POWER PLANT: Two radial engines, rated at 1,450 hp each
PERFORMANCE: No data available
COMMENT: This design of a light bomber dates back to autumn 1941. A blueprint became available after the end of WW II showing a detailed three-view of the project and some important physical dimensions. It might be possible that this design may have had influence on the development of the Kawasaki Ki-102 (Allied code ‘Randy’). Furthermore, the design shows some similarity to the Grumman XP-50, forerunner of the Grumman F7F “Tigercat” (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Nakajima Ha.35/21 air-cooled radial engine, rated at 1.130 hp
PERFORMANCE: 320 mph at 19,680 ft
COMMENT: Combat experiences with the Ki-43-I dictated a number of changes in the design of the aircraft that led to the development of the Nakajima Ki-43-II-KAI. It entered service in summer 1943 and served over every theatre to which the JAAF was committed. The Ki-43-II-KAI was capable to out-maneuvering every Allied fighter it encountered and its element was dog-fighting, but the Lockheed P-38 ‘Lightning’, the Republic P-47 ‘Thunderbolt’ and the north American P-51 ‘Mustang’ could all out-dive and out-zoom the Japanese fighter which could not withstand the greater firepower of the Allied types, frequently disintegrating in the air when hit. More than 5.000 Ki-43-II ‘Hayabusa’ were built by Nakajima and Tachikawa (Ref.: 13)
POWER PLANT: One Nakajima Ha.115 radial engine, rated at 1,130 hp
PERFORMANCE: 320 mph at 19,680 ft
COMMENT: The Nakajima Ki-43 ‘Hayabusa’was a single-engine land-based tactical fighter used by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in WW II. It was light and easy to fly and became legendary for its combat performance in East Asia in the early years of the war. It could outmaneuver any opponent, but did not have armor or self-sealing tanks, and its armament was poor until its final version, which was produced as late as 1945. Allied pilots often reported that the nimble Ki-43s were difficult targets but burned easily or broke apart with few hits. In spite of its drawbacks, the Ki-43 shot down more Allied aircraft than any other Japanese fighter and almost all the JAAF’s aces achieved most of their kills in it. Prototypes for the Nakajima Ki-43-II flew in February 1942. The Ha-25 engine was upgraded with the 2-stage supercharger, thus becoming the more powerful Nakajima Ha-115 engine, which was installed in a longer-chord cowling. The new engine turned a three-bladed propeller. The wing structure, which had suffered failures in the Ki-43-I, was strengthened and equipped with racks for drop tanks or bombs. The Ki-43-II was also fitted with 13 mm armor plate for the pilot’s head and back, and the aircraft’s fuel tanks were coated in rubber to form a crude self-sealing tank. Nakajima commenced production of the Ki-43-II at its Ota factory in November 1942. Production was also started at the Tachikawa Hikoki KK and the 1st Army Air Arsenal (Tachikawa Dai-Ichi Rikugun Kokusho), also at Tachikawa. Although Tachikawa Hikoki successfully managed to enter into large-scale production of the Ki-43, the 1st Army Air Arsenal was less successful – hampered by a shortage of skilled workers, it was ordered to stop production after 49 Ki-43s were built. Nakajima eventually ceased production in mid-1944 in favor of the Nakajima Ki-84 ‘Hayate’, but the Tachikawa Hikoki continued to produce the Ki-43. Total production amounted to 5,919 aircraft. Many of these were used during the last months of the war for kamikaze missions against the American fleet (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha 112-II air-cooled radial engines, rated at 1,500 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 360 mph at 19,685 ft
COMMENT: While the first prototype of the Kawasaki Ki-96 twin-engine heavy fighter was nearing completion the Kawasaki design team suggested to the Imperial Japanese Army that a version of the aircraft be built as a replacement for the Kawasaki Ki-45 “Toryu” used in ground attack role. In August 1943 after approval to the project the construction of prototypes began under the designation Kawasaki Ki-102. In its original two-seat configuration additional armour and petrol tank protection was fitted as well as a nose-mounted 37 mm Ho-203 cannon. The first of three prototypes was flown in March 1944. For production two versions were proposed, the Ki-102-Ko as high-altitude interceptor with Ru-102 turbo-superchargers and the Ki-102-Otsu ground attack aircraft without turbo-superchargers, a nose-mounted 57 mm Ho-401 cannon and two fuselage-mounted 20 mm Ho-5 cannon. In October 1944 the aircraft was placed in production. Most of the aircraft were kept in reserve in Japan, but a few saw limited action during the Okinawa campaign were the Ki-102-Otsu became known as Randy to the Allied forces. In total 238 Ki-102 aircraft were built, most of them as Ki-102-Otsu. By the end of 1944, when the B-29 operations against Japan were intensified, a specialized night-fighter version was developed as Kawasaki Ki-102-Hei. Only two prototypes were finished when WW II ended (Ref.: 1, 5).
TYPE: Twin-engined heavy fighter, ground attack aircraft
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and radio-operator/gunner
POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-102 radial engines, rated at 1,050 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 335 mph at 19,685 ft
COMMENT: The Kawasaki Ki-45-Kai Toryu was probably the most manoeuvrable twin-engined fighter to be employed operationally by any combatants during WW II. Although outclassed in the air-to-air combat arena by Allied single-seat fighters, the Toryu was never to be considered an “easy kill” and it was to prove capable of out-manoeuvring the Lockheed P-38 “Lightning” without difficulty. Furthermore, the Ki-45 was very effective in ground attacks. A special version, the Ki-45-KAI-Otsu, was equipped with 20-mm Ho-3 cannon, too low-firing in air combat, but, as the Imperial Army enjoyed air superiority over the areas in which the Toryu was operating, it was found to be particularly efficacious in attacks on US Navy PT boats and other smaller vessels and in ground-attack role. In late 1943 the 20-mm Ho-3 cannon was replaced by a hand loaded 37-mm Type 98 gun, making this variant even more successful for close-support duties (Ref.: 5).
TYPE: Twin-engined heavy fighter, ground attack aircraft and night fighter
ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and radio operator/gunner
POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-102radial engines, rated at 1080 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 373 mph at 9,186 ft
COMMENT: The primary task of the Kawasaki Ki-45 “Toryu” , it’s design dates back to the late 1930th , was long-range escort of bombers. But it took a long time until the first pre-series aircraft were completed and flight testing initiated. Soon it became clear that the model has to be revised. This new aircraft, Ki-45-KAI (Kaizo means modified) was in fact a totally new design and performed completely satisfactory during its initial flight tests. Orders for quantity production were placed and the first aircrafts reached units by August 1942. The increasing use by the USAAF of B-24 Liberators by night called for improvisation on the part of the Imperial Army as the service possessed no specialized night fighters. The Ki-45-KAI-Ko was a choice for the nocturnal role and a field modification resulted in installation of a pair of Ho-103 machine guns or Ho-5 cannon mounted obliquely to fire upward and forward at an angle of some 70 degrees. While lacking AI radar and being forced to rely on ground guidance to intercept intruders, with searchlight illuminating the quarry, the Toryu enjoyed some success as a night fighter (Ref.: 5).
POWER PLANT: One Nakajima Ha-109 radial engine, rated at 1,520 hp
PERFORMANCE: 367 mph at 17,060 ft
COMMENT: When China-based B-29s of the US XX Bomber Command, soon joined by Mariana-based Superfortresses of the XXI Bomber Command, began their bombing raids against Japan homeland, the Japanese Army had only one type of interceptor fighter on strength: The Nakjima Ki-44-IIb Shoki, (Devil-Queller) known as TOYO to Allied personel. The first prototype was completed and flown in August 1940 and production of the Ki-44-I started in in January 1942. As war progressed several variants were produced, so as Ki.44-II and Ki-44-III, all with several subtypes and more than nine Sentais and several Fighter Training Schools were equipped with the Ki-44. In late 1944, Shoki production terminated as the aircraft was replaced by the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (Ref.: 1).
POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi Ha-104 radial engine, rated at 1,900 hp
PERFORMANCE: 360 mph at 19,685 ft
COMMENT: In early 1945 the Japanese Army Air Force instructed Kawasaki to proceed immediately with the design of a single-seat light bomber aircraft to supplement the suicide forces in the defense of the homeland. The aircraft had to be easy to manufacture, to maintain and to fly, had a good performance and load-carrying capability. Due to shortage of engine manufacturing facilities, a single-seat and single-engine configuration became attractive. In less than three months the basic design of the aircraft was completed and a mock-up was readied for inspection. The initial plans for the first flight in September 1945 could not be realized due to the collapse of Japan (Ref. 1).
POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi Ha-211 Ru radial engine, rated at 2,200 hp
PERFORMANCE: 454 mph at 32.810 ft
COMMENT: In 1943 Mansyu offered the Japan Army Air Force a project of a single-seat ground attack aircraft designated Ki-98. The design was of twin boom configuration and was powered by a 2,200 hp turbosupercharged Mitsubishi Ha 211 Ru radial engine mounted in the central nacelle behind the pilot’s seat and driving a four-blade pusher propeller. Nose-mounted armament consisted of one 37 mm and two 20 mm cannon. A prototype was still under construction when Japan surrendered in September 1945 (Ref: 1)
POWER PLANT: One Nakajima Ha-35 radial engine, rated at 1,150 hp
PERFORMANCE: 342 mph at 9,185 ft
COMMENT: In January 1945, the Japanese Army instructed Nakajima to build a specially designed suicide attack aircraft. This was to be easy to build, maintain and fly, and provision had to be made in its design to carry a single bomb. Power was to be supplied by any air-cooled radial engine with a rating of 800 to 1,300 hp. Maximum speed was specified at 211 mph with the undercarriage in position and 320 mph after jettisoning.
The first prototype was completed in March 1945 and flight tests began immediately. As could be expected from such a crash program, the results were disappointing and several modifications were required before handing the aircraft to pilots with limited experience. Provision was made on the 104 production aircraft for two solid-fuel rockets under each wing to boost the aircraft’s speed in its final dive. None of these aircraft became operational before the war ended. (Ref 1.)