Ki-44 Shoki maneuverability

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Johnny .45, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. Johnny .45

    Johnny .45 Member

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    Another question that's been in my mind for a while:
    You always hear about how the Ki-44 was a "fast climbing, speedy interceptor" but "was disliked by most of it's pilots for its lack of maneuverability and turning ability". How accurate is that description? Is the Ki-44 really that bad, or was it a problem of Japanese pilots being trained to and accustomed to, fighting in very nimble aircraft? The Ki-44 might have a much higher wing-loading than other Japanese aircraft, but it's not that high compared to many other Allied types, and it also has automatic combat flaps. It seems to me that if a pilot knew to play on it's strengths and use altitude to fight, diving and climbing instead of turning, that the Ki-44 ought to be a least a match for a F6F.
    I'm guessing that most of the descriptions of the Ki-44's handling are based on the recollections of Japanese pilots who were used to flying the Ki-43. Next to a Hayabusa, a Ki-44 would seem like a slug, but so wouldn't a P-47, I'm guessing. I'd love to see what the US test pilots came up with on the Ki-44 after the war was over.
     
  2. eagledad

    eagledad Member

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    Greetings,

    I also would like to see a US test of the Ki 44. The only data I have on the maneuverability of the Shoki comes from an old Aircam book, No 25, written by Richard Bueschel.

    The book states that the Ki 44 I was tested against a Me-109E-2 and a P-40E and out-fought both of them. However, the Ki-61 was rated the best over both the Shoki and the Ki-43-II with all Japanese aircraft in the test being prototypes.

    As for the Ki-44 II, the book states that in China, the Ki-44 IIb was faster and more maneuverable than the P-40 and P-38 (I am guessing pre J model). It was only after the P-51B appeared that the Allies had a machine that was faster and could turn inside of the Shoki.

    May God fly your wing always!

    Eagledad
     
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  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    I think you might have nailed it here, Johnny. the Ki-44 was known for a comparatively high landing speed and the aforementioned lack of manoeuvrability among Japanese pilots, but younger pilots found that without previous experience in earlier types or doctrine, they could get the best out of their mount, particularly in its chosen role as a bomber interceptor. There were restrictions on spins, stalling, snap rolls and inverted flight at high speeds, but otherwise it had good performance where it mattered, although its armour plating and self sealing tanks were found to be ineffective against .50 cal rounds.
     
  4. Johnny .45

    Johnny .45 Member

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    Thank you. I would have replied sooner, but I had forgotten I even made that post (too much beer that night). That's about what I expected, but I would love to see numbers if anyone ever digs any up (I assume the data must still exist somewhere. I hope so, anyway!). I'm glad to know that I wasn't hopelessly over-rating the Ki-44, anyway. I'd noticed that it was among the more successful Japanese types, even though it is usually depicted as inferior to later types like the Ki-84 and N1K1-J. Makes one wonder what else the Japanese could have squeezed from the type if they had more personnel who were accustomed to thinking in terms of "dive and climb" combat. I'm guessing that not only were the older pilots accustomed to flying in dogfighters, but that the training and officers were all geared towards doctrines that emphasized dogfighting. It is what the Japanese had emphasized for a decade or more before the war, and it must have had a huge effect on how effectively they employed a type like the Ki-44 (even more so than the Ki-61, which could turn as well as dive). Wonder how it would have gone if the Japanese had suddenly showed up in a dive-and-climb fighter with effective tactics to go along with it, while the US pilots were all used to using the tactics they had learned to neutralize agile fighters? I know they were surprised enough when the Ki-61 showed up and they could no longer avoid the opponent by going into a dive, and I suspect the Ki-61 wasn't utilized to the fullest of its abilities either (on a related note, I always figured if you put a Ki-61 next to a Bf 109E or F, you'd probably find that the Japanese fighter was the better overall).
     
  5. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #5 GregP, Jan 28, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2014
    For the Ki-44 I have the climb at 4 minutes and 15 seconds to 5,000 meters, which averages out to 3,860 feet per minute average (1,176 m/min or 19.6 m/s). That's good healthy climb in anybody's book, even next to a Bf 109K-4.

    I have V max at 630 kph at 6,000 meters (391 mph), which also isn't bad for the IJA planes of the war.

    It has four 12.7 mm MGm so it wasn't without some offensive armament.

    All in all, I think it compared favorably with our equipment of the time.

    These are Japanese data from a 1946 Japanese book (General View of Japanese Military Aircraft in the Pacific War), not American tests.
     
  6. Johnny .45

    Johnny .45 Member

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    I was more interested in turn and roll rates, since it's the maneuverability and handling that are most often mentioned negatively, but those are good numbers to know. Also, I believe the main production variant was armed with two 12.7mm and two 20mm guns, which is certainly not too bad, especially as the army had a far better 20mm cannon than the navy did.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Which Army gun (or when) compared to which Navy gun?

    I believe the majority of the Ki 44s were fitted with either two 12.7s and two 7.7s or with four 12.7s. The Army gun had to be de-rated late in the war ( ammo velocity reduced and perhaps rate of fire lowered?) due to poorer quality materials being used in construction. The Navy used several different 20mm guns and while the rate of fire was never as high as the Army gun the shells were much heavier and the later 99-2 gun fired a shell over 50% heavier at a slightly higher velocity than a late model Army gun.

    I rather like the Ki 44 and think the Japanese should have built a lot more of them rather than the thousands of KI 43s they built in the last half of the war.
     
  8. CORSNING

    CORSNING Active Member

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    GregP,
    Thank you for posting the numbers in post #5. That was enough incentive for me to buy the book when I get a chance.

    I'm with eagledad and Johnny .45, I would love to get a hold of a complete test trials report on the Ki 44-I, Ki 44-II and especially Ki 44-III.

    All the good information I have on the Shoki comes from the two T.A.I.C. reports on the Ki 44-II dated December 1944 ( 376 mph.@ 17,200 ft. and 4,140 fpm.@ 7,000 ft.) and March 1945 ( 383 mph.@ 17,400 ft. and 4,220 fpm.@ 5,000 ft.).

    The following infromation is what I have read on the Ki 44-III:

    Larger tail section. (improving handling)

    Wing area increased to 204.52 sq.ft.

    Armament: 4 x 20mm or 2 x 20mm + 2 x 37mm

    Combat weight: 5,357 lbs.

    Engine: Nakajima Ha-145 / 2,000 hp. at take-off

    Wing Loading: 26.19+lbs./sq.ft. (excellent)

    Power Loading: 2.6785 lbs./hp. (this is the best power loading I have seen for a WW2 fighter A/C, meaning acceleration and climb must have been absolutely awesome.

    Jeff.
     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Seems that Ha-145 was IJA name for the Homare. Ha-45 being unified name, both for IJA and IJN. NK9 was IJN-only name for Homare. link
     
  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    One thing seems obvious ... the vertical tail is behind the norizontal and so spins or flick-rolls should be EASY to recover from. If nothing else, it SOULD have greeat rudder control through the stall.
     
  11. Johnny .45

    Johnny .45 Member

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    Well, that is quite interesting. Never noticed that before. Although it sounds a if it was only a one-off prototype, so it's actual importance is lessened a bit (to me anyway). The fact that they COULD make it is impressive though. 2,000hp is 25% more than the 1,500hp on the Ha 109 in the Ki-44-II series, quite an improvement, and the Homare is quite bit narrower, which would lessen drag an improve it's visibility (which was one of the main complaints about the Ki-44, which was a very large engine in a pretty small plane, and it was quite difficult to see over the nose while landing or taking off). If only they could do away with the problems the more powerful versions of the Homare had with reliability....
    Now, makes me wonder about a Ki-44 given an Ha 219/Ha 44, which was an 18cyl development of the Ha 109. Apparently it never made production, but if they had focused less on the Homare and given some effort to the Ha 219, who knows?
     
  12. Ron

    Ron New Member

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    Thanks for the numbers.
    It's turn was within 20 seconds and stall speed was 93 mph. It had tendencies to tailspin thus the restrictions imposed. It could dive to 517-528 mph. The tony could dive like that too, but it couldn't climb with the Tojo.
    Perhaps at least a dozen Ki 44s had 37mm Ho-203 cannons with 25 rounds each based at Anshan, China. These proved successful intercepting B-29s. At 9,000m altitude (B-29 bombing missions), it could could reach the B-29s. At 9,500m it was a struggle (B-29 recon). It was even harder to reach those altitudes with the heavy cannons. The mechanics helped with the engine altitude performance. The standard 37mm Ho-203 had the ammo feed cage like the P-39's M4 cannon. So, that may raise doubts about wing-mounted 37mm cannons oh the Tojo. But if the Russians found them with 37mm cannons and ammo, I'm inclined to believe it was within the reach of Japan to adapt. The successor to the Ho-203 was the more compact, belt-fed 37mm Ho-204 with a rate of fire @ 400 r/m and a M/V @ 710m/s. It was used from 1944 in the Dinah and Randy.
    The Ki 44 was cancelled when it was just starting to carry cannons while the obsolete Ki 43 continued production. Big mistake! The Tojo was one of the last Japanese fighters with a reliable engine. The Ki 84 lacked this trait. Too bad for Japan.
     
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