Category Archives: Fighter


Nakajima Ki-43-II-Otsu ‘Hayabusa’ (‘Peregrine Falcon’, ‘Oscar’) of Headquaters Chutai, 77th Hiko Sentai (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Fighter, fighter bomber


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).

Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Otsu “Toryu”(“Dragon Killer”, “Nick”), 4th Sentai, 2nd Chutai, (Hasegawa)

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).

Kawasaki Ki-108 (A + V Models, Resin)

TYPE: Twin-engined high-altitude fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot in pressure cabin

POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-112-II Ru radial engines, rated at 1,500 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 360 mph at 32,810 ft

COMMENT: In early 1943 intelligence reports concerning progress in the USA with the B-29 Superfortress recognized the Imperial Army Air Service that itself might eventually find confronted by bombers cruising above the effective combat ceiling of its existing fighters. So a requirement was prepared for a specialized heavy interceptor fighter capable of operating at extreme altitudes. Kawasaki proposed a derivative of its Ki-102, work on which just had commenced, featuring a pressure cabin for the pilot. As work proceeded the project was assigned the designation Ki-108. Two prototypes were ordered and flight trials began in mid 1944. Concerning the pressure cabin, it was calculated than an equivalent pressure of 9,845 ft could be maintained up to an altitude of 32,810 ft, but there were serious misgivings concerning the vulnerability of such a cabin to battle damage. These were answered in somewhat unexpected fashion, for, during early flight tests, an insecure lock resulted in the entry hatch blowing out at an altitude of some 33,000 ft with an immediate loss of pressure in consequence. The pilot immediately dived the aircraft and landed safely, indicating that the effect of a bullet penetration the pressure cabin would not be particularly hazardous. Further modifications resulted in the Kawasaki Ki-108-KAI (Ref.: 5).

Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI-Ko “Toryu”, (“Dragon Killer”, “Nick”), 5th Sentai, 1st Chutai, (Hasegawa)

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).

Kawasaki Ki-96 (A+V Models, Resin)

TYPE: Twin engine heavy fighter


POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-12-11 radial engine, rated at 1,500 hp

PERFORMANCE: 391 mph at 31,170 ft

COMMENT: The great success of the Kawasaki Ki-45-KAI “Toryu” (“Dragon Slayer”, Allied code “Nick”) encouraged the Kawasaki Company to initiate work on a refined, more powerful derivative of the Ki-45. Compared with its forerunner an aerodynamically improved fuselage, a larger square-tipped vertical tail surface, and more powerful engines were provided. In 1943 work on the Ki-96 gained tempo and in September that year the first prototype was completed. In the meantime it became obvious that a second crew member was superfluous in a high-performance twin-engined fighter. So the second cockpit of the first prototype was faired over and the two other prototypes under construction were finished as single-seater. Flight test were most satisfactory, the Ki-96 combining good handling characteristics with performance exceeding design estimates. However, the Army’s interest in the potential of single-seat twin-engined fighters was to prove short-lived and consequently the Ki-96 had only a brief live as an aerodynamically prototype for the two-seat Kawasaki Ki-102 which supplanted it (Ref.: 1, 5).

Kawasaki Ki-78 (Planet, Resin)

TYPE: High-speed research aircraft


POWER PLANT: One Daimler-Benz DB 601A liquid-cooled piston engine, rated at 1,155 hp with Water/Methanol injection                  

PERFORMANCE: 435 mph at 11,500 ft

COMMENT: The Ki-78, designed at the Aeronautical Research Institute and built at Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K. to investigate flying behaviour at very high speed, featured a streamlined minimum cross-section fuselage fitted with a licence-built Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine. For short duration power boost methanol/water injection was used, and cooling was improved by a 60 hp turbine driven cooling fan for the radiators. By the outbreak of the war, the whole project was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Army who gave it the military type designation Ki-78. Kawasaki received the order to build two prototypes of the Ki-78, construction of which was started in September 1941. The first prototype was completed more than a year later and was flown for the first time on 26 December 1942. A feasibility study to improve the KI-78 flight performance showed that extensive airframe modifications were needed and consequently the project was officially terminated after the 32nd flight on 11 January 1944; the second Ki-78 was never completed (Ref.: 23).

Kawasaki Ki-60 (Airmodel, Resin)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter


POWER PLANT: : One Daimler-Benz DB 601 liquid-cooled inverted V-12 engine, rated at 1,175 hp

PERFORMANCE: 348 mph at 14,800 ft

COMMENT: The Kawasaki Ki-60 was an experimental fighter that used a license-built German Daimler-Benz (Kawasaki) DB 601 liquid-cooled engine. This was at that time an unusual choice because the majority of Japanese aircraft used air-cooled radial engines. The Ki-60 was designed by Kawasaki Aircraft Industries in response to a 1939 Imperial Japanese Army Aviation Bureau requirement for a heavily armed specialised interceptor fighter to be powered by the liquid-cooled Daimler-Benz DB 601 inverted V12 engine, which had been selected for license production by Kawasaki as the Ha-40. A requirement was issued at the same time for a lighter, less heavily armed, general-purpose fighter which was to be designed almost in parallel with the Ki-60; this became the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien. Priority was to be given to the Ki-60, design of which started in February 1940. The first prototype of the Ki-60 emerged in March 1941 as a compact monoplane with a relatively deep fuselage and tapered wings with rounded tips built around a system of three spars. The pilot’s seat was mounted high over the rear spar, giving the fuselage a distinctive “humped” profile; the hood featured a framed, rear sliding canopy and an elongated rear transparent section. The main coolant radiator was housed in a long ventral bath under the wing center-section and central fuselage, while the oil cooler was mounted under the engine with a long air intake. The prototype was powered by an imported Daimler-Benz DB 601A as production of the Ha-40 had not yet started. Although a top speed of 370 mph had been projected the Ki-60 was only able to achieve 341 mph. By this time the Nakajima Ki-44 Hajabusa, which had also been designed as a dedicated interceptor, was beginning to show some promise and the Koku Hombu selected this in fulfilment of its requirements. From early 1941 the full attention was focused on the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien, but the Ki-60 became important in that the Ki-61 design was able to be improved using the lessons learned from the poor characteristics of the Ki-60. Plans for production were cancelled in late 1941 after three airplanes had been built. (Ref.: 23)

Nakajima Ki-44-II-Hei Shoki (Devil- Queller, Toyo), 70th Sentai (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter


POWER PLANT: One Nakajima Ha-109 radial engine, rated at 1,520 hp

PERFORMANCE: 367 mph at 17,060 ft

COMMENT: The Ki-44-IIc variant of the Nakajima Shoki aircraft was armed with wing-mounted 20 mm Ho-3 cannon that proved particular effective against the B-29’s attacking Japan. But in December 1944, Shoki production terminated as the aircraft was replaced on Nakajima’s assembly-lines by the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate and, when the war ended, only three Sentais were still equipped with them. In total 1, 225 Ki-44’s were built (Ref.: 1, 6)

Tachikawa Ki-106 (RS Models)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter


POWER PLANT: One Nakajima Ha-45-21 radial engine, rated at 1,990 hp

PERFORMANCE: 385 mph at 21.325 ft

COMMENT: Although the Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate was one of the most successful Japanese aircraft a modified version seemed to be necessary due to the increasingly critical light alloy supply situation as the war progressed. In late 1943 Tachikawa Hikoki K.K. were entrusted by the Ministry of Munitions with the task of designing an all-wood version of the Ki-84. Work on three airframes, designated Ki-106, began in autumn 1944, but various factors delayed the programme and the first of these prototypes was not to be completed and flown until July 1945. The Ki-106 was heavier than the standard Ki-84 what exerted an adverse effect on maneuverability and climb rate, but maximum level speed was virtually unchanged. The end of the war brought the Ki-106 project to a halt. (Ref.: 1., 6.)

Nakajima Ki-44-IIc-Otsu Shoki (Devil-Queller, Toyo), 87th Sentai, 2nd Chutai (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter


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).