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Hauntingly Calm
September 21, 2010 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Recently uploaded airplane camera footage from 1945 Japan (slyt). Uploaded from the Romano Archives (previously).
posted by glaucon (34 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Incredible footage. One hesitates to say beautiful, but... the color quality is beautiful. The soundtrack makes it seem like a sleepy dream. Of course, it was fiery death raining from the skies. A nightmare.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:03 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Remarkable. The slow fly-by of the parachute is haunting.
posted by googly at 6:10 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that music kind of enraged me. It is more than a little disconcerting to hear serene New Age music as we watch two unarmed fishermen on a beach being strafed.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:18 PM on September 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was really hoping the pilot wasn't going to strafe the guy in the parachute.
posted by bwg at 6:20 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most YouTube clips are improved with the mute button.
posted by stbalbach at 6:20 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beautiful. Ugly.
posted by Relay at 6:24 PM on September 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can't find the footage, but I contrast this w/ the soldier who cleaned out P-51 Mustangs talking about hosing crap, piss, and puke out of the seats.
posted by Lukenlogs at 6:30 PM on September 21, 2010


during the air fighting, a friend said he was the only Navy Air Ace during the Vietnam War, and the reality of killing another person hit him hard after the days mission was over. he wept and tried to hide this reaction from his fellow pilots, as they might think he was'nt Macho.
posted by tustinrick at 6:44 PM on September 21, 2010


I knew about the long-range bombing of Japanese cities but I had no idea there was this sort of air warfare over Japan as well: Mustangs/Thunderbirds (I would guess, based on the ordinance) on what seem like pretty random and indiscriminate ground attack missions. If the US Navy was close enough to launch such attacks (i.e., send these small planes laden with rockets and bombs), this would have been in the very last months or weeks of the war.
posted by Flashman at 6:51 PM on September 21, 2010


Thanks for posting this. Amazing footage.
posted by uraniumwilly at 6:57 PM on September 21, 2010


Flashman: ordinance is actually ordnance

not doing that to be a jerky pedant, it's just that I've always loved how that word has no vowel between the d and the n...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:59 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The soundtrack makes it seem like a sleepy dream. Of course, it was fiery death raining from the skies. A nightmare.

I had to turn the sound off - it was too horrible. By 1945, the pilots of the planes getting strafed with cannon shells at the beginning of the clip were probably only 16 or 17 with maybe a month of flight training.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:05 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the US Navy was close enough to launch such attacks (i.e., send these small planes laden with rockets and bombs), this would have been in the very last months or weeks of the war.\

Judging by the flooded paddy fields and how far along the rice crop is, a lot of this footage would have come from April, May or perhaps June, presumably in 1945.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:13 PM on September 21, 2010


PTEW PTEW!
posted by clarknova at 7:18 PM on September 21, 2010


If the US Navy was close enough to launch such attacks

by '45 they were close enough. Carrier based and from Guam and Saipan they could escort the bombers
posted by the noob at 7:28 PM on September 21, 2010


Chiming in to nth the fact that the soundtrack really does transform something that's become kind of mundane as silent vision back into the truly horrible and sad thing it was and is.
posted by Ahab at 7:55 PM on September 21, 2010


Horrifying.
posted by brundlefly at 7:59 PM on September 21, 2010


Gives a close insight into the horrors of war,I imagine there is a lot of footage from vietnam that could be uncovered as well. I remember guys used to joke when I was joining the service... yeah you can join the air force where the only fighting is done by one guy in the plane. STFU
posted by Upon Further Review at 8:11 PM on September 21, 2010


It appears that the US fighters behind these gun camera films were P-51 Mustangs--the fastest and longest range fighters of the USAAF. In '45 they flew to Japan from land bases as far away as the Marianas and Iwo Jima, but they did not fly from aircraft carriers. In several clips silver Mustangs (sleek aircraft with square wing tips) can be seen flying in and our of the shots, apparently other squadron planes taking part in the ground attack runs. (US carrier-borne AC were all painted dark blue in 1945.) Mustangs had six .50 caliber machine guns but no cannon. In several shots the release of rockets can be seen; Mustangs were equipped with air-to-ground rocket tubes for ground attack missions during WWII. I saw nothing that would indicate that P-47 Thunderbolts were involved in the footage.

The scene where a Japanese airfield is being strafed appears to be an attack on a naval training field. Several rows of biplane trainers are in evidence, and several distinctive naval AC types are shown, including the Suisei ("Judy") dive bomber, distinctive because of its inline, liquid-cooled engine. (Most IJN AC had air-cooled radial engines.)
posted by rdone at 8:25 PM on September 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Does anybody know the camera type used here? How are the images so stable and comprehensible? Seems quite a feat for 1945 fighter planes.
posted by glaucon at 8:36 PM on September 21, 2010


The leisurely pace of the air combat was surprising. No doubt KokuRyu is correct about the training level of the Japanese pilots.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:51 PM on September 21, 2010


Does anybody know the camera type used here? How are the images so stable and comprehensible? Seems quite a feat for 1945 fighter planes.

Maybe it was motion-stabilized after the fact (just recently)?
posted by floam at 9:17 PM on September 21, 2010


Does anybody know the camera type used here?

Most WWII gun cameras were 16mm film cameras made by Bell & Howell, shooting 50-ft. magazines of 16mm filmstock. The gun cameras were often shock mounted, and were often mounted along or near the centerline of the aircraft to approximate a gunsight view.

By 1945 the US had pretty much annihilated Japanese air power, such as it was. The only pilots Japan had left in any quantity were trainees, often with less than 25-40 hours of flying time when pressured into battle or kamikaze service. Flying against experienced American pilots in superior aircraft, shooting them down was not much more challenging than murdering defenseless pawns, cloaked in wartime morality.
posted by pjern at 9:55 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


At least the soundtrack wasn't Joe Satriani.
posted by cropshy at 3:14 AM on September 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


The guy in the parachute was probably being strafed as he was being filmed. Gun cameras only activated when they were firing.
posted by Faze at 4:33 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


That was haunting.

I never really appreciated what the terror of war would be like until a Remembrance Day in Ottawa when two fighter jets did a low level flyby of the war memorial as I was walking down the street.

They were obviously not firing but just the sheer power and their implicit destructive potential shook me up and to this day I feel completely different about every military action I hear about.

Sometimes you need a small dose of the horror to understand the real value of its absence.
posted by srboisvert at 5:16 AM on September 22, 2010


Sometimes you need a small dose of the horror to understand the real value of its absence.

For me that dose was watching a pair of F18 Hornets flying cover over New Orleans on the evening of 9-11. It's a big city, there's usually something in the air. That night? Nothing except a pair of fighters performing high-speed maneuvers designed to keep them in close proximity to the skyscrapers in the American quarter and the bridge. It was very different from an air-show display, businesslike and aggressive rather than elegant and showy, but just as fast. I kept having this nagging sensation, "Why are they here? What do they know that I don't?"

It was just a standard defensive maneuver, and jets were scrambled for pretty much every urban area in the US, but it was damn creepy to watch, wondering if a hijacked jumbo jet was headed our way.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:37 AM on September 22, 2010


Is any of that Pearl Harbor????
posted by electricsandwich138 at 7:41 AM on September 22, 2010


Is any of that Pearl Harbor????

Yeah. It was all pearl Harbor. Everything's always Pearl Harbor. Cause Pearl Harbor explains everything. All conversations, on any topic whatsoever, should begin and end with "Pearl Harbor".

Now, what should we do with those two extra question marks you typed?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:56 AM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I see that was three extra.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:57 AM on September 22, 2010


The guy in the parachute was probably being strafed as he was being filmed. Gun cameras only activated when they were firing.

Actually, that's incorrect Faze.

There was a two position switch on the trigger. Halfway down, and the camera turned on, all the way down, and the guns fired. Also, you can;t see any tracers flying, nor can you see any hits on the guy or the parachute.

A few other clips seemed to be just photo passes as well.
posted by Relay at 10:16 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


It appears that the US fighters behind these gun camera films were P-51 Mustangs

That's my impression as well. You can see how outclassed the Japanese planes were by this stage in the war. The P-51 was a real muscleplane.

As horrifying as some of this footage is, this is nothing compared to the indiscriminate napalming of Tokyo or what was dropped on Nagasaki or Hiroshima.
posted by Locobot at 2:43 PM on September 22, 2010


I had to turn the sound off - it was too horrible. By 1945, the pilots of the planes getting strafed with cannon shells at the beginning of the clip were probably only 16 or 17 with maybe a month of flight training.

Add to that that Japanese warplanes were notorious for sacrificing armour for maneuverability and speed, and one understands why they light up so easily at the first hit.

I don't think all the footage is from Mustangs, though. Ground attack was never their primary role: their watercooled engines were far too vulnerable to ground fire. Since several ground strafing clips show rockets being fired, I guess most of those are from Thunderbolts, and maybe even Navy Corsairs.
posted by Skeptic at 4:59 PM on September 22, 2010


that parachuting man is extraordinary

have to use that someday
posted by past at 6:59 PM on September 22, 2010


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