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Japan's Imperial Army flag

Japan's Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (swallow) fighter, Army Type 3 Fighter
Allied code name: Tony

Photos

  • Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien fighter
  • Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien fighter
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hien fighter

Design

Takeo Doi and Shin Owada had worked with Dr. Richard Vogt (chief designer at Blohm und Voss), that influenced that design of the Kawasaki Ki-61.

The Ki-61 was the only liquid cooled fighter to enter Japanese service.

The Ki-61 Hien also pioneered the used of self sealing fuel tanks and armor.

Engine

The Kawasaki Ha-40 engine was a licence built Daimler-Benz DB 601A. The license was obtained in April 1940.

The oil cooler radiator had an intake under the main wings. The Ha-40 was an inverted V inline.

Propeller

The propeller was a constant speed three blade that was similar to the Messerschmitt Bf 109.

Tail wheel

The Ki-61-I had a retractable tail wheel, however, this was replaced by a fixed tail wheel in later models to simplify production.

Prototype

Takeo Doi and Shin Owada built the first prototype. The first prototype was completed in December 1941.

Trials were conducted against prototype of the Nakajima Ki-43-II and Ki-44-I, a Messerschmitt Bf 109E, and a Curtiss P-40E and it was found that the Ki-61 had the best performance.

The Ki-61-II was first flown in December 1943.

Production

At Kagamigahara, the production of the Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc peaked at 254 per month in July 1944.

After the factory was bombed on January 19, 1945, that produced the engines for the Ki-61, the Ki-100 was developed to take a radial engine.

  • Kawasaki Ki-61 prototypes: 12
    • Production: 1941 - 1942, 1942
  • Kawasaki Ki-61: 13
    • Production: August 1942
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I: 1,274, 1,300, 1,380
    • Production: August 1942 - July 1944
    • Kawasaki Ki-61-Ic:
      • Production: January 1944 - ?
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAI: 1,274
    • Production: January 1944 - January 1945
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II and Kawasaki Ki-61 II KAI prototypes and pre-production: 38
    • Production: December 1943
    • Kawasaki Ki-61-II prototypes: 8
      • Production: August 1943 - January 1944
    • Kawasaki Ki-61-II KAI prototypes and pre-production: 30
      • Production: April - September 1944
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II: 374
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II KAI: 374
    • Production: September 1944 - August 1945
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II engineless airframe: 275
  • Total: 1,380, 3,078
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K. at Kagamigahara
    • Production: ? - 1945, August 1942 - August 1945

Variants

  • Prototype: Had a Kawasaki Ha-40 (1,175 HP) engine.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61: Had small window in front of windshield.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I: First used in April 1943.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-Ia, Army Type 3 Fighter Model 1A: Had two 12.7 mm machine guns in the nose and two 7.7 mm machine guns in the wings.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-Ib, Army Type 3 Fighter Model 1B: Had two 12.7 mm machine guns in the nose and two 12.7 mm machine guns in the wings.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-Ic: Had wing cannons standard.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc: Had a pair of 20 mm cannons in nose to help it shoot down bombers. Had a fixed tail wheel. Appeared in January 1944.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAId: Had a pair of 30 mm Ho-105 cannons in nose to help it shoot down bombers.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II: Had a Ha-140 (1,500 HP) engine. The engine's crankshaft was prone to breaking. Newly designed canopy and larger wings. Test flights showed handling problems. Had a top speed of 379 mph / 610 kph.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II KAI: Wing was larger. The rudder was bigger. Engine was unreliable. Appeared in September 1944. Had 1,500 HP engine.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II KAI Model 2A: Two nose mounted 20 mm Ho-5 cannons. Two 12.7 mm Type 1 machine guns in the wings.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II KAI Model 2B: Four 20 mm Ho-5 cannons, two in the nose and two in the wings.
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-III: Rear fuselage was lower. Canopy was 360°.

Usage

The Ki-61 Hien started to reach front line units in 1942.
Deliveries started in February 1943 to the 23rd Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo Chutai at Ota.

The Ki-61 Hien was was used in New Guinea, the Philippines, Rabaul, and the Japanese home islands.

Units

  • Sentais: 17, 18, 19, 23, 26, 28, 37, 55, 56, 59, 65, 68, 78, 105, 244
  • Chutais: 23, 28th Dokuritsu Dai Shijugo
  • Hikotai: 5, 8th Kyo-iku, 11, 16, 18th Lensei
  • Akeno Fighter Training School

First Operational Sentais

The 68th and 78th Sentais received their Ki-61s in April 1943 while stationed in New Guinea.

Nationalist China

The Chinese used captured aircraft in the Nationalist's air force.

Comparisons

In the summer of 1942 a Bf 109E, Ki-43-II, Ki-44-I, and a P-40E were tested against the Ki-61 and it outperformed all of them.

Sentais

By the end of World War II there were 13 Sentais that were equipped with the Ki-61.

High Altitude Interceptor

The Ki-61 / Ki-61 II was one of the few fighters that could intercept B-29s at altitude.

Specifications

  Ki-61
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm
OR 20 mm
Wings 2: 7.7 mm MG
OR 2: 12.7 mm MG
OR 2: 20 mm
OR 2: 30 mm
Bombs - under wing (a few models) 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
  Ki-61-I
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Kawasaki Ha-40
Cylinders Inverted V 12, V 12
Cooling Liquid
Net HP 1,175
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4", 39' 4.5"
12 m
Length 28' 8", 28' 8.5"
8.75 m
Height 12' 2"
3.71 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 4,872 lb
2,210 kg
Loaded 6,504 lb, 7,165 lb
3,250 kg
Performance  
Speed at 15,945' / 4,860 m 368 mph
592 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 5.5 minutes
Service ceiling 37,730', 38,060'
11,600 m
Range 684 miles
1,100 km
Armament 4: MG
  Ki-61-Ib
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Kawasaki Ha-40 (Army Type 2)
Cylinders 12
Cooling Liquid
Net HP 1,175
Propeller blades 3 constant speed metal
Fuel capacity - wings  
Dimensions  
Span 39' 14 7/16"
12 m
Length 28' 8.5"
8.75 m
Height 12' 1 11/16"
3.7 m
Wing area 215.278 sq ft
20 sq m
Weight  
Empty 4,872 lb
2,210 kg
Loaded 6,504 lb
2,950 kg
Performance  
Speed at 15,945' / 4,860 m 368 mph
592 kph
Speed - Cruising at 13,125' / 4,000 m 249 mph
400 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 5 minutes 31 seconds
Service ceiling 37,730'
11,600 m
Range - Normal 373 miles
600 km
Range - Maximum 684 miles
1,100 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103 Type I
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103 Type I
  Ki-61-I KAIc
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Kawasaki Ha-40 (Army Type 2)
Cylinders Inverted V-12, Inline, Inverted inline V 12
Cooling Liquid
Net HP 1,175, 1,180
Propeller blades 3, 3 constant speed metal
Fuel capacity - wings 44 gallons
165 liters
Fuel capacity - drop tanks
(under each wing)
53 gallons
200 liters
Dimensions  
Span 36' 4", 39' 4.4", 39' 4 7/16", 39' 4.5"
12 m
Length 29' 4"
8.94 m
Height 12' 1.7", 12' 1 11/16", 12' 1.75", 12' 2"
3.7 m
Wing area 215 sq ft , 215.278 sq ft, 215.3 sq ft
20 sq m
Weight  
Empty 5,786 lb, 5,798 lb
2,630 kg
Loaded 7,634 lb, 7,650 lb
3,470 kg
Performance  
Speed  
Speed at 13,976' / 13,980' / 16,400' / 4,260 m 366 mph, 367 mph
590 kph
Climb to 16,400' / 16,404' / 16,405' / 5,000 m 7 minutes
Service ceiling 32,808', 32,810', 33,000'
10,000 m
Range 360 miles, 1,118 miles, 1,120 miles
580 km, 1,800 km
Range - Maximum 1,120 miles
1,800 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm Ho-5
1: 12.7 mm Ho-103 Type 1
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103 Type 1
  Ki-61-II
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Kawasaki Ha-140
Cylinders Inverted V 12, 12
Cooling Liquid
Net HP 1,500
Propeller blades 3, 3 constant speed metal
Weight  
Empty 6,261 lb
2,840 kg
Loaded 8,432 lb
3,825 kg
Performance  
Speed 379 mph
610 kph
  Ki-61-II KAIa
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4 7/16"
12 m
Length 30' 5/8"
9.16 m
Height 12' 1 11/16"
3.7 m
Wing area 215.278 sq ft
20 sq m
Weight  
Empty 6,261 lb
2,840 kg
Loaded 8,333 lb
3,780 kg
Performance  
Speed at 19,685' / 6,000 m 379 mph
610 kph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 6 minutes
Service ceiling 36,090'
11,000 m
Range - Normal 684 miles
1,100 km
Range - Maximum 995 miles
1,600 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm Ho-5
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Ho-103 Type 1

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of World War II, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site