The similar Tainan Air Group (also flying mostly A6M2s in 1941-1942) was more famous. It also attacked the Philippines and later fought in the Dutch East Indies, over Lae and Port Moresby, and finally out of Rabaul over the Slot and Guadalcanal in 1942. Most of the original supremely-well-trained pilots were lost during these campaigns, especially the four month air battle over Guadalcanal. When the unit was disbanded, the surviving 10 pilots were sent back to Japan to constitute new fighter units.
Pilots of the Tainan Air Group pose at Lae in June 1942. Several of these aviators would be among the top Japanese aces, including Saburō Sakai (middle row, second from left), and Hiroyoshi Nishizawa (standing, first on left).
Some the very best pilots of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air...