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Ozuki Air Base Peace Monument
Yamaguchi Prefecture

This monument is dedicated to about 70 pilots who took off from Ozuki Air Base and died in battle. These pilots belonged mainly to the Army's 4th and 47th Sentai (Air Group).

The 4th Sentai had a special attack unit, called Kaiten Seiku Tai, which made ramming attacks on B-29s during bombing missions over Japan. Two pilots from this unit, Second Lieutenant Miosaburo Yamamoto and Master Sergeant Tsutomu Murata, are included on the Tokkotai Commemoration Peace Memorial Association's list of men who died in all types of Army and Navy special attacks (often referred to as "suicide attacks" outside Japan) [1]. These two pilots brought down B-29 Superfortresses on April 18 and May 7, 1945, respectively, when they rammed B-29s with their Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Killer) fighter planes (codenamed "Nick" by Allies) [2].

On August 20, 1944, Sergeant Shigeo Nobe made a ramming attack against a B-29, which downed this aircraft and also a second B-29 hit by flaming debris from the collision [3]. Nobe made this ramming attack on his own accord, and it occurred before formation of a formal special attack unit in the 4th Sentai, so Nobe's attack is not recognized as a special attack ("tokko" in Japanese) even though he died in the same way as Yamamoto and Murata.

Several pilots of the 4th Sentai claimed to have shot down multiple B-29s. Warrant Officer Sadamitsu Kimura claimed 22 B-29s destroyed before being killed by Superfortress gunners in July 1945, but historians have attributed him with eight B-29 victories. Japanese pilots tended to overestimate the number of kills since they claimed a victory when a B-29 started smoking and appeared to be going down, even though the plane ended up surviving. [4]

The Ozuki Air Base Peace Monument is located on the grounds of Renjoji Temple, on a hill with a view of the runway of the JMSDF (Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force) Flight School. Renjoji Temple is near the main gate of the JMSDF Ozuki Air Base. Also on the temple grounds is a monument with a poem written by Second Lieutenant Miosaburo Yamamoto.

Notes

Yuko Shirako provided the photo and information about this monument.

1. Tokkotai Senbotsusha 1990, 299.

2. Takaki and Sakaida 2001, 104-6.

3. Takaki and Sakaida 2001, 14-6.

4. Takaki and Sakaida 2001, 118, 123.

Sources Cited

Takaki, Koji, and Henry Sakaida. 2001. B-29 Hunters of the JAAF. Botley, UK. Osprey Publishing.

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