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Japan's Imperial Army flag

Japan's Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa (peregrine falcon) fighter; Army Type 1
Allied code name: Oscar

Photos

Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa fighter (Japanese audio):

Design

The Imperial Japanese Army put forth specifications in 1937, that the Nakajima Ki-43 was selected, to replace the Nakajima Ki-27. The specifications were for a fighter that had a maximum speed of 310 mph, take five minutes to climb to 16,250', a range of 500 miles, two machine guns, and as maneuverable as the Ki-27. Nakajima entered a design by Hideo Itokawa and an order was placed in December 1937.

Because of the rivalry with the Navy, the Army had to have its own fighter and picked the Nakajima Ki-43 over the Mitsubishi A6M. The Ki-43 became the Army's most produced fighter.

Cockpit

The pilot of the Nakajima Ki-43 had some armor protection.

Engine

The Ki-43 was intended to have the Ha-112 engine, but it wasn't put into production initially. It wasn't until the Ki-43-IIa that had the Ha-112 engine.

The Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa's engine had to be manually started.

Wings

Combat flaps, called "butterflies", were fitted in the wings to improve turning performance.

Undercarriage

The undercarriage was retractable and some pilots didn't like it as they thought it was a heavy luxury.

Prototype

The first prototype to fly was in January 1939. By March 1939 there were two more prototypes being tested.

The Ki-43-II prototype first flew in February 1942.

The Ki-43-IIIa prototype first flew in May 1944.

Production

Deliveries of the Ki-43-IIa started in November 1942. The Ki-43-IIb entered production in November 1942.

  • Prototypes: 3, 33
  • Service trial: 10
    • Production: November 1939 - September 1940.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-I: 716
    • Production: April 1941 - February 1943.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-II prototype: 5
  • Nakajima Ki-43-II / Ki-43-III: 5,190
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima (2,510), Tachikawa Hikoki (2,631), 1st Army Air Arsenal (49)
  • Nakajima Ki-43-IIb:
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima, Tachikawa
    • Production: November 1942 - ? (Nakajima), May 1943 - ? (Tachikawa)
  • Nakajima Ki-43-IIIa prototype: 2
  • Total: 5,886, 5,919
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima (3,239), Nakajima Hikoki K.K.

Variants

  • Prototype: Used a Nakajima Ha-25 radial engine (925 HP).
  • Service trial: Had fixed pitch wooden two bladed propeller. Later models had a two pitch propeller installed. To improve maneuverability combat flaps were installed.
  • Nakajima Ki-43: Had 2: 7.7 mm machine guns in wings.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-Ia: Had two 7.7 mm machine guns in upper cowling.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-Ib: Had 1: 7.7 mm MG and 1: 12.7 mm MG in wings.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-II prototype: Had a two speed super charged Ha-115 engine (1,150 HP). There was a constant speed three bladed propeller.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-II-Ko: Mostly used as a fighter bomber.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-IIa: The wing was "clipped". Windscreen and canopy were altered. 13 mm armor protection for the pilot was added. Crude self sealing fuel tanks were installed. Hard points under wings.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-IIb: Had 2: 12.7 mm machine guns in wings. Hard points in wings were repositioned.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-II KAI:
  • Nakajima Ki-43-III: Had more powerful engine (1,230 HP). Speed was 358 / 576 kph.
  • Nakajima Ki-43-IIIa:
  • Nakajima Ki-43-IIIb: It was to have cannons, but it never entered service. Developed by Tachikawa. Had Mitsubishi Ha-112 radial engine installed (1,300 HP).

Usage

Japan and Thailand were the countries that used the Ki-43.

The first 40 Ki-43-I-Hei were in service by December 1941.

The Nakajima Ki-43 was used in Burma, China, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and the Japanese home islands.

It was equal to the Allied fighters early in the war but was soon outclassed by the newer Allied designs.

First Campaigns

The Ki-43 was first used in the Malayan, Netherlands East Indies, and Burma campaigns.

Thailand Use

The Royal Thai Air Force received twelve Ki-43s and these were used against American planes in southern China.

Captured Tests

In September 1943 the Allies had captured several Oscars and were able to construct a complete one that they tested and were able to figure out how to counter it's exceptional maneuverability at low speed.

Kamikaze

The Ki-43s were often used in kamikaze missions by 1945.

Post World War II

Many Ki-43s survived to be used by the Indonesian forces against the Dutch. French pilots used some Ki-43s in Indo-China.

Specifications

  Nakajima Ki-43-I Hayabusa
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-25
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling  
Net HP 980
Propeller blades 2
Dimensions  
Span 37' 6.5"
11.44 m
Length 28' 11.75"
8.83 m
Height 10' 8.75"
3.27 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 13,120' /
4,000 m
308 mph
495 kph
Cruising speed 199 mph
320 kph
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
5.5 minutes
Service ceiling 38,500'
11,735 m
Range  
Range with external fuel tanks 808 miles
1,300 km
Armament  
  Nakajima Ki-43-Ia Hayabusa
Type Fighter
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-25
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 980
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span 37' 6"
Length 28' 11"
Height 10' 8"
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 3,483 lb
1,580 kg
Loaded 4,515 lb
2,048 kg
Maximum load 5,695 lb
2,583 kg
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 13,125' /
4,000 m
308 mph
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling 38,500'
Range 745 miles
Range with external fuel tanks  
Armament 2: MG
Nose 2: 7.7 mm MG
Bombs 66 lb
  Nakajima Ki-43-Ib Hayabusa
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 1: 12.7 mm MG
1: 7.7 mm MG
  Nakajima Ki-43-Ic Hayabusa
Type  
Crew  
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders  
Cooling  
Net HP  
Propeller blades  
Dimensions  
Span  
Length  
Height  
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG
  Nakajima Ki-43-II Hayabusa
Type Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-115
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling  
Net HP 1,150
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 35' 6.75"
10.84 m
Length 29' 3.25"
8.92 m
Height 10' 8.75"
3.27 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty  
Loaded  
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 329 mph
530 kph
Cruising speed  
Climb  
Service ceiling  
Range  
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.mm MG
Bombs under wings 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
  Nakajima Ki-43 IIb Hayabusa
Type Fighter, Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-115 piston
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,150
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 35' 6", 35' 6.25", 35' 6.8"
10.84 m
Length 29' 3", 29' 3.2", 29' 3 1/8"
8.92 m
Height 10' 8", 10' 8.7", 10' 8.75", 10' 9"
3.27 m
Wing area 230 ft2 , 230.36 ft2 , 230.37 ft2
21.4 m2
Weight  
Empty 4,202 lb, 4,211 lb
1,910 kg
Loaded 5,710 lb, 6,435 lb, 6,449 lb, 6,450 lb
2,925 kg, 2,926 kg
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed 329 mph
530 kph
Speed @ 13,120' /
4,000 m
329 mph
529 kph
Speed @ 13,123' /
4,000 m
329 mph
530 kph
Speed @ 13,125' /
4,000 m
329 mph
530 kph
Cruising speed  
Climb to 16,400' /
5,000 m
5.8 minutes
Climb to 16,404' /
5,000 m
5.8 minutes
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
5.8 minutes
Service ceiling 36,745', 36,750'
11,200 m
Range 1,090 miles, 1,094 miles, 1,095 miles
1,760 km, 1.762 km
Range with external fuel tanks  
Armament 2: MG
Nose 2: 12.7 mm MG
Wings 2: 12.7 mm Ho 103 MG
Bombs 551 lb
Bombs under wings 2: 550 lb, 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg
  Nakajima Ki-43 IIIa Hayabusa
Type Fighter bomber
Crew 1
Engine (Type) Nakajima Ha-115-II
Cylinders Radial
Cooling  
Net HP 1,230
Propeller blades 3
Dimensions  
Span 35' 6.75"
10.84 m
Length 29' 3.25"
8.92 m
Height 10' 8.75"
3.27 m
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 4,233 lb
1,920 kg
Loaded 6,746 lb
3,060 kg
Maximum load  
Performance  
Speed  
Speed @ 21,920' /
6,680 m
358 mph
576 kph
Cruising speed  
Climb to 16,405' /
5,000 m
5.3 minutes
Service ceiling 37,400'
11,400 m
Range 1,320 miles
2,124 km
Armament  
Nose 2: 12.mm MG
Bombs under wings 2: 551 lb
2: 250 kg

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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