Naval Aerial Reconnaissance

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by 26delta, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. 26delta

    26delta Senior Member

    I am aware that the IJN submarines I-21 and I-25 carried reconnaissance aircraft, as did the German raiders Orion and Kondor. Would the pilots take aerial photos or just report verbally what they discovered during the flights over harbours and coastal areas? If they took photos, did any survive? I'm particularly interested in reconnaissance reports for the Hauraki Gulf/Auckland area of New Zealand.
  2. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I looked at this website

    and there is a link to information regarding dates of Reconnaissance flights over NSW.

    At least the dates may prove helpful in finding records.

    Good Luck.

  3. 26delta

    26delta Senior Member

    One minor correction to my previous post. It was the Komet, not the Kondor that operated in NZ waters.

    According to one of my sources, the Orion suffered the loss of its Arado 196A on 17 September 1940 when the vessel was broached by a rogue wave as they were attempting to bring the plane on-board. The report indicated the Orion was somewhere in the vicinity of Pahia when the accident happened. They managed to bring the plane on-board, but it was definitely not airworthy.

    When the Orion returned in March 1941, the Arado had been replaced by a Nakajima E8N.
  4. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    There are two books worth looking at if you're interested in Japanese submarine reconnaissance flights from submarines, one recent and one older.
    Both reveal no photographs will exist from Japanese reconnaissance flights..
    Mushroom Model Books did a recent book on the Kugisho E14Y Glen that looks at the missions it flew as well as the basics behind the Japanese use of submarine based aviation.
    From page 56 of the book:
    This references a mission in late 1941 but the situation remained the same when the Australian/New Zealand flights were flown.

    The other older book is Battle Surface: Japan's Submarine War Against Australia 1942-44 by David Jenkins
    Jenkins includes maps of the flights the Japanese planes took and interviewed surviving crew members. The reconnaissance flights involved an observer with binoculars making sketches of any point of interest.
    Hope this helps
    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    I never realised that the Japanese lacked Arial Photographic Reconnaissance.

    It seems really strange that they produced some good technology, such as the massive Submarines with Float plane hangers and yet relied on observers noting and making sketches.

  6. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    Hi Tom
    I'll expand a bit on the notion of Japanese Aerial reconnaissance as one of the best reconnaissance planes of the war, the Mitsubishi Ki-46 'Dinah' was in use by the JAAF.
    As well some of the earlier as well as later reconnaissance planes did make use of cameras: shows some of them. It can be seen that most of the JNAF cameras were designed to be mounted in later aircraft than the ones that took place part in the submarine missions. In addition the JAAF did use hand held cameras but since the two air forces functioned as essentially different organizations competing with each other, co-operation rarely happened.
    So the Japanese didn't necessarily lack photographic reconnaissance per se but it was poorly developed, not widely spread and the two air forces, JAAF and JNAF did not share technology or information much at all. In the case of the submarine flights, the technology hadn't filtered down to use in that area so we end up with descriptions of observers with binoculars, flash lights and sketch pads trying to draw up pictures of ships in harbours and defences.
    Hope this clarifies a bit from my initial post which I should have developed more


    The following is too big to upload but I found the link again. It is a US Navy analysis of Japanese naval photography. It's quite technical but it does give a flavor to some of the challenges the Japanese faced and the problems they ran into.
  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Thanks for the clarification.

    If I recall correctly the Mitsubishi K-46 Dinah was considerd by the German Aircraft experts to be best Reconnaissance aircraft produced by the Japanese and the German Air Ministry was willing to produce them under licence, but it came to nothing.

  8. 26delta

    26delta Senior Member

    In preparation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese agents took photos from civilian aircraft. I guess it would be too difficult to pilot the plane while leaning over the side to take photos. It would still be interesting to see some of those written reports and sketches.

Share This Page