Satoru Anabuki

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Satoru Anabuki
Satoru Anabuki poses in front of a Nakajima Ki-43 aircraft in late 1944.
Native name 穴吹 智
Nickname(s) "Flower of the Youth Flyers"
Born (1921-12-05)5 December 1921
Died June 2005 (aged 83–84)
Allegiance  Empire of Japan
Service/branch Imperial Japanese Army Air Service
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Years of service IJA: 1941—1945
JGSDF: 1950-1971
Rank Sergeant major (IJA)
Lieutenant colonel (JGSDF)
Unit 3rd Chutai, 50th Sentai
Akeno Army Flying School (Akeno Rikugun Hikō Gakkō)
Battles/wars World War II

Lieutenant Colonel Satoru Anabuki (穴吹 智 Anabuki Satoru?, December 5, 1921 - June 2005, sometimes Satoshi) was, depending on the source, the second or third[1] highest flying ace of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in World War II, with 39 victories (51 claimed).[2][3] Strangely enough there are 53 claimed victories to be found in his autobiography Soku no Kawa (see below), where his first triple kill (nos. 10-12) was mis-counted as just one (next kill was noted as no. 11).

Imperial Japanese Army Air Force career

Born into a farming family in the Kagawa Prefecture,[4] he graduated high school to take the entrance examination for the Juvenile Flying Soldier School and entered the Tokyo Army Aviation School in April 1938, graduating in March 1941 in the 6th Juvenile Soldier Course and receiving a promotion to corporal in October. He was assigned to the 3rd Company of the 50th Air Squadron, stationed on Formosa in 1941.[4]

With the outbreak of the Pacific War, he fought in the conquest of the Philippines, where he claimed his first victory, a Curtiss P-40, on December 22, 1941. On February 9, 1942, he shot down two more.

Soon after, his unit returned to Japan to exchange their Nakajima Ki-27 "Nates" for more advanced Ki-43 "Hayabusa" (allied code name "Oscar"). The 50th Air Squadron was then sent to Burma in June 1942. He was promoted to sergeant in December. On 24 January 1943, he shot down his first heavily armed B-24 bomber. He claimed to have shot down three B-24s and one P-38 fighter escort in a single engagement on 8 October 1943, but this has been disputed.[5] The third B-24 claimed was reported rammed by him causing great damage to his aircraft in which he crash landed on the shoreline to be rescued three days later. In recognition of this achievement he was awarded an individual citation - at that time unprecedented for a pilot who was still alive.[6]

In 1944, he was reassigned to Japan to be a flight instructor at the Akeno Army Flying School. He flew in the defense of the home islands. In December 1944, he was promoted to sergeant major and returned to action over the Philippines, where he claimed at least four F6F Hellcats shot down flying the Ki-84 "Hayate". Anabuki scored his last victory over Japan, a B-29.


When the Japan Self-Defense Forces were formed in the early 1950s, he enlisted and flew a helicopter for many years before retiring. After the war in 1950, he enlisted in the National Police Reserve. Via the Police Reserve Force, he served as a captain flying Northeast Ground Self-Defense Force helicopters. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1971, subsequently joining Japan Airlines and retiring in 1984.

Victory claims of Satoru Anubiki, data from[3]
Kill Date Flying Victim Comments
1 22/12/1941 Ki-27 P-40 Lingayen, Philippines
2 - Ki-27 unknown unknown
3 09/02/1942 Ki-27 P-40 Bataan, Philippines
4 25/10/1942 Ki-43 P-40 Chinskia, India
5 10/12/1942 Ki-43 Hurricane Chittagong, India
- 15/12/1942 Ki-43 Hurricane Chittagong, India (probable)
6 20/12/1942 Ki-43 Hurricane Magwe, Burma
7 20/12/1942 Ki-43 Blenheim Magwe, Burma (injured)
8 23/12/1942 Ki-43 unknown Fenny, Burma ?
9 23/12/1942 Ki-43 Blenheim Magwe, Burma (Night kill )
10-12 24/12/1942 Ki-43 3 Hurricanes Magwe, Burma
13 30/12/1942 Ki-43 Blenheim Meiktila, Burma
14 14/01/1943 Ki-43 Hurricane Inden, India ?
15 16/01/1943 Ki-43 P-40 Yunnan, China
16 17/01/1943 Ki-43 Hurricane Fenny, Burma ?
17-18 19/01/1943 Ki-43 2 Hurricanes Akyab, Burma
19 24/01/1943 Ki-43 Wellington Rangoon, Burma
20 26/01/1943 Ki-43 B-24 Mingaladon, Burma (first B-24 daylight kill)
21 30/01/1943 Ki-43 B-25 Toungoo, Burma
22 28/02/1943 Ki-43 Blenheim Akyab, Burma
23 28/02/1943 Ki-43 Hurricane Akyab, Burma
- 02/03/1943 Ki-43 Hurricane Fenny, Burma ? (probable)
24 24/03/1943 Ki-43 B-25 Meiktila, Burma
- 29/03/1943 Ki-43 Hurricane Mindon, Burma (probable)
25-26 30/03/1943 Ki-43 2 Hurricanes Mindon, Burma
27-29 31/03/1943 Ki-43 3 Hurricanes Patenga, India
30-31 04/04/1943 Ki-43 2 Hurricanes Dohazari, India
- 20/04/1943 Ki-43 Hurricane Imphal, India (probable)
32 20/04/1943 Ki-43 P-36 Imphal, India
33-34 21/04/1943 Ki-43 2 P-36s Imphal, India
35 28/04/1943 Ki-43 P-40 Kunming, China
36 04/05/1943 Ki-43 Hurricane Cox's Bazar, India
37-40 15/05/1943 Ki-43 4 P-40s Kunming, China
41-42 22/05/1943 Ki-43 2 Hurricanes Chittagong, India
43-44 29/05/1943 Ki-43 1 Hurricane
1 Spitfire?
Chittagong, India
Ki-43 "Fubuki" retired of service with 230 hours of flying
45-48 08/10/1943 Ki-43 1 P-38, 3 B-24s Rangoon, Burma (heavily injured)
flying Ki-43 "Kimikaze"
49-52 unknown Ki-84 4 Hellcats Philippines (In separated sorties)
53 unknown Ki-100 B-29 Honshu, Japan




  • Anabuki, Satoru. Soku no Kawa (A Great River in the Blue Sky/Pale Blue River). Tokyo, Japan: Kojinsha Publishers, 1985. ISBN 4-7698-2111-5. (2nd edition 2000, ISBN 4-7698-2292-8).
  • Bueschel, Richard M. Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa I-III in Japanese Army Air Force RTAF-CAF-IPSF Service. Reading, Berkshire, UK: Osprey Publications, 1970. ISBN 0-85045-022-5.
  • Bueschel, Richard M. Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa in Japanese Army Air Force RTAF-CAF-IPSF Service. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Books, 1995. ISBN 0-88740-804-4.
  • Coox, Alvin D. "The Rise and Fall of the Imperial Japanese Air Forces". Air Power History 27 June, 1980. pages 74–94.
  • Harvey, A.D. "Army Air Force and Navy Air Force: Japanese Aviation and the Opening Phase of the War in the Far East". War in History 6 1999. pages 147–173.
  • 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.
  • Scott, Peter. Emblems of the Rising Sun: Imperial Japanese Army Air Force Unit Markings. Aldershot, Hertfordshire, UK: Hikoki, 1999. ISBN 1-902109-55-4.
  • Stanaway, John. Nakajima Ki.43 "Hayabusa" - Allied Code Name "Oscar". Bennington, VT: Merriam Press, 2003. ISBN 1-57638-141-2.

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