Tojos Over Burma
by Nick Millman
 
Colour Profile Notes
The usual disclaimer.  The profiles are intended to illustrate camouflage and markings only and are not scale technical illustrations.  They represent a personal interpretation and are not intended to be definitive or to discredit other interpretations.  I have provided sources and identified where details are speculative.

1. Ki44 I First production series, "113", 47th Independant Chutai, Mudon, Burma, February 1942

This is the very first aircraft of the production series of forty Ki-44 I’s, serial numbers 113-152, manufactured between February and October 1942 and was one of the replacement aircraft issued to the 47th FCS in Burma.  The upper surface colour is recalled as a deep green and appears to be softly sprayed giving a blotchy appearance.  Undersurface colour is unknown but appears to be painted rather than natural metal.  It is depicted here as a pale grey-green, the overall factory finish of the pre-production versions.  The aircraft is numbered with the last two digits of the serial painted in yellow across the fin.  The serial number  is stencilled on a small patch of the grey-green base colour and shows against the white fuselage band. The band is reported to have been a shotai (flight) command marking.   It is not known if the unit insignia, the “Yamaga” style camp-drum, was painted beneath the cockpit on the port side as on earlier aircraft.  The aircraft appears to have fuselage hinomaru with a very thin pale outline, perhaps created when the airframe was camouflaged, but the evidence is not conclusive.
Source: FAOW 16, pages 21-22

2. Ki44 II Otsu, 87th Sentai, 2nd Chutai, Meiktila, Burma, May 1944

A reconstruction using contemporary newsreel footage, the faded and worn finish on this particular Shoki gives the appearance of a sparse mottle over the natural metal.  Other aircraft in the unit are plain natural metal or have the mop-applied “scribble” so typical of the type. At least one aircraft  appears to have the fuselage hinomaru outlined in yellow - a variation occasionally  reported by RAF pilots in Burma.  The camouflage is depicted here as “green-brown”.  The white fuselage stripe does not appear to be a senchi hiyoshiki, the so-called “combat band”, as other aircraft can be seen with stripes of similar width and position but in different colours - perhaps it was a command or sub-unit marking. The spinner and wing-cannon fairings are painted in the Chutai colour, a known practice in this unit  -although the 40mm weapons do not appear to be fitted.  Note the actual style of the “Spirit of the Wind” tail marking - the 87th insignia has been shown incorrectly in many publications including recent “definitive” guides.  1st Chutai used blue and 3rd yellow. 
Source: Contemporary Japanese newsreel film


 
3. Ki44 II Hei, “1468”, Unknown Unit, Thedaw, Burma, Feb-March 1945
 
This is one of the aircraft described and sketched by Flt Lt C D Horsman in his report dated 31 March 1945.  It is depicted in a “typical” mottle of deep green over natural metal.  The blue painted spinner is speculative.  It is probable that Horsman misinterpreted the 87th Sentai tail marking on airframes with damaged or missing rudders (in which case this a 1st Chutai aircraft)  but it is just possible that these markings represent a previously unidentified ad-hoc unit.  The diagonal fuselage bands are in a style that was also seen on 87th Sentai Ki-27 Nates. Other Ki-44 aircraft  sketched and described by Horsman were “1497” with a green disk on a brownish-yellow tail and two diagonal red fuselage bands outlined in white and “1526” with a green disk on a red tail and a single vertical white fuselage band (similar to a standard senchi hiyoshiki).  Both these aircraft had a green mottle over natural metal finish.  All the aircraft are described as having plain red hinomaru on both surfaces of the wings and fuselage hinomaru with white outlines.
Source: PRO File AIR 24/1312
 
 
4. Ki44 II Hei, 50th Sentai, 1st Chutai, Meiktila, 1944
 
This splendid looking Shoki is reconstructed from the only known photograph of a Ki-44 in 50th Sentai markings.  The upper surface camouflage appears to be well defined and hard-edged blotches of deep green over the very heavily oxidised natural metal, giving a striking effect.  The Sentai lightning flash is depicted speculatively here as red for the 1st Chutai but may have been yellow for the 2nd Chutai or indeed some other colour representing a supernumerary formation. 3rd Chutai used white.  The 50th usually painted individual aircraft “names”, in Kanji, on the rudders of their Ki-43 aircraft but it is not known if the Shokis were also marked in this way. Spinner and propeller blades are dark brown, with control surfaces painted grey-green.
Source: FAOW 16, page 65

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