Japanese bombers and transport aircrafts

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by gekho, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #1 gekho, Aug 18, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
    The Imperial Japanese Army Air Service (IJAAF), was the land-based aviation force of the Imperial Japanese Army. As with the IJA itself, the IJAAF was developed along the lines of Imperial German Army Aviation so its primary mission was to provide tactical close air support, for ground troops while maintaining a limited air interdiction capability. The JAAF also provided important reconnaissance support for the Army. However, the Army Air Service usually did not control the light aircraft or balloons deployed and operated by the Imperial Japanese Army artillery battalions as spotters or observers. Although the Army Air Service engaged in limited strategic bombing of major Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Chongqing in the early stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War, this was not its primary mission, and it lacked the heavy strategic bombers as were later deployed by the United States Army Air Force. The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service was responsible for long-range strikes and strategic air defense and it was not until the later stages of the Pacific War that both services attempted anything like integrated air defense.

    The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service was the air arm of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, the organization was responsible for the operation of naval aircraft and the conduct of aerial warfare in the Pacific War. It was controlled by the Navy Staff of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Navy Ministry. The Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service was equal in function to the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA), the U.S. Navy's Naval Aviation branch, the Italian Navy's Aviazione Ausiliara per la Marina, or the Soviet Navy's Morskaya Aviatsiya. The Imperial Japanese Navy Aviation Bureau (Kaigun Koku Hombu) of the Ministry of the Navy of Japan was responsible for the development and training.

    The Japanese military acquired their first aircraft in 1910 and followed the development of air combat during World War I with great interest. They initially procured European aircraft but quickly built their own and launched themselves onto an ambitious aircraft carrier building program. They launched the world's first purpose-built aircraft carrier, Hōshō, in 1922. Afterwards they embarked on a conversion program of several excess battlecruisers and battleships into aircraft carriers. The IJN Air Service had the mission of national air defence, deep strike, naval warfare, and so forth. It retained this mission to the end.

    The Japanese pilot training program was very selective and rigorous, producing a high-quality and long-serving pilot corps, who ruled the air in the Pacific during early World War II. However, the long duration of the training program, combined with a shortage of gasoline for training, did not allow the Navy to rapidly provide qualified replacements in sufficient numbers. Moreover, the Japanese, unlike the U.S. or Britain, proved incapable of altering the program to speed up training of the recruits they got. The resultant decrease in quantity and quality, among other factors, resulted in increasing casualties toward the end of the war.
     

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  2. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #2 gekho, Aug 18, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2011
    The Mitsubishi Ki-1 was a bomber built by Mitsubishi for the Imperial Japanese Army in the 1930s. The Mitsubishi Ki-1 flew for the first time in 1933. Despite its antiquated appearance, the Ki-1 was used in Manchukuo and in north China during the early stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War, in areas where danger from enemy fighter aircraft was minimal.

    Showing strong signs of Junkers influence, the Mitsubishi Ki-1-l heavy bomber flew for the first time in 1933. An angular cantilever low-wing monoplane with a crew of four, it had fixed landing gear, a tail unit incorporating twin fins and rudders, and was powered by two 701kW Ha-2-2 radial engines, giving a maximum speed of 220km/h. Pilot and co-pilot were seated in tandem under an enclosed canopy, while there were semi-enclosed nose and dorsal turrets and a retractable ventral 'dustbin', each armed with a single 7.7mm machine-gun; offensive load was up to 1500kg of bombs. The Ki-1-II development had 723kW Ha-2-3 engines and air-frame improvements which increased maximum speed to 230km/h. The two versions went into service as the Army Type 93-1 and Army Type 93-2 respectively, and saw limited use in the fighting against China. Total production of both versions was 118. Wing span was 26.50m, and the maximum take-off weight of the Ki-1-l 8100kg.

    The design was upgraded to the Mitsubishi Ki-1-II (“Army Type 93-2 Heavy Bomber”) with a strengthened airframe, slightly more powerful 723 kW (970 hp) Ha-2-3 radial engines, and increased maximum speed to 230 km/h (140 mph). However, even with the new engines, the Ki-1 was still underpowered, and was unable to maintain altitude during single engine flights, which proved to be a serious issue in operational service due to lack of reliability of the engines. It was replaced in 1937 by the Fiat BR.20.

    The Mitsubishi Ki-2 flew for the first time in May 1933. It was much smaller than the Ki-1 and was much closer to the original K37 concept. While the fuselage was redesigned by Mitsubishi, the wings were kept unchanged, except for additional ailerons. Mitsubishi built total of 113 aircraft and an additional 13 aircraft built by Kawasaki Kōkūki Kōgyō KK from 1933-1936. Although already obsolescent by the time of its introduction, it was used with great success in the counterinsurgency operations of the Pacification of Manchukuo, and as well as limited use in the Second Sino-Japanese War in combat in north China.

    The Ki-2 was followed in production by an improved version designated the Mitsubishi Ki-2-ll, or "Army Type 93-2 Twin-engine Light Bomber," in 1936. The Ki-2-ll had a fully-enclosed manually-operated nose turret, an enclosed cockpit for the pilot, and semi-retractable main landing gear, which retracted forward into the engine nacelles. The Ki-2-ll also had new 559 kW (750 hp) Mitsubishi Ha-8 radial engines giving much improved overall performance with maximum speed increased to 283 km/h (176 mph). Mitsubishi built a total of 61 Ki-2-II aircraft. Vulnerable to attack by enemy fighters, and replaced by aircraft with greater range and payload by the late-1930s, both versions ended their flying careers in the training role.
     

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  3. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Mitsubishi Ki-20 was a Japanese bomber variant of the Junkers G.38 airliner. Mitsubishi manufactured six aircraft under license from Junkers. These aircraft, designated Army Type 92 Heavy Bomber, served through the 1930s. During World War II, the Ki-20 served in a variety of transport and support roles. In the late-1920s, as Junkers developed the Junkers G.38, Mitsubishi representatives in Germany expressed an interest in a military version of this civilian transport. At the time, the G.38 was the largest landplane in the world. Junkers completed a design study for a military bomber/transport, based on the G.38, designated the K.51. This design was not accepted by the Reich Air Ministry for production.

    The K.51 design study was, however, of interest to Japan. A licensing and manufacturing agreement was reached and in 1932 the first two Ki-20s were completed by Mitsubishi, utilizing Junkers-made parts. A prototype was successfully flown in Japan by a German test pilot in that year. Four additional Ki-20s were built between 1933 and 1935. All of these subsequent models utilized Mitsubishi-built parts. Ongoing development focused on engine upgrades to all examples to address the persistent issue of the aircraft being underpowered. Several engine upgrades were completed during the lifetime of these aircraft. The initial Junkers L88 engines were replaced by the more powerful Jumo 204 engines, also built under license by Mitsubishi. Additionally Kawasaki Ha-9 engines were utilized for testing purposes.

    During World War II, the Japanese originally intended to utilize the Ki-20s to attack the forts at the entrance to Manila Bay in the Philippines and for deep penetration missions into Siberia. For these purposes, they were armed with six gun positions and structurally enabled to carry a 5,000 kg (11,020 lb) bomb load. These aircraft were the largest operated by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service and their existence within it was kept secret. As a result, they were issued their out-of-sequence Kitai number only when they were finally revealed in 1940.
     

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  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Excellent info!
     
  5. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Winning a production order in November 1937, following competition with Nakajima's Ki-19 prototype, the Mitsubishi Ki-21 was designed and built to meet an Imperial Japanese Army requirement of early 1936 for a four-seat bomber that would have a maximum speed of at least 249 mph (400 km/h) and an endurance of more than 5 hours. Few twin-engine bombers anywhere in the world could exceed such performance at that time and, not surprisingly, the Ki-21 was later recognised as the best bomber in Japanese service during World War II. A cantilever mid-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, the design incorporated retractable tailwheel landing gear, a ventral bomb bay and two radial engines, one mounted in a nacelle at the leading edge of each wing. As first flown, on 18 December 1936, the Ki-21 had 825 hp (615 kW) Mitsubishi Ha-6 radial engines, but competitive evaluation against the Nakajima Ki-19 powered by that company's Ha-5 engine led the army to instruct Mitsubishi to introduce similar engines on the Ki-21. When the aircraft had been tested again with revised vertical tail surfaces and these more powerful engines, the army had no hesitation in ordering the aircraft into production under the designation Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber Model 1A, company designation Mitsubishi Ki-21-Ia. The first of the production aircraft began to enter service in the summer of 1938 but, when used operationally in China later that year , they were soon found to be lacking in defensive armament and self-sealing fuel tanks.

    Improved versions were developed to overcome these and other shortcomings, the Ki-21-Ib introducing revised horizontal tail surfaces, larger area trailing-edge flaps, an enlarged bomb bay and armament increased to a total of five 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine-guns. The generally similar Ki-21-Ic differed by having increased fuel capacity and the addition of one more 7.7 mm (0.31 in) gun. To increase performance four improved Ki-21-Ics were given more powerful Mitsubishi Ha-101 engines and these, redesignated Ki-21-II, were used for service trials. Ordered into production as the Army Type 97 Heavy Bomber Model 2A (Mitsubishi Ki-21-IIa), this version was operated by most of the army's heavy bomber groups at the beginning of the Pacific war. These aircraft played a significant role in. the opening phase of the war, but as Allied resistance began to increase and bomber crews found themselves confronted by fighter aircraft of increased quality and in greater quantity, Ki-21 losses began to rise steeply. Further revisions of defensive armament were made, the Ki-21-IIb replacing the dorsal gun position by a manually operated gun turret containing one 12.7 mm (0.50 in) machine-gun, and this version also introduced redesigned cockpit canopies and individual engine exhaust stacks to give some thrust augmentation. However, it soon became clear that the Ki-21 was gradually becoming obsolescent, and during the last year of the war the maj6rity were relegated to second-line duties. Allocated the Allied codename 'Sally', the Ki-21 was built to a total of 2,064 by Mitsubishi (1,713) and Nakajima (351). From this total a number of Ki-21-la aircraft were modified to serve as freight transports for use by Greater Japan Air Lines. Designated MC-20, these aircraft had all armament and military equipment removed and could, if required, be fitted with nine troop seats.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-c-hH13g9zI
     

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  6. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Nakajima acquired from Douglas Aircraft in the USA licence-construction rights for the DC-2 civil transport. In 1935 a smaller twin-engine light transport, based on the configuration of the DC-2, was designed by Nakajima under the designation AT-1; this was not built, but redesign resulted in an improved AT-2 with two 433kW Nakajima Kotobuki 2-1 radial engines, and this was flown in prototype form on 12 September 1936. Extensive tests were followed by an order for 32 production AT-2s to equip Greater Japan Airlines and Manchurian Airlines, and in early 1937 the type was adopted also by the Imperial Japanese Army under the designation Army Type 97 Transport (Nakajima Ki-34). Production of these three crew/eight passenger military transports totalled 318, 19 being built by Nakajima and 299 by Tachikawa. Some of this total were transferred by the army for navy use, and were redesignated Navy Type AT-2 Transport (Nakajima L1N1). Both civil and military versions were allocated the Allied codename 'Thora', and were in use throughout the Pacific war.
     

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  7. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #7 gekho, Aug 19, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
    Imperial Japanese Army aircraft confronted by the Soviet-built Tupolev SB-2 bomber, providing support for the Chinese during 1937, were rudely surprised by its capability, its maximum speed being such that Japanese army fighter aircraft were virtually unable to intercept it. Almost at once the army instructed Kawasaki to begin the design of a twin-engine light bomber of even better capability, specifying a maximum speed of about 485km/h. Work on what was to become known as the Kawasaki Ki-48 began in January 1938, the result being a cantilever mid-wing monoplane with conventional tail unit, retractable tailwheel landing gear and, in the type's prototype form, two 708kW Nakajima Ha-25 radial engines mounted in nacelles at the wing leading edges. The fuselage provided accommodation for a crew of four (the bombardier, navigator and radiooperator each doubling as gunners) and incorporated an internal bomb bay.

    Ki-48s entered service in the summer of 1940, becoming operational in China during the autumn of that year. In China their speed gave the Ki-48s almost complete immunity from enemy defences, but their deployment against Allied aircraft at the beginning of the Pacific war revealed that their superior performance was illusory. Codenamed 'Lily' by the Allies, this initial production version had a number of deficiencies for the different kind of operations then required, and it was fortunate for the Japanese army that an improved version was already under development. This had the company designation Ki-48-II and differed from the earlier model by introducing a slightly lengthened fuselage, protected fuel tanks, armour protection for the crew, increased bombload and more powerful Nakajima Ha- 115 engines.

    Unfortunately for the Japanese army, when the Ki-48-II was introduced into operational service its speed was still too low and its defensive armament inadequate. Attempts to increase armament merely upped the overall weight and speed suffered proportionately: it was clear by the summer of 1944 that the day of the Ki-48 had passed, and in October it was declared obsolescent.
     

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  8. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #8 gekho, Aug 19, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2010
    The Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu ("storm dragon") was a Japanese medium bomber of World War II. It was a twin-engine, mid-wing, cantilever monoplane of all-metal construction fitted with a retractable tailwheel undercarriage. During World War II, it was known to the Allies by the code-name "Helen". The Ki-49 was designed to replace the Mitsubishi Ki-21, which entered service in the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force in 1938. Learning from service trials of the Ki-21, the Army realized that however advanced it may have been at the time, their new Mitsubishi bomber would in due course be unable to operate without fighter escorts. As a result the Japanese Army stipulated that its replacement should have the speed and defensive weaponry to enable it to operate independently.

    The prototype first flew in August 1939 and the development programme continued through three prototypes and seven pre-production aircraft. This first prototype was powered by a pair of 708 kW (950 hp) Nakajima Ha-5 KA-I radial engines, but the next two had the 932 kW (1,250 hp) Nakajima Ha-41 engines that were intended for the production version. Seven more prototypes were built, and these completed the test programme for the aircraft. Eventually in March 1941, the Donryu went into production as the Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber Model 1.

    Going operational from autumn 1941, the Ki-49 first saw service in China. After the outbreak of the Pacific War it was active in the New Guinea area and in raids on Australia. Like the prototype, these early versions were armed with five 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine guns and one 20 mm cannon. Combat experience in China and New Guinea showed the Donryu to be underpowered with bomb capacity and speed suffering as a result. Thus, in the spring of 1942 an up-engined version was produced, fitted with more powerful Ha-109 engines, and this became the production Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber Model 2 or Ki-49-IIa. The Model 2 also introduced improved armour and self-sealing fuel tanks and was followed by the Ki-49-IIb in which 12.7 mm (0.5 in) machine guns replaced three of the 7.7 mm (0.303 in) pieces.

    In spite of these improvements however, losses continued to mount as the quantity and quality of fighter opposition rose. An attempt was made to stop the rot in early 1943 by further up-engining the type. This petered out, however, owing to development difficulties with the 1,805 kW (2,420 hp) Nakajima Ha-117 engines and the Ki-49-III never entered production with only six prototypes ever being built. In the face of its increasing vulnerability to opposing fighter aircraft while performing its intended role, the Ki-49 was used in other roles towards the end of the Pacific War, including ASW patrol, troop transport and, ultimately, as kamikaze. After 819 aircraft had been completed, production ended in December 1944.
     

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  9. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  10. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Awesome! (As always!) 8)

    But...your top picture in the Helen section is a Betty. Better get that out of there because you know how those two ladies hate each other after they both wore the same dress to that bombing back in '43! :lol:
     
  11. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  12. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #12 gekho, Aug 20, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
    The Mitsubishi Ki-57 was the main personnel transport aircraft used by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War, and was developed from the Ki-21 twin engined heavy bomber. Work on the Ki-57 began early in 1939 at the request of Nippon Koku K.K. (Japan Air Lines). The company had been impressed by the performance of the Ki-21 in China, and asked Mitsubishi to produce a design for a civil version of the same aircraft. This was completed by the summer of 1939, by which time the airline had been reorganised as Dai Nippon Koku K.K. (Great Japan Airlines Co.), with 37.25% of the company owned by the Japanese government. The new design interested the Imperial Japanese Army, which gave it the designation Ki-56 and ordered it into production. The civil version was given the designation MC-20. While the Ki-56 was being developed a number of spare Ki-21-Ias, replaced in front line service by more recent versions of the aircraft, were converted into transport aircraft as the MC-21.

    The prototype Ki-57 made its maiden flight in July 1940. It used the wings, engines, tail and cockpit of the Ki-21-I, but with a new fuselage that contained a cabin that could carry eleven passengers. The wings were moved down from the middle of the fuselage on the bomber to the base on the transport aircraft. Despite a fatal crash involving the fourth prototype the Ki-57 was ordered into production as the Army Type 100 Transport Model 1, or Ki-57-I. A small number went to the Navy, where they were known as the Mitsubishi L4M1. One hundred Ki-57-Is were produced. They were followed by 406 Ki-57-IIs. These were given two 1,080hp Mitsubishi Ha-102 radial engines and the revised engine nacelles adopted on the Ki-21-II, and were 25mph faster than the -I, and had a higher service ceiling. Production began in May 1942 and continued until January 1945.

    The Ki-57 was used as a communications aircraft, for logistical transport and as a paratroop transport, and served on every front where the Japanese Army was involved. Its biggest success came on 14 February 1942 when aircraft from the 1st Raiding Air Regiment were used to transport paratroops to attack the oil refineries at Palembang on Sumatra, preventing the Allies from destroying them before they fell into Japanese hands.
     

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  13. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Mitsubishi-designed Ki-67 Hiryu (translated to "flying dragon" and dubbed "Peggy" by the Allies) is oft-regarded as the best bomber fielded by Japan in the Second World War. The system was of a twin-engine design, armed with a defensive array of machine guns and cannon and could carry thousands of pounds of bombs or a torpedo over 1,700 miles. Due to the consistent Allied bombing of the Japanese mainland, production of the Ki-67 would never reach the hoped-for and needed standards to which the system would have made a difference in the Pacific Theater.

    Built to a 1940 specification, the Ki-67 was not fielded in any quantity until about 1944. Initially designed for an expected war with the Soviet union on in the Siberian territories, the Ki-67 was developed with several distinct features that would stray away from traditional Japanese aircraft production - chief among those was the use of self-sealing fuel tanks and armor to provide the crew with some much-needed protection. Two Mitsubishi-brand Ha-104 series radial piston engines were mounted onto the low-monoplane wing design and would generate 1,900 horsepower apiece.

    Crew accommodations ranged from 6 to 8 personnel depending on the mission role. Defensive gun positions consisted of a trainable nose-mounted 12.7mm machine gun, two 12.7mm waist-gunner positions and a single 12.7mm machine gun in a tail gunner position. Additionally, a single 20mm cannon was mounted atop the fuselage in a dorsal turret. The bomb bay could hold up to 1,764lbs of drop bombs in the traditional bomber role. A single 2,359lb torpedo could be fitted as well in the anti-shipping role. In the more macabre role of kamikaze (to which the Ki-67 and her crews would be subjected to before the end of the war) the internal weapons bay could be fitted with up to 6,393lbs of bombs.

    The Ki-67 aircraft proved to be a versatile platform, so much so in fact, that the Japanese Army ordered in a slew of variants for specialized roles. Unfortunately for the design, these requests made the Ki-67 suffer on the production lines. As the war progressed in the favor of the Allies, the requests were being limited and the focus was set on pure production of the existing Hiryu models already available. In the end, the Ki-67 was done in by the Allied bombing raids, delayed production lines and the inevitable end of the war for the Empire of Japan. As good as the system reportedly was, just under 700 examples were produced during wartime, too little in the way of making an impact and perhaps changing the tide in favor of the Empire.

    Versions:

    Ki-67-Ia: The first production version was also the most numerous, accounting for aircraft 20 to 450.

    Ki-67-Ib: From the 451st aircraft the single 12.7mm Type 1 Ho-103 machine gun in the tail was replaced with a twin 12.7mm mounting. 247 were built before the end of the war.

    Ki-67-Ic: The Ki-67-Ic was a design for a version of the Kiryu that was to have carried an increased 2,756lb bomb load. It was to have entered production with the 751st aircraft in the summer of 1945, but that target was never reached.

    Ki-61-I Kai: The Ki-61-I Kai was a suicide attack aircraft, produced by the Tachikawa Dai-Ichi Rikugun Kokusho. All of the turrets were removed and faired over, reducing the crew to three. A long rod extended from the nose to act as a detonator, and the aircraft could carry two 1,764lb bombs or a special 6,393lb explosive charge. The first aircraft were produced in September 1944, and twelve were ready to enter service by the end of October.

    Ki-67-II: The Ki-67-II was to have been powered by two 2,400hp Mitsubishi Ha-214 radial engines. It would also have featured a stronger airframe and increased fuel capacity. One aircraft was half-completed at the end of the war, and production was to have started in the summer of 1946.

    Ki-69: The Ki-69 was to have been an escort fighter variant of the K-67, designed to accompany formations of bombers. It was not built.

    Ki-97: The Ki-97 was a design for a transport aircraft based on the K-67. It was not built.

    Ki-109: The Ki-109 was a design for an interceptor fighter based on the Ki-67.

    Ki-112: The Ki-112 was to have been a heavily armed fighter, probably designed to escort the suicide attack versions of the Ki-67 to their target. It was not completed.
     

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  14. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #14 gekho, Aug 21, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
    In 1933 Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, then chief of the Technical Division of the Bureau of Aeronautics for the Imperial Japanese Navy, sold the Naval Staff on the development of a long-range land-based aircraft to supplement naval carrier assets. A specification was then issued to Mitsubishi to develop a land-based, twin-engine reconnaissance aircraft; the details of the specification were loose, with the aircraft generally being seen as a "demonstrator" for an operational machine.

    A team under Sueo Honjo went to work on the design, which was given the company designation of "Ka-9". As it emerged, the Ka-9 was a very clean and pretty machine, highly streamlined, with twin tailfins, a mid-mounted wing with a Junkers-style wedge / "double wing" configuration, twin Hiro Type 91 twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engines providing 375 kW (500 HP) each, and retractable "taildragger" undercarriage. First flight was in April 1934, with test pilot Yoshitaka Kojima at the controls. Trials demonstrated that the machine handled beautifully, and that it had a maximum range of 6,050 kilometers (3,760 miles).

    The IJN was suitably impressed and quickly issued a new specification for a bomber based on the Ka-9, specifying a warload of 800 kilograms (1,765 pounds) and defensive armament of three 7.7 millimeter machine guns. The Ka-9 design was reworked with a heftier fuselage to handle the warload and accommodate three retractable turrets, with a single 7.7 millimeter Type 92 machine gun in each, resulting in the "Ka-15". The Ka-15 also featured bigger tailfins, more robust landing gear to handle greater weights, and other relatively minor changes. The Nakajima company tried to promote a competitive design, the "LB-2", but the IJN was not interested and moved ahead aggressively with the Ka-15.

    Initial flight of the first Ka-15 prototype was in July 1935, with Yoshitaka Kojima again at the controls, assisted by Lieutenant Sada of the IJN. The machine was powered by twin Hiro Type 91 engines, uprated to 560 kW (750 HP), driving four-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propellers. The nose was not glazed, with the bombardier sighting through a flat panel under the cockpit.
     

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  15. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #15 gekho, Aug 21, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2011
    The G3M1 was similar to Ka-15 prototype 4, with the solid nose and Kinsei 3 radials, but differed in using four-bladed wooden propellers, the Hamilton Standard propellers being in short supply at the time, plus a revised canopy and a number of internal changes. There were two dorsal turrets and a single ventral turret, all retractable. The tailwheel was fixed, with the main gear retracting backwards into the engine nacelles, the wheels being left partly exposed after retraction. The G3M1 didn't have a bombbay, all warload being carried externally on the fuselage centerline. Maximum warload was 800 kilograms (1,765 pounds), consisting of a single torpedo or one or more bombs. Performance was very good by the standards of the time and handling was excellent; the IJN felt with good reason that the G3M1 was a match or better for contemporary twin-engine bombers built elsewhere.

    Only 34 G3M1s were built, with production moving on to the improved "G3M2 Model 21" variant. It was much like the G3M1, the primary difference being that it featured uprated Kinsei 41 or 42 radials, providing 800 kW (1,075 HP) takeoff power, and fitted with the Hamilton Standard three-bladed variable propellers. The fuel load was increased from 3,085 liters (814 US gallons) to 3,874 liters (1,022 US gallons); defensive armament remained the same, but different dorsal turrets were fitted.

    Mitsubishi built a total of 343 G3M2 Model 21s in 1937 and 1938. The next variant was the "G3M2 Model 22", the major change being a rethinking of the armament scheme, which had proven inadequate in combat. The rear top turret was replaced with a new "turtle back" blister, fitted with a single Type 99 Model 1 20 millimeter cannon on a flexible mount; the ventral turret, which had proven so "draggy" that nobody wanted to actually extend it, was eliminated, replaced by a glass blister fitted to each side of the rear fuselage. The blisters were each fitted with a single 7.7 millimeter gun on a flexible mount, with the blisters "staggered" to give the gunners room to move. The forward retractable turret was retained. Sources claim that late-production machines could be fitted with a single 7.7 millimeter gun in the cockpit, though details are unclear.

    Other improvements included a license-built Sperry autopilot and a radio direction finder unit; they had actually been fitted to some Model 21s but were adopted as standard in the Model 22, and assisted in performing long-range flights over ocean spaces. Mitsubishi built a total of 238 G3M2 Model 22s from 1939 into 1941, with late production featuring Kinsei 45 engines providing better high-altitude performance. These aircraft were the last G3Ms built by Mitsubishi, the company then moving production to the more advanced G4M, described below.
     

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  16. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Nakajima also built the G3M2 Model 22 under license, and in 1941 that company introduced the last G3M production variant, the "G3M3 Model 23". It was externally all but identical to the G3M2 Model 22, but was fitted with uprated Kinsei 51 engines, providing 970 kW (1,300 HP), and fuel was increased to 5,182 liters (1,367 US gallons), stretching range to an impressive 6,220 kilometers (3,365 NMI). Nakajima produced a total of 412 G3M2 Model 22s and G3M3 Model 23s from 1941 into 1943 -- for a total production by Mitsubishi and Nakajima of 1,049 machines, including prototypes.

    The G3M was in combat very soon after its introduction to service. On 14 August 1937, days after fighting in China flared up again, G3M2 Model 21s were sent on bombing raids from Taipei (now Taiwan) against targets in the Hangchow and Kwangteh regions of China. It was the first trans-oceanic raid in aviation history, with G3M2s flying from Kyushu, the southernmost of the four main Japanese islands, performing strikes against China the next day. The missions were unescorted and suffered excessive losses, the lack of self-sealing fuel tanks ensuring that the G3M tended to catch fire easily, and the weak defensive armament proving ineffective -- pushing development of the G3M2 Model 22 with its heavier armament. G3Ms were then moved to the Chinese mainland, with 130 in service there by 1940.

    During 1941, the prospect of war with the Americans and their allies began to seem increasingly likely, and in the spring of that year the IJN formed up a special unit, equipped with G3M2s modified with a camera in the belly, to perform covert reconnaissance missions over the Philippines, Guam, and New Britain. The aircraft were painted light grey-blue overall; they lacked national insignia and any other identification markings. Mission accomplished, the special unit was disbanded in the summer of 1941.

    By the outbreak of the Pacific War in December 1941 the IJN had 204 G3Ms in firstline service, with many of these machines, by then having been assigned the Allied codename of "Nell", bombing US forces at Wake Island, the Marianas, and the Philippines. The zenith of the G3M's combat history was on 10 December 1941, when a British naval task force built around the battleships HMS REPULSE and HMS PRINCE OF WALES was attacked by a flight of 60 G3Ms and 26 G4Ms in the seas near Malaya. Lacking fighter cover, the two battleships went to the bottom, taking the task force commander, Admiral Sir Tom Philips, and about a thousand sailors with them. It was a staggering disaster for the British, since it left no other major naval assets in the region to confront IJN fleet forces. It is said that many of the aircrews conducting the attack wept: the Imperial Japanese Navy was based on the British Royal Navy, even retaining many Royal Navy customs, and it was like attacking a parent.

    By this time, however, the G3M was being increasingly replaced in firstline service by the G4M, with the Nell relegated to use as a bomber trainer; glider tug -- a somewhat futile exercise, since the Japanese made little or no combat use of gliders; and as a maritime patrol aircraft, fitted with longwave search radar.
     

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  17. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff Gehko!
     
  18. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  19. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Nicknamed the 'Flying Cigar' on account of its shape and because the fuel tanks were unprotected and easily caught fire, the Mitsubishi G4M was nevertheless the most famous and most numerous Japanese bomber of the war. A total of 2,446 were built in several versions between September 1939 and August 1945. The aircraft saw service from the first day of the war to the last, when two white-painted G4M1s, bearing green surrender crosses instead of the Rising Sun, carried the Japanese delegation to its final appointment with the Allies. The 'Betty', as the Mitsubishi bomber was called in the Allied code, proved itself an excellent combat aircraft on all fronts. Its outstanding range literally revolutionised operational concepts in the Pacific.
    The G4M series was begun late in 1937 at the request of the Japanese Navy, which wanted a land-based bomber that was even better than the excellent G3M then entering service. High speed and long range were the chief requirements. The new aircraft was to reach a speed of 250 mph (400 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m), have a range of 3,000 miles (4,800 km) without payload and 2,300 miles (3,700 km) with a 1,760-pound (800 kg) torpedo. Designer Kiro Honjo solved the problems involved with great skill. The first of two prototypes took to the air for the first time on October 23, 1939.
     

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  20. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The G4M was designed for long range and high speed at the time of its introduction. Consequently, weight saving measures were incorporated into the design, such as dispensing with self sealing fuel tanks, which caused Allied fighter pilots to give it the derisive nicknames "one-shot lighter", "flying Zippo" and "flying cigar". Similarly, pilots of the Imperial Japanese Navy called the G4M the "Type One Lighter" and "Hamaki" ("Cigar"). This was due to the fact that on many occasions, it was used for low-altitude torpedo attacks where its performance advantages were negated. The "Betty"'s relatively-large size made it a large target to shoot at, and the simplified approach path on a torpedo run to attack a ship, meant for a generally easy interception.

    When used for medium- to high-altitude bombing against stationary targets like a supply depots, seaports, or airfields, "ease of interception" was another matter entirely. Using its long range and high speed, the G4M could appear from any direction, and then be gone before many fighters could intercept them. The 20 mm cannon in the tail turret was much heavier armament than commonly installed in bombers, making dead astern attacks very dangerous. Sometimes, assuming they did not catch fire in the first place, G4Ms also proved to be able to remain airborne despite being badly shot up. For example, after 751 Kokutai's attack during the Battle of Rennell Island, three out of four survivors (of 11 aircraft that went to attack) returned flying on one engine only. Near the end of the war, the "Betty" was used as a common kamikaze-carrying and launching platform, and was the usual aircraft for carrying the Ohka kamikaze rocket aircraft.
     

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