All posts by Gunther Arnold

Nakajima Ki-87 (Pavla Models)

TYPE: High-altitude interceptor fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot in pressurized cockpit

POWER PLANT: One Nakajima Ha-44 radial engine, rated at 2,200 hp

PERFORMANCE: 439 mph at 36,090 ft (estimated)

COMMENT: The Nakajima Ki-87 was developed in response to American Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” raids on the Home Islands. It followed up on earlier research by Nakajima and the Technical Division of Imperial Army Headquarters into boosting a large radial engine with an exhaust-driven turbo-supercharger, which had begun in 1942, well before the B-29 raids began. The efforts of the Technical Division of Imperial Army Headquarters eventually culminated into the Tachikawa Ki-94-I, while the Nakajima Ki-87 was developed as a fall-back project, using less stringent requirements. Nakajima started in July 1943 with the construction of three prototypes, to be completed between November 1944 and January 1945, and seven pre-production aircraft, to be delivered by April 1945. The Technical Division of Imperial Army Headquarters made itself felt during the development of the Ki-87 prototype when they insisted upon placing the turbo-supercharger in the rear-fuselage, and from the sixth prototype the Nakajima fighter was to have that arrangement. The Ki-87 had a rearward folding undercarriage to accommodate the storage of ammunition for the cannons, which were mounted in the wing.
Construction was delayed due to problems with the electrical undercarriage and the turbo-supercharger, and the first prototype was not completed until February 1945; it first flew in April, but only five test flights were completed, all with the undercarriage in the extended position. Production of 500 aircraft was planned, but the war ended before any more than the single prototype was built.
A further variant, the Nakajima Ki-87-II, powered by a 3,000 hp Nakajima Ha-217 (Ha-46) engine and with the turbo-supercharger in the same position as the USAAF Republic P-47 “Thunderbolt”, never went further than the drawing board (Ref.: 24).

Mitsubishi Ki-83 (MPM)

TYPE: Long-range fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and navigator

POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha 211 Ru (Ha-43) radial engines, rated at 2,070 hp each

PERFORMANCE:  438 mph at 32,180 ft

COMMENT: The Mitsubishi Ki-83 was designed as a long-range heavy fighter. The design was a response to a 1943 specification for a new heavy fighter with great range. The first of four prototypes flew on 18 November 1944. The machines displayed remarkable maneuverability for aircraft of their size and carried a powerful armament of two 30 mm and two 20 mm cannon in its nose. Despite the bomb-ravaged Japanese manufacturing sector, plans for the Ki-83 to enter production within were underway when Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945.
Both the existence and performance of the Ki-83 were little known during the war, even in Japan. It was completely unknown in Allied military aviation circles – as demonstrated by the fact that the Ki-83 had not been given a reporting name. Most early photographs of the type were taken during the post-war occupation of Japan, when the four prototypes were seized by the USAAF and re-painted with USAAF insignia. When they were evaluated by US aeronautical engineers and other experts, a Ki-83 using high-octane fuel reached a speed of 473 mph at an altitude of 23,000 ft (Ref.: 24).

Mitsubishi Ki-73 “Steve” (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Long-range escort fighter. Project


POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi Ha 203-II liquid-cooled engine, rated at 2,600 hp, driving three-bladed contra-rotating propellers


COMMENT: During May 1943, Japanese authorities delivered a new requirement for a single-seat, single-engine long range escort fighter to protect bomber formations from interception by Allied warplanes beginning to gain the advantage in the skies over the Pacific Area of Action. The Mitsubishi Ki-73 was one result of the requirement by the type was not furthered beyond a sole, incomplete prototype before the end of WW II. The design team managed to find success with the earlier twin-engine Mitsubishi Ki-46 “Dinah” and eventually moved on to the promising Mitsubishi Ki-83 twin-engine, two seat long-range heavy fighter design of which four prototypes ultimately emerged when the development of the Ki-73 was abandoned. Rather unique for Japanese-originated wartime fighter design was the use of contra-rotating propeller arrangement. The rest of the overall design arrangement was conventional – the engine in the nose, a single-finned tail at rear and cockpit set over center mass. Wings were straight monoplane appendages with clipped tips and tailwheel undercarriage was fully retractable. While the Mitsubishi Ki-73 was never formally adopted for service and never entered serial production, captured documents by the  Allies – who believed the type was to come online soon – allocated the codename “Steve” for the series which never was.

Kawasaki Ki-64 (“Rob”), (MPM)

TYPE: Heavy fighter


POWER PLANT: One Kawasaki Ha-201 coupled liquid-cooled engines, rated at 2,350 hp

PERFORMANCE: 430 mph at 16.000 ft

COMMENT: The Kawasaki Ki-64, Allied code name “Rob”, was a one-off prototype of an experimental heavy, single seat, fighter. It had two unusual design features. First; it had two Kawasaki Ha-40 engines in tandem; one in the aircraft nose, the other behind the cockpit, both being connected by a drive shaft. This combination, called the Kawasaki Ha-201, drove two, three-bladed, contra-rotating propellers. The second feature was the use of the wing surface as a radiator for the water-cooled engines. The aircraft first flew in December 1943. During the fifth flight, the rear engine caught fire; and while the aircraft made an emergency landing, it was damaged. The aircraft was subsequently abandoned in mid-1944 in favour of more promising projects. The airframe survived the war, and parts of the unique cooling system were sent to Wright Field in the US for examination (Ref.: 24).

Bristol Beaufighter Mk.X, 455th Squadron, RAAF (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Long-range fighter, Fighter bomber


POWER PLANT: Two Bristol Hercules Mk XVII, rated at 1,700 hp

PERFORMANCE: 315 mph at 10,000 ft

COMMENT: The success of the Bristol Beaufighter was based on a variety of roles the aircrafts were used for: Long-range fighter, night fighter, strike aircraft, and torpedo bomber. Production ended in 1945 after 5.564 Beaufighters had been built.

Bristol Brigand TF.Mk.I (Valom)

TYPE: Long-range torpedo bomber and anti-shipping aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: Two Bristol “Centaurus” 57 radial engines, rated at 2,470 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 358 mph at 16,000 ft

COMMENT: As an alternative to the highly successful Bristol “Beaufighter” in the role of torpedo bomber the Bristol “Brigand” was selected by the UK Air Ministry based on the applicable requirements. The first four prototypes were ordered I April 1943 and the first flight took place on December 1944. Series production began with the use of various components from its predecessor, the Bristol “Beaufighter”, although the first eleven torpedo versions of the “Brigand” TF. Mk.I were not delivered until 1946. However, in 1946 offensive planes were no longer required and the “Brigands” were returned to their native factory and redeveloped into new light and fast bombers, known as “Brigand” B.1. A total of 147 “Brigands” were produced, including prototypes and production ended in spring 1949. The Bristol “Brigand” was the last fighter plane to use a piston drive (Ref.: Valom).


Bristol “Beaufighter” Mk.VIF, 89th Squadron (Airfix)

TYPE: Long-range night fighter, Fighter bomber


POWER PLANT: Two Bristol Hercules VI, rated at 1,600 hp

PERFORMANCE: 320 mph at 10,000 ft

COMMENT: In the late 30’s the British Air Ministry placed an order to the Bristol Aeroplane Company to develop a long-range heavy fighter, parallel to the Westland “Whirlwind” cannon armed twin-engine fighter. The company proposed a design on the basis of the  earlier Bristol “Beaufort”torpedo bomber.  First production models of the “Beaufighter”were night fighters, followed by fighter bombers and later as a torpedo bombers. This aircraft shown here is a night fighter variant “Beaufighter”Mk VIF, equipped with an A.I. Mk. IV radar.

General Motors/Fisher P-75A “Eagle” (Valom)

Type: Long-range escort fighter

Accommodation: Pilot only

Power Plant: One × Allison V-3420-23 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 2,885 hp driving three-blade contra-rotating propellers

Performance: 433 mph at 20,000

Comment: The disappointing results of the test program with the General Motors/Fisher XP-75 “Eagle” led to a complete re-design of the aircraft. Furthermore, in mid-1943, the need for long-range escort fighters became more urgent than fast climbing interceptors so a decision was made to order six more XP-75 airplanes modified for the long-range role. At this time, an order for 2,500 production aircraft was also let, but with the stipulation that if the first production version P-75A was not satisfactory the complete order might be canceled.
At the time, General Motors was busy in several projects towards the war effort, including the mass production of several different aircraft types, among them the Grumman TBM “Avenger”. Redesigns of the P-75A “Eagle” were introduced including a new outer wing section from the North American P-51 “Mustang”, a modified tail assembly, new “bubble” canopy, and a V-3420-23 engine that corrected most of the deficiencies by the time the first P-75A “Eagles” entered flight test in September 1944.
By this time, the Army Air Forces decided to limit the number of combat aircraft types in production and not enter into large-scale production of new types that might not be available before the war ended. As the twin-engine Lockheed P-38 “Lightning” and North American P-51 “Mustang” demonstrated excellent long-range capabilities the production run of the P-75A “Eagle” was substantially terminated on October 1944. Although the “Eagle” was given extensive media coverage prior to its first flight, being trumpeted as a “wonder plane”, it was decided to use the six completed production aircraft for experimental work and development of the V-3420 engine. As a result of these events, the P-75A did not complete formal performance trials due to termination of the production contract. Ultimately, only eight XP-75s and six P-75As were built (Ref. 24).

General Motors/Fisher XP-75 “Eagle” (Valom)

Type: High-altitude interceptor fighter

Accommodation: Pilot only

Power Plant: One × Allison V-3420-19 liquid-cooled engine, rated at  2,600 hp, driving three-blade contra-rotating propellers

Performance: 433 mph at 20,000

Comment: The General Motors/Fisher XP-75 “Eagle” was a fighter aircraft designed by the Fisher Body Division of General Motors. Development started in September 1942 in response to USAAF requirement for a fighter possessing an extremely high rate of climb, using the most powerful liquid-cooled engine then available, the Allison V-3420.
In October 1942, the contract for two prototypes was signed. The design concept was to use the outer wing panels from the Curtiss P-40 “Warhawk”, the tail assembly from the  Douglas A-24 (SBD) “Dauntless”, and the undercarriage from the Vought F4U-1 “Corsair” in a general layout much as in the Bell P-39 “Airacobra” with the engine located amidships with the propeller driven through an extension shaft.
In mid-1943, the need for long-range escort fighters became more urgent than fast climbing interceptors so a decision was made to order six more XP-75 airplanes modified for the long-range role. At this time, an order for 2,500 production aircraft was also let, but with the stipulation that if the first P-75A was not satisfactory the complete order might be canceled.
Powered by a V-3420-19 24-cylinder engine rated at 2,600 hp driving co-axial contra-rotating propellers, the XP-75 flew for the first time on 17 November 1943. The second XP-75 flew shortly thereafter, with all six long-range XP-75s entering the test program by the spring 1944. The test program brought up numerous teething problems, including miscalculation of the fighter’s center of mass, failure of the engine to produce its expected power, inadequate engine cooling, high aileron forces at high speed, and poor spin characteristics. These failures led to a complete redesign of the aircraft to a long-range escort fighter with the unchanged designation P-75 “Eagle” (Ref. 24).