R.Mikesh, A.Shorzoe Japanese Aircraft, 1910-1941 (Putnam)
Tamai also Nippon Flying School (Nippon Hiko Gakko)
Seitaro Tamai was born in 1892, the eldest son of Tsunetaro Tamai who was a manager at the Hamada Iron Works in Yokkaichi City, south of Nagoya. At the age of 16, inspired by the work of the Wright brothers, he began building an aeroplane which when completed after years of work, was unsuccessful. In 1911, his father took him to Tokyo to visit Sanji Narahara, who had built his own aircraft, along with Army Captain Kumazo Hino, one of Japan's first pilots. On a later visit to Tokyo, when travelling by himself, he met Army Capt Yoshitoshi Tokugawa, Japan's first pilot, and received aeronautical instruction from him.
Returning home, Tamai built a taxi-ing vehicle which he ran at Chikko reclaimed ground at Yokkaichi City in February 1912. It was powered by a 25hp Cameron four-cylinder air-cooled inline engine borrowed from Sotoichi Saito, builder of the Saigai Aeroplane. With this experience and with the aid of his younger brother, Toichiro Tamai, the older Tamai started a business to build Tamai aeroplanes, and established an assembly shop at their father's factory in Yokkaichi
Tamai No.1 Seaplane
The so-called Tamai No.1 Seaplane was in fact originally completed as a floatplane and attempts to fly it were made on 12 October, 1912, but it would not leave the water. It was not only underpowered, but the floats were poorly designed and lacked steps. Not to be discouraged, Tamai took the aeroplane to Inage in Chiba Prefecture across the bay from Tokyo, where Itoh and other aircraft builders were located. He modified the machine and converted it to a landplane, with completion in November 1912. He used the 25hp Cameron engine borrowed from Saito, first used in his taxi-ing trainer. This unequal-span biplane had the typical wooden structure of that time and was covered with fabric treated with gelatine and shibu (an astringent juice) for making the fabric airtight to produce lift. An unconventional feature was a small elevator at the nose even though this was a tractor-type aircraft. The undercarriage comprised two sets of dual wheels with skids between each pair and strangely the wheels were solid and without tyres. This aeroplane also failed to fly, but had it been able to do so, the Cameron engine would have overheated after a mere 10 minutes' running.
In December 1913, Tamai entered the Army and joined the Telegraphic Corps in Nakano, Tokyo. Although his manufacture of aeroplanes had to cease for the period of his mandatory Army service, he continued his study by visiting the Tokorozawa Flight Test Grounds on his off-duty days. With the outbreak of the First World War, he was transferred from the Army to the Navy Air Corps and engaged in the campaign to seize Tsingtao before being discharged from the service in January 1915.