Ki-48 "Lily", Japanese Light Bomber

Photograph of Ki-48 "Lily"

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

3-view diagram of Ki-48 "Lily"

U.S. Army. Via

Kawasaki Ki-48-I "Lily"





57’4” by 41’4” by 12’6”
17.48m by 12.60m by 3.81m
Wing area 430.6 square feet
40 square meters


8928-13,337 lbs
4050-6050 kg

Maximum speed      

298 mph at 11,485 feet
480 km/h at 3500 meters
217 mph at 11,485 feet
350 km/h at 3500 m
Service ceiling
31,170 feet

Power plant

Two 980 hp (731 kW) Nakajima Ha-25 14-cylinder 2-row radial engines driving three bladed variable pitch metal propellers.


3 7.7mm Type 89 machine guns aimed from nose, dorsal, and ventral positions.

Bomb load    

Normal 660 lbs (300 kg) of bombs, usually 24 33 lb (15 kg) bombs or 6 110 lb (50 kg) bombs
Maximum 880 lbs (400 kg) of bombs


1230 miles (1980 km) normal
1491 miles (2400 km) maximum


A total of 1977 at Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K.:
  576 -Is build by 1942-6
  1411 -IIs built from 1942-2 to 1944-10


The Ki-48-II prototypes introduced the use of two 1150 hp (857 kW) Nakajima Ha-115 engines, giving it a speed of 314 mph (505 km/h)

The IIa production model introduced armor and protected tanks, and the IIb had dive bombing brakes.

The IIc was armed with two Type 89 machine guns in the nose and one ventral and one  dorsal 12.7mm Type 1 machine gun.

The II could also carry up to 800 kg (1760 lb) of bombs, but this was rarely done.

The Ki-48 was Japan’s answer to the Russian SB-2 bombers encountered in China, which had proven almost as fast as the Ki-27 "Nates" sent to intercept them. Kawasaki received the specification in December 1937 and a team led by Doi Takeo based the design on lessons learned from the Ki-45 "Nick". Because of the priority placed on the troubled "Nick" program, the Ki-48 prototype was not complete until July 1939. After modifications to reduce tail flutter, the first production aircraft began rolling out of the factory in July 1940. "Lily" saw its first operational use in north China, where it encountered almost no fighter opposition.

The Ki-48-I was definitely obsolete by the start of the Pacific War, being slow and lacking adequate defensive armament, armor, and self-sealing fuel tanks. It was therefore mostly operated at night. It nonetheless became the most important Army light bomber in the Southwest Pacific. This is doubly ironic in that the aircraft was designed to be able to operate under the extreme conditions of cold characteristic of Manchuria.

An improved version, the Ki-48-II, was already being developed in late 1941. It had more powerful engines using two-stage blowers for better high altitude performance, and it had armor protection to both fuel tanks and crew, the pilot armor being up to 0.65" (16.5mm) in thickness. The prototypes first flew in February 1942. However, the improvements were not enough to eliminate its vulnerability to Allied fighters, and efforts to improve the armament were largely unsuccessful. Large numbers of this aircraft were destroyed on the ground in New Guinea.

Though designated a light bomber by the Japanese, the type more closely resembled a fast medium bomber.


Francillon (1979)

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