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Miyakonojō West Airfield Monument
Miyakonojō City, Miyazaki Prefecture

The Japanese Army operated two airfields, Miyakonojō West Airfield and Miyakonojō East Airfield, during World War II. From these two airfields, 79 young men in ten Shinbu Squadrons took off toward Okinawa for special (suicide) attacks between April 6 and July 1, 1945. Miyakonojō West was used only by ten men of the 1st Shinbu Squadron on two dates in April before its use was discontinued after an intense air attack on April 27 and 28, 1945.

The Miyakonojō West Airfield Monument was erected in 1977. The monument has engravings on each side as translated below:

Front - Special Attack Corps Sortie Location
Right - November 15, 1977
Back - Miyakonojō City Special Attack Corps War Dead Support Committee
Left - Former Miyakonojō West Airfield Site (旧都城西飛行場跡, see right)

The sign in back of the monument summarizes the history of Miyakonojō West Airfield:

Repose of Souls (Miyakonojō West Airfield)

In the latter part of the Pacific War at the outskirts of Miyakonojō City where the military authorities of Miyazaki Prefecture were located, there were Miyakonojō West Airfield and Miyakonojō East Airfield, which were used as Army tokkō (special attack) bases.

Remembering the return of the Miyakonojō 23rd Infantry Regiment from the Manchurian Crisis in 1933, Miyakonojō West Airfield was constructed at the end of 1934 by volunteer labor contributed by the city's regular citizens and various organizations. The airfield was nearly in the shape of a square with two unpaved runways running diagonally. Their length was extended to 1,200 meters by April 1945.

In April 1942, the Ministry of Communications and Transportation Pilot Training School was established for the purpose of training civilian aircraft personnel. They conducted training with Type 5-1 Medium Grade Model C Trainers (nicknamed akatonbo, meaning red dragonfly).

The Pacific War began. In 1944, the 2nd Kyōdō Hikōtai (Flight Training Unit) of the Akeno [1] Kyōdō Hikō Shidan (Training Air Division) deployed to West Airfield. The 1st Kutai [2] (Second Lieutenants from 57th Class of Army Academy and Grade One Cadets) and 2nd Kutai (Youth Pilots) carried out combat training with Type 1 Hayabusa fighters and Type 4 Hayate fighters.

In March of the following year of 1945, the flight units ended as preparations for the Battle of Okinawa were made by each air base in southern Kyushu. The 100th Hikōdan (Air Brigade) and the 101st and 102nd Hikō Sentai (Air Regiments) and two special attack squadrons, equipped with Type 4 Hayate fighters, deployed to Miyakonojō East and West Airfields.

At about 7 a.m. on March 18, the airfield suffered its first air attack. It was for the most part restored by ground workers.

On April 6, from ten volunteers of the 101st and 102nd Sentai for the 1st Shinbu Squadron, eight joined the 1st Combined Attack that included the tokkō (special attack) sortie of battleship Yamato. On April 12, the remaining two members of the 1st Shinbu Squadron took off to join the 2nd Combined Attack. All ten men lost their young lives.

On April 27 and 28, many special attack planes and buildings were directly hit in repeated air attacks on West Airfield. There were 18 men killed in these attacks.

In addition, repair operations could not even be carried out due to delay-action bombs. The 61st Shinbu Squadron (seven men), which was scheduled to take off and participate in the 5th Combined Air Attack, hurriedly moved to East Airfield and took off from there.

After that, sorties were made from Miyakonojō East Airfield. The war ended on August 15.

As we pray that the spirits of the many war dead may rest in peace, we deeply hope that it will be made known to future generations that Japan's peace is based on the price paid by those noble sacrifices and that there will be realization of eternal world peace and prosperity for the human race.

June 2001
Miyakonojō Special Attack Corps War Dead Support Association
Chairman, Tatsuya Iwahashi

The name of each Shinbu Squadron member is at the Special Attack Corps Hayate Monument at Miyakojima Park (former army base).


Miyakonojō West Airfield Monument
with sign giving airfield's history in background

The Miyakonojō Pilot Training School Monument stands about 300 meters northwest of the Miyakonojō West Airfield Monument.

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Notes

1. Akeno was an Army air base in Mie Prefecture that served as a flight school.

2. Kutai is a smaller organizational unit in the Japanese Imperial Army.