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Japan's Imperial Army flag

Japan's Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu (Dragon Killer) fighter;
Army Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter Model A Toryu, Ki-45 KAIa
Allied code name: Nick

Photos

  • Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu night-fighter
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu night-fighter

Design

In March 1937 / 1937 the Japanese Army issued a requirement for a two engine fighter.

Kawasaki (Ki-38), Mitsubishi (Ki-39), and Nakajima (Ki-37) also submitted designs as well, but the Nakajima was selected. Kawasaki submitted the Ki-38 which would later become the Ki-45.

Takeo Doi / Isamu Imashi worked on a design, starting in January 1938, that would help with production. A mockup was ready in October 1937. This lead to the Ki-45 Kai.

In December 1937 new specifications were given for the Ki-45.

  • Speed: 340 mph at 10,000' , 335.5 mph / 540 kph at 11,480' / 3,500 m
  • Operational Altitude: 6,500' to 16,250', 6,560' / 2,000 m to 16,505' / 5,000 m
  • Cruising Range: 4 hours and 40 minutes at 217 mph / 350 kph / 220 mph
  • Armament: Two forward firing and one rear firing machine guns
  • Engines: Two Nakajima Ha-20b

Takeo Doi became the chief engineer in January 1938 and in January 1939 the first prototype was ready.

Prototype

In January 1939 / 1939 a prototype with two Bristol Mercury engines was first flown. Later aircraft had the Nakajima Ha-25 radials installed.

The prototype didn't meet specifications mostly due to the engines. There were also problems with the manually retracted landing gear. In late 1939 test flights were stopped while Kawasaki rectified the problems. This modified design became the Ki-45 KAI, with KAI meaning "modified."

In April 1940 prototype c/n 4507 had two Nakajima Ha-25 (1,000 HP) engines installed and was completed in July 1940.

The Ki-45 KAI prototype had improvements made to the wings and tail. Armament was upgraded to 12.7 mm Type 1 Ho-103 machine guns. It was finished in May 1941.

Production

The Ki-45 KAI first flew in May 1941.

  • Prototypes: 3, 14, 26
    • Nakajima Ki-37: 1
    • Kawasaki Ki-38: 1
    • Mitsubishi Ki-39: 1
    • Production: January - May 1939
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Gifu
  • Improved Type 1 Ki-45 Prototypes: 8
    • Production: July 1940 - February 1941
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Gifu
  • Ki-45 KAI Prototype: 3
    • Production: August - October 1941
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Gifu
  • Ki-45 KAI Pre Production: 12
    • Production: October - December 1941
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Gifu
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa:
    • Production: September 1941 - ?
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa and Ki-45 KAIb: 305
    • Production: January 1942 - September 1943
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Gifu
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa, Ki-45 KAIb, Ki-45 KAId: 893, 1,198
    • Production: September 1942 - July 1945
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Akashi
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc: 477
    • Production: March 1944 - December 1944, April - December 1944
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Akashi
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAId:
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki at Akashi
  • Total: 1,701
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K.
    • Production: August 1941 - July 1945

Variants

  • c/n 4501: Prototype. Had two Nakajima Ha-20b (820 HP) engines. The upper nose had two 7.7 mm Type 89 machine guns and under the fuselage was a 20 mm Ho-3 cannon. There was a 7.7 mm Type 89 machine gun in the rear cockpit.
  • c/n 4502: Prototype. Engine mountings improved.
  • c/n 4503: Prototype. Landing gear electrically retracted.
  • c/n 4507, Experimental Improved Type 1 Ki-45: Had two Nakajima Ha-25 (1,000 HP) engines installed.
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 Kai: Had straight tapered wings and fin. The cowlings on the engines were smooth. The wings, fuselage, and tail surfaces were altered. Fuel capacity was increased.
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa, Army Type 2 Two-Seat Fighter Model A: Heavy fighter. Reached units in August 1942.
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIb, Army Type 2 Two Seat Fighter Model B: Ground attack and anti shipping. Had 37 mm gun in ventral tunnel. A prototype had a 75 mm gun.
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc: Night fighter. Introduced in 1944. Had a 37 mm gun in a ventral tunnel and two 20 mm cannons firing upwards.
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 KAId: Anti shipping. Ground attack. Had 37 mm and two 20 mm cannons in nose. The oblique guns were removed.
  • Kawasaki Ki-45 II: Was to have two Mitsubishi Ha-112-II (1,500 HP) engines. Became the Ki-96 and was made into a single engine fighter.

Usage

Units

  • Sentais: 4th at Usuki, 5th Usuki and Komachi, 13th, 16th in China, 21st in Burma, 27th, 45th in the Philippines and New Guinea, 53rd, 65th, 70th at Kashiwa
  • Dokuritsu Hiko Chutais: 25th, 71st at Singapore
  • Akeno Fighter Training School

First Use in China

The Ki-45 first entered use in China in August 1942 with the 5th Sentai at Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture. The 16th Sentai / 21st Sentai first used it in action over Burma in October 1942.

Night Fighter

Though the Ki-45 didn't have a radar it was successful at shooting down B-29s. One encounter resulted in eight B-29s being shot down.

Captain Isamu Kashiide shot down 26 aircraft without the aid of radar.

Kamikaze

A Ki-45 KAIb was used for the first time in a Kamikaze attack on a United States Navy sub chaser off Biak in May 1944.

Specifications

  Kawasaki Ki-45
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-25
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,050 each
Propeller blades 3 blade metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 47' 6.875"
14.5 m
Length 33' 7.9375"
10.26 m
Height 11' 8.5625"
3.57 m
Wing area 312.152 sq ft
29 sq m
Weight  
Empty 5,512 lb
2,500 kg
Loaded 8,267 lb
3,750 kg
Performance  
Speed at 13,125' / 4,000 m 298 mph
480 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 10 minutes 12 seconds
Range 1,087 miles
1,750 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 7.7 mm Type 89
Cockpit - Rear 1: 7.7 mm Type 89
Ventral tunnel 1: 20 mm Ho-3
  Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIa
Type Fighter, Fighter bomber, Ground attack, Night fighter
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Nakajima Ha-25 piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,050 each
Propeller blades 3, 3 blade metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 49' 3", 49' 3.25", 49' 3.3125"
15.02 m
Length 34' 9.25", 34' 3.3125", 34' 10"
10.6 m
Height 12' 1.6875", 12' 1.75", 12' 2"
3.7 m
Wing area 344.44 ft2
32 m2
Weight  
Empty 8,146 lb
3,695 kg
Loaded 11,600 lb, 11,632 lb
5,276 kg
Performance  
Speed at 22,965' / 7,000 m 340 mph
547 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 6.3 minutes, 6 minutes 17 seconds
Service ceiling 35,200'
10,730 m
Range 1,404 miles
2,260 km
Armament 1: 20 mm
3: MG
Nose 2: 7.7 mm MG
1: 20 mm
2: 12.7 mm / 0.5" MG
Ventral tunnel 2: 12.7 mm Type 9
1: 20 mm
1: 20 mm Ho-3
Rear dorsal 1: 7.7 mm MG
1: 7.92 mm MG
1: 7.92 mm Type 98
1: 7.7 mm Type 89
Under Wing 2: Drop Tanks
Or 2: 551 lb Bombs, 1,100 lb
2: 250 kg Bombs
  Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIb
Type Ground attack, Night fighter
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-102
Cylinders Radial 14
Net HP 1,050
Propeller blades 3, 3 metal constant speed
Armament  
Nose 1: 20 mm
1: 20 mm Ho-3
Fuselage 1: 37 mm
Cockpit - Rear 1: 7.92 mm MG
1: 7.92 mm Type 98
Ventral tunnel 1: 37 mm
1: 37 mm Type 98
Under Wing 2: Drop Tanks
Or 2: 551 lb Bombs
2: 250 kg Bombs
  Kawasaki Ki-45 KAIc
Type Ground attack, Night fighter
Crew 2
Engine (Type) 2: Mitsubishi Ha-102
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Net HP 1,080
Propeller blades 3, 3 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 49' 3.3125", 49' 4.5"
15.02 m, 15.05 m
Length 36' 1.0625", 36' 1.1"
11 m
Height 12' 1.6875", 12' 1.7", 36' 1"
3.7 m, 11 m
Wing area 344.444 sq ft, 344.46 sq ft
32 sq m
Weight  
Empty 8,818 lb
4,000 kg
Loaded 12,125 lb
5,500 kg
Performance  
Speed at 19,685' / 6,000 m 335.5 mph
540 kph
Speed at 22,965' / 7,000 m 339 mph, 340 mph
545 kph, 547 kph
Climb 2,300'/minute
700 m/minute
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 6 minutes 7 seconds, 7 minutes
Service ceiling 32,810'
10,000 m
Range 1,243 miles
2,000 km
Armament  
Ventral tunnel 1: 37 mm
Rear dorsal 1: 7.92 mm MG
Oblique dorsal 2: 20 mm
Under Wing 2: Drop Tanks
Or 2: 551 lb Bombs
2: 250 kg Bombs

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 1, 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