1943: the best Japanese fighter

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Dec 20, 2015.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    What fighter in either IJA or IJN service we can call the best in 1943? Please elaborate on your choices.
     
  2. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    The most succesful was the Ki43 Oscar and possibly the best was the Ki61 when the engine worked properly.
     
  3. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    I don't think that the army type 1 was more succesfull of the navy type 0
     
  4. cherry blossom

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    #4 cherry blossom, Dec 20, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
    We can make a very short list of IJN candidates if we include only aircraft that saw combat. The list has one member, the A6M Reisen. This was undoubtedly the best Japanese fighter of 1943 if you needed to fight more than 500 miles from your base and was competitive with the Spitfire V over Darwin in early 1943.

    If American carriers had raided around Tokyo in December 1943, they might have encountered the J2M2. 90 J2M1 (8 built), J2M2 and prototypes had been completed by the end of the year according to the USSBS reports. The 381st Kōkūtai was struggling with various teething problems but had a manoeuvrable fighter with a good armament and probably had the fastest Japanese fighter available. I suspect that an omniscient USN pilot would least like to encounter a J2M2 in December 1943.

    According to the USSBS, 71 N1K1-J aircraft had been completed by the end of 1943. However, I don't think that it yet equipped an operational unit. Of course, that might not stop the experimental units struggling with the new Homare engines and other problems from taking off if American aircraft were reported approaching.

    The IJA offers us more choice with the Ki-43, Ki-44 and Ki-61 in service and in combat (probably an IJA pilot would call them Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3 fighters). The Ki-84 was behind the N1K1-J with only 24 completed by the end of the year and can hopefully be excluded. The Ki-44-II was probably the fastest IJA fighter [edited as the Ki-46-II was faster] and very close in speed to a J2M2. However, it had a tiny wing and several American aircraft could turn tighter if they decided to try. The Ki-43 was the most manoeuvrable of all the aircraft listed with superior roll rate to a Zero. However, the Ki-61 Hien was probably the "best" as it could turn better than most enemy aircraft whilst being only slightly slower than a Ki-44-II (and faster than a Ki-44-I in tests) and carried a powerful armament with two imported MG 151 cannons.
     
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  5. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    #5 fastmongrel, Dec 20, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2015
    I have read in several books that the Ki43 shot down more aircraft than any other Japanese type, one of the books was a poorly translated Japanese booklet of pictures and info for modellers building a Tamiya Ki43. I dont have the book anymore and I didnt note down the exact figures perhaps someone here does have the exact figures.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree.

    If Japan had been able to perfect the V12 engine then Ki61 would probably have replaced all other IJA fighter types.
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The Japanese fighters were improving in details and overall as war progressed. Do we know when the Ki-61 received 20 mm cannons?
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    550 liters. Similar to Fw-190. About 150 liters more then Me-109 and Spitfire.

    Not a purpose built long range aircraft but add a standard Japanese belly tank and it's suitable for Pacific use.
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    It seemed like many P-38 drivers held the Ki61 as a formable enemy, this mentioned in the book "Peter Three Eight" IIRC. I also remember reading that the Ki43 shot down more aircraft than any other Japanese type, possible from being in a target rich environment (New Guinea, Burma, Formosa)
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Between 500 and 750 liters was carried in internal tanks of the Ki-61, always self-sealing to the best of my knowledge; Allied war-time reports note 199 gals internally. Two drop tanks were carried, 2 x 200 liters, belly tank won't fit on the Ki-61. That is so far my favorite here.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Seems odd.

    Was it standard IJA practice to use two small wing tanks rather then one medium size belly tank?
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The belly tanks won't fit for the same reason like it won't fit on the P-51, G.55 or Mig-3 - the radiator is there.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The development of the flaps aboard the Mitsubishi fighters just a couple years apart. From split (that hopefully being the term) flaps on the Zero to Fowler-type ('butterfly') flaps on the Raiden.

    drop2.jpg
     
  14. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    That's an early Raiden I think, looking at the canopy and the three bladed prop?

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
  15. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    That looks to be the 6th prototype. The first series production J2M2 Raiden Model 11s first flew in October 1942: they were armed with 2 x 7.7mm mgs firing through the cowling and one 20 mm Type 99 Model 2 in each wing.
     
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  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Id say the Ki-44. Clearly superior to the Ki-43, able to dive and climb as well as the allied fighters, some protection, 4 x 12.7mm HMG difficult to handle but far better suited to point defence missions of 1943.
     
  17. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The KI-84 was being introduced into service during 1943 and was one of the three top performers the Japanese possessed by war's end.
     
  18. Hiromachi

    Hiromachi Active Member

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    Yes, production of Ki-61-I Hei started in September 1943 and continued until the July 1944 when last were assembled.

    Hmm, Ki-44-II in 1943 were still lacking a lot of protection and none of them had four 12.7 mm Type 1 HMGs. It wasnt until 1944 that Ki-44-II Hei had all the protection including bulletproof glass, armored plate and self sealing fuel tanks along with four HMGs. In 1943 you'd either encounter Ki-44-II Ko with two LMGs and two HMGs or Otsu with two HMGs and 40 mm Ho-301 cannons.



    I'd personally go with Type 3 (Ki-61) as it had a very balanced performance - with best high altitude performance of all Japanese fighters until late 1944, decent maneuverability, range and climb, decent to good armament (four HMGs or two HMGs and two cannons), very comfortable cockpit with good visibility in all directions (of course not as good as aircraft with bubble canopy). Aircraft also had more modern radio set. And on the top of the things it was first fully protected Japanese aircraft, having in later produced models thick coverings of self-sealing fuel tanks, 2 armored plates protecting pilot (16 mm thick, resistant to .50 caliber rounds) and 1 protecting radiator (8 mm at 45-60 deg angle, not sure since the exact placement wasnt shown on any of the drawings I saw).
    On the top of things it had good diving performance and could keep up with allied fighters for long.

    Unfortunately for the Japanese the aircraft did not raise to the expectations, though being honest it wasn't due to poor design or bad quality but extremely rough conditions it had to serve in (New Guinea, a green hell that consumed whole Japanese divisions), limited maintenance possible, lack of spare parts and growing with every month opposition.


    Ki-43-II was also quite good Japanese fighter, it finally became something better than fragile egg shell as the wings were shortened and structure was strengthened. Machine received new engine with 2-speed supercharger allowing it to outperform P-40s in China and raise the level of operations from 15,000 to 25,000 feet. Oscar received self sealing fuel tanks and armored plates protecting pilots head, back and legs. Being extremely maneuverable, with improved performance it could show its potential in Burma.

    Ki-44-II was here by far best performer up to 20,000 feet with rapid rate of climb, good acceleration and level speed. But aircraft was hampered by use of outdated telescopic gunsight, limited armament and lack of good concept what to do with such an interceptor. I mean aces like Yasuhiko Kuroe knew what to do with it and scored very often, even against P-38s and P-51s but Tojo with its good performance was somehow always behind in minds of Japanese Army.

    Then we also have A6M5 being introduced in August 1943 with improved performance and high speed handling and from December also with fuel tank protection in form of automatic fire extinguisher. Zero was still a good performer and dangerous to the opposition but if one compares changes done to Army fighters including all levels of protection and at the same time looks on changes done to the Zero than its obvious where Mitsubishi was focusing (J2M, A7M) at this time.

    So as said, my personal choice is Ki-61 despite limited combat success it was still surprising to the Allied pilots who did not expect an inline-engine powered aircraft with protection as good as they had and good performance. Even when I've heard a recordings from some F4U pilots meeting when it was asked what were the hardest opponents for Corsair pilots, Bob McClurg from VMF-214 admitted that hardest was Tony and that they were lucky meeting them so rarely.
     
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  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The Ki-61 probably offered the best range/radius, due to the carrying a great amount of fuel both internally and externally, with the low drag to help out with mileage. The DB 601 engines' series were also frugal with fuel.

    Interestingly enough, the Japanese give for the Ha 40 better altitude power than for the DB 601A or Aa - 1100 CV at 4200 m at 2400 rpm. Wonder whether the use of a bit higher oct fuel, 91/92 oct, helped any bit when compared with German produced 601A/Aa. It does look, however, that Japanese were not puching their Ha 40s to 2600, let alone 2800 rpm like the Germans did with 601A.
     
  20. Hiromachi

    Hiromachi Active Member

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    No, it was according to ATAIU due to different fuel injection. Ki-61 used not original Bosch system for fuel injection, but a Mitsubishi one which gave a slightly lower output at low altitudes but a bit better at higher ones - which can be seen in the maximum speed, where Ki-61 was able to maintain over 520 km/h as high as 10,000 meters.

    And to push DB 601 to 2800 RPM like in DB 601 N Germans required C3 fuel if I'm not mistaken.
     
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