Tsukuba Naval Air Group Museum
Kasama City, Ibaraki Prefecture
The Tsukuba Naval Air Group Museum opened in December 2013 and reached
110,000 visitors by April 2015. The origins of Tsukuba Naval Air Group go back
to 1934, when the Tomobe Detachment of the Kasumigaura Naval Air Group was
established. In December 1938, Tsukuba became an independent air group as part of the 11th Training Combined Air Group.
The museum building is the Air Group's original headquarters, although it was
used for many years after the end of World War II by Tomobe Hospital. The museum
stands on the grounds of the Ibaraki Prefectural Medical Center of Psychiatry,
which has a large building near the museum. The medical center grounds also have some remains from the war such as a drill platform made of stone, the gates to
the base, and the foundation of Tsukuba Jinja (Shrine).
During the Battle of Okinawa in the spring of 1945, 55 men from the Tsukuba
Naval Air Group made sorties in Zero fighters from Kanoya Air Base in southern
Kyūshū as members of six Tsukuba Squadrons in the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps. The dates that
each squadron took off from Kanoya in 1945 and the number of men who died are
1st - April 6, 17 men
2nd - April 14, 3 men
3rd - April 16, 7 men
4th - April 29, 5 men
5th - May 11, 9 men
6th - May 14, 14 men
In addition, five members of the original 7th and 8th Tsukuba Squadrons
became members of the 1st Jinrai Bakusen Squadron in the Kamikaze Special Attack
Corps. On June 22, 1945, they took off from Kanoya Air Base and died in battle.
There were also twelve airmen from Tsukuba Air Group who became members of the
Kongō Unit of the Kamikaze Corps and died in special attacks in the Philippines
between December 1944 and January 1945. On April 3, 1945, another pilot from
Tsukuba Air Group died in a special attack from Taiwan as a member of the Taigi
Unit. In total, 73 men died between December 1944 and June 1945 as members of
the Kamikaze Special Attack Corps .
The Tsukuba Naval Air Group Museum is open every day from 9 to 5 with an
admission fee of 500 yen. All of the exhibits are in Japanese with no English
translations. Visitors get a free 24-page booklet in Japanese with many
historical photographs, a map of sites related to the former air
base, and a historical chronology of Tsukuba Air Group. There
is a store where books and other souvenirs can be purchased. Tomobe Station is
the closest train station to the museum, which can be reached by walking about
30 minutes or by bus or taxi.
Exhibition room with Tsukuba Air Group pilot
photographs, letters, and artifacts
The museum contains many exhibits, such as photographs, letters, and stories,
about the men who died as kamikaze pilots. These include Shin'ichi Ishimaru, a
former professional baseball player whose life story was made into the 1995 movie
Ningen no Tsubasa (Wings
of a Man), and Shunsuke Tomiyasu,
whose Zero fighter hit the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV-6) on May 14, 1945.
That attack killed 13 and wounded 68.
There are several exhibition rooms open to the public on the museum's two
floors. These include a couple of rooms on the second floor used in the filming
of the 2013 movie Eien no 0 (The Eternal Zero). Another exhibition room
on the second floor has many ship
models on display.
Drill platform used by Tsukuba Air Group
The Tsukuba Naval Air Group
Monument can be reached by a short walk from the museum.
Room in museum that was used in 2013 movie
Eien no 0 (The Eternal Zero)
The museum itself does not maintain a web site, but Project Ibaraki has a
site about the Tsukuba Naval Air Group in conjunction with the movie Eien no
0 (The Eternal Zero).
Date of Visit: March 16, 2017
The following last letters and diary entries were written by Kamikaze Special
Attack Corps members from Tsukuba Air Base who died in special attacks:
Related Web Pages
1. Katabami 2014, 18-9.
Katabami, Masaaki. 2014. Mō hitotsu no "Eien no Zero":
Tsukuba Kaigun Kōkūtai (Another "Eternal Zero": Tsukuba
Naval Air Group). Tōkyō: Village Books.