Tachikawa Ki-54c 'Hickory' fuselage : 10th Independent Air Brigade, Imperial Japanese Army Air Force

Place Asia: Malaysia, Labuan
Accession Number REL29084
Collection type Technology
Object type Aircraft
Physical description Duralium or Duralimin
Place made Japan
Date made 1941-1945
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

All-metal fuselage remains of a Tachikawa Ki-54c 'Hickory' light transport, training and general purpose aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. The wings, engines and left hand side crew entrance door have been removed from the aircraft.

History / Summary

This is the stripped-out fuselage of a Tachikawa made Ki-54c 'Hickory' transport plane of the 10th Independent Air Brigade,Imperial Japanese Army which carried the Japanese Borneo land forces surrender delegation to Labuan, Borneo on 10 September 1945.

The senior officer of the surrendering delegation was Lieutenant General Masao Baba, Commander of the Japanese 37th Army and Supreme Commander of Japanese forces in Borneo. There are several high quality images of this aircraft and its historically significant last war time flight with General Baba within the National Collection. In several of the images it can been seen that the aircraft was finished in a mottled green paint scheme over the original natural metal finish as a means of camouflage. Prominent white crosses had been hand painted by the surrendering Japanese in numerous locations such as the wings and fuselage as per instructions given by the Allies that all Japanese combat aircraft were to have their infamous red circle 'hinomaru' or rising sun markings over painted with large white or green crosses.

On the tail of the aircraft are the distinctive unit markings of the Imperial Japanese Army 10th Dokuritsu Hikodan Shireibu (10th Independant Air Brigade). In a common practice of Imperial Japanese Army Air units, the unit markings represent the number '10'. During the course of the Second World War a total of 1,368 Ki-54 'Hickory' aircraft of various sub-types were built between 1940-45. The 'Hickory' was a popular, effective and versatile training, transport and communications aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Army. This particular version is a 'c' sub-type which was a transport version of this aircraft with a smooth upper fuselage and fitted with eight passenger seats. Two crew members normally flew the aircraft when in a transport role. An aircraft of similar roles and capabilities within an Australian context of the Second World War is the popular Avro Anson aircraft.

The Allies devised a code scheme during the war to deal with the complicated and diverse range of combat and training aircraft which the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy used. This system involved assigning a specific name to each aircraft within a strict naming system. Fighter aircraft were given boys names such as Oscar, Zeke, Frank and George whilst bombers were designated with girls names such as Sally, Betty, Lily and Helen. Training aircraft were assigned tree types such as Pine, Cypress and Hickory.

Not long after the war the Hickory was then flown to Australia by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crew. After several post-war test flights were conducted the wings of the aircraft were reportedly scrapped and the fuselage sent to the pre-school at RAAF base Fairbairn, outside of Canberra. In this role it served as a plaything for children (see RAAF News, 5/80, p4) for many years, before going to RAAF Williams at Point Cook in 1980. Eventually the aircraft returned to Canberra and was placed into the National Collection for permanent safe keeping.