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  Ki-54 Hickory Manufacture Number 5541  
74th Corps
38 Squadron

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August 13, 2010

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November 2010

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Click For Enlargement
September 5, 2012

Aircraft History
Built by Tachikawa. Delivered to the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) as Army Type 1 Advanced Trainer / Ki-54 Hickory manufacture number 5541. Assigned to the 74th Corps (北部第74部隊), Army Aviation Squadron 38. Painted overall gray with a white band around the fuselage. The tail had the red kanji marking of the 74th Corps with a yellow tip.

Mission History
On September 27, 1943 took off from an airfield near Noshiro City on a flight bound for Hachinohe with a crew of four aboard. This Ki-54 ditched into the middle of Lake Towada (Towada-ko). Three of the crew were killed as the plane sank.

Fates of the Crew
One of the crew was rescued by a local fisherman and taken ashore.

During August 2010, an underwater topography mapping project by Windy Network discovered on the bottom of the lake at 320 meters, with the help of an eyewitness who was 13 years old in 1943.

During November 2010, another survey was conducted and the remains of three missing crew members were found and a video was released to the public.

On the tail are the markings of the 74th Corps. The fuselage has a white stripe and Hinomaru markings clearly visible on the sides of the fuselage. The control surfaces are rotted away. There was little corrosion of the fuselage with water temperature of four or five degrees Celsius and fresh water conditions.

After discovery, Negotiations with the local government to salvage the aircraft were undertaken during 2010-2012. The high cost of salvage and depth of water were mitigating factors.

During late August 2012, the aircraft was raised from the bottom using air bags and a winch slung from four points around the aircraft and moved near shore during the course of a week.

On September 5, 2012 the fuselage center section was raised to the surface using air bags. The tail section broke off during the salvage and was raised separately using air bags and a crane. It is unclear if the engines were salvaged or left on the bottom.

FNN: 十和田湖の底で発見された旧日本軍機とみられる機体引き揚げ進む (news) Sept 5, 2010
TV Asahi: 69年前沈んだ航空機…湖底から旧帝国陸軍の練習機 (news report) Sept 5, 2012
The Yomori "Former Army Training Plane Discovered in Towada Lake" August 13, 2010
YouTube: 十和田湖湖底の旧陸軍機映像公開 (underwater video footage)
YouTube: 67年前十和田湖の底に旧陸軍機を水中撮影 テレビ朝日 (news report) Aug 13, 2010
YouTube: 湖底に捧ぐ...67年目の鎮魂歌 November 2010
Thanks to Harumi Sakaguchi, Yoji Sakaida and Minoru Kamada for additional information

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Last Updated
October 12, 2018


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