78th Hiko Sentai (78th Flying Regiment)
Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF)
The Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) 78th Hiko Sentai (78th Flying Regiment) operated the Type 97 Fighter / Ki-27 Nate and later the Type 3 Fighter Hein / Ki-61 Tony and briefly the Type 1 / Ki-43 Oscar.
During March 1942 established at Xingshu as the 78th Hiko Sentai (78th Flying Regiment) with three chutai, formed from elements from the 24th Sentai and 33rd Sentai. In April 1942 transfered to Sunjia Airfield near Harbin. During December 1942 to Lioyang Airfield.
In April 1943 to Akeno
Airfield and prepared for a deployment to the South Pacific to the 14th Hiko Dan (14th Flying Brigade). In June 1943 the unit flew from Japan via Truk to Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul. In July 1943 to Boram Airfield near Wewak. The unit also operated from forward airfields including Nubia Airfield near Hansa Bay and Alexishafen Airfield on the north coast of New Guinea.
The unit lost two Ki-61s due to an accident while escorting bombers over Nassau Bay.
On July 18, 1943 the unit engaged six P-38s and Ki-61 pilot Lt. Takashi Tomishima claimed a P-38 shot down, the unit's first combat claim over New Guinea.
On July 21, 1943 the unit engaged in air combat with P-38s escorting B-25s near Madang and claimed five aerial victories including three by Lt. Takashi Tomishima (wounded in the arm) and one victory by Lt. Keiji Takamiya for the loss of two Ki-61s.
On December 22, 1943 Ki-61 Tonys from the 78th Sentai took off with other units to intercept American aircraft over Wewak and engaged escorting P-38 Lightnings. Lost was Ki-61 Tony Major Takatsuki (MIA).
On February 1, 1944 while landing at Wewak at night, Lt. Keiji Takamiya (claimed 17 victories and was the unit's highest scoring ace) accidentally crashed into a tanker and was killed and posthumously promoted to the rank of Captain.
On March 6, 1944 lost was Lt. Mitsusada Asai who claimed 7 victories.
In September 1943 to Manila to reequip and rest then returned in October 1943 to Wewak. In March 1944 to Hollandia and operated until the U. S. Army landing in late April 1944.
On July 25, 1944 the unit officially disbanded due to losses.
The unit motif was a circular symbol with eight edges. 1st Chutai red, 2nd Chutai yellow and 3rd Chutai blue. Later, the unit motif were three horizontal bars on the tail.
Commanding Officers (C. O.)
Major Isao Abe (March 1942-March 1943)
Major Akira Takatsuki (March 1943-December 22, 1943 KIA)
Major Shigechika Tomari (January 1944-June 1944 KIA)
78th Hiko Sentai Known Aircraft
Ki-61 369 built July 1943 abandoned Wewak / Darby Orange-red horizontal bar at 2/3 fin height markings of 78th Sentai
Ki-61 484 abandoned Danip Airfield (Alexishafen Airfield)
Ki-61 Bena Bena crashed July 24, 1943
Ki-61 pilot Takatsuki crashed December 22, 1943 over Wewak
Emblems of the Rising Sun page 34
Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units And Their Aces 1931-1945 (2002) pages 42 (July 1943), 45, (Feb 1, 1944 Takamiya), 46 (Mar 6, 1944 Asai) 167-168 (78th Sentai) 263 (Takamiya biography), 277 (Ace list Takamiya), 281 (Birthplace Takamiya), 300 (Casualty list Takamiya, Kyutaro)
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