Category Archives: Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance

Mitsubishi F1M2 (“Pete”), IJN BS “Yamato” (Airmodel, Resin)

TYPE: Observation float seaplane

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi “Zuisei” air-cooled radial engine, rated at 875 hp

PERFORMANCE: 230 mph at 11,285 ft

COMMENT: The Mitsubishi F1M (Allied code name “Pete”) was a Japanese reconnaissance floatplane of WW II. The F1M was originally built as a catapult-launched reconnaissance float plane, specializing in gunnery spotting. The “Pete” took on a number of local roles including convoy escort, bomber, anti-submarine, maritime patrol, rescue, transport, and anti-shipping strike. The type was also used as an area-defense fighter and fought dogfights in the Aleutians, the Solomons and several other theaters. In the New Guinea front, it was often used in aerial combat with the Allied bombers and Allied fighters. It was the last biplane type of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), with 1,118 built between 1936 and 1944. It provided the IJN with a very versatile operations platform and was allocated to nearly all Japanese battleships, cruisers, aircraft tenders, but also to several shore bases.

The aircraft shown here was operated from IJN battleship “Yamato” in August 1944. The “Yamato” was the lead ship of the “Yamato” class of Imperial Japanese Navy World War II battleships. She and her sister ship, “Musashi”, were the heaviest battleships ever constructed, displacing 72,800 tonnes at full load and armed with nine 46 cm 45 Caliber Type 94 main guns, which were the largest guns ever mounted on a warship. Neither ship survived World War II (Ref.: 24).

Kawanishi E15K1 “Shiun” (“Violet Cloud”, “Norm”)(Aoshima, Parts Scratch-built)

TYPE: High-speed reconnaissance float plane

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two

POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi MK4S Kasei 24 radial engine, rated at 1,850 hp

PERFORMANCE: 291 mph at 18,700 ft

COMMENT: In 1939 the Imperial Japanese Navy instructed the Kawanishi Aircraft Company to develop a two-seat high-speed reconnaissance floatplane, which was required to have sufficient performance to escape interception by land based fighters. It was planned to equip a new class of cruisers, intended to act as a flagship for groups of submarines operating six of the new floatplanes to find targets. Kawanishi designed a single-engine low-wing monoplane, powered by a 1,460 hp Mitsubishi MK4D Kasei 14 radial engine driving two contra-rotating two-blades propellers, the first installation of contra-rotating propellers produced in Japan, while a laminar flow airfoil section was chosen to reduce drag. It had a single main float under the fuselage and two stabilising floats under the wing. The stabilising floats were designed to retract into the wing, while the central float was designed to be jettisoned in case of emergency, giving a sufficient increase in speed to escape enemy fighters.
The first prototype of Kawanishi’s design, designated E15K1 in the Navy’s short designation system made its maiden flight on 5 December 1941. Five more prototypes followed during 1941-42. Problems were encountered with the retractable stabilising floats, resulting in several accidents when the floats could not be lowered for landing, and the system was eventually abandoned, with the stabilising floats being fixed, and a more powerful Mitsubishi MK4S Kasei 24 engine fitted to compensate for the increased drag.
Despite these problems, the E15K1 was ordered into limited production as the Navy Type 2 High-speed Reconnaissance Seaplane “Shiun” Model 11. Six were sent to Palau in the South Pacific, but these were quickly shot down by Allied fighters, as the jettisonable float failed to separate on demand (although subjected to wind tunnel testing, the float separation system had never been tested on the actual aircraft). This resulted in the cancellation of production in February 1944, with only 15 “Shiuns” completed, including the six prototypes (Ref.: 24).

Yokosuka R2Y1 “Keiun” (“Beautiful Cloud”), (Wings Models, Vacu-formed)

TYPE: Long-range reconnaissance aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and radio operator/navigator

POWER PLANT: One Aichi Ha-70 (twin-coupled Aichi “Atsuta 30s”) twenty-four cylinder liquid-cooled engine, rated at 3,400 hp

PERFORMANCE: 447 mph at 32,810 ft

COMMENT: In 1942 the Japanese Navy initiated the development of a new class of aircraft to fulfil the role as long-range high-speed land-based reconnaissance aircraft. The first projected aircraft was planned around the new 2,500 hp twenty-four cylinder, liquid-cooled engine then under development by Mitsubishi. But in 1943, inspired by evaluation of the Heinkel He 119 V4 acquired from Germany that was powered by two coupled engines buried in the fuselage behind the cockpit the design was changed again. Now the Aichi Ha-70 twin-coupled “Atsuta “30 was installed in the fuselage driving a single six-bladed tractor propeller via an extension shaft. Completed in April 1945 the prototype made its first flight on 8 May 1945. Unfortunately, this flight had to be cut short because of an abnormal rise in oil temperature, while a few days later an engine fire on the ground necessitated a complete engine change. Before this could be done, the R2Y1 was destroyed by American bombs. At the end of the war a second R2Y1 prototype was under construction and the design of a turbojet engine-powered fast attack bomber R2Y2 had almost been completed (Ref. 1).