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Information



  Army Radio Sales Co. :: Japanese Naval Aircraft Radios

  Japanese Naval Aircraft Radios
Japanese Naval Aircraft Radios

Japanese Naval Aircraft Radios

Navy Type 1-3 Transceiver
Navy Type 1-3 Transceiver
The basic reference for information on Japanese Naval aircraft radios was the document titled, "Operational History of Japanese Naval Communications: December 1941 - August 1945." which was prepared by the Military History Section of Headquarters, Army Forces Far East. and was a translation from a document prepared by Japanese officers for MacArthur's staff shortly after the war. This document covers all aspects of naval communication from aircraft to submarines.

In reading the report, one encounters the term "Experimental Manufacture" which seems to precede "Mass Production". I take this to mean that the sets were made in some quantity by a prototype shop before tooling and dies and detailed plans were turned over to a manufacturing facility. Experimental sets were made in research and development facilities, perhaps in quantities of two or three units for testing and evaluation and when all design changes were completed, they were sent to an "experimental production facility" (prototype shop) for limited production. Once the manufacturing process was worked out and field testing was done, the plans and tooling would be turned over to a manufacturing facility.

In preparation for war, radio equipment as well as other war material depended solely on production by civilian industries. In 1940, the Navy took measures to increase production by establishing the NUMASU Ordnance Depot, which specialised in the manufacture of communications equipment. By 1941, large scale equipping of aircraft was planned and the production of necessary radio equipment was set forth according to a schedule issued by the Navy General staff.

At the outbreak of the war, the installation aspect of communications equipment was limited to installing equipment in any available space. The installation was carried out with out careful consideration of the requirements in battle or the duties of the radio crew during flight. Therefore, the efficiency of radio equipment could not be fully manifested. This comment seems to ignore the fact that the Japanese had been at war since the early 1930s in China.

In the installation of equipment on aircraft, the fitting of the radio was found to be most defective, and the radio crew had to operate it under very adverse conditions. Receiving was difficult or impossible because of the noise from defective telegraph sets or buzzers and as a result, many important telegraph messages failed to be received. It was also difficult to operate the telegraph key in a plane at a high altitude because the radio set was poorly located and adjustment and tuning of the set was impossible.

The installation work by aircraft manufacturers was also unsatisfactory. In particular, careless supervision and poor testing frequently resulted in wrong wiring and defective high voltage to ground or bonding. One can only wonder what a high voltage spark would do around aviation gasoline fumes. In many cases of defective wiring, the sets did not function after they were installed in the plane and considerable time went into repairs and maintenance. There were also a considerable number of aircraft on which the equipment was absolutely impossible to repair. Another defect was the noise caused by improper insulation and bonding of the ignition system; moreover in the installation there were frequent cases in which the mounting bases were of a different size, necessitating adjustments to be made. There were many factors resulting in the defective installation. One factor was that the Japanese had considered the equipment more important than the installation and there were no research personnel involved in studying radio installation until 1944. Those people who were involved in radio research did not become involved the actual equipping of aircraft. They only considered the weight, volume and capacity of any equipment and were not familiar with the actual circumstances of those who operated it during flight.

Another factor was that electrical engineers, employed by aircraft manufacturing companies and working on design and development of airframes knew very little about radios or their operation. As for the companies themselves, they were forced to rush production of communication equipment and as a result they deliberately scamper their work. Factory superintendents were so occupied with procuring materials that testing of completed aircraft, their primary duty, was neglected. I have never heard the word scamped, perhaps it was a typo error or perhaps it meant scrimped.

The report went on to indicate that radio telephone was necessary for fighter planes to carry out effective aerial combat and interception operations, but because of its limited range, the pilots were disinclined to use it. This tendency was probably attributable to the pilots indifference to radio and partly to imperfection of the equipment itself, but the basic reason for the poor fighter plane communications was that there were very few officers enthusiastic enough to overcome the drawback and make the best use of existing equipment.

With the appearance of the Type 3 No 1 aircraft radio set, radio telephone capacity increased as it was simpler to manipulate but maintenance was neglected. Moreover, most of the units had poor communication due to the lack of attention to the screening of electromagnetic elements.

There was originally in existence the Type 96 No 4 A/C radio which could be operated by remote control and was installed in large and medium planes. The Type 2 No 4 radio set was experimentally manufactured for remote control purposes but it's mass production was shelved because it was deemed impracticable. Since the Type 96-4 could not be operated on Medium frequency, the Type 2- No 3 set was installed in Land bombers.

The "Operational History of Japanese Naval Communications: December 1941 - August 1945." went on to discuss air base radio communication but I will not include the information here, as it is not really an aircraft set(s). In addition, they did not list the nomenclature of air base radio sets. The only picture of a radio specifically identified as a ground radio is shown here.

It has been said that Japanese aircraft made little or no use of voice radio. In actuality the installation of voice radio appears to have been more widespread than might be believed, although its actual use was much less so. Both the Official Report and Eric Bergerud's new book on the South Pacific air war, "Fire in the Sky," note that the Japanese suffered serious deficiencies in the manufacture, installation, and maintenance of their radios, and that pilots, at least fighter pilots, often didn't bother to use them. Bergerud views this as one reason for the rather chaotic melee tactics employed by the Japanese in air-to-air combat; co-ordination
between aircraft was nearly impossible. (Keith Allen)

The report "Operational History of Japanese Naval Communications: December 1941 - August 1945." breaks down Japanese radio development in to several Phases; The first Phase did not have a date but seems to include 1941. These appear to have been the basic radios in the main naval aircraft types in 1941.

Navy Type 96-3 Reciever Dynamotor PSU
Navy Type 96-3 Reciever Dynamotor PSU

Type 96-2 Vibrator Power Supply
Type 96-2 Vibrator Power Supply

Navy 3-1 Transmitter
Navy Type 3-1 Transceiver
Type 96-3 Imperial Japanese Navy No 2
Type 96-3 No 2
Imperial Japanese Navy
Type 98-4 Navy Aircraft Radio
Type 98-4 Navy Aircraft Radio
Naval Paratrooper Experimental Radio
Naval Paratrooper Experimental Radio
Type 99 Japanese Navy Morse Code Trainer
Type 99 Japanese Navy Morse Code Trainer
Type 99 Japanese Navy Morse Code Trainer, Data Plate
Type 99 Japanese Navy Morse Code Trainer, Data Plate
Navy Type 96-4
Navy Type 96-4
Pilot Training Receiver
Pilot Training Receiver
Pilot Training Receiver Inside View
Pilot Training Receiver Inside View
Japanese Aircraft Key
Japanese Aircraft Key

The partial list of sets under development includes
Type 43 No 1- Fighter planes 5,000-10,00KC, 100 watt, 500 mile range for fighter planes
No 3 Experimental A/C radio 1943 Modification 2,500 -10,000 and 300 - 500 KC, 300 watt, 1,500 mile range
No 5 Experimental A/C Radio, 1943 modification, 100-20,00 Al Wave 300 watts, 1,500 mile range
Experimental Radio direction Finder, modified in 1943, 300 -500 KC 300 watts, 200 mile range
No 8 Experimental A/C radio, parachute forces, 2,500-10,000KC 60 watts, 300 mile range.
Experimental Inter-phone, modified 1943, to be used in three seater planes.

The latter part of the third phase, (November 1944 to August 1945) indicates that in order to meet the rapidly mounting enemy counteroffensive, the role of operational communications became increasingly important. The most urgent problems were the need for strict supervision over the increased output of carelessly manufactured equipment and the need for immediate use of experimental equipment. By March 1945, such equipment had undergone some improvement and was ready for practical use.

When enemy air attacks by B 29's increased in intensity, the plants manufacturing vacuum tubes and other various parts were destroyed. In addition due to the drop in productive capacity resulting in the dispersal of plants, the manufacture of equipment was insufficient to meet the needs of front line forces. Later , in anticipation of the Homeland operation in which all-out suicide attacks were to be carried out, the need for simplified communication equipment for special attack planes was envisaged and efforts were directed to the experimental manufacture of small-type radio sets for these planes.

The improvement and experimental manufacture of principle equipment was carried out during the period just prior to the end of the war. On the other hand, manufacture of much of the other equipment had to be suspended due to lack of vital parts.

The manufacture of certain sets was suspended, these were the Type 96-2, Improvement 2, Type 96-3 improvement 1, Type 2 No 3, Improvement 1, and the Number 10 transmitter.

Improvement was made to the Type 96-4 Models 1 and 2; the experimental manufacture of the
No 1 Experimental aircraft radiotelephone, 1944 modification and the Type 3 No 1 sets were readied for mass production. Acceleration of mass production of the this set and the experimental manufacture of a radio set for special attack planes, experimental manufacture and test of the receivers exclusively for the Shusi, an interceptor plane. There was also the experimental manufacture and test of an experimental radiotelephone for inter unit communications and the acceleration of experiments on Experimental aircraft radio homing direction finder, modified in 1944.

The history notes that the Japanese found it necessary to train their fighter pilots to use Morse as well as voice, for long-range communications. None of the tables of aircraft equipment mention the installation of CW radios in fighters, however. Given the apparent reluctance of Japanese fighter pilots to use radio of any kind, I doubt they spent much time banging out Morse on combat missions. (Keith Allen)

Comments
As can be seen from the pictures, some of these sets can be found by collectors but they are very rare sets and command premium prices. Since most aircraft radios went down when the aeroplane crashed, they did not survive. Those sets which can be found were most likely captured on airfields that were captured by ground forces.

The Air Technical Intelligence Unit of the U.S. Army Air Corps captured numerous aircraft when they were in operation and gained access to a lot ore when they occupied Japan. Their primary interest was the aircraft, power plants, etc and did little with the radio equipment.


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