Tag Archives: B-29 Superfortress

“The Devil’s Doctors” by Dr Mark Felton (3)

Last time I was talking about “The Devil’s Doctors” by Dr Mark Felton which describes how, at Mukden POW Camp in Manchuria,  Allied prisoners of war, primarily Americans, were used to test Japanese biological weapons developed at Pingfan, the nearby headquarters of Unit 731:

The author then extends his account to some of the other atrocities carried out at other locations within the Japanese sphere of influence. In the last post I spoke of what happened to the crew of a B-29 Superfortress, brought down over Japan on May 5th 1945:

The crew were all murdered in the vilest fashion  and 30 Japanese eventually stood trial in an American court. Dr Fumio Ishiyama, the university’s chief of surgery, committed suicide to avoid justice. Of the remaining 29 Japanese, 23 were found guilty. There were five death sentences, four life imprisonments and prison for all the rest. Sadly, the sentences, awarded for war crimes up to and including cannibalism, were never carried out.

The author then reveals that the American government, having realised that their erstwhile allies, the Russians, were in actual fact, total savages and vile people and worse than that, a bunch of Commies, decided to do very little indeed with the guilty Japanese defendants. After all, the Japanese people were a lovely lot who well might fight on our side against the Russians if we were very, very kind to them. Nobody was hanged and every single war criminal was free as a bird by 1958. Personally, I’m only surprised that the thirty Japanese weren’t asked to write a best selling recipe book.

One of the most striking things in the author’s research is that the 700 page Official History of Kyushu Imperial University devotes just one page to the vivisection experiments it carried out for years on hundreds of innocent people. It reminded me of one German company’s attitude to the 80,000 concentration camp slave labourers they used. They don’t even get a mention.

The doctor in charge at Pingfan was Shiro Ischii:

Ischii wanted to discover how diseases affected the human body, and hundreds of thousands of Chinese people paid the ultimate price to help him. Aerial sprays were used from aircraft and bombs made of ceramic material but full of germs were dropped on Chinese civilians. It must have been a little bit like spraying forest fires nowadays:

Poisoned food and water was frequently offered to Chinese victims. Fleas carrying bubonic plague were released by Japanese aircraft over the Chinese cities of Ningbo (1940) and Changde (1941). At least 400,000 people died as a result of this. Here are the two cities nowadays:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In comparison, casualties at Hiroshima were 90,000–146,000 and at Nagasaki between 39,000–80,000.
Dr Felton has researched Pingfan in enormous detail. The centre was divided into various ‘Divisions’, all under the command of Shiro Ischii. Division 1 worked with anthrax, bubonic plague, cholera, tuberculosis and typhoid, frequently introducing it to live people. As test volunteers, between 300-400 Chinese were kept confined at a local camp and numbers were always maintained around that level. Division 2 worked on weapons to deliver the toxins, trying to invent radical new ways to contaminate the western USA. Division 3 constructed artillery shells for shorter range operations and Division 4 developed new biological agents.
The book tells exactly what kind of medical and surgical war crimes were committed by Unit 731 personnel but I will not inflict them upon you. You will need to buy the book! Suffice it to say that the treatment meted out to these poor Chinese people was vile, beyond contempt. It still affects Sino-Japanese relationships today, mainly because of the extreme reluctance on the part of the Japanese to accept their guilt and to apologise in a meaningful and sincere way.

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under Criminology, History, Politics, Science

The Avro Lincoln at RAF Cosford

During a recent visit to the museum at RAF Cosford, I was able, as a confirmed fan of the Avro Lancaster, to view its successor, the Avro Lincoln:

cosford c xxxxxxxxxxx

The Avro Lincoln flew for the first time in June 1944, just a few days after the Normandy landings. The first examples of the new bomber were actually called the Lancaster Mark IV and the Lancaster Mark V, but they were eventually rechristened the Lincoln Mark I and the Lincoln Mark II. The new aircraft was the last bomber in the RAF with good old-fashioned piston engines and proper propellers:

lincoln_rf570_heritage_centre

The theory was that the Lincoln would be used in “Tiger Force”, Bomber Command’s contribution to a potentially catastrophic invasion of Japan in 1946. The bombers would have acted, presumably, as the RAF’s equivalent of the B-29 Superfortress or the much less well known Consolidated B-32 Dominator. Here is a B-29, “Fifi”, sadly the only example left flying from the 3,790 constructed:

fifi xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

This is the little known B-32, the aircraft which actually flew the last combat mission of World War 2. Only 1156 of these bombers were ever built:

b32-main

At the time of “Tiger Force”, my Dad had already had all his medical injections for this next phase of the war, and the squadron’s Lancasters were all being crated up to be transported out to the Far East. Then suddenly, the Americans dropped their two atomic bombs and the war finally came to an end.
The Lincoln was certainly an improvement on the Lancaster, but the performance figures given in Wikipedia are not particularly startling, with bomb loads, aircraft size and speeds all roughly similar.  Here is the capacious bomb bay:

cosford b xxxxxxxx

The range of the Lincoln was greater than its predecessor, and the maximum speed was an improvement, with the aircraft able to cruise happily at 215 mph.  Similarly, the service ceiling and the rate of climb were better than the Lancaster.
Eventually, more than six hundred Lincolns were to be manufactured, with a further 73 in Australia where it was the largest aircraft ever to be built there.

This photograph comes from a splendid Australian website where you can learn, more or less, to fly a Lincoln, especially the long nosed version, the Mark 31. Every single one also contains two or three  of the author’s laugh-out-loud feelings about life. My favourite one is:

“Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.”

 

australian mark 31
Just one single Avro Lincoln was constructed in Canada. Here it is:

canadian _Lincoln_ExCC

With the RAF, the Lincoln was used in the 1950s to oppose the Mau Mau terrorists/freedom fighters in Kenya. You can read the story for yourself, but I do love the British evaluation of the Mau Mau by Dr. John Colin Carothers as

“an irrational force of evil, dominated by bestial impulses and influenced by world communism”

I also enjoyed the description of the traitorous Africans who continued to support the nasty British as:

“the running dogs of British Imperialism”

Very Mao Tse-Tung. And here is the Great Man, ordering five beers:

Chairman-Mao-Zedong-007
The Avro Lincoln was also employed against terrorists/freedom fighters who operated in Malaya (now Malaysia). They too were influenced by world communism, although they were unable to import any running dogs of British Imperialism because of the rather strict customs regulations in force at the time.

All of that history is fairly predictable, except for the sad story of the single Avro Lincoln (RF531 “C”) which was shot down by the Soviet Air Force.  The bomber was attacked by a MiG-15 fighter on its way to Berlin on March 12th 1953. This is a MiG-15:

mig15takeoff05 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Lincoln was being flown by members of the Central Gunnery School at Leconfield in Yorkshire, and all seven of the crew were killed. The whole very sad, rather ghastly tale, is told on the Spyflight website. What a sad, sick waste of young men’s lives that was. There was just no need for it.

A lot further south, the use of the Avro Lincoln by the Argentine Air Force, the Fuerza Aérea Argentina is quite interesting:

Avroaregenrtine 2Lincoln_B-010_0084_2006-0

These Lincolns (and indeed, Lancasters) were initially employed by the I Grupo de Bombardeo to bomb the rebels, during a military coup in September 1951.  Four years later, the British aircraft were obviously highly thought of, because, in what seems to have been another rather over-vigorous political argument, they were used by the government to bomb the rebels, and by the rebels to bomb the government. Here is the paint scheme of the rebels, apparently influenced, if only slightly, by world communism:

rebel lincoln

This was, of course, the Revolución Libertadora which ousted Juan Peron and his wife Madonna.

(“She plays Evita with a poignant weariness and has more than just a bit of star quality. Love or hate Madonna-Eva, she is a magnet for all eyes.”)

Some things I just cannot resist. Nobody could:

One interesting feature about these ageing South American bombers was that both the Lancasters and the Lincolns in Argentina were serviced, and kept viable, for many, many, years, by ex-Luftwaffe engineers.  For some unknown reason, they had all decided to leave the Fatherland in 1945 to live out the rest of their sad lives in South America:

lincoln argentine

I was fascinated to read as well that Avro Lincolns were used to support the Argentinian bases in the Antarctic. One aircraft therefore, was flown back to Avro in England. Engineers there added a civilian nose and tail, removed all armament, and put in generous extra fuel tanks. Registered as a civil airliner called the Cruz del Sur, the aircraft dropped supplies to the Antarctic San Martín Base from December 1951 onwards:

crfuz del sud
Sixty or so years later, the Argentinians still have two Avro Lincolns preserved. You have already seen two photographs of one of them. Here is another:

argen best picture

The Australians have one of their Lincolns in storage for restoration in the future, and there is also the aircraft that we all saw at RAF Cosford, with its rather disconcerting blue bosses to the propellers:

cosford a xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

And, as far as I know, that’s it! What a wonderful regard we have for preserving RAF aircraft. Are we embarrassed that we were ever forced to use them in anger?

38 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Bomber Command, History