Aichi AM-23 / B7A Ryusei
The Imperial Japanese navy drew up the specification for a large torpedo/ dive-bomber to replace the Nakajima B6N and Yokosuka D4Y in 1941
The experimental Nakajima Homare 11 twin-row radial powerplant developing around 1342kW was selected as the specification called for an internal bombload of up to 500kg or the carriage of an 800kg torpedo externally.
Aichi began work and its AM-23 prototype flew in mid-1942. This aircraft, then designated Navy Experimental 16-Shi Carrier Attack Bomber (Aichi B7A1), was a mid-wing monoplane of inverted gull-wing configuration, with the main units of the retractable tail-wheel landing gear, mounted at the 'elbows' of each wing. A section of each outer wing panel folded for carrier stowage. The fuselage and tail unit were conventional, providing enclosed accommodation for a crew of two. An underside provision was allowed for the carrying of a single 1,764lb torpedo. Additionally, two forward-firing fixed 20mm cannons were mounted in the leading wing edges. A single defensive 13mm machine gun was allotted for the rear cockpit position.
It was almost two years before the type was ordered into production as the Navy Carrier Attack Bomber Ryusei (Shooting Star), or Aichi B7A2. Apart from nine prototype B7A1s, only 80 examples were completed by Aichi before its factory was destroyed in the serious earthquake of May 1945; an additional 25 were built by the Navai Air Arsenal at Omura.
By the time these aircraft entered service, when they were allocated the Allied codename 'Grace', the Japanese navy no longer had any carriers from which they could operate, with the result that they saw only limited use from land bases.
Engine: 1 x Nakajima NK9C Homare-12, 1370kW / 2,000hp
Wingspan: 14.4 m / 47 ft 3 in
Length: 11.5 m / 37 ft 9 in
Height: 4.08 m / 13 ft 5 in
Wing area: 35.4 sq.m / 381.04 sq ft
Take-off weight: 5625-6500 kg / 12401-14330 lb
Empty weight: 3810 kg / 8400 lb
Max. speed: 565 km/h / 351 mph / 306kt
Service Ceiling: 11250 m / 36900 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 3300 km / 2051 miles
Range w/max.payload: 1800 km / 1118 miles
Armament: 2 x 20mm cannons, 13mm machine-gun, 800-kg torpedo or 800kg of bombs