Kawanishi projects and prototypes

Stargazer2006

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blackkite

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Hi! Kawanishi Seiku transport.
Source : Yamato Museum
 

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Justo Miranda

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Kawanishi Baika

(SPECULATIVE DRAWINGS)​

Would Japan have not surrendered after the atomic attacks over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, the Allies would have been forced to land on the Japanese home islands. There were plans to carry out the invasion in two phases. The first step, known as ‘Operation Olympic’, aimed to occupy the south of Kyushu Island and should start on November 1st. The second one, ‘Operation Coronet’, would have consisted of landings on Honshu Island, to control the Tokyo plain, and it was planned for March 1946. The whole plan, ‘Operation Downfall’, required 5,000,000 men, 3,000 ships, 66 aircraft carriers, loaded with 2,649 aircraft, and all the airplanes in the 7th, 8th and 10th Army Air Forces. Casualties were expected to be extremely heavy. A study requested by U.S. Navy Secretary estimated that conquering Japan would cost between 1.7 and 4 million casualties including 400,000 to 800,000 fatalities and the destruction of 800 Allied ships.

The defensive plan of the Japanese High Command (Operation Ketsu-Go) included the use of the 12,725 airplanes available in one single and uninterrupted attack with the purpose of collapsing the defences of the Allied fleet. A force of 2,000 IJA and IJN Japanese fighters would battle to control the skies over Kyushu Island. While the Allied fleet would still be in open sea and approaching Japan, the warships of the Task Force would be attacked by 330 IJN suicide bombers, then a group of 825 IJA and IJN suicide airplanes would try to sink the troop transports. Once the invasion ships got close to their proposed anchorages, another 2,000 suicide aircrafts would be launched hour after hour in nonstop attacks which the Japanese hoped could be sustained for 10 days. Thirty five camouflaged airfields and nine seaplane bases had been built in Kyushu to that purpose. The Japanese also had 20 suicide take off strips with underground hangars, from where the Ki.115 Tsurugi and Baika Model 1 could operate.

The Ohka 43-Otsu would use some straight railway sections and rocket-propelled trolleys to operate. It was very effective but had the handicap of using the new Ne-20 turbojet of which just a few units were available. The Ki.115 could use several types of second hand conventional engines but it required 80 octane gasoline which was almost non-existent in Japan due to the naval blockade. On the other hand, the Ne-20 could work with a mixture of wood turpentine and charcoal, although the battered Japanese industry could not manufacture them in high numbers on time for Ketsu-Go.

The Japanese scientists found the solution to this situation with the mass production of pulsejet engines based on the Argus As 109-014 scale drawings that the I-8 submarine had brought from Germany in 1943. The Japanese version, known as Maru Ka-10 was designed by professors Ichiro Tami and Taichiro Ogawa of the Aeronautical Institute of Tokyo Imperial University in 1944. The Maru Ka-10 was 3,750 mm long, had 550 mm of diameter and weighted 153 kg, producing 360 kg of thrust at 740 kph. It used Benzol as fuel during the flying tests, although it could also work with low quality oil or heavy kerosene. It was expected that the operational version would burn 1,600 lt of crude pine root oil that the local chemical industry produced as ersatz fuel.

The Japanese did never receive the blueprints for the V-1 missile or for their manned variant Reichenberg as the German submarine carrying them was sunk. They were forced to design their own version based in a general description of the German model. The result was a small low wing monoplane made out of wood and steel, given the scarcity of aluminium. By the beginning of 1945 their mass production was ordered to the Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. firm, under the Baika denomination. The plan was to manufacture three different versions.

The first one was the Kawanishi Baika model 1 that took off from a conventional aerodrome reaching the ignition speed of the pulsejet (360 kph) thanks to the thrust of its three Toku-Ro.1 Type 2 rockets with 600 kg of thrust, located in the wing roots and in the fuselage centreline. Its main undercarriage (from a Ki.115) and the rockets (from an Ohka 43) were jettisoned after take-off. The high rate of fuel consumption of the pulsejet allowed a range of just 204 km at the cruise speed of 556 kph and sea level. The model 1 could only operate against troops transports located near the southern coast of Kyushu. To that purpose they planned to have a Type 97 warhead with 150 kg of Torpex H.E. (from a Type 91 mod.1 airborne torpedo) to impact under the ship waterline.

The Kawanishi Baika model 2 was the second version. During the WWII the Japanese used 46 submarines with capacity to carry different types of airplanes in deck watertight hangars. By August 1945 they still kept six of them: The I-14 (AM class) with a hangar of 4.2 x 21 m. able to house two Seiran bombers, the I-36 (B1 class) and the I-58 (B3 class) with a hangar of 1.4 m high, 2.4 m. wide and 8.5 m long where they could transport a Watanabe reconnaissance floatplane and the I-400, I-401 and I-402 of the Sen-Toku Class that had a hangar of 4.2 m. of diameter and 31 m long with capacity for two Saiun or three Seiran or four Ohka type 43-Ko.

These submarines were ideal to transport specialized suicide airplanes that could attack the enemy fleet in their bases of Ulithi, Pearl Harbour, the west coast of USA or even when they were crossing the Panama Canal. They could be refuelled during the trip by the I-402, specially modified as tanker to that purpose. The I-400 could even reach New York and Washington going round South America from the south in a four months journey. Would the Allies have used poison gas against Iwo Jima in February 1945, New York could have been attacked in June using Type 7 bacteriological bombs, launched from six Seiran airplanes carried by the Sen-Toku submarines.

To compete against the Ohka type 43-Ko, the Kawanishi firm designed a Baika model 2 version to be launched from submarines. To facilitate their storage it was considered convenient to reduce their length in 63 cm moving forward the support structure of the pulsejet. The clear cockpit opened sliding forward. The wings were built in such a way that could be folded backwards, like in the Seiran, and put back in flying position very quickly using a hydraulic mechanism connected to the submarine. The warhead was a general purpose 250 kg bomb with nose priming plug and rear impact fuse.

The Baika model 2 used the same launch system than the Ohka type 43-Ko. It was positioned over a launch cart of 700 kg at the end of a catapult (26 m length, 116 cm track and 3º30’ pitch) shot by a 90-150 kg/sq. cm compressed air device coming from the torpedo launch system of the submarine. A buffer cable was used for decelerating the launch cart that was quickly stored under the deck. The four airplanes of a Sen-Toku could be launched within 20 minutes. The time required was of 6 min 23 sec for each from the oldest submarines.

The last version of the Baika was the model 3. One of the main reasons of the operational failure of the Ohka model 11 was the excessive weight of their warhead which had been designed for the single shot destruction of major warships.

To cover this gap, the Kawanishi firm designed an air launched variant of the Baika. Instead of solving the problem of integration with the Ginga by reducing the wingspan, so that it could be housed between the main undercarriage legs, the manufactured airplane weighted half the weight of an Ohka 11 and could be installed in a more rearward position within the Ginga bomb bay. To allow the ignition of the pulsejet during flight, it should be exposed to the air stream outside the carrier airplane. Its original location was therefore moved to below the fuselage centreline of the Baika. Although the cruise speed of the model 3, when launched from 6,100 m, was of just 481 kph, it started a shallow dive at 556 kph until being intercepted by the fighters flying at 600 kph. It then increased the dive angle until reaching 740 kph passing under the fighters screen and going to the target at sea level, impacting under the waterline, or climbing at 450 m to go down over the ship deck in a 75º dive, depending on the type of warhead used.
At this point of time the Japanese were no more interested in sinking the big heavily armoured warships. The political circumstances were more favourable to the kind of war that caused a high number of casualties to the Allies. It was better to try and destroy the little protected troop transports with a warhead of just 250 kg.

Technical data

Type suicide bomber
Phase project

Wings wood structure with plywood covering (foldable in Mod. 2), Fuselage steel structure and cladding, Tail surfaces wood structure with plywood covering
Engine one Maru Ka-10 pulsejet with 300-360 kg thrust, Fuel tank one of 600 litres behind the pilot, Warhead a Type 97 torpedo warhead with 150 kg of Torpex H.E.or a 250 kg G.P. bomb with Trinitro-Anisol H.E. and nose priming plug, Wingspan 6.6 m, Length (Mod. 1) 7.63 m; (Mod. 2) 7 m; (Mod. 3) 6.84 m., Wing area 7.6 sq.m, Wing load 188.2 kg/sqm
Overall weight 1430 kg, Empty weight 750 kg, Max speed dive 740 kph, Max speed level 556 kph at sea level and 481 kph at 6,000 m, Launch speed 360 kph, Stall speed 111 kph
Ceiling 6,000 m (Mod. 3), Range 280 km (Mod. 3); 204 km (mod. 1 & 2), Endurance 22 min (Mod.1)
 

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Justo Miranda

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Kawanishi E7K2 Alf (Tokko)



The Kawanishi E7K2 was a catapult launched reconnaissance seaplane that was designed in 1932 to operate from the IJN cruisers Atago and Nachi class. A number of 347 units were built that remained in first-line roles until 1943.
Between April 29 and May 28, 1945, no less than forty six suicide planes of the Sakigake and Kotohira-Suishin units made Tokko attacks against Allied ships in Okinoerabujima and Okinawa. On May 4, two E13A and six E7K2 seaplanes of the Sakigake Unit No.1 that were equipped with a Type II, No. 50, Model I antiship bomb of 498.3 kg, were intercepted by the F4U-1D of the USS Shangri-La (CV-38) that brought down five airplanes. The remaining three managed to sink the destroyer USS Morrison (DD-560) off Okinawa.
At the end of World War II, a new suicide unit, the Otsu Tokubetsu Kogekitai, was forming with E7K2 airplanes in Otsu naval air base, although they never got into combat.





 

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Justo Miranda

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Kokoku Heiki Go.1


Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden


With a mid-mounted wing and laminar flow aerofoil, the Shiden was designed at the end of 1941 to replace the Zero as standard carrier based fighter of the IJN.

The choice was based on the mid-wing designs of the American naval fighters Wildcat and Buffalo that, at that time, looked better equipped to operate from aircraft carriers. The Shiden also considerably improved the roll rate compared to other low-wing designs.

However, while the American airplanes had a belly retractable undercarriage, the Shiden main legs retracted within the wing, as it happened with the Zero. This solution was to be problematic because the structure of the wing – originally designed for a floatplane – lacked the resistance to stand the impacts of deck landing.

To solve this issue, the joint of the main legs with the wings had to be positioned near the fuselage and, as a consequence, the legs were not long enough and the propeller hit the ground. The Kawanishi designers were specialised in floatplanes and have no experience with retractable undercarriages; hence they tried to solve this problem with telescopic legs of great mechanical complexity, similar to those of the P-47 American fighter. When the Shiden was operational in February 1944, Japan had lost most of their aircraft carriers and almost all its naval pilots with experience on deck landing.

The airplanes of the IJN continued to operate from the ground bases, but the airdromes conditions were quite poor. A stripe of pounded earth and a few hastily built sheds on a remote tropical island were incompatible with the sophisticated mechanics of the Shiden.

The first airplanes of the 401st. Kokutai arrived at the Takao (Formosa) airdrome on August 31, 1944. Their mission was to intercept the B-29 airplanes based in Chengdu (China) on their route to Japan. The operation was a failure. In spite of themselves, the Japanese pilots discovered

that their maximum speed at an altitude of 6,000 m was almost the same than the cruising speed of the B-29 at 9,000 m. They simply could not intercept them. When the alarm was sounded with advance enough, the Shiden tried to climb up to 9,500 m to perform just one frontal attack, facing the intense fire of dozens of the B-29 heavy machine guns. Besides, they could not afford the additional weight of an extra detachable fuel tank and had just fuel enough to return to base.

Another unpleasant surprise revealed the low performance of the brakes, something that should not be extremely important over aircraft carriers although it was vital in an earth stripe under rain. To stop the airplane the pilots acquired the habit of getting out of the landing strip, to brake over the loose earth on the sides, with disastrous consequences for the delicate telescopic mechanism of the legs. The efficiency of next take off was seriously hindered as the legs incompletely retracted within its housing under the wing, thus considerably reducing the airplane speed and making of landing a very dangerous exercise.

Engines also failed. Originally designed for the 91 octane fuel available in 1941, they had to work with 87 octanes, or even sometimes mixed with a volatile oil extracted from pine tree roots that lowered the fuel to 85 octanes. It was so contaminated with impurities that American Jeeps that used this fuel during occupation suffered engine failures.

The Nakajima NK9H Homare 21 engine was not easy to start at tropical temperatures and its cowling design was not adequate for efficient refrigeration. During climbing the cowl air control flaps should be fully opened to avoid an excessive heating of the cylinder heads, generating a considerable drag. The Homare also lost power above 7,000 m at a fast rate; although it has been designed to generate 1,990 hp with 85 octanes, it actually was able to only generate 1,800 hp.

The Shiden was at its most efficient in fighting at medium and low altitude, thanks to its automatic flaps and powerful weapons. It performance equalled that of the Hellcat and Thunderbolt airplanes, being slightly below the Mustang and Corsair models.

The Shiden was however very useful defending the airdromes of Formosa and Luzon against the strafing operations of the American naval fighters. But it was incapable to defend its own bases to the south of Kyushu against the B-29 offensive during the Spring of 1945.

During the last days of December 1944 the 402nd Kokutai, based in Marcott (Luzon) was converted into a suicide unit to perform attacks against US landings on Mindoro Island. By the beginning of January the Squadron received 12 Shiden of the N1K1-Jb model that were able to transport two bombs of 250 kg under the wings and one 400 litres detachable fuel tank under the fuselage. On January 2, when they were ready for take off, they suffered an attack by P-47 airplanes destroying eight Shiden. The four remaining machines were used to perform raids against Allied ships in the Lingayen Gulf during the following days.

Meanwhile, the technicians of the Yokosuka naval test centre had reached the conclusion that neither the Kawanishi N1K1-J Shiden nor the Mitsubishi J2 M3 Raiden were right to fight against the B-29 airplanes. They recommended the manufacturing of the N1K2-J Shiden KAI- an improved version of the Shiden – as a land based standard fighter for the IJN. It was a painful decision, considering that there were over 1,000 units of Shiden and 566 of Raiden already manufactured.

By August 1944 both models, together with the Yokosuka D4Y Suisei, the Nakajima B6N Tenzan and the Aichi B7A Ryusei, were allocated to the Kokoku Heiki Go.1 programme of reforms that had the objective to optimize the design of these airplanes for kamikaze missions. They installed supports for the new RATO rockets, developed by the IJN for take off from their light aircraft carriers, and one bomb of 500 to 800 kg.

The N1K1-J KAI-Ko was the first modified version of the Shiden. It had a Toku-Ro.1 Type 2 rocket, with 600 kg peak thrust and 30 seconds of life, under the rear (strengthened) fuselage. Its objective was to help the airplane taking off from short airstrips when heavily loaded. Another addition was the installation of a launch device for one anti-ship bomb Number 50 model 2 of 507 kg under the central section of the fuselage.

The concept seemed outdated in 1945 and it was considered to provide the Shiden with the new rocket booster package developed by Kugisho. Aerodynamically adapted to the Shiden belly, it contained four Toku-Ro.1 Type 1 rockets with 600 kg peak thrust and 10 seconds of life, two Toku-Ro.1 Type 2 rockets and a Number 80 Model 2 anti ship bomb, fixed and without any tailfin.

The two Type 2 rockets were used in RATO configuration during take off while the two central Type 1 rockets were used to gain speed when confronting the defence fighters of the US Fleet. The two forward Type 1 served to provide a 60 km speed increase during the terminal dive over the Allied ships, thus reducing the time of exposure to the 40 mm Antiaircraft Artillery.

The 20 mm guns were removed from the KAI-Otsu to reduce weight, leaving the two type 97 machine guns of 7.7 mm that were installed behind the engine as the only armament to defend from the Allied fighters. It had been ascertained that the Kamikaze pilot could better estimate distances and angles for an optimal impact if the tracer bullets were shot during the terminal dive.

By the end of 1944, both the conventional and suicide version of the Suisei started to use I.S.R. type rockets of 12 cm to distort the aiming of the AA Allied gunners during the terminal dive. These rockets had been originally developed for Antiaircraft Artillery usage, with incendiary pellets and shrapnel warhead, in imitation of the German Föhn. They could be mass shot from a square matrix or one by one from iron tubes similar to the German W.GR 21.The Suisei carried two or four tubes under the wings, something that was generalized for all the airplanes of the Kokoku Heiki Go.1.

Four Shiden had been already modified by the end of the war, but they were preserved to counteract the invasion of Kyushu and never went into operation.



Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden KAI​


Designed in the spring of 1943 to succeed the Shiden, the Kawanishi N1K2-J Shiden KAI was its simplified version with a more reliable and similarly powerful engine, and 222 kg lighter. A total of 23.000 parts were removed and it had a lower wing and simpler undercarriage.

These changes improved the chances to fight the B-29 airplanes, although its armament of four 20 mm guns was somehow insufficient to destroy these gigantic machines. Thanks to the use of Type 3 Number 6 Mark 27 Model 1, with 60 kg rocket bombs - launched from rails installed under the wings - but also through ramming attacks, the Shiden KAI was able to shot down some of the super fortresses.

On April 7 the B-29 42-63512 was rammed over Tokyo by a KAI of the 301st Kokutai. Between April 18 and May 11, 1945 the Shiden KAIs of the 343rd Kokutai performed 120 interception operations against the B-29 that were striking the kamikaze bases of Oita, Tachiarai, Kanoya and Chiran, to the Shouth of Kyushu. On April 22, two KAIs of the 407th Kokutai shot the belly of an unidentified B-29 at 8,000 m over Kanoya. The bomb bay exploded as a result and the three airplanes were destroyed.

On May 5, two B-29 bombers, with numbers 42-65305 and 44-69899, were shot down by Shiden KAIs of the 343rd Kokutai over Oita, one by the rocket-bombs and the other by ramming. On May 7, the 42-63549 and the 44-69887 B-29 were also destroyed over the same place and following same pattern of attack.

During the combats of these days, three KAIs of the 343 rd Kokutai were shot down by the machine guns of the B-29 bombers, seven by forced landing and fifteen by bombing. At medium altitude fighting, the KAI was more efficient than the Shiden, a serious opponent to the Mustang under 4,000 m and to the Corsair at low level. On June 22, 1945 one KAI of the 343 rd Kokutai rammed the Corsair FG-1D BuNo.88441 in a fight over Amami Oshima.

A total of just 428 Shiden KAIs were manufactured to be used by the elite units. The KAI was too valuable to be used in suicide missions, but during the Okinawa battle the IJN lost 29 aircrafts against the U.S. Navy fighters while escorting kamikaze groups.
 

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Justo Miranda

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The IJN ‘20-shi-Ko’ specification​

The ‘20-shi-Ko’ is just an expression used by some authors to to refer to the IJN 23 May 1945 requirement for the future air-superiority fighter, that it was supposed to have entered service in 1947. In fact, the IJN terminated to use the ‘shi’ naming system for experimental aircraft in 1943 (Showa 18).

After this decision, experimental aircraft names were such as ‘Experimental Shiden-KAI’ or ’Experimental Reppu-KAI’. The IJN used the ‘shi’ specification system for the last time in 1942, calling for a ‘17-shi-Ko’ air-superiority carrier fighter (Mitsubishi M-50, A7M1 Reppu) and for the ‘17-shi-Otsu’ interceptor fighter (Kawanishi K-90, J3K Shiden 31 and Mitsubishi M-70, J4M Senden).

The ‘18-shi-Otsu’ 1943 interceptor fighter specification (Nakajima J5N Tenrai, Kawanishi J6K Jinpu and Kyushu J7W Shinden) and the ‘20-shi-Ko’ 1945 air-superiority fighter specification (Mitsubishi A8M, Kawanishi A8K and Nakajima A8N) exist only in specialised literatures as ‘historic license’. The official definition of the IHN for the 1945 air-superiority fighter was just ‘Next air-superiority Ko fighter’.

The 23 May 1945 specification requirements were for a maximum speed de 704 kph at 10,000 m, landing speed below 148 kph, 15 minutes to reach 10,000 m altitude, 13,500 m service ceiling, 2.5 hours endurance, four 20 mm cannons with 250 rounds per gun, self-sealing fuselage tanks, automatic extinguish device for the wings tanks, armour protection for the pilot and automatic combat flaps. Mitsubishi, Kawanishi and Nakajima submitted several projects based on the Reppu, the Jinpu, the Shiden-KAI and the Ki.87-II.

Kawanishi​

To meet the requirements of the 17-shi-Otsu IJN specification, calling for a high-performance, land-based, Kyokusen interceptor, Kawanishi proposed its project K 90, with Nakajima Homare engine, in 1942.

The IJN ordered the development of the K 90, as J3K1, powered by one Mitsubishi MK9B (Ha-43-21) engine with two-stage mechanical supercharger and Vulkan coupling drive first stage. In August 1943, the project was modified as J6K1 Jinpu, to adapt it to the ‘18-shi-Ko’ specification, calling for a high-altitude, air-superiority fighter powered by one Nakajima NK9A-O Homare 40, two-stage, three-speed mechanical supercharged engine, with intercooler, forced cooling fan and oxygen injection.

In July 1944, the J6K1 was superseded by the N1K2-J Shiden-KAI that was chosen by the Kaigun Koku Hombu for large-scale production. In April 1945, Kawanishi proposed the modification of the J6K1 to the IJN to adapt it to the requirements of the ‘20-shi-Ko’ specification, to be powered by an Ha-44-21 engine with intercooler and forced cooling fan and an armament of six Type 99, Model 2/5, 20 mm cannon. According to some authors, the new design was named A8K1 Toppu.

A8K1 technical data

Wingspan: 12.5 m, length: 10.118 m, height: 3.94 m, wing area: 26 sq.m, max weight: 4,373 kg, max speed: 685 kph, ceiling: 13,000 m.

Along with the A8K1, Kawanishi submitted the ‘High-Performance Shiden-KAI’ project that basically was a N1K5-J Shiden 25 powered by one 2,200 hp Nakajima Ha-45-44 engine, with two-stage, three-speed mechanical supercharger, intercooler and six Type 99, Model 2/5, 20 mm cannon.

‘High-Performance Shiden-KAI’ technical data
Wingspan: 11.99 m, length: 9.346 m, height: 3.96 m, wing area: 23.5 sq.m, max weight: 4,768 kg, max speed: 663 kph, ceiling: 12,000 m.



Mitsubishi J4M Senden

Early in 1942 the Kaigun Koku Hombu issued the 17-shi-Otsu specification calling for a high-performance, land-based interceptor to supersede the Raiden.

The Kawanishi firm proposed the K-90/J3K project, a first version of the Jinpu with Nakajima Homare engine. Mitsubishi submitted the M-70/J4M Senden, a twin-boom airframe powered by one 2,130 hp MK9D (Ha-43-42) supercharged engine, with Vulkan coupling and forced cooling fan, driving a six-bladed pusher propeller. It was like the North American Vultee XP-54 and Swedish SAAB J-21, equipped with tricycle landing gear.
 

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nuuumannn

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Hi! Kawanishi Seiku transport.
Source : Yamato Museum

Great images, Blackkite.

here is the breakdown of all Kawanishi-related threads this far:

Is there not a thread on the H8K? Here are a couple of images I took of this impressive flying boat when it was in the neatly sculpted garden outside the Tokyo Maritime Museum years ago, scanned from 35mm film photos. It's now in the south of the country at the Kanoya Air Base museum.
 

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