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59th Hiko Sentai (59th Flying Regiment)
Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF)

Background
The Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) 59th Hiko Sentai (59th Flying Regiment) operated the the Type 97 Fighter / Ki-27 Nate and later the Type 1 Fighter / Ki-43 Oscar and finally the Ki-44 Tojo.

Wartime History
In July 1938 formed at Kagamigahara with two Chutai from the 1st Hiko Rentai. In September 1938 operated from China. In November 1938 operated from Hankow Airfield until August 1939 then.

During September 1939 operated from Saienjo Airfield in western Manchuria and participated in the conclusion of the Nomonhan Incident. On September 15, 1939 flew the unit's only combat mission with the 2nd Chutai claiming 11 aerial victories and the 1st Chutai lost five pilots. Afterwards, returned to China until November 1941. During December 1941 at the start of the Pacific War participated in the Malaya Campaign.

In September 1942 the 59th Sentai expanded into three Chutai. During early 1943 based at Malang Airfield on Java.

In New Guinea, the 59th Sentai was based at Dagua Airfield near Wewak. The 59th Sentai also operated from forward airfields including Madang Airfield and Alexishafen Airfield (Danip Airfield).

On January 23, 1944 lost is Ki-43 piloted by Captain Shigeo Nongo was shot down by P-40N Warhawk piloted by 1st Lt. Robert DeHaven.

In April 1944 reorganized into Hikotai composition.

Markings
The Sentai motif varied during their service. Between 1938–1941 the unit's Ki-27 had a fuselage lighting bolt with a rear fuselage vertical stripe, 1st Chutai green, 2nd Chutai dark blue and 3rd Chutai yellow.

During 1941, the unit's Ki-43 had a tail lighting bolt marking with two markings shaped like commas above, Sentai Hombu (Headquarters) dark blue outlined in white, 1st Chutai white outline in red, 2nd Chutai red outlined in white and 3rd Chutai yellow outlined in white.

During 1942-1943 the unit's Ki-43 had a diagonal stripe on the tail. 1st Chutai white, 2nd Chutai red and 3rd Chutai yellow. During 1944, the unit's Ki-44 Tojo aircraft markings were identical but outlined in white and finally in 1945 reverted to just the solid color again.

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References
Emblems of the Rising Sun (1999) page 29 (5th Sentai 1938-1945)
Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units And Their Aces 1931–1945 (2002) pages 44 (January 15-16, 1944), 45 (January 23, 1944), 152-155 (59th Sentai)
248th Hiko Sentai: A Japanese “Hard luck” Fighter Unit, Part 3 by Richard Dunn
"The following day [January 16, 1944] Major Kiyoshi Kimura of the 68th Sentai led the Japanese fighter force. The 248 th under Capt. Tozuka flew as part of the 59th's formation led by Capt. Shigeo Nango, one of the most successful Japanese fighter pilots in New Guinea. The Japanese flew to the Madang area to challenge American strike aircraft. The mission proved disastrous. No pilots were lost from Nango's formation but the other Japanese units suffered heavily. The 68th and newly arrived 63rd Sentai suffered the loss of seven pilots including Major Kimura and W.O. Noguchi. It seems in total ten Japanese fighters were shot down. Most of these fell victim to fifteen P-40Ns of the 35 th FS, which claimed nineteen victories. Some may have fallen when a few of the Japanese fighters attacked two formations of B-25s that claimed to have destroyed three ZEKES (including fighters reportedly seen to crash into the sea from low level). Finally the Japanese fighters engaged in a 25-minute combat with sixteen P-38s. For the day the Japanese claimed seven bombers, three P-38s and three P-40s. Only one B-25 was lost and a few others damaged. Three P-40s and three P-38s were damaged."

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