One of Taiwan’s little-known history aspects is how some important moments in Imperial Japan’s military history were made on the island. For example, it was from a hill in Tunghsiao in Miaoli that the Russian fleet was sighted, making it possible for Togo to win his famous victory at Tsushima.

Another milestone out of Taiwan was the famous raid on Jianqiao air base conducted by the Kanoya Kokutai from Matsuyama airfield, Taihoku, or as we call it, Sungshan airport in Taipei. The raid, which took place on August 14, 1937, was carried out by G3M2 Model 21 “Nell” bombers, advanced long-range bombers newly introduced into Imperial Navy service. The bombers flew 1,250 miles one way in what is generally known as the first transoceanic air raid in history. Nine of them struck the airbase at Jianqiao in Hangchou, and nine more hit Guande outside of Nanjing. The Nells, like almost all Japanese bombers, sacrificed armor and durability for range, and unescorted, were easy pickings for the US-made Hawk III biplanes and Boeing P-26 fighters then in service with the ROC air force. The Nationalist forces claimed six bombers shot down, three in air-to-air combat, and three by anti-aircraft guns (detailed account here).

As a result of this great victory over Japanese forces operating from Taiwan, August 14 is now the ROC Air Force Day.