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Ki-45 "Nick", Japanese Fighter


Photograph of Ki-45 "Nick"

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

3-view diagram of Ki-45 "Nick"

U.S. Army. Via ibiblio.org


Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa Toryu ("Dragon Killer") "Nick"


Specifications:


Crew 2
Dimensions 49’3” x 34’10” x 12’2”
15.02m by 10.6m by 3.7m
Wing area
344 square feet
32 square meters
Weight 8146-11,632 lbs
3783-5500 kg
Maximum speed       340 mph at 22,965 feet
547 km/h at 7000 meters
Climb rate 44 feet per second
13.3 meters per second
Service ceiling 35,200 feet
10,730 meters
Power plant 2 950 hp (708 kW) Nakajima Ha-25 14-cylinder 2-row radial engines driving constant-speed three-blade metal propellers
Armament 2 12.7mm Type 1 machine guns in nose
1 20mm Ho-3 cannon in ventral tunnel
1 7.92 mm Type 98 flexible machine guns in rear cockpit
External Stores
2 200 liter (44 gallon) drop tanks or two 250 kg (551 lb) bombs
Range 1404 miles
2260 km
Production 1701 of all types by Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo from September 1941:
Gifu plant:
 
26 Ki-45 prototypes and pre-production aircraft
305 KAIa and KAIb (1942-1 to 1943-9)
Akashi plant:

893 KAIa, KAIb, and KAId (1942-9 to 1945-7)
477 KAIc (1944-4 to 1944-12)
Variants The Ki-45 KAIb added a 37mm cannon in the lower right fuselage and sometimes omitted the second 12.7mm machine gun.

The KAIc was a night fighter armed with an additional two 12.7mm dorsal machine guns fixed at a 30-degree angle and located between the two cockpits.

Few Japanese aircraft showed as much variation in armament.


The Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Killer) or Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter was originally developed as a long-range escort fighter, but development was plagued by problems and "Nick" never served in this role. It was used instead as a ground attack aircraft, at which it had some success due to its heavy armament and well-protected fuel tanks. It also saw service in New Guinea against American PT boats, making it the closest Japanese equivalent to the Beaufighter. The aircraft was also successful at picking off patrolling B-24s.

The design originated with March 1937 specification for a heavy twin-engine fighter to match those under development by other powers. Specifications were rather loose as no agreement could be reached on which characteristics were most important. Nakajima and Mitsubishi dropped out of the competition but Kawasaki continued development of its design until October 1937, when plans were temporarily shelved. Development resumed in earnest two months later when the Army finally issued a new and clearer specification. The design team under Doi Takeo completed the prototype in January 1939. but tests were disappointing as the design showed too much drag, had difficulties with the undercarriage, and had teething problems with the engines. Performance continued to be disappointing and the Army lost interest until April 1940, when the Army instructed Kawasaki to replace the Ha-20 engines with Ha-25 engines. Doi also worked to simplify manufacture, and the aircraft finally went into production in late 1941.

The aircraft was later used as a kamikaze and as a night fighter. It was moderately successful in the latter role against B-29s. As a kamikaze, its chief merit was its heavy weight, which gave it greater kinetic killing energy. An attempt to install centimetric radar on the night fighter version was unsuccessful, as was an attempt at an antishipping version carrying a 75mm gun.


References

Francillon (1979)

Gunston (1988)



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