Main Menu

Mitsubishi Ki-15 / C5M


In July 1935 the Imperial Japanese Army drew up its specification for a new two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, and Mitsubishi responded with a can-tilever low-wing monoplane, the Mit-subishi Ki-15.

The Ki-15, or Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Aircraft, owed its inception to Lieutenant- Colonel Yuzo Fujita of the army air force, who collaborated closely in its design with the Mitsubishi engineers Kono, Kubo and Mizumo. It was among the first strategic reconnaissance aircraft to be adopted by any air force. Two prototypes, one military and one civil, were completed, the former making the type's first flight in May 1936.

Shortly afterwards, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper group purchased the second prototype, which as the Karigane I (wild goose) made a historic flight from Tachikawa to Croydon, a distance of 15 356 km. (9542 miles) in April 1937 in a flying time of approximately 51¼ hours.

Service testing was completed without difficulty and the type was ordered into production under the official designation Army Type 97 Command Reconnaissance Plane Model 1. In May 1937, a year after the first flight, delivery of production aircraft to the army began.

The military Ki-15 was a clean, low-wing monoplane, with a 640-hp Naka-jima Ha-8 nine-cylinder radial engine and a 'trousered' and spatted main undercarriage. The pilot and radio operator/observer (who also doubled up as the gunner) sat in tandem cockpits under a long greenhouse canopy. A single 7.7-mm (0.303-in) Type 89 machine- gun formed the only defensive armament.


The army's Ki-15-I had been received in time to make a significant impact at the beginning of the war with China. The Ki-15-I became operational during the second Sino-Japanese war, and was joined in service in late 1939 and early 1940 by the Ki-15-II.

Plans had already been made to upgrade performance of the KI-15-I, this being achieved by install-ing the 671-kW (900-hp), smaller-dia-meter Mitsubishi Ha-26-I engine, its in-corporation providing an opportunity to overcome what had been the major shortcoming of the type, a poor for-ward field of view past the large-dia-meter Nakajima engine. The im-proved version entered production for the army in September 1939 as the Ki--15-II, but before that the Japanese navy, impressed by the performance of this aircraft, ordered 20 examples of the Ki-15-II under the official designa-tion Navy Type 98 Reconnaissance Plane Model 1, Mitsubishi designation C5M1 in 1938 (with 780-hp Mitsubishi Suisei 12 radials). The navy acquired two years later 30 C5M2 aircraft that were generally similar except for installation of the more powerful 708-kW (950-hp) Naka-jima Sakae (Prosperity) 12 engine. These aircraft serving with two Sentais (air corps) of the naval air force.

The Ki-15-III, with the 1050-hp Ha-102 version, although capable of 530 km/h (329 mph), was itself surpassed by the more modern Mitsubishi Ki-46.

When production ended almost 500 of all versions had been built, the major-ity being in first-line service when the Pacific war started. Given the Allied codename ‘Babs’, the type was rele-gated to second-line roles in early 1943, but many survived to be used in kamikaze attacks at the war’s end.
Mitsubishi built 439 in successive models between 1936-40.

Engine: Nakajima Ha-8, 640-hp.
Armament: one 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun
Crew: 2

Powerplant: one 477-kW (640-hp) Nakajima Ha-S radial piston engine
Maximum speed 480 km/h (298 mph) at 4000 m (13,125 ft)
Cruising speed 320 km/h (199 mph) at 5000 m(16,405 ft)
Service ceiling 11400 m (37,400 ft)
Range 2400 km (1,491 miles)
Empty weight 1400 kg (3,086 lb)
Maximum take-off 2300 kg (5,071 lb)
Wingspan 12.00 m (39 ft 4.4 in)
Length 8.70 m (28 ft 6.5 in)
Height 3.35 m (11 ft 0in)
Wing area 20.36sq.m (219.16 sq ft)
Armament: one 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun
Crew: 2

Engine: Mitsubishi Ha-102, 850-hp.
Armament: one 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun
Crew: 2

Engine: Mitsubishi Ha-102, 1050-hp
Max speed: 530 km/h (329 mph)
Armament: one 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun
Crew: 2

Engine: Mitsubishi Suisei 12, 780-hp
Armament: one 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun
Crew: 2

Engine: Nakajima Sakae (Prosperity) 12, 708-kW (940-hp)
Span: 12m (39 ft 4 in)
Length: 8.70m (28 ft 7 in)
Gross weight: 2345 kg (5170 1b)
Maxi-mum speed: 487 km/h (303 mph)
Armament: one 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-gun
Crew: 2


Mitsubishi Ki-15 / C5M




Copyright © 2021 all-aero. All Rights Reserved.
Joomla! is Free Software released under the GNU General Public License.