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Topic: Taicho assignments and ranks, Ranks in the kido butai< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
 Post Number: 1
David Aiken Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 08 2003,10:03  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha All,
The Hikotaicho position was similar to the USN "Air Group Commander" before the war. One was assigned to a carrier.
Here are the three command position markings..

However, when the Pearl Harbor proposal came up, a great amount of changes were made. A host of 'experience' was transferred to the Kido Butai. Date of rank was of high interest to some of these men and some changes were again made, but on the whole these transfers went well.

The Zeros in the first wave was led by a Hikotaicho from Akagi [Itaya], the sole Zero Hikotaicho in the task force; the torpedo planes in the first wave was led by an Akagi based Hikotaicho [Murata] and the overall strike force was led by an Akagi-based Hikotaicho [Fuchida].. Leader of first wave VALs was a Shokaku-based Hikotaicho [Takahashi].

The second wave VALs were led by a Soryu-based Hikotaicho [Egusa], while a Kaga-based Hikotaicho [Makino] led his unit. You may view the top stripe of the Hikotaicho mark on Makino's VAL on takeoff on 7 Dec.

The second wave high-level Kates were led by a Zuikaku-based Hikotaicho [Shimazaki] even tho the over-all strike commander [Fuchida] was still observing.

Just prior to the Battle of Midway, another change occurred. At Pearl Harbor, Hiryu command markings were blue, but when Hikotaicho Tomonaga came aboard, the command stripes were changed to yellow. Tomonaga took over BII-310 which received three command stripes and because the admiral changed his command ship from Soryu to Hiryu, the plane also received the new CV designation "BI-310". Japanese researcher H. Yoshimura's interview notes has included a sketch of the three yellow stripes for that plane.

Hope this helps,

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 Post Number: 2
David Aiken Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Aug. 08 2003,10:27 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha All,
The officer ranks and the correct Kanji for these may be obtained from an excellent source book: Squadron Leader A.R. Boyce, RAF: Japanese Air Terms [Calcutta: Far Eastern Bureau, British Ministry of Information; 1944]. page 425 IJA ranks, page 428 IJN Ranks.

Japanese Officer ranks are the same for IJA and IJN. The point of difference is in the translation. If we speak of British terms then the translation is somewhat different than American terms. American terms are used for the following:

Taisho=*General*********=Admiral
Chujo*=*Lt General******=Vice-Admiral
Shosho=*Major General***=Rear Admiral

Taisa*=*Colonel*********=Captain
Chusa*=*Lt Colonel******=Commander
Shosa*=*Major***********=Lt Commander
Taii**=*Captain*********=Lieutenant
Chui**=*Lieutenant******=Lieutenant(JG)
Shoi**=*2nd Lt**********=Ensign

It becomes a problem to compare the enlisted ranks with American enlisted ranks (rates). There were also changes in the Japanese Naval enlisted ranks (rates) after select dates which add to the problems.

IJA Enlisted RANKS (with approximate equivalents)
Juni***= Warrant Officer
Socho**= Sergeant Major
Gunso**= Sergeant
Gocho**= Corporal
Heicho*= Lance Corporal (leading Private)
Jotohei= Superior Private
Ittohei= Private First Class
Nitohei= Private

IJN Enlisted Ranks (with approximate equivalents):

PRE-June 1941
Joto (Koku) Heiso**=**(Air) Chief Petty Officer 航空兵曹長
Itto (Koku) Heiso**=**(Air) Petty Officer First Class 一等航空兵曹
Nito (Koku) Heiso**=**(Air) PO2c ニ等航空兵曹
Santo (Koku) Heiso*=**(Air) PO3c 三等航空兵曹
Itto (Koku) Hei****=**(Air) Airman 1c 一等航空兵
Nito (Koku) Hei****=**(Air) Airman 2c ニ等航空兵
Santo (Koku) Hei***=**(Air) Airman 3c 三等航空兵

POST-June 1941
Joto (Hiko) Heiso**=**(Flight) Chief Petty Officer 飛行兵曹長
Itto (Hiko) Heiso**=**(Flight) PO1c 一等飛行兵曹
Nito (Hiko) Heiso**=**(Flight) PO2c ニ等飛行兵曹
Santo (Hiko) Heiso*=**(Flight) PO3c 三等飛行兵曹
Itto (Hiko) Hei****=**Flyer 1c 一等飛行兵
Nito (Hiko) Hei****=**Flyer 2c ニ等飛行兵
Santo (Hiko) Hei***=**Flyer 3c 三等飛行兵

AFTER November 1942, three changes:
the (Hiko) Heisocho = (Flight) Warrant Officer was placed above the CPO; and an (Hiko) Heicho = Assistant (Flight) Petty Officer and a Joto (Hiko) Hei = Chief Flyer REPLACED the Santo (Hiko) Heiso

The additional term "Koku" 航空 or "Hiko" 飛行 determines the aeronautical nature of the aviator job. This is "understood" in aeronautical texts and thus left out of many books.

Japanese Naval ratings are similar to US Navy ratings. A Japanese Seaman First Class, for example, has crossed anchors on his rating/rank badge, the Japanese Airman First Class has crossed aircraft, the Japanese Mechanic First Class has crossed wrenches, etc.

The range of NAVAL aviators IN COMBAT is (usually) "Flyer 1c" and above. Those lower ranks of "Flyer 2c", "Flyer 3c" are in training schools. Again usually, the top NAVAL flying officer "Hikotaicho"(on a CV) / “司令”(shirei )in a  "Kokutai" (land unit) is "Lt Commander"; with the "Commander" slot going to a non-flying officer (most times of aviation experience) as "Hikocho". As the war progressed, several "Hikocho" positioned men were placed in combat flight "slots" as "Hikotaicho" or "shirei".

Of interest, the ground crews for the aircraft had the same rank system except for the word "Hiko"/"Koku" was replaced by "Seibi". The Itto (Seibi) Heiso also had crossed aircraft rank badge...but the crossed aircraft were "in profile", rather than like the Itto (Hiko) Heiso, which had top views of the crossed aircraft. The Seibi is on the right sleeve on the man on the left, the Hiko version on the other man.

Select errors creep into certain non-Japanese texts including "Sailor First Class" or "NAP 4th Class"...sailors swabbed decks and the incorrect "Naval Aviation Pilot" term seems to include non-pilots, and the NAP4c in these texts really refers to "Itto (Hiko) Hei" [Flyer First Class].

The US Navy had BOTH the Commissioned Warrant Officer (just below "Ensign") and the ENLISTED rate (rank) of Chief Petty Officer. Selection of WHICH US Navy term is used for the highest ENLISTED rate 航空兵曹長. "Heiso"  兵曹 is also used in the lower ENLISTED ranks of:
Itto (Hiko/Koku) Heiso...and even lower ranks. Thus 飛行兵曹長  is equal to the enlisted Chief Petty Officer, rather than the higher term "Warrant Officer".


Edited by David Aiken on Apr. 05 2011,10:58

--------------
Cheers,

David Aiken, a Director
Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.

Keep the largest WWII website on line!
Join NOW: $25
P.O. Box 1007
Stratford, CT  06615

http://www.pearlharbor-history.org/
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