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5th Naval Air Wing
Built by Kawanishi at Konan Plant in Kobe completed March 1943. Delivered to the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as Type 2 Flying Boat / H8K2 Emily manufacture number 426.
Assigned to the 802 Kōkūtai (802 Air Group) with tail code N1-26 until the unit was disbanded. On April 1, 1944 assigned to the 801 Kōkūtai (801 Air Group) on Saipan and was over painted with tail code 801-86 until that unit disbanded.
On April 25, 1945 assigned to the 5th Naval Air Wing "Kikusui Force", Takuma Kōkūtai (Takuma Air Group) with tail code T-31. During 1945, based a Takuma Seaplane Base on Shikoku and sustained minor damage during an air raid. This Emily survived until the end of the Pacific War when Japan officially surrendered in September 1945.
During September 1945, this Emily was surrendered to the U.S. and selected for or technical evaluation and was repaired by Japanese mechanics from Takuma Air Group. Once repaired, flown to Yokohama. By December 1945, the flying boat was loaded on the flight deck of USS Anzio (CVE-57) and departed January 18, 1946 across the Pacific then via the Panama Canal bound for Norfolk, Virgina.
After technical evaluation in Maryland and afterwards sent to Norfolk, Virginia. During the 1970s, installed at gate 4 at Norfolk Naval Base then placed in storage. Due to budgetary cuts, the aircraft was slated for disposal in 1976, unless an immediate plan for it was presented to take custody of it.
Bruce Sheppard adds:
"i first saw the Emily in 1964 when my Dad was stationed in Norfolk. It remained displayed at gate 4 through some of the 1970s, i believe the plan was to send it to the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, before the Japanese wanted it back."
Return to Japan
During 1978, Tokyo Maritime Museum curator Ryoichi Sasagawa proposed to transport the aircraft to Japan for restoration and display. The US military agreed, and by an act from the U.S. House of Representatives and this Emily became the first war trophy ever returned.
In 1979, shipped to Japan and restored for display. The interior was sealed with a protective coating. On July 21, 1980 the restored aircraft was unveiled at Tokyo Maritime Museum displayed outdoors next to the museum.
Justin Taylan visited in January 2004:
"I visited the Emily in January 2004, just before it was disassembled and removed. Even by today's standards, the flying boat is enormous, and the multi-level museum and nearby subway station allow for excellent views of the aircraft from nearly every angle."
In late January 2004 after 23 years at the Tokyo Maritime Museum, the Emily was shipped to the Kanoya Museum and placed on display outdoors and maintained by the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF). The interior remains sealed and air conditioned for preservation.
Tom Burchill, visited in March 2004
"Seeing this airplane was a nice surprise for me as I had been in Tokyo on a earlier occasions and had not had an opportunity to visit the Maritime Museum. While the Kanoya Museum is off the beaten track for the average tourist, it is befitting that this great aircraft was moved to its new venue which I feel is more appropriate from a historical perspective. With the Chiran Kamikaze Museum located across Kagoshima Bay, this move will help make southern Kyushu a mecca for students of the Pacific war."
Aero Detail 31: H8K Emily Type 2 Flying Boat is the definitive book on this single airplane, covering photos of its restoration, color plates and other details.
Thanks to Bruce Sheppard, Justin Taylan, Tom Burchill and Yoji Sakaida for additional information
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