The Tainan Air Group
If there is a way to judge the effectiveness of the Imperial Japanese Naval Aviators at their best, it might be found with this Group. There were more "aces" in the Tainan Air Group than any other. Some of the personnel are storied; Sakai, Nishizawa,Sasai, Ota, Nakajima, and Takatsuka to mention a few. In its prime, the Tainan Kokutai boasted what are thought to be among the best pilots in the world. Fortunately for the US Army and Navy Air Forces, their numbers were limited, and fast disappeared. In terms of the Pacific War, I believe the men of this air group were the tip of Imperial Japan's spear and once gone, could not be replaced. A worthy successor of the Zero was never really found - the Reppu might have been. The Navy's training programs,while graduating very good young airmen early in the war, could not do so in anywhere near the numbers needed to replace casualties let alone grow the Air Arm and quality very quickly deteriorated. The Pacific War proved to be an act of desperation for the Japanese, and after the first six months, an inevitable road to defeat.
December 4, 2011