Tsukahara Nizhizo (1887-1966)

Photograph of Tsukahara Nizhizo

Wikipedia Commons

Tsukahara Nizhizo (Tsukahara Nishio) was the commander of 11 Air Fleet, Japan's land-based naval air forces, when war broke out in the Pacific. He made the bold decision not to use the small carriers of Carrier Division 4 against the Philippines, but rely solely on land-based aircraft. This was made possible by training the Zero pilots to coax an amazing 12 hours' endurance from their aircraft. On the other hand, Tsukahara considered the Pearl Harbor operation to be a dangerous diversion of forces from the Southern Operation: "He considered Operation Hawaii one of those campaigns which, if successful, would be cited as brilliant but, if unsuccessful, would be called stupid and foolish." (Prange 1981).

An old friend and former classmate of Nagumo, he persuaded his friend to divert part of 1 Air Fleet's aircraft to 11 Air Fleet until overridden by Yamamoto.

Tsukahara's aircraft ran riot over the Philippines, Borneo, and the Netherlands East Indies during the first few months of the war. Eventually arriving at Rabaul, Tsukahara led the air assault on Guadalcanal before becoming so sick with malaria, dengue fever, and dysentery that he had to return to Japan in December 1942. He  was a member of the board of inquiry regarding Fukudome Shigeru.

Service record

1887-4-3   born
Graduates from Naval Academy, standing 20th in a class of 191. Assigned to CA Soya
1909-8-2   Iwate
1909-12-1   AC Okinoshima
1910-1-15 Ensign  
1910-12-1   Gunnery School Basic Course
1911-4-20   Torpedo School Basic Course
1911-8-4   BB Shikishima
1911-12-1 Lieutenant junior grade      
1912-12-1   Sasebo Sailor Corps
1913-5-24   DD Yudachi
1914-3-23   CA Aso
1914-12-1 Lieutenant Naval College B-Course
1915-5-26   Naval College Majored Course
1915-12-13   DD Umikaze
1916-4-28   Mogami
1916-12-1   AR Kanto
1917-8-9   CA Chitose
1918-11-9   BC Ibuki
1918-12-1   Naval College A-Course
1920-12-1 Lieutenant commander     
Staff, 2 Fleet
1921-2-25   Yokosuka Air Group
1922-4-15   Staff, Naval Educational Command
1922-12-1   Navy General Staff
1924-12-1 Commander  
1925-4-1   Trip to Europe, U.S.
1926-1-15   Executive officer, Hosho
1927-4-5   Staff, Educational Bureau, Naval Air Command
1929-11-30 Captain Commander, Oi
1931-12-9   Attendant to Plenipotentiary, Geneva conference
1932-11-28   Chief, Administration Burea, Air Arsenal
1933-10-20   Commander, Akagi
1934-11-1   Chief, Administration Bureau, Naval Air Command
1935-11-15 Rear admiral
1937-12-1   Commander, Carrier Division 2
1937-12-15   Commander, 2 Combined Air Squadron
1938-12-15   Commander, 1 Combined Air Squadron
1939-11-15 Vice admiral
1940-4-15   Commander, Chinkai Guard District
1941-9-10   Commander, 11 Air Fleet
1942-12-1   Director, Naval Air Command
1944-3-1   Vice chief, Naval General Staff
1944-7-29   Director, Naval Air Command
1944-9-15   Commander, 1 Naval District
1945-5-1   Supreme War Council
1945-5-15 Admiral  
1966-1-10   Dies


Fuller (1992)

Gamble (2010)

Materials of IJN (accessed 2008-2-18)

Morison (1948)

Prados (1995)

Prange (1981)

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