Iruma: Japan’s Aviation Museum

Iruma Japans Aviation Museum

Back in the 1930s was established Japan’s air force academy. Japan’s military installations were taken under the U.S. forces command after WWII and it was renamed Johnson Air Base until 1970s, when it returned to Japan.

The 1903 Wright Flyer, the main highlight of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which attracts over eight million people every year, was the first motor-powered aircraft to carry a human during the flight.

Seven years after the Wright Brothers made history on the beach at Kitty Hawk North Carolina, Yoshitoshi Tokugawa, descendant of Tokugawa Ieyasu, a new pilot in the Japanese forces, bought an aircraft in France and took it back to fly it above Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo.

In the hangar, in front of the biplane is the first F-1 jet built and flown in Japan, the Stars And Stripes reports.

What used to be the divisional headquarters for U.S. forces, now the two-story museum houses the only Ouka kamikaze glider in Japan.

Ouka was carried by a Mitsubishi bomber. The pilots would wear headbands and they would only carry a blade. Using 3 solid fuel rockets, they would point the noise of the aircraft toward the target. The hit would be so powerful, almost any target would end up completely destroyed.

The engine of the famous Mitsubishi Zero, the Second World War aircraft used for the attack on Pearl Harbor, lays intact on the museum’s premises.

Although there isn’t a B-29 bomber displayed in the museum, it still is very popular with many exhibits dedicated to its impressive bombing campaigns.

In the Johnson Air Base history room of the museum are displayed a wide range of objects like patches worn by the pilots and a phone book.

According to the museum’s staff, there is also a model F-15 used in the Japanese version of ”Top Gun,” and on the other side of the room you can see mannequins dressed in Japan Air Self-Defense Force uniforms from now and from the past.

You might also want to watch an introductory film which shows all the museum’s highlights. The offerings would be of interest to both Americans and Japanese, however, the museum doesn’t have English translations of the descriptions and it doesn’t seem to be optimized for English speakers.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE