ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four plus 11 passengers or equivalent load
POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-l02 radial engines, rated at 1,080 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 292 mph at 19,000 ft
COMMENT: In 1938, when the Mitsubishi Ki-21 heavy bomber began to enter service with the Imperial Japanese Army, its capability attracted the attention of the Imperial Japanese Airways. In consequence a civil version was developed and this, generally similar to the Ki-21-I and retaining its power plant of two 950 hp Nakajima Ha-5 KAI radial engines, differed primarily by having the same wings transferred from a mid to low-wing configuration and the incorporation of a new fuselage to provide accommodation for up to 11 passengers.
Completed in July 1940 the prototype made its first flight in August, and by the end of the year, despite the loss of the fourth aircraft during test flight, quantity production was authorized for both commercial and military use. A total of 101 aircraft of the first production model were built by Mitsubishi between 1940 and 1942 and designated Army Type 100 Transport Model1 (Ki-57-I) by the Army and MC-20-I by civil authorities. A small number of Ki-57-I were transferred to the Japanese Navy and designated Navy Type 0 Transport Model 11 or L4M1 by that service.
Operated by the Army and Navy as a paratroop transport, communication and logistic support aircraft and by Dai Nippon Koku K.K. as a passenger transport on scheduled services as well as on military contract operations, the aircraft, named “Topsy” by the Allies, was met in all theatres of operation. Although most of the time the type performed unspectacular but necessary tasks, it earned its share of fame on February 1942, during a Japanese paratroop attack on the aerodrome and oil refineries around Palembang.
In May 1942 an improved version of the aircraft, powered by two 1,080 hp Mitsubishi Ha-102 radials housed in redesigned nacelles and incorporating minor equipment changes, replaced the Ki-57-I on the assembly lines. A total of 406 aircraft were built for use by Dai Nippon Koku K.K. as MC-20-II and by the Japanese Army as Ki-57-II, Army Type 100 Transport Model 2. Plans to have the aircraft manufactured by Nippon Kokusai Kogyo K.K. failed to materialize and the last Ki-57-II was delivered by Mitsubishi in January 1945.
After seeing active service throughout the war a few MC-20/Ki-57 aircraft survived and were operated under strict Allied control by Dai Nippon Koku K.K. until October 1945, when all Japanese air activities were prohibited (Ref.: 1, 24).
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two plus eight passengers or equivalent cargo
POWER PLANT: Two Hitachi Ha-13a radial engines, rated at 510 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 233 mph
COMMENT: The Tachikawa Ki-54 was a Japanese twin-engine advanced trainer and light transport aircraft used during WW II. The aircraft was developed in response to an Imperial Japanese Army Air Force requirement for a twin-engine multi-purpose trainer, principally for crew training. The prototype first flew in summer 1940 and, on completing trials, entered production in 1941 as “Army Type 1 Advanced Trainer Model A” (Tachikawa Ki-54a). The Ki-54a was soon followed by the Tachikawa Ki-54b as “Army Type 1 Operations Trainer Model B” and Tachikawa Ki-54c as “Army Type 1 Transport Model C”.
The Tachikawa Ki-54c was a light transport and communication version characterized by its smooth upper fuselage line and was fitted with eight seats. A similar version was built in small numbers as Tachikawa Y-59 for civil operators. Late in the war an all-wood version of the Ki-54c, the Tachikawa Ki-110 was built, but the aircraft was destroyed during an American air raid.
As a crew trainer and light transport, the Tachikawa Ki-54 was one of the most successful Japanese aircraft of the war and was well known to the Allies which named it “Hickory” regardless of the version. The code name “Joyce” was erroneously assigned to a non-existent light bomber version.
A total of 1,368 Ki-54 were built by Tachikawa Hikoki K.K. during the war. A few captured aircraft were flown after the war by various users (Ref.: 1, 24).
TYPE: Long-range Transport and communication aircraft
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of five in sealed oxygen cabin
POWER PLANT: Two Nakajima Ha-115 radial engines, rated at 1,170 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 273 mph at 19,100 ft
COMMENT: The Tachikawa Ki-77 was a Japanese very long-range experimental transport and communications aircraft of World War II derived from a civil design commissioned by the Japanese newspaper “Asahi Shinbun” (“Asahi Press”) to break the flight distance record set by an Italian Savoia-Marchetti S.M.75G.
Ki-77 was the Japanese Army Air Force designation for the civil A-26. The “A” stood for the name of the sponsor Asahi press and “26” for the first two digits of the current Japanese year, 2600 (A. D. 1940).
The overall design was developed by the Aeronautical Research Institute of the University Tokyo together with Tachikawa. It was a clean, slim low wing twin-engine monoplane, and was finalized in autumn of 1940 with the first flight expected in late 1941. But this was canceled with the start of the war against the United States and the reallocation of priorities. The design included a number of novel features, including a high aspect ratio laminar flow wing for reduced drag and a sealed but unpressurized cabin to reduce the need for oxygen masks at its intended operating altitude as well as special low drag cowlings.
In mid 1942, the Japanese decided to forge a link with Europe, but wished to avoid Russian-controlled airspace and development on the Ki-77 was restarted. The first of two prototypes flew on 18 November 1942. The Ki-77 suffered from persistent oil cooling problems which required many changes before being solved, delaying any flight into July 1943. While working on the problem, Tachikawa built a second aircraft that was ready in mid 1943. After several flight trials it was readied for a “Seiko” (Success) mission between Japan and Germany. The aircraft departed Japan on 30 June 1943 for Singapore, where the airstrip had to be lengthened by 1,000 meters to assure a safe take off. Finally, the Ki-77 took off at 7:10 on 7 July 1943 with eight tons of fuel, ample to reach Europe. Their intended destination was a German airfield. The aircraft never reached its destination but disappeared over the Indian Ocean, probably intercepted by British fighters thanks decoding intercepted German communications.
Even if in 1944 the usefulness of record breaking flights was overshadowed by the necessities of war, the Japanese needed a propaganda coup and the surviving Ki-77 was available. On 2 July it flew 19 circuits over a triangular route off Manchuria, landing 57 hours 9 minutes later and covering 10,212 mi at an average speed of 179.1 mph, thus setting a new endurance record. The Ki-77 landed with 800 liters remaining in the tanks of the 3,200 US gal it started with, so the maximum endurance was around 11,000 mi. The Ki-77’s endurance record was never internationally recognized or officiated and was still in existence when Japan surrendered. The aircraft was shipped to the United States aboard the US Navy escort aircraft carrier USS CVE-9 “Bogue” from Yokosuka in December 1945, arriving in the States on January 1946 for examination, before being scrapped (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-102 radial engines, rated at 1,080 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 295 mph at 19,030 ft
COMMENT: In 1938 the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation exported to Japan a total of thirty of their Model 14-38 twin-engined passenger transport. Twenty aircraft were delivered between March and July 1938 to Tachikawa Hikoki K.K. for eventual re-sale to Nihon Koko K.K. (Japan Air Transport Co Ltd) while a further ten aircraft were delivered direct to Nihon Koku K.K. between June and September 1938. Operated by the airline and its successor, Dai Nippon Koku, on its routes linking Japan to China, the aircraft was powered by a pair of 900 hp Wright R-1820-G3B radials. Being used throughout the war, these civilian aircraft received the Allied code name of TOBY.
Tachikawa, also having successfully negotiated a manufacturing licence with Lockheed, decided to submit to the Army a proposal covering Japanese production of a modified version. As the Army urgently required air transport to support their operations in China, this proposal was favourably received, and in 1939 Tachikawa were instructed to undertake the manufacture of this aircraft to carry military personal. Powered by two 900 hp Mitsubishi Ha-26-I radials and designated Army Type LO Transport, these aircraft were also built by Kawasaki. As the aircraft’s handling characteristics were found somewhat unsatisfactory by Army pilots, Kawasaki were instructed to redesign the aircraft, and eventually this led to the production of the Kawasaki Ki-56. Despite its shortcomings, the Army Type LO Transport, known as THELMA to Allied forces, was operated until the Japanese surrender.
In late 1940, Tachikawa undertook to produce an experimental aircraft specifically for pressurization experiments. To speed up work, the wings, rear fuselage section and tail surfaces of the Army Type LO Transport were retained, and a shorter pressurized forward and centre fuselage section was designed. Of cylindrical cross section, the new forward fuselage had no windscreen step, and other modifications included the replacement of the Type LO power plants with two 1,080 hp Mitsubishi Ha-102 radials. Designated Tachikawa SS-1, the aircraft was completed in May 1943 and during its brief trials proved valuable data on cabin pressurization (Ref.: 1).
Scale 1:72 aircraft models of World War II
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