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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Kawanishi H6K flying boat
Allied code name: Mavis

Photos

  • Kawanishi H6K Mavis flying boat
  • Kawanishi H6K Mavis flying boat
  • Kawanishi H6K Mavis flying boat

Design

The Japanese navy needed a plane that could cover the Japanese possessions throughout the Pacific Ocean. Yoshio Hashiguchi and Shizuo Kikahura, designers for Kawanishi, started to design the H6K in 1933.

The design took elements from the British Short Bros work in the early 1930s and American designs for the parasol wing. The H6K was based on the French Potez C.A.M.S. 141.

Was originally called the Kawanishi Navy Experimental 9-Shi Large-size Flying Boat.

The Kawanishi H6K "Mavis" could stay in the air for 24 (26) hours.

The H6K did not have self sealing fuel tanks or armor this causing them to be vulnerable to fighters.

The H6K was of all metal construction.

Nose

Originally there was a hand held 7.7 mm Type 92 MG, but in the H6K5 it was removed. It was replaced by a turret right behind the flight deck.

Wings

The parasol wing was mounted above the fuselage. The wing struts could carry bombs or torpedoes.

Hull

After the initial test flights the forward step in the hull was moved back 20" / 50 cm.

Fuselage

The Japanese studied the Sikorsky S-42 and designed the H6K with a two step hull.

Tail

The tail gunner had excellent visibility through the glazed turret.

Prototype

On July 14, 1936 the prototype was first flown by Katsuji Kondo. It had four Nakajima Kikari 2 (840 HP) radial engines.

Production

  • Kawanishi H6K1: 4
    • Production: 1936 - 1938
  • Kawanishi H6K2: 10
    • Production: 1938 - 1939
  • Kawanishi H6K2-L: 16
    • Production: 1940 - 1942
  • Kawanishi H6K3: 2
    • Production: 1939
  • Kawanishi H6K4: 127
    • 64 / 66 of these in use by December 1941.
    • Production: 1939 - 1942
  • Kawanishi H6K4-L: 20
    • Production: 1942 - 1943
  • Kawanishi H6K5: 36
    • Production: 1942, August 1942 - 1943
  • Kawanishi H6K2-L/4-L: 38
  • Total: 211, 215, 217
    • Manufacturer: Kawanishi Kokuki K.K. at Naruo
    • Production: 1938 - 1942

Ten H6K2s were built and delivered to the Japanese Navy in 1939. These were later converted to transports.

Production ended in mid 1943.

Variants

  • Kawanishi H-97:
  • Kawanishi H6K1, Navy Type 97 Flying Boat Model 1: Prototype and preproduction. Had four Nakajima Hikari 2 radial engines (840 HP each).
  • Kawanishi H6K2, Navy Type 97 Flying Boat Model 11: Production model. Only had machine guns on top of the fuselage, and in the tail and nose. Had four Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 radial engines (1,000 HP each). Hull was modified to improve performance in the water. Delivered in January 1938 / 1939.
  • Kawanishi H6K2-L: Transport version. Unarmed. Could carry 18 passengers.
  • Kawanishi H6K3: Staff transport.
  • Kawanishi H6K4, Navy Type 97 Flying Boat Model 22: Main production model. Improved defensive armament.
  • Kawanishi H6K4-L: Transport version. Had compartments for mail, cargo, and passengers. Was code named "Tille" by the Allies. Unarmed. Could carry 18 passengers.
  • Kawanishi H6K5: Introduced in 1942. Had 1,300 HP engines. Had nose turret.

Usage

During the early years the H6K Mavis was very successful, but it was soon found to be vulnerable to Allied fighters. It was replaced by the Kawanishi H8K.

Units

  • Kokutais: 8th, 14th, 801st, Toko, Yokohama

Sino-Japanese War

The Kawanishi H6K was used during the Japanese war with China from 1938-1939.

Dutch East Indies

The Kawanishis were used against Dutch land targets in 1942.

Airline

The Dal Nippon Koku K.K. / Greater Japan Air Lines had 18 H6Ks in used until 1945.

After World War II

The Indonesian air force used some during it's fight for independence and civil war after World War II.

Specifications

  Kawanishi H6K
Kawanishi H-97
Type Reconnaissance, Transport, Torpedo
Crew 9
Engine (Type) 4: Kinsei 4C
Cylinders Radial
Cooling Air
Net HP 900 each
Propeller blades 3 metal variable pitch
Dimensions  
Span 131' 2.75", 134' 6"
40 m
Length 81', 84' 1"
25.63 m
Height 20' 6.75'
6.27 m
Weight  
Loaded 45,000 lb
Performance  
Speed 215 mph
Range 1,500 miles
Armament  
Bombs 3,500 lb
  Kawanishi H6K1
Type Reconnaissance
Crew 9
Engine (Type) 4: Mitsubishi Kinsei 43
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling  
Net HP 1,000 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Armament  
Bow - Open 1: 7.7 mm Type 92
Turret - Dorsal 1: 7.7 mm Type 92
Turret - Tail 1: 7.7 mm Type 92
  Kawanishi H6K2
Type Transport
Crew 9
Engine (Type) 4: Mitsubishi Kinsei 43
Cylinders Radial 14
Net HP 1,000 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 131' 2.78"
40 m
Length 84' 0.844"
25.625 m
Height 20' 6.844"
6.27 m
Wing area 1,829.858 sq ft
170 sq m
Weight  
Empty 22,796 lb
10,340 kg
Loaded 35,274 lb
16,000 kg
Performance  
Speed at 6,890' 206 mph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 13 minutes 58 seconds
Service ceiling 24,935'
7,600 m
Range 2,567 miles
Armament  
Bow - Open 1: 7.7 mm Type 92
Turret - Dorsal 1: 7.7 mm Type 92
Turret - Tail 1: 7.7 mm Type 92
  Kawanishi H6K2-L
Type Transport
Crew 8
Engine (Type) 4: Mitsubishi Kinsei 43
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,000 each
Propeller blades 3 metal
Dimensions  
Span 131' 2.78"
40 m
Length 81' 8.313"
24.9 m
Height 20' 6.844"
6.27 m
Wing area 1,829.858 sq ft
170 sq m
Weight  
Empty 26,511 lb
12,025 kg
Loaded 37,699 lb
17,100 kg
Performance  
Speed at 8,565' 207 mph
Cruising speed at 3,280' 150 mph
Range 2,690 miles
Armament  
  Kawanishi H6K4
Type Reconnaissance, bomber, transport
Crew 9
Engine (Type) 4: Mitsubishi Kinsei 43
4: Mitsubishi Kinsei 46
Cylinders Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,000 each, 1,070 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Fuel Capacity 2,950 gallons
13,409 liters
Dimensions  
Span 131' 2", 131' 2.781", 131' 3"
40 m
Length 84', 84' 0.844", 84' 1"
25.625 m, 25.63 m
Height 20' 6.844", 20' 7"
6.27 m
Wing area 1,829.858 sq ft, 1,830 sq ft
170 sq m
Weight  
Empty 25,810 lb
11,707 kg
Loaded 37,479 lb, 47,399 lb, 47,499 lb
17,000 kg, 21,500 kg, 21,545 kg
Performance  
Speed at 13,120' / 4,000 m 211 mph
340 kph
Speed at 13,125' / 4,000 m 211 mph
340 kph
Cruising speed 138 mph
222 kph
Cruising Speed at 13,125' / 4,000 m 138 mph
Climb to 16,400' / 5,000 m 13.5 minutes, 13 minutes 31 seconds
Service ceiling 31,365', 31,530'
9,560 m, 9,610 m
Range 2,981 miles, 3,778 miles, 3,779 miles, 3,780 miles
6,080 km, 6,083 km
Armament  
Nose 1: MG, 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 92 MG
Dorsal 1: MG, 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 92 MG
Fuselage 2: MG, 7.7 mm MG, 7.7 mm Type 92 MG
Tail 1: 20 mm, 20 mm Type 99 Model 1
Bow turret 1: 7.7 mm MG
Torpedoes 2: 1,760 lb, 1,764 lb
2: 800 kg
OR  
Bombs 2,200 lb, 2,205 lb
1,000 kg
  Kawanishi H6K5
Type Maritime reconnaissance
Crew 9
Engine (Type) 4: Mitsubishi Kinsei 53 piston
4: Mitsubishi Kinsei 51/53
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,300 each
Propeller blades 3 each, 3 metal
Dimensions  
Span 131' 2.75", 131' 2.781"
40 m
Length 84' 0.75", 84' 0.844", 84' 7/8"
25.625 m, 25.63 m
Height 20' 6.75", 20' 6.844", 20' 6 7/8"
6.27 m
Wing area 1,829.858 sq ft, 1,829.86 sq ft, 1,829.9 sq ft
170 sq m
Weight  
Empty 27,117 lb, 27,293 lb
12,380 kg
Loaded 38,581 lb, 50,705 lb, 50,706 lb
17,500 kg, 23,000 kg
Performance  
Speed at 19,685' / 6,000 m 239 mph
385 kph
Cruising speed at 13,125' 161 mph
Climb to 16,405' / 5,000 m 13 minutes 23 seconds, 13 minutes 24 seconds, 13.38 minutes
Service ceiling 31,365', 31,495'
9,560 m, 9,600 m
Range 3,070 miles, 3,107 miles
5,000 km
Maximum range 4,208 miles, 4,210 miles
6,772 km, 6,775 km
Armament  
Nose 1: 7.7 mm Type 92, 7.7 mm / 0.303" MG
Dorsal 1: 7.7 mm Type 92, 7.7 mm / 0.303" MG
Beam blister 2: 7.7 mm Type 92, 7.7 mm / 0.303" MG
Tail 1: 20 mm Type 99, 20 mm
Torpedoes 2: 1,764 lb
2: 800 kg
OR  
Bombs 2,205 lb, 4,409 lb
1,000 kg, 2,000 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. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  6. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  7. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site