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Kawasaki Ki-48 / Ki-148


In 1937, at the begin-ning of the Sino-Japanese war, Chinese air force units were equipped with twin-engined Soviet Tupolev SB-2 bombers. The Japanese army air staff, impressed by the high performance of the Soviet aircraft, instructed the Kawasaki com-pany in December 1937 to produce a twin-engined bomber. It was to be powered by two Nakajima Ha-25 radial engines and to be able to fly at a maximum 480 km/h (298 mph) at 3000 m (9850 ft), and cruise at 350 km/h (217 mph) at the same altitude. It had also to reach 5000 m (16 400 ft) in ten minutes and carry a 400-kg (880-lb) bombload. At that time army strategy was based on a war with the USSR, so it was further stipulated that the aircraft must be capable of operating under Siberian winter conditions.

Takeo Doi began design work in January 1938. The Ki-48 was a mid-wing all-metal cantilever monoplane, the wing position being adopted to provide an internal bomb bay. The fuselage was cut down aft of the dorsal gunner's cockpit and the ventral gunner's stepped position. The bomb-aimer/nose-gunner's position was fully glazed. There was a single curved fin and rudder, and the main undercarriage legs retracted backwards to lie fully enclosed in the engine nacelles. In the type's prototype form, two 708kW Nakajima Ha-25 radial engines mounted in nacelles at the wing leading edges.

Takeo Doi’s design team was forced to divide its time between the extremely complex Ki-45 Kai fighter and the Ki-48. Consequently the first Ki-48 did not fly until July 1939. Three more prototypes and five evaluation machines were soon completed. During development, tail flutter problems were over-come and the rear fuselage strengthened. The new type met a favourable reception and series production started late in 1939, under the designation Army Type 99 Twin-engined Light Bomber. All the criteria laid down by the army had been met except that the bomb bay only accommodated 300 kg (660 lb) of bombs.


Ki-48-Ia aircraft first went into action in northern China with the 45th Sentai and did well against indifferent Chinese opposition. They were used at night, as well as for short-range daylight operations. The Ki-48-Ib was only slightly modified, and a total of 557 of both initial versions were built up to June 1942. With the Japanese attack on the United States and the British Empire, Ki-48s were deployed in Burma, Malaya and the Philip-pines, moving on with the advancing land forces into the Dutch East Indies and New Guinea. After a few months their defects became obvious: there was minimal protec-tion for crew and fuel, and despite the Ki-48’s good speed the better Allied fighters could outstrip it and had little trouble dealing with its defensive armament of single 7.7-mm (0.303-in) Type 89 machine-guns flexibly mounted in nose, dorsal and ventral posi-tions. Night raids became the rule.

Three Ki-48-II prototypes were built by February 1942, powered by twin 1150-hp Nakajima Ha-115 radials and outwardly resembling the Ki-48A. They had a slightly lengthened fuselage and had fuel-tank protec-tion in addition to armour plating for the crew positions. Production aircraft also featured further fuselage strengthening. Ki-48-IIb was a dive-bomber variant with fence-type under-wing dive brakes. Late production machines had dorsal fin extensions to improve stability. The maximum bombload was increased to 800 kg (1764 lb). Maximum speed rose by 24 km/h (15 mph).



During the fighting over New Guinea, large numbers of Ki-48s, codenamed Lily by the Allies, were destroyed on the ground. The Ki-48 remained in production until October 1944. The late versions were designated Ki- 48-IIc and had a 12.7-mm (0.5-in) Type 1 machine-gun in the dorsal position in place of the previous rifle-calibre weapon, in addition to one more nose-mounted 7.7-mm Type 89 gun. The Ki-48-II fought against odds in the Philippines and over Okinawa in day and night operations. A specially modified suicide version, Ki-48-II Kai, carried an unchanged bombload, its bombs being triggered on impact by a nose probe. Ki-48s were used for tests of the Igo-Ib guided missile and the Ne-0 turbojet unit.

The total of all variants built 1977.

The Air to Surface Guided Missile was called I-Go Type1-Otsu or Ki-148. At the Ki-148 test, it struck an Onsen hotel.  At last Ki-148 was complete.
Some of the Ki.48-IIb featured a small dorsal extension to the fin.
A number of Ki.48s were modified for experimental duties, one becoming a testbed for a ramjet engine.


Engines: 2 x Nakajima Ha 25, 950 hp
Span: 17.47 m (57 ft 4 in)
Length: 12.60 m (41 ft 4 in)
Height: 3.80 m / 12 ft 6 in
Wing area: 40 sq.m / 430.56 sq ft
Empty weight: 4050 kg
Gross weight: 5900 kg (13000 lb)
Maximum speed: 480 km/h (298 mph)
Range: 2400 km
Service ceiling: 9500 m
Crew: 4
Armament: 4 x 7.7mm mg or 3 x 7.92mm mg
Bomb load: 300-400 kg

Engines: 2 x Nakajima Ha115 (1,130hp)
Length: 12.75m
Wing Span: 17.47m
Height: 4.32m
Wing Area: 40.0 sq.m
All-Up Weight: 6,750Kg
Empty Weight: 4,550Kg
Max Speed: 505Km/h
Range: 2,400Km
Service Ceiling: 10,000m
Crew: 4
Armament: 7.92mm Machine Gun X 4
Bomb load: 300 or 500Kg


Engines: 2 x Mitsubishi Ha.115, 1150 hp
Span: 57 ft 3.75 in
Max speed: 314 mph at 18,372 ft


Engines: 2 x Nakajima Ha-115, 850kW
Max take-off weight: 6500-6750 kg / 14330 - 14881 lb
Empty weight: 4550 kg / 10031 lb
Wingspan: 17.45 m / 57 ft 3 in
Length: 12.75 m / 41 ft 10 in
Height: 3.80 m / 12 ft 6 in
Wing area: 40 sq.m / 430.56 sq ft
Max. speed: 505 km/h / 314 mph
Ceiling: 10100 m / 33150 ft
Range: 2050 km / 1274 miles
Range w/max.fuel: 2400 km / 1491 miles
Armament: 3 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 400kg of bombs
Crew: 4






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