The 5th Kōkūtai was formed from the Toko Kokutai float fighter unit operating A6M2-N Rufes that arrived at Kiska Harbor on July 5, 1942. Designated the 5th Kokutai on August 5, 1942. Tail code R-xxx. (three digit tail number).
During late 1942, half of all A6M2-N Rufes produced by Nakajima (12 per month) were sent to the Aleutians to this unit. On September 25, 1942 Kimikawa Maru delived six replacement A6M2-N Rufes and two E13A Jakes to the unit.
On November 1, 1942 redesignated 452 Kokutai with tail code "M1-xxx". On November 6, Kimikawa Maru returned docking off Attu to deliver more Rufes, but these were destroyed the next day during a storm and American strafing attack on November 10.
Combats on December 31 and January 1, 1943, claiming two each day without loss. Bad weather made all the unit's aircraft unservicable on January 4, and none were repaired until January 24 when search missions spotted American ships off Amchitka Island, and bombed them with 60kg bombs, attacking them three other times in January.
On January 31, Kimikawa Maru delivered six more A6M2-N Rufes and one E13A Jakes to Attu and entered combat the next day.
On February 2, two were shot down by anti-aircraft fire over Amchitka Island.
On February 19, two more were lost including PO1c Gi-ichi Sasaki (4 victories, 5 shared victories and 1 probable). Afterwards, operations switched to defensive. Their last aerial combat was likely March 17, 1943 when seven Rufes fought P-38s, claiming two shared victories.
The surviving members of the unit were evacuated on from Kiska by submarine back to Yokosua to reform the unit. During the Aleutians campaign, they claimed 15 victories, 5 probables and lost 12 aircraft and 10 pilots. All 35 A6M2-N Rufes sent to the Aleutians were lost in combat, damaged on the ground by enemy action or bad weather or abandoned.
Japanese Naval Air Force Fighter Units and their Aces 1932-1945 page 24 - 26
Thanks to Jim Lansdale
and Jim Long for additional information
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