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Japan's Imperial Army flag

Japan's Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien (swallow) fighter
Allied code name: Tony

Photos

Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc Hien "Tony", on Okinawa:
Japan's Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc Hien "Tony", on Okinawa
National Archives

Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien, "Tony" fighter:
Germany's Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant transport

Design

Takeo Doi and Shin Owada had worked with Richard Vogt, a German, that influenced that design of the Kawasaki Ki-61.1,5

The Ki-61 was the only liquid cooled fighter to enter Japanese service.1,4

The Ki-61 Hien also pioneered the used of self sealing fuel tanks and armor.1

Engine

The Kawasaki Ha-40 engine was a licence built Daimler-Benz DB 601A.1,2,3,4,5 The license was obtained in April 1940.3,4

The oil cooler radiator had an intake under the main wings.1 The Ha-40 was an inverted V inline.2

Propeller

The propeller was a constant speed three blade that was similar to the Messerschmitt Bf 109.1

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.1

Prototype

Takeo Doi and Shin Owada built the first prototype.4 The first prototype was completed in December 1941.1,2,3,4

The Ki-61-II was first flown in December 1943.3

Production

At Kagamigahara, the production of the Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc peaked at 254 per month in July 1944.1

After the factory was bombed that produced the engines for the Ki-61, the Ki-100 was developed to take a radial engine.1

  • Kawasaki Ki-61 prototypes: 123
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I: 1,2742, 1,3003, 1,3805
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAI: 1,2743,5
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II and Kawasaki Ki-61 II KAI prototypes and pre production: 383
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II: 3742
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II KAI: 3743,5
    • Production: September 1944 - ?3
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II engineless airframe: 2753
  • Total: 1,3802, 3,0781,3,4
    • Manufacturer: Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo K.K.4
    • Production: ? - 19451, August 1942 - August 19454

Variants

  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I: First used in April 1943.2
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-Ia: Had machine guns in nose.3 Later cannons were added in wings.3
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-Ib: Had machine guns in nose.3 Later cannons were added in wings.3
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-Ic: Had wing cannons standard.3
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc: Had a pair of 20 mm cannons in nose to help it shoot down bombers.2,5 Appeared in January 1944.4
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAId: Had a pair of 30 mm cannons in nose to help it shoot down bombers.2,5
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II: Had a Ha-140 (1,500 HP) engine.1,2,3,5 The engine's crankshaft was prone to breaking.1 Newly designed canopy and larger wings.1 Test flights showed handling problems.1 Had a top speed of 379 mph / 610 kph.2,5
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-II KAI: Wing was larger.3 The rudder was bigger.3 Engine was unreliable.3 Appeared in September 1944.4 Had 1,500 HP engine.4
  • Kawasaki Ki-61-III: Rear fuselage was lower.2 Canopy was 360°.2

Usage

The Ki-61 Hien started to reach front line units in 1942.1
Deliveries started in February 1943.3

The Ki-61 Hien was was used in New Guinea, the Philippines, Rabaul, and the Japanese home islands.1

First Operational Sentais

The 68th and 78th Sentais received their Ki-61s in April 1943 while stationed in New Guinea.2,5

Nationalist China

The Chinese used captured aircraft in the Nationalist's air force.1

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.4

Sentais

By the end of World War II there were 13 Sentais that were equipped with the Ki-61.2

High Altitude Interceptor

The Ki-61 / Ki-61 II5 was one of the few fighters that could intercept B-29s at altitude.4,5

Specifications

  Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien, "Tony"3
Type Figher3
Crew 13
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades  
Fuel capacity - wings  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Performance  
Speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm3
OR 20 mm3
Wings 2: 7.7 mm MG3
OR 2: 12.7 mm MG3
OR 2: 20 mm3
OR 2: 30 mm3
Bombs - under wing (a few models) 2: 551 lb3
2: 250 kg3
  Kawasaki Ki-61-I Hien, "Tony"3,4
Type Fighter3,4
Crew 13,4
Engine (Type) Kawasaki Ha-403,4
Cylinders Inverted V 123, V 124
Cooling Liquid4
Net HP 1,1753,4
Propeller blades 33
Fuel capacity - wings  
Dimensions  
Span 39' 4"4, 39' 4.5"3
12 m3
Length 28' 8"4, 28' 8.5"3
8.75 m3
Height 12' 2"3,4
3.71 m3
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 4,872 lb3
2,210 kg3
Loaded 6,504 lb4, 7,165 lb3
3,250 kg3
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 15,945' /
4,860 m
368 mph3,4
592 kph3
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
5.5 minutes3
Service ceiling 37,730'4, 38,060'3
11,600 m3
Range 684 miles3,4
1,100 km3
Armament 4: MG4
  Kawasaki Ki-61-I KAIc Hien, "Tony"1,2,5
Type Fighter1,2,5
Crew 11,2,5
Engine (Type) Kawasaki Ha-40 piston1,2,5
Cylinders Inverted V-121, Inline2, Inverted inline V 125
Cooling Liquid1
Net HP 1,1801,2,5
Propeller blades 31,2
Fuel capacity - wings 44 gallons1
165 liters1
Fuel capacity - drop tanks
(under each wing)
53 gallons1
200 liters1
Dimensions  
Span 36' 4"1, 39' 4.4"5, 39' 4.5"2
12 m1,2,5
Length 29' 4"1,2,5
8.94 m1,2,5
Height 12' 1.7"5, 12' 1.75"2, 12' 2"1
3.7 m1,2,5
Wing area 215 ft2 1, 215.3 ft2 2,5
20 m2 1,2,5
Weight  
Empty 5,786 lb1, 5,798 lb2,5
2,630 kg1,2,5
Loaded 7,634 lb1, 7,650 lb2,5
3,470 kg1,2,5
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 13,976' /
4,260 m
367 mph5
590 kph5
Speed @ 13,980' /
4,260 m
366 mph2
590 kph2
Speed @ 16,400' /
4,260 m
366 mph1
590 kph1
Climb to 16,400' /
5,000 m
7 minutes1
Climb to 16,404' /
5,000 m
7 minutes5
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
7 minutes2
Service ceiling 32,808'5, 32,810'2, 33,000'1
10,000 m1,2,5
Range 360 miles1, 1,118 miles5, 1,120 miles2
580 km1, 1,800 km2,5
Armament  
Nose 2: 20 mm Ho-51,2,5
1: 12.7 mm Type 1 (Ho-103)1
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Type 12,5
  Kawasaki Ki-61-II Hien, "Tony"3
Type Fighter3
Crew 13
Engine (Type) Kawasaki Ha-1403,5
Cylinders Inverted V 123
Cooling  
Net HP 1,5003,5
Propeller blades 33
Fuel capacity - wings  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 6,261 lb3
2,840 kg3
Loaded 8,432 lb3
3,825 kg3
Performance  
Speed 379 mph2,5
610 kph2,5
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  

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
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