Mitsubishi Ki-46-II “Dinah”, 74th Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai (Matchbox Models, Parts Scratch-built)

TYPE: Reconnaissance aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two

POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-112 radial engines, rated at 1,080 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 375 mph at 19,000 ft

COMMENT: To the Allied aircrews ”Dinah” was known as the aircraft with the nice “linah”. Indeed, the Mitsubishi Ki-46 had probably the most graceful lines of any fighting aircraft of WW II. Cleanly designed, reliable and fast, this airplane performed its unspectacular tasks of high-altitude reconnaissance with considerable success from the first unauthorized overflight of Malaya before the Japanese invasion of that country to the surveillance flights over the US 20th Air Force’s bases in the Marianas during the closing stage of the war. Respected by its foes and trusted by its crews, the Ki-46 also captured the attention of the German Luftwaffe with fruitlessly negotiated the acquisition of a manufacturing license under the Japanese-German Technical Exchange Programme.
Because of the geographical location of Japan and the vastness of the area in which a potential conflict requiring their participation would be fought, the Imperial Japanese Army had a constant requirement for reconnaissance aircraft combining high speed with substantial range performance.
On 12 December 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force issued a specification to Mitsubishi for a long-range strategic reconnaissance aircraft to replace the Mitsubishi Ki-15. The specification demanded an endurance of six hours and sufficient speed to evade interception by any fighter in existence or development. The resulting design was a twin-engined, low-winged monoplane with a retractable tailwheel undercarriage. It had a small diameter oval fuselage which accommodated a crew of two, with the pilot and observer situated in individual cockpits separated by a large fuel tank. Further fuel tanks were situated in the thin wings both inboard and outboard of the engines. The engines, two Mitsubishi Ha-26s, were housed in close fitting cowlings developed by the Aeronautical Research Institute of the Tokyo Imperial University to reduce drag and improve pilot view.
The first prototype aircraft, with the designation Ki-46, flew in November 1939 from the Mitsubishi factory at Kakamigahara, Gifu. Tests showed that the Ki-46 was underpowered, and slower than required, only reaching 336 mph rather than the specified 373 mph. Otherwise, the aircraft tests were successful. As the type was still faster than the Army’s latest fighter, the Nakajima Ki-43 “Hayabusa” (“Peregrine falcon”, Allied code “Oscar”), as well as the Navy’s new Mitsubishi A6M2 “Zero”, an initial production batch was ordered as the Army Type 100 Command Reconnaissance Plane Model 1 (Ki-41-I).
While testing of the Ki-46-I was going on, the engine plant of Mitsubishi had under development an advanced version of the Ha-26-I engine, the Ha-102, with two-speed supercharger which was expected to boost take-off rating to1,080 hp. With this powerplant it was anticipated that the Ki-46 could easily meet its speed requirement and consequently Mitsubishi were instructed to proceed with the design of the Ki-46-II to be powered by a pair of Ha-102s. The first Ki-46-II was completed in March 1941 and the test progressed satisfying so the production started.
The new aircraft was first used by the Japanese Army in Manchukuo and China, where seven units were equipped with it, and also at times by the Imperial Japanese Navy in certain reconnaissance missions over the northern coasts of Australia and New Guinea. The Imperial Japanese Army Air Force used this aircraft for the same type of missions over present-day Malaysia during the months before the Pacific War. Later, it was used for high altitude reconnaissance over Burma, Indochina, Thailand, and the Indian Ocean.  The Mitsubishi Ki-46 was regarded by the Allied as a difficult aircraft to counter, only occasionally intercepting them successfully.
During WW II Mitsubishi factories produced 34 units Mitsubishi Ki-46-I, and 1093 units Mitsubishi Ki-46-II (Ref.: 1, 24).

Blackburn “Firebrand” T.F. Mk IV (Czech Master, Resin)

TYPE: Carrier-borne torpedo bomber, fighter bomber, fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT:  One Bristol “Centaurus” IX radial engine, rated at 2,520 hp

PERFORMANCE: 342 mph

COMMENT: The Blackburn “Firebrand” was a British single-engine strike fighter for the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy designed during World War II by Blackburn Aircraft. Originally intended to serve as a pure fighter, its unimpressive performance and the allocation of its Napier “Sabre” piston engine by the Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) for the Hawker “Typhoon” caused it to be redesigned as a strike fighter to take advantage of its load-carrying capability. Development was slow and the first production aircraft was not delivered until after the end of the war. Only a few hundred were built before it was withdrawn from front-line service in 1953
The B-37, given the service name “Firebrand” on July 1941, was a low-winged, all-metal monoplane. Aft of the cockpit the fuselage was an oval-shaped stressed-skin semi monocoque, but forward it had a circular-section, tubular-steel frame that housed the main fuel tank and the auxiliary fuel tank behind the engine. The radiators for the neatly cowled “Sabre” engine were housed in wing-root extensions. The large wing consisted of a two-spar centre section with manually folded outer panels to allow more compact storage in the hangar decks of aircraft carriers. To increase lift and reduce landing speed the wing was fitted with large, hydraulically powered flaps that extended to the edges of the ailerons. The fixed armament of four 20 mm cannon was fitted in the outer wing panels. The fin and rudder were positioned forward of the elevator to ensure spin recovery and that the rudder would retain its effectiveness. The mainwheels of the landing gear were mounted at the ends of the centre wing section and retracted inwards.The “Firebrand” was unusual in the fact that there was an airspeed gauge mounted outside of the cockpit so that during landing the pilot would not have to look down into the cockpit to take instrument readings, foreshadowing the modern heads-up display.
The unarmed first prototype first flew on February 1942 using the “Sabre II”, the first of two armed prototypes following on July same year. The initial flight trials were a disappointment as the aircraft could only reach 32 mph below Blackburn’s estimated maximum speed. Replacement of the “Sabre II” with a “Sabre III”, an engine built specifically for the “Firebrand” improved its top speed to 358 mph at 17,000 ft.  The second prototype conducted deck-landing trials aboard the fleet carrier HMS “Illustrious” in February 1943.The “Sabre” engine was also used in the Hawker “Typhoon”, a fighter already in production and the MAP decided that the “Typhoon” had priority for the “Sabre”. The “Sabre” was also experiencing production problems and so a new engine was needed, along with the necessary airframe adaptations. To use the time and effort invested in the design, the MAP decided to convert the “Firebrand” into an interim strike fighter, to meet a Fleet Air Arm requirement for a single-seat torpedo bomber capable of carrying bombs, rockets and being capable of air-to-air combat. Nine production “Firebrand” F. Mk I aircraft were built to the original specifications and were retained for trials and development work
A new specification was issued as S.8/43 to cover the development of the “Firebrand” T.F. Mk III with the 2,400 hp Bristol “Centaurus” VII radial engine. Two prototypes were converted from incomplete F Mk Is and 27 additional aircraft were delivered, completing the first batch of 50 aircraft. The first prototype flew on December 1943, but construction of the new aircraft was very slow with the first flight not being made until November 1944. Most changes were related to the installation of the larger-diameter “Centaurus” engine, including air intakes for the carburetor and oil cooler in the wing-root extensions that formerly housed the engine’s radiators. Production aircraft after the first 10 were fitted with the improved “Centaurus” IX engine. The “Firebrand” T.F. Mk III was found to be unsuitable for carrier operations for a variety of reasons. The new engine produced more torque than the “Sabre”, and rudder control was insufficient on takeoff with the full flaps needed for carrier use. Visibility while landing was very poor, the tailhook attachment to the airframe was too weak, and the aircraft had a tendency to drop a wing at the stall while landing, so development continued to rectify these issues.
The “Firebrand” T.F. Mk IV, as the new development was designated, featured larger tail surfaces for better low-speed control. The enlarged rudder was horn balanced and the vertical stabilizer was offset three degrees to port to counteract the four-bladed Rotol propeller’s torque. The wings now featured hydraulically operated dive brakes on both upper and lower surfaces. The aircraft’s wings were now stressed to carry heavy bombs, drop tanks or RP-3 rockets. The frame that held the torpedo was connected to the undercarriage so that it pivoted nose-downward to increase ground clearance with the landing gear extended and pivoted upward to reduce drag while in flight. The “Firebrand” T.F. Mk IV first flew on May 1945, and 250 aircraft were ordered. But only 170 aircraft were completed and 50 more aircraft were cancelled (Ref.: 24).

Messerschmitt Me 209 V4 (Huma Models)

TYPE: Interceptor, fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Daimler-Benz DB 601A liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,175 hp

PERFORMANCE: 370 mph app.

COMMENT: The designation Messerschmitt Me 209 was used for two separate projects during World War II. The first was a record-setting, single-engine race aircraft, for which little or no consideration was given to adaptation for combat (Messerschmitt Me 209 V1). The second Me 209 was a proposal for a follow-up to the highly successful Messerschmitt Bf 109 which served as the Luftwaffe’s primary fighter throughout World War II.
In late 1939, after three prototypes of the record-breaking aircraft were built the fourth prototype, the Messerschmitt Me 209 V4, was adapted to a fighter aircraft. The fuselage was essentially similar to that of the record-speed aircraft but the vertical tail surfaces were substantially increased in area, the main undercarriage legs were shortened, an entirely new wing was fitted, and the maximum gross weight was reduced.
For initial flight trials, the Me 209 V4 was fitted with a standard Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine and retained the surface evaporation cooling system employed by its  high-speed predecessors, but this system was far from perfection and continuously troublesome, and after the eighth test flight was removed  and replaced by shallow, low drag radiators beneath the inboard wing panels. The resumption of flying trials immediately revealed inadequacy of the cooling provided by the underwing radiators, and the handling characteristics of both on the ground and in the air proved extremely poor. By 1940, the overall wing span had been increased and both horizontal and vertical tail surfaces had been enlarged, but trial revealed no major improvement of the characteristics of the fighter.
With each successive modification weight escalated and performance diminished, and as the Me 209 V4 was by now decidedly underpowered, the DB 601A was replaced by a DB 601N affording 1,200 hp for take-off. But troubles still continued and further tests proved that speed performance was marginally lower than that of the standard Messerschmitt Me 109E. Finally all further development was abandoned.
However, combat actions with British Supermarine “Spitfires” showed an urgent need for a successor of the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Me 109. So the Messerschmitt design bureau had been engaged in developing a modernized, more powerful derivative of the Me 109 and the RLM transferred the designation Me 209 to the new fighter which should employ a large portion of a standard Me 109 components. In fact, at the outset it was envisaged that there would be approximately 65 per cent airframe communality between the Me 109G and what now referred to as Messerschmitt Me 209-II (Ref.: 7).

 

Kugisho NK-1B (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Interceptor, fighter. Project

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Nakajima NK-1B “Sakae” radial engine, rated at 1,100 hp

PERFORMANCE: No data available

COMMENT: On 26 April 1939, a German Messerschmitt Me 209 V1 set a new world speed record of almost 469 mph. This relative small Me 209 was a completely new aircraft and not to mistake for a replacement of the Messerschmitt Me 109, entering service with the Luftwaffe at the same time. Its only purpose was to set a new speed record.
Impressed by that speed the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force authorized the Yokosuka Naval Air Technical Arsenal, Yokosuka also known as Kaigun Koku Gijutsusho or Kugisho to propose several designs of similar aircraft. In a complete reversal from previous Japanese Navy requirements priority was given speed, rate of climb, and maneuverability.
One design was built around a Nakajima NK1 “Sakae” radial engine, one of the most powerful engines available in Japan at that time. Another design proposed by Kugisho was the Kugisho HA-40, powered by a Kawasaki Ha-40 liquid-cooled engine derived from the German Daimler-Benz DB 601A. A more powerful variant of this engine was installed in the world record-breaking Messerschmitt Me 209 V1.
Although calculations and designs were in an advanced stage none of the Kugisho projects were realized
Noteworthy is the fact that the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force had similar projects, e. g. the Kawasaki Ki-60.