Hiromichi Shinohara

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Hiromichi Shinohara
Hiromichi Shinohara
Nickname(s) "The Richthofen of the Orient"
Born (1913-08-01)1 August 1913
Suzumenomiya, Utsunomiya, Tochigi
Died 27 August 1939(1939-08-27) (aged 26)
Mohorehi Lake, 10km south of Abdara Lake
Allegiance  Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Years of service 1933 — 1939
Rank Warrant officer
Unit 1st Chutai, 11th Sentai
Battles/wars Battle of Khalkhin Gol

Hiromichi Shinohara (篠原 弘道?, Shinohara Hiromichi; 1913 – 1939) was the highest-scoring fighter ace of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service (IJAAF).[1][2] On 27 June 1939 he set a Japanese record by downing 11 planes on a single day. He was shot down and killed on 27 August 1939, having claimed 58 victories in only three months of combat. He scored all his aerial victories while flying a Nakajima Ki-27.

Early life[edit]

Hiromichi Shinohara was born in August 1913 on a farm in Suzumenomiya, near Utsunomiya in the Tochigi Prefecture.[3] After finishing his formal education he went into military service, joining the 27th Cavalry Regiment in 1931. In that capacity he took part in the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and was involved in the Jiangqiao Campaign in April 1932.[3]

Imperial Japanese Army Air Force career[edit]

In June 1933 he went to the Tokorozawa Flying School (Tokorozawa Rikugun Koku Seibi Gakkō), graduating in January 1934 and he became enlisted as a corporal in the 1st Chutai of the 11th Hiko Datai,[4] posted in Harbin, Manchukuo (Manchuria). By the end of 1938 he had climbed through the ranks, becoming a warrant officer. He was 25 years old and had six years of flying experience by the time the Nomonhan Incident (Battles of Khalkhin Gol) began in May 1939.

A Ki-27 as used in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol.
A Polikarpov I-16 as used in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, here with Chinese insignia.

During his first combat sortie, on 27 May 1939, Shinohara, flying a Nakajima Ki-27, downed four Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighters.[3] He became an ace within 24 hours, after he claimed six more victories, downing a Polikarpov R-Z reconnaissance plane and five Polikarpov I-15 biplane fighters. No other pilot in history scored 10 victories during his first day of combat. From then on his victories continued, culminating on 27 June 1939 in an Imperial Japanese Army Air Force record of eleven victories in a single day during an air battle over Tamsak-Bulak.[3][5][6] Only top ace of all time Erich Hartmann (12), Emil Lang (18), Hans-Joachim Marseille (17), Erich Rudorffer (13 in 17 minutes), have surpassed him.

Shinohara's luck however ran out on him two months later when on 27 August 1939 he himself was shot down by Soviet Polikarpov I-16 fighters after claiming three victories during a bombing escort mission.[7] His aircraft fell in flames into Mohorehi Lake, ten kilometres south of Abdara Lake. [8]Warrant Officer Hiromichi Shinohara was posthumously promoted to the rank of second lieutenant, having claimed 58 victories in only three months of combat—the last three in the battle that would take him down—earning him the nickname of the Richthofen of the Orient.[5][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hata, Izawa and Shores 2002, p. 276.
  2. ^ Sakaida 1997, p. 88.
  3. ^ a b c d Hata, Izawa and Shores 2002, p. 254.
  4. ^ Hata, Izawa and Shores 2002, pp. 110, 254.
  5. ^ a b Sakaida 1997, p. 16.
  6. ^ Wieliczko and Szeremeta 2004, p. 37.
  7. ^ Sakaida 1997, p. 17.
  8. ^ Hata (2002), p.255
  9. ^ Wieliczko and Szeremeta 2004, p. 35.
  • Hata, Ikuhiko with Yasuho Izawa and Christopher Shores. Japanese Army Air Force Fighter Units and Their Aces, 1931-1945. London: Grub Street, 2002. ISBN 1-902304-89-6.
  • Sakaida, Henry. Japanese Army Air Force Aces, 1937-45. Botley, Oxfordshire, UK: Osprey Publishing, 1997. ISBN 1-85532-529-2.
  • Wieliczko, Leszek A. and Zygmunt Szeremeta. Nakajima Ki 27 Nate (bilingual Polish/English). Lublin, Poland: Kagero, 2004. ISBN 83-89088-51-7.

External links[edit]