graduate

Ki-44 “Tojo”, Japanese Fighter


Photograph of Ki-44 Tojo

U.S. Navy. Via Francillon (1979)

3-view diagram of Ki-44 Tojo

U.S. Army. Via ibiblio.org


Nakajima Ki-44-IIb Shoki ("Devil-Queller") “Tojo”


Specifications:


Crew 1

Dimensions

31’ by 28’9” by 10’8”
9.45m by 8.785m by 3.25m
Wing area 161 square feet
15 square meters

Weights

4643-6598 lbs
2106-2993 kg

Maximum speed      

376 mph at 17,060 feet
605 km/h at 5200 meters
Cruise speed 249 mph at 13,125 feet
401 km/h at 4000 meters

Climb rate

64 feet per second
19.5 meters per second

Service ceiling

36,745 feet
11,200 meters

Power plant

One 1520 hp (1133 hp) Nakajima Ha-109 14-cylinder two-row radial engine driving a constant speed three bladed metal propeller.

Armament

Four 12.7mm Type 1 machine guns, two in fuselage and two in wings
External stores Two 28.6 gallon (108 liter) drop tanks

Range

805 miles (1296 km) normal
1056 miles (1700 km) maximum

Production

1233 from May 1942 at Nakajima Hikoki K.K.:
  10 Ki-44 pre-production (1940 to 1941)                                                                                            

40 Ki-44-I (1942-1 to 1942-10)

8 Ki-44-II pre-production (1942)

1167 Ki-44-II and -III (1942-11 to 1944-12)

Variants

The Ia used a 1260hp Nakajima Ha-41 engine and was armed with 7.7mm Type 89 in the fuselage.

The II added wing racks for two 100kg bombs.

The IIc replaced the wing 12.7mm with 40mm Ho-301 low-velocity cannon firing at 400 rpm, which were replaced by 20mm Ho-5 cannon in the III.


"Tojo" was one of the few Japanese fighters to emphasize speed and climb rate over maneuverability, making it the mainstay of Japanese interceptor defenses when the American strategic bombing campaign got under way. It had a poor view on takeoff and poor control, so that it killed a number of inexperienced pilots. However, it could climb and dive as well as most of its enemies. The wing loading was unusually high for a Japanese aircraft, which was partially compensated with butterfly combat flaps. The armor and self-sealing fuel tanks proved inadequate against the heavy machine guns of Allied fighters.

The design dated to January 1940, when the Japanese Army asked Nakajima to design an interceptor to complement the Ki-43 "Oscar". The design team, led by Koyama Yasushi, designed the new aircraft around the Ha-41 engine, which was more powerful than the Ha-25 that was becoming standard on fighters. The team were able to meet the challenge of matching this rather large engine, originally designed for bombers, to a narrow fuselage, and the aircraft had a large fuselage side area and horizontal tail surfaces well forward of the rudder to improve its qualities as a gun platform. The first prototype flew in August 1940, and after modifications to reduce drag, nine service prototypes were deployed to 47 Squadron in China for field testing just before war broke out in the Pacific. A small production run began in January 1942, but the inability of these aircraft to intercept the Army's own high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft let the Army to insist on further design work, and the definitive Ki-44-IIb did not begin production before November 1942.

Although "Tojo" was disliked by veteran pilots for its high landing speed and relatively poor maneuverability, younger pilots learned to make good use of its climb and dive speed. The -IIc was probably the most successful interceptor of B-29s, though some of its kills were achieved by deliberate ramming. However, the aircraft began to be replaced by the Ki-84 "Frank" in late 1944.

Photo Gallery


Front view of Ki-44 "Tojo"

U.S. Navy

Skeleton of Ki-44 "Tojo" at Japanese maintenance school

Wikimedia Commons

Captured Ki-44 "Tojo" in American colors

U.S. Navy

References

Francillon (1979)



Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional
Web Site Counters