Best Japanese B-29 'Killer'

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Nicodemus, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Nicodemus

    Nicodemus New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I was just wondering what your opinion on this is. Seeing that most Japanese aircraft engines suffered from the thin air at high altitudes, where the B-29s operated, it's quite a difficult comparison.

    1. Ki-45 Toryu ('Nick') twin-engined fighter, succesfully used by 4th 53rd Sentais against Superfortresses over Japan

    2. A6M7 Model 63 Zero ('Zeke') single engined Navy carrier fighter, one of the old hands of the Navy but performed poor at high altitudes, good maneuvrability however.

    3. Ki-61 Hien ('Tony') single engined interceptor, most succesful user by far was the famous 244th Sentai under Maj Teruhiko Kobayashi (over 100 kills), although 56th Sentai engaged Superfortresses over Kyushu as well.

    4. Ki-44 Shoki ('Tojo') single engined high altitude interceptor, astonishing rate of climb (5,000 m in just over four minutes) and good performance at 10,000 m as well. The 23rd, 47th and 70th Sentai used them in ramming attacks against B-29s to great effect.

    5. Ki-100 Goshikisen single-engined fighter, derived from the Focke Wulf 190 and a very succesful fighter, performance slightly less at altitude but very maneuvrable, fast roll rate, tight turning capabilites.

    6. J2M3 Raiden ('Jack') single-engined Navy fighter, I don't know a lot about these, so all info is especially welcomed. For sure they were the Navy's most succesful B-29 'killer'.

    Or the maybe the N1K2-J Shinden-Kai ('George') Navy interceptor, or J1N1-S Gekko night fighter?

    I hope we'll have some good debate

    Nick
     
  2. twoeagles

    twoeagles Member

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    I would think the Ki-45, good fire power and effective at ramming the 29, too. The thing is, with most of these birds, one had to be at or close to altitude when the 29's arrived, or they would be long gone by the time you climbed high enough to attack, and the 29 was very fast at altitude. Probably a good thing the Ki-100 wasn't available in large numbers in 1945.
     
  3. Marshall_Stack

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    "Ki-100 Goshikisen single-engined fighter, derived from the Focke Wulf 190.."

    The Ki-100 is based on the KI-61. When they didn't have enough of the troublesome inline engine, they used a radial. The FW190 was used as a model for designing a tight fitting cowling.
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    BTW, According to "USAF.net" USAAF.net which has a wealth of statistical information, only 80 Twentieth Air Force "Very Heavy Bombers" (B-29s) were reported lost to fighters directly.
     
  5. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Says it all. In a little under a year of attacks, the Japanese only brought down 80. The USAF probably lost 2x that number to operational accidents.

    In short, the Japanese really didn't have anything that could go toe to toe with a formation of B29s. The real question would be, "What Japanese aircraft could attack a B29 formation with reasonable chance of success and survival?". The answer is pretty much none. Maybe the Ki100, but it's chances of survival were not particularly good due to closing speeds vs firepower. B29 was a tough bird to catch and knock down without getting riddled in a piston engined aircraft.

    Really wasn't anything out there that could do the job until the Mig 15.
     
  6. webbee

    webbee New Member

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    In junior high, my best friend's father reported to us that the Zero's were waiting for them, 5K above their cruising altitude when they attacked Tokyo and other targets. The Japanese attack tactic was out of the sun and that they tried to bust up the formation to create stragglers, which they then tried to pick off. He flew 29's from Tinian against the Japanese home islands. He also commented that this was never publicised during the war, so as to not demoralize the American home population. I wish I could talk to him about his war time experiences but unfortunately he has passed. He may have mentioned other specific aircraft but time has stolen the memory.
     
  7. Nicodemus

    Nicodemus New Member

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    MiG 15 had of course superior speed and altitude, but did they bring down a lot of Superfortresses?

    BTW, proportionally seen a lot of B-29s were lost to fighter attacks at night, the Navy's J1N1-S Gekkos and of course Ki-45 'Nicks' being very succesful.

    An extract from Osprey's Aviation Elite Units #5 "B-29 hunters of the JAAF":

    "At 1616 hours on 15 June, the first of the 58th Bombardement Wing’s 68 B-29s took to the air from the wing’s bases at Chengdu. Each aircraft carried a payload of only two tons for the mission, which saw the 58th targeting steel factories at Yawata, on the northern coast of Kyushu Island. Since the operation was very long-range, and fuel conservation was critical, it had been decided that each aircraft would make its own way to the target rather than fly in massed formations. Altitude would be between 8,500 and 11,000 ft.

    If the Americans were expecting the raid to be a surprise, they were mistaken, for Japanese army observers in China were quick to report the unusual air activity they had detected to the Western Air Defence Command in Fukuoka, on the Japanese mainland. Early-warning radar on Cheju Island, off the coast of Korea in the East China Sea, had picked up large numbers of aircraft.

    Lieutenant Tom Friedman, flying with the 40th Bombardement Group as a radar counter-measures technician, listened on his equipment for signs of Japanese radar. A strong whining signal through his analyser told him they were being ‘painted’: ‘We had been detected well back of the Chinese coast, and several hours from the target. As we neared the coast other signals came in and increased in strength. It was an eerie feeling to know that far below, our every move was being carefully watched on scopes and plotting boards.’

    The Japanese issued orders to scramble. That honour fell to the 4th Sentai, based at Ozuki airfield in western Honshu, and it would be the first unit to engage the Superfortresses over Japan. The 4th Sentai had briefly taken part in the invasion of the Philippines at the beginning of the war, and in January 1942 had returned back to Ozuki for home defence duties over northern Kyushu.

    The 4th was equipped with the twin-engined Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (‘Dragon Slayer’). Codenamed ‘Nick’, the aircraft had been designed as a long-ranged fighter, but had failed to live up to expectations. However, it excelled in the ground-attack and nightfighter roles, the latter boasting a service ceiling of 10,000 m (32,810 ft) and a maximum speed of 560 kmh at 6000 m (350 mph at 19,685 ft). At this stage only eight aircraft had been converted for nightfighting, two carrying the conventional armaments of 13 mm and 20 mm guns, and six equipped with a 37 mm cannon.

    Expecting the enemy to attack under the cover of darkness, the unit began training its pilots in the specialised skills of nightfighting. Of its 40 pilots, only 25 were qualified at night, and most of these had completed more than 500 hours of flight training.

    To work out its tactics, the unit used a captured B-17E taken at Bandung, Java, in early 1942. Attacking the target head-on and from above was the method decided on, and aside from practising with the Flying Fortress, the unit also employed towed target banners as pilots familiarised themselves with performing co-ordinated attacks in conjunction with ground searchlight units.

    Meanwhile, as the Superfortresses lumbered towards Yamata, the 4th Sentai scrambled 24 ‘Nicks’ in flights of four aircraft. It did not matter that many of the pilots had completed only half their nightfighting training – they were thrown into combat along with the veterans. They were in for a shock. To see the massive B-29 for the first time would have been a horrific experience for any home defence pilot. In his memoir, 1st Lieutenant Isamu Kashiide recorded his first impression of the mighty aircraft:

    ‘I was flying over the industrial area of northern Kyushu. Our unit commander Captain Masaji Kobayashi gave the order “enemy planes invading an important area! Every flight attack! At the same time, ground searchlights in the area lit up the sky.
    ‘Finally, I sighted an enemy four-engined bomber. I was scared! It was known that the B-29 was a huge plane, but when I saw my opponent it was much larger than I had expected. There was no question that when compared with the B-17, the B-29 was indeed the “Superfortress”! The figure that appeared in the searchlight made me think of a great whale in the ocean, I was just astounded by its size.’
    Sixty-two B-29s arrived at their destination, and at 2338 hours (China time) they began dropping their 500-lb GP (general purpose) bombs. Due to 5/10ths cloud cover and a blacout over Yawata, only 15 Superfortresses bombed visually, while others dropped by radar – only one bomb landed on the intended target. Meanwhile, bomber crewmen reported that enemy attacks were weak, with only 12 passes being made within 500 yards. The B-29 gunners made no claims.

    However, ineffective as the Japanese tactics might have seemed, the Americans did not return home unscathed, with Limber Dragon (No 42-6230) of the 468th Bombardement Group becoming the first B-29 shot down over Japan. The succesful pilot was Warrant Officer Sadamitsu Kimura, who caught the Superfortress in the searchlights from below and started to attack.

    ‘I approached it to within 20 or 30 meters’, he recounted in the July 1944 edition of aviation magazine Koku Shonen (flying youth). ‘Suddenly, everything became white because of the reflected light off the big fuselage of the enemy plane, which filled my gunsight. It started to climb in fear of being rammed by me. I did not hesitate! I started to fire, and I could clearly tell that I hit it. The nose came down slowly and it started to spin. I saw one big piece of the dorsal fin come off.’

    The 58th Bombardement Wing lost a total of seven B-29s on the mission. Three were shot down and four were operational losses. Flak damaged six others. In their first nightfighting sortie, which lasted two hours, the pilots of the 4th Sentai claimed six B-29s shot down and three damaged – over-enthusiasm which can be put down to a combination of darkness and confusion. Nevertheless, 28-year-old Sadamitsu Kimura was Japan’s hero of the night. He claimed to have shot down two B-29s, and for his feats of courage he was awarded the Bukosho on 3 July 1944."
     
  8. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    This is sort of off topic because this thread is about the Japanese not the Luftwaffe but while we are talking about the Japs not having anything to deal with a B-29 it sort of brings me to thinking.

    I really wonder how the Luftwaffe would have faired against the B-29. This ofcourse is all theoretical if the war was not going as planned for the allies.

    The Germans would have had the following aircraft to go up against the B-29.

    Bf-109G and K
    Fw-190A
    Fw-190D-9
    Ta-152H
    Me-262
    Me-163

    I think the Ta-152 and Me-262 could have posed a good threat to the B-29. On top of that again this is just theoretical that the war is not going as planned for the allies the Germans also would have had the Messerschmitt P.1011 and the Ta-183 coming on line.

    Plus the German Anti Aircraft network seems to have been more advanced than the Japanese plus the Luftwaffe had other weapons available such R4M and other sophisticated (for there time) rockets and missiles.

    Any thoughts?
     
  9. Nicodemus

    Nicodemus New Member

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    Interesting to speculate about that, I personally think you at least need an aircraft which has or can be armed with an MK103/108 3cm cannon. The Japanese 20 mm cannons proved to be inadequate against B-29s, they needed to pour a hell of a lot of rounds into a Superfortress to bring it down.

    Flammable or phosphorous ammunition was also ineffective because at such high altitude (10,000+ m) there isn't enough oxygen for a fire to start properly.

    The Ta 152 and Me 262 would definitively have had a chance against B-29s, especially due to their high speed (which was the reason some Japanese aircraft ended up as cannon fodder for the B-29s 0.50-cals and 20 mm guns) and heavy armament (30mm cannons).

    Mind you, the Japanese tried both the Me 262 and Me 163 and opted to go for the latter as ''Mitsubishi J8M'' as their primary B-29 interceptor. Several were received and throroughly tested, but I don't know if they saw any action against B-29. For sure it had the extreme climbing rate, it could climb almost vertically until it reached the bomber's height.

    The Me 262 was also reviewed by the Japanese but they ironically (just like Hitler) saw it better as a fast attack bomber against Allied shipping, and several were tested as well.

    What about the Sturmböck Fw 190A-8/R-2? How would that one have faired against the B-29?
     
  10. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Quite poorly due to the extreme altitude...

    By pretty much all accounts, the Ki-100 was or would have been the best B-29 Killer if produced in numbers to make a difference.... As it stands, here is a list of B-29 Aces...

    B-29 "Superfortress" Killers

    NAME / CONFIRMED / DAMAGED / UNIT
    Ito, Fujitaro / 17 / 20 / 5th Sentai
    Shirai, Nagao / 11 / / 244th Sentai
    Ichikawa, Chuichi / 9 / 6 / 244th Sentai
    Ito, Totaro / 9 / / IJAAF
    Kono, Kensui / 9 / / 70th Sentai
    Endo, Sachi-o / 8 / 8 / IJNAF
    Kimura, Sadamitsu / 8 / / 4th Sentai
    Kashiide, Isamu / 7 / / 4th Sentai
    Ogawa, Makoto / 7 / / 70th Sentai
    Tobita, Hitoshi / 7 / / IJAAF
    Negishi, Nobuji /6 / / 53rd Sentai
    Sasaki, Isamu /6 / / Test Centre Fighter Unit
    Torizika, Moriyoshi / 6 / / 53rd Senati
    Yoshida, Yoshio / 6 / / 70th Sentai
    Kawakita, Akira / 5 / / 9th Sentai
    Kuramoto, Juzo / 5 / / IJAAF 1.
    Nishio, Hannoshin / 5 / / 4th Sentai
    Sumi, Tadao / 5 / 6 / 56th Sentai
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Great list Dan - I count 124 claims by the Japanese - that actually is about right because the site I posted has a listing of 19 aircraft shot down by flak AND fighters - with the totals of that list being off by 24 I'd say the USAAF stats against the Japanese claims aren't that far off considering the theater and mission being flown.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    16 Superfortresses were lost to Mig-15s during the Korean War. Their loss rate was 1 per 1000 sorties...
     
  13. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    Joe could you give all a better idea of how many sorties were flown over targets in Japan by B-29 per month.

    It would of been so fustrating and demoralizing for the Japanese to be hit by the B-29 and not really be able to hit back effectively. That would of been brutal.

    thanks Joe
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Here ya go...

    Army Air Forces in World War II

    Army Air Forces in World War II

    Check out 20AF (mainly B-29s) sorties for July, 1945 - 10,291!
     
  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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  16. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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  17. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    I dont think the Japanese really had quite an idea how bad it was till after the War...

    Commanders would tell their superiors about fanastic multi-kills and Americans by the dozens falling from the skies, being machine gunned in their chutes the whole way down... The militaristic masters were lied to almost non-stop towards the very end of the War...
     
  18. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    My vote goes to the japanese Me-262 derivate, the Kikka.
    Altough hi alt really is no necessarity as most B-29 sorties over japan were issued at low- medium altitudes due to the low AAA thread and the fact that the bombload and dropping precision decreased with altitude.
    The N1K1J George was adequate for this task but what the IJAF really missed is proper tactics.
     
  19. Jank

    Jank Member

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    Which fighters were used more often for B-29 escorts, the P-51D or the P-47N?
     
  20. johnbr

    johnbr Well-Known Member

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    I am suprised that Japanese did not buy the he280.
     
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