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Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu

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Developed as a result of an official specification issued in March 1937, this two-seat twin-engined figh-ter did not go into service until August 1942. The intervening five years saw strenuous development and testing interspersed with periods of total inactivity caused by the Japanese army's equivocal attitude to the type of fighter typified by the German Bf 110.


The original requirement was for a fighter capable of 540 km/h (335 mph) at 3500 m (11480 ft), and able to operate at altitudes between 2000 m (6660 ft) and 5000 m (16400 ft). It was to have a range of some 1800 km (1100 miles) and the selected engines were 820-hp Nakajima Ha-20b radials. Engineer Takeo Doi struggled with the difficult con-cept, and the first prototype was ready to fly in January 1939.


The first Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (dragon killer) prototype was a cantilever mid-wing monoplane with retractable tailwheel landing gear. A slender fuselage provided enclosed accommodation for two in tandem.


Armament was heavier than originally specified: a forward-firing 20-mm (0.79-in) Ho 3 cannon and two 7.7-mm (0.303-in) Type 89 machine-guns were fixed to fire forward, and there was a flexibly mounted rear 7.7-mm Type 89 machine-gun. There was also provision to carry two drop tanks or two 250kg bombs on underwing racks.


As flight trials continued, the Ki-45 was found to achieve a rather poor performance and the engines continually gave trouble. The third prototype featured major refinements. Drag was considerably reduced, but maximum speed was still only 480 km/h (298 mph). There was some instability and a tendency to nacelle stall. Yet the Ki-45 prototypes were externally attractive, with curved, oval fuselages and elliptical wings and tail surfaces. The main undercarriage legs retracted backwards into the engine nacelles leaving the wheels partially exposed. At first, the undercarriage retraction mechanism was hand-operated, but an electrically operated mechanism was installed on the third prototype.


With so many difficulties and no pressing need for the type, the army suspended further flight trials, leaving six further prototypes partly finished. Six months later, in April 1940, work was restarted, and 1000-hp Nakajima Ha-25 14-cylinder double-row radials were installed in one of the airframes, which was completed the following July. The five other airframes were similarly modified, and two more machines were built from scratch. A maximum speed of 520 km/h (323 mph) at 3500 m (11500 ft) was attained.


The design team had meanwhile been reviewing the whole project and proposed that the Ki-45 Kai of simplified design was suited for mass production. The army accepted the proposal, and the first of three Ki-45 Kai prototypes flew in May 1941.

Twelve pre-production aircraft followed. With tests successfully completed, Ki-45 KAIa series production as the Army Type 2 Two-seat Fighter began early in September 1941, and soon the Ki--45 Kai was given the popular name Toryti (dragon slayer) while the Allies called it Nick. Effective crew and fuel-tank protection was incorporated in the design. Power was pro-vided by two 1050-hp Nakajima Ha-25 radials, but late production Model B aircraft had Mitsubishi Ha-120s.


Model A, the first series version, went to the 5th Sentai in Japan in August 1942. The next Sentais to equip with the type were the 16th in China and the 21st in Burma. It was effective in attacks on enemy shipping and troop concentrations, a specialized attack version being built as Ki-45 KAIb Model B. Original armament had comprised two 12.7-mm (0.5-in) Type 1 machine-guns in the nose, one forward-firing 20-mm (0.79-in) Ho 5 cannon in a ventral tunnel in the starboard nose section, and a single 7.92-mm (0.312-in) Type 98 machine-gun on a flexible mounting oper-ated by the observer. In the Model B a 37-mm (1.46-in) Type 98 cannon was installed in the ventral tunnel and the nose guns were replaced by a single 20-mm Ho 3 cannon.


A number of alternative weapon installations were tried experimentally, including the use of a 75mm cannon for attacks on shipping.

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Production aircraft had straight-contoured fuselage and wings. The range of Model A was 2260 km, (1400 miles) and it could climb to 5000 m (16 400 ft) in just over six minutes. Models A and B flew operation-ally in many theatres of war, not least in the New Guinea region, where they inflicted heavy losses on US motor torpedo boats.

The Ki-45 KAIa was, for its day, heavily armed and proved effective against the USAF's Consoldiated B-24 Liberators and, when these bombers were used more extensively for night operations, the Ki-45 was adapted to attack them. Thus the night-fighting capability of the type was discovered, leading to development of the Ki-45 KAIc night-fighter.

It was not until 1944 that the night-fighter version, the Ki-45 KAIc, became operational as the only army night-fighter of the war. Retaining the two 805kW Mitsubishi Ha-102 radials of the Ki-45 KAIb heavy day fighter, the Ki-45 KAIc was armed with a single forward-firing semi-automatic 37mm Ho 203 Type 98 cannon in a fairing under the fuselage, two oblique/upward-firing 20mm Ho-5 cannon in the centre fuselage, and a single hand-held machine-gun in the rear cockpit. It had been intended to fit airborne radar in the nose, and therefore no nose guns were included. Production difficulties seriously delayed the radar equipment and it did not enter service, although a single aircraft flew with centimetric radar shortly before the end of the war. Production of the Ki-45 KAIc got underway at Kawasaki's Akashi plant in March 1944, the first aircraft being completed the following month. By then Kawasaki had transferred Ki-45 Kai manu-facture from its Gifu plant to the works at Akashi.

On 15 June American Boeing B-29s of XX Bomber Command launched their first raid on the Japanese homeland, and were intercepted by eight Toryus whose pilots shot down eight of the big bombers. At that time about 40 Ki-45 KAIc fighters had been completed, and the aircraft went on to serve with the 4th Sentai at Usuki in the Oita prefecture, the 5th Sentai at Usuki and Komachi in the Aichi prefecture, the 53rd Sentai at Matsudo in the Chiba prefecture, and the 70th Sentai at Kashiwa. Toryus shared the night defence of Japan with the navy's J1N1-S and Yokosuka P1Y1-S, and were probably the most successful in action against the massive American raids in the last six months of the war; the 4th Sentai alone was credited with 150 kills, of which 26 were gained by one pilot, Captain Isamu Kashiide, all despite the lack of any AI radar. Away from the homeland Ki-45 KAIc nightfighters also served with the 45th Sentai in the Philippines and New Guinea late in 1944, and with the 71st Dokuritsu Hiko Chutai at Singapore in August 1945. Production of the Ki-45 KAIc reached 477 aircraft before being terminated in December 1944. The type was codenamed 'Nick' by the Allies.

Total production, including original Ki-45 prototypes, and evaluation aircraft, was 1701, including 477 Model Cs.

Major Revisions:

Ki-45 Prototype 1
Nakajima Ha-20b Engine
Two 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns mounted in the upper fuselage nose
20 mm Ho-3 cannon mounted in a ventral tunnel
One flexible rear-firing 7.7mm Type 89 machine-gun
298 mph @ 13,125 ft

Experimental Improved Type 1 Ki-45
Ha-25 fourteen-cylinder double-row radials with single stage superchangers.
323 mph @ 11,480 ft

Ki-45 KAI - Type 2
Slimmer fuselage with straight contours and redesinged tail surfaces
Straight tapered wing of increased span and area
New engine nacelles of smaller diameter mounted lower on the wings
Replacement of the 7.7 mm type 89 machine-guns by two 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) machine guns in the nose and one flexible rear firing7.9mm Type 98 machine-gun
Replacement of the telescopic gunsight by a reflector gunsight.
340 mph at 22,965 ft

Ki-45 KAIa
Slimmer fuselage with straight contours and redesinged tail surfaces
Straight tapered wing of increased span and area
New engine nacelles of smaller diameter mounted lower on the wings
Replacement of the 7.7 mm type 89 machine-guns by two 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) machine guns in the nose and one flexible rear firing7.9mm Type 98 machine-gun
Replacement of the telescopic gunsight by a reflector gunsight.
340 mph at 22,965 ft

Ki-45 KAIb
Ground attack modifications made
Forward-firing armament was revised to include one 20mm Ho-3 cannon mounted centrally in the nose
One hand-loaded 37mm Type 98 cannon in the ventral tunnel
Late production b's were powered by a pair of 1050 hp Army Type 101 fourteen-cylinder radials.
Note: Some of these aircraft were modified in the filed by replaceing the upper fuselage petrol tank with a pair of 12.7mm Type 1 machine-guns mounted obliquely to fire upward.

Ki-45 KAIc
Ha-102 engines
Semi-automatic 37mm Ho-203 cannon in the ventral tunnel
Two obliquely-mounted upward 20 mm Ho-5 cannon in the center fuselage
No Radar
335.5 mph at 19,685 ft

Ki-45 KAId
Anti-shipping version
Two 20 mm Ho-5 cannon in the nose
One 37 mm Ho-203 cannon in the ventral tunnel
One flexible 7.9 mm Type 98 machine-gun in the rear cockpit
Ki-45 KAIc airframe

Ki-45 KAI-II
(Never produced, changed to the Ki-96)
1500 hp Mitsubishi Ha-112-II



Production:

Gifu Plant
3 Ki-45 Prototypes
Jan - May 1939
8 Improved Type 1 Ki-45 Prototypes
July 1940 - Feb 1941
3 Ki-45 KAI prototypes
Auguest- October 1941
12 Ki-45 KAI pre-production aircraft
October - December 1941
305 Ki-45 KAIa and KAIb production aircraft
January 1942 - September 1943

Akashi Plant
893 Ki-45 KAIa, b & d production aircraft
September 1942 - July 1945
477 Ki-45 KAIc production aircraft
April - December 1944


Specifications:

Ki.45-KAI-Ko
Engines: 2 x 1080hp Mitsubishi Ha-102
Wing Span: 15.05m
Length: 11.00m
Height: 3.70m
Wing Area: 32sq.m
Empty Weight:
Max.Weight:
Speed: 540km/h
Ceiling: 10730m
Range: 2260km
Armament: 1 x 20mm, 2 x mg12.7mm, 1 x mg7.92mm
Crew: 2

Model A
Span: 15.02 m (49tt 3 in)
Length: 10.6 m (34 ft 9 in)
Gross weight: 5276 kg (11632 lb)
Maximum speed: 547 km/h (340 mph)

Model B
Span:15.02 m (49 ft 3 in)
Length: 111 m (36 ft 1 in)
Gross weight. 5500 kg (12125 lb)

Kawasaki Ki 45 KAIc 'Nick'
Engines  Two Nakajima Ha-102 nine-cylinder radials, 810kW
Wingspan: 15.02 m / 49 ft 3 in
Length: 11 m / 36 ft 1 in
Height: 3.7 m / 12 ft 2 in
Wing area: 32 sq.m / 344.44 sq ft
Max take-off weight: 5500 kg / 12125 lb
Empty weight: 4000 kg / 8819 lb
Maximum speed 540 km/h / 336 mph
Operating altitude 6,560 ft to 16,405ft
Ceiling: 10000 m / 32800 ft
Range: 2000 km / 1243 miles
Endurance 4 hours & 40 minutes at 217 m/hr
Armament: 1 x 37mm cannon, 2 x 20mm cannons, 1 x 7.92mm machine-guns, 2 x 250kg bombs
Crew: 2


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