C6N Saiun "Myrt", Japanese Reconnaissance Aircraft

Photograph of C6N "Myrt"

U.S. Air Force. Via Francillon (1979)

Nakajima C6N1 Saiun ("Painted Cloud") "Myrt"


Crew 2 or 3
Dimensions 41'0" by 36'1" by 13'0"
12.50m by 11.00m by 3.96m
Wing area 274 square feet
25.5 square meters
Weight 6543-11,596 lbs
2968-5260 kg
Maximum speed       379 mph at 20,015 feet
610 km/h at 6100 meters
Cruising speed 242 mph
389 km/h
Climb rate 40 feet per second
12.2 m/s
Ceiling 35,236 feet
10,740 meters
Power plant One 1990 hp (1484 kW) Nakajima NK9H Homare 21 18-cylinder radial engine driving a three blade constant speed metal propeller.
Armament One flexible rear-firing 7.92mm Type 1 machine gun
External stores
One 193 gallon (730 liter) ventral drop tank
Normal range 1914 miles (3080 km) normal
3300 miles (5300 km) with drop tank
Fuel capacity
299.2 gallons
1360 liters
Production 436 at Koizumi and Handa plants (1943-3 to 1945-8)

The C6N1-S and C6N-3 were night fighters equipped with two oblique 20mm Type 99 cannon in place of the third crewman.

The C6N-2 and -3 used a Homare 24 engine and had four bladed propellers.

The C6N Myrt was a carrier reconnaissance aircraft intended to replace the D4Y2-C. However, it ended up operating primarily from shore bases, due to the destruction of the Japanese carrier fleet. Its very high speed, achieved using the low-drag Homare engine and laminar-flow wings, made it almost impossible to intercept. First employed at the Battle of the Philippines Sea, the Myrt effectively shadowed the U.S. Fleet for the remainder of the war. A C6N1 was the very last aircraft shot down in the Second World War, five minutes before the final cease-fire went into effect.

The design originated in the spring of 1942, when the Navy concluded that the practice of using of torpedo bombers as scout aircraft was not entirely satisfactory. Nakajima was instructed to design a fast long-range carrier reconnaissance aircraft, which was done by a team led by Fukuda Yasuo and Yamamoto Yoshizo. The team considered powering the aircraft with two engines in the fuselage linked to wing propellers,but the availability of the powerful Homare engine provided a simpler alternative. Large (and unprotected) integral wing tanks gave a large fuel capacity, and a low landing speed with high wing loading was achieved using an elaborate flap system that combined Fowler flaps and split flaps on the trailing edge with leading-edge flaps. The prototype first flew in March 1943, but problems with the performance of the Homare at altitude delayed production until the spring of 1944.

Development of an experimental torpedo bomber version was dropped with the destruction of the Japanese carrier fleet, and development of a night fighter version was taken up in its place. The night-fighter versions were hampered by a lack of radar.


Francillon (1979)

Wilson (1998)

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