TOKYO 20 OCTOBER 1945
Interrogation of: Captain TAKAHASHI, Chihaya; on the Staff of the Eleventh Air Fleet in the PHILIPPINES and DUTCH EAST INDIES from May 1941 to December 1942; from January 1943 until June 1945 he was Senior Member of the Navy Aeronautic Bureau, TOKYO; from July '45 to August '45 he was Senior Staff of Fifth Air Fleet and Senior Staff of Third Air Fleet.
Interrogated by: Commander T. H. Moorer, USN.
On 8 December 1941, Eleventh Air Fleet was based in FORMOSA and FRENCH INDO-CHINA in preparation for the invasion of the PHILIPPINES, DUTCH INDIES and BRITISH MALAYA. The primary mission of the Japanese force in FORMOSA, composed of about 300 fighters and bombers, was the annihilation of the American air force in the PHILIPPINES. In this it was successful, partly because complete information relative to the American air force was obtained by aerial reconnaissance prior to commencement of hostilities. Captain TAKAHASHI discusses the general plans as well as certain details of the operations during the Japanese development of their Southern Empire.
Q. Make a chart showing the disposition of forces of the Eleventh Air Fleet on 8 December 1941. Show number of aircraft by type as well as location?
A. As of 8 December 1941, the Eleventh Air Fleet under Vice Admiral TSUKAHARA, headquarters at TAKAO, was organized as indicated:
Eleventh Air Fleet
Vice Admiral TSUKAHARA
21st Air Flotilla
Rear Admiral TADA
FIRST GROUP (TAKAO)
72 VF (Zeke)
24 VF (Reserve)
6-9 VS (Recon.)
KANOYA GROUP (TAIGHU)
54 VB (2) (Betty)
18 VB (2) (Reserve)
TOKO GROUP (PALAU)
12 VP (4) (Mavis)
4 VP (4) (Reserve)
23rd Air Flotilla
Rear Admiral TAKENAKA
TAKAO GROUP (TAKAO)
54VB (2) (Betty)
18 VB (2) (Reserve)
THIRD GROUP (TAKAO)
72 VF (Zeke)
18 VF (Reserve)
6-9 VS (Recon.)
22nd Air Flotilla
Rear Admiral MATSUNAGA
GENZAN GROUP (SAIGON)
27 VB (2) (Nell)
9 VB (2) (Reserve)
MIHORA GROUP (SAIGON)
27 VB (2) (Nell)
9 VB (2) (Reserve)
NOTE: Parts of the First and Third Air Group of the Eleventh Air Fleet were also located in South FRENCH INDO-CHINA and had 18 Zekes and Claudes. A part of the KANOYA Air Group was also located in FRENCH INDO-CHINA composed of 27 Bettys and 9 reserve planes.
Q. What Army air forces were deployed in the same areas in which the Eleventh Air Fleet operated?
A. In FORMOSA, the Army had about 160 planes and the Navy had 300. In FRENCH INDO-CHINA the Army had 200 planes and the Navy 100. The Fifth Air Army was in FORMOSA and the Third Air Army was in FRENCH INDO-CHINA.
Q. What was the general plan for the use of the air forces in FORMOSA during the invasion of the PHILIPPINES?
A. The first purpose was to annihilate the U. S. air force in the PHILIPPINES and the secondary purpose was to attack U.S. naval forces in the same area. However, because of the insufficient number of Japanese planes, the attack was made solely against U.S. air power. Also the American cruisers, destroyers and submarines withdrew, left the PHILIPPINE Area before the campaign began.
Q. Did you expect your surprise attack on the morning of 8th December to destroy the entire American air force?
A. Japanese intelligence indicated that there were approximately 300 American planes in the LUZON Area and it was believed that within a week's time we could annihilate all American planes in the PHILIPPINES. We did not expect to destroy all of them because it was thought that many of them would seek refuge in southern areas. The Japanese feared mostly that, at the time of the first attack, the American planes would take refuge in the southern area, therefore making the campaign very difficult.
Q. How many planes were employed in the first attack on LUZON? Include Army planes.
A. In the first attack on the 8th of December, Navy planes participating were 72 fighters and 100 bombers. This number was small because in order to make a dawn attack the planes had to leave FORMOSA during the night and experienced pilots were required. Army planes were not long range enough to operate any further down than the northern tip of LUZON and then only a very few attacked there on the eighth. Air forces attacking south of the PHILIPPINES during remainder of the campaign were all Navy.
Q. What time did this first wave attack CLARK and NICHOLS Fields?
A. The planes arrived at NICHOLS and CLARK Fields between 12 and 1. The intention had been for the first wave to arrive at 7:30 in the morning; but because of bad weather, it was impossible.
Q. Were provisions made to replace losses of Japanese aircraft?
A. There was plan to use the reserves.
Q. Were there plans to bring additional squadrons from JAPAN in case they were needed?
A. Within the first month if we had 25% to 40% losses, as we more or less expected, they had made plans to replace such losses from planes in JAPAN.
Q. How many planes did they lose in December 1941?
A. I don't remember the figure for December, but the losses for the first week were 30 planes and pilots. This was considerable less than expected.
Q. Did you expect serious opposition from the American air forces?
A. Yes, we did; but they were destroyed on ground.
Q. List the airfields used in this campaign.
A. BATAN Island, APARRI, LEGASPI, DAVAO, JOLO, MENADO, TARAKAN, BALIKPAPAN, MACASSAR, BANDJERMASIN, BALI, KENDARI, AMBON and KOEPANG.
Q. Indicate the seaplane bases used by the Japanese.
A. PALAU, DAVAO, KEMO and AMBON.
Q. Did you use Zero fighters on floats?
A. No, not until the SOLOMONS Operations.
Q. Did the Army air force move from FORMOSA to the PHILIPPINES ISLANDS after they were occupied?
A. The Army air force moved from FORMOSA to LAOAG and VIGAN. However, these fields were unusable and the Army air units moved to CLARK and NICHOLS Fields.
Q. Did the Army air units operate south of the PHILIPPINES?
A. The Army aircraft didn't operate south of the PHILIPPINES during the invasion.
Q. Do you know of the attack on JOLO by the American flying boats?
A. Yes, ships unloading received considerable damage at the time.
Q. Did the large flying boats operate from bases other than KEMO and AMBON?
A. From PALAU, seaplanes attacked ships in the AMBON Area at night.
Q. Were these planes supplied from shore bases or from seaplane tenders?
A. Shore bases, no mother ships were used.
Q. Where were the aircraft based which attacked American cruisers on 4 February?
Q. What bases were used by the aircraft which bombed SOERABAJA?
A. KENDARI. That was the field that was best for bombers.
Q. What type of aircraft sank the American carrier LANGLEY on 26 February?
A. LANGLEY was found by search planes, was sunk by five to nine planes, BETTY Type One.
Q. What was the normal range which the land-based bombers operated?
A. About 500 to 600 miles or in case of necessity 700 miles.
Q. Why didn't the Japanese include the use of aircraft carriers in the plans for the occupation of the PHILIPPINES and DUTCH EAST INDIES?
A. They didn't think that they were needed to use them. Partly because of the action in the Central PACIFIC and the need to reserve them for later action which was expected south of the DUTCH EAST INDIES.
Q. Can you list by date the general progress of the Eleventh Air Fleet as it moved south?
A. The main strength of the Eleventh Air Fleet was based at TAKAO at the beginning of the war. On 5 January 1942 it moved to DAVAO and about the beginning of February it was moved to KENDARI. The campaign in that area ended in March.
Q. Did the Commander Eleventh Air Fleet provide air support for the invasion force at LINGAYAN Gulf?
A. Yes, they did.
Q. What gave the Japanese the impression that there were 900 planes in the area and how did you discover that there were 300 instead of 900?
A. The Navy received, on 20 November 1941, a report from the Foreign Affairs Department that there were about 900 planes in the LUZON Area. A photographic reconnaissance plane conducted a search on the 24th or 25th of November over that area and discovered that there were only 300 planes. One reconnaissance plane made flights at that time, basing at TAKAO, FORMOSA.
Q. Did the Japanese consider the American Army and Navy pilots equal?
A. I don't know speaking generally, but the naval aircraft fighters are the best.
Q. Was the Eleventh Air Fleet able at all time to carry out their assigned mission during this campaign?
A. Yes, the entire campaign went according to schedule.
Q. Did you learn any lessons from this campaign of value for future operations?
A. I learned that supplies were the most important factor to operate planes. I thought that the movement into the SOLOMONS Area would make this problem more serious and was of the opinion that Japan shouldn't move into that direction but hold what we had.
Q. At what time was the naval air force in FORMOSA strengthened in preparation for attack on PHILIPPINES?
A. 1 October to 16 November.
Q. When did you receive orders stating that the war was to begin?
A. On 2 December we heard war was to start unless negotiations were successful.
Q. Did you expect JAVA to receive any reinforcements from AUSTRALIA?
A. Yes, that is why we captured KOEPANG as soon as possible.
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Transcribed and formatted for HTML by Charles Hall, HyperWar Foundation