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11th Squardron 4th Air Wing
Blue Impulse (T-4)
|Active||April 12, 1960 – present|
|Branch||Japan Air Self-Defense Force|
|Garrison/HQ||Matsushima Air Base|
|Motto(s)||Challenge for the Creation.|
|Trainer||9 Kawasaki T-4s
*Note: two aircraft are spares
Blue Impulse (ブルーインパルス Burū Inparusu?), or 11 Squadron, is the aerobatic demonstration team of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Originally founded in 1960 as a team of six F-86 Sabres, the team switched to the Mitsubishi T-2 in 1980 and then to the Kawasaki T-4 in 1995. They are based at Matsushima Air Base, which was heavily damaged by a tsunami on March 11, 2011.
|Aircraft||Origin||In Service *||Service **||reference column|
|North American F-86F Sabre||United States||34||1960–1981||JASDF Technical Research Section. 5 aircraft formation.|
|Mitsubishi T-2||Japan||11||1982–1995||4 AW 21 Sq. Technical Research Section. 6 aircraft formation.|
|Kawasaki T-4||Japan||11||1995–||4 AW 11 Sq. 6 aircraft formation.|
* Number of aircraft used by the Blue Impulse acrobatic team.
** Aircraft service with the Blue Impulse acrobatic team.
The first unofficial Japanese aerobatic team was formed in 1958 at Hamamatsu airbase. The team used F-86F Sabre fighters which did not have a special color scheme. After four demonstrations, the team was disbanded. The next year the USAF Thunderbirds visited Japan, and inspired Japan's Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) commanding officers to establish an official aerobatic team. In 1960 the new team was formed at Hamamatsu airbase flying five F-86F fighters, with three of the pilots coming from Japan's 1958 team.
The first demonstration of the new team "Tenryu" (named after a river near the air base), was on March 4, 1960 in Hamamatsu. However this name was hard to pronounce in western languages, so the team was renamed Blue Impulse. The planes were equipped with smoke generators using five different colors for each plane: white, red, blue, green, and yellow. The planes were painted in silver, light blue, blue and pink; on the leader's plane, the blue is replaced by gold. In the next year, all five jets received special demonstration paint schemes of white and blue. In 1964, Blue Impulse performed at the opening of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, drawing the Olympic rings in the air with colored smoke. In 1970, at the opening of Expo '70 in Osaka, the team drew "Expo '70" in the air. In February 1982, after 545 air demonstrations, Blue Impulse stopped using the F-86F Sabre and instead began using Japanese-built Mitsubishi T-2 jets. The first air show with the new planes was on June 25 at the team's new Matsushima airbase.
On November 14, 1982, during a bomb-burst maneuver at a Hamamatsu air display, plane #4 failed to pull up in time and crashed into a building, killing the pilot and injured 11 people on the ground. This accident brought a halt to the team's performances for the year.
At Expo '90 in Osaka, Blue Impulse performed at the opening event and drew the "Expo '90" logo in the air.
Blue Impulse suffered another accident on July 4, 1991 over the Pacific Ocean, as planes #2 and #4 crashed during a training flight. This disaster again stopped the team's performances for a year.
The team's last performance with the Mitsubishi T-2 was in December 1995, after 175 demonstrations with these aircraft. The new Blue Impulse aircraft became the Japanese-built Kawasaki T-4 trainer, and the first show with these planes was on April 5, 1996. In 1997, the team made their first foreign debut at the Nellis AFB air show in Nevada, USA. In 1998 Blue Impulse performed at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
On July 4, 2000, during a training flight, planes #5 and #6 crashed, claiming the lives of three people. The incident occurred about 25 km east of Matsushima Air Base.
Blue Impulse also performed at the 2002 FIFA World Cup; on June 4, 2002, they performed at the opening of the Japan versus Belgium match.
References in pop culture
When characters in another anime, Urusei Yatsura, are hit with enough force to send them flying into the distance, they sometimes shout "Blue Impulse!"
The team have since been immortalised in its own videogame, titled Aero Dancing featuring Blue Impulse.
The aerobatics team in the anime 801 T.T.S. Airbats is called Blue Impulse.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blue Impulse.|