Category Archives: Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance

Tachikawa Ki-77 (A+V Models, Resin)

TYPE: Long-range Transport and communication aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of five in sealed oxygen cabin

POWER PLANT: Two Nakajima Ha-115 radial engines, rated at 1,170 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 273 mph at 19,100 ft

COMMENT: The Tachikawa Ki-77 was a Japanese very long-range experimental transport and communications aircraft of World War II derived from a civil design commissioned by the Japanese newspaper “Asahi Shinbun” (“Asahi Press”) to break the flight distance record set by an Italian Savoia-Marchetti S.M.75G.
Ki-77 was the Japanese Army Air Force designation for the civil A-26. The “A” stood for the name of the sponsor Asahi press and “26” for the first two digits of the current Japanese year, 2600 (A. D. 1940).
The overall design was developed by the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University Tokyo together with Tachikawa. It was a clean, slim low wing twin-engine monoplane, and was finalized in autumn of 1940 with the first flight expected in late 1941. But this was canceled with the start of the war against the United States and the reallocation of priorities. The design included a number of novel features, including a high aspect ratio laminar flow wing for reduced drag and a sealed but unpressurized cabin to reduce the need for oxygen masks at its intended operating altitude as well as special low drag cowlings.
In mid 1942, the Japanese decided to forge a link with Europe, but wished to avoid Russian-controlled airspace and development on the Ki-77 was restarted. The first of two prototypes flew on 18 November 1942. The Ki-77 suffered from persistent oil cooling problems which required many changes before being solved, delaying any flight into July 1943. While working on the problem, Tachikawa built a second aircraft that was ready in mid 1943. After several flight trials it was readied for a “Seiko” (Success) mission between Japan and Germany. The aircraft departed Japan on 30 June 1943 for Singapore, where the airstrip had to be lengthened by 1,000 meters to assure a safe takeoff. Finally, the Ki-77 took off at 7:10 on 7 July 1943 with eight tons of fuel, ample to reach Europe. Their intended destination was a German airfield. The aircraft never reached its destination but disappeared over the Indian Ocean, probably intercepted by British fighters thanks decoding intercepted German communications.
Even if in 1944 the usefulness of record breaking flights was overshadowed by the necessities of war, the Japanese needed a propaganda coup and the surviving Ki-77 was available. On 2 July it flew 19 circuits over a triangular route off Manchuria, landing 57 hours 9 minutes later and covering 10,212 mi at an average speed of 179.1 mph, thus setting a new endurance record. The Ki-77 landed with 800 liters remaining in the tanks of the 3,200 US gal it started with, so the maximum endurance was around 11,000 mi. The Ki-77’s endurance record was never internationally recognized or officiated and was still in existence when Japan surrendered. The aircraft was shipped to the United States aboard the US Navy escort aircraft carrier USS CVE-9 “Bogue” from Yokosuka in December 1945, arriving in the States on January 1946 for examination, before being scrapped (Ref.: 24).

Tachikawa Ki-74 (“Patsy”) (A+V Models, Resin)

TYPE: Long-range reconnaissance bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of five

POWER PLANT:  Two Mitsubishi Ha-211-I Ru turbo-supercharged air-cooled radial engines, rated at 2,200 hp each

PERFORMANCE:  354 mph at 27,890 ft

COMMENT: The Tachikawa Ki-74 was a Japanese experimental long-range reconnaissance bomber of WW II. A twin-engine, mid-wing monoplane, it was developed for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. Though already conceived in 1939 as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft, the prototype Ki-74 (designated as A-26 by Tachikawa) only first flew as late as in March 1944. It was powered by two 2,201 hp Mitsubishi Ha-211 (Ha-43-I) radial engines. The following two prototypes were powered by the turbo-supercharged Mitsubishi Ha-21-I Ru (Ha-43-II) engines, but as these experienced teething troubles, the following thirteen pre-production machines substituted the Ha-211 Ru engine for the lower-powered, but more reliable, turbo-supercharged Mitsubishi Ha-104 Ru air-cooled engines, rated at 1,900 hp. The forth pre-production aircraft was modified in 1944 to undertake non-stop flights between Japan and Germany, but the “Third Reich” capitulated before the first of these flights could be made. In total 16 aircrafts have been built, but did not see operational service. Plans were made to use the Ki-74 in bombing attacks against the B-29 bases on Saipan, as soon as sufficient aircraft were available, but the Japanese surrender terminated the project. Nevertheless, the Allies knew of its existence and assigned the type the codename “Patsy” after it was discovered that it was a bomber, not a fighter. Previously it had the code name “Pat” in Allied Intelligence (Ref.: 1, 24).