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U-5022 by kanyiko U-5022 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 9 5 Volkswagen Schwimmwagen by kanyiko Volkswagen Schwimmwagen :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 15 16 A4/V2 by kanyiko A4/V2 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 29 9 Aichi M6A1 Seiran K6-15 by kanyiko Aichi M6A1 Seiran K6-15 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 27 4 Pun Police by kanyiko Pun Police :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 23 23 Mitsubishi A6M5c Type 0 Model 52c Reisen '03-09' by kanyiko Mitsubishi A6M5c Type 0 Model 52c Reisen '03-09' :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 23 20 FACTS18 - 477 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 477 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 10 0 FACTS18 - 476 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 476 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 8 0 FACTS18 - 475 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 475 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 7 0 FACTS18 - 474 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 474 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 9 0 FACTS18 - 473 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 473 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 9 0 FACTS18 - 472 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 472 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 6 0 FACTS18 - 471 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 471 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 8 1 FACTS18 - 470 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 470 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 6 0 FACTS18 - 469 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 469 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 5 0 FACTS18 - 468 by kanyiko FACTS18 - 468 :iconkanyiko:kanyiko 7 0

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U-5022
Type XXVIIB5 U-Boot U-5022 of Lehrkommando 300, Kriegsmarine, based at Kiel, Schlesswig-Holstein, Germany in 1945.

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The Type XXXVII class of submarines of the German Kriegsmarine was a series of midget submarines that entered service during the latter half of 1944.  It was partially based on the British X-Class of submarines, of which two (X6 & X7) were salvaged after a succesful attack that crippled the German battleship Tirpitz at the Altafjord in Norway on the 22nd of September 1943.  After studying the captured craft, the Hauptamt Kriegschiffbau began the design of a two-man submarine.  This design was completed in January of 1944 and assigned the type-number XXVIIA, and the name 'Hecht'.

Like the British X-Class, the Hecht was designed to carry an explosive charge that would be laid beneath an enemy ship; designed to slip past submarine nets, the Hecht was designed without hydroplanes and fins, with internal adjustable weights controlling the trim.  In practice, this resulted in a poorly controllable submarine, and the design was subsequently fitted with hydroplanes.  The lack of ballast tanks meant that the Hecht had poor submerged control.  Karl Dönitz, the commander of the Kriegsmarine, insisted that the Hecht would also be capable of carrying torpedoes, however this capability could not be designed into the Hecht.

The first Type XXVIIA was completed in May of 1944, with 53 examples being built between May and August; however defects with the design and concept meant, that the Hecht was never used in operational service; instead they were used for training purposes only.

As construction of the Hecht commenced, work was undertaken to rectify the design's shortcomings.  This resulted in a new variant, the Type XXVIIB, which had a redesigned hull, the envisaged provision for two underslung torpedoes; and a dual diesel/electric propulsion, rather than the electric-only propulsion of the Hecht, which gave the design a higher speed and an increased range.

The final variant of the Type XXVII, the XXVIIB5 or 'Seehund', featured a raised mid-ship platform with a commander's dome, periscope, snorkel and magnetic compass.  The periscope was designed with lenses that allowed the commander to scan the sky for enemy aircraft before surfacing, while the clear dome allowed the submarine to be submerged to depths of up to 45 meters.

The Seehund was cleared for production in July of 1944, with an order being placed for 1000 at a time when the design had not even been completed yet.  The U-boat numbers in the range of U-5501 to U-6500 were kept clear for the entire Seehund production range.  However, complications and conflicting priorities, shortages of materials and labor, and logistical problems meant that the production of the Seehund never reached the envisaged pace.  Out of four production lines, only the Germaniawerft in Kiel managed to produce Seehund midget-subs, with just 285 being built before the end of the War, of which only 138 reached operational status.

The Seehund first reached operational status on December 31st 1944, when a fleet of 18 set out from the Ijmuiden harbour in the Netherlands.  However their mission coincided with a storm that had disastrous implications: only two of the midget-subs returned to base, the remaining 16 being lost with all hands.  The first kill by a Seehund only took place in February of 1945; in all, 142 operational sorties were made by the type, resulting in the sinking of 9 merchant ships for a total of 93000 gross tons.  The Allies discovered that the Seehund subs were difficult to detect: their small size gave them almost no return on the Allied detection systems, as did their slow and quiet running speed.  However, they were only able to launch their torpedoes at an almost stationary speed; their top speed was just 8.1 mph when running at the surface or 3.5 mph when submerged.

The submarine's greatest weakness was its crew, which had unrealistic expectations put upon them.  The two-man crew was made up from the ship's commander, who was tasked with steering the submarine, operating the periscope, the hydroscope and the torpedoes; the second crew member was tasked with supervising the engine and submersion equipment.  Missions of a Seehund could last up to seven days; in order to help them to keep awake and alert, the crews were supplied with Pervitin, a methamphetamine which had first been synthesised in 1938.  Pervitin was a popular drug among the German military which artificially augmented the user's endurance; no less than 200 million doses are thought to have been used by the German military during the Second World War.  The drugs' closest present-day equivalent is Crystal Meth.

The final Seehund mission took place at the end of April of 1945, when two missions were organised for the resupply of the German garrison at Dunkirk, which had become encircled by the Allies at the beginning of September 1944.  For this purpose, two Seehunds were fitted with resupply containers that took the place of their torpedoes; on the return journey the submarines carried mail from the garrison.  Out of 138 Seehunds operationally used, 35 were lost in action, with most of them lost due to rough seas.

Following the end of the War, four Seehunds were taken in service by the French Navy, who used them until August of 1953.

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U-5022 was one of a number of Type XXVIIB5 midget subs used by the 300th Lehrkommando based at Kiel.  Commissioned on November 12th 1944, it was never used operationally; instead it was used to train Seehund crews.

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1/72 Revell 05125 (ex-ICM)
Purchased December 15th 2016 at Hünerbein, Aachen (Germany)
Twenty-first model completed in 2018
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Volkswagen Schwimmwagen
Unmarked Volkswagen 166 Schwimmwagen and Luftwaffe Ladewagen LWC 500/IX bomb cart

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The Volkswagen 166 Schwimmwagen was an all-terrain and amphibious vehicle built for the German armed forces during World War II, based on the Volkswagen Kübelwagen.  Designed to a set of Heer specifications issued in mid-1940, the prototype Schwimmwagen was based on the drive train of the Type 87 all-wheel drive Kommandeurswagen, with prototypes first being issued to units towards the end of 1940.  These prototypes, the Type 128, resembled the general lay-out and dimensions of the Volkswagen KdF and its derived Type 82 Kübelwagen, but featured a two-piece bath tub-like hull produced by Ambi-Budd of Berlin.  Tests with the Type 128 showed that the hull was too weak causing torsional flexing, and leaking around the welding in the wheel hulls.  Its long wheel-base also caused the hull to get stuck on obstacles, causing the potential for hull damage.  To correct this, the decision was taken to reduce the wheel base and overal dimensions, so a smaller, stronger hull could be produced.  The resulting redesigned Volkswagen Type 166 was first issued in 1941, entering full production in 1942.

The VW Schwimmwagen came with four gears and a reverse gear, however its all-wheel drive only worked on the first gear, and in some versions on the reverse gear as well. For propulsion on water, the Schwimmwagen used a water screw that was mounted on the rear and that could be lowered, locking into an extension of the drive shaft on an external mounting plate.  For steering on the water, the front wheels doubled as rudders.

In all, some 14265 Schwimmwagens were built between 1942 and 1944 by both the Volkswagenwerk factories in KdF-Stadt near Fallersleben (present-day Wolfsburg), and the Porsche facilities in Stuttgart; the bodies for all Schwimmwagens were pressed by the Ambi-Budd factory in Berlin.  Schwimmwagens were usually distributed to elite units, although some examples ended up elsewhere, too.  Production was eventually ceased as the war worsened for Germany, and programs were abandoned in favour of high-priority ones; in the Schwimmwagen's case, damage to both the Volkswagen and Ambi-Budd factories from allied bombings, as well as Volkswagen being forced to build V1-assemblies at its KdF-Stadt factory, led its production being abandoned.  Today, some 189 Schwimmwagens are known to survive world-wide.

The Ladewagen LWC 500/IX was a bomb cart first designed in 1936 for loading bombs of up to 500 kg, and was specifically designed to bomb up the Junkers Ju 87 'Stuka' dive-bomber.  It became a wide-spread piece of equipment at Luftwaffe bases, later on also being used to hoist bombs and other armament for other aircraft types.

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1/72, part of Academy limited issue set 72003 'Command Cars'
Twentieth model completed in 2018
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A4/V2
A4/V2 (Aggregat 4/ Vergeltungswaffen 2) of Artillerie Abteilung 3./836, Wehrmacht, fired from Merzig, Germany on October 19th 1944.
Displayed on a reproduction of a map that shows the nature and density of V1/V2 strikes onto Antwerp and its surroundings between October 7th 1944 & March 28th 1945.
Above map can also be found here.

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The brainchild of the German engineer Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), development of the V2 rocket, initially named 'Aggregat 4', started in the early 1930s thanks to a loophole in the Versailles Peace Treaty that did not prohibit Germany from developing rocket weapons.  After the A1 of 1933 proved to be a failure, tests with the A2 proof-of-concept rocket in 1934 were a success, allowing development of the A3 to go ahead in 1936.  However, design issues with the A3 nearly proved the program's undoing; eventually, the A3 was abandoned and work instead switched to the A4, and its scaled-down version, the A5.

The A5 progressed on the engine design of the A3, but used a new shape that proved to be aerodynamically more stable; between 1938 and 1942, numerous test firings took place of the A5 which proved the concept, and allowed work to progress on the full-sized A4, a rocket with a range of 322 km capable of carrying a ton of payload to an altitude of 89 km before falling back in a ballistic trajectory.  With the tests of the A5 complete, testing of the A4 began in March of 1942, but it wasn't until October 3rd 1942 that an A4 was launched succesfully.

The A4 was not supposed to be the ultimate end of the Aggregat program: Von Braun's ultimate goal was to conquer space, as first projected by his mentor Hermann Oberth (1894-1989).  For this goal, the Aggregat family had numerous further designs, the ultimate of which being the Aggregat A12, a four-stage orbital rocket capable of carrying a payload of 10 tonnes; but changing priorities led to the cancellation of the A6 to A12 designs.  Even so, Von Braun attempted to expand the existing A4's range by incorporating elements of the A9 design into it, leading to the winged A4b design, which during its tests would become the first winged guided missile to attain supersonic speeds.

Even though the basic A4 design was already being tested in flight by the end of 1942, the entire project threatened to be untangled by the politics of the Third Reich.  Some in the Reich - including at one point Adolf Hitler himself - did not see any merit in an 'expensive glorified artillery shell' and wanted the plug pulled on the project; the SS under Heinrich Himmler wanted to take over the project for its own purposes; and numerous others started putting impossible demands on the program, asking for specifications and production numbers that were well beyond the technical and organisational scope of what Von Braun and his team were capable of with the means at their disposal.  And on top of all of this, the Allies had also caught wind of what was happening at Peenemunde - not exactly difficult, as the contrails from A4 launches from Peenemunde were visible from neutral Sweden.  With Allied intelligence discovering the rocket activity at Peenemunde as early as April of 1943, the test site was visited by the Royal Air Force on the night of August 17th-18th that year, followed by raids on numerous other production and projected launch facilities in the months that followed.  All this led to firm delays in the project, as new sites were selected and prepared for a full-scale production of the new weapon, which by now had received the infamous 'V2' designation for 'Vergeldungswaffen 2' or 'Revenge Weapon 2'.

Eventually, the major production site of the V2 rocket would be Mittelwerk, an underground facility located close to the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp near Nordhausen, Germany.  The choice of this site was not a coincidence: the Mittelwerk was located inside a hill that had previously been the site of a chalk mine, rendering it virtually impossible to bomb; in turn, the prisoners at the nearby concentration camp were used as slave labour for both the construction of the underground factory, as well as the weapons built there.  The inhuman conditions at Mittelwerk took a high toll among: it is estimated that some 20000 Mittelbau-Dora inmates working on the V2 production line and facilities died as a result of accidents, cold, malnutrition, exhaustion, disease, executions or murder.

Even before the V2s were used operationally, the Allies had managed to get their hands on a number of crucial components through an extraordinary set of events: on June 13th 1944, a stray V2 from Peenemunde exploded over Sweden, and in the month that followed, wreckage gathered at the site of the crash was handed over by the Swedes to the British as part of a secret exchange.  This allowed the British to partially reconstruct the rocket, enough to discover a number of crucial facts about it.  Allied intelligence struck a second coup when a mostly-intact V2 launched from a second test center in Occupied Poland was recovered from a river by the Polish Resistance and flown to England by the crew of a Royal Air Force Dakota that performed an extraordinary landing at a disused air base inside Poland.  These missions showed that the V2s were guided by a ground-based radio beam system, but also that this guidance system had been conceived in such a way that it could not be interfered with.

The Allied landings at Normandy in June of 1944 and subsequent German defeats, including the Liberation of Paris on August 25th 1944, finally led to Adolf Hitler to approve operational use of the V2.  After a number of failed launches on September 6th, the first succesful launch of a V2 was made on September 8th: simultaniously, Artillery Battery 444 fired missiles from Houffalize, Belgium to Paris, France, while Artillery Battery 485 fired missiles from the Dutch coast to London.  However, Allied advances soon led to the former to withdraw to Walcheren, the Netherlands.  At this early time, the number of launches was limited by the amount of fuel available: the logistics for transorting both the alcohol and liquid oxygen to run the engine proved to be highly challenging.

The capture of Antwerp and its harbour by the Allies on September 4th 1944 presented the Germans with a new target for their 'miracle weapons'.  Unlike London and Paris, which purely were targeted to lift morale among the own troops and sink the enemy one, Antwerp was a military target, as its harbour provided the Allies with an important logistical supply center.  Previously depending on the Mulberry harbours in Normandy for all of their supply needs, the Allied offensive against Germany started to suffer from an overly extended supply line, requiring supplies to be shipped for hundreds of miles from the harbours to the frontline; compared to that, Antwerp was located not even a hundred miles from most of the northern frontlines, and unlike other harbours, most of its installations had fallen into Allied hands virtually undamaged.  In an attempt to destroy these vital installations, Hitler ordered the use of both the V1 and V2 weapons against the Antwerp harbour.

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Artillerie Abteilung 836 of the Wehrmacht had been set up as part of a group of mobile V2 launchers, originally targeting the French cities of Lille and Paris.  Firing their first missile on September 15th 1944, the 836's scope of operations expanded as the Allies continued their advance: by the end of September, its batteries were firing an average of 4 rockets against Lille, Tourcoing, Arras, Cambrai and Paris in France; Hasselt, Liège and Mons in Belgium; and Maastricht in The Netherlands.  However, with the Germans losing control over the Scheldt estuary, freeing up the access into the Antwerp harbour, the unit received instructions at the beginning of October to switch targets to Antwerp.  On October 7th, the unit fired its first rocket at Antwerp which landed in the municipality of Brasschaat, 5 miles north of Antwerp; October 13th saw its second shot directed at the city fall onto Antwerp itself; this caused the first casualties to fall on Antwerp soil to V-weapons, killing 32 and injuring 46.

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After a number of reasonably 'quiet' days, brought on by adverse weather, October 19th saw Artillerie Abteilung 836 fire its third rocket and last rocket from Merzig at Antwerp, before the unit relocated to Burgsteinfurt.  Five minutes after its launch, it landed in Borgerhout, a district of Antwerp, killing 44 and injuring 98 - one of the victims of the impact being my maternal great-grandmother, thus linking me personally to this particular chapter of the Second World War.  Soon, the city of Antwerp would gain the unenviable nickname of City of Sudden Death: with nearly no interruptions from October 19th onwards, numerous bombs would hit the city on a daily basis, some falling wide or causing little damage, others killing dozens and destroying dozens of homes in a single moment.

In all, V-bombs would continue to fall onto Antwerp and its surroundings for 175 days, bringing inmeasurable fear and grief to its population.

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While most history books seem to remember only London as having been targeted by the German V-weapons, this was not the case.  Between September 6th 1944 and March 28th 1945, some 3172 V2 rockets were launched against numerous targets. These included:

- Antwerp, Belgium: 1610 (October 7th 1944 - March 28th 1945)
- London, United Kingdom: 1358 (September 8th 1944 - March 27th 1945)
- Norwich, United Kingdom: 43 (September 26th - October 3rd 1944)
- Liège, Belgium: 27 (September 26th 1944 - February 6th 1945)
- Lille, France: 25 (September 15th - September 26th 1944) 
- Paris, France: 22 (September 6th - October 5th 1944)
- Maastricht, the Netherlands: 19 (September 18th 1944 - February 12th 1945)
- Tourcoing, France: 19 (September 18th - 26th 1944) 
- Hasselt, Belgium: 13 (September 18th 1944 - March 14th 1945)
- Remagen, Germany: 11 (all on March 17th 1945)
- Arras, France: 6 (September 18th - 26th 1944)
- Cambrai, France: 4 (September 18th - 26th 1944)
- Tournai, Belgium: 3 (October 4th 1944 - March 12th 1945)
- Diest, Belgium: 2 (both October 1st 1944)
- Ipswich, United Kingdom: 1 (September 25th 1944)

Among these, the most severe hit took place on December 16th 1944 in Antwerp: a single V2 hit the Rex, a film theatre in the city center where The Plainsman was being shown to civilians and Allied soldiers alike, leaving 567 dead and 291 injured.

In all, the V2 attacks left 2754 civilians dead and another 6523 injured in Greater London; Antwerp suffered the loss of 1736 civilians with another 4500 injured.  Unlike the V1 flying bombs, the V2 rockets were impervious to interception: once fired, and assuming the rocket didn't malfunction in flight, it was only a matter of minutes before they reached their target.  Approaching their target in their final stage at a speed of Mach 6, they were too quick to be observed or fired at; usually no warning preceded their arrival, with the first sign of a V2 shot being the actual rocket exploding on the ground.  However, as noted earlier, such was the cruelty employed by the SS at the production facilities, that more slave labourers actually died producing the V2 rockets, than victims did at the receiving end of them.

The only actual tactical use of V2 bombs took place in March of 1945, when it was used to target the Remagen bridge that had fallen intact into Allied hands.  These attacks only emphasised the general inaccuracy of the V2 as a weapon: out of 11 rockets fired at the bridge, the closest hit fell half a mile from its target, while the furthest one fell some 25 miles away.

While V2s were too technically unreliable and too inaccurate to influence the eventual outcome of the war, they did go on to shape the face of the Cold War.  Basing themselves on the V2, and using captured technicians and engineers from the project, Great Britain, the United States and Russia each started their own rocket programs, eventually resulting in these nations' nuclear ballistic missile programs.  The final firing of a direct V2-derived rocket, a Soviet R-1 test vehicle, took place on September 13th 1964; barely 5 years later, on July 20th 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon, having reached it with a Saturn V booster rocket developed under Wernher von Braun's supervision.

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1/72 Revell 03309 (ex-Special Armour SA72003)
Purchased October 18th 2018
Completed October 20th 2018
Nineteenth model completed in 2018
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Aichi M6A1 Seiran K6-15
Aichi M6A1 Seiran of 631 Kaigun Kōkūtai of the Imperial Japanese Navy, based at Maizuru Naval Station, Japan, for transfer to Submarine I-401, June 1945.  Crew unknown.

During World War I, experiments were held both in Germany and England to use submarines as transport vessels for light reconnaissance and bomber seaplanes.  The Germans were the first to use the technique in combat, launching a single Friedrichshafen FF.29 biplane from the deck of submarine SM U-12 on January 15th 1915, however both they and the British soon concluded that the technique as then devised - simply carrying the airplane atop the deck of a surface-running submarine - required a lot of improvement.  In 1917, Germany began construction of submarines intended to carry a light, easy-to-dismantle seaplane in a special deck compartiment, and also designed two distinct seaplane types for this purpose; however the War came to its end before any of these submarines was completed.

Despite this, the concept was noted, and in 1922 the United States began studying the feasability of aircraft-carrying submarines after purchasing two Caspar U.1 seaplanes designed by Ernst Heinkel.  By the end of the 1920s, numerous countries were studying and commissioning such vessels, often with varied results.

One of the earliest such vessels was the US submarine USS S-1, which was fitted with a small deck-mounted hangar for a collapsible aircraft.  First altered in 1923, S-1 was used in tests with a US-built seaplane, but difficulties with launching and recovering the aircraft ultimately led to the US Navy losing interest in the concept.  In 1927 the British converted the HMS M-2, a heavy monitor submarine with deck-mounted gun into a seaplane-carrying submarine.  The design was used with some succes for a number of years, until during an exercise in 1932 M-2 was lost with all hands.  Subsequent investigation of the wreck showed that the deck hangar had been opened too early during surfacing resulting in her sinking.  As a result of this, the Royal Navy lost all interest in the concept of an aircraft-launching submarine.

The French had considerably more success with their own design: they launched the heavy cruiser submarine Surcouf in 1932, which became the best-known submarine in her class during the pre-War years.  The Surcouf differed from previous designs in that she had both a heavy deck-mounted gun turret and a deck-mounted aircraft hangar: in her case, the aircraft was to serve as an artillery spotter for her heavy guns.  Surcouf escaped France during the Battle of France, and became a Free French Forces vessel, however she was lost in unclear circumstances in 1942.  Inspired by the Surcouf, the Italians began construction of a similar vessel, the Ettore Fieramosca; however this lost its hangar early on during construction, and was completed as a regular, non-aircraft carrying submarine in 1931, before embarking on a career troubled by technical issues that was cut short by a battery explosion in 1940 that rendered the vessel unfit for further use.

Despite these mixed successes, Japan started its own research into aircraft-carrying submarines in the late-1920s, heavily inspiring itself on the American and British designs.  This resulted in the Junsen class of which the first submarine, the I-5, was launched in 1932, capable of carrying a single Yokosuka E6Y reconnaissance seaplane.  Initially, the I-5 only had two hangars to carry the parts of the disassembled seaplane; after some issues were encountered launching the aircraft, the decision was taken to also add a deck-mounted catapult for the seaplane.  This subsequently became a feature of all of Japan's aircraft-carrying submarines.  Experience with the I-5 led the Japanese to considerably modify the original Junsen design: this resulted in the modified I-6, I-7 and I-8 entering service, initially with the Yokosuka E6Y, substituting it in 1938 by the Watanabe E9W.

Experience with the Junsen class allowed the Japanese to design a considerably improved submarine, namely the Junsen A class, which had improved aircraft facilities.  Additional improvements led to two versions, the A1 and the improved A2 with greater range, each capable of carrying a single aircraft.  By this time, the E9W biplane had also been replaced by the Yokosuka E14Y monoplane; in combination with the long-range Junsen B class, this turned the aircraft-carrying submarine into a potentially capable combination.  In September of 1942, an E14Y launched by Junsen B submarine I-25 made two attacks on the mainland US, the only such attacks made during the course of World War II. While the bombings resulted in little damage, it showed the potential of the submarine/aircraft combination.

Already as early as 1941, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto conceived the idea of giant aircraft-carrying submarines with multiple aircraft, capable of launching raids on mainland US cities, a suggestion which he put forward in an official proposal on January 13th 1942.  His proposal called for the building of a fleet of 18 giant submarines, each capable of making three round trips between Japan and the US West coast without refuelling. For this purpose, the construction of the giant I-400 class of submarines and their Aichi M6A floatplanes was commissioned.  After Yamamoto's death on April 18th 1943, a proposal was put forward to use these new submarines and their aircraft for a surprise attack on the vital locks of the Panama Canal, the blocking of which would seriously hamper the Allied war effort.

The first component of the plan to reach completion was the attack aircraft, the Aichi-designed M6A1, which was named the Seiran, which translates as Clear Sky Storm.  Originally, the plan was to simply adapt the Yokosuka D4Y1 'Judy' dive bomber, but in its original form it could simply not be adapted into a compact enough package that could be carried by a submarine.  Instead, Aichi designed an aircraft from scratch, basing it around the D4Y1's engine.  The original plan also called for a single-use attack aircraft that would be catapult-launched by the submarine, attack its target and then ditch near the submarine so its crew could be recovered, but soon it was realised that in the case of a failed attack, no follow-up attack could be made, thus floats were added to the original M6A design that allowed for the recovery of the bomber.  The floats influenced the design's capabilities: with its floats installed, the M6A1 could only carry a 250-kg bomb, a payload that could be increased to either a 800-kg bomb or a single torpedo if the floats were not mounted.  To aid in the training of its crews, two M6A1-K trainers with retractable landing gear instead of floats were produced as well.

Problems with the design's stability and damage to the aircraft factory due to the December 7th 1944 Tōnankai earthquake as well as a March 1945 Allied bombing attack meant that deliveries of the M6A met serious delays.  Additional difficulties beset the construction of the I-400 Class submarines, which by this time was struggling to meet the goals.  By early 1944, it was clear that the envisaged fleet of 18 submarines would be impossible to build; instead the decision was taken to modify two A2 submarines under construction, I-13 & I-14, into AM submarines capable of carrying two aircraft each.

As the course of the war worsened for the Japanese, the attack plan was modified accordingly.  By early 1945, the plan was that the four submarines would launch a total of 12 aircraft, two equiped with torpedoes and the remaining ten with bombs.  The aircraft would be launched without floats to increase their performance and shorten assembly time on the surface; after the attack they would return to their submarines and ditch; calculations on the attack's effects estimated that the Panama Canal would be out of service for at least half a year.  But a lack of pilots experienced with launching torpedoes led to that part of the plan being abandoned; instead all twelve aircraft would use heavy armor-piercing bombs, originally intended to sink battleships.
By April of 1945, with the war turning ever more desperate, the decision was taken that the attacks would be Kamikaze attacks; to that purpose, the bomb-release mechanism on the Seirans was removed.

By the time the submarine force was nearing readiness for the attack in June of 1945, the situation had changed entirely for the Japanese.  Okinawa had fallen, and an Allied invasion of Japan now seemed imminent.  Japanese intelligence had received word that as part of this assault force, a fleet of 15 US aircraft carriers had assembled at the Ulithi Atoll, so the decision was taken to switch targets from the Panama Canal - the loss of which to the Allies now seemed less likely to change the course of the War - to the Allied fleet under anchor at Ulithi.  For this attack, the composition and roles of the submarine and aircraft force was changed: the I-13 and I-14 would now carry disassembled Nakajima C6N1 reconnaissance aircraft to the Japanese-held Truk Atoll; from there these aircraft could perform a reconnaissance flight of the Ulithi Atoll, and only if the presence of carriers was confirmed, I-400 and I-401 would deploy their Seirans on a suicide mission.  In the hope of improving the chances of a succesful attack, the six Seirans tasked with the attack were painted over just prior to the submarines' departure: they were painted silver and given American markings, so that if they were spotted during their bomb run, chances existed that they would be mistaken for American aircraft by the crews of the American ships and their fighter patrols.  However this part of the plan was met by protests by the crews tasked with flying the aircraft, who felt it was dishonorable and a complete insult to the Japanese Navy.

If the attack was succesful, the plans were for I-13, I-14, I-400 and I-401 to retreat to Hong Kong for refuelling and taking on new aircraft, after which they were to stage an aerial attack on San Diego using biological weapons, but this follow-on attack was vetoed against by the Army Chief and cancelled even before the fleet left Japan for their mission against Ulithi.

In preparation of the attack, I-13 and I-14 left Japan for Truk on July 11th 1945, but I-13 was detected and sunk on July 16th with the loss of all aboard; only I-14 arrived at Truk where work started on preparing its reconnaissance aircraft, after which she departed for Hong Kong for refuelling and to pick up new aircraft.  On July 23rd, I-400 and I-401 left Japan for the Ulithi Atoll, with the intention of launching their aircraft on August 17th, just after receiving the reconnaissance flight's report.

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But the course of history intervened, and following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and August 9th 1945 respectively, the Japanese Emperor Hirohito made a radio broadcast on August 15th in which he called for the immediate and unconditional surrender of all weapons, ending the Japanese war effort.   I-400 and I-401 received instructions informing on this new course of events one day later; and on August 18th, they received further instructions that both submarines were to dispose of all of their offensive armament and surrender to the Allies.  The crew of I-400 assembled the Seiran attack aircraft and pushed them overboard with holed fuel tanks and floats, while the crew of I-401 catapult-launched their aircraft unmanned with the wings still folded; for all of their efforts, the Seirans never dropped their weapons in anger.

I-400 surrendered to the US forces on August 19th 1945; I-14 and I-401 surrendered on August 29th 1945.  All three submarines were taken Hawaii where they were inspected by US Navy technicians.  It was only then that the US became aware of the I-400 Class' existence; this had been so secret that the Aichi M6A Seiran was one of only a handful Japanese aircraft never to receive an Allied reporting name.  When it became clear that under the terms of the post-war agreements the US was to share any recovered enemy technology with the Soviets, the US Navy decided on scuttling them instead, so the secrets of their design would not fall into Soviet hands.  I-14, I-400 & I-401 were sunk off Oahu on May 28th, June 4th and May 31st 1946 respectively; the wrecks lie at a depth of about 2690 ft off Barber's Point, Oahu.

Out of 28 Seirans built, only a single example survives.  It was evaluated in the US after the War after which it went into storage; following a restoration which started in 1989 and concluded in 2000, the sole survivor of the Seiran program now stands on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

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1/72 Tamiya 60737
Inventory number 511 - purchased March 25th 2006
Eightteenth model completed in 2018
615 aircraft still on 'to do' list.
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Pun Police
The only possible answer to :iconsigeel:sigeel's Punderworld universe... >.>

(Don't worry, just kidding!)
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And so, this August 6th 2018 marked the 15th anniversary of this account.

In that time, it was viewed some 203170+ times; and I myself submitted some 10529 submissions and 337 journals to it.

I would like to extend my thanks to the 2386 people who are currently watching me, and hope that I haven't disappointed you.

Thank you, all of you! :hug: 
  • Reading: George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • Watching: 1984, 2017 realtime live-action adaption
  • Drinking: water

deviantID

kanyiko
柳沼 日光
Artist | Hobbyist | Traditional Art
Current Residence: here
Favourite genre of music: Anything, just as long as it pleases me.
Operating System: Windows 10, much against my own will...
Favourite cartoon character: InuYasha... and Nightcrawler... among others...
Personal Quote: "Dream like you live forever, live like you die today..."
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:iconwarenetwork2000:
WareNetwork2000 Featured By Owner 2 hours ago  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the llama.
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PinkDiamondatHeart Featured By Owner 6 hours ago  Student Digital Artist
thanks for the lama
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kanyiko Featured By Owner 6 hours ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
My pleasure!! :hug:
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PinkDiamondatHeart Featured By Owner 6 hours ago  Student Digital Artist
welcome ^^
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Brit31 Featured By Owner 22 hours ago  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for the faves my dear Friend Hug 
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kanyiko Featured By Owner 6 hours ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Always a pleasure!! :hug:
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c4mper Featured By Owner 1 day ago
If you have any modele 1 35 II WW you can post on my priv. Interested im buying. 
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GabyCoutino Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice gallery

Have a bunny
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(>•.•)
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kanyiko Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you!

Have a Seal (of Approval) in return! :hug:

Pumori Seal Of Approval by kanyiko
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GabyCoutino Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks
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