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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. The Japanese Army wanted a heavy bomber that wouldn't require fighter escort.

Specifications:

  • Speed: 311 mph / 500 kph, 312.5 mph
  • Range: 1,864 miles / 3,000 km, 1,875 miles
  • Bomb Load: 2,000 lb, 2,205 lb / 1,000 kg
  • Armament: Dorsal Turret - 20 mm, Tail - 7.7 mm MG, additional 7.7 mm MGs
  • Self-Sealing Fuel Tanks
  • Crew Protection

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

Tail Turret

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

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.

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. The Nakajima Ki-43 was able to escort bombers and the project cancelled.

Prototype

The prototype of the Ki-49 first flew in August 1939.

The Ki-49-III prototype first flew in March 1943.

The Ki-58 first flew in December 1940.

The Ki-80 first flew in October 1941.

Production

  • Prototype: 3, 23
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota
    • Production: Summer 1939
  • Pre Production: 7
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota
    • Production: January - December 1940
  • Prototype and pre production: 10
  • Nakajima Ki-49: 796
  • Nakajima Ki-49-I: 129
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota
    • Production: August 1941 - ?, August 1941 - August 1942
  • Nakajima Ki-49-II Prototype: 2
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota
    • Production: August - September 1942
  • Nakajima Ki-49-II: 617, 667, 669
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota (617), Tachikawa Hikoki K. K. at Tachikawa (50)
    • Production: September 1942 - December 1944 (Nakajima), January 1943 - January 1944 (Tachikawa)
  • Nakajima Ki-49-III Prototype: 6
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota
    • Production: March - December 1943
  • Nakajima Ki-58 Prototype: 3
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K.K. at Ota
    • Production: late 1940 - early 1941, December 1940 - March 1941
  • Nakajima Ki-80 Prototype: 2
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K. K. at Ota
    • Production: October 1941
  • Total: 819
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima (769), Nakajima Hikoki K.K., Tachikawa Hikoki (50)
    • Production: ? - December 1944, December 1940 - December 1944

Variants

  • Prototype: Had Nakajima Ha-5 / Ha-5 KAI radial engines (950 HP / 1,080 HP). Later prototypes (2nd and 3rd) had a Nakajima Ha-41 (1,250 HP) installed.
  • Nakajima Ki-49-I, Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber Model 1: Production model.
  • Nakajima Ki-49-II: Entered service in late 1942. Due to mounting losses to Allied fighters, it had additional armament. Self sealing fuel tanks were installed. Upgraded bomb sight on later models.
  • Nakajima Ki-49-IIa, Army Type 100 Heavy Bomber Model 2A: Added 0.2" / 5 mm armor. Self sealing fuel tanks installed.
  • Nakajima Ki-49-IIb: Heavier caliber machine guns in the nose, ventral, and tail.
  • Nakajima Ki-49-III: Had Nakajima Ha-117 radial engine (2,420 HP). Only prototypes built.
  • Nakajima Ki-58: Heavy escort fighter. Had Nakajima Ha-109 engines. Had ventral gun pack. Bomb hold sealed. Was to be used in China. Had five 20 mm Ho-1 cannons and three 12.7 mm Ho-103 machine guns.
  • Nakajima Ki-80: Lead ship for a formation. Escort bomber. Used two Nakajima Ha-117 (2,420 HP).

Usage

Used By

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

First Sentai Equipped

The 14th Sentai was first equipped with the Ki-49.
The 61st Sentai was first equipped with the Ki-49-I in December 1941.

Early Use

The Ki-49 equipped units used them in raids in China, New Guinea, and over Australia's Northwest Territory. The first raid on Darwin, Australia occurred on February 19, 1942.

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

China

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

Sumatra

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

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.

Specifications

  Nakajima Ki-49 Donryu
Type Heavy Bomber
Crew 8
Pilot, co-pilot, bombardier, navigator, radio operator / gunner, gunners (3)
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-5 KAI
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 950 each
Propeller blades 3 metal blade 2 pitch
Armament  
Bomb - Normal Load 1,653 lb
750 kg
Bomb - Max Load 2,205 lb
1,000 kg
Suicide 3,527 lb
1,600 kg
  Nakajima Ki-49-I Donryu
Type Medium bomber
Crew 7 - 8, 8
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-41, Nakajima Ha-41 (Army Type 100)
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,250 each, 1,260 each
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 metal blade constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 67', 67' 1/8"
20.42 m, 20.424 m
Length 55' 1.75"
16.808 m, 16.81 m
Height 13' 11.25", 13' 11 5/16"
4.25 m
Wing area 743.245 sq ft
69.05 sq m
Weight  
Empty 13,382 lb
6,070 kg
Loaded 23,534 lb
10,675 kg
Armament  
Nose 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
Ventral 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
Turret - Tail 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
Beam 2: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
Turret - Dorsal 1:20 mm, 20 mm Ho-1
Normal bomb load 1,653 lb
750 kg
Maximum bomb load 2,205 lb
1,000 kg
  Nakajima Ki-49-II Donryu, Ki-58
Type Medium bomber
Crew 8
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-109, Nakajima Ha-109 (Army Type 2)
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,500 each
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 metal blade constant speed
Dimensions  
Length 54' 1.5"
16.5 m
Armament  
Ki-58 5: 20 mm Ho-1
3: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG
  Nakajima Ki-49-IIa Donryu
Type Heavy bomber, Medium bomber
Crew 7 - 8, 8
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-109, Nakajima Ha-109 (Army Type 2)
Cylinders Radial
Net HP 1,450 each, 1,500 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 67', 67' 1/8"
2.042 m, 2.42 m, 2.424 m
Length 54' 1 1/3", 54' 1.5", 54' 1 5/8"
16.5 m
Height 13' 11.25", 13' 11 5/16"
4.25 m
Wing area 743.24 sq ft, 743.245 sq ft, 743.25 sq ft
69.05 sq m
Weight  
Empty 14,396 lb
6,530 kg
Loaded 25,133 lb
11,400 kg
Performance  
Speed 306 mph
492 kph
Speed at 16,405' / 5,000 m 306 mph
492 kph
Cruising Speed 217 mph
349 kph, 350 kph
Cruising Speed at 9,845' / 3,000 m 217 mph
350 kph
Climb 1,312'/minute
400 m/minute
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 13.6 minutes, 13 minutes 39 seconds
Service ceiling 30,510'
9,300 m
Range 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Range - Maximum 1,833 miles, 1,835 miles
2,950 km
Armament  
Nose 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
1: 12.7 mm Ho-103 MG
Ventral 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
1: 12.7 mm Ho-103 MG
Tail 1: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
1: 12.7 mm Ho-103 MG
Beam 2: 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 89 MG
Turret - Dorsal 1: 20 mm, 1: 20 mm Ho-1
Normal bomb load 1,653 lb
750 kg
Maximum bomb load 2,205 lb
1,000 kg
  Nakajima Ki-49-IIb Donryu
Type Bomber
Crew 8
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-109
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,500 each
Dimensions  
Span 67'
Length 54' 1"
Height 13' 11"
Weight  
Loaded 23,545 lb
Performance  
Speed at 16,405' / 5,000 m 306 mph
Service ceiling 30,510'
Range 1,833 miles
Armament 1: 20 mm
5: MG
Turret - Dorsal 1: 20 mm Ho-1
Nose 1: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG
Ventral 1: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG
Tail 1: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103) MG
Beam 2: 7.7 mm Type 89
Bombs - Normal 2,200 lb
  Nakajima Ki-49-III Donryu, Ki-80
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-117
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 2,420 each
Propeller blades 3 metal blade constant speed

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
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site