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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Another Great Japanese Aviation Postcard Mystery

Last week, my friend Vinnie sent me a cool book and a couple of old postcards he picked up at an antique book fair down in the U.S.

To hear him talk about such matters, it appears as though there is a far greater love affair with ephemera south of the real North America, than there is here in the Great White North, Canada.

It sucks, but sour grapes aside, it's nice to hear. It seems like almost everything I collect—except coins—is a paper-type collectible: comic books, stamps, tobacco cards, sports cards, et al.

While I have not yet delved into the world of collectible postcards, Vinnie's gift makes me twitchy. And the fact that they are Japan-related, it's even better.

Previously, he sent me a postcard and dared me to resolve the multiple mysteries surrounding it. See HERE under the blog I called the Great Japanese Aviation Postcard Mystery - to learn how I solved a mystery that despite not having any meddling kids in it, the Scooby-Doo gang of Mystery Inc. would have been impressed. It involved three countries, five people and ultimately some great deductive reasoning from myself that was so impressive, that I'm going on about it yet again.

Being married, I'm every so rarely correct, so it's nice to achieve small victories wherever I can find them.

Anyhow… this past week, Vinnie sent me the Japanese postcard at the very top of this blog, and dared me once again to solve the mystery of what the Japanese plane was.

Maybe I'm just getting better at knowing my World War II-era aircraft, or I just got lucky, but I resolved the mystery in about 30 minutes.

It was just a solve-the-plane mystery this time, with nothing else to resolve, so I was pretty confident I could do it in an hour or less.   

Time issues aside, it was a bit of a frustrating bugger.

As you can see at the top, there are three different airplanes on the postcard, with the odd duck being the seaplane, or what the Japanese called 'floaters'.

Start with the odd.

A bi-plane, one wouldn't assume it to have been used after WWII. In fact, most would assume it hadn't even been used in WWII… but both sides utilized such aircraft for training purposes or even for battle.

The next giveaway for myself, was to search for images on-line for such planes with a bulbous engine… then comparing the tails and even the pilot compartments.

Thirty exhilarating minutes later, we have the:

Nakajima E4N

Built between 1931 through 1933, the E4N2 is the floater/seaplane, while the E4N3 are the two fighter aircraft.

The seaplane was a shipboard reconnaissance aircraft with two seats, a single-engine, equal-span biplane seaplane. That equal-span thing was part of my deductions, as well. It refers to the top and bottom wings of a bi-plane being of equal width, because it wasn't always the case, with the upper wing often being longer. On the E4N, it was the same size.

Anyhow, I know this wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but I like airplanes—I write the well-received, but rarely visited blog: Pioneers of Aviation… I guess you really gotta be a fan of early (pre-1920) flight to want to read about the exploits of people flying eggbeaters with an engine with less horsepower than that lawnmower you push around each weekend.

Tomorrow - architecture - courtesy of Alice - with something about my favorite modern building in Japan.

Andrew Joseph

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