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Japan's Imperial Army flag

Japan's Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu (storm dragon/dragon swallower) bomber; Army Type 100
Allied code name: Helen

Photos

  • Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu, Helen bomber

Design

The Nakajima Ki-49 was intended to replace the Ki-21 and was designed in 1938 by Nishimura Itokawa and T. Koyama.1,2,3,4,5 The Japanese Army wanted a heavy bomber that wouldn't require fighter escort.3

Specifications:

  • Speed: 311 mph / 500 kph5, 312.5 mph3
  • Range: 1,864 miles / 3,000 km5, 1,875 miles3
  • Bomb Load: 2,000 lb3, 2,205 lb / 1,000 kg5
  • Armament: Dorsal Turret - 20 mm, Tail - 7.7 mm MG, additional 7.7 mm MGs5
  • Self-Sealing Fuel Tanks5
  • Crew Protection5

Unfortunately, the Ki-49 was said to be difficult to handle by the crews.1,5

Tail Turret

A first for the Japanese Army a 7.7 mm Type 89 machine gun was installed in the tail turret.5

Protecting the Crew

Unusual for a Japanese aircraft, but the Ki-49 did have armor and six self sealing fuel tanks to help protect the crews.1,3,5

Ki-58 Escort Fighter

Because of losses in China Matsumura designed an escort fighter that would be heavily armed and fly on the outer edge of formations.5 The Nakajima Ki-43 was able to escort bombers and the project cancelled.5

Prototype

The prototype of the Ki-49 first flew in August 1939.1,2,4,5

The Ki-49-III prototype first flew in March 1943.2

The Ki-58 first flew in December 1940.2

The Ki-80 first flew in October 1941.2

Production

  • Prototype: 35, 231
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota5
    • Production: Summer 19395
  • Pre Production: 75
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota5
    • Production: January - December 19405
  • Prototype and pre production: 102,5
  • Nakajima Ki-49: 7961
  • Nakajima Ki-49-I: 1292,5
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota5
    • Production: August 1941 - ?2, August 1941 - August 19425
  • Nakajima Ki-49-II Prototype: 25
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota5
    • Production: August - September 19425
  • Nakajima Ki-49-II: 6173, 6675, 6692
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota (617)5, Tachikawa Hikoki K. K. at Tachikawa (50)5
    • Production: September 1942 - December 1944 (Nakajima)5, January 1943 - January 1944 (Tachikawa)5
  • Nakajima Ki-49-III Prototype: 62,5
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota5
    • Production: March - December 19435
  • Nakajima Ki-58 Prototype: 32,3,5
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K.K.3 at Ota5
    • Production: late 1940 - early 19413, December 1940 - March 19415
  • Nakajima Ki-80 Prototype: 22,5
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota5
    • Production: October 19415
  • Total: 8192,3,4,5
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima (769)2, Nakajima Hikoki K.K.3, Tachikawa Hikoki (50)2
    • Production: ? - December 19442, December 1940 - December 19443

Variants

  • Prototype: Had Nakajima Ha-5 / Ha-5 KAI4,5 radial engines (950 HP4,5 / 1,080 HP).1,2 Later prototypes (2nd and 3rd) had a Nakajima Ha-41 (1,250 HP4) installed.2,4,5
  • Nakajima Ki-49-I, Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber Model 1: Production model.1,4
  • Nakajima Ki-49-II: Entered service in late 1942.1 Due to mounting losses to Allied fighters, it had additional armament.1,2,3 Self sealing fuel tanks were installed.2 Upgraded bomb sight on later models.2
  • Nakajima Ki-49-IIa, Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber Model 2A: Added 0.2" / 5 mm armor.4 Self sealing fuel tanks installed.4
  • Nakajima Ki-49-IIb: Heavier caliber machine guns in the nose, ventral, and tail.2
  • Nakajima Ki-49-III: Had Nakajima Ha-117 radial engine (2,420 HP).2,3 Only prototypes built.3
  • Nakajima Ki-58: Heavy escort fighter.2,3,4,5 Had Nakajima Ha-109 engines.5 Had ventral gun pack.2 Bomb hold sealed.3,5 Was to be used in China.2 Had five 20 mm Ho-1 cannons and three 12.7 mm Ho-103 machine guns.3,5
  • Nakajima Ki-80: Lead ship for a formation.2,5 Escort bomber.4 Used two Nakajima Ha-117 (2,420 HP).5

Usage

Used By

  • Sentais: 61st, 62nd, 74th, 95th, 110th5
  • Hikoshidan: 11th5
  • Hamamatsu Army Heavy Bomber Flying School5

First Sentai Equipped

The 14th Sentai was first equipped with the Ki-49.5
The 61st Sentai was first equipped with the Ki-49-I in December 1941.1,5

Early Use

The Ki-49 equipped units used them in raids in China, New Guinea, and over Australia's Northwest Territory.1,2,5 The first raid on Darwin, Australia occurred on February 19, 1942.2

Poor performance and heavy losses had the Ki-49 modified to have a magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment for hunting submarines.2

China

In the summer of 1942 the 7th and 61st Sentais were equipped with Ki-49-IIas and Ki-49-IIbs.4 Participated in attacks on Chungking and General C. L. Chennault's China Air Task Force bases.4

Sumatra

The 12th Sentai used Ki-49s against Burma, eastern India, and Calcutta.4

Last Use

During the last year of the war the Ki-49s were used as night fighters, transports, and in suicide attacks at Mindoro in December 1944.1

Specifications

  Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu
Type Heavy Bomber5
Crew 85
Pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator, radio operator / gunner, gunners (3)5
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-5 KAI5
Cylinders Radial 145
Cooling Air5
Net HP 950 each5
Propeller blades 3 metal blade 2 pitch5
Armament  
Bomb - Normal Load 1,653 lb5
750 kg5
Bomb - Max Load 2,205 lb5
1,000 kg5
Suicide 3,527 lb5
1,600 kg5
  Nakajima Ki-49-I Donryu
Type Medium bomber2
Crew 7 - 84, 82
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-411,2,4, Nakajima Ha-41 (Army Type 100)5
Cylinders Radial1,4, Radial 142,5
Cooling Air5
Net HP 1,250 each1,4,5, 1,260 each2
Propeller blades 3 each2, 3 metal blade constant speed5
Dimensions  
Span 67'2, 67' 1/8"5
20.42 m2, 20.424 m5
Length 55' 1.75"2,5
16.808 m5, 16.81 m2
Height 13' 11.25"2, 13' 11 5/16"5
4.25 m2,5
Wing area 743.245 sq ft5
69.05 sq m5
Weight  
Empty 13,382 lb2,5
6,070 kg2,5
Loaded 23,534 lb2,5
10,675 kg2,5
Armament  
Nose 1: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG5
Ventral 1: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG5
Turret - Tail 1: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG5
Beam 2: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG5
Turret - Dorsal 1:20 mm2, 20 mm Ho-15
Normal bomb load 1,653 lb2
750 kg2
Maximum bomb load 2,205 lb2
1,000 kg 2
  Nakajima Ki-49-II Donryu, Ki-58
Type Medium bomber2
Crew 82
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-1092, Nakajima Ha-109 (Army Type 2)5
Cylinders Radial 142,5
Cooling Air5
Net HP 1,500 each2,5
Propeller blades 3 each2, 3 metal blade constant speed5
Dimensions  
Length 54' 1.5"2
16.5 m2
Armament  
Ki-58 5: 20 mm Ho-15
3: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG5
  Nakajima Ki-49-IIa Donryu
Type Heavy bomber1, Medium bomber2,4
Crew 7 - 84, 81,2
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-1091, Nakajima Ha-109 (Army Type 2)4
Cylinders Radial1,4
Net HP 1,450 each4, 1,500 each1
Propeller blades 3 each1
Dimensions  
Span 67'4, 67' 1/8"1,5
2.042 m1, 2.42 m4, 2.424 m5
Length 54' 1 1/3"1, 54' 1.5"4, 54' 1 5/8"5
16.5 m1,4,5
Height 13' 11.25"1,4, 13' 11 5/16"5
4.25 m1,4,5
Wing area 743.24 sq ft4, 743.245 sq ft5, 743.25 sq ft1
69.05 sq m1,4,5
Weight  
Empty 14,396 lb1,2,4,5
6,530 kg1,2,4,5
Loaded 25,133 lb1,2,4,5
11,400 kg1,2,4,5
Performance  
Speed 306 mph2
492 kph2
Speed at 16,405' / 5,000 m 306 mph1,4,5
492 kph1,4,5
Cruising Speed 217 mph2,4
349 kph2, 350 kph4
Cruising Speed at 9,845' / 3,000 m 217 mph5
350 kph5
Climb 1,312'/minute2
400 m/minute2
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 13.6 minutes1, 13 minutes 39 seconds4,5
Service ceiling 30,510'1,2,4,5
9,300 m1,2,4,5
Range 1,243 miles1,2
2,000 km1,2
Range - Maximum 1,833 miles2,5, 1,835 miles4
2,950 km2,4,5
Armament  
Nose 1: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG4,5
1: 12.7 mm Ho-103 MG1
Ventral 1: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG4,5
1: 12.7 mm Ho-103 MG1
Tail 1: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG4,5
1: 12.7 mm Ho-103 MG1
Beam 2: 7.7 mm MG2, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG1,4,5
Turret - Dorsal 1: 20 mm2, 1: 20 mm Ho-11,4,5
Normal bomb load 1,653 lb2
750 kg2
Maximum bomb load 2,205 lb1,2,4
1,000 kg1,2,4
  Nakajima Ki-49-IIb Donryu
Type Bomber3
Crew 83
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-1093
Cylinders Radial 143
Cooling Air3
Net HP 1,500 each3
Dimensions  
Span 67'3
Length 54' 1"3
Height 13' 11"3
Weight  
Loaded 23,545 lb3
Performance  
Speed at 16,405' / 5,000 m 306 mph3
Service ceiling 30,510'3
Range 1,833 miles3
Armament 1: 20 mm3
5: MG3
Turret - Dorsal 1: 20 mm Ho-15
Nose 1: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG5
Ventral 1: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG5
Tail 1: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG5
Beam 2: 7.7 mm Type 895
Bombs - Normal 2,200 lb3
  Nakajima Ki-49-III Donryu, Ki-80
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-1175
Cylinders Radial 145
Cooling Air5
Net HP 2,420 each5
Propeller blades 3 metal blade constant speed5

Sources:

  1. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  5. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
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