Did WW2 pilots bomb a Japanese aircraft carrier, while flying captured Japanese planes?

Interesting, but I was going for the “glided to a landing” part more than the “England” part.

Still sounds a bit chancy. I thought pilots recognized planes by shape more than by markings.

I would have serious reservations about flying a Zero or some such back to home base with the meatball and all still on it.

AA gunners could be incredibly trigger happy, shooting down their own planes (sometimes even when warned that friendly planes were in the area).

If gunners on ships off Sicily thought C-47s with British markings were suitable targets, what chance does someone in a Zero with Nipponese markings have?

AA gunners on ships and land fired on friendly a/c in innumerable cases in WWII, in a broad array of circumstances. A/c likewise often bombed friendly ships, which is the basic illogic of treating celebrated pre and post WWII incidents (Japanese sinking of USS Panay in 1937, Israeli attack on USS Liberty in 1967) as if they could not have happened without perfidy because of flags/markings (though that’s not the same as proving they did not involve perfidy at any level). That ignores all the many cases similar things happened in WWII where there was no perfidy.

The way in which ‘blue on blue’ incidents were avoided was mainly to keep it as clear as possible where the enemy might be encountered. This was a the basic failing in the Sicily case, lack of shared information about different Allied operations in the same area, in that case also including flying troop transports over shipping which was being subjected to repeated real German air attacks, besides inadequate notification.

The risk was obviously potentially further elevated in case of evaluation flights of captured enemy a/c, but again separation was the basic method. The test flights of the first captured Zero over North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego were presumably preceded by coordinating orders not to shoot, rather than just relying on using US markings. Although markings could help in some cases, and note the captured Zero’s markings were the post May 15, 1942 standard USN markings which eliminated the red circle at the center of the US star and red and white stripes on the rudder which USN a/c carried at the beginning of the war: it had been concluded that any flash of red might be mistaken for the hinomaru ‘meat ball’ marking of Japanese a/c.

It would have made a pretty good movie. Especially with Mickey Rooney leading the mission.:D(seriously)

An aircraft flying at 10,000 feet looks like a dot to the folks sitting at sea level. I doubt that the crew sitting on a bofors mount can see the roundels of an aircraft at that distance.

Does anyone know how close an aircraft must be for someone with either binoculars, or the Mk1 eyeball, can see/read the markings on it?

I would cop out and say it depends on visibility conditions and lighting (sun behind the planes or the ship, etc) but that markings would usually not be be visible to AA gun or fire control director crews with engagement ranges up to 1,000’s of yards. That was more realistic to expect in daylight air combat where engagement ranges in WWII seldom exceeded a few 100 yds though wasn’t entirely reliable in that case either.

The Allied transport planes flying over Allied ships off Sicily on alert for actual German air attacks was at night. It happened to airborne operations on both the first two nights and accounts of the second, where more of the a/c were downed by friendly fire, probably, say the gunners had no warning they’d be overflown by friendly transports whereas actual German a/c had been bombing them all day, and also liked to attack at dusk or just after dark.

It might have been a war crime if the Japanese had one the war.

They certainly regarded fire-bombing their cities as a war crime, – a position that would excite more sympathy from me if they had also regarded their fire-bombing of Chinese cities as a war crime.

A fair number of Allied officers were court martialed for war crimes.