Left in the open, WWII Japanese aircraft engine at Fort Siloso belies its historic significance

3 months ago 442

Updated

Mar 31, 2024, 05:03 AM

Published

Mar 31, 2024, 05:00 AM

SINGAPORE - The wrecked engine of a Japanese warplane shot down in 1942 in the final days of the battle for Singapore during World War II is a significant artefact that needs to be kept in better conditions, said some historians.

The battered and rusting engine from an Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) Mitsubishi Ki-51, also known as the Type 99 assault plane, was recovered from a construction site in Toa Payoh in 1988, and is currently displayed at Fort Siloso on Sentosa.

The engine, which once powered a plane from the Japanese 27th Hiko Sentai (Flying Regiment) that menaced Singapore’s defenders, now sits on a porch outside the former stores building at Fort Siloso.

While it has some overhead shelter, the hunk of metal is exposed to direct sunlight, as well as rainwater during downpours.

Associate professor for history at the National Institute of Education Kevin Peter Blackburn said the engine should ideally be displayed indoors to extend its lifespan.

“It would tend to deteriorate less if it was indoors. However, most of the damage to it seems to have been done in the war and being in the ground until 1988.”

Key aircraft in invasion of Malaya

Compared with the extensive literature on Japan’s 1941 bombing campaign against Singapore and Malaya, which targeted strategic sites like harbours, airfields and defensive strong points, scant attention has been paid to the role its other aircraft played in direct support of the invading troops.

Yet, the Type 99 assault plane was one of the key aircraft of the Japanese campaign to seize the Malay Peninsula, said c...

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