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Mito Winged Tower
Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki Prefecture

A small park on the site of the Japanese Army's former Mito Airfield has a 10-foot memorial tower and several other relics. The Mito Winged Tower, erected in 1975, is named for the shape of wings on top.

The park has a large stone hand basin with the mark of the former Hitachi Training Air Division located at Mito Airfield. The mark is inside a pair of wings carved on the side of the hand basin, which formerly had been used at the Air Division's shrine. The entrance pillar for the former Army Flight Communications School at Mito stands next to an engine and auxiliary fuel tank of an Army Type 2 Toryu Fighter (Ki-45, Allied code name of Nick) caught in a commercial fishing boat's net off the coast of Oarai Town in Ibaraki Prefecture.

A black plaque at the Mito Winged Tower base has inscribed the following haiku poem:

Chiru sakura
Nokoru sakura mo
Chiru sakura

The following is an English translation of this haiku poem:

Falling cherry blossoms
Remaining cherry blossoms too
Falling cherry blossoms

A stone plaque just to the right of the entrance to the park where Mito Winged Tower is located gives the following history of Mito Airfield and the monument:

In 1938, Mito Airfield was established on 1,200 hectares of land in front of this place, and the Mito Army Flight School opened. The school carried out education and research for communications, combat, gunnery, anti-aircraft techniques, scientific warfare, motorized vehicles, special cadet pilots, senior and junior officers, and youth pilots. In the eastern part, the Army's Flight Investigation Division Mito Testing Center was established.

In 1940, the Army Flight Communications School was opened at the Mito South Airfield, and communications education and research were transferred here.

In August 1943, due to the demands of the war situation, the Akeno Army Flight Branch School was established here, and the Mito School transferred to Sendai.

In June 1944, the branch school was reorganized into the Hitachi Training Air Division and was assigned responsibility for the air defense of the Japanese mainland in addition to training and research for elite aerial combat pilots.

On February 16 and 17, 1945, when ambushed in attacks by carrier fighters, more than 180 men gave their lives here in performance of duty and also several men died in battle while sending telegraph messages from South Airfield. Furthermore, after November 1944, over 70 heroes went forward from here one after another from the Special Attack Corps Ichiu Squadron, Jungi Squadron, 24th Shinbu Squadron, 53rd Shinbu Squadron, 68th Shinbu Squadron, Hirai Squadron, and Makoto 35th Hikotai [1]. They sacrificed their lives in a national crisis as they pursued and dove into enemy warships off Leyte, Taiwan, and Okinawa.

In April 1945, the division moved to Nitta Airfield in Gunma Prefecture until the end of the war.

As we look forward here to the 30th anniversary of the end of the war, persons related to the former base and other volunteers together erected this tower to make known this war site to future generations, to commemorate the great achievements of those men who died for our country, and to pray for eternal peace for our homeland.

May 3, 1975
Mito Airfield Memorial Association

Although the 1975 plaque states over 70 men from Mito Airfield died in special (suicide) attacks, Tokkotai Senbotsusha (1990, 349) explains that 101 men from Mito gave their lives as part of the Special Attack Corps.

Note

1. Besides the special attack squadrons listed on the monument, the 44th, 52nd, 56th, and 61st Shinbu Squadrons also were formed from airmen of the Hitachi Training Air Division at Mito Airfield (Tokkotai Senbotsusha 1990, 349).

Source Cited

Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai (Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association). 1990. Tokubetsu Kougekitai (Special Attack Corps). Tokyo: Tokkotai Senbotsusha Irei Heiwa Kinen Kyoukai.