Nakajima C6N Saiun


Until 1942 the Imperial Japanese Navy, like other navies, flew reconnaissance missions with aircraft designed primarily for defensive or offensive combat. In early 1942 a 17-Shi specification was issued calling for a purpose designed carrier reconnaissance aircraft, with the greatest possible speed and range.

Nakajinia's design team under Fukuda and Yamamoto fitted a 1358kW Nakajima Homare 11 radial engine engine into the slimmest possible fuselage, and 1360 litres (299.2 Imp gal) of fuel into the small wing. The latter had a laminar-flow section, and slats and tabbed Fowler flaps were used to meet the severe limit on landing speed of 70 knots (130 km/h, 81 mph).
Pilot, navigator and radio operator were seated in tandem, the navigator having cameras in the belly and ventral and side observation windows and the radio operator manning a 7.92-mm (0.31-in) Type 1 machine-gun. The prototype flew on May 15, 1943, and altitude performance proved disappointing.

Eighteen more prototype/pre-series aircraft followed, some with the more powerful 1990-hp Nakajima NK-9H Homare 21 two-row 18-cylinder engine, before the type was ordered into production in April 1944 as the Navy Carrier Reconnaissance Plane Saiun (Painted Cloud / Nakajima C6N1).

After its first action in the Battle of the Marianas it was code-named 'Myrt' by the Allies. Fitted with a drop tank it had a range of over 5300 km (3300 miles), and despite the shortfall in performance was almost impossible to catch even with a Corsair or Hellcat.

The proposed C6NI-B torpedo bomber never flew, but a few aircraft were converted into C6N1-S night fighters with only the pilot and navigator and with two 20-mm (0.79-in) Type 99 cannon mounted obliquely at 30 degrees in a rebuilt rear cockpit. They had adequate speed and climb to intercept the B-29 but at night were severely handicapped by lack of radar. No radar equipped version was planned, but at the war's end a C6N2 had flown with turbocharged NK9-L engine giving 1780 hp at 9000 m (29 530 ft) driving a four-blade propeller, and this was envisaged as the power-plant of an improved night fighter.

A total of 463 had been built' when production ended in August 1945, the total including the small number of C6N1-S two-seat night-fighter conversions from C6N1 aircraft, and one C6N2 prototype with a 1476kW Homare turbocharged engine.

Engine: 1 x Nakajima NK9H Homare-21, 1484kW
Max take-off weight: 5260 kg / 11596 lb
Empty weight: 2968 kg / 6543 lb
Wingspan: 12.5 m / 41 ft 0 in
Length: 11 m / 36 ft 1 in
Height: 3.95 m / 12 ft 12 in
Wing area: 25.5 sq.m / 274.48 sq ft
Max. speed: 610 km/h / 379 mph
Ceiling: 10740 m / 35250 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 5310 km / 3300 miles
Armament: 1 x 7.92mm machine-guns
Crew: 3


Nakajima C6N Saiun / Myrt