Tsukuba Naval Air Group Monument
Kasama City, Ibaraki Prefecture
This monument erected in June 1999 honors the men who died during the Pacific
War from Tsukuba Naval Air Group, which provided flight training from 1934 until
the end of the war in 1945. About 1,500 men received training at Tsukuba Air
Base, and 73 were
members of the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps who died in special attacks in the
Philippines and Okinawa. During the Battle of Okinawa, 55 men made sorties in Zero
fighters from Kanoya Air Base in southern Kyūshū as members of six Tsukuba
Squadrons in the Kamikaze Corps. The dates that
each squadron made sorties in 1945 and the number of men who died are as follows
(Osuo 2005, 197-9):
No. 1 - April 6, 17 men
No. 2 - April 14, 3 men
No. 3 - April 16, 7 men
No. 4 - April 29, 5 men
No. 5 - May 11, 9 men
No. 6 - May 14, 14 men
The Tsukuba Naval Air Group had its beginnings in 1934 as a detachment of the
Kasumigaura Naval Air Group, also based in Ibaraki Prefecture. Tsukuba became an
independent air group in December 1938 as part of the 11th Training Combined Air
Group. In March 1944, the Hikōtai associated with Tsukuba Air Base
moved to Tsuiki Air Base in Fukuoka Prefecture, and the Hikōtai at
Ōita Air Base
moved to Tsukuba as a replacement. The Tsukuba Air Group at that time became a
training air group for fighter planes.
The monument has the following inscription:
In June 1934, this Air Group was formed and began pilot instruction with
training planes. In March 1944, its responsibility changed to training
fighter plane crewmen on Zero fighters. In May 1945, it became an
operational combat unit for Shiden fighters. The war ended in August.
Can you believe it?
The young men who left here fought bravely in various places over a wide
area, and they nearly all died in the skies of the southern seas. Also, from
October 1944 onward, many of them gave their lives as members of the
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps during battles in the Philippines and at
There were 55 men who sortied and died during the Battle of Okinawa in
just the Tsukuba Squadrons, which were formed here.
We erect this monument as we pray here, full of mourning, for the repose
of their spirits. We also wish for eternal peace.
The Tsukuba Naval Air Group Monument was moved in 2017 from the original
location where it was erected in 1999. The monument now stands next to the Air
Group's original front gate near the original headquarters, which now is part of
Tsukuba Naval Air Group Museum. Tomobe Hospital is in the same area, and its
grounds have some Air Group remains from the war such as a stone drill platform.
The Kasama Museum of History and Folklore, located in the old Shishido Town
Hall Building, has one exhibit room with about 350 items related to the Tsukuba
Naval Air Group. The items include historical photos and letters donated by
prior trainees at Tsukuba and by family members of men who died during the war.
The museum has a two panel exhibit on Shunsuke Tomiyasu, the kamikaze pilot of
the 6th Tsukuba Squadron who crashed into the aircraft carrier Enterprise on May
14, 1945. However, one panel is near the ceiling due to limited exhibition
space, which makes it impossible to read or to make out the photo details unless
the curator brings out a ladder to take it down.
Exhibits all the way to the ceiling in Tsukuba Air Group Exhibit Room
at Kasama Museum of History and Folklore.
Biplane model hanging from ceiling is
Type 93 Intermediate Trainer
(nicknamed Akatonbo or Red Dragonfly).
The exhibition room also has a photo of Shin'ichi Ishimaru, the former
professional baseball pitcher who died as a Kamikaze Special Attack Corps pilot in the 5th Tsukuba
Squadron on May 11, 1945. An exhibit case also shows some promotional material
from the 1995 movie Ningen no tsubasa (Wings of a Man) about his life, but the
museum does not provide any other background information about Ishimaru.
Related Web Pages
Certain information on this web page, including the Tsukuba Naval Air Group's history, comes from exhibits at the
Kasama Museum of History and Folklore.
Osuo, Kazuhiko. 2005. Tokubetsu kōgekitai no kiroku (kaigun
hen) (Record of special attack corps (Navy)). Tokyo: Kojinsha.
Tsukuba Naval Air Group Monument
at original location (1999-2017)