indeed, Frank Tinker claimed his fifth confirmed victory on June 16th, 1937, about two months before Art Chin shot down his first. liv However, (not to minimize their accomplishments) Spain was officially neutral during World War 2 while China was both an ally and a theater of operations. And although it can he said that the enemy in Spain was, in the larger sense, the same Fascism the US later had to deal with in the form of Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, the enemy Art Chin faced in 1937 was unambiguously the same as the one that bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941 – the armed forces of the Empire of Japan. It would appear, then, that Art is as much an American hero as a Chinese one.

Although it hasn’t been widely publicized, authorities in the US seem to have accepted this view. Recognition for some of Art’s accomplishments came on February 28, 1995 when the US Air Force awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his flights over the “Hump.” lv He passed away on September 7, 1997, less than a month before he was inducted into the American Combat Airman Hall of Fame of the Commemorative Air Force Airpower Museum in Midland, Texas. lvi Over 3,000 people, including Vivienne, attended the ceremony on October 4th. More recently, on March 5, 2008, the US Congress approved legislation to name a post office in Beaverton, Oregon, the “Major Arthur Chin Post Office Building.”

Final Thoughts

Although the once-popular myth that the Flying Tigers fought “for years” before Pearl Harbor has been largely dispelled, it has not been replaced by an awareness that Americans did serve in the air war over China during the 󈧢s. Some became aces before the U.S. even entered the war. Many stayed on and continued to contribute to the Allied effort, joined by more of their countrymen. One of these was Arthur “Art” Chin, whose courage and dogged tenacity in the face of adversity shines as an example to us all. His story is a shared piece of Chinese and United States aviation and military history, and his legacy should be shared as well.

Bowers, Peter. Boeing P-26 Variants. Arlington, TX: Aerofax, 1984.

Chennault, Claire Lee. Way of a Fighter. Tucson: James Thorvardson & Sons, 1991.

Francillon, Rene J.. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1987.

Gott, Kay. Hazel Ah Ying Lee, Women Air Force Service Pilot. Eureka, CA: Veterans Quality Printing, 1996.

Olynyk, Frank. Stars and Bars: A Tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973. London: Grub Street, 1995.

Roberts, J. A. G.. A Concise History of China. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Seagrave, Sterling. The Soong Dynasty. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Tunner, William H. Over the Hump. Washington DC: Office of Air Force History, 1985.

Xu, Guangqiu. War Wings: the United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929-1949. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001.

“Chinese Heroes of the Skies,” The Oregonian 1995(?): p. A1.

“Chinese Set to Go Back.” The Oregonian 06 Sep 1944: pp. 2-1, 2-2.

Cole, William. “’Hump over Himalayas Yields Human Remains.” Honolulu Advertiser 28 Oct 2002.

Louie, D.Y.. “Chinese Air Force Gladiators in Action.” Small Air Forces Observer December 1998: pp. 118-121.

Louie, D.Y.. “Chinese American Aces in the Chinese Air Force.” Small Air Forces Observer July 1996: pp. 55-56.

Shevchuk, Dmitry. “Soviet Planes and Pilots in China.” Small Air Forces Observer October 1997: pp. 86-87.

Fisler, Jody. “A Castle in the Air: The William and Mary Flight School.” Higher Education in Review 2005. //www.clubs.psu.edu/up/hesa/HER/v2/Castle.pdf . 28 Oct 2007. (p. 42)

Gustavsson, Hakan. “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007 //surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/china_chin.htm

Lam, C. W. “Insignia of China.” 1 Oct 2007. 3 Dec 2007.

“Major Arthur T. Chin, Chinese Air Force,” American Combat Airmen Hall of Fame. 1997. 9 Dec 2007. //www.airpowermuseum.org/exhibits/acahof/assets/pdf/1997/chin.pdf

“Overseas Chinese.” Wikipedia. 03 Dec 2007. 09 Dec 2007. //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_Chinese

Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission-About (2001 December 07). Retrieved December 9, 2007, from Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission Web site: //www.ocac.gov.tw/

“Wu Tingfang.” Wikipedia. 01 Dec 2007. 05 Dec 2007. //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Tingfang

Mr. John Johnson. Telephone interview. 30 Sep 2007.

i – Jody Fisler, “A Castle in the Air: The William and Mary Flight School.” Higher Education in Review 2005, (A copy of this can be downloaded here.) 28 Oct 2007, p. 42. The actual rates for the Al Greenwood school are not available, but to compare, at the William and Mary Flight School in 1931 the total cost of the course leading to a pilot’s license was $300, which included ground school and 20 hours of flight time (the minimum to meet license requirements). This may have been something of a bargain: other sources give $15 per hour as the going rate for flight instruction alone.

ii – Kay Gott, Hazel Ah Ying Lee, Women Air Force Service Pilot (Eureka, CA: Veterans Quality Printing, 1996) p. 96.

iii – J. A. G. Roberts, A Concise History of China (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003) pp. 217-228.

iv – C.W. Lam, “Insignia of China.” 1 Oct 2007. 3 Dec 2007.

v – Guangqiu Xu, War Wings: the United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929-1949. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001) pp. 90-91.

– C. W. Lam, “Insignia of China.” 1 Oct 2007. 3 Dec 2007.

vi – Frank Olynyk, Stars and Bars: A Tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973 (London: Grub Street, 1995) pp. 192-193.

vii – “Chinese Heroes of the Skies,” The Oregonian 1995(?): A1.

viii – Craig Chinn, email 30 Apr 2011.

ix – Guangqiu Xu, War Wings: the United States and Chinese Military Aviation, 1929-1949. (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001) pp. 96-97.

x – Sterling Seagrave, The Soong Dynasty (New York: Harper & Row, 1985) pp. 290, 319-320, 346.

xi – Hakan Gustavsson, “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007

xii – Peter Bowers, Curtiss Navy Hawks (Carrolton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications 1995) pp. 34-40.

xiv – “Wu Tingfang,” Wikipedia. 01 Dec 2007. 05 Dec 2007

xv – Peter Bowers, Boeing P-26 Variants (Arlington, TX: Aerofax, 1984) pp. 3-4. The Chinese knew the Model 281 as the “248,” which was the Boeing company designation for the domestic P-26.

xvi – D.Y. Louie, “Chinese American Aces in the Chinese Air Force,” Small Air Forces Observer July 1996: p. 55.

xvii – Rene J. Francillon, Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1987) pp. 350-357.

xviii – Hakan Gustavsson, “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007

xix – D.Y. Louie, “Chinese Air Force Gladiators in Action,” Small Air Forces Observer December 1998: p. 118.

xx – Hakan Gustavsson, “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007

xxi – Frank Olynyk, Stars and Bars: A Tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973 (London: Grub Street, 1995) pp. 192.

xxii – Hakan Gustavsson, “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007

xxiii – Claire Lee Chennault, Way of a Fighter (Tucson: James Thorvardson & Sons, 1991) p. 68.

xxiv – Rene J. Francillon, Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1987) pp. 342-349.

xxv – Hakan Gustavsson, “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007

xxvi – Dmitry Shevchuk, “Soviet Planes and Pilots in China.” Small Air Forces Observer October 1997: pp. 86-87.

xxvii – Frank Olynyk, Stars and Bars: A Tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973 (London: Grub Street, 1995) pp. 192.

xxviii – Hakan Gustavsson, “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007

xxix – Hakan Gustavsson, “Chinese Biplane Fighter Aces – Major ‘Arthur’ ‘Art’ Chin Shui-Tin.” Hakan’s Aviation Page – Biplane Fighter Aces. 04 July 2007. 28 Oct 2007

xxx – “Chinese Set to Go Back.” The Oregonian 06 Sep 1944: p. 2-2.

xxxi – Claire Lee Chennault, letter dated 10 Jun 1942.

xxxii – “Chinese Set to Go Back.” The Oregonian 06 Sep 1944: 2-1.

xxxiii – Craig Chinn, email 30 Apr 2011.

xxxiv – Raymond Cheung, post as “snake” on China Defense Forum, 16 Feb 03. //www.china-defense.com/smf/

xxxv – Medical Certificate – Airmen (Second Class), USA Department of Commerce, Civil Aeronautics Administration, 28 Mar 1945.

xxxvi – P.T. Mow, letter dated April 9, 1945.

xxxvii – William H. Tunner, Over the Hump (Washington DC: Office of Air Force History, 1985) p. 43.

xxxviii – William Cole, “’Hump’ Over Himalayas Yields Human Remains,” Honolulu Advertiser, 28 Oct 2002.

xxxix – Authorized Check Pilot Certificate, Civil Aeronautics Administration, Ministry of Communications, Republic of China, 15 Oct 1947 – 14 Oct 1948.

xl – Airline Pilot License # 10011, Civil Aeronautics Administration, Ministry of Communications, Republic of China, 7 Feb 1948.

xli – Raymond Cheung, post as “snake” on China Defense Forum, 16 Feb 03.

xlii – Craig Chinn, email 30 Apr 2011.

xliii – Medical Certificate – Commercial Airmen (Second Class), USA Department of Commerce, Civil Aeronautics Administration, 20 Sep 1950.

xliv – John Johnson, Telephone interview, 30 Sep 2007.

xlv – Craig Chinn, email 30 Apr 2011.

xlvi – Craig Chinn, email 30 Apr 2011.

xlvii – Susan Ennis, Facebook message December 14, 2010.

xlviii – “Chinese Heroes of the Skies,” The Oregonian 1995(?): A1.

xlix – “Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission-About.” Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission. 07 Dec 2007. 09 Dec 2007.

l – “Chinese Set to Go Back.” The Oregonian 06 Sep 1944: 2-1, 2-2.

li – D.Y. Louie, “Chinese American Aces in the Chinese Air Force,” Small Air Forces Observer July 1996: pp. 55-56.

lii – Kay Gott, Hazel Ah Ying Lee, Women Air Force Service Pilot (Eureka, CA: Veterans Quality Printing, 1996) pp. 62-65.

liii – Frank Olynyk, Stars and Bars: A Tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973 (London: Grub Street, 1995) p. 615 and p. 479 respectively.

liv – Frank Olynyk, Stars and Bars: A Tribute to the American Fighter Ace 1920-1973 (London: Grub Street, 1995) pp. 594-595.

lv – Special Order GB-133 – Distinguished Flying Cross, and GB-132 – Air Medal, signed by Col Kevin A. Collins.

lvi – “Major Arthur T. Chin, Chinese Air Force,” American Combat Airmen Hall of Fame. 1997. 9 Dec 2007. //www.airpowermuseum.org/exhibits/acahof/assets/pdf/1997/chin.pdf

NOTE: This article represents the hard work of three authors: Andy Chan, John Gong and Michael Little. Michael’s bio can be found below, and bios for Andy and John will be supplied here:

Andy Chan was born in the same province Art Chin’s family was from, and has been fascinated by his legend since college. Andy received his master’s degree from Portland State University and has been writing on China-related affairs for over 20 years. He is currently serving as an editor of China-defense.com.

A graduate of the George Washington University, John Gong is currently the President and CEO of Shangren Inc, and recently retired from the United States Government after spending 25 years working in the US Congress. He is also Arthur Chin’s grandson and a custodian of his legacy.

Mitsubishi G3M1 from above - History

While the atoll's defenders prepared for war, Japanese bombers droned toward them. At 0710 on 8 December, 34 Mitsubishi G3M2 Type 96 land attack planes (Nells) of the Chitose Air Group had lifted off from the airstrip at Roi in the Marshalls. Shortly before noon, those 34 Nells came in on Wake at 13,000 feet. Clouds cloaked their approach and the pounding surf drowned out the noise of their engines as they dropped down to 1,500 feet and roared in from the sea. Lookouts sounded the alarms as they spotted the twin-engined, twin-tailed bombers a few hundred yards off the atoll's south shore, emerging from a dense bank of clouds. At Battery E, First Lieutenant Lewis telephoned Major Devereux's command post to inform him of the approaching planes.

Although Putnam was rushing work on the six bunkers being built along the seaward side of the runway, he knew none of them would be ready before 1400. He also knew that moving the eight F4F Wildcats from their parking area would risk damage to the planes and obstruction of the runway if the planes were in fact damaged. Since any damage might have meant the loss of a plane—Wake possessed virtually no spare parts—Putnam decided to delay moving the Wildcats and the material until suitable places existed to protect them.

No foxholes had been dug near the field, but the rough ground nearby offered natural cover to those who reached it. Putnam hoped that his men would obtain good cover if an attack came. The movement of gasoline, bombs, and ammunitions then installation of electrical lines and generators and the relocation of radio facilities kept all hands busily engaged.

The attack found Second Lieutenant Robert "J" Conderman and First Lieutenant George A. Graves in the ready tent, going over last minute instructions concerning their escort of the Philippine Clipper. When the alarm sounded, both pilots, already in flight gear, sprinted for their Wildcats. Graves managed to reach one F4F, but a direct hit demolished it in a ball of flame as he was climbing into the cockpit, killing him instantly. Strafers' bullets cut down Conderman, as he tried to reach his plane, and as he lay on the ground a bomb hit the waiting Wildcat and blew it up, pinning him beneath the wreckage. He called to Corporal Robert E.L. Page to help him, but stopped when he heard another man crying for help. He directed Page to help the other man first. Strafing attacks killed Second Lieutenant Frank J. Holden as he raced for cover. Bullets and fragments wounded Second Lieutenant Webb.

Marine Gunner Hamas, who still had 50 cases of hand grenades in his truck, having just delivered 25 to Kuku Point, saw the red sun insignia on the planes as they roared low overhead. Immediately, he ordered the vehicle stopped and instructed his men to head for cover.

Confident that his airborne planes would be able to provide sufficient warning of an incoming raid, Commander Cunningham was working in his office at Camp 2, when he heard the "crump" of bombs around 1155. The explosions rattled windows elsewhere in the camp, prompting many men to conclude that work crews were blasting coral heads in the lagoon.

(click on image for an enlargement in a new window)

Guns 1 and 2 of Battery D opened up on the attackers, collectively firing 40 rounds during the raid. The low visibility and the altitude at which the Mitsubishis flew, however, prevented the 3-inch guns from firing effectively. No bombs fell near the battery, but the guns' own concussions caved in the sandbag emplacements. Marine antiaircraft fire damaged eight Nells and filled a petty officer in one of them. Returning Japanese aircrews claimed to have set fire to all of the aircraft on the ground, and reported sighting only three airborne American planes.

On Peacock Point, First Lieutenant Lewis' Battery E had been standing-to, ready to fire. Like Godbold, Lewis did not have enough men for all four of his guns. Lewis manned two of the 3-inchers, along with the M-4 director, while the rest of his men busily completed sandbag emplacement. After telephoning Devereux's command post when he saw the falling bombs. Lewis quickly estimated the altitude and ordered his gunners to open fire. Again, however, the height at which the attackers came rendered the fire ineffective.

In about seven minutes, Japanese bombs and bullets totally wrecked PanAm's facilities. Bombing and strafing set fire to a hotel—in which five Chamorro employees died—and also to a stock room, fuel tanks, and many other buildings, and demolished a radio transmitter. Nine of PanAm's 66-man staff lay dead. Two of the Philippine Clipper's crew were wounded.

National Archives Photo 80-G-179013

The Nells, Bettys, and Claudes of Japan

A formation of Mitsubishi G3M1 and G3M2 Type 96 bombers (Nell), above, fly in formation in 1942. The first models flew in 1935, and more than 250 were still serving in the Japanese land-based naval air arm in December 1941. Nells, instrumental in the reduction of Wake's defenses, served alongside the newer, more powerful Mitsubishi G4M1 Type-97 bombers (Betty)—earmarked to replace them in front-line service—in helping to sink the British capital ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse off Malaya on 10 December 1941.

Two 1,000-horsepower Kinsei 45 engines enabled the Nell to reach a speed of 238 miles per hour at 9,840 feet. Normally crewed by seven men, the G3M2 model carried a defensive armament of one 20-mm and two 7.7-mm machine guns, and a payload of either one 1,764-pound torpedo or 2,200 pounds of bombs.

Although Mitsubishi A5M4 Type 96 carrier fighters (Claude), also equipped the Chitose Air Group, none accompanied the group's Nells because of the long distances involved. Marine antiaircraft of fighter aircraft gunfire at Wake destroyed at least four Nells During December 1941. Since the numbers of G3Ms engaged varied from raid to raid—no more than 34 or fewer than 17—so, too, did damage figures. On at least two occasions, though, as many as 12 returned to their base in the Marshalls damaged.

Almost miraculously, though, the 26-ton Clipper, empty of both passengers and cargo but full of fuel, rode easily at her moorings at the end of the dock. A bomb had splashed 100 feet ahead of her without damaging her, and she received 23 bullet holes from the strafing attack—none had hit her large fuel tanks. Captain Hamilton courageously proposed evacuating the passengers and PanAm staff and Commander Cunningham assented. Stripped of all superfluous equipment and having embarked all of the passengers and the Caucasian PanAm employees, save one (who had been driving the atoll's only ambulance and thus had not heard the call to report for the plane's departure), the flying boat took off for Midway at 1330.

Although he had received a bullet wound in his left shoulder, Major Putnam immediately took over the terrible task of seeing to the many injured people at the field. His dedication to duty seemed to establish the precedent for many other instances of selflessness which occurred amidst the wreckage of the VMF-211 camp. Sadly, the attack left five pilots and 10 enlisted men of VMF-211 wounded and 18 more dead, including most of the mechanics assigned to the squadron. On the materiel side, the squadron's tents were shot up and virtually no supplies—tools, spark plugs, tires, and sparse spare parts—escaped destruction. Both of the 25,000-gallon gasoline storage tanks had been demolished. Additionally 25 civilian workmen had been killed.

As the bombers departed, Gunner Hamas called his men back from the bush, and set out to resume delivery of hand grenades. As he neared the airfield, though, he stopped to help wounded men board a truck that had escaped destruction. Then, he continued his journey and finally returned to Camp 1, where he found more civilian employees arriving to join the military effort.

Earlier, as they had returned to the vicinity of Wake at about noon, Kinney and Hamilton had been descending through the broken clouds about three miles from the atoll when the former spotted two formations of planes at an elevation of about 1,500 feet. He and Hamilton attempted unsuccessfully to catch the formations as they retired to the west through the overcast. Kinney and Hamilton remained aloft until after 1230, when they landed to find the destruction that defied description. Neither Elrod nor Davidson had seen the enemy.

1stLt John F. Kinney (seen here circa September 1941), became engineering officer for VMF-211 upon 1st Lt Graves' death on 8 December, and, along with TSgt William H. Hamilton and AMM1c James F. Hesson, USN, kept Wake's dwindling number of battered Wildcats flying throughout the bitter 15-day siege. Author's collection

In the wake of the terrible devastation wreaked upon his squadron, Putnam deemed it critical to the squadron's reorganization to keep the remaining planes operations. Since his engineering officer, Graves, Had been killed, Putnam appointed Kinney to take his place. "We have four planes left," Putnam told him, "If you can keep them flying I'll see that you get a medal as big as a pie." "Okay, sir," Kinney responded, "if it is delivered in San Francisco."

Putnam established VMF-211's command post near the operations area. His men dug foxholes amidst brush and all of the physically capable officers and men stayed at the field. Putnam ordered that pistols, Thompson submachine guns, gas masks, and steel helmets be issued, and also directed that machine gun posts be established near each end of the runway and the command post. Meanwhile, the ground crews dispersed the serviceable planes into revetments, a task not without its risks. That afternoon, Captain Frank C. Tharin accidentally taxied 211-F-9 into an oil drum and ruined the propeller, reducing the serviceable planes to three. Captains Elrod and Tharin (the latter wounded superficially in the attack) later supervised efforts to construct "protective works" and also the mining of the landing strip with dynamite connected up to electric generators. Contractors bulldozed portions of the land bordering the field, in hopes that the rough ground would wreck and enemy planes that attempted to land there.

That afternoon, over at Battery D, Godbold's men repaired damaged emplacements, improved the director position, and accepted delivery of gas masks, hand grenades, and ammunition. Later that afternoon, 18 civilians reported for military duty. Godbold assigned 16 of them to serve under Sergeant Walter A. Bowsher, Jr., to man the previously idle Gun 3, and assigned the remaining pair to the director crew as lookouts. Under Bowsher's leadership, the men in Gun 3 were soon working their piece "in a manner comparable to the Marine-manned guns."

Gunner Hamas and his men, meanwhile, carted ammunition from the quartermaster shed and dispersed it into caches, each of about 20 to 25 boxes, west of Camp 1, near Wilkes Channel, and camouflaged them with coral sand. Next, they dispersed hundreds of boxes of .5— and .30-caliber ammunition in the bushes that lined the road that led to the airfield. Before nightfall, Hamas delivered .50-caliber ammunition and metal links to Captain Herbert C . Freuler and furnished him the keys to the bomb and ammunition magazines.

About 25 civilians with trucks responded to First Lieutenant Lewis' request for assistance in improving his battery's defensive position. Then, Lewis ordered his men to lay a telephone line from the battery command post (CP) to the battery's heightfinder so that he could obtain altitude readings for the incoming enemy bombers, and relay that information to the guns.

Commander Campbell Keene, Commander, Wake Base Detachment, meanwhile, reassigned his men to more critical combat duties. He sent Ensigns George E. Henshaw and Bernard J. Lauff to Cunningham's staff. Boatswain's Mate First Class James E. Barnes and 12 enlisted men joined the ranks of the defense battalion to drive trucks, serve in galley details, and stand security watches. One of the three enlisted men whom Commander Keene sent to VMF-211 was Aviation Machinist's Mate First Class James F. Lesson. Kinney and Technical Sergeant Hamilton soon found the Pennsylvanian with light brown hair, who had served in the Air Corps before he had joined the Navy and who had just turned 35 years of age, to be invaluable. VMF-211 also benefited from the services of civilians Harry Yeager and "Doc" Stevenson, who reported to work as mechanics, and Pete Sorenson, who volunteered to drive a truck.

For the remainder of the day and on into the night, in the contractor's hospital in Camp 2, Naval Reserve Lieutenant Gustave M. Kahn, Medical Corps, and the contractors' physician, Dr. Lawton E. Shank, worked diligently to save as many men as possible. Some, though, were beyond help, and despite their best efforts, four of VMF-211's men—including Second Lieutenant Conderman—died that night.

At Peacock Point, that afternoon, just down the coast from the airfield, "Barney" Barninger's men had completed their foxholes—overhead cover, sandbags, and chunks of coral would come later. Later, at dusk, Barninger evidently sensed that the atoll might be in for a long siege. Thinking that they might not be in camp again for some time, he sent some of his men back to Camp 1 to obtain extra toilet gear and clothing. In the gathering darkness, he set his security watches and rotated beach patrols and observers. Those men not on watch slept fitfully in their foxholes.

That night, Wake's offshore guardians, Tambor to the north and Triton to the south, surfaced to recharge batteries, breathe fresh air, and listen to radio reports. From those reports the crews of the Tambor and Triton finally learned of the outbreak of war.

The 9th of December dawned with a clear sky overhead. Over at the airfield, three planes took off on the early morning patrol, while Kinney had a fourth (though without its reserve gas tank) ready by 0900. A test flight proved the fourth F4F to be "o.k.," since she withstood a 350 mph dive "without a quiver." It was just in the nick of time, for at 1145 on the 9th, the Chitose Air Group struck again, as 27 Nells came in at 13,000 feet. Second Lieutenant David D. Kliewer and Technical Sergeant Hamilton attacked straggling bombers, and claimed one shot down. Battery D's number 2 and 4 guns, meanwhile, collectively fired 100 3-inch rounds. The Marines damaged 12 planes, but the enemy suffered only very light casualties: one man dead and another slightly wounded.

Sgt William J. Hamilton, (seen here on 20 January 1938) was one of two enlisted pilots serving in VMF-211 at Wake, and not only flew patrols but helped keep the squadron's planes in the air. Author's collection

Once more, though, the Japanese wreaked considerable havoc on the defenders. Most of their bombs fell near the edge of the lagoon, north of the airfield, and on Camp 2, demolishing the hospital and heavily damaging a warehouse and a metal shop. One wounded VMF-211 enlisted man perished in the bombing of the hospital while the three-man crew of one of the dispersed gasoline trucks died instantly when a bomb exploded in the foxhole in which they had sought shelter.

Doctors Kahn and Shank and their assistants evacuated the wounded and saved as much equipment as the could. Shank carried injured men from the burning hospital, courageous actions that so impressed Marine Gunner Hamas (who had been trapped by the raid while carrying a load of projectiles and powder to gun positions on Peale) that he later recommended that Shank be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism. The hard-pressed medical people soon moved the wounded and what medical equipment they could into magazines 10 and 13, near the unfinished airstrip, and established two 21-bed wards.

Once the bombers had gone, the work of repairs and improving planes and positions resumed. That night, because the initial bombing had destroyed the mechanical loading machines, a crew of civilians helped load .50-caliber ammunition. That same evening, work crews dispersed food, medical supplies, water and lumber to various point around the atoll, while the communications center and Wake's command post were moved.

Earlier that day from near the tip of Peacock Point, Marine Gunner Clarence B. McKinstry of Battery E had noted one bomber breaking off from the rest. Supposing that the plane had taken aerial photographs, he suggested that the battery be moved. That afternoon, First Lieutenant Lewis received orders to reposition his guns after dark he was to leave two 3-inchers in place until the other two were emplaced, and then move the last two. Aided by about a hundred civilians with several trucks, Lewis and McKinstry succeeded in shifting the battery—guns, ammunition, and sandbags—to a new location some 1,500 yards to he northwest. Marines and workmen set up dummy guns in the old position.

As the 10th dawned, Marine Gunner McKinstry found himself with new duties, having received orders to proceed to Wilkes and report to Captain Wesley McC. Platt, commander of the Wilkes strongpoint. Battery F comprised four 3-inch guns, but lacked crewmen, a heightfinder, or a director. Consequently, McKinstry could only fire the guns accurately at short or point-blank range, thus limiting them to beach protection. Assisted by one Marine and a crew of civilians, Gunner McKinstry moved his guns into battery just in time for the arrival of 26 Nells which flew over at 1020 and dropped their bombs on the airfield and those seacoast installations at the tip of Wilkes.

While casualties were light—Battery L had one Marine killed and one wounded (one civilian suffered shell-shock)—the equipment and guns in the positions themselves received considerable damage. Further, 120 tons of dynamite which had been stored by the contractors near the site of the new channel exploded and stripped the 3-inch battery of its fresh camouflage. The gunners moved them closer to the shoreline and camouflaged them with burnt brush because they lacked sandbags with which to construct defensive shelters for the gun crews.

In a new position, which was up the coast from the old one, Battery E's 3-inchers managed to hurl 100 rounds skyward while bombs began hitting near Peacock Point. The old position there was "very heavily bombed," and a direct hit set off a small ammunition dump, vindicating McKinstry's hunch about the photo-reconnaissance plane. Battery D's gunners, meanwhile, claimed hits on two bombers (one of which was seen to explode later). Although Captain Elrod, who single-handedly attacked the formation, claimed two of the raiders, only one Nell failed to return to its base.

That night, the itinerant Battery E shifted to a position on the toe of the horseshoe on the lagoon side of Wake. Their daily defensive preparations complete, Wake's defenders awaited what the next dawn would bring. They had endured three days of bombings. Some of Cunningham's men may have wondered when it would be their turn to wreak destruction upon the enemy.

Mitsubishi G3M1 from above - History

The Mitsubishi G3M series got it's start from a non-competitive specification that was issued to them on the recommendation of Admiral Yamamoto during the time he was serving with the Naval Bureau of Aeronautics. The specification called for a land based twin engine long range reconnaissance aircraft. The result of this was to serve as an aerodynamic prototype possessing the necessary performance required from a future attack bomber. The resultant aircraft (Mitsubishi designation Ka-9) possessing a clean air frame with a wing featuring flying control surfaces similar to those used by Junker's aircraft of the time, and twin fins and rudders. It demonstrated exceptional maneuverability and handling characteristics and achieved a maximum range of 3,265 nautical miles. The results of the flight test program were received with enthusiasm by the Navy which resulted in a new specification being issued to Mitsubishi calling for a fully developed attack bomber.

The resultant aircraft used the wings from the Ka-9 and a new wider fuselage. Corrugated panels on the wings were replaced with smooth skinned panels. The tail surfaces were enlarged and the landing gear simplified and strengthened. As the aircraft was intended to operate in support of naval units, the main offensive weapon was the torpedo, carried under the fuselage with no provisions for an internal bomb bay. This new aircraft (Mitsubishi designation Ka-15) made its first flight in July 1935. It was soon apparent that the aircraft was equal to most foreign aircraft of the time. Within a year twenty additional prototypes were built and despite the loss of one aircraft, the test program progressed smoothly. The prototypes were built in a variety of configurations with different engine and propeller configurations. In June 1936 it was put into production as the Navy Type 96 Attack Bomber Model 11 (G3M1). The production aircraft featured a redesigned canopy and internal equipment changes. Even though the G3M1 exceeded most of the Navy's original requirements, this variant saw only limited service as an improved version of the Kinsei engine allowed a further increase in performance.

Powered by two Kinsei 41 or 42 engines the G3M2 Model 21 differed only in minor internal details and increased fuel capacity. On 14 August, 1937, a week after the start of the second Sino-Japanese conflict a group based in Formosa sent its G3M2s against targets in mainland China and despite poor weather, flew 1,250 miles over water and made the first trans-oceanic bombing raid in aviation history. Soon thereafter the G3M2s were moved to bases on the mainland where they mounted raids deep into mainland China. However, operating beyond the range of their fighter escorts, the bombers suffered heavy losses due to wholly inadequate defensive armament. In 1940 Nakajima began manufacturing the Model 21 under a Navy production contract.

As a result of pressing requests from operational units Mitsubishi designed the G3M2 Model 22 with a much revised defensive armament set up and various equipment changes including a license built Sperry automatic pilot and radio direction finding units. When hostilities with the United States began in December 1941 the Japanese Navy had 204 G3M2s operating in first line units and 54 in second line units. The bombers took part in operations against Wake Island, the Philippines and the Marianas and on 10 December, 1941, sixty G3M2s and 26 G4M1s succeeded in sinking the two British battleships the HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse of Malaya. As Japanese forces moved swiftly through the Southwest Pacific islands, so did the G3M2s. However they had already been replaced on the Mitsubishi assembly lines by the G4M1 leaving Nakajima as the sole manufacturer. By 1943 few of the G3M2s were still operating in their intended roles with most surviving aircraft serving until the end of the war in second line units as glider tugs, bomber trainers and maritime reconnaissance aircraft often fitted with search radar. A total of 1,048 G3Ms were built including prototypes.

The Koster Aero Enterprises G3M2 as you have probably already guessed is a vacuform kit. While I would prefer an injection molded kit as of this time no manufacturer has blessed us with one in this scale. The kit comes in a medium sized plain corrugated box. The photo above is included inside the box along with three sheets of vacuformed parts. Also included in the box is a pair of cast metal propellers, a zip lock bag of additional cast metal parts, a zip lock bag full of cast resin parts and a vacuformed set of clear glazing. Koster uses heavier plastic than many makers of these types of kits which makes for a bit sturdier construction. Two of the three sheets are good sized and have the primary air frame parts, a bulkhead, one wing spar, torpedo, engine cowlings and some internal side wall detail. A smaller third sheet has the other wing spar and some additional internal details. In spite of the heavier gauge plastic used the surface detail is very nice with recessed panel lines a raised detail as appropriate.

While the detail is not up to the standard expected with injection molding it is some of the nicest I have seen on a vacuformed kit. The fabric control surfaces are a bit overdone to my eye but no worse than many injection molded kits. As is the case with many vacuformed kits invariably the plastic gets stretched very thin in some places especially on very detailed parts and such is the case here and on some parts some additional strengthening may be needed. The internal side pieces are a mixed bag, the one has so much detail that most of it ended up being rather soft and lacking detail while the other turned out much better. Still a little soft but probably acceptable once installed inside the fuselage. I suspect I'll will be temped to cut the detail away on one side and replace it with some scratch built parts with sharper edges and more defined details. In the photos below I have outlined the parts with a magic marker not only to make them stand out more but as the first step in preparing the parts. For those new to vacuform kits I will supply a link at the end of the review that may give you an idea of what is involved. See below.

The G3M series aircraft were equipped with flying control surfaces on the wings much like those used on Junkers aircraft like the Ju 52 and Ju 87. These would be tough to do as a vacuform part and in this kit these are supplied as a resin part. The castings were quite good in my kit with few if any casting defects although both are a bit warped. Once removed from their casting blocks a warm water dip should take care of the warps. See below.

The propellers are provided in cast soft metal and look quite nice needing only some light clean up of flash.

The landing gear is also done in metal and again is quite nice. Like many cast metal part some of them may need to be tweaked a bit to get them straightened out.

The balance of the metal parts are for the guns, an ammo drum, DF loop, antenna, pitot tube, trim wheel, control wheels, rudder pedals and all those 'V' shaped parts which are intended to be the push rods for the resin engines. Those must have been a pain to cast and look to be even more of a pain to clean up and install. I may decided to skip that and make them out of thin wire instead. These parts are for the most part nice and should be that hard to clean up and straighten. The guns would probably look better with some hypodermic tubing for barrels.

The resin parts shown below are some what of a mixed bag. Molded in three different colors of resin. The engines which at first glance didn't look too bad but mine were marred with a numerous air bubbles on the front side. Once painted and buried in the cowlings they might be passable but I would recommend replacing them with quality resin replacements from Vector. The wheel assemblies are a bit rough and to my eye a bit too flat. The Prop spinners are good. The fins and rudders are nice but do have a few bubbles to fill. The oxygen tanks are nice as are the seats but again the seats will require a bit of bubble filling. The exhaust stubs are nice as are the gear doors and the bulkhead with the instrument panel but they will require a bit of clean up. The wedge shaped parts are the mounting parts for the flying control surfaces and these look like they could be a challenge both to clean up and install. The other two parts are the control columns.

The clear parts are quite clear and since they are molded out of heavier material than is the norm they are a bit more sturdy and easier to work with in my opinion. Although it doesn't show well in my photograph the frame lines are pretty well registered and shouldn't be that hard to mask.

The decals appear thin and are well registered. I have used a few of the decals supplied by Koster before and have not had any issues with them. They appear opaque. Markings are supplied for three aircraft with similar but slightly different paint schemes. See Below.

The instructions consist of two 8 1/2" x 11" pages printed on both sides. Three of the sides have the assembly instructions and the forth has painting and decal instructions. This page is printed in color, the others in black and white. While the instructions are pretty basic everything is there that need to be. Two other color photos are included, one is an overhead view of a completed model and the other an eye level view that looks like it was meant to be a box top cover as it lists the number of parts included and other information you would expect on the box. It may have been left off mine since it was delivered by mail.

None specific to the kit but I did want to replace the kit engines. I would not recommend Engines and Things for these if available as they may not be any better than the kit parts and may in fact be worse. Fortunately Vector makes a kit of the "Kinsei" engine, their number 48-017 and it was only a matter of finding them in stock. These are pretty much like all vector engine kits, superbly molded and miniature kits in themselves. The issue with using these on many injection molded kits is that the engines are to scale but the cowlings are usually far from scale thickness so you need to file away lovely detail in order to make them fit, I'm hoping that will not be the case here but only time will tell. The engine kits include parts that won't be seen so if you are not opening up panels or displaying them unmounted some parts can be left off. The instructions are printed on a small scrap of paper but are adequate. If you need more detail photos of preserved engines can usually be found on line.

OK, vacuform kits may not be your thing and if I had a choice I wouldn't go that route but right now it it the only choice in this scale. Koster kits are some of the best vacuform kits around and while I wouldn't recommend it to a first time vacuform builder it certain is a good choice for someone who is familiar with the them and wants a 1/48 scale Nell. For some good basic information on building vacuform kits look here.

Links to kit build or reviews

An in box review can be found here.

Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War by R.J. Francillon

Like most kits assembly starts with the cockpit. Well not exactly, in this case the first thing was to get all the piece removed from their molding sheets an the thickness of the base sheet sanded off of all the parts. I did this a few at a time so it didn't become a total drudge although it went faster than I anticipated. Unlike some bare bones vacuform kit Koster supplied a decent level of interior detail. My wash got a little sloppy and some of my detail painting left something to be desired but the clear parts aren't that clear and all we're looking for is an impression that there is something there. Detail like this is not well reproduced with vacuforming and if I had been able to find better interior references I would have done some scratch building here. I did add a few detail PE parts from an Airscale cockpit detail set. Many of the resin parts in the kit were a disappointment being so full of air bubbles or poorly cast as to be unusable.

I considered doing more with the instrument panel but in the end it sits back under a cowl and is very difficult to see so I only put some Future in the dials and painted some switches.

The flight deck parts were better than some and looked OK painted up.

The rear fuselage floor and what I assume are fuel tanks on the sides and a platform for the blister gunner to stand on. This part was stretched so thin by the forming process it was difficult to work with and was partially crushed from shipping. I was able to reshape it by filling it with some Magic Sculpt.

The engines were not worth using so I pitched them.

The horizontal tail surfaces have been assembled.

The completed interior installed in one fuselage half along with the wing spar.

The opening for the crew door had to be cut out of the fuselage to match the clear door part. This took a bit of time to make sure the final fit was good and I still ended up sanding and re polishing part of it as it's shape was not a perfect match to the fuselage.

The parts that enclosed the wheel wells was installed.

The fuselage was joined, some filler was required but I have had to deal with worse on injection molded kits.

Just test fitted in the photo below. Fit was quite good, better than many injection molded kits.

The Vector engines after assembly. These were some of the most difficult Vector engines I have assembled, each of the 'V' shaped valve tube guides had to cut trimmed and installed individually and all the valve tubes themselves cut and installed.

There was no good way to mount the engines to insure they would be centered on the front of the wing. There was a small indentation where the center was so I drilled through at that point and on through that front bulkhead of the wheel well and super glued a piece of 1/16" brass rod. The shafts that came with the engines was much too small and too weak to support the heavy metal propellers so I drilled through the engines and cut the molded on shaft off the propellers and drill them as well. This way when it came time I could slide the engines on the rod and know that they would be centered and the rod provided a mount for the propellers.

The openings in the cowls was cut out very carefully as the cowls were very thin, almost paper thin back by the flaps making them look quite realistic.

The oil cooler underneath and behind the cowl was poorly formed and again very thin in section. After filling the back side with Magic Sculpt I was able to file it into a better shape but it still needed some improvement. I found some 1/4 round styrene strip and made a frame around the opening an put some 100 x 100 mesh screen in to simulate the radiator core and faired it in with Bondo spot putty.

Although they had a couple of air bubbles the main gear were pretty well molded but looked way too flat to me so I glued some blocks of styrene to them and sanded them to fill most of the space.

The vertical tail planes were another example, one was almost perfect the other riddled with bubbles. Both of them had lost a couple of the hinges so I ended up replacing them all with styrene.

The rudder had a recess molded in for the control rod to the trim tab but no control so I made up a couple from a small piece of wire and bit of styrene.

The fins mounted and faired into the horizontal tail.

And with a coat of primer to check for issues.

At this point the wings are mounted and faired in as has the horizontal tail.

Before attaching the canopy I needed to complete the overhead console. It has the throttle quadrant on it an the one supplied in the kit was garbage so I made my own from a piece of half round styrene rod and some left over PE levers from another kit. The hand wheel is to rotate the loop antenna.

And mounted in the inside top of the canopy.

All masked up and a coat of primer.

And the finished model. While I normally have no issues with Microscale decals the ones with the kit must have been old as they all fragmented when I tried to put them on. Fortunately I had some Techmod decals that worked great, the only decal from the original sheet was the builders plate. I knew I'd never get decals to lay down on the fins so I scanned the decal sheet, imported it into my Silhouette and had it cut stencils for them and painted them on.

Just as a comparison a photo next to the recently completed Betty, though not as rotund the Nell is still a good sized aircraft.

In conclusion I have to say this was actually a positive experience. It would have been better had the resin and decals not been an issue but over all I have had much worse experiences with injection molded kits. Don't expect all vacuforms to fit or be as well detailed as Bill Koster's.

The Mitsubishi G3M bomber (Nell): A very powerful naval warfare concept ( Modified the March 9, 2020 )

An original war concept

  • The new torpedo-bomber was supposed to attack, with torpedoes, enemy boats very far from the Japan.
  • Thereafter, to save the crew, i f no station was rapidly available, the only solution was to ditch the torpedo-bomber nearby a Japanese submarine (supposed to be already in the good place) .
  • A total surprise affecting all the attacked sailors.
  • The deployment, by the surviving warships, of huge aerial and maritime recce means became necessary to avoid a new surprise. That imply also to detect the starting point of the offensive. Such a precautionary phase would induce a very carefully (= very slow) progression of the enemy forces.


  • avery slim and streamlined fuselage (externally rather similar to a torpedo),
  • her wings allowed easy take off with maximum charges,
  • the landing gear was almost totally retractable,
  • and the cockpit as also the combat positions were really well streamlined.

Twenty-one preseries examples of this bomber were built and used in numerous (and hard) experiences .

The top speed was 266 kph at sea level. It was soon totally insufficient if they were facing all the fighter prototypes of the times.

The service ceiling was 4 500 m.

From the other hand, the bom b er structure appeared as not very tough.

Fortunately for the Japanese Imperial Navy, some brand new radial air-cooled and supercharged engines appeared in Japan at this moment, and among them, the good Mitsubishi Kinsei.

The Imperial Navy ordered a new bomber taking into account the shortcomings of the G1M, so Mitsubishi answered with the G3M .

The fuselage was lengthened to 16.45 m, the wings remaining unchanged.

The take off weight was now 7,700 kg.

The maiden flight occurred in July 1935.

Two Kinsei engines delivering 910 Cv were used, and the to speed became 350 km/h at 2,000 m.

The service ceiling increased from 4,500 m to 7,500 m.

Mitsubishi G3M - Close from Nanking, 1938

The G3M was ordered for the production of about 30 examples for 1936 (G3M1).

The mass- production of a more powerful variant - the G3M2 - began in 1937 and was running until 1939.

The crew of this bomber increased to 7 men, taking into account the enhancing of the defensive armament .

A first set used Kinsei 42 engines delivering 1,075 hp at take off and 990 hp at 2,800 m.

The second set used Kinsei 45 delivered the same power for take off but had its critical altitude 1,000 m higher.

This variant hat a top speed of 375 km/h at 4,200 m.

She had a service ceiling of 9,100 m and a total range of 4,300 km.

700 bombers of this variant were produced.

The last variant, designated as the G3M3, had engines delivering 1,300 hp for take off and 1,200 hp at altitude.
The top speed was 416 kph at 6,000 m. The service ceiling was 10,000 m.

More than 200 examples were produced from 1939 to 1941.

The defensive armament, initially, gathered only 3 rifle calib e r machine-guns It was later enhanced either by adding a simple machine gun, or by a short 20 mm cannon of the MG FF F type.

In all cases, the maximum bomb load was limited to 800 kg.

The type 91 Mk 1 torpedoes weighted more than 780 kg including 150 kg for the explosive charge.

Japan used also this bomber (devoid of armament) for propaganda tours, as shows the below photograph.

Mitsubishi G3M2 during a propaganda tour in the USA in 1939: A very clean external finish.

In 1941, the G3M production was stopped because the G4M began to equip the IJN bomber groups.

In action

The G3M (Nell in the USA) went to war at the end of 1937, during the Sino-Japanese war.

Taking advantage of their huge combat radius, they were used for the bombing of coastal target near Shanghai (this implying to cross, during some missions, about 700 km of the Japanese Sea).
These bombers were involved also in the 24/24 bombing of Chongqing.

Even they were protected by Imperial Army and Imperial Navy fighters, they often had to face Chinese fighters of the Kuomintang Army (whom leader was Chiang Kai-shek), which were mostly of soviet origine (Polikarpov I 15, I 15 bis, I 153 et I 16).

That bomber was not more armoured than her successor, the G4M ( Betty ), but she was clearly more slim, implying a weakening in the accuracy of firing by the attacking fighter or the AA guns.

Nevertheless, in 1941, the staff officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy thought this bomber was already obsolete.

But, since the beginning of the Pacific War, Japan need to use of all the existing bombers, including the G3M.

The Decemb er 10, 1941, the powerful British fleet dubbed Force Z , a fleet gathering the so-called "up to date" battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse , escorted by the destroyers Electra , Express , Vampire and Tenedos , was in the Malaysian waters, in order to deter a Japanese disembarkment in this country.

In fact, the Allied forces were deceived by the IJN forces. The Force Z was instantly tracked by I-65, then by I-59 IJN submarines, as also by IJN recco floatplanes launched by cruisers of the IJN fleet.

When Admiral Tom Phillips left Singapour, he felt immediately in an ambush.

The combat initiated at 11:00.

Sixty G3M2 based in Saigon (in the then French Indochina) divided in two groups. The first one gathered 35 bombers. .

These bombers launched heavy bombs from high altitude (often said to be 3,500 m, but actually clearly higher, likely near 5,000 m as suggested by the personal diary of sub-lieutenant Albert Jacobs ).
While the first group was creating an intense diversionary tactic, the group gathering the remaining G3M2 launched torpedoes.

The HMS Prince of Waleswas hit by the first torpedo which struck the rear port part of the hull, near the outer port screw.

Initially, the damage was underestimate, but it was catastrophic: The steel shaft moving the screw had been totally bent by the explosion, opening numerous waterways in the different sealing partitions .

Then, there was no more electricity in the back half of the ship, inducing the shut down of the water pumps and, consequently, a 11.5° list to port.
This interdicted simultaneously the starboard 5.25 inch AA guns to fire against the remaining attacking torpedo-bombers, because the actual elevation of the guns was to strong to hit the incoming sea-skimmer planes.

From the other hand, the HMS Repulse escaped to 19 torpedoes (!), thanks to the outstanding skill of the commander William G. Tennant and to the excellent training of her crew.
Nevertheless, a bomb hit the battle cruiser, destroying her useless Walrus.

At this moment, 17 G4M1 brand new bombers were attacking the battlecruiser from both sides with torpedoes .
Two of the Betty were downed by the AA artillery fire of the Repulse and 8 were badly damaged.

Alas, the Repulse was simultaneously hit by 4 or 5 torpedoes: At 12:33 , this proud fighter capsized with 500 sailors on board.

Six other G4M1 launched their torpedoes on the Prince of Wales: Among them, three had hit the battleship.
One 500 kg bomb completed the disast e r.

At 13:15, the ship abandonment order was given.

At 13:20, the battleship capsized and sunk with 327 sailors, among them the Admiral Phillips.

In 2007, a visit of the wrecked hull of the PoW by divers demonstrated the first torpedo, the most important one, was less powerful than the last one.

The first explosive charge weighted 150 kg (type 91 mod.1 torpedo ) launched by a G3M2 (Nell) and the last one, with an explosive charge of 205 kg, was a type 91 model 2 torpedo, so it was launched by a G4M (Betty).

This battle proved the highest deciders of the Royal Navy had not understood the lesson of their own victory against the Regia Marina at Tarento in 1940 and they did not think to the Allied defeat occurred only 48 hours earlier at Pearl Harbor!

However, the Japanese victory was a trompe l’œil one for the IJN, because Admiral Philips refused to involve the Brewster Buffalos of the RAF.
If Commander Tennant, who warned them, had warned them one hour earlier, even these fighters had a very occasion to down a large part of the Japanese bombers.

In September 1941, the RN flew the Spitfire V float plane (520 kph at the best altitude) for the first time .
Some British columnists asked for such sea fighter since the Norwegian Campaign of 1940.
It was certainly possible to speed up the develop ment of this aircraft, knowing a similar transformation was scheduled in May 1940, using a Spitfire II airframe.
It was possible to expect at least 500 kph from such a fighter.

So, with 8 float Spitfire II instead of its 8 useless Walrus (weighting 3,700 kg at take off), the Force Z could have expected a very better fate.
Such fighters would have focused on the torpedo-bombers which were easy preys for them.

Everything happened as if it was intellectually impossible for Admiral Tom Phillips to imagine the Japaneses were able to plan such a mighty raid against his own fleet with only a formation of bomber and, above all, without any battleship to support them!

Patently, he had not a good knowing about the RAF experiments with the Cubaroo bomber between 1924 and 1926.

  • The Repulse had 24 QF2 de 40 mm Mk VIII with which she downed 2 bombers and damaged 8 others.
  • With 32 identical cannons, the Prince of Wales achieved no good results. Maybe, the training of the AA crews on board of the PoW was less efficient than on board of the Repulse.
  • Even worse, for her AA defense, no destroyer had more than a single QF2 cannon (!) The 12.7 mm machine-guns were useless: They cannot do anything against the bombers flying at 5,000 m.

After such an important victory, the Nell military history was not over

Obviously, this bomber was an active player in the conquest of Philippines and Indonesian territories.
But the then amazing weakness of the Western colonialist powers (USA, GB, France and Netherland) gave us a biased picture .

By his own strategic conception, Admiral Yamamoto wanted, at this times, that Japan establish a bridgehead in Australia.

Darwin and the Bathurst Island are at the North-West of the Northern Territory.

The Darwin attack by the IJN began by an important aerial bombing th e February 19, 1942 .

This raid have been thoroughly prepared by reconnaissance flights likely done by floatplanes on board of long range submarine cruisers.

The first strike was done by the bombers and torpedo-bombers on board of 4 ( Akagi, Kaga, Hiryu & Sôryu ) among the 6 carriers which had attacked Pearl Harbor.

The first wave constituted of 81 Nakajima B5N which were in charge of high altitude bombing or torpedoing, and 71 Aichi D3A dive-bombers.

Thirty six A6M2 Zeros protected the bombers but, also, conducted strafing attacks.

The A6 M2 downed first a Catalina flying boat.

Unfortunately, the RAAF guard officers, as usually at this early stage of the war, refused to take into account of the warning of a coast observer (the catholic RP McGrath) who warned them that an important amount of aircrafts in the sky of the Bathurst Island, heading South at 09:35. They interpreted these aircrafts as Allied going back from Indonesia.

So, the surprise was complete when the Japanese wave struck Darwin at 09:58.

At this moment, the Darwin harbor housed 65 ships of any purpose among them, many were supporting the Allied forces fighting against the Japanese forces in Indonesia.

Explosion of the Neptuna cargo le 19 - 02 - 1942. The Katooma patrol boat, in the foreground, escaped unscathed.

After 30 minutes of strike, the Japanese bombers - among them 35 were more or less damaged - returned to their carriers.

They had sunk 11 ships and damaged numerous others.

Only one of the ten present P 40 of the USAF escaped the Zeros . The other ones have been downed or destroyed on the ground.

The second wave arrived on Darwin at 11:58. The alarm sirens, this time, gave an effective warning .

The English Wikipedia tell us the Japanese bombers were flying at 18,500 ft (= 5,624 m), but this is the official story telling.

From the other hand, Bernard Baëza, in his excellent book Soleil Levant sur l'Australie (Lela Presse, in French) , indicates the G3M bombers were flying at 8,000 m.

That is clearly more consistent with the total absence of hit achieved by the sixteen 94 mm AA cannons than the official theory of a generalized shell detonator anomaly!

However, the Japanese bombers took the time (nearly one hour) to identify their targets and launch their bombs.
Such a comfortable situation for the Japanese airmen demonstrate the the British government had never expected the Australian territory could be attacked!

The aerial base was badly damaged.

Among the 30 destroyed aircrafts on the ground, there were six Lockheed Hudson, two P 40 and one B 24, reducing again the Australians capacities .

Six members of the RAAF were killed, as ca 250 others in this tragic day.

Wikipedia wrote the huge difference of casualties between the raid on Darwin and the raid on Pearl Harbor was the total absence of battleships.

It is not so simple: Australia is an almost désertic country in which the life was difficult. In 1941, Darwin was a tiny town with ca 2,500 inhabitants, but, at the same period, Honolulu had 180,000 inhabitants.

The human density was very weak, this reducing automatically the probability of lethal impacts.

Darwin at the beginning of the XXIst century

Japanese bombers had dropped 114 tons of bombs, a total just under the 133 tons of bombs launched on Pearl Harbor.

A very odd inappropriate orde r , increasing the terror induced by the mighty Japanese raid, triggered robbery in the houses evacuated by their inhabitants.

This raid had an immediate effect on the fighting in Java and in Philippines.

The naval trafic dispersed in other harbors.

Numerous new airfields were built, very well camouflaged, and the USA send a lot of Curtiss P 40 with their pilots.

The Japanese raids on Darwin continued for almost a year.

The first radar alerts were not very fruitful because the Curtiss P 40 could not climb sufficiently fast toward the flight altitude of the Nell bombers!

A significant change occurred only when Churchill accepted to send Spitfire Mk V which had similar climbing times than the A6M3 Zerofighter .

The first air clash were choking for the British fighter pilots who, initially, thought the Japanese fighters will be easy prey for them.

So, they experienced a serious disappointment when they discovered the large superiority of the A6M Zeros in dogfight.

But, for the Japanese, the Sptifire was also a bad surprise, because she was faster than all the Japanese aircrafts, including the 600 kph able Mitsubishi Ki 46 ( Dina ).

The worsening of the combats in the Solomon had the result to push the Japanese threats away from Darwin.

In the following - and last - operational period, the Mitsubishi G3M was restricted to the training role.

Mitsubishi G3M1 from above - History

Don't forget to participate in today's "Floats!" special event, featuring Japanese floatplanes and flying boats!

The Birth of Japanese Naval Aviation: part 2 (read the first part here)

The new Imperial Japanese Naval Air Service&rsquos first entry into inter-war conflict came on January 28th 1931 when Japanese forces landed at Shanghai, claiming to be protecting Japanese interests in the area. Within the next three days the carriers HIJMS Kaga and Hosho had arrived in theatre, bringing with them an impressive air wing of seventy nine fighters and bombers. The naval Nakajima A1N fighters were able to achieve air superiority whilst the Mitsubishi B1M bombers supported ground forces, eventually all but destroying the Chinese quarter of Shanghai itself. This signaled the beginning of another phase of years of outright hostility between Japan and China.

With aircraft purchased mainly from the United States and in some cases flown by US pilots, the Chinese met the aircraft of the Japanese Navy in the skies above Shanghai. In these early encounters, Japanese superiority began to assert itself as a steady trickle of aerial victories were claimed by Japanese fighter pilots, whilst the only losses to Japanese aircraft came from ground fire.

Meanwhile, developments were continuing back in Japan. After the London Disarmament Treaty had imposed limits on warships, including aircraft carriers, the decision was made in Japan to construct a series of long ranged, ground based aircraft to support the Fleet. This was one of the factors which led to the Japanese design philosophy of prioritizing long range over many other aspects of aircraft design. Other considerations to overcome the obstacle of a limit to the number of carriers included the design of floatplanes and the introduction of dive-bombers to give the limited number of carriers a strike capability against high speed targets at sea. During conferences held in December 1934, Japan requested the right to be given equal treatment with Britain and the USA in terms of limitations to warships. This was denied. Relations between Japan and the west were continuing to deteriorate.

1935 saw the development of increasingly modern Japanese aircraft the Mitsubishi B5M and Nakajima B5N were both now being manufactured for the Japanese Navy, and development of the Mitsubishi A5M carrier fighter was completed in January. Summer saw the first flight of the Mitsubishi G3M1 land based, twin-engine bomber, which would go on to achieve notoriety in December 1941 as the aircraft type which sank the battleships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse.

March 1936 saw a change of government in Japan and with it a more aggressive stance with regards to foreign policy. Industry and the military were both rapidly expanded as Japan prepared for full-scale war against China. This was further consolidated for the Imperial Japanese Navy in January 1937 when the 2nd Replenishment Law was initialized, ending the limitations enforced by previous agreements. Sensing the military build up in Japan and now wary of its own foreign interests, Britain dispatched Royal Naval officers to Hong Kong for considerations regarding defense against Japan, in a reversal to the relationship from only a few years previously which resulted in British military advisors being sent to assist the Japanese.

In July 1937 Japanese troops on maneuvers engaged in hostilities with Chinese forces at the Marco Polo Bridge near Peking. The result was an almost immediate escalation into full-blown war. With between 650 and 700 aircraft, Chinese air power represented a significant threat and it was decided that Japanese Army aviation would be responsible for the air war in North China whilst naval aviation would provide cover to operations in central and Southern China. This consisted of land based naval aircraft in Japan, and the 264 aircraft distributed between the carriers HIJMS Hosho, Ryujo and Kaga. The once fledgling Japanese aviation industry now amazed the world by mounting a 1200 mile range bomber raid to Kwantoh and Hangzhou, in terrible weather and without losing a single aircraft. Long-range bomber operations from Japan continued whilst lighter, carrier based aircraft supported the Japanese army&rsquos advance further into China. Despite suffering mounting losses to Chinese fighters, the Japanese navy was able to mount operations from an airbase near Shanghai by September. By October the Japanese Navy had carried out over 3000 sorties, during which over 300 Chinese aircraft had been destroyed in the air and on the ground, and sixty-one Chinese cities had been attacked. Japan was now learning modern air warfare tactics in practice, and bomber losses began to drop as fighter escorts became standard. The upper hand in the fight for air superiority fell squarely to the Japanese, where in the center and south the Mitsubishi A5M &lsquoClaude&rsquo reigned supreme over the Chinese operated US-import fighters, such as the Curtiss Hawk and Boeing 218 and the Soviet built Polikarpov I16. By October of 1937 large scale aerial battles were being waged in the skies over Shanghai and Nanjing, the ferocity of which gave greater prioritization to the development of Mitsubishi&rsquos latest naval fighter design. Entering combat for the first time in the war torn skies of China in 1940, the Mitsubishi A6M &lsquoZero&rsquo set new international standards of excellence in air combat, proving all but unbeatable against anything China could pitch against it.

After initial lightning successes by the Japanese the rapid advances were slowing to a halt by 1939, particularly with foreign aid to China from several nations. However, as Japanese plans for expansion throughout South East Asia intensified, a need to eliminate the threat of the US military was identified if operations against British and Dutch territories were to be a success. Thus, in December 1941 the aviators of the Japanese Navy, inspired by the success of the British Fleet Air Arm&rsquos attack on the Italian harbor of Taranto, mounted the now legendary strike against the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor.

Initially advised by foreign subject matter experts and expanding what was a second rate military in terms of a global scale, the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Service was a world class fighting force by the time the Second Sino-Japanese War merged to become a part of the Second World War. With a first rate aviation industry, world class aircrew training and years of combat experience, the Sino-Japanese war had given Japan what the Spanish Civil War had given to Europe full blown war to test new tactics and equipment. From its humble beginnings at the turn of the century, this combat experience now sent the men and machines of the Japanese Naval Air Service into the Second World War as one of the world&rsquos most feared fighting arms.

The author
Mark Barber, War Thunder Historical Consultant
Mark Barber is a pilot in the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. His first book was published by Osprey Publishing in 2008 subsequently, he has written several more titles for Osprey and has also published articles for several magazines, including the UK's top selling aviation magazine 'FlyPast'. His main areas of interest are British Naval Aviation in the First and Second World Wars and RAF Fighter Command in the Second World War. He currently works with Gaijin as a Historical Consultant, helping to run the Historical Section of the War Thunder forums and heading up the Ace of the Month series.


  • 198 cu in (3.2 L) Slant-6I6
  • 225 cu in (3.7 L) Slant-6 I6
  • 318 cu in (5.2 L) LAV8
  • 340 cu in (5.6 L) LA V8
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) LA V8
  • 383 cu in (6.3 L) B V8
  • 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi V8
  • 440 cu in (7.2 L) RB V8

Introduced in fall 1969 for the 1970 model year, [4] the Challenger was one of two Chrysler E-body cars, the other being the slightly smaller Plymouth Barracuda. Positioned to compete against the Mercury Cougar and Pontiac Firebird in the upper end of the pony car market segment, [5] it was "a rather late response" to the Ford Mustang, which debuted in April 1964. [6] Even so, Chrysler intended the new Challenger as the most potent pony car ever, [7] and like the less expensive Barracuda, it was available in a staggering number of trim and option levels, and with virtually every engine in Chrysler's inventory. [8]

The Challenger's longer wheelbase, larger dimensions, and more luxurious interior were prompted by the launch of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, likewise, a bigger, more luxurious, and more expensive pony car aimed at affluent young American buyers. [9] The 110 in (2,800 mm) wheelbase was 2 in (51 mm) longer than the Barracuda's, and the Dodge differed substantially in its sheetmetal, much as the Cougar differed from the shorter-wheelbase Mustang. Air conditioning and a rear window defogger were optional. [10] With 1971 being the sole exception, the front ends of both cars differed from each other in that the Challenger had four headlights and the Barracuda had only two a trend replicated by offerings from Chrysler's rivals.

The exterior design was penned by Carl Cameron, who was also responsible for the exterior designs of the 1966 Dodge Charger. Cameron based the 1970 Challenger grille on an older sketch of a stillborn 1966 Charger prototype that was to have a turbine engine. The pony car segment was already declining by the time the Challenger arrived. Sales fell dramatically after 1970, and though sales rose for the 1973 model year with over 27,800 cars being sold, Challenger production ceased midway through the 1974 model year. A total of 165,437 first-generation Challengers were sold.

Model years Edit

1970 Edit

For its introductory model year the Challenger was available in two series, Challenger and Challenger R/T, and three models, two-door hardtop, Special Edition two-door hardtop, or convertible. [11] [ better source needed ] The base model was the Challenger with either an inline-6 or V8 engine. The Special Edition hardtop, available on either the base Challenger or on the R/T, added a number of appearance, convenience, and comfort features. [12] Produced for the 1970 model year only, this more luxurious SE specification included as standard a vinyl roof with a "SE" medallions on the pillars, a smaller "formal" rear window, leather and vinyl bucket seats, and an overhead interior console that contained three warning lights (door ajar, low fuel, and seatbelts). [13] The standard engine on the base model was a 225 cu in (3.7 L) Straight-6. The standard engine on the higher trim models was a 318 cu in (5.2 L) V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor. For 1970, the optional engines included the 340 and 383 cu in (5.6 and 6.3 L), as well as the 440 and 426 cu in (7.2 and 7.0 L) V8s, all with a standard 3-speed manual transmission, except for the 290 hp (216.3 kW) 383 cu in. engine, which was available only with the TorqueFlite automatic transmission. A 4-speed manual was optional on all engines except the 225 cu in (3.7 L) Inline-6 and the 2-barrel 383 cu in (6.3 L) V8.

The performance model was the Challenger R/T (Road/Track), with a 383 cu in (6.3 L) "Magnum" V8, rated at 335 hp (250 kW) 300 hp (224 kW) for 1971, due to a drop in compression. The standard transmission was a 3-speed manual. Optional R/T engines were the 375 hp (280 kW) 440 cu in (7.2 L) Magnum, the 390 hp (291 kW) 440 cu in (7.2 L) Six-Pack and the 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi rated at 425 hp (431 PS 317 kW) at 5,000 rpm and 490 lb⋅ft (664 N⋅m) of torque at 4,000 rpm. The R/T was available in either the hardtop or convertible. The Challenger R/T came with a Rallye instrument cluster that included a 150 mph (240 km/h) speedometer, an 8,000 rpm tachometer and an oil pressure gauge. [14] The shaker hood scoop was not available after 1971.

A mid-year introduction was the low-priced Challenger Deputy, a coupe with fixed rear quarter windows and stripped of some of the base car's trim and with fixed rear side glass. The "Western Sport Special" was a version available only to west coast dealers. It came with a rear-exit exhaust system and Western Sport Special identification on the rear decklid. Some examples came with a vacuum-operated trunk release. [ citation needed ]

The 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A Edit

A special model only available for the 1970 model year was the Challenger T/A (Trans Am) racing homologation car. In order to race in the Sports Car Club of America's Trans American Sedan Championship Trans Am, Dodge built a street version of its race car (just like Plymouth with its Plymouth 'Cuda AAR) which it called the Dodge Challenger T/A (Trans Am). Although the race cars ran a destroked version of the 340, street versions took the 340 and added a trio of two-barrel carburetors atop an aluminum intake manifold, creating the 340 Six Pack. Dodge rated the 340 Six Pack at 290 hp (216 kW), only 15 hp (11 kW) more than the original 340 engine (which also had the same rating as the Camaro Z/28 and Ford Boss 302 Mustang). Air came in through a suitcase-sized air scoop molded into the pinned down, hinged matte-black fiberglass hood. A low-restriction dual-outlet exhaust ran to the stock muffler location, then reversed direction to exit in chrome tipped "megaphone" outlets in front of the rear wheels. Options included a TorqueFlite automatic or pistol-grip Hurst-shifted four-speed transmission, 3.55:1 or 3.90:1 gear ratios, as well as manual or power steering. Front disc brakes were standard. The special Rallye suspension used heavy-duty parts and increased the rate of the rear springs. The T/A was one of the first U.S. muscle cars to fit different size tires at the front and rear: E60x15 Goodyear Polyglas in the front, and G60x15 on the rear axle. [15] [16] The modified chamber elevated the tail enough to clear the rear tires and its side exhaust outlets. Thick dual side stripes, bold ID graphics, a fiberglass ducktail rear spoiler, and a fiberglass front spoiler were also included. The interior was identical to other Challengers.

Dodge contracted Ray Caldwell's Autodynamics in Marblehead, Massachusetts to run the factory Trans-Am team. Sam Posey drove the No.77 "sub-lime" painted car that Caldwell's team built from a car taken off a local dealer's showroom floor. When the No.76 was completed mid-season from a chassis provided by Dan Gurney's All American Racers, Posey alternated between the two. Both cars ran the final two races, with Posey in the #77. Ronnie Bucknum drove the No.76 at Seattle Washington, and Tony Adamowicz drove it at Riverside, California.

The Challenger T/A's scored a few top-three finishes, but lack of a development budget and the short-lived Keith Black built 303 cu in (5.0 L) engines led to Dodge leaving the series at season's end. The street version suffered from severe understeer in fast corners, largely due to the smaller front tires. Only 2,399 T/As were made. A 1971 model using the 340 engine with a 4-barrel carburetor was planned and appeared in advertising, but was not produced since Dodge had withdrawn from the race series.

1971 Edit

For the 1971 model year the Challenger Coupe became the entry-level model, with either a straight-six or V8 engine. Like the Challenger Deputy it replaced, it had fixed rear quarter windows and a basic black steering wheel with horn button. [17]

1972 Edit

For the 1972 model year, the options lists (both for performance and appearance/convenience items) had been drastically cut back. The convertible version (though a sun-roof was made available), most interior upgrade options (in particular leather seats), comfort/convenience items (in particular power windows and power seats), and all the big-block engine options were gone. The R/T series was replaced by the Challenger Rallye series. The Rallye model featured four simulated vents on the front fenders, from which exited matte black strobe tape stripes. Engine choices were down to three: the 225 cu in (3.7 L) slant-6, 318 cu in (5.2 L) V8, and a 340 cu in (5.6 L) V8 that was equipped with a 4-barrel carburetor, dual exhausts, as well as a performance-oriented camshaft and heads. All three engines were detuned to lower compression ratios in order to run on lead-free gasoline, and the horsepower ratings were lowered to reflect the more accurate Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) net horsepower calculations. Each engine could be mated to a 3-speed manual or automatic transmission, while the 340 could also be equipped with a 4-speed manual if so ordered. The performance axle ratios were also gone except for a 3.55 sure grip which could only be had with the 340 and the heavy-duty suspension. [18] The 1972 models also received a new grille that extended beneath the front bumper, as well as new rear tail-lights. Toward the end of the 1971 model year, a few convertibles were made with the 1972 front end (grille, lights, etc.) and rear end (tail lights and their panel). The only way to ascertain these 1972 Challenger convertibles is to look at its fender tag. On the code line which gives the dealer order number, that number will start with an "R", which designates "Special Meaning" (in this case, a TV 'special promotions' car).

1973–1974 Edit

The 1972 grille and tail-light arrangement were carried over for the 1973 (and 1974) model years, and the mandatory 5 mph bumpers were added. While the 225 cu in (3.7 L) six-cylinder engine was dropped, (leaving just the two V8s), all option lists otherwise were carry-overs from 1972.

For 1974, the 340 cu in (5.6 L) engine was replaced by a 360 cu in (5.9 L) version offering 245 hp (183 kW), but the pony car market had fallen off and production of Challengers ceased in late April 1974.

Cosmetic variations Edit

Although the body style remained the same throughout the Challenger's five-year run, there were two notable changes to the front grille. The 1971 models had a "split" grille, while 1972 introduced a design that extended the grille (nicknamed the "sad-mouth") beneath the front bumper. With this change to the front end, 1972 through 1974 models had little to no variation. The only way to properly distinguish them is that the 1972s had flush-mounted bumpers with no bumper guards, (small bumper guards were optional), while both the 1973 and 1974 models had the protruding "5 mph (8.0 km/h)" bumpers (with a rubber-type filler behind them) in conjunction with large bumper guards. The 1974 cars had larger rear bumper guards to meet the (new for 1974 and on) rear 5 mph (8.0 km/h) rear impact law. These changes were made to meet U.S. regulations regarding crash test safety.

The 1970 taillights went all the way across the back of the car, with the backup light in the middle. In 1971, the backup lights were on the left and right instead of the middle. The taillight array also changed for 1972 onwards, with the Challenger now having four individual rectangular lamps.

Collectibility Edit

Although few mourned the end of the E-body models, the passage of time has created legends and highlighted the unique personalities of both the Challenger and the Barracuda. [8] With a low total production, as well as low survivability over the years, any Challenger is worth a substantial amount of money. In a historic review, the editors of Edmunds Inside Line ranked these models as: 1970 was a "great" year, 1971 was a "good" one, and then "three progressively lousier ones" (1972–1974). [8]

Export markets Edit

Dodge Challengers were mainly produced for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Chrysler officially sold Challengers to Switzerland through AMAG Automobil- und Motoren AG in Schinznach-Bad, near Zurich. Only a few cars were shipped overseas each year to AMAG. They did the final assembly of the Challengers and converted them to Swiss specifications. There are few AMAG cars still in existence. From a collector's point of view, these cars are very desirable. Today, fewer than five Swiss Challengers are known to exist in North America. [19]

Chrysler exported Dodge Challengers officially to France as well through their Chrysler France Simca operation, since Ford sold the Mustang in France successfully in small numbers. However, only a few Challengers were exported and Chrysler finally gave up the idea of selling them in France.

Engines Edit

The SAE gross horsepower ratings were determined testing the engine with no accessories, no air cleaner, or open dyno headers. In 1971 compression ratios were reduced in performance engines, except the 426 cu in (7.0 L) and the high performance 440 cu in (7.2 L), to accommodate regular gasoline. 1971 was the last year for the 426 cu in (7.0 L) Hemi.

and name
Code Carburetor Exhaust Compression ratio Years Power hp (kW) Notes
I6 Chrysler Slant-6 198 cu in (3.2 L) B 1-barrel Single 8.4:1 1971 125 (93) SAE gross, 105 (78) SAE net Challenger Coupe only
225 cu in (3.7 L) C 8.4:1 1970 145 (108) SAE gross
1971–72 145 (108) SAE gross, 110 (82) SAE net
V8 Chrysler LA 318 cu in (5.2 L) G 2-barrel Single 8.8:1 1970 230 (172) SAE gross
8.6:1 1971–72 230 (172) SAE gross, 155 (116) SAE net Standard on 1972 Challenger Rallye
8.6:1 1973–74 150 (112) SAE net
340 cu in (5.6 L) H 4-barrel Dual 10.5:1 1970 275 (205) SAE gross N/A on Challenger R/T
10.3:1 1971 275 (205) SAE gross, 235 (175) SAE net No cost option on Challenger R/T
8.5:1 1972–73 240 (179) SAE net
340 cu in (5.6 L) Six Pack J 3× 2-barrel Dual 1970 290 (216) SAE gross Challenger T/A only
360 cu in (5.9 L) L 4-barrel Dual 8.2:1 1974 245 (183) SAE net
Chrysler B 383 cu in (6.3 L) L 2-barrel Single 8.7:1 1970 290 (216) SAE gross N/A on Challenger R/T
8.5:1 1971 275 (205) SAE gross, 190 (142) SAE net
383 cu in (6.3 L) Magnum N 4-barrel Dual 9.5:1 1970 330 (246) SAE gross N/A on Challenger R/T
335 (250) SAE gross Standard on Challenger R/T
8.5:1 1971 300 (224) SAE gross, 250 (186) SAE net Standard on Challenger R/T
Chrysler RB 440 cu in (7.2 L) Magnum U 4-barrel Dual 9.7:1 1970 375 (280) SAE gross Challenger R/T only
440 cu in (7.2 L) Six Pack V 3× 2-barrel Dual 10.5:1 1970 390 (291) SAE gross Challenger R/T only
10.3:1 1971 385 (287) SAE gross, 340 (254) SAE net
Chrysler Hemi 426 cu in (7.0 L)
R 2× 4-barrel Dual 10.25:1 1970 425 (317) SAE gross Challenger R/T only
10.2:1 1971 425 (317) SAE gross, 350 (261) SAE net

Production numbers Edit

Year Variant Model Production Total
1970 I6 Hardtop 9,929 76,935
Special Edition 350
Convertible 378
V8 Hardtop 36,951
Special Edition 5,873
Convertible 2,543
R/T Hardtop 13,796
R/T Special Edition 3,753
R/T Convertible 963
T/A 2,539
1971 I6 Hardtop 1,672 26,299
Convertible 83
V8 Hardtop 18,956
Convertible 1,774
R/T 3,814
1972 I6 Hardtop 842 22,919
V8 15,175
Rallye 6,902
1973 V8 Hardtop 27,930 27,930
1974 V8 Hardtop 11,354 11,354

Beginning with the 1978 model year, Dodge marketed a rebadged variant of the early Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe, as the Dodge Challenger — through Dodge dealers as a captive import, originally as the "Dodge Colt Challenger". [20] Chrysler's Plymouth brand marketed its own rebadged variant as the Plymouth Sapporo, and a rebadged variant was marketed overseas as the Mitsubishi Sapporo/Scorpion and sold. Both the Sapporo and Challenger were redesigned in 1981 with revised bodywork and increased foot room, head room, trunk capacity and sound-proofing. [21] Both cars were marketed until 1983, when they were replaced by the Conquest using the same rear-wheel-drive platform through 1989, and in 1984 by the front-wheel-drive Laser and Daytona.

The car retained the frameless hardtop styling of the old Challenger, but had smaller engines, a 1.6 L inline-four and a 2.6 L inline-four instead of the slant-6 and V8 engines of the original Challenger models. The engines were rated at power outputs of 77–105 hp (57–78 kW). [20] Mitsubishi pioneered the use of balance shafts to help damp engine vibrations.

  • 3.5 L (215 cu in) SOHCV6 (2009–2010)
  • 3.6 L (220 cu in) PentastarDOHCV6 (2011–present)
  • 5.7 L (345 cu in) HEMIOHVV8 (2009–present)
  • 6.1 L (370 cu in) HEMI OHV V8 (2008–2010)
  • 6.2 L (376 cu in) Hellcat OHV supercharged V8 (2015–present)
  • 6.2 L (376 cu in) Demon Hemi OHV supercharged V8 (2018)
  • 6.4 L (392 cu in) HEMI OHV V8 (2011–present)
  • 4-speed automatic 42RLE (2009)
  • 5-speed automatic W5A580 (2008–2014)
  • 8-speed automatic 845RE, 8HP70, 8HP90 (2014–present)
  • 6-speed manual Tremec TR6060 (2008–present)
  • 3,834 lb (1,739 kg) (SXT) [24]
  • 4,100 lb (1,860 kg) (R/T) [25]
  • 4,226 lb (1,917 kg) (Scat Pack) [26]
  • 4,469 lb (2,027 kg) (SRT Hellcat) [27]
  • 4,254 lb (1,930 kg) (SRT Demon)

In late 2005, Dodge teased spy photos of the Dodge Challenger prototype on the internet and it was announced on November 21, 2005, showing an official drawing sketch of the vehicle. [28] The Dodge Challenger Concept was unveiled at the 2006 North American International Auto Show and was a preview for the 3rd generation Dodge Challenger that started its production in 2008. Many design cues of the Dodge Challenger Concept were adapted from the 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T.

Initial release Edit

On December 3, 2007, Chrysler started taking deposits for the 3rd-generation Dodge Challenger which debuted on February 6, 2008, simultaneously at the Chicago Auto Show [29] and Philadelphia International Auto Show. Listing at US$40,095, the new version was a 2-door notchback coupe (seating 5 passengers with over 33 cubic feet of rear passenger volume) which shared common design elements with the first generation Challenger, despite being significantly longer and taller. As with Chevrolet's new Camaro, the Challenger concept car's pillarless hardtop body was replaced with a fixed "B" pillar, hidden behind the side glass to give an illusion of the hardtop. The LC chassis is a modified (shortened wheelbase) version of the LX platform that underpins the Dodge Charger (LX), Dodge Magnum, and the Chrysler 300. The LX was developed in America from the previous Chrysler LH platform, which had been designed to allow it to be easily upgraded to rear and all-wheel drive. Many Mercedes components were incorporated, or used for inspiration, [30] [31] including the Mercedes-Benz W220 S-class control arm front suspension, the Mercedes-Benz W211 E-Class 5-link rear suspension, the W5A580 5-speed automatic, the rear differential, and the ESP system. All (7119) 2008 models were SRT8s and equipped with the 6.1 L (370 cu in) Hemi V8 engine and a 5-speed AutoStick automatic transmission. The entire 2008 Canadian produced run of 6,400 US market cars were pre-sold and production commenced on May 8, 2008.

Chrysler of Mexico offered only 100 SRT8s, with a 6.1 liter V8 engine rated at 425 horsepower (317 kW) (SAE). Chrysler auctioned off two 2008 SRT8s for charity with the first car going for US$400,000 and a "B5" Blue No.43 car with a winning bid of US$228,143.43. [32]

The base model Challenger SE was initially powered by a 3.5 L (214 cu in) SOHC V6 engine rated at 250 hp (186 kW) (SAE) and 250 lbf⋅ft (339 N⋅m) of torque which was coupled to a 4-speed automatic transmission for the first half of 2009, and was then changed to have a standard 5-speed automatic transmission. [33] Several different exterior colors, with either cloth or leather interiors became available. Standard features included air conditioning, power windows, locks, and mirrors cruise control, and 17-inch (430 mm) aluminum wheels. Leather upholstery, heated front seats, sunroof, 18-inch aluminum wheels, and a premium audio system are available as options, as are ABS, and stability and traction control. [34] The Canadian market also sports the SXT trim, similar to the SE, but more generous in terms of standard features. Some of these features being ESP, an alarm system, and 18-inch (460 mm) wheels. Starting with the 2012 model year, the SE was replaced in the U.S. with the SXT model.

Previous to the 2012 model year, the SXT version of the Challenger was only sold in Canada and is a more well-equipped variation of the SE. It adds fog lamps, a rear spoiler, larger wheels, illuminated vanity mirrors, a security alarm, and a leather-wrapped shifter. In addition, the SXT has increased option packages available to it that aren't available on the SE, and are also available to the R/T. (Such as the high-end navigation-enabled entertainment system.)

Challenger 500 Edit

Chrysler Canada offered a further 670 SRTs uniquely badged as the Challenger 500 (paying homage to Charger and Coronet 500s) all of which were shipped to Canadian Dodge dealers. [ citation needed ]

2009 model year Edit

Production of the limited edition 2008 SRT8s ended in July 2008, and production of the expanded 2009 line-up started in early August of the same year. The expanded offering was the same as had been unveiled earlier that spring at the 2008 New York Auto Show. Chrysler debuted the full Dodge Challenger line-up for 2009, with four different trims – SE, R/T, SRT8, and the SXT in Canada only. In addition to the SRT8, which remained unchanged except for the optional 6-speed manual and standard limited-slip differential, the line-up included the previously mentioned SE and SXT which offered the 250 hp (186 kW) 3.5-liter V6. The R/T had a 5.7-liter Hemi sporting 372 hp (277 kW) and 398 lb⋅ft (540 N⋅m) of torque when coupled with the 5 speed automatic, and 375 hp (280 kW) with 404 lb⋅ft (548 N⋅m) when matched with the same Tremec 6-speed manual transmission as the SRT8.

New for 2009 was the Rallye Package for the SE model. The package featured design cues including dual body stripes on the hood and the trunk, chromed fuel cap, decklid spoiler, 18-inch aluminum wheels, and Micro Carbon interior accents.

The mid-level Challenger R/T is powered by a 5.7 L (345 cu in) Hemi V8 coupled to a 5-speed automatic transmission or a Tremec TR-6060 6-speed manual transmission. On cars equipped with the automatic transmission, the engine features the Multi-Displacement System and is rated at 372 hp (277 kW) (SAE) and 398 lbf⋅ft (540 N⋅m) torque. [33] With the 6-speed manual transmission, the Multi-Displacement System option was deleted and the engine is rated at 375 hp (280 kW) (SAE) and 404 lbf⋅ft (548 N⋅m) torque. [33] Another feature was the Intelligent Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off (iDFSO) available for the automatic models only. The first to combine both a Multi-Displacement system and fuel shut-off. [35] The final drive ratio was 3.06:1 on cars with the automatic transmission, 3.73:1 on cars with the 6-speed manual and 18-inch (460 mm) wheels or 3.92:1 with the 6-speed manual and optional 20-inch (510 mm) wheels. Also available on R/T was the "Track Pak" option group, which includes the Tremec manual transmission, a limited slip differential and self-leveling rear shock absorbers.

The Challenger R/T Classic has retro aspects such as script "Challenger" badges on the front panels and black or white "R/T" stripes. It comes with a five-speed automatic standard, with an optional six-speed manual transmission including a pistol-grip-shifter. The wheels are Heritage 20" Torq-Thrust style specials. It became available in Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl, Bright Silver Metallic, Stone White and in multiple "heritage" colors: Toxic Orange, HEMI-Orange, TorRed, B5 Blue, Plum Crazy Purple, Detonator Yellow, and Furious Fuchsia. Production started in February 2009.

The 2009 SRT8, while still equipped with the 6.1 L (370 cu in) Hemi V8, is virtually identical to its 2008 counterpart, with the main difference being the choice of either a 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. Standard features include Brembo brakes, a sport suspension, bi-xenon headlamps, heated leather sport seats, keyless go, Sirius satellite radio, and 20-inch (510 mm) forged aluminum wheels in addition to most amenities offered on the R/T and SE models such as air conditioning and cruise control. [34] In addition, the 2009 had a "limited slip" differential that was not offered on the 2008 model. [36] A "Spring Special" SRT8 Challenger was also offered in B5 Blue, but due to rolling plant shutdowns, just over 250 Spring Special Challengers were built before the end of the 2009 model year.

The Mopar '10 Challenger R/T is a limited version of the 2010 Challenger R/T with metallic pearl black body color, three accent colors (blue, red, silver) of stripes to choose from. In addition, these cars were available with black R/T Classic-style wheels along with a Hurst aftermarket pistol grip shifter, custom badging, Mopar cold air intake for a ten-horsepower increase, and a Katzkin-sourced aftermarket interior. The cars were built in Brampton Assembly and completed at the Mopar Upfit Center in Windsor, Ontario. There were 500 U.S. Units and 100 Canadian units built. Of the 500 Mopar special edition U.S. versions, 320 had automatic transmissions, 180 had manuals, while 255 had blue stripes, 115 had red stripes, and 130 had silver stripes. A limited numbered run of 400 SRTs in 2010 were produced with "Furious Fuchsia" paint and white leather seats with horizontal fuchsia-colored slash bars on the backrests. Special badging on the passenger side dash script denotes the production number of each individual car ranging from the numbers 1 to 400. Dodge marketed this package as an homage to the original Panther Pink cars 40 years previous. These cars came with both automatic and Tremec six-speed transmissions.

The Drag Race Package is a race model designed for NHRA competition, based on the Dodge Challenger SRT-8. The car is 1,000 lb (454 kg) lighter than the street vehicle by eliminating major production components and systems. To accentuate the weight savings, they also feature added composite, polycarbonate, and lightweight components designed for drag racing that is part of the new Package Car program. The engine was repositioned to improve the driveline angle and weight distribution. The 116-inch (2,900 mm) wheelbase was shortened by ½ inch. The car also features a front cradle with bolt-in crossmember and solid engine mounts.

At least 50 Challenger Drag Race Package Cars were built to meet NHRA requirements. Engine options include a 6.1 L Hemi, 5.7 Hemi, and a 5.9 L Magnum Wedge. Manual or automatic transmissions are available, and the rear axle is solid (not IRS). An initial run of the required 50 cars was completed and over 100 of the "2009 Challenger Drag Pak" vehicles were produced. "Big Daddy" Don Garlits bought the first drag race package car and raced it in NHRA competition. [37] The prototype cars shown at SEMA were built by MPR Racing of Michigan, who continue to modify the production cars as delivered from Chrysler.

2010 model year Edit

In its second year of production, the Challenger received only a few minor feature and option changes. Electronic stability control is newly standard across the entire Challenger model line. R/T models gained the following standard features: automatic headlamps, an LED-lit cupholder, and door-handle lights. UConnect Multimedia and UConnect Navigation options now include steering-wheel audio controls while UConnect Multimedia features have been combined with the optional Sound Group.

The most significant new option for 2010 is the Super Track Pack, which brings a host of track-ready hardware and upgrades that includes:

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