Report by: Thierry Letellier
After having left Nyutabaru my tip led me to the south towards JMSDF Kanoya. The Kanoya history on the Japan Ministry of Defense website states that, from February 1945, a total of 828 young men from 70 units flew in 445 aircraft on suicide missions from Kanoya. The base was thus itself the target of B-29 air raids on March 18 and 19, 1945, and subjected to frequent air attack in the closing stages of the Pacific War.
In December 1953, when an aviation element of the Coastal Safety Force, initially equipped with T-34A Mentor training aircraft, took up residence and was to prove the harbinger of Kanoya’s return to a full-fledged air base under the JMSDF. Aside from the base nomenclature, the organizational changes brought about by the JMSDF’s inception on July 1, 1954, resulted in the Coastal Safety Force Kanoya Air Corps being renamed the JMSDF Kanoya Kōkūtai (Air Corps). Kanoya was progressively developed as the training centre for the JMSDF’s fixed-wing operations. Formed in November 1954, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Hikōtai (flights) of the Kanoya Air Corps were joined by the 4th and 5th in January 1955. The Kanoya Base Rescue Flight was formed in December 1960. On September 1, 1961, a major reorganization led to the traditional practice of naming principal units after their respective bases being abandoned in favour of numbered Kōkūgun (Fleet Air Wings), in Kanoya’s case the First Fleet Air Wing that survives to this day. Having formed on the Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune in 1956 as the 1st Hikōtai, the resident 1st Fleet Air Squadron received its first Kawasaki P-2J Turbo-Neptune in February 1971 and has operated the P-3C Orion since July 1989.
JMSDF Kanoya Air Station
Based units 1st Fleet Air Wing HQ:
11th Flt/12th Flt, 1st Fleet Air Sqn (P-3C)
Kanoya Base Sqn (UH-60J)
Kanoya Det., 72nd Fleet Air Sqn (UH-60J)
(Under command of 22nd Fleet Air Wing, Omura)
211th Naval Air Training Sqn (SH-60J/K, OH-6DA, TH-135)
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has received into service its final two Airbus Helicopters H135 (formerly EC135 T2) training helicopters, the company announced on 15 December. The delivery brings the number to 15 of H135 platforms that the JMSDF has received from an order placed with Eurocopter in 2009. The TH-135, as the type is designated in Japan, has been operational as an advanced rotary-winged training platform since 2011. JMSDF pilots first train on the single-engined MD 500 platform before progressing onto the twin-engined H135 with 211 Air Training Squadron at Kanoya. Once graduated, the pilots then transition on to any one of a number of operational types, such as the Sikorsky-Mitsubishi UH-60J Black Hawk/SH-60J Seahawk; Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Stallion; and AgustaWestland-Kawasaki CH/MCH-101 Merlin.
211 Kyoiku Kokutai is responsible for training the JMSDF helicopter pilots. This picture captures three types currently in use at their home base Kanoya. Elementry rotary training was conducted on the OH-6. Three different types served the Japanese Navy since the type entered service in 1973 including three OH-6Js, fourteen OH-6Ds and the OH-6DA. The OH-6D was gradually replaced by the OH-6DA and by the end of 2005 five OH-6DAs had been delivered. The OH-6 is now probably fully replaced by the EC-135T2 or TH-135 as it is known in Japanese service. The first one was handed over to 51 Kokutai in December 2009 for testing and evaluation and by October 2010 was seen with 211 Kyoiku Kokutai. The Mitsubishi H-60 series is twin-turboshaft engine helicopter based on the Sikorsky S-70 helicopter family for use by the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). The SH-60J/K are anti-submarine patrol version for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). The UH-60J is a search and rescue version for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and JMSDF. The UH-60JA is a utility version for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).
The Kanoya Naval Air Base Museum, established in 1972 and operated by the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), seeks to present aviation history of both the Imperial Japanese Navy and the JMSDF.