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Japan's Imperial Navy flag

Japan's Nakajima B5N torpedo bomber, Navy Type 97
Allied code name: Kate

Photos

  • Nakajima B5N1 Navy Type 97 Kate torpedo bomber
  • Nakajima B5N1 Navy Type 97 Kate torpedo bomber
  • Nakajima B5N2 Kate torpedo bomber
  • Nakajima B5N2 Kate torpedo bomber
  • Nakajima B5N2 Navy Type 97 Kate torpedo bomber

Design

In 1932 a 7-Shi requirement was issued and Aichi, Mitsubishi, and Nakajima made prototypes. However, none of these were satisfactory to the Imperial Japanese Navy.

A 9-Shi requirement was issued and the Navy Type 96 Carrier Attack Bomber (B4Y1) was developed and produced but it was to be just an intermediary before a more modern plane was designed.

The Nakajima B5N was designed to a 10-Shi requirement issued in 1935. These were:

  • Span of 52 ' / 52' 5.90625" / 16 m that could be folded to 24' / 24' 7.28125" / 7.5 m
  • Armament of one 1,764 lb / 800 kg torpedo or bomb load and one 7.7 mm machine gun
  • Speed of 207 mph at 6,560' / 2,000 m
  • Endurance of 4 hours at 155 mph

The design team was headed by Katsuji Nakamura.

Wings

The wings were foldable for storage on a carrier. They also had Fowler flaps.

Undercarriage

Unusual for a plane, much less a carrier plane, at the time, the B5N had an inward retracting landing gear.

Fuselage

The fuselage was all metal stressed skin.

Engine

The engine drove a variable pitch propeller.

1941 Torpedo Bomber Comparison

  • 1941 Torpedo Bomber Comparison

Prototype

In January 1937 the B5N prototype first flew.

The Imperial Japanese Navy felt that the hydraulic mechanism to fold the wings would be difficult to maintain so it was replaced by a manual folding system. The Fowler flaps were replaced by conventional flaps.

The B5N2 first flew in December 1939

Production

  • Prototype: 2
    • Production: December 1936
  • Nakajima B5N1, Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber Model 11:
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima at Koizumi
    • Production: November 1937 - ?
  • Nakajima B5N2, Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber Model 12:
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima, Aichi, Dai-Juichi Kaigun Kokusho
    • Production: 1939 - 1943
  • Total: 1,149
    • Manufacturer: Nakajima Hikoki K.K. at Koizumi (669, 1936 - 1941), Aichi Tokei Denki K.K. at Nagoya (200, 1942 - 1943), Dai-Juichi Kaigun Kokusho at Hiro (280, 1942 - 1943)
    • Production: 1937 - 1943

1941 Torpedo Bomber Production Comparison

  • 1941 Torpedo Bomber Production Comparison

Variants

  • Nakajima B5N: Prototype. Had a Nakajima Hikari radial engine.
  • Nakajima B5N1, Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber Model 11: Production model.
  • Nakajima B5N1 Model 11: Production model. First delivered in late 1937.
  • Nakajima B5N1-K: Trainer. Converted B5N1.
  • Nakajima B5N2, Navy Type 97 Carrier Attack Bomber Model 12: Arrived in 1939. The engine cowling was smaller to fit the Nakajima Sakae 11 engine.
  • Nakajima B5N2 Model 12: Had Nakajima Sakae engine. Cowling was smaller. First flew in December 1939.

Usage

Units

  • Aircraft Carriers: All
  • Kokutais: 601, 653, 931, Himeji, Omura, Usa

China

The B5N1s were deployed to land based units in China for their first combat use in 1938.

Attack on United States

The B5N2 had replaced all the B5N1s in combat units before the attack on the United States in December 1941.

There were 144 B5N2s used in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Around 100 were used as bombers and the rest carried torpedoes.

Sank United States Carriers

In the first year of the war with the United States, the B5N2s were instrumental in the sinking of the carriers USS Hornet, USS Lexington, and USS Yorktown.

Withdrawn from Combat

After the battles in the Philippines in 1944 the B5Ns were withdrawn from combat. They were then used for anti-submarine and reconnaissance roles that were outside the range of Allied fighters.

Specifications

  Nakajima B5N
Type Carrier bomber, Carrier torpedo bomber
Crew 3
Dimensions  
Span 50' 11"
15.52 m
Length 33' 9.5"
10.3 m
Height 12' 1.5"
3.7 m
Armament  
Rear cockpit 1: 7.7 mm MG
Torpedo 1
OR  
Bombs 1,764 lb
800 kg
  Nakajima Type 97
Type Torpedo bomber
Engine (Type)  
Cylinders Radial
Dimensions  
Span 51' 2"
Length 34' 8"
Armament 3: MG
Torpedo 1
  Nakajima B5N1
Type Torpedo Bomber
Crew 3, Pilot, Navigator / Bombardier, Radio Operator / Gunner
Engine (Type)  
Prototype 1 Nakajima Hikari 2
Prototype 2, Production Nakajima Hikari 3
Cylinders Radial 9
Cooling Air
Net HP 770, 840
Propeller Blades - Prototype 1 3 variable pitch
Propeller Blades - Production 3, 3 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 50' 10.9375"
15.518 m
Length 33' 9.5"
10.3 m
Height 12' 1.65625"
3.7 m
Wing area 405.798 sq ft
37.7 sq m
Weight  
Empty 4,643 lb
2,106 kg
Loaded 8,157 lb
3,700 kg
Loaded - Maximum 8,852 lb
4,015 kg
Performance  
Speed at 6,560' / 2,000 m 229 mph
368 kph
Speed - Cruising 159 mph
256 kph
Speed - Cruising at 6,560' / 2,000 m 159 mph
Climb to 9,840' / 9,845' / 3,000 m 7.9 minutes, 7 minutes 50 seconds
Service ceiling 24,280'
7,400 m
Range 679 miles
1,092 km
Range - Maximum 1,404 miles
Armament  
Cockpit - Rear 1: 7.7 mm Type 92 MG
Torpedo or Bombs 1,764 lb
800 kg
  Nakajima B5N2
Type Torpedo Bomber
Crew 2 or 3, 3
Pilot, Navigator / Bombardier, Radio Operator / Gunner
Engine (Type) Nakajima Sakae 11, Nakajima NK1B Sakae 11
Cylinders Radial, Radial 14
Cooling Air
Net HP 1,000
Propeller blades 3, 3 metal constant speed
Dimensions  
Span 50' 10.875", 50' 10.9375", 50' 11", 52' 5"
15.518 m, 15.52 m, 15.9 m
Length 33' 9", 33' 9.5"
10.3 m
Height 12' 1.625", 12' 1.65625", 12' 1.7", 12' 2"
3.7 m
Wing area 405.798 sq ft, 405.8 sq ft
37.7 sq m
Weight  
Empty 5,024 lb
2,279 kg
Loaded 8,360 lb, 8,378 lb
3,800 kg
Loaded - Maximum 9,039 lb
4,100 kg
Performance  
Speed at Sea Level 205 mph
328 kph
Speed at 8,000' / 2,440 m 225 mph
360 kph
Speed at 11,810' / 3,600 m 235 mph
378 kph
Speed - Cruising 161 mph
259 kph
Speed - Cruising at 9,845' / 3,000 m 161 mph
Climb to 9,840' / 9,843' / 9,845' / 3,000 m 7.7 minutes, 7 minutes 40 seconds
Service ceiling 27,100'
8,260 m
Range 300 miles, 608 miles, 1,237 miles
480 km, 978 km, 1,990 km
Range - Maximum 1,237 miles
Armament 1: MG
Nose 2: 7.7 mm MG
Cockpit - Rear 1: 7.7 mm / 0.303" Type 92 MG
1 or 2: 7.7 mm MG
Torpedo or Bombs 1,100 lb, 1,760 lb, 1,764 lb
500 kg, 800 kg

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 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  6. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, René J Francillon, 1970
  7. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Bill Gunston, 1989
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site