Am I the only person in the world who's a fan of the Ki-43

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Johnny .45, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Johnny .45

    Johnny .45 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Occupation:
    Various, Making Life Better For People.
    Location:
    Vermont. That's a state in the US, if you hadn't heard of it.
    Just bored and was wondering. For some reason, I love that plane, in spite of it seeming so...underwhelming...compared to most of the "big" planes. It seems to have such character, and it was surprisingly successful for an aircraft that never had more than 2 x 12.7mm MG's or any kind of armor at all; sometimes the success that the Japanese and Soviets had with relatively light armament makes me wonder if we really needed as many big guns as we think we did. I also suspect the Ki-43 must have been great fun to fly, being so light and nimble. "Hayabusa" is a great name too. I know the A6M is more glamorous and better known (the Ki-43 was just "The Army Zero" to Allied pilots), maybe better looking too, but I prefer the Ki-43. Supposedly it shot down more aircraft than any other Japanese fighter (basically making it the Japanese Hurricane!), and did it in spite of being much lighter-armed and even more lightly-built than the Zero. And it was gaining victories right up to the end of the war, when in the right hands. Not bad for an aircraft that was facing opponents that outclassed it by such a magnitude. I guess I just always like the underdog...
     
  2. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2009
    Messages:
    711
    Likes Received:
    130
    Trophy Points:
    43
    The success the 'Type 01' also shook my understanding of aircraft armament in WWII. Reading through Shores' "Bloody Shambles" I gained a newfound respect for the fighter, their pilots, and the (usual) armament of one 7.7-mm and one 12.7-mm gun.

    For what it's worth I think some versions had some armour plate.
     
  3. Shinpachi

    Shinpachi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Messages:
    6,817
    Likes Received:
    1,012
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    CGI Creator
    Location:
    Osaka
    My father, as a former IJA soldier, would have been happy to hear that, Johnny :thumbleft:
    In fact, Japanese were surprised to know the zero fighter was most famous or popular with the allies after the war was over.
    The Ki-43 was the most famous and popular fighter in Japan during the war.
    Even most of Japanese today don't know that.
     
    • Like Like x 5
  4. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    853
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Aircraft Restoration
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonga, California, U.S.A.
    I am a fan of the type, Shinpachi, and just finished a drawing of it. Most of the "Zeros" reported in early combat reports were most probably Ki-43's, but I'm sure you know that. it looks like a thoroughly pleasant aircraft to fly, but is a bit light on armament for combat versus more heavily-constructed opponents.
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,201
    Likes Received:
    2,037
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    I prefer the late war types myself - this is just a personal preference and in now way diminishes the ability of the A6M or the KI-43, which were certainly an asset to the IJA & IJN
     
  6. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,340
    Likes Received:
    406
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    Been a fan of the Hayabusa for a long time. I built a 1:72 model by I think Hasegawa about 40 years ago and I remember it being a lovely kit.
     
  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,072
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Even with the odd gun arrangement, it was impressive.
     
  8. windswords

    windswords Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Occupation:
    Computer Programmer Analyst
    Location:
    Florida, USA
     
  9. windswords

    windswords Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2009
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Occupation:
    Computer Programmer Analyst
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    It is a misnomer that Japanese aircraft never had armor protection or self sealing fuel tanks. The early war fighters did not, and the Japanese paid for it, though at the time they thought the exchange of range and better climb and turning ability was worth it. As the war progressed both the Zero and the Hayabusa were given increased protection so that by the last year of the war they had armor plating behind the pilot, self sealing fuel tanks and bullet proof windscreens. The Zero even had a fire extinguishing system if I remember correctly. That's not to say that their self-sealing tanks were as good as the allies or the Germans but they did have them. Also the 12.7 mm guns of the Ki-43 were considered to be "machine cannon" by the Japanese. The shells were explosive (obviously not as much as the 20 mm size). I don't know how they compare with the American M2 .5 caliber. One of the drawbacks of the weapon is that it did not synchronize well with the propeller blade. The rate of fire was only around 400 rounds per minute, whereas the 7.7 mm rate of fire was 800 and some. That may explain the mix of weapons in some Ki-43 examples. Since the Ki-43 shot down plenty of aircraft including Col Neil Kearby's P-47, they were obviously effective when aimed well.

    What fascinates me about the Ki-43 is that for the Japanese army air force it represents a transitional model from the old generation of aerial combat (WWI and after) to the next (WWII).

    Initially the Ki-43 incorporated only a few "modern" features when compared to its predecessor the Ki-27. Retractable landing gear and the provision for radio equipment. It still had a telescopic gun sight and twin small caliber weapons firing thru the propeller like planes of Richthofen and Rickenbacker and only sported a two bladed propeller. By the end of the war in addition to the armor and self-sealing fuel tanks it had a three bladed propeller, individual exhaust stacks, water-methanol injection, reflector type gun sight and heavy caliber guns.
     
  10. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,340
    Likes Received:
    406
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    If you measure a planes effectiveness by comparing its weight to its adversaries the Ki43 would have been the best fighter of WWII you could probably get three Ki43s to a P38 or P47 ;)
     
  11. Johnny .45

    Johnny .45 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Occupation:
    Various, Making Life Better For People.
    Location:
    Vermont. That's a state in the US, if you hadn't heard of it.
    I've actually recently read that, about the Ho-103's poor sychronization. It even said that the Japanese pilots were so unhappy with its low rate of fire, that it was common for pilots to remove one of the 12.7mm's and replace it with an older 7.7mm Type 89 (might have even been one of the threads on here, now that I think of it). It seems like Japanese pilots frequently had different priorities than pilots from other nations, thus the unique character of their aircraft. I'd also note that the Soviets were similar in that they tended to fit much lighter armament to their fighters; a standard for an La-7/9 or Yak-9/3 was one 20mm and one 12.7mm, which they considered perfectly sufficient, and were very successful with. When they were given P-39's with .50cals in the cowl and wings, they immediately removed the wing guns, to improve the roll rate (which was already quite good, IIRC). Which reminds me of my original topic: I found it interesting to hear that the Ho-103 was so poor when sychronized, because the Ho-103 is actually a Browning (I've read that it's based on the M2, but I also have read that it's derived from the M1919, which would make it a parallel development. That would explain why it's chambered in the weaker Italian Breda 12.7mm cartridge; if they had copied the M2, why not take the .50BMG as well?). I've also read that the M2 sychronized poorly, but I wonder if it was quite THAT bad, and if it was that poor, then it makes it even more interesting that the Soviets would have so willingly stripped their P-39's down to their cowling .50cals alone; perhaps they considered the 37mm the "real" gun, and the .50cals were just backup? If the M2 isn't as poor in a synchronized configuration, I wonder if it has something to do with being derived from the M1919 (if it is) rather than the M2.
    As for explosive 12.7mm shells, yes the Japanese considered anything over 11mm to be a "cannon", but that's more of a classification thing than any real difference; the German MG 131 and the 12.7mm Breda-SAFAT used explosive shells, and I THINK the Russians 12.7mm's did as well. The US trialed them, but decided it wasn't worth it. As for how the Japanese 12.7mm compared to the .50BMG, it had a somewhat shorter case, so less capacity and a lower muzzle velocity, thus less penetration and power, and poorer ballistics. In essence, it's identical to the Breda cartridge.

    Shinpachi, I honor your father's memory and his service to Japan. I read your thread on Japanese aircraft engines the other day; thank you very much for the invaluable information and translations.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Steve Hnz

    Steve Hnz New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    As one who has read fairly extensively on the CBI theatre conflict, I have no trouble giving the Ki-43 the honour it deserves. Its Ho-103 12.7mm gun was a Japanese development firing a version of the Vickers .5" round, made semi rimmed because the British Govt wouldn't clear the rimless round used by the RN for export. More info here. Not as powerful as the .5 browning but handy nonetheless, the Italians used much the same round & I've long though that early Spitfires & Hurricanes would have been better of with 4 or 6 Brownings adapted to this round than the .303.
    Steve
     
  13. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,340
    Likes Received:
    406
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    I suppose the British Govt having paid for the development of the Gun and Round werent too keen for Vickers to make money off the taxpayers back.
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,769
    Likes Received:
    800
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    I doubt that is it. Vickers was scaling the basic Vickers gun mechanism (modified Maxim gun) up and down to variety of calibers and had been for years (before WW I) . From smaller than .303 (but still service rifle ammunition) to the 2pdr (40mm) if not larger in experimental pieces. Vickers certainly sold a number of guns (and even ammunition sizes) to foreign governments that had nothing to do with British tax payers.

    The actual differences between the two .5in/12.7mm rounds was trivial.
    [​IMG]

    From Anthony Williams excellent web site. Rimless rounds have a lower tendency to cause jams than rimmed or semi-rimmed rounds.
    the Rimless round has a slightly later model number than the semi-rimmed round. Semi-rimmed round may offer more rim area for the extractor to grab and help get reluctant cases out of the chamber without the the extractor tearing through the rim. How good is your brass metallurgy/manufacturing?

    Please note the difference in size between the 12.7x81 SR and the 13.2x99 round next to it which was the round used in the Japanese Navy 13mm guns. The Navy gun is 6-8 kg heavier than the Army gun and the ammo weighs around 4 kg more per 100 rounds.
     
  15. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    401
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Finland
    That is because air power dominated the Pacific war throughout, even more than in ETA (including Eastern front).
    The crucial battles in that war were between carrier aircraft.
    The most important land battles were to provide supporting sea/air bases for further naval offensives.

    So it is obvious that the fighter mainstay of the IJN got more attention than the IJA mainstay in these battles.
    The CBI theatre (and New Guinea/East Indies ) were really sideshows.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Johnny .45

    Johnny .45 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2009
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Occupation:
    Various, Making Life Better For People.
    Location:
    Vermont. That's a state in the US, if you hadn't heard of it.
    I was thinking about this fact, and that is very interesting to me. I wonder why that the Ki-43 was the better known aircraft. I'm speculating that it is because the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service had been doing most of the fighting in China, and so the civilians had seen a lot more Army aircraft on the newsreels. It seems like most of the newsreels I've seen were of Ki-21's, Ki-48's, Ki-27's and Ki-43, etc. I know the Navy did some fighting in China, and there was A5M's and G3M's operating there, but I suspect there were fewer than the Army. Probably the Navy was more held in reserve, in case of escalation. Of course, this is all speculation, but the fact that the A6M was lesser known than the Ki-43 is certainly ironic, since these days, it's the only Japanese aircraft that the average person recognizes at all!
    (Although I have to note that I've noticed that interest about Japanese aircraft in general has increased a lot over the last ten years, at least among aviation enthusiasts. Given me a chance to be a "hipster" and say "I liked Japanese aircraft before it was cool!";))
     
  17. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    Messages:
    1,710
    Likes Received:
    107
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    So do you support Nimitz's strategy & path to Japan over MacArthur's?
     
  18. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2005
    Messages:
    12,631
    Likes Received:
    309
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Until Nimitz had a fleet large enough to plow through the Central Pacific, the Halsey and MacArthur strategy was valid.

    As it was, the US had so much material available at its disposal by Q1 of 1944, both pathes could be pursued. It was Halsey destroying the IJN in the Solomons and MacArthur eliminating Japanese airpower in New Guinea that made the Central Pacific offensive succesfull.
     
  19. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Messages:
    401
    Likes Received:
    40
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Finland
    Yes. Taking Philippines was mostly for (MacArthur's) political reasons.
    Invasion of Peleliu was also a mistake. Nimitz should have instead invaded Iwo Jima, and then Okinawa before the end of 1944.
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,201
    Likes Received:
    2,037
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    And just how well were the Allies equipped to handle the strength of Japanese forces in 1944 compared to 1945?

    The war of attrition on the Japanese was showing definite results on both the IJA and IJN by spring of 1945...so an assault on Okinawa and/or Iwo Jima in 1944, when the Japanese had greater material strength seems to me like it may have turned into a disaster for the Allies.

    As for the "political assault" on the Philippines...at what point should they have been taken?

    The Philippines provided a wealth of military resources for the Japanese in airfields, naval bases and staging areas that was a "jumping off" point to held areas to the south, east and the Asian mainland - taking that away from the Japanese drove a huge wedge into their ability to move, resupply and hold areas in the region.
     
Loading...

Share This Page