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"World War II: Japanese Military Aviation Training" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP21 Oct 2020 7:42 p.m. PST

"Not only were the Japanese unable to compete in industrial terms with the United States, but the Japanese pilot training program proved an abject failure. Both the Army and Navy had aviation training programs. At this time we know mostly about the naval program. The Japanese pilot and other air crew training program was excellent, at least for the war in China. They trained excellent pilots and their skill was on display both at Pearl Harbor and throughout the Pacific for the first months of the war. What the Japanese did not plan for was losses once they went to war against an industrialized enemy that had an modern air force. The British, locked into a life and death struggle with the Germans in Europe, did not have the industrial power to spare much of its aircraft to the Pacific. The Americans did, although its aircraft were still largely obsolete at the outbreak of the Pacific War (December 1941). The Japanese given their early successes, made no effort to substantially expand pilot training, not only for the increasing needs of the Pacific War or to replace the inevitable losses. This strategic lapse caught up with the Japanese at Midway (June 1942). On one single day Japan lost a substantial number of its superbly trained and experienced aviators. By the end of the year, many of the survivors of Midway had been lost in air combat in the South Pacific. As a result, when advanced American aircraft began to reach the Pacific (1943), the Japanese were left with not only increasingly inadequate aircraft, but with minimally trained aviators.

We see some images of children training for air operations. We have been unable, however, to find any Japanese program to select and train children. This is not as outlandish as it may sound. The Germans had a child training program as a activity choice in the Hitler Youth. The boys trained in gliders which meant that many were accomplished pilots by the time that they had finished the HJ Fliger program. The HJ Organization created arrangements so that the boy completing the HJ program would automatically transition into the Luftwaffe. There were other similar HJ programs for other specialized services. But there was nothing like this in Japan. There was no mass youth organization. The most important youth organization was the relatively small Boy Scout program which was reemphasized as war approached because of its perceived Western taint. There was military training in the school, but we know of no specialized flight training in the schools. That does not mean it did not happen, but we have been unable to find any information about it. We have found one photograph showing boys practicing on basic flight mechanics, but we have no explanatory information. As far as we can tell, selections for pilot training occurred after young men were inducted into the military. Both officers and enlisted men were selected. And unlike the American air services, pilots were nor automatically assigned officer status. Some of Japan's most illustrious aces remained enlisted men throughout the War…"
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