In his book, MIDWAY: THE BATTLE THAT DOOMED JAPAN, Mitsuo Fuchida detailed that the back of his plane had red and yellow stripes...we now know that this referenced a single red "carrier identification" stripe and three yellow hikotaicho [air group CO] "command" stripes.
In 1966, Dr Michael Hawkins wrote a B5N monograph for the Profile series in which the artist used raw notes from Fuchida that his plane was the number "301" plane, and came up with a silver/natural metal finish plane with red and yellow horizontal stripes across the vertical surfaces. The B5N profile
In 1967, Chuck Graham illustrated Al Makiel's article for IPMS-USA a page on Japanese aircraft "at Pearl Harbor" including an dotted outline of AI-301 based on movie film found at the US National Archives -but Al would not reveal the film number.
In the mid-1970s, Don Bratt interviewed Mitsuo Fuchida for more details to discover that AI-301 was kept "gleaming" during training to let his men know of his location in the air, yet en route to Hawaii AI-301 was camouflaged to hide the plane from American pursuit. The commanding info on the vertical surfaces was retained to keep his aviators informed of his presence.
The film of AI-301 landing on Akagi in April 1942 was found at the National Archives by Koku-Fan, a Japanese magazine. On viewing stills printed in the magazine, Japanese researcher M. Asano determined that AI-301 had a "pre-war" red tail which had received the yellow command markings. Another researcher, H. Yoshimura, published this in Japan in Jan 1990 in Replica magazine in the article, "Shinjuwan no 101 Ki" [with M. Asano, D. Aiken, et al]
The film of AI-301 landing in April 1942 reveals that salt water does prevent good adhesion of paint as the aircraft's surfaces are peeling paint. Note the style of red tail is left over from China [there were about three styles of horizontal to vertical tail 'scallop curves on Kates...one is unique to the prototype].
So the markings at select stages may be determined -like peeling away layers of an onion. The B5N2 AI-301 had a pre-war scheme of natural metal with red tail that had three yellow command stripes and a red vertical "carrier" stripe.
The plane was painted, IF WE BELIEVE FUCHIDA: "en route to Hawaii" with SEMI-GLOSS green upper surface camouflage. The TRAINING numbers on the wing's undersurface conform to PRE-war use...
While some folk continue to suggest that the lower surface was still natural metal, based on Fuchida's memory...or imagination... others look at the film stills to say that paint chips are flaking from the upper surfaces to show natural metal while the undersurface is painted with the same GLOSS Gray-GREEN viewed on Akagi VALs.....and the painting of the plane was accomplished NOT "enroute", but where the landing base paint shops sprayed the plane...with gray-GREEN, then the dark green upper surface.
Given the errors in Fuchida's memory, I side with the movie film and the layers of paint FLAKING to NMF shining brightly on the uppersurface/fuselage side...while the undersurface is darker, like the darker appearance in the photo of BI-323, which reveals BI-323 is covered OVERALL with the first layer of 'undersurface' paint before application of the upper surface dark green.
PS: In GODS SAMURAI by Gordon Prange, a biography of Fuchida, that author calls attention to a March 1942 crash in Borneo of a KATE in which Fuchida was riding. It suggests that the plane was AI-301 with three yellow command stripes. Further research has revealed that the crashed plane in Borneo should be AI-311 flown by Shigeharu Murata, the other B5N hikotaicho from Akagi...which also had three yellow command stripes. This is perhaps why AI-301, used at Pearl Harbor, was landing on Akagi in April 1942.
These images are from a movie film at the National Archives. Special thanks goes to Tom Matlosz for using his video capture equipment to obtain these superb shots.
Note the large black "1" just outboard of the wing fold on the underside [of both wings] in the front view photo.
An excellent rendering of Fuchida's aircraft is done in miniature by Manuel Prego.
Edited by David Aiken on --