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Japan's Aichi B7A Ryusei (shooting star, falling star) dive bomber
Allied Code Name: Grace

Photos

  • Aichi B7A Ryusei dive bomber

 

Design

The Aichi B7A was developed for a 16-Shi specification for a high performance aircraft to replace the Nakajima B6N torpedo bomber and Yokosuka D4Y dive bomber.

The requirements were:

  • Bombs/Torpedo: two 551 lb / 250 kg bombs or six 132 lb/ 60 kg bombs or one 1,764 lb / 800 kg torpedo
  • Armament: two forward firing 20 mm and one 13 mm in cockpit rear
  • Speed: 354 mph / 300 knots
  • Range 1,151 statute miles / 1,000 nautical miles
  • Be as maneuverable as a Mitsubishi A6M
  • Length: Could be longer than 36' 1 1/16" / 11 m as the B7A was going to be used in carriers with larger elevators

The B7A was designed by Chief Engineer Norio Ozaki, Morishige Mori, and Yasushirio Ozawa.

The B7A could fly almost as fast as the Mitsubishi A6M fighter and had good maneuverability.

Engine

The Nakajima Homare engine caused delays to the development of the B7A.

A four blade propeller was to be used in the B7A.

Wings

The wings of the B7A had to be of an inverted gull to allow for the large propeller.

For storage the wings outbound of the flaps could be folded upwards by hydraulic power.

Prototype

The B7A1 prototype first flew in May 1942. There were constant problems with the engines during testing.

Production

  • Aichi B7A1 (prototype): 9
    • Manufacturer: Aichi Kokuki K.K. at Funakata
  • Aichi B7A2: 105, 114
    • Manufacturer: Aichi Kokuki K.K. at Funakata (80, 105), Dai-Nijuichi Kaigun Kokusho at Omura (Sasebo) (25)
  • Total: 114
    • Manufacturer: Aichi Kokuki K.K. at Funakata, Dai-Nijuichi Kaigun Kokusho at Omura (Sasebo)

Due to an earthquake in May 1945, the Aichi Funakata plant was destroyed.

Variants

  • Aichi B7A1, AM-23, Navy Experimental 16-Shi Carrier Attack Bomber: Development and test version. Had Nakajima Homare 11 (1,800 HP) engine.
  • Aichi B7A2:
  • Aichi B7A3: Was designed to have a Nakajima Homare 23 engine (2,000 HP). Was never produced due to an earthquake destroying the Funakata plant.

Usage

Units

  • Kokutais: 752nd, Yokosuka

By the time the B7A2 was reaching front line units in 1944 the war situation was going against Japan. There were no aircraft carriers for the B7A to fight from.

Only two land based Kokutais were equipped with the B7A2s.

Specifications

  Aichi B7A
Type Dive-bomber, Torpedo bomber
Crew 2
Dimensions  
Span 47' 3"
14.4 m
Length 37' 8.5"
11.49 m
Height 13' 4.5"
4.08 m
Weight  
Empty 8,400 lb
3,810 kg
Normal load 12,568 lb
5,700 kg
Maximum load 14,300 lb
6,500 kg
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm
Rear cockpit 1: 7.92 mm or 13 mm MG
Torpedo or bombs 1,764 lb
800 kg
  Aichi B7A1 Prototype
Type Dive-bomber, Torpedo bomber
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9B Homare 11
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,800
Propeller blades 4 metal constant speed
Armament  
Wings 2: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
Cockpit - Rear 1: 7.92 mm Type 1
Torpedo 1: 1,764 lb
1: 800 kg
OR  
Bombs 1,764 lb
800 kg
  Aichi B7A2
Type Bomber
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9C Homare 12
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,825
Propeller blades 4 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 47' 2 15/16", 47' 3"
14.4 m
Length 37' 8", 37 ' 8 11/32"
11.49 m
Height 13' 4", 13' 4 7/16"
4.075 m
Wing area 381.041 sq ft
35.4 sq m
Weight  
Empty 8,400 lb
3,810 kg
Load - Normal 12,401 lb
5,625 kg
Load - Maximum 14,330 lb
6,500 kg
Performance  
Speed at 21,490' / 6,550 m 352 mph
566 kph
306 knots
Climb to 13,120' / 4,000 m 6.9 minutes, 6 minutes 55 seconds
Service ceiling 29,365', 36,910'
8,950 m, 11,250 m
Range 1,888 miles
1,151 statute miles
3,038 km
1,000 nautical miles
Range - Full Load 1,150 miles
1,850 km
Range - Maximum 1,888 statute miles
1,640 nautical miles
Armament 1: MG
2: 20 mm
Wings 2: 20 mm Type 99 Model 2
Cockpit - Rear - Early Production 1: 7.92 mm Type 1
Cockpit - Rear - Late Production 1: 13 mm Type 2
Torpedo 1: 1,764 lb
1: 800 kg
OR  
Bombs 1,764 lb
800 kg
  Aichi B7A2 Experimental
Type Dive-bomber, Torpedo bomber
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Nakajima NK9H-S Homare 23
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 2,000
Propeller blades 4 metal constant speed
  Aichi B7A3
Type Dive-bomber, Torpedo bomber
Crew 2
Engine (Type) Mitsubishi MK9A Ha-43 11
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
Net HP 2,200
Propeller blades 4 metal constant speed

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  3. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site