Japanese Submarine Aircraft

Mushroom Model Magazine Special - Red Series

by Tadeusz Januszewski

reviewed by Mark Smith



Published in 2002, this is a volume few could have imagined even ten or twelve years ago: one hundred and twenty eight pages detailing the development, operational history, structural details, and colors and markings of JNAF submarine-borne aircraft. This has always been an obscure and esoteric subject, and it has taken sixty years or so before anything remotely comprehensive has been compiled and published. Mr. Januszewski is to be congratulated. The author is also responsible for the meticulous 1/72 drawings of five different aircraft designed for the remarkable purpose of being assembled and launched from surfaced submarines for reconnaissance and attack purposes. Six of these pages are devoted to the E14Y1 "Glen," and ten are given to the last word on the subject, the Aichi M6A1 Seiran. Frankly, I bought the book for my interest in the Seiran, but the 22 pages devoted to the "Glen," especially in operations off the American coast, were fascinating. To fly these aircraft was an elite assignment, and yet most of these men are largely forgotten (compared to JNAF fighter pilots, for instance) due to the clandestine nature of these units.

This is a particularly important book for anyone interested in the subject for the simple reason that only one monograph has been published on any of these aircraft, the old Monogram title on the Seiran that is long out of print and now a collector's item. But this book is much more complete regarding that aircraft, and if you are planning on building and detailing Tamiya's 1/48 or 1/72 scale model, it's the best reference you'll find (though it must be admitted that Tamiya's kits of this airplane are great references in themselves). There are no FAOW or Maru Mechanic titles on Seiran. But in this book there are fifteen pages of Tim Hortman's color photographs of the sole remaining Seiran before, during, and after its superb restoration by the National Air and Space Museum. Tim has spent considerable time documenting the Japanese aircraft held by the NASM, and I believe one day his photos will be of great historical value. The Seiran photos are a case in point, especially appreciated now that the aircraft is restored. The coverage of the cockpit area (11 photos) is particularly good.

In addition, there are fourteen pages of color drawings of five different aircraft showing off some surprisingly colorful birds, as well as perspective views of details superbly rendered by the author, including three drawings of different cockpit details for "Glen," the sort of thing one might have considered lost forever to history. Numerous photos and some small drawings are included of the submarines that hosted these aircraft, inserted appropriately in the smooth narrative.

So many books on aviation history are largely redundant and rely heavily on the previous literature. To see a book that offers so much new material on such an elusive subject is a joy. I can remember seeing a grainy photo about thirty years ago with the caption, "the only known photo of the E14Y1 "Glen." I recognized it in this book - one of sixteen photos of "Glen," a few surprisingly clear.

I like all the Mushroom books I've seen but this is my favorite. I only wish it was in hard cover and in a bit larger format. For under twenty dollars, though, it's great value. Highly recommended!

Rev. Mark Smith

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