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WWII Imperial Japanese Navy Aircrews

DAYTON, Ohio - The Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - The Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifacts from the Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Artifacts from the Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Prayer belt in the Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio - Prayer belt in the Japanese Imperial Navy Pilots portion of the WWII: Airmen in a World at War exhibit in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Saburo Sakai, with 62 victories, was the Imperial Japanese Navy’s second highest scoring pilot to survive World War II. He is wearing a winter flying suit with a fur-lined collar and helmet. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Saburo Sakai, with 62 victories, was the Imperial Japanese Navy’s second highest scoring pilot to survive World War II. He is wearing a winter flying suit with a fur-lined collar and helmet. (U.S. Air Force photo)

It was a great honor in Japan to become a naval aviator. Early in World War II, Imperial Japanese Navy pilots went through a rigorous and at times brutal cadet program. Later, as these experienced airmen became casualties of war, hastily trained pilots replaced them. 

Imperial Japanese Navy Petty Officer's Service Uniform
This is the uniform of a senior petty officer in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The blue chrysanthemum on the sleeve marks him as a naval aviator. (Donated by Masajiro Kawato and the Nakata War Museum) 

Imperial Japanese Naval Pilot's Suit
This is a replica of a typical summer flying suit for an Imperial Japanese Navy fighter pilot during WWII. The kapok-filled life vest is genuine and contrasted with the air-filled Mae West life vest that was used by the USAAF. Kapok is made from the buoyant fiber covering the seeds of the ceiba tree. (Donated by Masajiro Kawato and the Nakata War Museum) 

Prayer Belt
Also known as a "Belt of a Thousand Stitches," it was supposed to protect its wearer from harm. Mothers, wives, and sisters made the belts by petitioning other women to add one stitch each until there were a thousand.

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