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"Japanese Air-Ground Liaison" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on Japanese identification of military aircraft was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 41, December 30, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Documents obtained from a reliable source provide considerable information concerning the Japanese Army-Navy Central Agreement regarding identification of military aircraft. A translation of the document follows:

*          *          *

Aircraft Markings -- Article 2* -- Military planes are to be marked as follows:

(1) A large "rising sun" on the upper and lower wing surfaces near the wing tip (on biplanes on the upper surface of the upper wing and on the lower surface of the lower wing), and in the center of the right and left sides of the fuselage.

(2) On a camouflaged plane the sun emblem will be outlined to make a rising sun flag with a white ground of at least 75-mm or over (probably means centimeters) or a white ring about 75-mm (cm?) wide will be painted around it.

(3) About half of the inner part of the leading edge of the wing is painted as follows: on camouflaged planes, yellow; on uncamouflaged planes, red or yellow.

Article 3 -- Identifying Maneuvers of Aircraft (formations).

In approaching a base or passing over friendly forces in occupied territory or a zone of operations, the plane will fly between 500 and 2,000 meters altitude and will not act so as to be mistaken for an enemy plane.

However, in an area 60 or more kilometers from the enemy's position (including at sea) proceed in accordance with Article 4.

Article 4 -- In case of approaching or penetrating an area in which air defense is being carried out in the Empire or Manchukuo (excepting a zone of operations), and in case flying is unavoidable over the vicinity of friendly forces or ships, or areas in which army or navy AA defenses are located, the plane (formation) will fly at an altitude of between 500 and 1,000 meters for at least 40 kilometers outside such area. One plane of a formation will frequently waggle its wings to left and right, or carry out a conspicuous up and down waving motion.

In this case airplanes with retractable landing gear will, insofar as there obstacle to their doing so, lower their wheels (or a part of the formation do this.)

Article 5 -- The altitudes mentioned in Articles 3 and 4 are from the ground or water surface. If there are clouds, the planes should fly as far as possible below them.

In choosing the route to be flown, use should be made of the ordinary routes of scheduled flights. Flying over areas where army or navy air defense units are stationed, or over friendly forces or ships, should be avoided. The exceptions to those conditions are when it is really unavoidable for operational reasons, landing or take-off difficulties, weather, etc., and when flying a course specially designated by the army or navy commanding officer in each area.

Article 6 -- In the cases mentioned in Article 3 and the first paragraph of Article 4, at night the navigating (identification) lights should be turned on, and these will be blinked frequently, or a series of signals will be sent with a signal light.

In place of this blinking or signalling, signals to be specified in accordance with Article 10** may be used.

Article 7 -- When a plane or a formation of planes has been illuminated by mistake by friendly forces it should proceed as follows:

(1) In the daytime, the wings should be waggled right and left, or high-speed turns made, or both.

(2) At night, navigating lights should be blinked rapidly, and, if necessary, signal shells should be fired or a series of light signals should be shown.

When there is a large number of planes, the above identifying maneuvers may be carried out by only a part of the planes or formations.

*No article numbered 1 is included in the translated document.
**Article 10 was not included in the document which was translated.


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